14/01/2018 Blackpool

Iceland Gull: After getting a lot of disinterest over the week about going to see the Whitby wheatear and having no one to agree to go with me I decided to try my luck elsewhere.
 And am I glad I did!

After seeing via twitter and the @FyldeBirdClub twitter feed that the adult Iceland gull was spotted in Tesco car park in Blackpool I thought I would give it ago.
The bird is typically found on the roof of the recycling waste management building and after checking this and the car park there was no sign, so Dawn and I went for lunch and came back.

On our second visit I spotted the bird on the roof and I watched it for several minutes before a guy in an orange high-vis jacket drove by and said I can go in if I like and see the bird closer.
He stood with me while the bird flew in to the buildings open doorway and on to the waste material and back on to the roof.
This gave me an excellent opportunity to see the bird much closer and see it's bright yellow bill with red spot at gonys, it's pale coloured eye, white head, neck, breast, and belly and its classic white wing primaries.
Great local bird, and one that regularly returns each year.  I spoke with the man who said if I come back on my own I shouldn't go past the fence line. So for anyone who is going please stay on the right side of the fence.

13/01/2018 Elton Reservoir, Bury

Mealy Redpoll: It was nice to have some free time out of the office to catch up with some local birding with my first stop being the mealy at Elton Res.
Separating the two species, which freely mix in wintering flocks, is known to be not always easy, with some individuals being unidentifiable even in the hand.
However it is clear in this image that the mealy redpoll's general impression is quite different from that of a lesser redpoll. This is often made easy when the two species are side by side.
The mealy is obviously a bigger bird next to the lesser and had a deeper, crimson red poll (its colouration on the upper breast) however the mealy also has longer primary projections and darker ear coverts.

The bird is also much paler than the leasers with a greyer undertone to its plumage.
The feeders at Elton Res are a real haven for wintering finches and birds, they encourage many different species and a huge number.
So hats off to whoever stocks and manages them, brilliant work.

08/01/2017 Longford, Gloucestershire

Penduline Tit: Nice to finally catch up with this smart little bird which has been in the same area since before Christmas. Better to catch up with local lads Damion and Neil G.
The bird has taken a liking to Plot Court Nature Reserve and can be observed regularly visiting the Bulfushes to feed on the woolly seed heads.
I am always surprised to how small these little birds actually are and it was particularly interesting watching the bird using a headgerow for both feeding, preening and resting, as I thought they were exclusively reeds specialist's.
The masked bandit showed incredibly well and the crowd of toggers and biders didn;t seem to disturb it as it fed. 
If anyopne goes I would highly reccomed taking wellington boots.......its very wet and muddy in places.

20/12/2017 Undisclosed Site

Black Redstart: This week I found a black redstart during a survey in the midlands. I watched the bird for a long while finding mostly the live food they need in the micro-climates formed in the many sheltered gardens, balconies and roof valleys to be found in the town, where they are in the habit of running like wagtails (they also hop) and feeding (usually unnoticed) under lines of parked cars, often in the busy streets.

I watched as it spent its day busily picking food items from  the gable walls of houses, often hovering under guttering or facia boards, and fly-catching from favourite perches, usually near lawns, were they can take prey from the ground, always returning quickly to the favourite lookout, their fiery tails giving a welcome flash of exotic colour to otherwise drab winter streets.

A great bird to find during a grey drizzly day and a perfect bird to brighten up a typically dull survey.

10/12/1027 Heysham

Chough:  Good to catch up with this little gem that has been in the same horse paddock  off the headland at Heysham for a few weeks now.
The bird is known to show pretty well however when Dawn and I arrived it was foraging right at the back  of the paddock.

It came a little closer with some patience, but the sub zero temperatures got the better of us and I made do with some record shots.

30/11/2017 Walton-le-Dale, Preston

Firecrest: It was great to finally catch up with Prestons tiny restless jewel of a bird which has been in the area of  sewage works in Walton-le-Dale for a week or so now.
The bird appears to favour the right hand pathway which leads past the entrance, bordered by the sewage works fence and a tall linear hedgerow and woodland.
When I arrived the frost was still soft on the fence and the ground still frozen hard. I'm always amazed how such small birds survive the coldest nights, their physiology and ability to store and consume energy is amazing.

Typically the bird was constantly foraging for food, picking off small spiders from the hawthorn and brambles.
Hence the reason why I ended up getting mainly shots of the bird which was out of focus, behind some foliage or just the foliage and no bird!

27/11/2017 Crosby

Snow Bunting: Despite the very windy conditions and having around 10 tons of sand blown in to my eyes it was great to finally catch up with a local snow bunt. 
I managed an early dart from work having banked some time in lieu after working away last week.
Starting my new role as an ecologist at Amey has really eaten in to my free time to get out birding, as now my workload has massively increased and what little down time I have I want to spent it with Dawn.
So when I'm out, even in the wind and rain its always valued.

The snow bunt was at the far end of the boating lake in between the walkway that takes you on to the beach and it was associating with a couple of skylark. 

Skylark: The birds were getting moved around alot by being flushed by dogs and their walkers although they stayed in the same area, favouring the grass near the small pool.
These birds are stunning, a far cry from a LBJ (little brown job), take a look at their caramel and french roast coloring.
A nice afternoon out.

15/10/2017 Pwll-du, Gwent Normally

Common Rock Thrush: This bird is known  by many names such as the Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, European Rock Thrush and the Mountain Thrush, however it should be better known as the not-so-Common Rock thrush as there as only been 28 records across the UK, of which only two have been available to twitch, one for five days on Scilly in 1996 and a two day female at Spurn in 2013.
Typically when I arrive the bird moved from about 20 metres away to over 100 metres away, still I was thrilled just have connected with the bird.  The bird spent much of its time flitting over light vegetation in search of food, eventually resting on a perch from which it will hunt.
The one this that really stood out when watching the bird was how at home it looked in an old disused Welsh mine. Typically they are found breeding on steep and rocky mountain slopes or higher alpine meadows, they prefer areas over elevations of 1,500 metres with open hills and light vegetation.