21/10/2018 Treeve Moor, Penzance, Cornwall Gray Catbird

Grey Catbird: Boo-ya, after an eagerly anticipated wait and a whole-lotta luck I have now added grey catbird to my list.

This is the second record for the UK after the Anglesey bird back in October 2001. The bird has been here since last Monday and with the weather changing to northerly winds and colder, clear night I did think the bird might move on without me seeing it first.

But not this time, the bird remained faithful to its feeding foraging site, behind Treeve Moor guest house and showed well without waiting too long.

One thing I wanted to mention was the three blokes who were locals and their complete and utter disregard for other twitches on site, I travelled 724 miles to see this bird and there were at least a dozen other twitches who hadn't seen it before I arrived.

These three local birders not only saw the bird first and kept schtum, but moved to a completely different area to view he bird and purposely didn't tell anyone else. I was disgusted by their selfish behaviour.

Still, lets not have them spoil this twitch, I did see this brilliant bird after all.

17/10/2018 Thurstaston, Wirral ‏

Chough: After working night time road closures on the M56 I had some time banked and decided to spend some of it out birding, specifically to see my first Cheshire chough.

I walked down slipway from top car park of the Dee Sailing Club and bumped in to a few familiar names including Pete Hines, Kenny McNiffe, Chris Challoner to name a few, the bird was showing well on the boulders and cliff faces at on the beach.

According to the Al Conlin this is the 12th chough for Wirral.

07/10/2018 Haltwhistle Cemetery, Northumberland

European Bee Eater: After a very disappointing morning where once again Dawn and I failed to secure tickets to Glastonbury I decided to take the long trip up the M6 and see this little beaut.

A stunning bird and one I've only seen once before in the UK and almost in the same area.
Once I parked up I headed in to the cemetery hoping to find a large crowd of birders and toggers snapping away, but after a 10 minute search I still could find the bee eater or the birders.
I eventually bumped din to another birder who was also on the lookout and also in the wrong place like myself, we realise the bird had moved away from the cemetery and down towards the river.
Here there was about 20 people enjoying the colourful bird on this dull grey day.
While there I was told that the bird has been in the area for 10 days and I could see it was feeling well on a wasps nest in the nearby house.
It was good to catch up with young Elliot and good to hear he is doing well at Carlisle Uni.

22/09/2018 Crosby Marina Lake, Sefton, Merseyside

Grey Phalarope: This morning I woke up to the news that Pete Kinsella had found a very showy grey phal on his local patch only to have a full schedule.
Today was my sisters baby shower in Chester, so I thought I would have no chance and no luck at seeing this bird, I thought by the time I was done it would have been spooked off and flown back out on to the Mersey.
But after filling my face with some lovely cake and hummus finger sandwiches as part of the afternoon tea and playing some dubious baby related games I was thrilled to hear the bird was still there.
Not only on the marina lake but on the small boating lake beside the gigantic one!

I've seen plenty of grey phals but not like this, this bird was swimming right past my lens, my face even, in many cases it was almost too close, if there is such a thing!
Grey Phalaropes are remarkable birds that spends its winters out at sea, feeding around cold current upwellings, where there will be plenty of food. Their migration is entirely over the sea, unlike the other two species of phalarope, which will migrate across land.
And its during the strong windy, stormy weather of September these little birds get blown off course and close to shore and sometimes into marina lakes, ponds and estuaries.
Such a super little bird, especially one so confiding!

16/09/2018 Skippool Creek, Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire

Semipalmated Sandpiper:  Despite the really poor images I was thrilled to tick off the semi-p down at Skippool Creek, a weird place where small fishing boats are moored on the muddy tributaries which lead into the nearby River Wyre like a boat graveyard.

This is a bird that is notoriously difficult to see its famous wedded feet and is often confused with Least and Western Sandpipers

But upon closer inspection the birds non-breeding plumage with its light grey and very pale lighter belly and black distinguishing this bird from the yellow-legged Least Sandpiper.

Tricky little bird overall, but a very smart one.

(Bottom image courtesy of Damian Young)

Spurn Migration Festival

Common Rosefinch: Spurn MigFest is a real highlight of the my year, top birds, top company at a top place.

And this year was no exception....well the birds may have been lacking a little, with the odd spot redshank, pied fly and redstart scraping the bottom of a poor bird list barrel.
But the star of the weekend and a brand new bird for me was this common rosefinch. Not the  distinctive male with their brilliant, rosy-carmine heads but an otherwise dull, brown, little bird.

Yet still very much the star bird.
For me Spurn MigFest is always remembered by laughs and drinks we have on the Saturday night in the Crown & Anchor with some good friends. However this year I will remember sleeping in my cramped car as my tend got severally flooded out, oh and the rose finch, of course.

29/08/2018 Dungeness RSPB, Romney Marsh, Kent

American Black Tern: This was my second visit to Dunge, after the infamous Arcadian flycatcher and once again it was a brief visit as I needed to head home after working in the area.

This time I was hoping to see the American black tern, a bird I missed only up the road from where I lived back in August 2012 on Eccleston Mere.

My first thoughts were that this was a particularly tricky little bird to pin down across the vast expansive lagoon and the dozen or so European black terns in the area.
But once you see it next to its much more common European cousins you can see that it is distinctive.

It's hoped that the American/European birds will be split which would then give up another life tick, so for now this little guy will sit in the bank.

12/08/2018 Hoylake, Wirral

Bonaparte's Gull: What a brilliant "Brucie Bonus" as while en-oute to Parkgates hen harrier 2018 rally the small scares gull turned up off Hoylake. 
This is a good comparison image showing the Bonaparte's as the slightly smaller of the two and the black-headed still with its fading summer plumage blackened head, the Bonaparte's also has a slim black bill and grey nape. 
The English name of the Bonaparte's Gull honors Charles Lucien Bonaparte, who made important contributions to American ornithology while an active member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia during the 1820s.

The last Wirral record was in 2004 & 1st ever Wirral record was in 1979 which also turned up in August.