20/03/2015 Carr Mill Dam, St Helens

Common Scoter: I've seen thousands of Scoter off shore and half a dozen in some local lakes like Pennington Flash and Elton Reservoir, but I have never seen a Scoter showing this well before.
The bird was found yesterday at Carr Mill Dam, however it wasn't spotted loafing around on the main lake like I've seen them before but on an outflow stream on the south east side of the lake.
It looked like the bird, that usually migrates and flys through the night was brought down by the recent fog.

The bird then settled on the lake and drifted towards the outflow and down on to the stream.
When I arrived the RSPCA were there doing what they do best. It was feared that the bird might be unable to take off from the stream as they need a good running start, unlike a Mallard that can take off almost vertically like a helicopter!
It was Derek Hampson from the RSPCA who was chest deep in the murky waters trying his hardest to capture the bird and take it to Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre.
But the Scoter had other ideas and gave Derek the run around as it constantly dove under the water only to emerge behind him or at the other side of the outflow.

Another empty net!
It seemed like the Scoter was playing around with Derek and at times laughing!
But Derek kept his cool and patience getting closer and closer to the bird each time.

The chase was finally over.

With lightning reflexes the Scoter dove under water again but this time swam right in to the RSPCA's well placed net.

With a splash and a cheer the bird was safe and sound and on its was to Stapeley Grange.

16/03/2015 North Wales

Mediterranean Gull: First stop was Cemlyn Bay for the Lapland Bunting which has been knocking about there for a few days.

But after a long search, accompanied by some other local birders and no sign of the bird I turned my attention to the resident Med Gulls.
There was one pair in their summer plumage giving me a good show over the main pool.

Other birds of note included a single Whimbrel and a large flock of Golden Plover on the shore line and a Peregrine perched on the fence over the fields.
Iceland Gull: From Anglesey I headed home but I couldn't resist another visit to Abergele for the simply superb Iceland Gull.

And once again I wasn't disappointed as the bird was happy loafing around the small pools on the car park.

It was great to bump in to Alan and Ruth who were kind enough to show me a large flock of Scoter though their scope.

In return I gave Ruth a laugh as she snapped a few images of me laying on the ground getting some low angled shots of the gull.

12/03/2015 Silver Lane Pools

Black-necked Grebe: My first visit to these pools, I never really took the time to find out were they where.

I'm glad I did the place looks like it could be a place I would want to visit regularly. 

I had pair Snipe and three Grey Partridge along with the visiting BN Grebes.

Note to self, next time I go make sure to wear my wellies not walking boots!

10/03/2015 Astley Moss

Yellowhammer: Lovely morning at a very bright but muddy Astley moss. The place was full of the sound of male Yellowhammers singing  and I saw and counted six males and four females, but I assume there was lost more I missed.
Common Buzzard: I didn't venture too far and spent most of my time waiting on the main drive, where I places some seed.

While perched here I also counted three Common buzzard two soaring high and one pretty low the adjacent field and a pair of Grey Partridge.
Sparrowhawk: After getting my fill of the hammers I decided to walk over to the barn just past the houses and opposite the moss itself, checking out the surround fields.

These were filled with Lapwing and singing Skylark and just before I left I also got some lovely views of a sprawk flying low over the fields.

08/03/2015 Richmond Bank

Glaucous Gull: After missing yesterday's monster of a mega Audouin's Gull, I was eager to give it a stab and set off for first light.

I headed straight to the gull watching site overlooking Richmond Bank and was surprised to find I was on my own, I thought there would have been more birders out looking for this monster.
When I arrived the gull count was about 2000 and growing, which again was surprising as usually Sundays are rubbish at Richmond due to the landfill not operating on the weekends.

I spotted two different Glaucs and an odd looking 1st winter Iceland. The first Glauc I spotted was a very pale bird and less evenly marked.

This first bird was a classic image of a large front heavy Glauc with its short primaries that seem to stop too early and large broad white wings.

Among the hundreds of argentatus and fuscus there was a darker more milky coffee coloured Glauc with pale barring along its wing coverts.

This heavy set bird stood out like a sore thumb among its neighbours and was distinctly different to the first Galuc which was a lot more white.
The odd looking Iceland Gull took me some time to pick out but again it was very distinct once you got your eye on it.

Other opinions believe its some sort of Herring hybrid one of Richmonds mutant birds!
This image shows the birds steep forehead and relatively large eye and the classic projection of its long primary wing feathers that were pale giving the bird an attenuated rear end.

Despite no sign of the monster Audouin's Gull it was a nice, if a little rainy, grey and damp morning

Note: The last three images were taken on my lousy iPhone through my scope and are not the best.

05/03/2015 Richmond Bank

Firecrest: What a stonker a really lovely little bird to connect with, and it has been a very long time since I last saw one. 

Dawn and I spent the morning feeding the Ducks and Gulls at Three Sisters NR. I was hoping to pick up the nice Med Gull that has been knocking around there, but alas no luck, never the less we did have fun feeding the birds though.
From here we decided to go and try for the Richmond Bank Firecrest, knowing the site really well I didn't hold out much hope as there are huge areas of brambles, willow and scrub.
As soon as we arrived we bumped in to a couple of gullers waiting on the receding tide to bring back the gull roost, and were kind enough to inform us that they had seen the Firecrest within the last hour and pointed us in the direction that the bird flew off.
Despite getting some relatively decent shots this little bird was so hard to pin down, I must have taken a couple of hundred blurred images of the bird foraging and out of focused brambles!
Dawn and I were joined by another birder when we noticed there was actually two males, as one came out of nowhere and they started chasing each other until they flew off out of sight.

04/03/2015 Gunners Park, Southend, Essex

Serin: I have been putting this twitch off for far too long now so I decided to just go for it, and I am very glad I did.

I left Wigan around 3.30am and was surprised and thrilled to come across a Barn Owl flying over the car along Wigan Road (A573), right up the road from where I live!
I made good time getting to Essex but parked miles away and struggled to locate the car park where the birds have been favouring.

After getting in touch with local birder Max Hellica, I was soon pointed in the right direction.

Cheers Max.
Once I located the precise site the day turned out to be a perfect twitch. 

The birds were doing a continuous circuit where they would spend some time singing in the Willow at the back of the pond and they would eventually come out and land on a nearby Ash.   

Nice and easy, perch yourself next to the Ash Tree and wait, the bird will soon turn up and show really well. No running around and no long waiting.

29/02/2015 Leighton Moss RSPB

Green-winged Teal: Great to catch up with this years first American counterpart of the Eurasian Teal.

Mainly identifiable by its very obvious vertical strip at the front of its flanks - Eurasian Teal have a vertical stipe.
As usual as soon as I arrived the bird had moved from the Grizedale Hide where it had been showing a lot closer and over to Tim Jacksons Hide, a little further from my lens and in worse light!
Never the less it was great to pick the bird out amongst the many Eurasian Teal and add to the year list.
Shoveler: There where loads of other 'dross' as some other people would say - me however think a good drake GWT, Shoveler and 18 Snipe makes for a good morning out.
Wigeon: Not the American variety, but great to see at close quarters. But gain does an American Wigeon go down as 'dross' - not to me!