Sunday, 29 September 2013


We had a walk to the summit of Pen-y-Ghent today, one of the Yorkshire Dales "three peaks". It was a pleasant walk on a lovely sunny day, but not many birds about today.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Glossy Ibis, Horwich

Four Glossy Ibis today feeding in fields with cows opposite the Bob Smithy pub, Old Chorley road, Horwich. Showing exceptionally well on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
Year 235 (Glossy Ibis)

Eccleston Mere

Teal 1 female
Willow tit 1
Swallow 2
Chiffchaff 2
Kingfisher 2
Black-headed gull 200
Skylark 3 over

Queens Park

Pied Wagtail 70 over the house.

Friday, 27 September 2013

A journey through Cumbria

A few photos from a journey through the Lake District today.

Great Gable and Scafell Pikes.

Bowfell from Eskdale.

Looking down Hardknott Pass towards Eskdale.

Langdale from Wrynose Pass.

Little Langdale.

Red kite mobbed by crows.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Snow Goose, Ravenglass

Snow goose 1 white phase
Greylag 50
Goosander 14
Wigeon 200
Ringed plover 10
Redshank 8
Curlew 10
Oystercatcher 100

It's been a busy week, so far I've done five Vantage Point bird surveys, two extended Phase 1 habitat surveys, a bat survey, a hedgerow assessment and tomorrow I'm going checking on a goose mitigation scheme.

Today en-route to my latest mystery destination, I stopped off for lunch at Ravenglass in Cumbria. I sat on a bench on the promenade and ate my picnic, and did a bit of birding over the estuary. Suddenly I heard Greylags calling and on looking up noticed that there was a Snow goose with them. Hard to say if it's wild or not, but that's true of all Snow geese in the UK. It's at the right time of year and flying around with the right type of "carrier" flock. The Greylags could of course be feral, but in this area they could equally be from Iceland.

Year 234 (Snow goose)


Snow goose with Greylags.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Ainsdale beach

Bar-tailed godwit 1000
Grey plover 200
Knot 500
Sanderling 50
Ringed plover 20
Dunlin 20
Oystercatcher 500
Common scoter 1 female
Wheatear 1
Meadow pipit 50
Sandwich tern 20

Monday, 23 September 2013

Point Lynas, Anglesy

Chough 2
Manx shearwater sitting on the sea
Gannet 5
Sandwich tern 10
Stonechat 5

Also five harbour porpoise close inshore.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Leighton Moss and area

Bearded tit 1
Spotted redshank 5 on the Eric Morecombe pools
Marsh harrier 2
Little egret 5 on the Eric Morecombe pools

Also: at least 3 autumn ladies-tresses in flower, but nearly over, on Jack Scout and lots of migrant hawker dragonflies at Leighton Moss.

Yew in fruit.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Boultham Mere, Lincoln

Blue-winged teal 3 females / juveniles
Bittern 1

Year 233 (Blue-winged teal)

My fourth, fifth and sixth Blue-winged teals. The Bittern was an unexpected bonus!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Ainsdale beach

Little stint 1
Dunlin 100
Sanderling 80
Bar-tailed godwit 40
Ringed plover 40
Curlew 20
Oystercatcher 500
Sandwich Tern 250
Common Scoter 500
Herring Gull 1000
Cormorant 200

There were impressive numbers of Sandwich terns on the beach today as high tide approached.

The return of the Pinkies

They're back! 1600 Pink-footed geese feeding on the mosslands behind Southport today, also three Marsh harriers.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Eccleston Mere

House Martin 3
Kingfisher 2
Buzzard 1

A blustery sort of evening, I arrived with high hopes of seeing perhaps a phalarope blown in by the storm, but left after another very quiet visit. Perhaps the phalarope will be tomorrow.....

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

New Brighton

Leach's storm-petrel 6+
Manx shearwater 2

Three petrels leaving the mouth of the Mersey at 6:45am, seen from Perch Rock, then at least another three from the lifeguard station a little further west along the promenade at about 7:45am.

It was an exhilarating experience this morning, I arrived at New Brighton at 6:30am and made my way to the bus shelter at Perch Rock in the half light, with the wind battering me with a cocktail of sand and heavy rain.

Almost immediately I saw one, a Leach's storm-petrel battling  against the wind as it attempted to leave the mouth of the Mersey. About the same size as a Starling, it's hard not to be impressed by these enigmatic little guys as they are lost to sight in the swell, pattering across the water looking for food when it would seem that survival against the elements would be more appropriate.

They breed in burrows on the remotest oceanic Scottish islands, only returning to their nests under cover of the darkest nights to avoid predators, they spend all winter out at sea, way beyond sight of land and they are only seen offshore during the severest storms. Birders travel from all over the UK to see these birds here in the North West. Of my three companions this morning, one had travelled from Halifax, another from Bolton and the third had travelled over night from Norfolk, all to be here for dawn.

With Liverpool docks as a backdrop, and large ships leaving the river, Leach's storm-petrel is the bird of Merseyside and North Wirral, it should be our emblem. They'll be offshore from now until the end of October, but only when the wind blows from the north west. Don't miss them while they are here.

If you want to see Leach's storm-petrel, you could do a lot worse than follow this thread on Bird Forums.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Black-necked grebe, Carr Mill Dam

Dave Owen found this smart Black-necked grebe at Carr Mill Dam today. St Helens does surprisingly poorly for this species, considering how well Cheshire and Greater Manchester do. I have seen them in St Helens before, one was on Eccleston Mere a few years back, and they were (and probably still are) regular at Prescot Reservoirs, but nobody can get in there these days to check. 


Leach's storm-petrel, New Brighton

It's that time of year again, Leach's storm-petrels are back! I saw this bird flying along the tideline and was able to get some reasonable photos. Tomorrow should be better.........
Year 232 (Leach's storm-petrel)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Blundlesands, Hall Road

Grey Plover 30 many in summer plumage
Knot 500
Sanderling 100
Curlew 10

There's always somebody walking on the beach flushing all of the waders!

Starlings are great birds. Imagine if this was a mega, it would be the biggest twitch ever!

Eccleston Mere

Willow tit 1
Blackcap 1 male
Chiffchaff a few including 1 singing
Great spotted woodpecker 2
Kingfisher 2
Mute swan 1 adult
Tufted duck 4

No sign of yesterdays spotted flycatchers.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Pectoral Sandpiper Rumworth Lodge, Bolton

Pectoral sandpiper 1 juvenile
Not a year tick unfortunately, it was my second this year following one in spring at Hale. My 15th Pectoral Sandpiper.
Rumworth Lodge.

Eccleston Mere

Spotted flycatcher 2
Blackcap 1
Willow warbler a few including one bird in feeble song
Chiffchaff a few
Willow tit 1
Nuthatch 1
Great spotted woodpecker 1
Treecreeper 1
Kingfisher 2+
Buzzard 1
Kestrel 1

Eccleston Mere 2013 - 103 (Spotted flycatcher)

A strange yet interesting photo of the Spotted Fly!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Eccleston Mere

Gadwall 2 (male and female)
Kingfisher 1
Tufted Duck 5
Swallow 10
Chiffchaff 1 singing
Willow Warbler 1 singing feebly

A misty, murky start to the day at the mere. No sign of the mystery aythya but could easily still be present.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Odd aythya at Eccleston Mere

There is an odd looking aythya duck on the mere at the moment. I first saw it yesterday when I took most of the photos below.
It loosely associates with the small Tufted Duck flock, but is happy to swim off alone and I have seen it on the opposite side of the mere to the rest of the flock.
The bird is superficially like a female Tufted Duck, but there are a few differences, some of which are apparent in the photos. Firstly look at the size of the bill. It looks big  compared to your average Tuftie. The head shape also looks wrong for Tufted Duck. In some photos it looks more like a Pochard head shape.
Not obvious from the photos, the bird stands out immediately when it's with the Tuftie flock, because it sits higher in the water and appears more buoyant. For this reason it looks larger, though in reality it's about the same size.
I wondered at first if it might be a juvenile Scaup, but it's a similar size to the Tufties. I haven't been able to see the bill properly, yesterday I didn't have my scope, today I did, but the weather this evening was atrocious and it was almost dark when I was trying to view it. I have briefly seen it flap its wings twice, and it seems to have the pattern of Lesser Scaup, i.e. white on the secondaries not extending onto the primaries. However, I'd like to see it again to be certain.
I'm not sure about this bird, perhaps it's an odd Tuftie, perhaps it's a hybrid or perhaps it's a juvenile Lesser Scaup. I'll be going back for another look over the next few days. If anybody has an opinion on this bird I'd be pleased to hear it.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Eccleston Mere

Mandarin 2 (ecl m & f)
Tufted Duck 6
Buzzard 1
Kingfisher 1

No sign of this mornings Black Tern, but at least there's some movement now.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Eccleston Mere

Yellow-legged Gull 1 adult
Lesser black-backed Gull 30 adults
Kingfisher 1
Mute Swan 1 adult
Buzzard 1
Jackdaw 200

At last something different! A flock of Lesser black-backs with a pristine adult Yellow-legged Gull on a newly ploughed field at the side of the mere . Not my first Y-L Gull at the mere but the first for a long time.

Eccleston Mere 2013 102

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Eccleston Mere

Kingfisher 3
Swallow 30
House Martin 10
Tufted Duck 4
Jackdaw 200
Mute Swan 1 adult
Buzzard 1

Plenty of activity from the Kingfishers at the moment, with the adults feeding young. The Jackdaw roost is quite impressive as well, but I'm desperate for something new to turn up, I've been watching most of these birds for two months now!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Pennington Flash

I called in at the Flash at lunch time for a second look at the Lesser Scaup, and thank goodness I did! It was much closer than on my previous visit and even better, it was awake!

I managed to fire off a few half decent photos of the bird.


With a female or young male Tufted Duck which was following it around. It did spark a debate about whether or not we had a pair of Lesser Scaup, but the female type bird has the wrong head shape, the wrong bill pattern and even has a bit of a tuft, so unfortunately it will just have to go down as Tufted duck.

I wanted to try to get a shot of the bird which was clearly identifiable as being at Pennington Flash.

A close look at the female type Tuftie.


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