Tuesday, 31 December 2019

My top 10 UK birding experiences of the decade

Over the past 10 years I've seen 378 species in the UK and 313 species in the north-west. I added 58 species to my UK list during the decade leaving me currently on 432 for the UK and 369 for the north-west. However it's not just the birds, it's the experiences which I love with good friends in often fabulous locations. Here is my top 11 from the decade.

1. American black tern Eccleston Mere, St Helens, August 2012.

Photo: American Black Tern © Steve Young.
My best ever self found rarity, at the time it was about the fifth for the UK and the next one didn't appear until September 2018 in Kent. On the day I found it, I'd actually gone to the mere in the hope of finding a black tern and when I saw this bird. I took a few photos but it wasn't until I returned home and looked at the photos that I noticed the grey flanks which identifies it as American black.

The bird commuted between the mere and Prescot Reservoirs for a about five days, with a day spent at Pennington Flash in the middle of its stay. It was a very exciting time for me at the mere, a place which at the time I regularly visited 3 or 4 times a week and had done so for 15 years and most of the time just seeing coots and mallard.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Siberian / Stejneger's Stonechat, Ashton's Flash

At the second attempt I caught up with the Siberian / Stejneger's stonechat at Ashton's Flash today. A great north-west record, it was always distant, at least 100m, and the light was very poor today so I'm happy to get any photos. It was a decent view through the scope though. DNA is going to be pretty much impossible to obtain from this bird I would think so chances are it will never be conclusively identified.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Purple Heron, Eagland Hill

Time was when I classed purple heron as my bogey bird in the UK, I just couldn't see one, in fact I'd been birding 40 years before I managed to connect with the species on home soil. However since then I've not done too bad, and todays bird at Eagland Hill on the Fylde was my 4th in five years.

What on earth it's doing at Eagland Hill surrounded by the arable fields of the North Lancashire mosslands is a real mystery. I mean yes there are a few reedy ditches in the area, but not really that many to hold a species which is usually much more associated with reedbeds than grey heron. In fact this bird, which is a juvenile, spends as much time in a field of tall rank vegetation as it does in the nearby ditches.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Chocolat Suchard menu card

Yesterday I bought a 2nd hand book enititled "The Alpine Flora" written by Henri Correvon, illustrated by Phillipe Robert and published in 1911. The original book was written in French and this is an English translation. There are two names with dates in the book, Edith Nelson May 1935 and another which I can't quite make out but which looks like Judith Madeley, Campfer 1922. Henri Correvon was a Swiss botanist and there is a place in Switzerland called Champfer so perhaps there is a connection there. Of particular interest to me though, inside the book there is a Chocolat Suchard menu card with a hand written menu and a painting of a species of yellow foxglove labelled D. Ambigua. The label has been underlined and a question mark handwritten at the end. There is a note at the bottom of the card which says something like "In Correvon's Alpine Flora D. Ambigua & D. Lutea are pictured together and D. Lutea is much more like this of the two." This is signed and dated 24/6/1923. I can't read French but the menu appears to mention starters and prawns 🙂.

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