19/05/2017 Burton Mere Wetlands, RSPB

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: OK these are possibly some of the worst images of BBS that you will see, however this bird was too far fro my lens and I had to use the iPhone and scope combo!

Despite the bad pictures the bird showed really well at time while at other time sit was obscured by the vegetation or pretty distant.
The news came though this morning while I waved goodbye to Dawn as she went off to work and I just poured myself some cereal.

Leaving the stewing bowl of Weetabix I grabbed my gear and ruched down the M6/M56 towards the bird.
I was really surprised of how small this bird was, it often came right up close to a Ruff and Redshank were you could see the size comparison.
This is the first twitchable Wirral record since 1973.....although there have been some recent local records at Frodsham and Woolston Eyes.

Hats off to Colin Wells who found the bird tis morning, a top bloke.

18/05/2017 Hilbre Island, Wirral

Shore Lark: Very scarce bird of the West coast, this local mega was found by Hilbre legend Steve Williams on the 15th of May.
Since then every man and his dog has gone across and seen it, I've had too much on, either newt surveys or Birthday celebrations.
I don't often spend much time on Hilbre but when I get the chance to go over I always enjoy myself, especially when the sun is out and the rain holds off.






The Shore Lark was busily feeding at the back of the island on the open grassy paths opposite Buoymaster's house.

Meadow Pipit: Plenty of activity around the island with mipits feeding young, Swallows doing the same and a single Wheatear foraging in the same area as the Shore Lark.
Whimbrel: After spending around 40 minutes with the Shore Lark I was joined by Colin Davies who was good company. We ended up down on the rocks scanning through the Dunlin and Oystercatchers looking for Whimbrel.
There has been four Whimbrel around Hilbre for a while and we could hear them calling from up on top of the island.
Great to catch up with Steve Williams, Colin Davies, travelling Dave Haigh and Graham Connolly who was sporting a brillinat LFC tshirt.

16/05/2017 Belvide Reservoir, Staffordshire

Spotted Sandpiper: One of the most widespread sandpipers in America, they typically spend their winters around the southern states to southern South America and are very scarce in the UK!
Saying that there are currently two twitchable summer plumaged birds in the UK at the moment, this one at Belvide Reservoir and another at Buttermere in the Lake District.

When I arrived the bird was out of sight for around 20 miniutes before it came out, albeit at some distance before flying right in front of the hide!


The the sound of camera shutters rapidly firing I was relived it came out, and so close!

Great to see some faces that I haven’t seen in a long while

14/05/2017 The Great Orme, Conwy

Chough: Today I woke up with news flashing on my BirdGuides app of two good local-ish birds the first was a Shore Lark on Hilbre found by Steve Williams of the Hilbre ringing group.

The second was a female Subalpine Warbler on the Great Orme found by Marc Hughes‏.
Having another free pass from Dawn I decided to spend the best part of the day on the Orme, which was beautiful in the summer sun, if a little windy on top.

We arrived to find a couple of local birders scouring the bushes along the wall near the limestone pavement including Steve Burke.
After chatting with these guys I soon realised that the bird was going to be typically illusive, and helped search the bushes for sometime before heading off. The bird wasn’t seen after I left and these guys had been searching all morning too.
I think the bird was seen twice early on and Steve Burke got some images of two different Sylvia one of which did look interesting, the other looked like a Common Whitethroat.

I did however get a bonus prize on the way off the Orme as I had this Chough feeding just off the limestone pavement - I’ve seen many Chough in my time but never one so close.

12/05/2017 Lynemouth Flash, Northumberland

Citrine Wagtail: How does that saying go?.....
You wait for one Citrine Wag and two come along in the same week....well something like that anyway.
After wasting most of our morning in Seahouses I was keen to see something decent and rescue our day, so we decided to go down and see this female citwag that has been reportedly showing well.
As we arrived in Lynemouth and during our car journey down we searched for directions, postcodes and any information we could find on this flash. The truth is, it ain't no flash, it's more of a flooded field. This was probably part of the reason we struggled to find the place.

However I sent a tweet out to some top blokes who got back to me promptly. Cheers again to Sam Viles and Andrew Kinghorn for their help, if we are ever in the Crown and Anchor I owe you a pint.
Almost as soon as we arrived the bird performed brilliantly and gave us all some stonking views.
I was particularly thrilled as this was my second UK citwag and the first bird was seen at some distance and in a hazy, grassy area.
So all in all a great night away with one new addition to the UK life list and a second round with a top bird. It also means that I will have to come back up to Northumberland another day to visit Farne, which is always a good thing.

12/05/2017 Catton Moss, Northumberland

Short-toed Lark: First of all I have to say how wonderful Catton Moss is, it's full of upland breeding birds, many of which had young or displaying. The place was full of Curlew calling and Snipe drumming overhead. Brilliant!!! 






The one bird which was unusual was this little chap, a Short-toed Lark which gave me and a fellow birder Alistair McCulloch a run around. The bird took one and a half hours to show before flying in to the nearby sheep pen and disappearing, before returning to the path which it favours and giving us some awesome views.
The main purpose of our trip was for Dawn and I to spend a night away in Seahouses with the intention of getting the boat across to Farne so made a booking with Billy Shiel's Farne Island Boat Tours.







However I have to say that their customer service was horrendous, after making a booking (no deposit necessary) and turning up at 9.30, on time and ready to go, they told us that the landing on Inner Farne was too choppy and no boats were running, but come back at 11am and we can get you on the next boat. That was fine as the weather had changed over night and I understand that we were unable to get a boat. My main issue is that when we came back after waiting around all morning they said that no boats at all were sailing. Now they have a twitter account and our email and telephone number so why on earth would they not get in touch or at the very least put some information on their Twitter account or website. This was a morning well wasted. I was not impressed.

07/05/2017 Morfa Madryn Nature Reserve, Conwy

Citrine Wagtail: A classic bogey.....a bird that I have been trying to tick off for many years, but for some reason has eluded me. I have dipped before and it's pretty scarce and I have never seen one in the UK before.  Well not until today!
I was originally offered a trip out to Worlds End, Wrexham with Damian and Neil, but after a couple of drinks at a friends wedding the night before I couldn’t face an early morning. So when I woke up, in a leisurely fashion I decided to try my luck for the Cit Wag and made my way down the A55.


When I arrived the sun was out and the tide was out, so I wasn’t holding my breath too much as these birds tend to go missing in the heat of the day. After the long walk from the car park to the hide I was told that the bird hadn’t been seen for at least 3 hours.
I wasn’t deterred and stayed on and searched the area it was last seen. It wasn’t until Pete Kinsella arrived who first spotted the bird that our spirits were raised. The bird however didn’t want to play ball and suckled out of view for much of the time before reappearing and giving us all great views.

Always a highlight when you tick a new bird as it is also to bump in to Pete and Sue and Kinsella and Mark Nightingale.