Thursday, 31 December 2020

Iceland gull back for it's fifth winter at Pennington Flash

I was very pleased to pick out an adult Iceland gull at the gull roost tonight. It's probably the returning bird back for it's 5th winter, first seen as a juvenile in 2017. This is the first time the bird has been seen this winter.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Iceland gull, Rockcliffe, Cumbria

Travelling back from working in Scotland today and in a desire to avoid service stations, I decided to have a quick pit stop at Rockcliffe in Cumbria. There's been a juvenile Iceland gull on the River Eden here for a week or so, and it was showing quite well today in the late afternoon, albeit against the harsh light of the setting winter sun. Perfect timing for my first Iceland gull of the year, it really was bitter today.

In October 1994 I also called in here with my Dad on our way to Caerlaverock to see what was my first greater yellowlegs.


Over the past few years, Musselburgh just east of Edinburgh on the Firth of Forth has become one of my favourite birding places. The main reason for this is the sea ducks. For an inland west coast birder who has to make do with the occasional 1st winter long-tailed duck on the local lake or very distant scoter on the North Wales coast, it's a dream to see velvet scoter close enough to be able to identify them without waiting for them to fly or adult male and female long-tailed ducks in immaculate winter plumage.

A scan over the sea from the mouth of the River Esk will reveal at least 30 or 40 velvets at quite close range and occasionally a few might be really close, so that you can clearly see features which you can only imagine from the majority of North Wales lookouts, such as the white tick behind the eye and perhaps even the white eye ring. If you're really lucky they might be joined by an American white-winged scoter which is very similar to the velvets but with a different bill structure and colour, and an even larger white tick. No such luck today, apparently it's been hit and miss this winter, but I was compensated by another American bird, an adult drake surf scoter. This is a bird which I have seen many times from the North Wales coast, with sometimes up to five birds in amongst the thousands of common scoter which congregate off that coast, but they're always at best distant and I've never seen then as well as at Musselburgh. My first surf scoter was from Llanfairfechan in 1983 and I remember commenting at the time that it looked like a coot in amongst the scoter. It was basically just a black dot with a white forehead. At Musselburgh they are revealed as a strikingly impressive bird, the males with completely black plumage with an orange bill and big white patches on the eider shaped head. Speaking of eiders, several are present offshore.

Long-tailed duck are also present as are goldeneye, wigeon and a few Slavonian grebes. The adult male long-tailed ducks are like a different species to the smudgy and rather oiled looking young birds we sometimes see locally, with sharp black, white, grey and pink plumage and a black bill with a pink band, plus a long tail as well of course! In spring I often see them chasing each other around but not today. 

So far Musselburgh has been a place I've only visited on work trips to the area, which obviously doesn't give me a lot of time, I always seem to be in a rush. When things improve and we get back to normal, I'll have to make a point of staying in the area for a few days to really get to know the place.

Friday, 25 December 2020

Merry Christmas!

Here's an old favourite which I bring out every so often at this time of year, a robin which landed on my apple just as I was about to take a bite and even more remarkably stayed there while I got my camera out! Merry Christmas everybody, I hope you have a good one.

Friday, 18 December 2020

A bleak day on the south Cumbrian coast

Another day sitting and watching on the Cumbrian coast in blustery winds and heavy drizzly rain, it hardly seemed to get light today. It was still an enjoyable day though, eight hours under my fishermans brolly worried that at any minute a gust might rip it from it's pegs and send it tumbling into the sea leaving me exposed to the elements. As I write the mist and rain is so bad that I can barely see Walney Island little more than a kilometre distant. 

The birdings been good, the highlight was a great northern diver which I watched as it tried to swallow a large fish. Later I watched as it lowered it's head in an aggressive manner and swam towards a small flock of wigeon, before diving and then emerging right in the middle of the flock with its wings spread, flushing the wigeon in all directions. I've never seen that before. Other highlights included a grey seal, my first here, and a greenshank.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Hudsonian godwit, Eden estuary

It's been a poor year for birding, I've been very cautious about where I go and who I meet due to being in a vulnerable Covid-19 group and because of this I've been very restricted as to where I was prepared to go chasing birds. You only have to look back through the posts on this blog to see that despite all of the great birds available during the autumn, from Siberian thrush to yellow-bellied flycatcher to rufous-tailed scrub robin, the only really notable entry from me is brown shrike in Yorkshire. Everything else is pretty much local stuff, and not even much of that. However, my job does take me to many great places around the UK, so I've not been completely stuck at home and when I'm away I do get opportunities to get some decent wildlife experiences, e.g. bottle-nosed whales in the Clyde on my way home from Mull of Kintyre in September.

I saw my first Hudsonian godwit (and the first for the UK) in April 1983 at Blacktoft Sands RSPB and for the next 32 years it was one of the few blockers on my UK list until it finally fell in May 2015, a bird which I also saw. When a 1st winter was reported on the River Eden at Guardbridge, Fife in early November this year, it was a bird which piqued my interest partly because of my fond memories of the species but also because it was a plumage which I had not seen before. However due to Covid-19 I had no expectation of seeing the bird, yes I did have a job nearby in mid December, but surely it wouldn't stay that long? I was wrong.

I'd almost forgotten about it to be honest, it was only periodically being reported in the run up to my visit to Fife, but I made a few enquiries with locals and managed to get some further information regarding the bird and the best places to see it, depending on the tide. 

So today I called in at the Eden Centre at Guardbridge. The centre is currently closed due to Covid-19, but there are viewing screens (thankfully not hides) on either side of the building which are permanently open, and this is where I headed for today. It turned out to be a very nice lunch break stop, there were just three other birders present and all nicely spread out, and the bird was showing as soon as I arrived, on the far side of a channel about 75m away. Although it was a beautiful, bright sunny day, the harsh winter sun to our right rather than directly behind us meant that the light was not as good as it might have been, but I can't complain, it wasn't raining or blowing a gale and I'm told that only in the past few days has the bird started coming this close, having spent much of its stay quite a bit more distant.

The bird was associating with about 30 black-tailed godwits which were also joined by a few knot, dunlin and redshanks. While I was watching the air was full of the calls of waders and ducks, which also included curlew and greenshank, and a couple of times a kingfisher flew past unseen but clearly heard.

Superficially similar to the black-tailed godwits, once you got your eye-in for the bird it was quite easy to pick out even when it had it's head tucked in asleep. The pale supercillium in front of the eye really stands out and is a really good feature for picking it out. It's also smaller than it's cousins and this individual is well marked on it's scapulars, much more so than the accompanying black-tailed godwits, though I'm not sure if this latter feature is true of all 1st winter Hudsonian godwits.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Ring-necked duck, Kilmardinny Loch, Clyde

Ring-necked duck, the duck with rings everywhere apart from on it's neck, is a really smart species. In my opinion it sits proudly in a small, elite group of scarce yet very exciting North American vagrants which also includes the likes of buff-breasted sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper, wilson's phalarope, black brant, green-winged teal and cackling canada goose, not very rare yet very evocative species. 

I didn't have a lot of time today, I just stopped off in my lunch break for a quick look without too many expectations, because there's always the risk with these aythya diving ducks that by midday they'll all have their heads tucked in and be fast asleep. Not today though, all of the diving ducks were awake and chasing each other around and feeding and in amongst them was the ring-necked duck. 

Kilmardinny Loch at Bearsden is only a small loch, and so long as the birds are not asleep, decent views are pretty much guaranteed. Still, they were doing an awful lot of diving and at first decent photos were a challenge, but they were obviously doing a lap of the loch so I just waited 10 minutes and they came right past me. The close up photos are all phone scoped at close range during a period of relative inactivity.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Pink footed geese, Holcroft Moss

The pink-footed goose flock which is spending time feeding just south of Culcheth, viewable from Holcroft Lane, has increased in number this week to around 800-1000 birds. I've spent quite a bit of time looking through them over the past few days but haven't been able to pick out anything unusual since the Greenland whitefront last week, but it's just nice to have the opportunity to watch geese so close to home. They get disturbed quite a lot and move between several fields during the day, often landing out of view, so they can be quite difficult.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Greenland white-fronted goose, Holcroft Moss

Greenland white-front with pink-footed geese 
Photo © John Tymon.

Yesterday John Tymon found a magnificent Greenland white-fronted goose just south of Culcheth on Holcroft Moss. Unlike the first COVID lockdown when I was out every day and the weather was great, this time around I've found it very difficult to motivate myself, what with the bad weather and short days and I've managed to resist a whole host of rarities from Siberian thrush to rufous scrub-robin. However nothing gets the Davies pulse racing like a goose just before Christmas and sure enough I was out today looking for this bird. Armed with information from John I headed for Holcroft Lane and found a flock of about 450 pink-footed geese near Frank's farm. Unfortunately though, most of the flock was in a dip in the field and invisible to me. After about half an hour though I managed to pick out the white-front but almost immediately a farm vehicle drove down a track and flushed the lot!

Actually it wasn't too bad, they flew off east, way over towards Little Woolden Moss before returning to land in roughly the same area, but not before flying through Greater Manchester airspace and becoming a new addition to my GM list (if I kept one!). While they were flying, a female pintail flew up and briefly joined them before dropping down again.

My database tells me that I saw 10 Russian white-fronted geese at Pennington Flash on 27th November 1993, however I have absolutely no recollection of them. The county report for 1993 says they roosted from 21st November to 1st December, with one Pink-Footed Goose and fed somewhere nearby.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

South Cumbria dawn til dusk

Photo: Great northern diver, dawn, Urswick Tarn.

Photo: Sunrise at the river Leven.

I spent the day in south Cumbria today, surveying estuary birds. It can be a long day, especially if the weather is bad, but sitting in one spot from dawn until dusk watching and monitoring the movements of estuary birds as the tides advance and recede can also be a very rewarding and relaxing experience. Nothing unusual to note today, 55 curlew, 150 dunlin, 70 knot, 150 redshank, 800 oystercatchers, 80 eider, three red-breasted mergansers, eight goldeneye and a single greenshank, all pretty much standard fare, but exactly what I want to see when I'm here.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Nicky Nook

Exactly one year ago today I reported on flushing woodcock from moorland in the Southern Uplands of Scotland, in a habitat where I had never seen them previously. Amazingly today we were walking near to the summit of Nicky Nook in Lancashire when we once again flushed a woodcock from moorland habitat. The bird just flew a short distance and then dropped down. Later we also flushed a jack snipe from The Tarn just below the summit, and this was my 200th species of what has been a relatively poor birding year for me (if we ignore the five weeks spent down under at the start of the year!).

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Cattle egrets at the pig farm

Three cattle egrets and a few little egrets have been in a pig field at Ince, near Ellesmere Port recently. Cattle egrets are a lot commoner than they used to be and even breed at Burton Mere Wetlands these days so no big deal perhaps, but I don't recall ever seeing them with pigs before and they are certainly very photogenic in this setting.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Old Coach Road

A single golden plover flew over the Old Coach Road at Rainford, St Helens this morning as well as six snipe. Later three corn buntings and around 100 skylarks were near Inglenook Farm. There were several flocks of pink-footed geese over the area, but totaling only about 200 birds.

Friday, 13 November 2020


We called in at Caerlaverock WWT today and found it to be very quiet for the time of year. However, the journey between Bankend and Annan produced the hoped for barnacle geese, about 4000 in total in several flocks.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Brown Shrike? Johnny Brown's Common

I've been really trying to avoid twitching over the past few weeks because it just doesn't seem the right thing to do at the moment. However, when I got a last minute job near Doncaster today, I realised that it was just about five miles down the road from Johnny Brown's Common and decided that I may as well call in for a look at the stunning adult male brown shrike which has been present for a few days. Actually it's not really on the common, it's on the edge of an arable field and since I'd only been to the site once before I wasn't really sure where to park or how to then get to where the shrike was. However eventually I found my way to the bird and found a small group of about 15 birders watching it, all suitably socially distanced.

To be honest it proved a bit of a pain this morning, spending most of its time very low down in a hawthorn bush and often hidden from view by branches and tall vegetation. The wind didn't help either, blowing the vegetation around constantly, and though the photo above may make it look like the shrike was easy enough to see, in truth it was hidden behind the vegetation as much as it was in view. All of this made focusing on the bird a nightmare and as such I'm very pleased with the phone scoped photo I managed to get. A couple of times it flew out of the bush flycatching before returning to the same perch.

There are some great, sharp photos of this bird all over the internet at the moment, both perched and in flight, showing all kinds of features yet even so there's a debate about the identification. Most people seem to favour brown shrike, but that might be down to wishful thinking rather than a good knowledge of the identification features, for example, how many adult brown and adult Turkestan shrikes have most birders seen and are they aware of the subtle differences? 

Turkestan shrike is of course one of the two species which used to be called Isabelline shrike, the other being durian. Interestingly nobody seems to be saying that this bird could a durian shrike so obviously adult durian and Turkestan can't be that similar visually even though they used to be classed as the same species, whereas brown and Turkestan must be very similar. Ultimately we may have to wait for the lab results of a DNA sample before we know if it was a good day or a great day!

I've seen two Turkestan shrikes but never brown so guess which side I'm coming down on? Go brown! Either way being an adult male it's a cracking bird and well worth seeing.

Assuming that it is brown shrike, this takes my UK life list to 435. 

It was certainly a nightmare trying to focus, particularly when I was doing it on my phone through the scope.

Monday, 19 October 2020

Todd's Canada goose, Linwood Moss, Clyde

I was scanning through a flock of pink-footed geese and whooper swans on Linwood Moss near Paisley today, and came across this dark breasted Canada goose. It seems pretty good for Todd's Canada goose Branta canadensis interior, e.g. large size, dark breast, thin neck, long bill and is it my imagination or is that cheek patch a little less white than on the nearby feral birds? What more do you want? In some ways it would have been nice if the feral Canada's hadn't been there, but it's not unusual for vagrant Canada's to mix with feral birds and at least they are a good comparison species, especially for breast colour and size. 

You can clearly see on more than one photo that the Todd's is a bit smaller than the feral birds with definitely a narrower neck and  a longer body. None of these features individually are conclusive of Todd's, but combined I think they make a pretty strong case. Perhaps the upperparts could be a bit darker, but these are phone scoped images on a dull day at distance so it's not easy to be sure. Notice also the fringes of the upperpart feathers which are clearly narrower and darker than on the adjacent feral bird.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Knot Pennington Flash

Photo: Knot.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Pennington Flash. It's handy having it on my doorstep because I can easily walk it from home so it's a cheap option and if I'm not working I can visit day after day after day which is ideal for a local patch. On top of that I've got a connection with the flash because I've been visiting it for 40 years and so have a decent list and a good knowledge of the place. 

However in truth I've never really liked the place and in recent years that feeling has grown stronger as the habitat has deteriorated and people have slowly but surely trashed the flash. It's a shadow of what it once was.

During the Covid-19 lockdown in March and April it was perfect and I walked around every day. This period was extended through May and into July as I monitored a little ringed plover nest at the yacht club, sometimes visiting three times a day. However outside of this period I hardly visited at all and today was my first visit since 30th July. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Bearded Vulture update

Over the past week or two the bearded vulture which was present for a couple of months in the Peak District has moved south and has been seen at several places including Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Lincolnshire, Bedfordshire and most recently Kent. At the time of writing it's still in the UK but it is hopefully on the verge of crossing the Channel and heading back into Europe. 

Further update -15/10/2020: the bearded vulture was seen gaining height at Beachy Head, East Sussex and at the second attempt headed out over the sea, hopefully on it's way to France and then the Alps.
Meanwhile, the question regarding exactly where it originates from has finally been answered thanks to a couple of feathers which were found back in the Peak District at Crowden. It turns out that it is a wild bred bird from the French Alps and therefore originates from that release scheme. However, the Vulture Conservation Foundation which is the group involved in re-introducing these birds to the Alps has considered the Alps population to be self sustaining since 2006. What is not clear at the moment is the status of the birds parents and grandparents - were they wild bred birds or released birds? I guess that the answer to this question will determine exactly where on the British list this bird sits. VCF have stated that "Full results will be published as soon as possible, once they are finalized". Click on the link below for more details.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Twite on Hilbre Island

After all of the rain and unsettled weather of the past week it was a joy to be out on Hilbre Island today and take in some of the wide open views and wonderful scenery. The Pale-bellied brent goose flock fed mainly on the whaleback near the northern tip of the island, but best of all, a flock of 15 twite near the obs building was an island tick for me. Always a pleasure to be here and everytime I come I wonder why I don't visit more often.

Monday, 5 October 2020

#vismig at Formby Beach

At the moment I've no interest in thrashing around in bushes in some extreme corner of the UK looking for migrant birds, but I did experience some even more impressive visible migration at Formby today. We were walking along the beach and saw at least five red admiral butterflies fly in off the sea! A remarkable sight. I'd love to know where they originated from. 

Birdwise, nothing too exciting to report, the expected waders which are always a pleasure to see, plus about 800 common scoter on the sea.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

A classic Martin Mere October day!

A glorious, crisp, sunny day and a huge flight of recently arrived pink-footed geese come waffling in to land, looking every bit a Peter Scott painting, their enigmatic calls filling the air with a deafening crescendo. Up to 18,000 have been on the reserve recently and they are a truly breathtaking spectacle. A Wilson's phalarope spins energetically on Sunley's Marsh in front of the Ron Barker hide, the first whooper swans are back for the winter, flocks of lapwings and ruff are gathering on the Mere, teal and wigeon numbers are increasing by the day and a Merlin shoots across in the distance. Nothing much to report here, just a typical October day at Martin Mere.

"Err, just go back a bit," I hear you say, "what did you say was spinning energetically on Sunley's Marsh?". A Wilson's phalarope, a North American wader which has been present for about three days, and what fabulous little bird it is. They've become a lot scarcer in recent years and this was only my 9th ever, but amazingly four have been at Martin Mere in autumn, and three of  those were in October. Todays bird followed others in 1990, 1991 and 2009! As I said, a typical Martin Mere October day.

What is not typical though, is that if you want to go to see this spectacle, you need to book your entry to the reserve in advance and through their website, even if you are a member. Numbers of visitors are being restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When you get on site, numbers allowed in the hides are also restricted and you must wear a face mask inside.

After I'd been to Martin Mere I headed onto the Fylde, to a flooded field near Lytham, where there has been a couple of pectoral sandpipers and a little stint. I always love seeing pec sands, they're another North American wader and one of my favourite birds.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Northern Bottlenose Whales, Firth of Clyde

There has a been a group of three northern bottlenose whales in the Firth of Clyde since about mid August but they only get reported intermittently and have been pretty far ranging, initially reported for a few days from near Lochgilphead, then from Great Cumbrae island near Largs and finally a week or so ago from Arrochar. I drove through the first and the last of these places on my way to Mull of Kintyre last Sunday, and then passed through them again today on my way home. I did keep stopping at various places for a scan of the lochs hoping to spot them, but I always seemed to be a week or so behind the whales and had no great expectation of seeing them today.

However, I'd just gone about a mile past the turning for Garelochhead at the southern end of Loch Lomond when I got a message that the whales were now in Gare Loch, just 10 miles from where I was. At the next roundabout I made a U-turn and headed back. A great decision as it turned out, because the whales showed very well swimming in amongst the boats and yachts.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Surveying a bog on Mull of Kintyre

This is the life, how could I ever regret changing career in 2012, from I.T. manager to ecologist? NVC surveys of blanket bogs are just the best job in the world, what a habitat, what scenery! 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Claonaig ferry, Mull of Kintyre

I called in at Claonaig ferry about 10 miles north of my campsite this morning, on my way to my job near Tarbert. I was amazed to see these two otters asleep on the rocks about 3m below where I was standing and completely oblivious to my presence. I suppose that I could have got myself a once in a lifetime photo if I'd made a noise and woken them, but I decided that they looked peaceful and there was really no need to disturb them.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Winter auks and an eagle, Mull of Kintyre

Quite a few auks around the coast at the moment, including this razorbill and guillemot in Campbeltown harbour. I don't often see razorbills in winter plumage so it was good to get this comparison shot of the two species together.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Mull of Kintyre

After a long and tiring journey I finally arrived at my campsite at Carradale on the Mull of Kintyre. It's been a beautiful day with stunning views of Jura and Arran and in the last hour of daylight I watched two red-throated divers fishing in front of Ailsa Craig, "Paddy's milestone" from the beach at my campsite.

With all of these new covid restrictions being threatened I was a bit unsure that I'd make it to Mull of Kintyre this week, but here I am, on my own in a caravan next to a beautiful beach. The weather has been glorious and tomorrow I start work on my own surveying a peat bog 😆. I've got all of my supplies with me and apart from buying petrol I don't think that social distancing will be a problem.

The Isle of Arran.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Autumn flowers on the Great Orme

Photo: Broomrape sp., probably common.

I can't get enough of the Great Orme and it was a wonderful day today, with bright blue skies and still quite a few flowers lingering into autumn.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Sabine's Gull, Hale

Today I called in at Hale to see the remarkable juvenile Sabine's gull which has been feeding on a stubble field adjacent to the lighthouse for the past three days. When I got there it hadn't been seen for an hour so I wandered down to the shore and managed to pick out a couple of curlew sandpipers with the small dunlin flock. Eventually though the gull did reappear and showed well for 30 minutes or so until I decided to leave.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Shifting baseline syndrome at Hesketh Out Marsh and Banks Marsh

It says something about how things have changed over the years when I can go to Hesketh Out Marsh followed by Banks marsh and see six spoonbills, great white egret, probably around 40 little egrets and four avocets and still come away feeling a little sad and disappointed, when just thirty years ago I might have considered it one of the best birding days of my life. The reason for these feelings of sadness and disappointment is the lack of waders I saw on the Ribble today. 

Over the past 20 years we've all become accustomed to these wonderful egrets and spoonbills, so much so that we now expect to see them and they barely warrant a mention in any quick scan of the saltmarsh. For sure they are very welcome new additions to the local avifauna, but the other side of the coin is the devastating lose of waders. 

On a single day in September 1983 I saw a flock of 85 little stints at Frodsham marsh but 37 years later it seems like there's barely that many in the whole of the UK. Just look at Birdguides, one little stint here, two there, but very rarely do you hear of double figure counts from anywhere. Today I saw one and it felt like a mega tick. Curlew sandpipers have fared little better, a flock of 24 at Hesketh Out Marsh yesterday was considered likely to be the largest flock in the UK at the moment. Today I saw one in flight.

This is both extremes of shifting baseline syndrome. On the one hand, it would be easy for new birders to dismiss egrets and spoonbills as a common sight on estuaries around the UK and perhaps not realise how rare they were just a generation ago, whilst at the other extreme the baseline for what is a good wader count decreases as each generation passes, so that birders in years to come might wistfully look back at the days of a flock of 10 little stints when the generation before expected to see 80 and before that who knows how many? 

Why does this matter, well if you don't recognise the spectacular growth in egret and spoonbill numbers over a short period of time then perhaps you also won't see them for what they are, climate change indicator species, and if your baseline for a good little stint count is 10 then perhaps you won't recognise that actually even 10 represents a dramatic decline in numbers from just 30 years ago. This is shifting baseline syndrome, each generation sets it's expectations of what is good a little lower than the last because they weren't around to see what things were like two or three generations earlier.

Whilst new additions are welcome, they don't make up for the loses, I'd sooner go back to the days of large numbers of arctic waders in the UK and leave the egrets and spoonbills for holidays to the Mediterranean.

Also today, an injured and over summering tundra bean goose and a couple of pink-footed geese, plus two peregrine and a merlin. Not a bad day really, just a bit sad. I seem to have a lot of sad days at the moment....

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

The Great Orme

The Great Orme, despite travelling to the otherside of the world on more than one occasion, this is where my heart truly is and Llandudno is the place I would most like to live. I've so far not achieved that dream but I guess that I should at least consider myself fortunate to live within a 90 minute drive. Imagine if the dream was to live in Brisbane or Christchurch, I might never get to go again. At least when it's Llandudno I know that I can just jump in the car and be there before breakfast and home for tea.

Monday, 31 August 2020

Wryneck, George's Lane, Horwich

My experience with wryneck is that they either show incredibly well or are incredibly skulking.... fortunately todays bird in George's lane on the flanks of Rivington Pike chose the former.

From visiting this place many times I knew that I could park close to the kennels now turned cafe, but instead I opted to park at the start of George's lane and walk the mile and a half to where the bird had been seen. It was a nice day and I felt like a walk and really there is no point in rushing to see a wryneck. If it wants to show itself it will be there right in front of you, if it doesn't then no amount of dashing around will make it appear. In anycase I'd already seen three wrynecks in the north west following birds in St Helens (1996), Seaforth (1997) and Fairhaven Lake (2015), and I don't really keep a Manchester list, so no real pressure, just enjoy the day and hopefully the bird will perform.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Osprey passage south

Back to the Cumbrian coast for 7.30am today and hopes of some visible migration were given a big boost by two ospreys heading south in the first hour. One of them hung around for a bit fishing the channel before disappearing south. Also today, an adult female and juvenile wheater, several swallows and house martins, a family party of Sandwich terns and around 180 ringed plover.

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