Thursday, 30 December 2010

Great birds poor photos

I can only apologise to the birds concerned for the poor quality of photos today. My only excuse is that the light was so bad...

Leighton Moss
Bittern 2
Waxwing 4
Marsh Tit 1
Bearded Tit 2 heard
Water Rail 1

Preston dock
Iceland Gull 1 (1st win)


Bittern and Grey Heron (left) at Leighton Moss. Waxwing (right).


Robin (left) and 1st winter Iceland Gull (right) at Preston dock.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Bittern - Pennington Flash

I called in at Pennington Flash first thing this morning. The thaw has well and truely set in now, but the footpaths were lethal, the worst they have been this winter. They were like glass.

We stumbled (or should that be slid!) across a Bittern near Ramsdales hide. It didn't seem too conerned by our presence, probably less than 15m away from the bird. It just slowly wandered away into cover. Other birds today, about 10 Goosanders, 10 Bulfinches and two Willow Tits.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas in the Lake District

Just a few photos from a couple of days in the Lake District. Didn't see many birds, just a few Redwings and common woodland species. Scenically very pretty though.


Grasmere.


Our hotel at Grasmere.


Ambleside.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Marton and Martin Mere

Another bitterly cold day, but some great birding none the less. We started off at Marton Mere near Blackpool, where there was an adult drake Ring-necked Duck, with a decent supporting cast of at least six Long-eared Owls and two Water Rails.

Then we headed to Martin Mere where the Whooper Swan flock of over 1700 birds contained at least five Bewick's Swans.


Spot the Long-eared Owl. This bush contained at least three birds, and there were three others in adjacent bushes, but you could easily have walked past and not noticed. The photo on the left was taken at 12x magnification, so imagine how difficult it would be with no extra magnification!


Two different Water Rails. The bird on the left seems to be shading the water with its wings to stop the reflection so that it can see potential prey easier. Some herons do this. I wonder what it is preying on. It looks pretty cold to me!



Bewick's Swan (left) and with a Whooper (right). It's not only the amount of yellow on the bill which distinguishes Bewick's from Whooper, there is quite a large size difference (compare the legs!), and Bewick's has a much cuter head shape. A quick look at my database reveals that as recently as 1991 there were at least 800 Bewick's Swans at Martin Mere, and even in 1997 there were over 100, but these days anything in double figures is a decent count. Since wildfowl learn how to migrate from their parents, it makes me wonder if Bewick''s Swans will ever return to Martin Mere in their former numbers, even if the winters become a lot harsher again. Perhaps as a species, they've just forgotten were Martin Mere is.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Eccleston Mere


Not officially a white Christmas, this is as close as it gets without it actually snowing! A decent couple of hours birding, with a Woodcock flying around the fields and ditches to the west of the mere, at least three Snipe and 10 Siskins.

Later two Ravens flew over Queens Park in the town centre.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Pennington Flash

The deep freeze continues, and much of the flash was iced over. A female Goosander was about the best water bird, but the bird feeders were a buzz of activity, with about 15 Bullfinches, several Reed Buntings and perhaps 30 Robins.


Bullfinches (left) and Stock Dove.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Waxwings on ASDA car park

There has been a big Waxwing invasion this winter, with thousands of birds elsewhere in the country. Only a few meagre pickings here in St. Helens, but still, it was great to see a couple on ASDA car park, and these were my fourth self found sighting of the species in the past couple of months, so shouldn't complain really! Other birds seen around the town centre today, Raven, Peregrine and Grey Wagtail.

It's easy to moan about the dire conditions out there at the moment (still -11'C at 9am!), but it's already been a Christmas to remember for me, with such glorious picture postcard scenes everywhere, and great birds to be found, with Little Egret yesterday and Waxwings today both found on walks from my house.



Raven (left) and Peregrine (right)


St Helens tundra also known as Ravenhead Greenway. These Canada Geese should surely feel at home in the Arctic like conditions, or perhaps they've just gone soft since they arrived in the UK.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Little Egret on the coldest weekend of the year

If you had to give an example of one species of bird to prove that Global warming is happening, what would it be? I reckon most people would say Little Egret, an archetypal Mediterranean species which 30 years ago was very rare in the UK, 20 years ago was quite unusual yet by 2010 there were probably well over 1000 pairs breeding in the UK. It is probably the most dramatic and well known example of the effects of Global warming on UK wildlife. So what was a Little Egret doing flying over Berrington's Lane today, with the ground covered in snow and following a night when temperatures dipped to -16'C in Berrington's Lane?

It was a most wonderful sight, the sky was deep blue and the reflection of the snow on the bird made it almost glow as it flew overhead in the direction of Carr Mill Dam, with its yellow feet dangling behind it!

Below are a few photos from the weekend. The photos from Eccleston Mere were taken yesterday.


Blue bridge at Windle Hall (left). An umbellifer sp. is restored to flower by the snow (right)!


Berrington's Lane (left) and Pink-footed Geese over Eccleston Mere (right)


Eccleston Mere. The colours might just be black and white, but look at the tree on the right especially, what a wonderful pattern.


More from Eccleston Mere.


And more from Eccleston Mere.


Coots

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Monday, 13 December 2010

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