Saturday, 31 July 2010

Purple Gallinule and Lesser Yellowlegs

All the way from the Middle East came UK lifer number 378 - a Purple Gallinule at Saltney, near Chester!! What a cracking bird, fantasic colours, highly charismatic and so prehistoric looking you could easily imagine it walking around the feet of a Tyranausaurus Rex. It's like a gigantic Moorhen with feet so huge it gives the impression that it could easily walk over water itself. A real man's bird!

And don't tell me it's non-migratory, BWP clearly states "as marshes dry out in summer, gradual withdrawal to permanent coastal lagoons........... returning late autumn when marismas reflooded after rain. This movement is believed largely on foot, crossing open ground at night."

So with this being the grey headed eastern race, this bird obviously started walking from Turkey sometime in 2008, made it to the channel coast in spring of this year, swam across and then walked up the M6 to Chester. It's so obvious how it got here, yet guess what those suits at the BOU will never accept it :-( Typical!.............. Suppose I'd better leave it off my list for now though :-(

What a bird!

The right hand photo is for size comparison with a wimpy Moorhen.

Fortunately, being at Chester, we were in pole position when news broke of a Lesser Yellowlegs at Inner Marsh Farm (left), and we were therefore able to get there in good time to have great views of the bird in front of the hide for about 30 minutes, before it flew high away to the east and was not seen again. The butterfly (right) is Small Copper.
Also at IMF today, some spectacular views of a Hobby chasing dragonflies, and at Burton Marsh a reeling Grasshopper Warbler was seen well.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Lowther, Cumbria

We had a wonderful day at Lowther in Cumbria, a short but difficult bike ride, followed by a pleasant moorland walk and a nice meal in Pooley Bridge at the end of Ullswater.

Highlight of the day for me was the discovery of Grey Wagtail nest in the side of a bridge over the River Lowther. We watched as the adults repeatedly returned to feed the three hungry chicks. Later when we returned to the same spot, the chicks had left the nest and were on rocks in the river. Also on the river, two Dippers.

Grey Wagtail chicks.

Meadow Cranesbill at Pooley Bridge. One of my favourite flowers.

A slightly worst for wear Ringlet. Ok I admit it, it's dead, but it's the first I've ever seen so far north, so worth its place here.

Giant Bellflower, a first for me.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Slow Worms and some other stuff

I don't like giving out sites for reptiles, so lets just say that this is somewhere in South West Lancs.

A medium sized Slow Worm. We found four of these legless lizards.

Speckled Wood butterfly.

Common Tern. We visited Seaforth, Liverpool, armed with our brand new permits. The recent White-tailed Plover finally convinced us that we needed to apply! There was a decent selection of birds, including about 200 Common Terns, Sandwich Tern, adult Mediterranean Gull and summer plumage Bar-tailed Godwits and Knots.

Friday, 9 July 2010


Just got back from a short break to Jersey. It was meant to be a weekend to north west Scotland, but the forecast of 70 mph winds and torrential rain was not appealing, so we decided to head for the sun. It was mainly a cycling holiday, and we covered around 80 miles in three days. Jersey is not renowned for its birds, but we did ok. Best birds we saw were Dartford Warblers, Marsh Harriers and adult Mediterranean Gull.

Jersey Thrift (left). Larger than the thrift we see in Britain, and flowering later, this is one of the specialities of the island. Oystercatcher (right) nesting at Elizabeth Castle, St Helier.

Mont Orgueil, Gorey.

Jersey has the only population of wild Green Lizards (left) in the United Kingdom. Notice how this animal has its back legs raised leaving its belly on the ground so that it can extract the maximum heat from the day. Les Quennevais Dunes (right) is one of the best sites for seeing them.

We visited Jersey Zoo, now known simply as Durrell, after it's founder Gerald Durrell (left), the author of amongst others "My Family and Other Animals". There were lots of fascinating creatures at the zoo, but one of my favourites was the White-backed Duck, a species I have never seen before even in captivity. It was very Little Grebe like.

Elizabeth Castle (left). This castle is on an island just off St Helier. The earliest parts of the building up above in the background date from around 1600. The square in the foreground is Georgian and if you look at the top of the old castle, you can just make out a concerete structure. This is the the command centre of the Nazi fortifications in the castle. Incredible to think that such an old castle was still being fortified for battle as recently as 70 years ago. The whole island is littered with nazi bunkers and other fortifications, and Jersey was the only part of the United Kingdom to be occupied by the Nazis in the second World War. The photo on the right is Corbiere point, which is where the Jersey Thrift was photographed.

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