23/10/2016 Spurn, East Yorkshire

Siberian Stonechat: Another trip to Spurn, this time with the intention of ticking the Isabelline Wheatear.

Typically I arrived on the day the bird disappeared.
Instead we had to settle for this little cracker, a probable Stejneger's Siberian Stonechat, a race of Siberian Stonechat and a third for Britain!

If or when, this bird gets accepted by the BOU and becomes a tickable bird it will be more sought after than the Isabelline Wheatear we missed.
Tricky little bird to pin down, almost as soon as I raised my lens and focused it was off it almost seemed like the bird was taunting us all!
Snow Bunting:  Here is some reading that might be found useful and interesting regarding the Stejneger's Siberian Stonechat.

After we had our fill of the Stonechat we embarked on the long, long walk back from the point, across the breach and back to civilisation.
We heard over Iggo's radio that there was a showy Snow Bunting at the caravan site near Bluebell Car Park and we weren't disappointed as the little beauty showed really well.

There were also four Twite happily feeding next to the same caravan site.
Twite: Despite the distinct lack of birds, especially because the winds looked so good the night before I still had a great day out with some excellent company, cheers Danion, Garry and Iggo.

14/10/2016 Spurn, East Yorkshire

Siberian Accentor: Probably the biggest bird of the year a 2nd for Britain but only after the 1st record being found a week ago in Shetland.

Found by Lance Degnan, congratulations!
This species is a native of northern Siberia, on both sides of the Ural Mountains and a casual visitor in western and northern Alaska and the outer Aleutians. So it's a bird many people thought they would never see on the shores of the UK.
It was crazy there were huge numbers of twitchers from across the country and so Spurn Bird Obs lads had organised a queuing and viewing system. People can see the bird for ten minutes, then go to the back of the queue and wait their turn again.
The bird was feeding in a small yard at the back of some houses near Viccars Lane. This small site could only allow around 150 people to look over the fence to view the bird so without the queuing system it would have been chaos!

Big thumbs up and thanks to the lads from Spurn who did a brilliant job of organising viewing of the bird.

Patrick and I took a few goes on the merry-go-round and queued up several times to view the bird and each time got increasingly better views of this super gorgeous little bird!
The accentor is a distant relative of the common British dunnock but is distinguished by its black and creamy facial markings, here is a good comparison.

Shore Lark: Once we had our fill of the sib acc and had enough of the crowds, we headed down to the Bulebell Carpark to see one of my favourite birds, the Shore Lark.
In typical Shore Lark fashion the bird was showing incredibly well as it hunkered down out of the blustery easterly winds.
I would like to give a special thanks to Patrick who pointed out that I was almost laying in dog turd as in typical 'Austin' fashion I was laying down on the ground with my camera trying to get a better shot of the bird.
Dusky Warbler: There are times when Spurn is really good and this was definitely one of these times!

As we left the Shore Lark we decided to check out Langham Lane and find something decent.
However we only got half way down before news came over the radio saying there had been a Dusky Warbler caught and rung and will be released in Church Field.

We turned around and with a hurried pace made it in time for the showing and release.

With the huge number of birders visiting Spurn after ticking the sib acc Church Field is chocca, with at least 300 people crowding around the edge of the field.
This was mine and Patricks first Dusky and it was such a privilege to see the bird at close quarters, in the hand.

Its far from a little brown job, a very distinct bird with unstreaked brown back and buff underparts and a prominent whitish supercilium.
The day ended with several superb views of three Ring Ouzel, one Redstart at Sammy's Point and Firecrest in the Crown & Anchor car park.

Overall a brilliant day with great company, excellent birds and plenty of friendly familiar faces, many from the North West.

11/10/2016 Houghton Green Pool

Yellow-browed Warbler: Well done to Colin Davies who does it again and finds yet another local YBW.

Colin shows us that if you put the time in and look hard enough and be patient you will soon find something of interest.

The bird was typically very elusive and often gone for long periods, it is located in the corner near Cloverdell foraging in the Sycamores and Hawthorn bushes and at times can be found in the Willow.
I woke up today hoping to see another YBW, especially after missing the Pennington Flash bird due to attending Destination Star Trek Europe in Birmingham over the weekend, my first Star Trek convention.
YBW are famously tricky birds to grab an image of, they are particularly small birds who seem to be Duracell operated and don't stop moving as they forage within thick trees and bushes.
They are also brilliant little birds and one of my favourites.

03/10/2016 The Great Orme

Booted Warbler: A first for me and a first for Conwy, this cracking bird was found by Tom Gravett this morning.

When I arrived the bird was happily foraging amongst the grass next to a small gorse bush near the Limestone Carpark. 

(Iphone Scoped Image)

There was some discussion over this bird being a Sykes Warbler, as far as I could see it didn't have dark feet or boots! However with it having a broad super and a shorter bill I believe it has now been separated and pinned down as  Booted Warbler. 
And isn't it typical when my big lens is broken and in the shop getting fixed, a really good bird turns up locally leaving me using my Iphone through my scope and my old (rubbish) 75-300mm lens.

Oh well, I should have my big lens back soon and it was great to add such a scarce and tricky bird to my list.

(75-300mm 5.6 lens Images) 

20/09/2016 My Garden, Abram, Wigan

Willow Tit: Over the past few weeks I have been treated to not one but two Willow Tit regularly visiting my garden feeders.

More than 10 per cent of the UK’s Willow Tit population live in the area around Wigan, St Helens, Warrington and Chorley.
Goldfinch: This is critical as nationally the UK population has fallen by 90 per cent in the past 30 years placing it on the red list of species of conservation concern!

I will make sure to keep the feeders topped up over the colder winter months to help these little beauties along.

Another welcome bird that brings a bit more colour are Goldfinch, I have good numbers visiting that swell in Winter.

I do really enjoy my garden and watching the visitors on the feeders - a real joy.

15/09/2016 High Rid Reservoir, Bolton

White-winged Black Tern: My second WWBT but this time a juvenile bird and a little cracker!

Looking at some of today's reports the bird didn't appear on High Rid until around 11.30am so I wonder where it was?
You never know, I might pick one up at Houghton Green Pool one day, or a Black Tern. To be honest I would be happy with a Dunlin with the site being very hit or miss.

Unfortunately the bird was busy feeding on the wing on newly hatched caddis fly and stayed at least 5-10 metres away from my lens.

If the bird sticks around until the weeknd I will be sure to try again for some better pics.

10/09/2016 Spurn Migration Festival

Kentish Plover: Despite the dreadful weather producing constant driving rain we had a brilliant start to the weekend with Spurn's 17th Kentish Plover, 1st since 2000 and a lifer for me!

After getting gripped off with the recent Manchester bird, due to working away in London I was thrilled to finally get this bird in the bag.

Curlew Sandpiper: I attended the event with a good friend and fellow ecological consultant Tom and decided to camp, we also bumped into many friendly faces including Ian Igglesden and Scott Reid.
These gents  shared more than a couple of drinks with me on the Saturday night in the Crown & Anchor pub and subsequently paid for it on the Sunday morning with one big hangover!

Spurn is a truly special place with it's geographical location and position, it is famous for the way birds funnel through Spurn during their migration.

Dunlin & Curlew Sandpiper: The festival is a celebration of the spectacle of bird migration from Spurn and around the world. Offering guided walks, bird ringing demos and plenty of expert talks.
Dunlin: Tom and I saw two cracking talks one from Mark Pearson about the work of Filey Bird Obs that was full of brilliant images and stories of finding some rare birds and what Filey has to offer.

Wood Sandpiper: The second talk was from Bjorn Malmhagen and David La Puma about their own migration hotspots, Cape May Bird Obs and Falsterbo Bird Obs. I thoroughly enjoyed this talk, the two blokes were brilliant, informative and  engaging
For me what makes Spurn Migration Festival so good and an event to attend again and again is Spurn itself and the offer of some great birding to be had.
Wood Sandpiper & Ruff: This is a good comparison between Ruff and Wood Sand. Kilnsea Wetlands was the place to be on the Saturday we had two Curlew Sandpiper, plenty of Dunlin, Common Tern, Bar-tailed Godwit, plenty of Yellow Wagtail and the bird of the weekend the Kentish Plover.

On the Sunday we were treated to cracking views of a single Wood Sand foraging in front of the hide.  

We also had some good vis mig (visible migration -birders love using their own language) with reports of over 5000 Meadow Pipit moving through although we only saw a small fraction of this. 
This was the second time I have attended Spurn Migration Festival and it keeps on delivering and remains a highlight of the birding calendar, I look forward to next year.

For more info see below: