Sunday, 29 November 2009

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Hilbre Island and Crosby Marina

A dull, cold and drizzly early morning, with the sun occasionally breaking through to provide spectacular skies, was transformed by lunch time into a pleasant, still and sunny day. The dominant sound was the wild calls of the Curlew on the beach, perhaps up to 150 individuals.

The highlight of the day was a female Snow Bunting on Little Eye, which flew in from the direction of Middle, and landed on the sand in front of me. These confiding birds are always a pleasure to see.

The flock of 110 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were feeding on the rocks between Middle Eye and Hilbre, and there was a Shag sitting on the rocks. At the north end of the island there were another 5 Shags, whilst the Cormorant flock totalled at least 1200 birds, perhaps upto 2000.

There were at least two Rock Pipits on the island today, up to five Purple Sandpipers, plus a selection of other waders, Turnstones, Redshanks, Grey Plover and Knot.

On the way home, I called in at Crosby Marina and saw a Grey Phalarope.

Grey Phalarope: Year 225

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Starlings at Marbury Country Park

Starling roost at Marbury Country Park. Apologies for the running commentry in the background, it's just one of those things you have to put up with when you're birding in a public place :-(

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Shore Lark, Birkdale

Absolutely stunning Shore Lark on Birkdale beach today, one of the nicest I've ever seen in the UK and a strong contender for bird of the year this year. I've never seen one so yellow, or with such distinct horns. It was also a very obliging bird. Also on the saltmash, a mixed flock of Twite and Linnets.

Shore lark: Year 224

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Monday, 2 November 2009

A few days in the Big Apple

Just got back from a wonderful holiday to New York, just me and my non-birding son. We stayed on 34th Street, right by Madison Square Garden and Penn station. As you can probably imagine, birding was very much a secondary activity, but even so I took the binoculars and managed to see quite a few decent birds.

The account that follows ignores all of the non-birding activities, such as the Greenwich Village Halloween parade, the Broadway show, the rock concert at Madison Square Garden (U2, Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Ozzy Osbourne, Sting, Black Eyed Peas, Jerry Lee Lewis, Metallica, Ray Davies, Lou Reed, Annie Lennox and the singer from ZZ Top all on the same bill). It also ignores the visit to the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Marathon, the Natural History museum, the Dakota building where John Lennon was shot, the bar where Bob Dylan wrote "Blowing in the Wind", live music at Cafe Wha where Dylan and Hendrix performed early in the careers, Washington Square, Times Square, the shopping and Thai meals, Japanese meals and Mexican meals, plus loads more.

No, lets just forget all of that and concentrate on the wildlife and countryside.....

It was Fall, and the trees in Central Park were a wonderful spectacle, yellow and red and gold.

I didn't actually have any spare time to go birding in Central park, but we did wander around a couple of times. American Robins (above) were one of the commonest birds, in fact I saw at least 40 on one particular lawn. I've never seen them in Britain, but in Central Park they were quite tame and approachable. Other birds seen in the park included Mourning Dove, Red-shouldered Hawk, Song Sparrow, American Herring Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls, Laughing Gull, Wood Ducks, White-throated Sparrow, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Grey Catbird, several Hermit Thrushes and a few Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Breathtaking colours!

Central Park

Midway through the holiday, we had a break from the city, and headed out to La Tourette Golf club on Staten Island. We caught the (free!) ferry across which took us right past the Statue of Liberty, as well as several Laughing Gulls, Ringed-billed Gulls and a few Pale-bellied Brent Geese. We saw more of these geese on a lawn by the sea in Brooklyn as we walked across the bridge on another day.

However, back to the golf. I don't play, so I just followed behind my son, birding as I went, and I was so lucky to stumble across possibly the bird of the holiday, a Belted Kingfisher (above). Certainly it was my most exciting find. It's a big Kingfisher, over twice the size of the bird we are familiar with in Britain.

The Kingfisher pond is in the background.

Another star bird on the golf course for me was this Hairy Woodpecker. I was delighted to get such a good photo on my first attempt, because it really was just point, click and hope!

Also on the golf course I saw hundreds of American Robins, there must surely have been a passage of these birds while we were in New York. Other birds included Lincoln's Sparrow (2), Dark-eyed Junco (3), Blue Jay (10), Northern Harrier (1), Turkey Vulture (1), Tufted Titmouse (1), Black-capped Chickadee (1), Red-tailed Hawk (2), Northern Flicker (1), Yellow-rumped Warbler (1), Ovenbird (1), Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinal (15), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1), Great Blue Heron (1) and Mourning Dove (2).

Oh, and lots of Grey Squirrels exactly where they should be, in a tree in North America. On the way back to the airport via the train, several Snowy Egrets and a Little Blue Heron.

Sorry, couldn't resist this one - this is yours truely walking down Jones Street, Greenwich Village. "So what?" you might say, well this is the very same street, and almost exactly the same position where Bob Dylan and Suzi Rotolo where photographed for the most famous of all Dylan album covers, "The Freewheelin' ".

Pennington Flash

Slavonian Grebe - Year 223

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