25/01/2020 Martin Mere WWT

Swan Goose: After spending almost a week indoors fighting off a horrible cold I was glad to get out and about this Saturday afternoon.
I thought I would take it easy and go somewhere that provides a nice warm hide, a place to grab some hot drinks and cake and a place with a bean goose also on the menu. So I shot over to Martin Mere WWT.


Black-tailed Godwit: Nice also to see the bizarre looking swan goose that wasn't shy and came right up to the waters edge before heading off with a gaggle of greylag geese.
This swan goose is considered as a feral bird, reading up on this bird I have leaned that there are some feral breeding swan geese in Germany and the closest potentially wild bird record is nearly 4000 miles away!!

Swan geese can be found in Mongolia and they winter in SE China.
There were a few black-tailed godwits foraging around the rocky banks of the main mere.
This pair regularly broke out in fighting, squawking, flapping and pecking at each other it was fascinating to watch.





And look closer, I had several shots were the birds held each others bill and even appeared to peck inside the opponents bill. Both of them were trying to pull out each others feathers..

Aggressive behaviour!!

Tundra Bean Goose: The Bean Goose was still present feeding around the main mere loafing around with a small flock of pink feet's.
Turndra's are a stockier bird than the common pink-footed goose Turndra's appear darker and browner in appearance. But its their combination of orange legs and orange in the bill that are the main ID features.






These images show a really nice comparison between the two geese and their bills colouration. 



There were also 2 Mediterranean gulls on the main mere within the large black-headed gull flock. I also had a lovely marsh harrier flyby, 60ish ruff and three common snipe. No sign of the tawny owl n its box.
Common Snipe: Really enjoyable afternoon out, nice hot drink and some more cold & flu tablets and I will be back to my normal self.

18/01/2020 Rhos-on-sea, Conwy

Purple Sandpiper: It was great to finally catch up with conwy's famous purple sandpipers. I've been here several times but never managed to see the purps that so many birders and photographers talk about.
These winter visitors are widely distributed around the coast and are most abundant in the northern isles particularly Shetland, Hebrides and along the east coast of Scotland, north-eastern England and Devon and Cornwall and pretty much scarce elsewhere.
Rhos-on-sea is a prime location and one of the best in the north west to see these dumpy medium sized waders as they roost and forage on the sea defences close to shore.

Although their numbers have remained low over the years compared to other places such as New Brighton marina lake on the Wirral.







I've spent hours over many years on my annual visit to New Brighton's marina lake for purple sands, but never have I had such close and confiding views as I did here at Rhos-on-sea.

There were just two birds on the breakwater spending their time picking away at the rocks in search of food and came pretty close hopping over the large boulders and rocks.






Big thank you to Mel Hughes who kindly pointed in the right location of the birds, cheers mate, I owe you one.

11/01/2020 RSPB Marshside, Southport

Long-billed Dowitcher: Its always good when there's a decent local bird to twitch, the news of this bird came through late afternoon yesterday and I it would be rude not to go over and see it.
This is my third LBD but possibly the best showing of the three. Upon arriving the bird was roosting behind some vegetation before being spooked.


It then got picked up by the expert eyes of Mark Nightingale as it fed along a distant ditch.

Here are some dodgy phone scope images of the bird when it was further up the ditch. The bird eventually came a lot closer.
Unfortunately I missed out on the white triangular patch above its tail and white uppertail-covers the bird exhibits in flight, all I ended up with from the flight shots were blurry brown blobs streaking across the sky!

Note to self, must try harder!


05/01/2020 Horton's Nose Nature Reserve, Rhyl

Snow Bunting: Happy New Year to all you kind folk that take the time to look at my photograpjhy and read my blog. It's very much apprerciated.
After a busy and new born baby filled festive break I was greatful to be out with some good mates, Patrick, Iggo and Ste Tomlinson.


We haeded to North Wales to boost those who were keen on starting a year list and we started at South Stack. Nothning much here but strong winds so we quickly move on to Breakwater Country Park and picked up the firecrest that has been there for a few weeks.

Not the best views we've ever had of one but nice to see.
Next stop was the Inland Sea where we ticked off med gull, pintail, slav grebe and even a great northern diver. We were fast loosing time and losing light and made a quick dash over to Llanwrst to try our luck with the hawfinch, but alas after a long serch and long wait we mobed on.





Our final stop was Kimel Bay near Rhyl, here we struck lucky with two snow bunting, one a great looking male too!








These are one of the loveliest visitors from the far north is the Snow Bunting. The large white patches on its wings and body give it a sparkly, twinkling effect when it flies, and gave it the nickname “snowflake.”






All round a nice day out birding.

30/12/2019 Eagland Hill, Lancashire

Purple Heron: This was my 2nd purple heron of which both have been in the North West, the first being at Leighton Moss back in 2017.

This bird has been very unusual in its behavior as since its discovery on the 4th of December, after being identified via photos, the bird remained very loyal to a small, narrow drainage ditch.

It stayed here for about two weeks until it decided to take a 15 mile trip to Southport's RSPB Marshside Nature Reserve.

It was only observed here for a single day on the 17th of December before returning to its favorite ditch on England Hill, assuming it was the same bird, which is highly likely.
When I finally got around to see it the bird spent much of its time behind vegetation within the dark, narrow ditch. It eventually flapped up the bank and started to forage for voles.







It was remarkable to witness as the bird used it keen eyes and stealth to sneak up on its prey and caught several bank voles with such ease.


21/12/2019 Prestwick Carr, Northumberland

Eastern Yellow Wagtail: This cold, grey looking bird has recently been involved in somewhat of a major taxonomic decision, one that has seen the complexities of the many sub species of yellow wagtail brought in to discussion.
This has resulted in the yellow wagtail Motacilla flava being split into two distinct species, the Eastern yellow wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis and Western yellow wagtail Motacilla flava.



This is pretty much an unassuming bird, but one with serious pulling power. This comparatively recently a taxonomic decision has contributed to what looks like a record year for Eastern yellow wags in Britain and elsewhere. And has given me the opportunity  to add a new bird to my British list.


Mark Payne and I set off pretty early in order to be back at home at a reasonable time, now that I'm a farther to little Autumn I needed to be back.

When we arrived on the muddy track the light was poor, flat and dull (hence the greym, falt images), but the bird was lively and showing incredibly well, almost in touching distance.


Well worth the trip and no better way to see such a bird.


15/12/2019 ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable

Black-Throated Thrush: Toady I was lucky to get some jaw dropping views of a very smart looking male black-throated thrush. The bird has been frequenting Whipsnade Zoo near Dunstable for the past few days.







Patrick and I decided to try out luck and headed down the M6 early doors, but  having seen the 2016 St Asaph bird I didn't have the knot of anticipation we twitters get as we journey down to see a new bird. Patrick on the other hand was nervous.
The previous day the bird had been illusive and disappeared by lunch time so we had only slight optimism. When we arrived the bird had been spotted on a grassy area opposite the elephant enclosure, we heeded here only to be told the bird had flown off 15 minutes ago! Disappointed we searched the area before noticing a large group of birders rushing off in the same direction, we swiftly followed.




The bird was relocated outside the coffee shop near the pig enclosures, feeding on a cotoneaster tree. Here the bird put on a great show before flying off with a small flock of redwing.

Patrick and I were made up, especially as the bird sown so incredibly well.

I suggest if anyone reading this is planning on going that you pre-book your entrance tickets (usually worth £26 discounted price £21.60) which are considerably cheaper and park in the over spill car park, as they charge you £12 to park within the zoo grounds. The over-spill is free. I would also like to thank Patrick not only for driving us down but lending me the two middle photos to use on my blog, quality mate.