07/11/2020 Crosby Marina, Liverpool

Long-tailed Duck: Between the busy shops and fast food outlets of South Road in Waterloo and the Antony Gormley cast iron men that stand like soldiers guarding Crosby beach lies Crosby Marina Lake.


The waters of the marine lake often holds good numbers of diving ducks like goldeneye and tufted duck, as well as great crested grebes, and especially after storms, other aquatic specialists taking refuge from bad weather. 



Over the last two years or so there has been a wintering long-tailed duck often on the smaller boating lake keeping away from the much busier activity centre lake. When I saw the bird last year it kept itself to itself and stayed far out in the middle small boating lake, this time the bird was much more confident and showy! 

This was just incredible, I've seen many across the country in my time, but never like this. The bird wasn't bothered by the dog walker, children and passersby. 
With lockdown 2.0 now here it was great to get out with the family, have a pleasant walk outside with the baby and fit in some birding. I couldn't recommend it enough to everyone, if you can keep yourself and others safe get out there and enjoy the autumnal weather. 


15/10/2020 Elton Reservoir, Bolton

Greater Scaup: With Lockdown 2 looming I was keen to capitalise on any small opportunity I can get to go out birding. So when dawn asked me to collect a parcel from Whitefield after work today I jumped at the chance. 
As I was passing Elton Reservoir  I thought I would stop and see if I could relocate the greater scaup that has been there for a few days and also the bar-tailed godwit that's taken up residence there. 
It didn't take long to pick up the scratty looking 1st winter drake scaup as it was feeding con its own lose to Capsticks.   

The bar-wit was was also foraging in its usual flooded field, viewed from the muddy track around the res. 



Losing the light and with the rain clouds moving in fast I didn't hang around the res for too long and made my way to the shop to collect Dawns parcel. 

27/10/2020 Meols, Wirral

Snow Bunting: The coast and the Dee estuary have always attracted the snow bunting and they are now a fairly regular winter visitor to the Wirral coast. 
The two birds were very confiding and seem to ignore the presence of humans whether they were walking past, cycling or walking their dogs they weren't phased and continued to forage on the embankment of the sea defences along the prom. 






Seeing that they were showing incredibly well, once I had finished work I headed over just in time to catch the last of the diminishing Autumn light. 
And I'm glad I made the effort as they were walking right up to me, within two or three feet. 


The one thing I have to comment on are the bone-headed selfish members of the public who without any consideration of what I and the other birders and those with cameras were obviously doing decided still to walk right past our shots. A little courtesy wouldn't have gone a miss!  
This is probably the world’s land bird that breeds furthest north, seeking treeless barren tracts for its nesting sites in the Arctic Circle and nearby. Although a few nest in the tops of the Cairngorms, it is mainly a rare winter visitor to our coasts, particularly the east coast.



The two birds can be found 100m north from Meols Parade. along the promenade heading towards Leasowe.  

Black Redstart: Another great bird that was in the area was this cracking black redstart. It was frequenting the garden of 292 along Meols Parade. 



The bird kept its distance while foraging on the lawn and driveway of the house and regularly few up onto the roof and garage. 







Common Buzzard: I do love this part of the North West, I always have a feeling that it would be a nice place to live. Somewhere you can find scares birds and somewhere you can see interesting birds, unlike Wigan. 




Maybe one day when I win the lottery!

18/10/2020 Stiffkey, North Norfolk

Rufus Bush Robin:  This awesome Autumn keeps on delivering, this time a bird that hasn't been seen in the UK for over 40 years! 

This bird goes by many names including rufous scrub robin, rufous bush chat, rufous bush robin and even rufous warbler.

Whatever you want to call it this bird was a total magnet for twitchers. Of which there was a lot of talk about the current Covid restrictions. Let me set things straight if you live in Tier 1 or Tier 2 there are no travel restrictions and you allowed to travel long distances for birding/twitching. You are not breaking the guidance or law if you do so.


Also the local police were on site offering advice and keeping an eye on the large crowd of which in the most part was socially distance and where this wasn't possible people wore face coverings, again as advised by the current Covid guidance.  
If you have a problem with anyone traveling to see a rare bird who has kept to the government's Covid guidelines I suggest you keep it to yourself.

Anyway back to the bird. it was showing on and off between foraging in the suaeda and occasionally perching up. Thrilled to have seen it.  
Stay safe everyone. 

16/10/2020 Trow Quarry, South Shields

Taiga Flycatcher: Formerly considered a subspecies of the red-breasted flycatcher, very similar in appearance. There are a few subtle differences one being its bill, Taiga's have an almost completely dark bill. In comparison, the bill colour of a red-breasted fly is variable and can range from completely dark (like Taiga) to partly pale.   



With this in mind there are some doubts surrounding the species of this bird in some quarters. But DNA from the bird along with sonogram recording of its call have all been taken so hopefully there will be a definitive answer given soon to put all the naysayers to bed! 
The bird originates from eastern Europe, Russia and Siberia and winters in south east Asia and China.  

This individual had settled in a old quarry along the prom in South Shields, favoring the steep rocky cliff and dense scrub areas at the foot of the cliff. 


Luckily I was scheduled to work on a site that was located 30 minutes away from here. Nice when these planets align and these golden opportunities come up.




After work I went down to South Gare to see the short-toed lark, a tricky little blighter it was pretty distant and hard to pick up amongst the stocky, shingle bank.  

09/10/2020 The Isles of Scilly

Swainson's Thrush: A Swainson’s thrush, classed as “mega rare” in the UK, landed on St mary's last week, having taken a wrong turn. Instead of being in jungle it found itself several thousand miles off course in a autumnal Scilly field.





Scilly's was not only playing host to this mega rare bird, but the day before Patrick and I decided to change our plans for Shetland a black a white warbler was found on Trecso. A few phone calls later and a and we had rearranged to travel down to the Scilly's instead. 

Unfortunately our luck didn't hold out as the black and white warbler didn't buck the trend and was a one day bird. Still the helicopter ride ver was pretty cool. 

Lapland Bunting: Although we missed the black and white warbler we struck lucky, very lucky incat with the Swainson's as previously while one was found on St Marys its was elusive and very few people connected with it. 
On our second day there was a report of a very showy Swainson's on Bryher. After missing the fisrt boat acreos we were on the next one and rewarded with some crippling views. of the bird. 

Patrick and I were made up, connecting with this bird reinforced pour last minute decision to change plans. 

Snow Bunting: There were a few migrants on the islands and I was pleased to find a snow bunting in the same area as the American golden plover on Tresco. 
I've been to the Scilly's a few times but this was my fisrt time I had a chance to travel to some of its other islands other than St marys. I really enjoyed getting a feel for the place from St Martins, to Tresco and getting to know them a little better. 





Red-eyed Vireo: Another bird that was responsible for our last minute change of plans was this REV, another American scarcity that I have yet to have caught up with, despite missing the Spurn bird the bay it left.   
Here again Patrick and I struick lucky. The REV was on St Martins and during its time here it had been a extremely difficult bid to pin down. The frustrating thing was after I took this image I was accused of tape lurng the bird, not a big issue in my mind, but still something that I did not do and there was no evidence from the bloke who was throwing about the accusations.  

Yellow-browed Warbler: I think he was just bitter, that he was unable to use his own field craft skills and common sense to see the bird.  

The following day there was a big fall of YBW, with reports from across the islands. We found six birds ranging from Telegraph road, Lower Moors and the area near the dump clump.    
Although there were many YBW all over the place they still proved difficult to photograph. I wanted better then these images, but I guess that's the way it goes sometimes. 
This was a great trip overall with two new ticks and a solid supporting cast, plenty of beers and good company. 


04/10/2020 Collingham, West Yorkshire


Hoopoe: I've maybe seen around 4 or 5 hoopoe in the UK during my birding years, but I've never seen one like this before. This bird was remarkably tame and not at all camera shy!

Just how I like my birds!






The last time i saw a hoopoe in the Uk was only back in May this year and it too was an urban bird, but was much more shy and prone to disturbance than this individual.





Hoopoes breed across most of Europe, except Scandinavia, favouring open country and clumps of old trees including pollard willows, meadows orchards and olive plantations. Almost all migrate in autumn - usually at night - to winter in Africa, south of Sahara.

So to see one hopping around a residential estate seemingly not bothered by the dog walker, joggers, families doing the school run and the gang of toggers with their large lens's is very odd indeed.
But like i said the bird wasn't bothered, I was literally sitting on the opposite side of the kerb while the bird trundled along in front of me.
This chap was happy foraging along the roadside and pavements using its long slender curved bill to search for food from between the cracks and crevices of the road and even between the cracks of the block paved driveways.
There is no bird that I know which has such a pull with birders and toggers then a hoopoe.  Famous for its pinkish plumage, downturned bill and bizarre headdress hoppe are certainly charismatic birds.
I heard later on in the morning that the bird eventually moved on to the nearby cricket pitch but  was still very obliging.









A must see, especially if you need hoopoe on your list, it might be a long while before you see one at such close quarters.