29/03/2013 Manchester Ship - Moore

Scaup: I found myself down at Moore NR today in the lovely Spring sunshine intending to hunt for the drake Scaup  which has been infrequently spotted in the area for a few weeks.

I needed a Scaup on my 2013 list and more importantly my life list, I was actually a little disappointed after seeing the Lesser Scaup a few months back, as I had seen that bird already this year and I have been wanting to bag this bird for ages. Iv been keeping a close eye on the local sightings and hoping I might get lucky that one just might make an appearance at BMW.

And I know this is a little strange as I should have been more pleased to get a Lesser then a normal Greater Scaup! I guess its the curse of having a list.
The bird was with a flock of Tufted Duck around 30 strong and I finally spotted it on the Manchester Ship Canal between Moore and Wigg Island just after the old ruined brick building.

The other highlight was bumping in to Mike, a local and knowledgeable birder who has been working the Moss Wood patch for a few years now and shared a bit about the birds of Lower and Upper Moss Wood. Cheers mate. Also Barn Owl in its box a Stoat and a pair of Stonechat around the entrance of Moss Wood.

25/03/2013 Harp Inn/Denhall Quay

Black Redstart: I have been chasing this bloody bird for ages! I remember times where I have wondered off down to Red Rocks on he Wirral searching for it without any luck.

I thinks this is called 'gripped off' in the world of the birder.
I didn't see the report until this morning when I was getting ready for work and was gutted I missed it as I am usually working at BMW on Sundays, but yesterday I spent the day at Martin Mere and thought I may of missed the bird.
Well this time lady luck was with me, I was sent home early from work which was awesome as I headed straight down to Denhall Quay and bumped into the regular gang of local birders who were watching Meadow Pipits, Skylark and a super male Wheatear on the rocks.

We waited about half an hour until we headed back to the car park when we came a cross a guy who had just got a fleeting glimpse, this lifted my spirits as it was now a waiting game, the bird was in the area! I first saw it along the road in a garden where it flew behind the house and landed on the wall, but it was a very nervous bird and kept flying around the gardens and between the houses. I was made up, I came, I saw and I finally bagged the bloody bird.

24/03/2013 Martin Mere WWT

Ruff: If you were not a birder and saw this bird you would totally think it was a different species to the Ruff, but its still a Ruff, they can just be very variable.

But what a STUNNING bird!
Tawny Owl: Apart from the close views of Ruff, Black Tailed Godwit and around 400 Whoopers from the Swan Link Hide the day was pretty quiet probably due to how windy it was as I didn't see a single raptor.

Until me and my birding pal Garry were about to go home and spotted this Tawny Owl near the Janet Kear Hide. The bird then flew off towards the zoo part of the reserve.

 Redwing: After seeing the Tawny Owl we soon left and were happily surprised to see loads of winter thrushes around the car park area.  
Fieldfare: I saw at least 8 Redwing 5 Fieldfare, reports of 2 Song Thrush and several Black Birds.

Overall it turned out to be a good day with a slow start.

23/03/2013 Moore NR

Lesser Redpoll: After BMW closing yesterday due to the awful spring weather and the power shortage I was unable to do any birding and my only chance on Tuesday for a spot of birding was washed out by more bad weather, I decided to go to Moore despite the light dusting of snow everywhere.
I chanced my luck on Lapwing Lake first, hoping for a good pic of the resident Kingfisher and left a few hours later without even a glimpse of the bird!

Never mind got some good shots of  Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebes.

I then  went over to Pumphouse Pool hoping for some good gulls, but again my luck was out although I came across around 15 Lesser Redpoll feeding on and around the hedgerow and alder trees alongside Pumphouse Pool. I took several hundred pictures (like I often do) and came across this bird (above) which has been ringed with a silver BTO ring! I wonder where it was caught?

Tufted Duck: This was one of the pics I took from Lapwing Lake while waiting for the Kingfisher, a worth well wait in my opinion.

18/03/2013 Martin Mere WWT

Black Tailed Godwit: A very nice trip to Martin Mere and I was not disappointed, I was surprised to see this stunning Godwit right in front of the Swan Link Hide.   

A good wader day with 74 Avocet, 70+ Ruff, 40+ Oystercatcher, 24 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Redshank, 8 Ringed Plover, 3 Curlew, 2 Dunlin and ~ 200 Lapwing. Most of which can be seen from the Ron Barker Hide.
Ruff: This ruff was also feeding right in front of the Swan Link Hide, it wasn't phased at all by the presence of Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal and Pintail all feeding together around and under the rocks!
Pintail: There were reports of the sites first Chiffchaff   of spring heard around the reserve, near the bird feeding station, I spent sometime here and there but didn't see or hear anything.
Whooper Swan: They are loud, bright, active and all over Martin Mere and now on my year list, brill. And they wont be around for long!

17/03/2013 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Mediterranean Gull: More white wingers turn up at BMW!

Two full adults in summer breeding plumage, full black head, red bill and notice the white under wings and wing tips on the bird flapping its wings.
A cracking gull and possibly one of my favorite gulls!

People often struggle with gull ID if so see this very good link below for tips


15/03/2013 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Green Winged Teal: I was gutted yesterday as before I left work (the bad work, the bank) I checked bird guides and saw that a Green Winged Teal had turned up at Inner Marsh Farm!

So I arrived early this morning to try mt luck, but the bird was no where to be seen, until the afternoon when it was spotted from the reception  hide loafing around with a ton of Teal.

The GWT is the bird on the left, look close and you can see the vertical white stripe as the bird on the right is a regular Teal and has a horizontal white stripe.

Its was a very uninspiring bird from such a distance and through the murk of the Spring rain and then the glare from the low light of the sun! But I was pleased to see it nevertheless.

11/03/2013 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Snipe: From out of the reeds next to the reception hide emerged one of my favourite wading birds, this tiny long billed Snipe with stunning plumage.
The Snipe literally spent all day feeding just a few feet away from the reception hide, I guess this may be due to the awful Spring weather as most of the main scrape was frozen over.

Other birds to note from the day were one immature Peregrine, 8 Avocet and a female Hen Harrier.

10/03/2013 Elton/Helsby Service Station

Waxwing: Mothers Day Waxwing, what a treat!

Me and Dawn went up to Carnforth and decided to treat ourselves to a MacDonald's  breakfast on the way.

On the way in to the fast food restaurant I spotted a small flock of birds high up in a tree outside the adjacent hotel and said to Dawn 'Oh they may be Waxwings' then after stuffing out faces with hash browns I cam out and took a closer look.

They were indeed Waxwings, around 30-40 all showing well and flying right past me to get to a berry bush at the back of the place. Brilliant surprise.

09/03/2013 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Little Gull: More gull action to be had at Burton Mere with this great little gull making an appearance.

This was an adult in winter plumage, see the little black bill, black spot behind the ear and no black cap.
This picture shows its white wing tips really well and the dark under side of its wings which are all distinctive characteristics of this the smallest gull in the world.

08/03/2013 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Mediterranean Gull: Another good year tick with this Med Gull turning up on the main scrape at BMW.

The Avocet are back totaling 5 individuals, for me this is one of the first signs that spring has sprung.

07/03/2013 Old Moor RSPB

Yellowhammer: I decided to head up to Old Moor RSPB Nature Reserve on my way to Denby Dale for a job interview now I can drive.

Here they have a Tree Sparrow farm which is awesome, they have erected a number of nest boxes and have a funky screening with telephoto lens holes,  and it was here I saw this brilliantly bright yellow Yellowhammer.

Redwing: The Tree Sparrow farm was full of birds such as Green Finch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch and tits I was surprised though to see this Redwing fly out of nowhere and start foraging right in front of the screening!
A nice NEW year tick for my list.

Brambling: I read on Old Moor's sightings online that they had a regular Brambling showing here too and was pleased to see this male feeding off the ground with a bunch of mixed finches.
Tree Sparrow: The star bird though has to be the sparrows, they were all over the place, many building nests and feeding in the farm.

All in all this was another great trip to this brilliant RSPB reserve and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves on the other side of the Pennines.

See The RSPB: Dearne Valley - Old Moor website for more info


05/03/2013 Moore Nature Reserve

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker: Now that I am road worthy and able to get out and about in my new car I decided to take a trip to Moore NR and try my luck with the Lesser Spotted Woodie.
When I arrived (after some awful parking, but they say you never actually learn to drive until you're out on the roads on your own) there was around half a dozen birders who had been there for literally hours waiting for the woodie to make an appearance.
So I decided to go for a walk and eat my lunch in the nice spring sunshine, on my way back I bumped in to one of the birders from earlier as he was ticking a bird of his list.

He said the bird was showing really well just opposite the feeding station visible from the road and alas there it was looking stunning in the sun!

It was a male and was happily foraging on the bark of a tree in the wood, until its larger, more aggressive cousin the Greater Spotted Woodpecker turned up and chased it off!

03/03/2013 Burton Mere Wetlands

Lesser Scaup: The phone goes and its a txt from Joan who was working at BMW "Sacup in front of reception in pool" I was at Burton Point looking for Hen Harriers and getting nowhere so I hurried back to BMW.

Brilliant, it was still there and I got some great views through the scope then it flew off on to the old meres, even better as the drake bird was just a few meters away!

I was so pleased my first Scaup! I was ready to tick it off my list when when people started saying it was a Lesser Scaup!

OK I have seen a lesser before it was smaller then a Tufted Duck with darker dirty looking sides with a notch on the back of its head.

I was a little disappointed as a Scaup would of made it on to my LIFE AND YEAR LIST. Oh well what a good bird for the reserve and this time the pictures where a little better.

This photo shows why it was a Lesser Scaup and not just a normal one, see the black nail on the end of its bill, well on this bird, the Lesser its is small and narrow on the Scaup it is large and flatter! The Lesser also has a different shaped crown and slightly different back.

I spent the rest of the day doing the RSPB Skydancer event at Parkgate and got two male Hen Harriers, one sub adult and one full, awesome birds!

SEE THIS LINK FOR MORE ID: http://tiny.cc/u2vetw

02/03/2013 New Brighton Marina Lake

Purple Sandpiper: Saturday at New Brighton is horrible, Morrisons car park was chocca the prom was the same!

But a purp can brighten any day up!

There was 22 Purple Sandpipers on the pontoon along with several Redshnak, Turnstone and one Dunlin.
A must see foe anyone passing New Brighton or shopping in Morrisons especially on the busy weekends just to cheer yourself up!

02/03/2013 Hoylake

Slandering: High tide at Hoylake is always good, OK there are days where the tide just seeps slowing up and not much happens and time the tide forces the wading birds together and they put on an awesome aerobatic display.

Dunlin: Today was somewhere between, the weather was not the best for the tide to come up high, but it was nice for me! Sunny in the morning and bright until afternoon and best of all dry!
 There was tens of thousands of birds out on Hoylake shore and the tide came further then we all expected. There were reports of 400 Grey Plover along with 8000 Dunlin 2000 Knot and loads of Curlew and Redshank.
Redshank: A good day out all round followed by a short trip to New Brighton to check out the Purple Sandpipers.