31/01/2016 Norfolk

Brambling: Dawn surprised me with a post Christmas trip away to Norfolk as she knew I was keen to see the resident Golden Pheasant and the Pallid Harrier that has been there for ages.
Unfortunately this impacted on my attendance at Leigh Ornithological Society's open day of which I can't apologise enough for, but I don't think I was missed too much as the open day was a big success. Well done guys.
We arrived in Norfolk on Saturday morning and went straight to Wolferton Triangle. We saw the Golden Pheasant but very briefly, so much so that I was unable to get a picture. We waited a few hours before heading off to Flitcham hoping to see the Pallid Harrier.
Again after a long wait we didn't see the bird so moved on to Holme Dunes and dipped again, this time we dipped Shorelark. Although Saturday was a bit of a wash-out we were still thrilled to see a huge flock of over 100 Brambling at Abbey Farm.

Brambling are one of my favourite birds so to see so many was just awesome and was a welcome distraction from an empty field - which the day before had contained a Pallid Harrier.
Egyptian Goose: We stood opposite the hay bails facing a long hedgerow that was full of birds, not just Brambling, we counted good numbers of Red-legged Partridge, Tree Sparrows, Goldfinch and even a Stoat! We even had this Egyptian Goose drop in
The goose stayed for a short while feeding on the spilt grain before taking off - probably to Abbey Farm bird hide pond.

Golden Pheasant: First light on Sunday morning we went straight to Wolferton Triangle with the hopes of getting a picture of the bird as the day before I only saw it briefly and was therefore unable to get a pic.
Dawn and I didn't have to wait long before the spectacular bird came from the dense Rhododendron bushes that line the edges of the road.
The bird walked across the road right under the famous Wolferton Triangle 'give way' signs that often come up on bird sighting reports as a marker to where the bird had been seen.
This was Dawn's favourite bird of the trip and I can totally understand why, it is a glorious looking bird with its golden mane and colourful body leading to a superb long flashy tail.

Shorelark: Thrilled with better views and even a couple of record shots of the Golden Phes we decided to wait on positive news of the Pallid Harrier before chasing after it and instead we went to Burnham Ovary for the Shorlark.
Burnham Ovary is a great place, first of all its stunning with distant views of sand dunes a serpentine creek full of waders and vast fields full of geese we both enjoyed the long walk over to the beach.
The fields contain excellent numbers of Brent Geese, Lapwing, Curlew and we spotted a Sparrowhawk and Kez hunting the field margins. Dawn also spotted a washed up daed seal which was sad to see.
There had been three birds reported over the last few days from the beach opposite Gun Hill, as we did not know precisely which dune was Gun Hill when we reached the edge of the sand dunes I asked Dawn to pick a direction and chance our luck.
Dawn's a little star and she picked the right way - within 5 minutes we found the trio feeding at the far end of the beach in the shingle.

A real Norfolk scarce bird specialty and a confiding bird it was a real treat to get so close and watch them go about their daily activities.

Cracking little birds!
Living on the North West I vary rarely have the opportunity to see Shorelark and can remember the last one was the Fleetwood bird back on the 4th of December 2014.
A scarce bird across the UK and a mega on the North West coast, so for me it was great to connect with them.
I noticed that one of the birds had a gammy eye, it appeared to have completely lost it's eye and the condition around its face.

I observed the bird rubbing it's injured side of its face up against the pebbles and rocks however it was still feeding well and moving around with the other two birds without any obvious problems.

 Pallid Harrier: While walking back from the Shorelark at Holme I checked BirdGuides and saw that the Pallid Harrier had made an appearance and come back to Abbey Farm, so with a hurried pace we headed back over to Flitcham.
When we arrived the bird was sheltering from the rain in a nearby tree and a small crowd started to gather. I watched it for about quarter of an hour before it took off in chase of the local Linnets.
The bird quartered the field giving us some brilliant views and showing us all of it's diagnostic features before flying out of sight.
By this time the rain came in a little harder and with a long journey ahead of us combined with empty stomachs we decided to make an early dash home following a stop to McDonald's.
We had a great weekend away, great birds, great food and great company, thanks Dawn for being patient during the twitches and not moaning 'too much'.

Norfolk.....we'll be back!

22/01/2016 Filey Brigg, North Yorkshire

Great Northern Diver: I was really hoping to see the three Richards Pipit that have been hanging around Flamborough Head's north landing for a week or so now, but yet again this pain in the backside bogey bird still eludes me.
I searched for hours in the first grassy field and the surrounding area of north landing and got very wet and very cold so made the decision to move on knowing that they would turn up in the afternoon.
I decided to go to Filey Brigg to catch up with the Surf Scoter, this bird too had gone, or at least I couldn't find it.

Still it was great to see this GND so close up riding the waves that were surging up against the Brigg.
White-beaked Dolphin: I also stumbled across this magnificent animal washed up dead, I had seen pictures on Social Media of a Glaucous Gull feasting on it, all I saw were Greater Black-backed and Herring Gull.
Ultimately it is really sad to see such a brilliant thing washed up like this however it is also incredible to see such a rare and elusive dolphin so close up.

19/01/2016 Hinksford, Staffordshire

Hoopoe: From Gloucester I headed up to Staffordshire to see the long staying Hoopoe which has surprisingly been present on the site since early December.
Despite getting lost and taking the wrong turn up the M5 I made relatively good time and thanks to a lovely local lady called Rita I managed to find the place.
I parked up beside the bus stop parking area next to the old quarry when Rita was heading back to her car to get some gear. I asked if she knew where the Hoopoe was and she kindly walked me to the site. I would have struggled if it wasn't for her, so if you read this Rita -

**a big thank your for your help**
When Rita and I arrived the bird had been disturbed by a dog walker who spooked it off and we had to wait around an hour for it to return. However the bird seems pretty faithful to the site and the feeding location.
I've seen three Hoopoe in the UK now, but never this close and never this confiding! These birds never get boring, they are great looking birds with their down-turned bill and red-indian like crest.
The whole site was very muddy and wet with lots of rough ground all of which is ideal for Hoopoe who like to spend their time using that incredible bill to dig and find food.
The bird must keep it's whits about it as I saw at least three Fox's all over the site, two were furiously mating so lets hope its moves on long before it becomes dinner for a hungry Mr Fox.

19/01/2016 Horsebere Pool, Gloucestershire

Penduline Tit: What an absolute beauty, made even more beautiful with the frosted topped reeds and bullrush's of Horsebere.

They are such striking bird and surpassingly small just like real masked bandits.
I left in the early hours to beat the traffic and once I parked up and after waiting for the sun to rise I headed out in to the freezing fog and frosty air to wait with the growing crowd.
Luckily I didn't have to wait too long before I caught my first sighting of my first Penduline, typically it was a fleeting glimpse as the pair flew over the reeds.

The crowds soon relocated the birds and they put on a real good show.
Originally I was hoping to tick these birds on Sunday but fate delivered snow, thick, white, icy snow - I just hate the stuff!

13/01/2016 Ontario Basin, Salford Quays

Great Northern Diver: It's been almost an entire month since this GND has graced Salford Quays and it looks like it's moved from Central Bay in to the more enclosed Ontario Basin which is located opposite the Premier Inn Manchester Salford Quays Media City Hotel.

Good to catch up with Mr Jonathan Doherty who joined me on his lunch break and Roy who it's always great to bump in to.

12/01/2016 Sizergh Castle, Cumbria

Hawfinch: I have spent countless hours and what seems like many days standing like a lost soul in Sizergh Castle's car park looking for Hawfinch without any luck, I have never seen on here before.

Until today...
I had a work meeting in Kendal and decided to try my luck again, and after a relatively short 2 hour wait I caught a glimpse of my first Sizergh Hawfinch as a female flew in, with its woodpecker'ish flight pattern and landed in a tree only for a second.
Within 20 minuets a male appeared on the ground next to the children's play area, it came back a couple of times, feeding with the Chaffinches.

16/12/2015 My Garden, Abram, Wigan

White Wagtail: The last few months have been great for my garden list with two new ticks, a white Wag and Blackcap, my first ever Grey Squirrel and good numbers of Goldfinches and Starling.

There often hear and see always Grey Wagtails around the neighbourhood but never in my garden, until this bird came to feed on some spilt fat from under the fat ball feeder.

Not remind me that the grass needs cutting! Its like a jungle out there and all this mild weather isn't helping the issue.

Blackcap: The start of the show however has to be this male wintering Blackcap that has been regularly visiting my garden feeders for a number of weeks. Favouring the lowest positioned fat ball feeder, he likes to hop about the veg plot before making his move.

(image taken through double glazed windows)

Greater Spotted Woodpecker: This was only my second record of a GSW in the garden and I was thrilled to get an image, even if it was through the double glazed windows.
The bird stuck around a lot longer then the last one as it fed on the fat balls before flying on to the fence for a short preen and then off in to a nearby tree.

(image taken through double glazed windows)