30/01/2013 Moore Natutre Reserve

Lesser Redpoll: Moore Natutre Reserve can be very hit or miss and today for me Moore was a hit. My first stop was the feeding station where there were Reed Bunting, Greater Spotted Woodies and the usual suspects showing.
I then headed down to the phoenix hide to see if Moore's Smew was still around, I got there and was told I had just missed the Bittern that had been showing really well before flying across the eastern reedbed, GUTTED!!!! Oh well...

I carried on back to pumphouse pool as thats were the Smew was and came upon two Redpoll feeding in the Alders and saw the female Smew too.
I had met a few nice people here today too which made the trip that more enjoyable, despite the rain and strong winds, Alan and Chris, fellow photographers and very freindly and a guy from Dunham Massy - a voulnteer there who was very chatty and saw his first ever Smew! Brilliant.
Other highlights of the day included two Goldeneye on birchwood pool with the stunning male proforming it's weird courtship dance where he throws it's head back and calls. Siskin singing and feeding near pumphouse pools far hide and a Mash Tit showing on the feeders when I checked on the way out.

AND TO TOP OFF THE DAY I FOUND THAT TWO OF MY  PHOTOGRAPHS HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED IN MOORE NATUTRE RESERVE'S NEW LEAFLET - OK I know its only a local natutre reserve leflet but it was a nice suprise

28/01/2012 Old Moor RSPB

Yellowhammer: Today I attended one of the best RSPB visitor officer meetings I have been asked to attend. It was at the fabulous RSPB Old Moor Nature Reserve, which I have never before.

The meeting itself was OK but on our lunch break I took off with a few colleagues to see a bit more of the reserve and came across STUNNING Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrows everywhere, made the meeting that much better!! Other highlights were at least 8 Goosander on the pools seen from the wader hide and a Green Sandpiper also from the warder hide.

25/01/2012 The River Clwyd

Grey Plover: I started my North Wales trip in Rhyl at the marina lake where I instantly noticed its water level was remarkably low, but this was great as it had drawn good numbers of waders including Redshank and Dunlin.

The deeper parts of the lake held a few Red Breasted Merganser and one male Goosander.

I then walked over to Brickfields ponds hoping to see my first Scaup, as there has been one in the area for a week or two but I didn't see it, I guess it might of moved back on to the river. So I took a trip along past the river and over to Rhuddlan Nature Reserve on the way the tide was in and the river full.

The edges alongside its banks where peppered with waders like this Grey Plover, Turnstone and Redshank and the river itself had huge numbers of Teal.

25/01/2013 Kinmel Bay

Snow Bunting: I treated myself to another brilliant trip to North Wales, and ended up at Kinmel bay where I saw the most stunning bunting, the Snow Bunting.
 I am always amazed when I think Rhyl as it has some great birds, this time last year I was watching Great Northern Divers in the marina lake and you can never fail to see Snow Bunting too.
Meadow Pipit: There was a flock of around 12 fluttering around the beach and dunes, Snow Bunting are very trusting birds they were happily feeding just a few feet away from me.

On the beach there were also Oystercatcher  Ringed Plovers, Great Blacked Backed Gull and this very nice Meadow Pipit which was hanging around with the bunting.

20/01/2013 Sefton Park

Ring Necked Parakeet: I was asked to go to Sefton Park to do some membership recruitment for the RSPB with the Liverpool group, and I never thought I would get shots of these STUNNING birds.

They have been in Sefton Park for the last 2 years, last year they had 5 individuals but this year they have recorded only this pair.
I was told they were roosting up high in a tree next to the feeders at the back of the tropical green house and after a few minutes of waiting they moved closer to the feeders and then landed to feed on them.

A surprisingly good day!

19/01/2013 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Grey Heron: A scene played out on the main scrape at BMW which was truly amazing!

The main scrape was completely frozen, and had been for a few days except for a few broken parts in the ice.

There were few birds around except for a Greylag Goose and a handful of Teal until a very hungry and  adaptable Grey Heron flew in from the reeds at the back.

The bird made a bee-line for a solitary Teal which was happily mulling around in one of the broken pools within the ice.
The Heron grabbed the Teal and started to dunk it in and out of the exposed water in an attempt to drown the bird! The Teal tried to flap and struggle for a good five minutes, until it broke free.
Teal: The lucky duck shot off around the visitor centre and landed in the old fishery pool next to the reception hide, from hot pursuit of the hungry Heron.

This was a bit of brilliant bird behaviour, I've seen Heron's take Frogs and Fish and I have been told stories of them taking Water Rail but never an adult Duck!

It goes to show how hard wildlife are finding the recent cold snap and how adaptable Herons are.

17/01/2013 Shear Water

Great Crested Grebe: Back at Longleat Center Parcs I decided to take another trip to a local park just a short walk though Longleats beautiful pine woods called Shear Water.

This is a huge lake with a local bowling club and park, there was not much knocking about I saw a Grey Wagtail near the bowling club, Kingfisher whizzing across the lake and 8 Great Crested Grebe and a load of Mallards. On the way though through the woods I did see a lovely Roe Deer jumping through the forest. Worth a visit but only of you want a nice walk or something rare turns up!

www.wiltshirebirds.co.uk - Details of some good birding sites in Wiltshire are provided here, a great site with good up to date sightings. 

16/01/2013 Langford Lakes

Kingfisher: While at Longleat I took trip out to the near by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, I had been looking on the local wildlife sightings websites and noticed that Goosanders and Red Kites and Kingfishers has been spotted here.

This stunning male was practically playing with me, I first saw it from Number 7 hide - bird feeding station hide, where the feeders where empty. Here I was unable to get a picture  he then turned up gain at Robins hide where it was flitting between he one side of the lake to an island in the middle.

Robins hide is along side Brockbank Lake, the reserves second largest lake. This lake had about a dozen pairs of Great Crested Grebes and as I was watching these I noticed the Kingfisher perched in he trees on the left hand side of the hide.

The bird was constantly flying from one side to the other but mostly keeping from full view, behind a bloody branch!
Goosander (male): From Long Pool, the largest lake on the reserve I spotted 3 Goosander, 1 male and 2 female.

Other highlights where a Red Kite soaring above the education center, Siskin around the feeders and a green woodpecker feeding the the field along the track on the way in

(Female) I would definitely recommend a visit to Langford Lakes if anyone get the chance its a well present reserve with good facilities and  some great birds! They have also started to build a new hide and established a new reed bed which will only enhance the place.

www.wiltshirewildlife.org/Reserves/langfordlakes - Good site from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust about Langford Lakes

15/01/2013 Longleat Center Parcs

Roe Deer: Springwatch had its very own mammal stump, well eat your heart out Springwatch as for one week I had my very own.

And mine had Deer and Badgers! 

Dawn and I, plus friends spent 4 nights at Longleat Center Parcs and upon arrival my first task was not the unpacking or grabbing the best bed, but putting out my bird seed and fat balls out in the garden.

I didn't bring any feeders so I decided to just scatter the food on an old tree stump which was visible from the lodge.

First came the birds, Coal Tit, Blue Tit and Robins, then first thing in the morning I opened the curtains and was amazed to see this Roe Deer feeding on the seed.
Badger: Then at around 5am I was woken up by a lodge mate running in to our room saying "there's a badger outside"

I shot up, grabbed my camera and there it was a huge Badger only a few feet away from the window nibbling on the scattered food, AWESOME!

11/01/2012 Burton Mere Wetlands 2012

Snipe: When I woke up, drew back the curtains  and saw how foggy it was outside I never thought I would be taking photographing of one of our most camouflaged and smallest wading birds, the Snipe!

This bird was feeding just on the bank right outside the visitor center hide, I have never seen Snipe this close before but there seemed to be a lot of Snipe closer to the hide.

I counted at least a dozen on the causeway between the pools and scrape, very close to the hide.Other highlights, once the fog cleared where the female Hen Harrier, Siskin around the feeding station and yet again the Water Rail showing really well.

07/01/2013 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Merlin: This magical bird was seen from the reception hide perching on a fence post next to the old barn, I grabbed my camera hoping it might be within photo range and when I got to the old barn It had moved to an even better place, right on top of the roof.

I tip toed down the path and leaned on the closed fence facing old barn, the Merlin didn't seem to care I was taking its picture and sat there looking at me, preening and calling. Other Highlights over the past few days include both female and male Hen Harriers which have been showing incredibly well and the resident Water Rail that has been a brilliant star showing from the reception hide.    

06/01/2013 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Great White Egret: First weekend back after the festivities and I was treated to a great, Great White. This huge bird came flying over the main scrape and then landed jut dead center of the pool where he then had a preen and took off, circled the reserve and landed for another quick preen and then flew off towards Burton Marsh.
I saw my first ever Great White Egret right here, from the reception hide, it was miles away right at the back of the reeds on it was a dull day and back then I wasn't wearing the RSPB T-shirt. This is one of the reasons I love BMW and working for the RSPB, you never know what’s going to drop in!

31/12/2012 Hodbarrow RSPB

Slavonian Grebe: My last NEW tick of the 2012, where Dawn and I took a trip to the brilliant but blustery Hodbarrow RSPB Nature Reserve in the lakes.

We were staying at a nice B&B near Lake Windermere and spent most of New Years Eve day at Hodbarrow - its about an hour away and is rather like a giant marina lake. Full of Teal, Red Breasted Merganser, Coot, Pochard and Mallard. We went to see the Salvonian Grebe which has been there since August.

We spent about an hour looking for the bird out of the concrete bunker-like-bird hide (Dawn said it looked like a public toilet block from the outside) without any luck, then we made our way back towards the car when we caught up with the Grebe amongst the Teal flocks.

The bird was miles away and yet again I struggled with the distance and the lighting but got a few record shots.  I guess we were lucky to see this small bird in such a huge lake, but we didn't see the Green Winged Teal which was there too!

Hodbarrow RSPB is a great place, best in Spring for the Sandwich Terns but brilliant in winter for its wildfowl and warders. There was around 1000+ Redshank and a few hundred Oystercatchers and Lapwings on the scrapes with the odd Snipe feeding in the grasses on the edges.

I would definitely recommend going on a nice sunny day as in the rain and wind, right next to the Irish Sea, the gales can be a bit of a challenge especially if you go with your better half who is a non-birder!