Friday, 31 May 2013

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Old Coach Road

Yellow Wagtail 1
Tree Sparrow 2

Barrow Lane, Winwick

There was a Black-headed Yellow Wagtail in rape seed fields off Barrow Lane, Winwick yesterday, so I called in on my way home for a look. No sign of the star of the show, but there were at least two Yellow Wagtails, two singing Corn Buntings and a few Tree Sparrows.

Yellow Wagtail and yellow field.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Martin Mere

In between surveys today I called in at Martin Mere. It was a bit quiet and the highlight was this spectacular male Ruff in breeding plumage. Other birds seen included about 35 Avocets and a Raven.

These are more digiscoped photos. This bird was on the far side of Sunley's Marsh (100m distant?). The photos were taken through the telescope at 60x magnification, just by holding the camera up to the eyepiece. The light was poor, and I don't have either the correct type of camera or an adaptor for holding everything steady, so I'm quite pleased with  the results, even though they are obviously not going to win any awards!

Eccleston Mere

Little Ringed Plover 1
Common Tern 1 flew over
Mute Swan 2 adults
Gadwall 2 (male & female)
Lesser Redpoll 3 displaying
Great Spotted Woodpecker 3

Monday, 27 May 2013

Eccleston Mere

Little Ringed Plover 1
Oystercatcher 1
Gadwall 2 (male and female)
Swift 100
Swallow 100
House Martin 100
Buzzard 1
Kestrel 1
Willow Warblers
Reed Buntings

What a difference a bit of weather makes! I called in at the mere briefly this morning and it was pretty quiet, just a handful of hirundines and Swifts, and a few warblers singing. This evening in the rain, the air was full of Swifts, Swallows and Martins, and best of all, the Little Ringed Plover was back. I haven't a clue where it's spending most of its day, the mere is far from suitable habitat even for a brief visit, but it seems to be enjoying its stay and keeps coming back for more!

Some of the woodlands at the mere have a fine display of Bluebells at the moment.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Rainford Mosslands

Yellow Wagtail 4 Clares Moss, Old Coach Road, 1 Dairy Farm Road
Little Owl 1 Old Coach Road
Raven 1 Old Coach Road
Spotted Flycatcher 1 Old Coach Road (not seen by me)
Buzzard 7 Old Coach Road, 3 Berrington's Lane

Male and female Yellow Wagtail, Clare's Moss. The female is an interesting bird. I've put it down as flavisssima (the British race Yellow Wagtail), but looking at the photo, it seems a bit yellower than I expected, especially around the throat, and it's quite well marked around the face, more so than I would have expected on a typical flavissima. The facial marking especially make it look suspiciously like a female flava (European "Blue-headed" race). There have been Blue-headed Yellow Wagtails in this area before, and a pair bred in Dairy Farm Road in 2006.

Eccleston Mere

Was it worth getting to the mere at 5am? You tell me....

Lots of warbler song, Whitethoats (4), Blackcap (6), Willow Warbler (4) and Chiffchaff (2), and several Reed Buntings as well as various commoner woodland species joining in the chorus. Nothing new though, and almost birdless on the water except for two Tufted Ducks and about 10 Great crested Grebes. At least I can say that there was no sign of the Little Ringed Plover this morning, though I suppose it could be getting there even earlier now that the mornings continue to get lighter. I'll leave that pleasure for somebody else!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Eccleston Mere

A quiet evening at the mere, the only bird highlight was a Kingfisher and a Great spotted Woodpecker feeding young.

Umbellifers are a very diverse family of plants. This is Pignut Conopodium majus, and it is perhaps the most dainty, growing to a height of about 15cm. Other members of the family are carrot, parsley, hemlock, celery and giant hogweed, which can grow to 5m tall and has flowers up to 50cm across! Pignut is so called because it has an edible tuberous root.

Leighton Moss

Bittern 1
Bearded Tit 1
Cetti's Warbler 1
Marsh Harrier 5 (2 males, 3 females)
Marsh Tit 1
Pochard 2 (inc. female with 4 chicks)

Year 197 (Bittern, Marsh Tit)

With a good looking forecast for the weekend, I decided to have an early start at Leighton Moss.

The public causeway at 6am. Lots of birds singing in the reeds, including Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler. I headed for Lower hide, where Marsh Harriers were performing well. I saw two fantastic males and at least three females.

Young Coots are great birds! These were right outside the public hide.

It's not all good news for the Coots though, chicks like this are favourite prey for Marsh Harriers. With up to 7 harriers on the reserve at the moment, and with even more to arrive soon in the form of juveniles, no water birds can let their guard down for a moment.

As I was leaving Lower hide, their was a loud commotion in the reeds behind the hide and a male Marsh Harrier emerged at point blank range, right in front of me, carrying an unfortunate Coot chick.

Bird Cherry is in full blossom at the moment.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Eccleston Mill Dam

Common Tern with a fish.

A nice shot of the dark grey on the primaries, and another of the bill.

Eccleston Mere

Blackcap 6 singing
Whitethroat 4 singing
Nuthatch 1
Lesser Redpoll 3 displaying
Pink-footed Goose 1
Kingfisher 1
Swift 30
Swallow 30
House Martin 30

No sign of the LRP today.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Eccleston Mere

Little Ringed Plover 1
Oystercatcher 2
Kingfisher 2
Whitethroat 5 singing
Blackcap 4 singing
Reed Bunting 5 singing

The Little Ringed Plover was present again at 5:10am and was still there when I left at about 6:00am.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Eccleston Mere

Willow Tit 1
Tufted Duck 6
Swift 50
Swallow 50
House Martin 50

The Little Ringed Plover was seen again this morning.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Eccleston Mere

Common Tern 2
Oystercatcher 3 flew over
Kingfisher 1
Swift 50

The Little Ringed Plover was seen again this morning. Thanks to Damian Pendlebury for allowing me to use this photo.

A great little bird, well worth the effort!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Eccleston Mere

Little Ringed Plover 1
Kingfisher 1 (nice view sitting on yacht club roof!)
Pink-footed Goose 1
Tufted Duck 8

There were two Spotted Flycatchers at the mere yesterday, not seen by me.

Sunday, 19 May 2013


Pied Flycatcher 1 singing male
Willow Warblers

Year 195 (Pied Flycatcher)

Moel Famau from Loggerheads. There's lots of great woodland habitat here.

I'm pretty sure that this bracket fungus is Dryad's Saddle Polyporus squamosus. A cracking looking fungus!

Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon.

Eccleston Mere

Little Ringed Plover 1
Pink-footed Goose 1
Whitethroat 5 singing
Blackcap 4 singing
Willow Warbler 6 singing
Chiffchaff 1 singing
Reed Bunting 5 singing
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Kingfisher 1
Tufted Duck 6

The mere at 5:30am. I didn't see the LRP on my first walk around, I picked it up on my second lap. It's a surprisingly small bird, not much bigger than a long legged House Sparrow and nicely camouflaged in amongst the grass, daisys, goose feathers (and droppings!). If it doesn't move it can be a challenge to spot. Hopefully it will stay for a bit longer to let others see it.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Little Ringed Plover, Eccleston Mere

I was at the mere for 5am today, in the hope of seeing something good following the heavy overnight rain. It was worth the effort! On the grass just past the gate, a Little Ringed Plover, my first at the mere. Interestingly, yesterday I met a fellow birder who told me that he had seen a LRP in exactly the same place on Wednesday, so presumably this is the same bird returned.

Little Ringed Plover 1
Pink-footed Goose 1
Gadwall 2 (male and female)
Swift 40
Swallow 50
House Martin 40
Kingfisher 1

Eccleston Mere life list 163, Eccleston Mere 2013 list 100.

Little Ringed Plover. I hope it doesn't get bullied by that Canada Goose chick!

I spent some time this evening looking for signs of White-letter Hairstreak larvae on the Wych Elm, but without success. However, I can obviously only see the lower branches of the tree, and I'm not sure if a species which spends much of it's time in the canopy would lay eggs so low down.

Horrock's Flash, Wigan

Black-necked Grebe 2
Scaup 1 male
Common Tern 11
Reed Warblers
Sedge Warblers

Year 194 (Scaup, BNG)

I called in at Horrock's Flash in Wigan to see a drake Scaup which has been present for a few days. While I was there I "found" two Black-necked Grebes, which were a nice year tick bonus! Turns out that they had really been found this morning, but I didn't know that at the time so I'm claiming them as self found!


Black-necked Grebes. It was dull and drizzly and not the greatest day for viewing and even worse for photography, but summer plumage Black-necked Grebes are always very special. Fantastic birds!

Scaup and Black-necked Grebe join a long and growing list of quality birds I've seen at Horrock's Flash over the years, including Great White Egret, White-winged Black Tern, Ring-necked Duck and Green-winged Teal. It's even more impressive if you include the adjacent  Flashes of Scotsmans and Pearsons, where I've seen River Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Bittern. What would I give for habitat like this at Eccleston Mere!

Martin Mere

Knot 14
Grey Plover 1
Whimbrel 1
Ringed Plover 15
Dunlin 5
Redshank 5
Curlew 1
Avocet 30

I went to Martin Mere to try to see a Temminck's Stint which had been found yesterday. No sign of the stint, but 14 Knot is an amazing number at an inland site, and possibly a Martin Mere record! Also a rather grotty looking Grey Plover, which itself  is not a bad inland record. There were very few birders at Martin Mere today, and only a handful of us saw these birds, which flew off at 11am.

14 Knot and Grey Plover. Note the diagnostic black armpits of the plover and one of the Knot is in it's red summer plumage.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Eccleston Mere

Peregrine 1 over
Common Tern 2
Swift 80
Pink-footed Goose 1
Nuthatch 1
Tufted Duck 5
Lesser Redpoll 2
Goldfinch 10

One of the terns (the male?) caught a small fish and offered it to the other (the female?) which was sitting on a bouy. The offer was rejected and the female flew off to another bouy, followed by the male. This went on for about 5 minutes before finally the male gave up and ate the fish! Later, I was watching one of the terns on a bouy, and saw it look nervously skywards. I followed its gaze up and saw that there was a Peregrine overhead!

I don't know if this Pink-foot started out as a wild bird, but it's now quite tame in the company of the Canada Geese, and it doesn't look injured and feeds quite happily.

No, this is not an exotic flycatcher in the tropics, it's a juvenile Long-tailed Tit at Eccleston Mere.

I found this Wych Elm Ulmus glabra growing in the woods adjacent to the car park. This species is the food plant of the butterfly White-letter Hairstreak, which was recorded breeding on one tree in the Sankey Valley a few year back, until the tree was chopped down. This tree at Eccleston Mere looks quite young, so it's probably a longshot to hope that the butterfly will occur here, but it will be worth a look during the flight season, assuming that the sun comes out this year of course. As you can see in the photo, the tree is covered in seeds, which are prominent in bright green bunches before the leaves appear. The butterfly larvae initially feed on the flower buds of the tree so in that respect at least the tree would appear to be old enough and suitable.

Dairy Farm Road

Yellow Wagtail 3

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Eccleston Mere

Tufted Duck 7
Swift 10

I'm back to counting Tufted Ducks. Very quiet at the mere at the moment, though perhaps 6:30pm on a Thursday evening isn't the best time to visit, with the mere full of yachts and no less than three motor boats.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Pennington Flash

Black Tern 2 adults summer plumage
Garganey 1 drake
Arctic Tern 1
Common Tern 10
Lesser Whitethroat 1 singing
Turnstone 3
Swift 1000+
Swallow 100's
House Martin 100's
Sand Martin a few
Reed Warbler 5 singing

Year 192 (Black Tern)

The weather might have been awful this morning, but what it did do was bring in a lot of birds! These were by far the largest numbers of Swifts and hirundines I have seen this year, and there were lots of terns present, the numbers given being the minimum because counting was quite difficult due to the large numbers of birds involved. I was there of course to see the Black Terns which had been found this morning, and I wasn't disappointed, with good but fairly distant views of both birds from Horrock's hide.

Then I went to Ramsdales hide where there was a drake Garganey. It had been asleep for most of the day, but when I got there it had just started feeding and provided excellent views.


The view from Ramsdales and Horrock's hides. You can see how much rain was put down this morning by comparing the photo taken from Horrock's today with that I took from the same hide just two days ago!

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