20/12/2017 Undisclosed Site

Black Redstart: This week I found a black redstart during a survey in the midlands. I watched the bird for a long while finding mostly the live food they need in the micro-climates formed in the many sheltered gardens, balconies and roof valleys to be found in the town, where they are in the habit of running like wagtails (they also hop) and feeding (usually unnoticed) under lines of parked cars, often in the busy streets.

I watched as it spent its day busily picking food items from  the gable walls of houses, often hovering under guttering or facia boards, and fly-catching from favourite perches, usually near lawns, were they can take prey from the ground, always returning quickly to the favourite lookout, their fiery tails giving a welcome flash of exotic colour to otherwise drab winter streets.

A great bird to find during a grey drizzly day and a perfect bird to brighten up a typically dull survey.

10/12/1027 Heysham

Chough:  Good to catch up with this little gem that has been in the same horse paddock  off the headland at Heysham for a few weeks now.
The bird is known to show pretty well however when Dawn and I arrived it was foraging right at the back  of the paddock.

It came a little closer with some patience, but the sub zero temperatures got the better of us and I made do with some record shots.

30/11/2017 Walton-le-Dale, Preston

Firecrest: It was great to finally catch up with Prestons tiny restless jewel of a bird which has been in the area of  sewage works in Walton-le-Dale for a week or so now.
The bird appears to favour the right hand pathway which leads past the entrance, bordered by the sewage works fence and a tall linear hedgerow and woodland.
When I arrived the frost was still soft on the fence and the ground still frozen hard. I'm always amazed how such small birds survive the coldest nights, their physiology and ability to store and consume energy is amazing.

Typically the bird was constantly foraging for food, picking off small spiders from the hawthorn and brambles.
Hence the reason why I ended up getting mainly shots of the bird which was out of focus, behind some foliage or just the foliage and no bird!

27/11/2017 Crosby

Snow Bunting: Despite the very windy conditions and having around 10 tons of sand blown in to my eyes it was great to finally catch up with a local snow bunt. 
I managed an early dart from work having banked some time in lieu after working away last week.
Starting my new role as an ecologist at Amey has really eaten in to my free time to get out birding, as now my workload has massively increased and what little down time I have I want to spent it with Dawn.
So when I'm out, even in the wind and rain its always valued.

The snow bunt was at the far end of the boating lake in between the walkway that takes you on to the beach and it was associating with a couple of skylark. 

Skylark: The birds were getting moved around alot by being flushed by dogs and their walkers although they stayed in the same area, favouring the grass near the small pool.
These birds are stunning, a far cry from a LBJ (little brown job), take a look at their caramel and french roast coloring.
A nice afternoon out.

15/10/2017 Pwll-du, Gwent Normally

Common Rock Thrush: This bird is known  by many names such as the Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, European Rock Thrush and the Mountain Thrush, however it should be better known as the not-so-Common Rock thrush as there as only been 28 records across the UK, of which only two have been available to twitch, one for five days on Scilly in 1996 and a two day female at Spurn in 2013.
Typically when I arrive the bird moved from about 20 metres away to over 100 metres away, still I was thrilled just have connected with the bird.  The bird spent much of its time flitting over light vegetation in search of food, eventually resting on a perch from which it will hunt.
The one this that really stood out when watching the bird was how at home it looked in an old disused Welsh mine. Typically they are found breeding on steep and rocky mountain slopes or higher alpine meadows, they prefer areas over elevations of 1,500 metres with open hills and light vegetation.

30/09/2017 Ryhope, Durham

Scops Owl: Last Wednesday while i was sitting in work hammering away on the keys of my laptop writing and Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) my phone pinged.....BirdGuides......Eurasian Scops Owl, Ryhope Durham!!!

Well, that's was my day in the office ruined, knowing I was stuck at work and was going to miss yet another cracking bird.

The same happened on Thursday , however the bird was reported much later in the day and on Friday there was no sign, no re ports and i feared it had moved on.

This morning the same thing happened my phone pinged.....BirdGuides......Eurasian Scops Owl, Ryhope Durham!!!

But this time I was free from work and in no time I had was whizzing my up the motorway towards the East coast.
I made really good time and arrived while the bird roosted in the same Elder that it roosted in on Wednesday.

Tricky bird to see, made even more tricky by the tens of birders who were scrambling around to get the best vantage point as there was one leaf right in the way!

Spotted Flycatcher: A nice distraction from the crowds and the narrowing elbow room, was this SpotFly which was fly catching from the same Elder bush
Barred Warbler: There was also a Barred Warbler that came out of it's dense cover and showed itself for a few seconds before melting back in to the shrubs.

17/09/2017 Wells Wood, Norfolk

Arctic Warbler: Last week I finally caught up with this little Phylloscopus, I was hoping for a two tick day but unfortunately I dipped on the PGtips that has been in the area. 
My first thought when I saw this bird is that it would be a tricky bird to pin down on ID, but upon closer inspections with its bright olive-green above and grey-white below plumage and it's upturned white supercilium, prominent white eye-crescents interrupting dark eye-stripe, distinct white wing-bar it became more apparent.
The bird made itself more difficult to ID with its feeding behaviour as like with most typically Phylloscopus the bird hardly spotted moving while it foraged amongst the birch tree leaves.

Still I was happy with the record shots and more happy with the fact I saw the bird.

16/09/2017 New Brighton, Wirral

Leach's Petrel: There are certain days which are truly spectacular - and today is one of them!

It's been a long while since the Wirral has had such good conditions at the right time of year to produce such brilliant numbers of these little ocean swallows.
Leach’s Petrels migrate west of Ireland between their breeding sites, on remote islands off Scotland and Iceland, and wintering areas thought to include the Bay of Biscay and farther south in the Atlantic as far as the equator. And it's the gale-force south-westerly winds apparently blew some Leach’s Petrels back north from their wintering areas into the Irish Sea.

Over the last couple of days there has been up to and possibly more than 35 Leach's spotted, they have also been spotted all the way up the Lancashire coast, from Ainsdale, Blackpool Promenade and Haysham.
After watching for about an hour i moved on to New Brighton Lifeguard Station as I wanted to get closer to the shoreline.

This was a winner, as there were two LP that were dancing on the waves close to shore, one even made a dash over the sand and rested its little legs for a while.
After getting windswept myself I decided to go meet Patrick who was at the other ed of New Brighton, which had slowed down so decided to head back to the two on the beach.
Grey Phalarope: These perfect conditions don't only bring out Leach's of the Irish Sea but Grey Pahls too! There have been reports of two individuals around New Brighton.
I saw this one next to Perch Rock as it flew in just after first light and landed in front of me, but only for a few seconds before taking off and getting blown away.
I watched one getting harassed by a some gulls and later saw this bird exhausted sitting on the sea,  between fighting the Aileen's gales and the local gulls it was bound to feel knacked.
I didn't have long as i had to get back home to collect a dilivary and had some work to crcak on with and left patrick and the rabble of birders to enjoy the rare north west experiance.
Great day, great birding, great company!

Spurn Migration Festival

Wryneck: What a weekend and what a place, this was my second Spurn Migration Festival and this time I went with some of the north west lads, Patrick Damion, Iggo and Tony Broom, unfortunately Neil was unable to attend.

I arrived a little later then the others as I was working away that week carrying out autumn bird surveys in Norfolk.
Upon my arrival I headed over to Sandy Beaches caravan Park to see the Wryneck and meet up with a Iggo and Patrick.  Here we watched the bird carry out some unusual behaviour as it flew upon to the Perennial Sow Thistle and started to eat the aphids straight from the stems.
The bird was present in this area the whole weekend.

 Long-billed Dowitcher: Apart from the Wryneck and and full of migrant birds like redstarts and Pied Flycatchers there wasn't much else to be seen and we spend a few hours searching and hoping for something great to drop in.

Black Redstart: Well our preys were answered as a heavy but small shower passed over us which allowed a Long-billed Dowitcher to drop in.

This was what everyone was waiting for as as soon as news reach us we set off to see it, along with every other person at Spurn.

We had some excellent views before heading off in search of our own finds.

04/09/2017 Smithfield Market, Manchester

Yellow-legged Gull:  After reading and seeing several images of Smithfield's Fishmarkets YLG I presume by Rob Creek, I was keen to go and have a look myself.
 I've seen several YLG in my time birding, but often at some distance at places like Moore NR and Richmond Bank, so to see one a lot closer was great.
Big shout out to the contributor's and admin who run MBF, this is a great asset and full of useful sightings and information. I didn't even know there was a huge fish market in Manchester.
Almost as soon as i arrived in the car park I spotted the bird loafing up top the main building, It remained here for about 20miniutes before flying off on to a lamppost the disappearing  in to the yonder.

I was informed that I may have been the last person to see the bird before it disappeared however it looks like its come back.
So well worth a visit for anyone who would like to see it.

Just make yourself known to the guys in reception once you have parked up, they were pretty approachable and friendly.