22/03/2017 Pennington Flash

Little Gull: Sitting in front of the Mac and doing paperwork, email and a little business promotion on a dank, drizzly day sucks, big time!

So when news came through that there were four adult Little Gull at Penny I was quick to log out, sign off and grab my waterproofs.
Upon arriving at a packed Horrocks Hide the four birds were way out in the bay opposite the sailing club, but in no time they came a bit closer.



When they did come closer I left the hide to gain a better vantage point for taking pictures. All four birds were following each other across the flash and were actively foraging with their distinctive hawking behaviour.
Unfortunately the weather got worse and I was soon drenched from head to toe. Nevertheless I was really pleased to be out and pleased to catch up with the quartet.
All birds being adults had their distinctive dark, blackish undrwings, white upperwings and white tails, however they the didn't have their black hoods just yet.








There has been a really nice selection of gulls at the flash this winter and it was nice to end it with a new Pennington Flash species.
I could have watched them all day, however my paperwork wasn't going to do itself so after about an hour I headed home to dry off and continue working.

21/03/2017 Stanley Park, Blackpool

Chough: Well it's not everyday you see a Chough in Lancashire, this individual is the 2nd Fylde record and the 9th record for Lancashire.
It has been in the Blackpool area for a couple of weeks and has finally settled down at Stanley Park.
The origins of the bird are unclear, there are populations in Anglesey and on the Isle of Man, both of which aren't to far as the Chough fly's.

It took me about half an hour to pin the bird down as I was unfamiliar with the access on to the golf course so played it safe and stayed to the boundary edges.
At first the bird was pretty distant, but with a little patience it came a lot closer and began foraging in a sand bunker.

A must see for any Lancs Listers!



20/03/2017 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Little Gull: Often when I blog about BMW I tend to say how great the place is and how it is one of my favourite places, well today's no exception.
Like that of the 'Cheers' theme-tune BMW is one of the few places I can go where everyone knows my name. It is full of familiar and friendly people who stop and chat, which for me is the beauty of BMW.
Over the last few days a 1st winter Little Gull has been reported from Marsh Covert hides bridge screen and has been showing well.

I don't often see many Little Gull's and it is a real treat when I do. I think they are pretty cool dainty birds and nice gulls to connect with.
Like the reports were suggesting the bird didn't disappoint and was showing well, giving the small group of spectators a chance to see it's 'W' pattern across it's wings, black tail band and it's faint dark secondary barring.





The bird even took a break from time to time and sat on the water in between tern like foraging and chasing Black-headed gulls.

This image shows the birds under wings quite nicely, as adults and juveniles are very distinctive and quite different. Juveniles have white under wings while the adults have black under wings and lose their back barring across their backs and wings and turn white.





I was told that the bird has been seen on and off for a few weeks around BMW and Burton Point before settling on March Covert pool. If you haven't seen one in a while I would highly recommend a trip down to BMW before it disappears.

15/03/2017 Eccleston Mere, St Helens

Scaup: Thanks to Damion Young for the heads-up and gen on this bird.

Eccleston Mere isn't a regular spot of mine, I think the last time I was here I was watching a Black Tern.
Damion told me the bird was favouring the part of the mere closet to the boats, however when I arrived it was way out in the middle of the mere.


The bird eventually came close after a power boat came speeding around the mere flushing all the birds which took shelter at the far end of the mere.


Wednesday was a beautiful hot sunny day, particularly in the mid-morning when the Chiffchaffs were singing and the Great-crested Grebes were chasing each other.








Unfortunately I had a bird survey to carry out that afternoon so I couldn't spend long at Eccleston.

I came back on the next day (Thursday) hoping the bird would be a little closer and I could get some nicer images, but the bird had moved on and is no longer there. However it was good to get my first two Sand Martins of the year.

09/03/2017 Pennington Flash


Yellow-legged Gull: Following in the footsteps of Colin 'the Gull Meister General' Davies and John Tymon to name but a few, who regularly keep a close eye on Penny's gull roost I went myself to see what I could pick out.




With large flocks gathering I came across the 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull which was perched upon a boy. This bird came flying over to check out a feeding frenzy of Black-headed Gulls that were coming to bread. The yellow leg didn't take any bread and flew back on to it's perch.
As the flocks grew larger I picked up one Med Gull but nothing else to note. Colin who was also there picked up three Adult Med Gulls.

07/03/2017 Dunnington, North Yorkshire

Pine Bunting: From Wigan to Linconshire and then to Dunnington and back....to say I was pleased to finally see this bird was an understatement. This was my second visit and after missing it by a few minutes I was thrilled to at last see it.

The bird was in its so called usual bush that can be found at the end of Intake Lane, half way down the stubble field.
Not only did I get my second Pine Bunting of the year I was also made up to bump in to Colin Wells and Lynn who kindly kept up company and were a delight to chat with.

These images were taken on my Iphone through my scope, and at some distance so they wont win any awards. But there isn't many images floating about of this bird so I happy to get some nice record shots.


Josh Jones has some brilliant images on his blog and a nice write up, well worth checking out.

http://joshrjones.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/pine-bunting.html

07/03/2017 Willow Tree Fen, Lincs

Red-spotted Bluethroat: I have only ever seen one Bluethroat in the UK, this was back on the 20th of June 2013 at Martin Mere, however it was pretty distant and nowhere near as showy as this individual.
This bird is the complete opposite as it is incredibly confiding and is giving some fantastic views. Subsequently there has been plenty of brilliant images and still it has taken me ages to pull up my socks and go see it.
This is partly due to my work commitments and having a pretty busy winter survey season and partly down to distance as I hate driving to Linconshire and Norfolk from Lancashire, too many miles and too many A-roads for a bird I have already seen in the UK and abroad.



Once we had the bird on the deck and showing I thought to myself "why did I put this off for so long?" Seeing this bird was well worth the 3 hour journey, the miles and the pain in my derriere.
The bird was showing well as soon as we arrived and came right out in to the open after around 30 minutes. The bird was even calling and singing while perched up in the reedbed.
Willow Tree Fen was a really nice place to spend the morning and gave the Bluethroat a great supporting cast.
We had two Marsh Harrier hunting and spooking the hundreds of wildfowl, a couple of Stonechat and a couple of Bearded Tit in the same area as the Bluethroat.
From here we were going to go to Rutland Water, however I wasn't keen on adding any extra time on to the journey back and seeing that we would end up on the right side of Yorkshire Gary and I decided to go try again for the male Pine Bunting in Dunnington.

04/03/2017 Mere Sands Wood, Rufford, Lancashire

Bittern: I haven't been to Mere Sands Wood for ages, probably back when Dawn and I started dating. It's a lovely reserve with plenty to see especially when there is a prospect of a showy Bittern.

Over the past few weeks the Mere Sands Wood Bittern has been right out in the open and there has been some amazing images of it.

Typically however when I put a couple of days in all I see are more standard Bittern views, where the bird is skulking behind the reeds, albeit still a great bird to catch up with I may need to put in a few more hours in the Rufford Hide.

22/02/2017 Martin Mere WWT

Brambling: It's been ages since I have been down to Martin Mere, but despite the poor weather and a very surly man on the reception desk I had an enjoyable afternoon.
My main reason for going was to see the long staying Brambling that has been frequenting the bird feeders at the Janet Kear Hide, the fact I was surveying in the area was just a nice coincidence.
This smashing male didn't disappoint, after only a short wait of around 30 minutes the bird appeared on the right hand side of the hide.
Shame about the cage over the feeders, but never mind it's not everyday you see such a stunning bird.


Black-tailed Godwit: After having my fill of the Brambling I walked down to other hides and made sure I checked the grassy bank between the Janet Kear and the Gladstone Hide as there had recently been a show Woodcock.

Unfortunately I was unable to relocate the Woodcock but as a little bit of a brucy-bonus I spent a while watching some BTG up close and personal.

From the new Swanlink Hide there were around eight BTG and four Ruff foraging around the rocky edge of the shoreline.


Two of the Godwit put on a brilliant fighting display, where they hunched down low and flared their black tail, raising it above their heads while calling. It seemed that if this display didn't work they would fly at each other and one would be pushed away.
I love Godwit, particularly BTW, they remind me of the Dee Estuary and the time I spent working at Burton Mere Wetlands. Good memories.
Ruff: Even the Ruff were fighting, however they were just aggressively displaying and they didn't actually come to fisty-cuffs.
I must make the use of my membership more often and make more regular trips to this lovely nature reserve.