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.

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