16/08/2015 Ainsdale Beach, Southport

Caspian Gull:  Take a look at yet another superb North West gull, this 2cy Caspian has been showing on and off for a few weeks now and seen between Formby in the south to Birkdale in the north.
After dipping this bird yesterday and having very tight time restrictions throughout the week and most weekends due to the bird surveying work I have undertaken and the weekend wedding photography, it was brilliant to actually connect with it.
I got on the beach early morning and as I pulled up in to a parking bay I bumped in to Zac Hinchcliffe, who had just filled his SD card with shots of the bird and was kind enough to point me in it's direction.

One of the reasons the bird has been in the area for such a long time is probably down to the fact it is in heavy moult as this image shows.

Note the secondary flight feathers have almost all moulted.
The bird is very striking and stands out against the local juvenile Herring Gull and Lesser-black Back Gulls. With its almost white head and breast, long legs and it's classic Caspian long, narrow bill with an attenuated tip.


 What a beast!

Ainsdale beach at this time of year is brilliant, especially on a very sunny day, like today. There were hundreds of Sandwich Tern, Sanderling, Dunlin and a couple of Grey Plover.






However it gets busy fast, and in no time at all the beach was full of dog walkers, families and their flying footballs!






I was astonished how oblivious people can be, as while I sat on the beach clearly photographing a bird, not one but two different sets of families thought it would be fine to walk practically over me and right through where the bird was. Like I wasn't even there, incredibly ignorant folk.

09/04/2015 Preston Marina

Ring-billed Gull: From penny I took my second trip to see Preston's RBG, my thinking is you don't often get to pin down two excellent gulls that are going to show so well.
This little cracker was in the same place as last week spending the majority of it's time sleeping before finding the energy to get up and put on a show for us.
Garry and I also spent some time scanning through and looking over every other gull, hoping to pin down the juv Yellow-legged Gull that has been spotted here recently. But alas it was a tough job and we were unable to pin it down.

It was a good challenge though.
It was great to bump in to Peter and his daughter, but strange to see him without Sue, hope she's well.


09/08/2015 Pennington Flash

Sabine's Gull: Today I witnessed that bizarre event whereby a Pike grabbed on to the Sabs and literally dragged it under the water.
It was beneath the waves for about 5 seconds before reappearing and flying to the very far side of the flash. I grabbed this shot as the bird came back up but I was unable to capture any images that included the Pike, it almost sounds like bull plop, but is true and awesome to witness.

Common Scoter: There has even been eye witness reports of the gull having blood on its chest, I certainly hope the bird OK and recovers.


The other bird to note from todays outing to penny was this superb drake Common Scoter. I've never had views like this from penny before.

06/04/2015 Spurn, East Yorkshire

Willow Warbler: Great day at one of my favourite places, although it wasn't a typical Spurn day out as it was not fully loaded with freshly blown-in rarities, but one new tick to add to the list.
Sedge Warbler: I believe that Black Stork is genuinely one of those hard to pin down birds and its a bird that is missing from a lot of the twitchers and big listers tally sheets.

So I am glad to secure one on my list.


Black Stork: Almost as soon as I arrived around 8am I got on to the bird, however it was very comfortably roosting on the edge of the reeds in the middle of a big field.  Eventually the bird plucked up the energy to get up and walk straight out
It was then I was joined by two top blokes from Cheshire; Vernon and Dave Huston, who kept me company until the bird reappeared.

When it did reappear the bird was still in the middle of the big field and didn't take flight or move away from the reeds it was skulking in. Still it gave me some cracking scope views and a big smile on my face!


Unfortunately I didn't have time to explore the area and pretty much confined myself to the canal bank, but I still picked up a nesting Sedgie and got some great views of Common and Sandwich Tern, dozens of Dunlin and Knot, a Whimbrel and a Willow Warbler.

04/02/2015 Pennington Flash

Sabine's Gull: Allow me to indulge my love for a good gull, I just had to go back and try for some flight shots so after leaving Dawn with the dishes I caught the last of the good light and headed back over to penny.
And I am thrilled that I made a second trip as this time the bird was much more mobile and much, much closer!
Someone was feeding the bird bread (not me, promise) and the bird was coming right up to our feet to pick it up. I have never heard of a Sabs coming to bread before!
Great to bump in to some of the Manchester massive Rob Creek and Simon Gough and a few of the Cheshire crew; Frank Duff and Malc, good company with a good bird.

04/08/2015 Pennington Flash

Sabine's Gull: When I woke up this morning and tucked in to my Weetabix I didn't think I would for one moment be rushing out of the house and going to my local to see a stunning adult Sabs gull.





When I arrived the gull was loafing just off the side of Horrock's Hide. I was one of the first on the scene which really paid off as the gull drifted the closest it came the whole time I was there, this was before the crowds arrived.





This little cracker is the 2nd only record for Greater Manchester, I think the first one was on Audenshaw Reservoirs ages ago! And a 2nd for me after the Burton Mere bird a few years ago.




I was there for a good couple of hours as the crowds swelled and all the familiar faces came out so I got chatting away. And in all the time I was there I only saw the bird take flight once, and only for a very short distance.

I was hoping that the bird would give me some super flight views, showing off its contrasting upper wing pattern and fork tail.

But alas, these were the best of the small opportunities I had.

The bird seemed very relaxed and settled as it dip fed and slowly paddled past Horrock's where it was joined by several Black-headed Gulls and even a juv Med Gull.







Mediterranean Gull: The Med Gull was a bonus and a brief distraction from the Sabs which was still showing really well when I left.

02/08/2015 Lower Gelt Quarry, Brampton, Cumbria

European Bee Eater: This had to be one of my easiest and most awesome twitches. Almost as soon as I arrived I connected with my first UK Bee Eater and what a glorious bird it was!

I headed over to the watch point overlooking the nest site, and although from here you get some great views it is a tad distant and rubbish for pictures.
It was from the car park where I got the best views, and overall the best images, as the bird was busily foraging and flying over the trees and fields adjacent to the car park.

As per Rare Bird Network UK - CA8 1SY. Site open 8:00am-8:00pm, £5 parking. (well worth the dosh, good birds, great cause).

12/07/2014 Chatterley Whitfield, Staffordshire

Red-footed Falcon: I was unable to go down yesterday and bag this bird, as I had a wedding to shoot at the time I was a little gutted, but the wedding shoot went very well and I did end up with shots like this today!
Dawn and I arrived around half ten and got on to the bird straight away, not long before Steve Burke and Rob Creek turned up. Rob was quick to show me some of his crippling pictures of the bird he snapped the day before.

I was almost crying, as at this time the bird wasn't moving from his wire perch and looked like he wasn't going to either.

But look what results you can get with some field craft, a lot of patience and little bit of luck.
No pet shop bought crickets required, no baiting necessary!

(In Dawns words we stood their long enough)
The bird spent 90% of its time perched upon the nearby telegraph wires above the horse paddock and bizarrely was walking closer to the crowd of twitchers behind the fence! Usually when you see a bird perched up on a wire it is keen to move off in the opposite detection.

WHAT A BIRD!

20/06/2015 Hampton in Arden, Solihull

Melodious Warbler: Today I finally caught up with the west mids Melodious Warbler, this bird has been in the same area for ages now, but between my wedding photography shoots and work I simply haven't had the time to go down.


And after yesterdays Saltholme Squacco dip it was good to add a new bird to my growing list.

This was my first Melodious but when observed closely the first thing I noticed was it's large heavy set bill and its supercilium more prominent in front of its bill, nice little bird overall.



It was good to bump in to Andy Ingham while there too, I hope he got a better pic then I did!