26/04/2013 Frodsham Marsh

Whitethroat: (female) I LOVE Frodsham Marsh but or me Froddie can be very hit or miss, but today was definitely a hit!

Tank no.3 was full of Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and the odd Reed Warbler singing from the reeds and at the far end of no.6 there were both female and male Marsh Harriers showing really well. They flushed a dozen Black Tailed Godwit and Redshank.

Yellow Wagtail: I walked all the way around tank no.6 past Lordship Marsh were I spotted two Yellow Wags in the recently ploughed field.

This was one of my two target birds for the day and I was thrilled to see it close up, the last time I saw a Yellow Wag was right here in the same field a few years back, but at some distance.

Winchat: The second of my two target birds was spotted almost straight after getting my first, I spotted two Winchat in the same ploughed field along with a few Reed Bunting and one female Wheatear and I saw my first two Swift of the year.

OK today was no Rock Thrush, Hoopoe or Rich Pip at Spurn (I turned down a lift) but getting both birds I wanted to see made my day that little more bearable.

24/04/2013 Waddow Hall, Clitheroe

Roe Deer: I have just come back from Waddow Hall where I attended 'being the RSPB' course.

Waddow was stunning, really nice grounds, great wildlife and the place was full of Roe Deer, Brown Hare and birds namely Dipper and Goosander, although I didn't see any Dippers.

So I am now officially the RSPB! And have officially met some of the nicest people who work for the RSPB and who are doing some very important work.

21/04/2013 Aberdaron

Subalpine Warbler: There are some days you just have to remember, for the times when birding doesn't go as well as you hope, when you dip on a bird or find yourself standing in the rain and think 'why am I here' was it worth while, well I will think back on today's great birding and say it's always worth while.

First Scott and I started our day at Cemlyn Bay to search for the Golden Oriole and we were very lucky as as soon as we arrived we saw it from the car.
Then we made our way up down to Aberdaron and randomly bumped in to Eddie, Phil and Andy from the North Wales Birding Forum. These awesome guys directed us straight to the Sub-Alp Warbler.

This little beauty was showing incredibly well just after the rain stopped and I got some nice shots of it bathing and perching in the shrubs.

Woodchat Shrike: By the time we got our fill of the Sub-Alp and moved on in search of the Shrike the sun well and truly had his hat on and with new vigor we set off.

And once again we struck luck and saw the bird within minutes of leaving the car!
The bird was happily feeding in the farm fields on flies and beetles and was not shy, we saw it up on the telegraph wire, on the road, on the fence and all within a few feet of us. Karen an RSPB Vol also spotted a second Woodchat Shrike a bit further down the road, but we never saw this one.

Three NEW UK LIFERS and great birds to TICK!

A day not to forget!

19/04/2013 Conwy RSPB

Willow Warbler: On my way home I popped in at Conwy RSPB Nature Reserve and got my first Willows of the year! And they were everywhere along with plenty of Chiffchaff.

The highlight though had to be the single Arctic Tern right in front of the coffee shop, although I did miss the Redstart which would of ended the day just nicely!

19/04/2013 The Great Orme

Ring Ouzel (female): I finally struck luck after several failed attempt's at spotting a Ring Ouz this year.

Over in the sheep pens I spotted six, five males and only one female they were very actively calling to each other and moving between the rock wall and bank.
Ring Ouzel (male): Its nice to see one but its fantastic to see half a dozen of these charismatic birds, it was just a shame the sun was behind this male.
Merlin: In the same field this female Merlin suddenly came out of no where and perched right in front of me until the local Crows came to mob it off their patch.
Chough: I have recently been told my Blog is full of rubbish puns well here's another! I was so choughed to bits to see these Chough.

There were two birds again in the same field and they kept coming back to feed beneath the stone wall the Ring Ouzels were using, another UK tick, get in!

Meadow Pipit: Other birds of note were the many Stonechat and Wheatear which were literally everywhere. I spotted a small flock of Siskin over the grave yard, there were two Linnet near the summit car park and mipits like this one were also very numerous.

16/04/2013 Sankey Valley Park

Common Sandpiper: After a disappointing few hours looking up in to some pine trees at Martin Mere I decided to head back over to Warrington as I had to pick Dawn up so headed down to Sankey as last time I saw a pair of Kingfisher.
No Kingfisher this time but I did spot this Common Sand. I am often surprised by the movement of birds, for instance last week there were no Common Sands around here but in the space of a few days they turn up everywhere locally.

16/04/2013 Houghton Green Flash

Sandwich Tern: After dropping Dawn off at work in Warrington I was in two minds of going back to Houghton Green after my last two unsuccessful trips, but I am really glad I did.

As soon as I parked up and walked across the farm field I could hear a Tern calling.

After a quick scan I could see it was a pair of Sandwich Tern, they where actively feeding and fending off the local gulls.
Common Sandpiper: Another good find were two Common Sands on the muddy edges and the Little Ring Plover was still present.

I then went over to Martin Mere to chance my luck for the Crossbill but alas they were not to be seen.

So all in all it tern-ed out to be a good trip in the end!

14/04/2013 Red Rocks

Common Toad: My third attempt at catching sight of the Ring Ouzel's which have been passing through the North Wirral Shore.

I looked all over Red Rocks in the rain and got blown away by the wind looking on the golf course without any sign of the bird, although I did see these awesome toads in their loving embrace known as "Amplexus".

This is where male Toads clasp the females in this special hold during mating and remain like this for a few days as the female lays her spawn.

White Wagtail: I also spotted several White Wags working the shore line looking for food.

I then drove round to Meols and Leasowe in search of the Ring Ouz but again lady luck was not with me and all I could see were bloody Blackbirds!
My day ended nice though as Dawn and I went out for dinner with a brief spot at Frodsham Marsh where we saw a stunning Male Marsh Harrier over tank no.6

12/04/2013 Denhall Quay

Chiffchaff: I took a trip down to Neston with the hope of seeing the Water Pipit which has been seen regularly around Neston Sewage Works. I stayed a good while but alas the bird didn't show, but I did see a ton of Chiffchaff.
Short Eared Owl: The morning was not a total waste though as I caught a brief glimpse of this shortie off Denhall Quay, unfortunately I didn't have my camera out so by the time I did the bird was at some distance and flying away from me.

Lesson one - always have your camera ready!

10/04/2013 Red Rocks

Wheatear: This male was spotted at Red Rocks, I went to see if I could catch up with the Ring Ouzel which had been reported yesterday from here and Leasowe.

Little Ringed Plover: Unfortunately I didn't catch up with the bird and there were no more reported today, but there was this LR Plover in the horse paddocks, I guess I will have to wait for another day for the Ouzel.

09/04/2013 Martin Mere WWT

Ruff: We soon wandered down to Martin Mere were I am still astonished to see how variable Ruff are, I mean if you were no birder you would not be mistaken to think they are a different species.

Take a look at this pale white ruff, absolutely stunning.
This darker Ruff's plumage looks nothing like what you would see in most books, from the Swan Link Hide we spotted at least 2 white headed Ruff 4 dark phase Ruff and at least 15  brown Ruff.

And look at this Ruff, presumably the females with their brown plumage phase. There were loads of theses normal looking Ruff, some with a white fronted face and others without. Even their legs can be different colors making identification even more tricky!
Lapwing: Other waders from the Swan Link Hide induced this Lapwing which unlike the Ruff  blackwit was very flighty.
Black Tailed Godwit: There was half a dozen blackwits from here too and once again put on a great show foraging right up close. We caught 2 Tawny Owl near the United Utilities Hide a Stoat and a female Wheatear all in the same area.
One thing that was striking was the lack of Whooper Swans from the last time I was here there was about 100 and this was only about 2 weeks ago . We only saw one pair from the Swan Link and one pair from the United Utilities Hide.
Spoonbill: I was made up to spot this Spoonbill knowing we had missed it earlier that day at Marshisde.

On the way home Scott said 'lets go see some Corn Buntings' and I said 'OK, but I doubt we will see any' and just as that sentence left my lips he said 'Oh, look over there' and there was a tree full of Corn Buntings.

Brilliant, two lifers in one day Corn Bunts and Black Grouse now that can't be bad!

09/04/2013 Marshside RSPB

 Avocet: I started off this day by meeting up with Scott Reid a fellow RSPB colleague who is a very good wildlife film maker and photographer.

We started our day up at World's End and struck lucky with 2 male Black Grouse, we were unable to go all the away across due to the snow, it was like Siberia up there.

We then headed over to Marshside RSPB reserve, we thought we would be close to Preston just in case the illusive Killdeer made an appearance. I've never been to Marshside before and was impressed, the hides are good the marsh and inland fresh water lagoons are great and the main hide gives you the chance to get up close an personal with Avocet.

Scott spotted a Rock Pipit from the main hide and we saw a few Sand Martin flying around the marsh near the car park, there was also a few Red Legged Partridge in the fields around the reserve. We just missed the long staying Spoonbill as the volunteers told us it had just flown off, possibly to Martin Mere.

06/04/2013 Burton Point

Wheatear: After work trip down on the marsh front hoping for some owls revealed only 3 pairs of Wheatear and several Meadow Pipits showing really well near the cattle grid and pens.

I should have gone down to Parkgate as there were reports of 2 shorties showing really well!  I guess there's always another day.

05/04/2013 Houghton Green Flash

Ringed Plover: Back from my trip to sunny but windy Essex, dam eastalies. I decided to go Grebe hunting, Black Neck specifically, and headed to Houghton Green Flash a large fresh water pool next to the M6 motorway and over the road from Woolston Eyes.

There has been reports of the Black Necked Grebes here over the few Days I was in Essex, but as I arrived they had all disappeared, there was no sign of them at all. However I did spot 3 pairs of Great Crested Grebes, 1 Redshank and 4 Ringed Plover.

Kingfisher: Trying to find the place was hard, OK I had no Sat Nav or map apart from the scribbling's (which I never actually followed) Dawn wrote before we left. I dropped her off at work and was soon lost but ended up at Sankey Valley Park were I was surprised to see a pair of Kingfisher on the Sankey Canal.

I also heard my first Chiffchaff of the year here and spotted a tone of garden birds, nice little place.  

03/04/2013 Southend Pier

Mediterranean Gull: If I could give anyone a tip when visiting Southend it would be to make the effort and go down to the pier.

Firstly its ace! Its sells old school sweets, you can choose to walk or take the cool train or do both. It is also the longest pier in Europe, I think.

Secondly its famous for Mediterranean Gull as they can be spotted all over it. I saw this stunning 2nd winter bird flying around the pier head - notice the black flecks on its wings and incomplete hood.

Thirdly there's always birds on or around the pier, along with the gulls I spotted 4 Great Crested Grebes on the sea and while I was there I saw reports of mixed divers along the same stretch of sea. I've been in the summer when it is full of Common Tern and Turnstone!

One place not to miss!

01/04/2013 Gunners Park, Essex

Long Tailed Duck: Last week I took a trip to Essex to see my family, but I managed to pack my binoculars and camera!
Before I go anywhere for a prolonged period, I usually check out the local birding sites and latest reports where I saw that a female Long Tailed Duck had been seen at Gunners Park near Southend on Sea.

So on my first day there I took (or dragged, depending on who you talk to) the whole family to see their first Long Tailed Duck and what a duck, OK its not a super male but still a little cracker.