19/12/2014 Newchurch Common, Cheshire

Smew: Nice to catch up with Cheshire's female Smew, with it being literally on the way to work, and December being such a manic month I haven't had the opportunity 

It was also nice to catch up with Rob Morsley who like I spent some time scanning through the big flocks of Wigeon and Coot in search of the bird. 

After a long and muddy walk around the lake we finally pinned the bird down - if however a little distant. 

07/12/2014 Gresford Flash, Wrexham

Caspian gull: I was always hoping to pick up my first Caspo myself, I have spent hours scanning over the flocks at Richmond Bank and Moore NR.

I was also hoping my first to be a full Adult, but I am happy to see a 1st winter bird so close to home and a first for Wales by all accounts.

What stood out for me was its extremely pale pear shaped head and neck, with its small dark set back pea-sized eye!

04/12/2014 Rossall Point, Lancs

Shore Lark:  This little cracker was showing incredibly well about 300 yards of the observation tower at Rossall point this afternoon.

A new bird for my list, made that little bit better having seen it as a county bird too - no big trips to the East coast or norfolk for me.

It was brilliant to see this male with it's sandy brown back, black chest band, a curving black mask, and head stripes that extend to the back of the head that are sometimes raised into tiny 'horns'.

The bird was very confiding and not camera shy at all, the tide was way out when I arrived and I did think it might be at some distance once I made it up there, however it came within 3-4 metres.
Distinctly smaller then a Skylark, it almost resembled a Snow Bunting in behaviour.

It was bitterly cold, the flood gates to my nose had opened and my hands were stinging from the biting winds. I stayed as long as I could before I retreated back to the warmth of my car.

What a stunner!

01/12/2014 Martin Mere WWT

Darvic's: Since David Norman has kindly agreed to train me up as a ringer more doors have opened up for me.

A few weeks ago Kane Brides offered an invitation to attend a training day capturing and ringing some wildfowl at Martin Mere.

I obviously jumped at the chance!

Whooper Swan: After suiting up in a pair of waders and appropriate PPE (masks & gloves), part of H&S.

We waited in the entrance of the pipe, Martin Mere's giant bird trap
Pochard: The pipe was baited to lure the Swans and Ducks in to the pipe before rushing out and closing the door. We then jumped in the pool, with waist high water and corralled the birds in to separate pens at the far end of the pipe.
Me: After the fast and dramatic capturing of the birds and after they were sorted, I was able to get my hands on them.

I personally rung, Whooper Swan, Pintail, Shelduck and even a Coot.
Pintail (male): Pintail in the hand was something else, they are such stunning birds and to record individuals biometrics was festinating.  
Pintail (female): I used G sized rings (diameter 11.0mm & weight 2.40g) on the Shelduck and Coot and once these were fitted I took some biometric data that included, skull size, wing length and weight.
We caught a good selection of male and female, where I was shown some good examples of ageing.
We used red Darvic's - the plastic identification ring, along with BTO metal rings sized Mi=Mc (diameter 26.0mm & weight 4.31g) these have a lip and nipple that fit and close together on the birds tarsal.

He wasn't too heavy, I think he weighed in at around 7.4–14 kg (16–31 lb) - this is about average for a male in winter.
This male Whooper was the first one I rung and placed a Darvic with the letters ANY on its right leg.

So if you take a trip keep your eyes peeled for it, its one of mine.
I lay the bird down, slowly took off it's swan bag, leant back and remember to make sure you hold on to the swan bag then......
 .......with one big flap he was off!

Coot: I wasn't too surprised that the Coots were not happy chappies at all, they used their huge feet and claws to scratch and their pointed bill to peck and pinch.

I didn't struggle too much however, under the guidance of Kane.

Kane: There is a certain loving look I give Dawn from time to time, this is the same look Kane is giving this Coot!

That chap off the TV!
The morning was topped off with a gorgeous cup of home made vegetable soup, courtesy of Tom Clare, MMWWT Reserves Manager - I am sure he would like to be credited for it!
Shelduck: Thanks again to Kane for thinking of me and helping me out, it was an excellent morning and one I hope to be involved with again, cheers dude.

Croatia May 2014

Squacco Heron: So I have finally got around putting together a trip report for Croatia, please see below for more.

 Rock Partridge: Croatia is by far one of the best places I have been birding, Croatia is stunning a place full of some really nice people and great birds.
Pygmy Cormorant: the trips highlights included, Whiskered Tern, Rock Partridge, Alpine Swift, Black-eared Wheatear, Flava Wagtail - black headed and Moustached Warbler


19/11/2014 West Kirby Marina Lake

Red Breasted Merganser: An after work trip to West Kirby and Red Rocks didn't  throw up anything too rare.

The highlight was by far was six RBM loafing on the marina, although I was far too late for the Great Northern Diver that was spotted off Red Rocks

From West Kirby I went across to Leasowe with the hope I could connect with the snow bunts, however knowing they haven't been spotted in a day or two I wasn't that surprised when there was still no sign.  

15/11/2014 Lytham Moss

Great Grey Shrike: There are times I love this time of year, when I am watching a Hen Harrier down on Burton Marsh or the times when I successfully find a large white winged gull among the gull flocks on Richmond Bank.

What I don't like is the lack of daylight hours we have, the lack of photography light and birding time.

This was my second visit to Lythams Shrike hot spot, however this time I took Garry along.

We didn't have to wait too long before the bird was spotted on the other side of the road to Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary.
Garry and I spent the last of the light watching the bird getting mobbed by the local Great Tits.

It was also great to bump in to Mr Carlton-Jones, who had a two Shrike day bagging both this bird and Grindleton bird.