Saturday, 15 January 2011

Hilbre and Parkgate

The temperature gauge in the car said that it was 12'C today, over 25'C warmer than it was at times last month, but the wind was force 5 and it was anything but pleasant walking across to the island. Around Little Eye we were confronted by not only a howling gale, but also a ferocious sand storm!
On the island itself it was pretty quiet. There were about 100 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, and a decent selection of waders, including at least 9 Purple Sandpipers, but nothing at all on the sea.

Then we headed off to Parkgate for the dusk harrier roost. It was a little difficult to say exactly how many birds were involved, but we saw at least three males and five females.

Little Eye

Friday, 14 January 2011

Waxwing invasion hits St Helens!

The Waxwings invasion finally hit St Helens this week, after weeks of dribs and drabs! During the week there were several flocks of 40 - 60 birds reported from places such as Fingerpost, Sutton Heath and most spectacularly Havelock Close / Pigot Street / Napier Close, where the flock peaked at 100+ birds.

Having missed out on most of the excitement due to work, I set out today determined to join in the fun! First we started at Pigot Street, where there wasn't a bird to be seen. Then we went to Lowe Street, but again nothing.

Then suddenly we spotted five Waxwings in trees on the car park in Westfield street, but almost immediately they flew and headed towards Duke Street. We followed them as best we could, and finally caught up with them in Cowley Hill, at Briars Green. And they weren't alone! We counted at least 60 birds before they were off again, this time heading towards Bishop Road. Once again we followed them, and finally found them, at least 80 birds, probably more like 100 in Wynne Road, off Bishop Road. They stayed in Sycamores here for about 20 minutes while we watched them, and were still there when we left. Interestingly, they weren't just resting, they were clearly eating Sycamore buds. All very exciting! If you've not caught up with them yet, you really must take this almost unique opportunity to see these wonderful birds. I've never seen them in St Helens in such large numbers before, and it may be a long time before we get this many again.

Then we headed to Eccleston Mere, where we found a drake and two female Goosanders, and two Water Rails in the south west corner.

Waxwings Wynne Road.

Waxwings Wynne Road.

Water Rail and Goosanders at Eccleston Mere.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

More Waxwings in St Helens

What a winter it's been for Waxwings! Another 17 were reported from Lidl car park in the town centre earlier in the week, but today was the first real opportunity I had to go. Only 4 there today, but still stunning birds, and once again feeding on apples.

Then we went on to Martin Mere. It was a glorious afternoon, with Peter Scott skies and thousands of wildfowl. There were around 2000 Whooper Swans, 7 Bewick's and 5000 Pink-feet as well as thousands of Teal and Wigeon and a few hundred Shelduck and Pintail. Also adult Peregrine, Water Rail, 10 Brambling and 50 Ruff.

Earlier in the morning I also saw a Raven in Burtonhead Road.

Waxwings at Lidl. Never thought I'd say that!

Waxwing and destroyed apple!

Water Rail and male Brambling Martin Mere.

Three Whoopers and a Bewicks Swan, Martin Mere.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Waxwings Mere Sands Wood

I dunno, what can I say? Another flock of Waxwings captured in yet another poor photo. The light was poor, they were silhouetted, it was through a glass window. Usual excuses.....

However, they performed really well, right outside the information centre, feeding on apples. Seven birds altogether. It's been a great winter for Waxwings.

I'd never seen them feed on apples before I saw them doing just that at Leighton Moss the other day.

Lapland Bunting Westhoughton - part 2

We had much better views of the Lapland Bunting today, though it was still difficult to find in the scope. It was in a stubble field with Skylarks and a couple of Reed Buntings, and in all the time we watched (for about an hour and a half), the flock didn't fly once, and without a scope, I don't think you would even have known that there was a bird (any bird!) in the field. But once you got onto it, and if you stayed on it, it did show quite well at times.

Also today, about 50 Pink-feet over and nine Grey Partridge.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Lapland Bunting Westhoughton

The Lapland Bunting at Daisy Hill, Westhoughton showed reasonably well this afternoon, associating with a flock of about 70 Skylarks. Also in the area, about 70 Yellowhammers.

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