Thursday, 30 April 2015

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

White wagtail 1 m
Yellow wagtail 1 m
Common sandpiper 1
Redshank 1

Appleton Reservoir, Warrington

Garden warbler 1 singing in SW corner
Sedge warbler 2 singing
Whitethroat 1 singing
Common sandpiper 1
Gadwall 6 (3 pairs)
Little grebe 1 calling

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Pennington Flash

Redstart 1 m
Garden warbler 1 singing
Common tern 15
Sand martin 1500+
Common sandpiper 3

Year: 201 (Redstart). This time last year I was on 218

The redstart was in the horse paddocks at Mossley Hall farm. It was found this morning by fellow St Helens birder Bill Harrison. There were huge numbers of sand martin over the flash this evening, a very impressive sight.

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Hobby 1
Dunlin 2
Redshank 1
Common sandpiper 1
Yellow wagtail 1

Appleton Reservoir, Warrington

Garden warbler 1 singing male
Common Sandpiper 1
Grey wagtail 1
Gadwall 2 (m & f)
Swallow 10
Mute swan 2

Year: 200 (Garden warbler).

The garden warbler may have been present since last Friday, but not being overly confident with the song I needed to see the bird to be certain. It was singing near the wooden style in the south west corner.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Hobby 1
Shelduck 1 male
Common sandpiper 1
Redshank 1
Yellow wagtail 1 male


I decided to have an early morning walk up Pendle Hill today to look for the dotterel which had been present for a couple of days. I wouldn't have long on the summit so I had to be there early and the forecast wasn't great, so bad in fact that I was concerned that it might encourage the birds to leave, but it had to be worth a go. The dotterel aren't around for very long after all, just a week or two around the beginning of May and they are usually one of the best experiences of the year.

I arrived at Barley shortly after 6am and by 7am I was on the summit of Pendle Hill. I'd seen a couple of ring ouzels on the way, but they were consigned to the supporting cast and it was the dotterel I really wanted to see.

The weather on the summit was bleak to say the least. Snow lying on the ground, bitterly cold strong westerly winds and frequent painfully strong hail showers. I met another birder on the summit, and he had been there for nearly an hour already and seen no dotterel. It didn't look good. My fear was that the bleak conditions had convinced the birds to leave, perhaps to lower ground nearby. I had a walk around for 45 minutes, but the best I could manage was a displaying golden plover. It's always an exciting experience to see and hear golden plover displaying, but today I couldn't help but be disapppointed. This was my third climb of Pendle Hill this year and I really couldn't see myself doing it again.

I headed back to the car and drove to todays job which was not far from the town of Todmorden in West Yorkshire. I arrived on site and checked my phone and couldn't believe what I was reading. Seven dotterel in a field just outside Todmorden and just a few miles from where I was working!

They were all bright birds and appeared to be all females. One or two were a little duller than the rest, but they were not as dull as males, and I put them down as young females. Perhaps not quite the dramatic setting of Pendle Hill but summer plumage dotterel are always a great sight.

Year: 199 (Dotterel)

This was perhaps the brightest bird of all.

Monday, 27 April 2015

In the North West

Sometimes surveys can be really boring, but today was a great day, with lots of good birds and other wildlife seen. Highlight was finding a long-tailed duck, my third in the North West this year. Also two little ringed plovers and four common sandpipers.

Long-tailed duck.

Little ringed plover



Plagiomnium undulatum

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

An awesome hobby flew across the flash late afternoon, chasing hirundines. Also today, two common sandpipers, a single redshank and a male yellow wagtail.Houghton Green Flash might be a shadow of its former self, but I still see something good on almost every visit.

On the way home, in Winwick Lane, Lowton, there was a corn bunting sitting on a fence.

Year: 198 (Hobby, corn bunting)

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Pied-billed Grebe, Leighton Moss

The adult summer plumage pied-billed grebe showed very well this evening from Lower Hide. It was my third in the UK, and is presumably the same bird which was in Gloucestershire up until two days ago. On the way back to the car I thought I caught briefly the song of a spotted crake which has been between the causeway and the Lower hide.

Year: 196 (Pied-billed grebe)

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Blue-headed wagtail 1 m
Yellow wagtail 2 mm
Redshank 2
Little ringed plover 4

I was well chuffed to find my own blue-headed wagtail! Cracking birds!

Lightshaw Flash

Wood sandpiper 1
Grasshopper warbler 1 reeling
Cetti's warbler 1 singing
Dunlin 5
Black-tailed godwit 2

Year: 194 (Grasshopper warbler)

Pennington Flash

Cetti's warbler 1-2 singing near Tom Edmondson hide
Common tern 7
Sedge warblers
Reed warblers
Sand martin 3000+
Swallow 400
Common sandpiper 1

Incredible numbers of sand martins over the flash today.

Year: 193 (Swift)

Friday, 24 April 2015

Carr Lane Pools, Hale

Wood sandpiper 1
Blue-headed wagtail 1 m
Yellow wagtail 8
White wagtail 3
Dunlin 15
Ringed plover 3
Black-tailed godwit 50
Redshank 10
Common sandpiper 1

I great early evening visit to these very impressive pools.

Year: 192 (Wood sandpiper, Blue-headed wagtail (I know & I don't care!)).

Definately a record shot of the spectacular blue-headed wagtail. Still, I'm happy with it.

Appleton Reservoir, Warrington

Common sandpiper 1
Sand martin 20
Swallow 10
Whitethroat 1 singing m

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Oystercatcher 1
Redshank 1
Yellow wagtail 2

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Appleton Reservoir, Warrington

Green woodpecker 1
Common sandpiper 1
Whitethroat 1 singing m

Houghton Green Flash, Winwick

Yellow wagtail 1
Green sandpiper 1
Black-tailed godwit 1
Little ringed plover 1
Common sandpiper 1
Redshank 2
Grey partridge 2

Year: 190 (Yellow wagtail)

Not a bad 20 minute stop on my way to work.

Godwit, green sandpiper, redshank.

Yellow wagtail.Quite an interesting photo of it flying up from the emergent willowherb.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Elton Reservoir

At Elton Reservoir this afternoon, five adult little gulls, female long-tailed duck, common tern, sedge warbler and several whitethroats. The long staying long-tailed duck is now approaching summer plumage.

Year: 189 (Whitethroat, sedge warbler)

Four of the five little gulls.

Long-tailed duck.

Sedge warbler

Common Sandpiper and Field Woodrush

Luzula campestris.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Well, that's it then

After 53 years (nearly!) of living in St Helens I've finally moved and now live in Lowton. Highlights of my career in St Helens include finding an American black tern at Eccleston Mere, four common cranes over Berrington's Lane and a Montagu's harrier over Reed's Moss. It was fun, but it's time to move on. The blog will continue pretty much as normal, but since I'm now within walking distance of Pennington Flash, and not far from what's left of Houghton Green Flash, it's likely to be dominated by these places rather than the likes of Eccleston Mere.

Pennington Flash

Five black-necked grebes on the flash today, at the western Slag Lane end. Four of them were in summer plumage, but the fifth was in non-breeding plumage. Also today, two singing reed warblers and a common tern.

Year: 187 (Black-necked grebe, reed warbler).

Summer plumage black-necked grebe.

The non-breeding bird stayed close to the others but never quite seemed part of the group.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Pennington Flash

After three solid days of moving house I managed a quick look around my new "patch" this evening and found my first common terns of the year.

Year: 185 (Common tern)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Observing Ring Ouzels

There's been a large influx of ring ouzels this spring, with small flocks at many locations, for example 20 on the Great Orme, Llandudno a week or so ago. When I heard of 11 on Pendle Hill this morning, not far from where I was working, it seemed a good opportunity to call in on my way home to join in with the "Ring ouzel experience"!

Of course you don't just "call in" at Pendle Hill, there's the small matter of climbing it as well, but though it can be tough when you're carrying a scope, tripod and camera, the difficulties are over  exaggerated I think. In any case, personally I wouldn't dream of carrying a scope and tripod up Pendle Hill, why make life difficult I say! Binoculars and my small camera are all I take.....

I did go to the summit just for a quick look around (no sign of any dotterel yet), but most of the action was in a field on the opposite side of the track to the land slip. There were ring ouzels aplenty, and in the end I counted at least 11, as well as a few wheatears. They were quite a varied bunch, and it was interesting to see so many together and be able to compare them.

Year: 184 (Ring ouzel). Actually these on Pendle Hill were not my first this year. I found one near my car as I was packing up to leave the job.

A nice male but not as scaley as some males and where is the pale panel in the wing? This just looks like a blackbird with a white crescent.

Same bird as above.

A dark grey and very scaley looking young female.

An adult female. Dark grey not black like the male, and not brown like a female blackbird.

Male (above) with female (below), This looks a different male than the first two photos,  it doesn't have a particularly pale wing panel, but it does look a bit more scaley underneath.

Two males. The one above has a paler wing panel, and perhaps also white speckling on its head? Could be a trick of the photo I suppose.

Male with pale wing panel and scaley flanks.

Male and female

A nice patch of Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus which just happens to have a male wheatear standing on it!

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