Sunday, 25 December 2011


Lots of Buzzards today, at least 4 along Dairy Farm Road, 2 Old Coach Road, 2 Berrington's Lane and 2 Eccleston Mere. The only Geese were 50 Pink-feet Dairy Farm Road.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Eccleston Mere

Siskin 50+ in trees at southern end
Lesser Redpoll 1+
Goldfinch 50+
Pochard 9
Kingfisher 1
Buzzard 1
Great Crested Grebe 10
Tufted Duck 6
Pink-footed Goose 50 (flying in direction of Catchdale Moss)

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, the year has petered out a bit, which is not unusual I suppose, what with dark nights and gloomy days. Hopefully in the New Year things will pick up again. Merry Christmas everybody!!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Eccleston Mere

Pochard 9 (7 males, 2 females)
Goldfinch 100
Siskin 1
Lesser Redpoll 1
Buzzard 2
Little Grebe 1

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Eccleston Mere

Water Rail 1 in ditch in SW corner
Kingfisher 1

...but not much else. Long-tailed Duck on Prescot Reservoirs, strong westerly winds with blustery showers, there must be something on the mere surely? Nope, 2 Tufted Ducks and about 5 Great Crested Grebes the paltry total. I can almost see more birds by looking out of my window.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Eccleston Mere

Willow Tit 1 in SW corner
Water Rail 1 in SW corner
Goldfinch 100
Siskin 1
Pochard 9

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Tatton Park

We had a lovely walk through Tatton Park, the trees were full of autumn colour and there were plenty of deer around, including some impressive stags. There seemed to be a mini invasion of Harlequin Ladybirds, with at least five seen at various places around the park, and later we saw one in the nearby village of Rostherne. On the mere there were at least 200 Coot, 20 Shoveler and about 50 Gadwall, amongst other wildlfowl. Perhaps most interestingly, we watched as a Mute Swan adopted its aggressive wings up head down posture and drove away another Swan, virtually the whole length of Tatton Mere.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Eccleston Mere

Wigeon 10 (2 males, 8 females)
Pochard 10 (9 males, 1 female)
Tufted Duck 12
Water Rail 1 in ditch in SW corner
Little Grebe 1
Great Crested Grebe 5
Buzzard 1
Siskin 2

Wigeon. This is the biggest flock of Wigeon I have ever seen at Eccleston Mere.

Other species have not fared so well. By recent standards 10 Pochard is not bad, but as recently as 16th November 1997 I recorded 59 Pochard on the mere, and counts of over 30 were regular around that time. This seems to be a long term decline, the Liverpool naturalist Eric Hardy recorded over 200 on the mere in 1941.

Five Great crested Grebes is a dire count. Over wintering numbers have declined dramatically. Up until the end of the 1990s I would have expected at least 20 birds at this time of year, occasionally over 30.

On the otherhand Water Rails are now a regular feature of any birding visit to the mere at this time of year, up to 3 in recent winters, and Willow Tits have made a come back, and would appear to be safe for a few years at least given the accidental creation of some nice wet woodland at the southern end.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Eccleston Mere

Water Rail 1 in ditch in SW corner
Kingfisher 3 together near where stream enters the mere.
Pochard 5 (4 males 1 female)
Siskin 2
Goldfinch 50

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Possible Pallid Harrier Ayrshire

On my way back from Largs to Glasgow, I saw from the train an unusual looking ring tailed type harrier quartering the reedbed adjacent to the track. I was delighted with this, and obviously immediately concluded that it was a ring tailed Hen Harrier.
However, unbelieveably, on returning home, I find that there has been a ring tailed Pallid Harrier in the same area. I can picture the bird in my mind now, and could easily conclude that it was the Pallid Harrier, it just didn't look right for Hen Harrier, but I didn't see enough on the bird to tick it as Pallid. Local birders have confirmed that the Pallid Harrier does wander into the area in which I saw the bird, but have also told me that Hen Harriers are present there as well. Very annoying, because I had my bike with me on the train, and could easily have stopped off and gone to look for the bird had I known it was there. Just one of those things I guess.....

Greater Cumbrae, Firth of Clyde

Just spent a week at the Marine Biology centre on Great Cumbrae Island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. We saw loads of good stuff, far too much to go through everything, but here is a sample of what was a great week.

Birds seen over the seven days we were on Cumbrae:
Black Guillemot (several)
Great Northern Diver 1
Red-throated Diver 1
Purple Sandpiper 2
Eider 200+
Red-breasted Merganser 40
Rock Pipit 20
Whimbrel 1
Bar-tailed Godwit 40
Shag 100
Hooded Crow 2
Raven 2
Stonechat 1

I watched these mergansers displaying and chasing each other for about 30 minutes, one of the highlights of the week.

Rock Pipit and Caloplaca marina (the lichen!)

I was very surprised to see this Whimbrel with the Curlew flock. It seems really late for Whimbrel, especially this far north.

This huge Great Black Back was eating a Guillemot. Look how it dwarfs the Carrion Crow!

A few scenary shots of Cumbrae

Arran dominates the southern and western views from Cumbrae, and also on a clear day you can see Ailsa Craig (not shown here).


A selection of crabs from Cumbrae

Liocarcinus depurator - Harbour Crab

Necora puber - Velvet Crab

Cancer paguras - Edible Crab

Macropodia deflexa - a Spider crab sp. with a Hermit crab just sneaking into view on the right of the photo!


A selection of starfish from Cumbrae

Marthasterias glacialis

Porania pulvillus - Red Cushion Star

Crossaster papposus - Common Sun Star

Luidia ciliaris

Asterias rubens - Common Starfish

A few more animals from Cumbrae

Munida rugosa - Squat Lobster sp. Being a decapod, this should be with the crabs really.

Grey Seal

Phyllodoce lamelligera - Paddle worm sp. This was nearly 70cm long!

Sea Anenome sp.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Billinge Hill ramblings

Woodpigeon 1400 over south between 8am and 8:30am.
Pink-footed Goose 5000 including 1000 heading east.
Fieldfare 300 over SW
Redwing 300 over SW
Corn Bunting 4 on wires below beacon.
Chafffinch 50 in hedge near Beacon Farm.
Blackbird 10 in hedge near Beacon Farm.

Pink-footed Geese over St Helens, heading south east.

Woodpigeons passing over beacon.

Plenty of Woodpigeons passing over today, but if you weren't up early you would have missed it, with almost no passage after 8:30am. Also a reasonable passage of thrushes, with the most spectacular sight being a single flock of 150 Fieldfares low over the beacon heading south west. The majority of the thrushes went over between about 8:30 and 9:30. Four Corn Buntings on wires just below the beacon would have been resident birds, perhaps just moved from local farmland.
I can't work out what is happening with the Pink-feet. A large flock of easily 5000 birds went up from the Holiday Moss area of Rainford. Most of them landed in the same area, but at least 1000 headed off south east again, and I watched them until they were dots in the distance over Manchester. I don't know of any Pink-feet feeding areas south east of Billinge Hill, and the logical conclusion is that they are on their way to Norfolk, but I've seen so many head that way in the past few weeks, that you would think that there would be none left here by now, yet there are still at least 6000 birds in the Rainford area, and my guess is nearer to 10,000.
I don't usually see very many flying in the opposite direction, but today there was the odd flock in the distance flying north west, only small groups, but perhaps they don't go to Norfolk to stay, perhaps they just go for a day or two and then come back.
These geese seen from Billinge Hill are an extreme example of a classic recording dilema. Standing next to the beacon, I can see geese flying miles away. I can see right over to Southport and all of the SW Lancs mosses, I can see right down to Liverpool and beyond, to Moel Famau and on a clear day the Great Orme and even Snowdonia. Over to the east I can see the Cheshire plain and the Peak District, including the distinctive shape of Shuttlingsloe where I was on Sunday, and I can see all over Manchester, including Pennington Flash, and north east to Winter Hill. I can even see Blackpool tower and the Ribble estaury, perhaps even Pendle Hill to the north.
Geese are very distinctive and they fly in large flocks, and so are easy to see and easy to identify, because although there may be occasionally other species, the vast majority of the large flocks in the north west are Pink-feet. Therefore, when I say 5000 Pink-feet Billinge Hill, what I really mean is, 5000 Pink-feet from Billinge Hill. It's possible that most of them might be miles away, and might never come near Billinge. Yet my records say 5000 Pink-feet Billinge Hill. What else can I put? If I see a flock flying in the distance, I don't know exactly where it is, it's just a flock in the distance. If I tried to say where each flock was, it would get ridiculous. I'd have to specify about 25 locations, and even then, most of them are flying, so are constantly changing location. The flock which left Holiday Moss and headed south east today I watched for about 10 minutes as it flew over Holiday Moss, Crank, Carr Mill Dam, Haydock Newton-le-Willows, Pennington Flash etc. Do I need to say 1000 Pink-feet at each of those locations? Much simpler to say 5000 Pink-feet from Billinge Hill!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Queens Park

Redwing 270 over SW
Fieldfare 80 over SW
Kingfisher 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Siskin 2 over SW

Another decent passage of thrushes. There may well have been a lot more, I didn't really have much time to keep checking this morning.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Macclesfield Forest - Shuttlingsloe - Wildboarclough

Crossbill 1+ heard and then seen in Macclesfield Forest.
Siskin 10 Macclesfield Forest
Lesser Redpoll 5 Macclesfield Forest
Raven 1
Buzzard 2


Saturday, 22 October 2011

Old Coach Road

Pink-footed Goose 6000

At least 6000 geese on Simonswood moss. The photo below shows just part of the flock.

Queens Park

This immaculate Comma butterfly was basking in the warm sunshine on my backyard wall this afternoon. There are still a few butterflies to be seen, though most that I have seen have been Red Admirals. This is the latest Comma I have ever seen by three weeks.

Billinge Hill

Wheatear 1 on midden pile below beacon.
Crossbill 2 over beacon W calling
Pink-footed Goose 1000 flying east
Fieldfare 70 flying SW
Redwing 100 some flying S others just generally in the area.
Lesser Redpoll 3
Yellowhammer 20
Bullfinch 2
Reed Bunting 1

The Wheatear was my latest ever in the North West, by five days. I do have two records from elsewhere in the UK which are later still. On 23/10/1997 I saw one at Machir Bay on the Scottish island of Islay, and on 27/12/2007 I saw one at Cromer Point near Scarborough. This latter bird was associating with a Desert Wheatear, and I don't think that I'm ever likely to see a Wheatear later than that. It was only 5 days away from being my earliest ever!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Billinge Hill

Pink-footed Goose 6000; 6000 birds in the air together at 8:15am, 2000 broke away from the rest and flew away east, 2000 landed on fields below the hill and 1000 headed west towards the Old Coach Road.

Fieldfare 60
Redwing 20
Skylark 20
Meadow Pipit 20

There was no obvious passage today, most of the above birds appeared just to be moving around the local area.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Hilbre Island

It was quite an experience walking across the beach in the dark, towards the shadowy silhouette which was Little Eye, and then on to Middle and Hilbre itself. I arrived at Niffy Bay at 7:30am, and it was still pretty dark, yet even so I was convinced that yesterdays Red-flanked Bluetail had gone. The weather felt wrong, the wind had changed, it was cold and it had been clear overnight. Sure enough, the only passerine I could find was a Wheatear, and I then had to content myself with listening to tales about the bluetail from two obs members who joined me on the island a little later in the morning. All very interesting yet depressing stuff. I did however manage to see a Merlin and a Peregrine.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Billinge Hill - Richard's Pipit

Richard's Pipit 1 flew calling over horse paddocks at 8am. Probable reported again at 11am.
Fieldfare 50
Redwing 50

The day started very dull, misty and drizzley, and there seemed very little bird activity when I arrived at 8am. However, when I reached the horse padddocks, my attention was immediately drawn to a bird flying over with a familiar sounding call, which I couldn't quite place at first. A harsh, House Sparrow like "pshee". Then I saw it, a large looking pipit with a longish tail, and I realised why the call was so familiar. I'd heard it yesterday on Hilbre island, and it belonged to a Richard's Pipit! Unfortunately it disappeared into the mist. However later I received a text from a friend who told me that he had seen and heard what was presumably the same bird flying SW over Brownlow Wood. I should be feeling great about this, but I'm not because I've just been told that they caught a Red-flanked Bluetail on Hilbre today. Why couldn't it have been there yesterday??? Never happy I suppose........

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Hilbre Island

A fantastic visit to Hilbre started well with the news that the Firecrest which had been on the island yesterday was miraculously still present despite the clear skies and full moon overnight. This wonderful little bird seemed determined to show itself and kept popping up all over the island, and eventually caught itself in a heligoland trap. This was the highlight of the day for me, but from a Hilbre point of view the star bird of the day has to be the Richard's Pipit which dropped in at about 9am with a couple of Meadow Pipits. It landed briefly on the south end of the island, before flying off calling in the direction of Red Rocks, where it was later heard but not seen. This is a species which seems to favour the Dee, and amazingly it was my 5th Richard's Pipit on the estuary. Perhaps equally surprising, the Firecrest was my first for the Dee estuary!

Other highlights today included my first Hilbre Shoveler, 80 Linnets, Short-eared Owl over the sea from Middle Eye, Peregrine over the sea from Little Eye, Gannet, 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Red-breasted Merganser, Razorbill, 1 Wheatear, 5 Wigeon,, 2 Goldcrests. Grey Plover and about 3000 Oystercatchers. Interestingly following yesterdays passage over Billinge Hill, not a single Fieldfare and only 5 Redwings.


Hilbre Island from Middle Eye

Pale-bellied Brent Geese

Dairy Farm Road, Rainford

3000 Pink-footed Geese on fields alongside Dairy Farm Road today. Also at least another 1000, possibly a lot more, on Simonswood Moss from the Old Coach Road.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Billinge Hill - Fieldfares and Redwings flood in

8:00am - 9:45am

Fieldfare 1200 over S or SW in groups of up to 100.
Redwing 2200 over S or SW in groups of up to 200.
Lesser Redpoll 2 over S.
Skylark 50 over SW.
Meadow Pipit 50 over SW.
Swallow 1 over S.
Pink-footed Goose 80

There was obviously a big movement of Fieldfares and Redwings today. I had seen 3 flocks totalling over 300 birds from the car near Carr Mill, flying from the Billinge direction before I had even arrived at Billinge Hill, and these are not included in the totals above. I couldn't get out of the car quick enough when I arrived, there were so many birds going over.

Wave after wave of birds went over, all flying south or south west, in mostly mixed flocks of between 10 and 200 birds. Counting was quite difficult, the figures given are absolute minimums, I wouldn't be surprised if there were over 3000 Redwings and 2000 Fieldfares. By the end of my visit I could hear their calls overhead, but I was almost ignoring them as I searched for other things. How many I ignored I couldn't say.

The passage seemed to be slowing when I left, but as I sit here typing this blog entry, a flock of 80 Fieldfares have just flown over from the Billinge Hill direction, so perhaps there are more still to come. Tremendous to see visible migration like this in St Helens!

The photos aren't brilliant but it was a dull misty start to the day, and most of the action was early on, when it was very poor light for photography. At least they give an idea of the spectacle.

A mixed flock of Fieldfare and Redwings from the beacon.

Redwings (left) and Fieldfare (right) over Billinge Hill.

Penkford, Sankey Valley

Green Sandpiper 1
Teal 9
Fieldfare 5
Redwing 5

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Passage over Queens Park

It just goes to show that if you keep your eyes open at the right time of year, you don't have to go very far to see some decent birds. In a four hour period this morning, whilst working on my computer and waiting in for a plumber, I recorded 36 species of birds, many of which were passing over and heading south or south west. Some of these species were really only identifiable by call, and others were quite high up and could easily have been missed. Even so, a remarkable total given that I don't have a garden, just a small yard near the town centre. Here are the highlights;

Crossbill 3 over SW at 8:45
Goosander 2 (male and female) over NE at 10:30
Fieldfare 87 over SW in two flocks of 57 and 30 at 10:00
Redwing 2 over SW at 9:45
Buzzard 3 drifted south at 12:15
Swallow 4 over S at 9:00
Skylark 22 over SW in dribs and drabs
Meadow Pipit 25 over SW also in dribs and drabs
Lesser black back Gull 100
Sparrowhawk 2
Grey Wagtail 2
Coal Tit 1

Also: Kingfisher 1 seen on stream which runs into park at 15:15. Species number 37.

Also: 1 Red Admiral Butterfly, 1 Small Tortoiseshell

In the middle of all this activity, I was also receiving texts from a friend on Billinge Hill, who had 14 Crossbills over, 1 Redwing and 19 Fieldfares, all of which were heading in my general direction! A very exciting morning. The Goosander were quite low down and I would guess were flying from Eccleston Mere or Prescot Reservoirs to Carr Mill Dam.

Although the list is impressive, it does make me wonder what I must have missed, given that I wasn't exactly gazing up at the sky all morning.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Eccleston Mere

Wigeon 6
Raven 2
Siskin 10

It would be interesting to know exactly how many Ravens there are in St Helens. They certainly seem to cover a wide range.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Billinge Hill

Pink-footed Goose 1000 - 200 over beacon heading SE at 8:30am, 800 distantly over Old Coach Road.
Raven 2 (see photos)
Lesser Redpoll 3 over beacon S
Meadow Pipit 40 mainly over beacon S
Skylark 50 over beacon S, including one flock of 20.
Bullfinch 1
Goldcrest 3
Coal Tit 1
Buzzard 1
Yellowhammer 30

It was a much better start to the day than forecast, quite mild and sunny at times, and even the wind wasn't much more than a stiff breeze. Passage was better than yesterday, but still a bit slow, and there was no sign of any Wheatears today, let alone the hoped for Ring Ouzel or Crossbill. It's always pleasing to see Redpolls passing over though.
At 8:30am I spotted a large flock of geese distantly over the Old Coach Road (about 5 miles away as the goose flies). I watched them for a few minutes, and saw a flock of about 200 break away from the main group and head towards me. Eventually they flew right over the beacon and away south east, eventually crossing over Pennington Flash and then were lost to view. Lancashire Pink-feet are known to commute to Norfolk, and perhaps that's where these were heading, but it seemed a little odd that part of the flock should break away like that. On the walk back to the car, near the horse paddocks, a harsh croaking alerted me to two Ravens.
No sign of Merville du Jour in the trap this morning, just Common Marbled Carpet and Angle Shades. Perhaps tonight.....

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Billinge Hill

Merlin 1 juv. male
Wheatear 2 one on field near beacon, one near horse paddocks (see photo below).
Meadow Pipit 10
Skylark 10
Goldcrest 2
Great spotted Woodpecker 1

It was a grim, dismal morning, and a much quieter day for migration than yesterday, with virtually no pipit or Skylark passage whilst I was at the beacon, though I must admit, I didn't feel inclined to hang around too long in the dank conditions. On the walk up to the beacon a superb Merlin darted across the road and away over the horse paddocks. I identified it as a juvenile male due to its small size, which was about the same as a Mistle Thrush. Merlins are always exciting birds to see. It's also pleasing to still be seeing Wheatears. Todays birds, which were both 1st winter, were the 2nd latest I have ever seen in St Helens, but they still have someway to go to beat the record, which was of a bird I saw in Newton-le-Willows on 17/10/1983.
A warm night is forecast, so I've just put the moth trap out in anticipation of a migrant or perhaps the mythical Merveille du Jour. Looking out of the window now, I think I might consider myself lucky if I have any moths tomorrow morning. Watch this space........

Friday, 7 October 2011

Billinge Hill

Crossbill 1 south over beacon.
Meadow Pipit 300+ south over beacon in groups of up to 10 in 90 minute period this morning.
Skylark 100+ south over beacon in groups of up to 10 in 90 minute period this morning.
Wheatear 1 in horse paddocks.
Swallow 1 south over beacon.
Siskin 1+ over beacon.
Chaffinch 50 south over beacon.
Lesser Black Back Gull 50 south over beacon.
Buzzard 2
Sparrowhawk 2
Goldcrest 3
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2 flying around beacon.

It was a very impressive morning on Billinge Hill, with huge skies, giant clouds, a stiff breeze and heavy squals. Through it all there was an almost constant stream of Meadow Pipits passing over the beacon in small groups, all heading south. The pipit passage had already started when I arrived, but it took the Skylarks a little longer to get going, but once they did they were nearly as numerous. Plenty of other birds apparently passing over as well, such as Chaffinches, Lesser Black Backs and a single Crossbill.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Solitary Sandpiper Nateby

Solitary Sandpiper 1

I'm not sure how many records there have been for Solitary Sandpiper on mainland Britain, but there can't be more than a handful, and probably most of what there have been are from Cornwall. I couldn't resist the opportunity to add this species to my North West list and what a great little bird it was, a bit browner than I had expected, and it was indeed solitary, being the only bird on a flooded field at Nateby near Garstang.

This is the 33rd accepted record of the species in Britain, and most of the others were on islands, especially the Isle of Scilly. Unsurprisingly it is the first in Lancashire.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Billinge Hill

7:45am - 9:15am

Crossbill 1 over beacon south
Pintail 9 over beacon south west
Siskin 10+ over beacon south west
Meadow Pipit 50+ over beacon south
Chiffchaff 1
Goldcrest 4
Bullfinch 3
Yellowhammmer 30
Skylark 50
Song Thrush 5 over beacon south
Jay 5

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Billinge Hill

Lesser Redpoll 1 over the beacon
Skylark 60 mainly in one flock around the horse paddocks
Meadow Pipit 50 including 30 in a flock near the horse paddocks
Chiffchaff 1
Yellowhammer 40 mainly flying around the beacon
Tree Sparrow 20
Goldcrest 3
Linnet 40
Bullfinch 1
Jay 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 over beacon
Nuthatch 1

Migrant moths

I had a couple of species of migrant moths last night, Silver Y (2) and this Dark Swordgrass. Hoping for a migrant hawkmoth tonight!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Martin Mere

Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Red Kite 1
Willow Tit 1
Marsh Harrier 1 female
Tawny Owl 1
Kingfisher 1
Ruff 35
Pink-footed Goose 3500

Another tremendous visit to Martin Mere! I saw the Kite first from the Ron Barker hide, both in flight and later sitting on a fence post. The light was perfect, you could see every detail through the scope, and in the early morning sunlight there was no heat haze. Then about an hour later I saw it again even more spectacularly from the United Utilities hide as it flew across Woodend Marsh. While I was in the UU hide, I managed to pick out a Pectoral Sandpiper on Woodend Marsh, though it was a bit distant.

On my way back to the Ron Barker hide, I called in briefly at the Raines hide, and found the Pec Sand now right in front of the hide with a flock of juvenile Ruff!

Red Kite (left). Not the greatest photo in the World, but I quite like it. I think it shows the size diffrence between the kite and the Carrion Crow which is mobbing it. The photo on the right is of the Pectoral Sandpiper. Again it won't win any prizes, but worth noting the size difference between the Ruffs (left 2 birds), Reeve (2nd right) and Pec Sand (extreme right). It has been hanging around with the Ruffs for a couple of days......

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Eccleston Mere

Siskin 5
Blackcap 1 female
Goldcrest 2
Barnacle Goose 65+ flew over
Kingfisher 1
Lapwing 20 flew over
Skylark 20

Brown Hawker

Red Underwing

Moth trapping has been ok recently, but perhaps not quite as good as might have been expected given the hot days and warm nights we have had this week. Red Underwings are always exciting moths to catch though, partly because they are large, colourful moths (about 40mm long), but also because everytime you catch one you're hoping that when it flicks it's wings, instead of red you will see violet-blue, which would make it Clifden Nonpareil, one of the most prized migrant species at this time of year.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Billinge Hill

Wheatear 1 on ploughed field below beacon.
Chiffchaff 1
Skylark 100+
Coal Tit 1

I counted at least 63 Skylarks flying around the horse paddocks and adjacent fields. The rest were flying over the beacon south west.

Carr Mill Dam

Cackling Goose 1

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Billinge Hill

Lesser Redpoll 1 over beacon (going north!)
Blackcap 1 female in Elder bush near beacon.
Chiffchaff 2 including one still singing.
Swallow 4
Skylark 50+ some going SW, others just hanging around, and 2 singing!
Meadow Pipit 30
Treecreeper 1
Goldcrest 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2
Mistle Thrush 17
Tree Sparrow 60
Yellowhammer 40
Grey Partridge 6 in ploughed field below beacon.
Grey Wagtail 2

Carr Mill Dam

Cackling Goose 1
Kingfisher 1

Monday, 26 September 2011

Cackling Goose Carr Mill Dam

When I heard that a Lesser Canada Goose had been reported from Carr Mill Dam this morning, I was fairly sure that it would be the same Cackling Goose which was seen at Eccleston Mere, Knowsley Park and Prescot Reservoirs in the August, and sure enough it was, with the same dodgy looking wing. However it's now looking even better, with a really nice purply sheen to the breast. It differs from the other Canadas in it's small size (barely bigger than a Mallard), short neck, tiny bill and dark breast. There is a debate on bird forums about this bird, and the majority seem to be of the opinion that the bird is a hybrid, largely because its back is apparently a fraction too grey, and it's bill a fraction too big for pure Cackling Goose, but it's a close call for me. In perfect light at Carr Mill Dam it may look a fraction grey, but with 20,000 Barnacles on Islay on a dull winters day, there wouldn't be many people saying it was a hybrid in my opinion! Interesting bird whatever the reality......

A nice size comparison with Mallard, Canada Goose and Coot (left), and a great view of its shiney purply breast (right).

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