30/04/2014 Etherow Country Park, Compstall

Mandarin Duck: My last day at work before my two week holiday and trip to Croatia and I found myself doing some training at Etherow CP.

You know its been a good day at the office when you are surrounded by the brightest and dainty duck that the UK has to offer - even if it was originally a fence hopper!

I counted 11 drake and only 4 females, however I only walked around half the site, staying on the Keg Wood side of the lake.

What a bird!

27/04/2014 Eccleston Mere

Black Tern: After getting some pretty poor shots of Leighton Moss's Black Tern I was pleased to see through BirdGuides that one had made an appearance down the road from home.
After a short detour back from Leighton Moss I arrived at Eccleston to find it showing incredibly close as it swooped above the water and banked against the wind.
Even though this bird was much more closer than the one at Leighton Moss I still struggled to get a decent shot. I have now put this down to the Black Tern being one of the most difficult birds to photograph!!
The bloody little bird was far too fast for me, my auto focus was throwing a wobble as it evaded my attempts to get it in focus. I decided to use manual focus which seemed to work a bit better.
It was great to catch up with some Eccleston Mere regulars, Dot, Paul Brady, Billinge's Damion and Damion Young.

And what a bird, simply stunning it put a little smile back on my face after the Liverpool defeat.

27/04/2014 Leighton Moss RSPB

Black Tern: After working last weekend I was keen to get out and bag a decent bird. OK a Black Tern is by no means a Collard Pratincole or Alpine Accentor, but they are special little birds.

This beauty was showing well, if a little distant from a very busy and very noisy Lillian's Hide! After getting a few record shots it was nice to retreat to the quiet of the wider reserve.

It was good to bump in to Kev Kelly who pointed me in the direction of a Cetti's Warbler and Common Redstart, of which I could only locate the Cetti's.

I then went on to locking my keys in my car and then after some help (cheers Garry) I got some assistance from the AA, I was fuming with myself as I thought I was going to miss the match!  Luckily I bumped in to Allan who accompanied me to the nearest local pub where we watched Liverpool fail to break down Chelsea. Good company despite him being a blue, rubbish result!

23/04/2014 Houghton Green Flash

Yellow Wagtail: A quick stop off at Houghton before a meeting at Wigg Island and I'm glad I did, as I stumbled across this little ray of sunshine!
Little Ringed Plover: I counted 4 LRP scurrying around the edge of the flash like wind up toys.

The flash itself was very quiet, I was hoping to find a tern or two but alas I had to settle with a handful of BH Gulls a Cormorant a single Redshank and GC Grebes.
Common Sandpiper: I was pleased to have picked up two common sands feeding on the edge of the far bank, however without trying to disturb them I just couldn't manage to get close enough for a decent shot!

21/04/2014 Morecambe

Eider: From Leighton Moss Dawn and her gran took a trip to the bay for an ice cream and a sit in the sun.

Looking at the amount of Redstarts, Ouzels and even Wheatears pinging through from around the Lancashire coast, I was hoping to see some migrants.
However I never had a chance to look properly and had to settle for one of Morecambe's finest chilling out on the incoming tide line.

21/04/2014 Leighton Moss RSPB

Garganey: A great bank holiday Monday trip to Leighton Moss where it was nice to catch up with Kevin Kelly and good to hear memberships are doing well.  
Another highlight was catching up up with Leighton's pair of Garganey which were showing well from Grisedale Hid, even if they where sleeping the majority of the time we watched them.

18/04/2014 Wigan Flashes

Red-crested Pochard: Good weather for good Friday and I was hoping for some good birds!

First stop Wigan Flashes, its only up the road however it's a place I rarely visit.

The flash was stunning first thing, before the dog walkers and scally's on their bikes. Willow Warbler were in full song, buzzing bees and butterfly's surrounded me as they charged up in the morning sun.
Willow Warbler: The pair of RC Pochard were right out in the middle of Pearson's Flash continually diving and feeding on the vegetation they brought up from the depths.

I then decided to head back to Dovestone with hope that I will finally bag myself the Two Barred Crossbill - however I missed the mid morning sighting and after another long wait I had to call it a day and head back home.

15/04/2014 Binn Green, Dove Stone RSPB

Brambling: After seeing Tanmay's crippling pictures of the male Two Barred Crossbill from yesterday  I decided to use my day off and go try my luck.

After arriving at around 10am and joining a small group of birders waiting - we waited, and waited!

I kept myself occupied taking some pictures of the wide variety of finches Binn Green has to offer, the place was full of bird song and some really nice birds such as this cracking male Brambling.

Siskin: As the morning slowly turned to afternoon I was really pleased to have Martyn Jones and co. join the group watching the larches, Paul Brewster and co then added to our numbers.
Lesser Redpoll: I knew the bird was showing well in the afternoons but as time went by I decided to say my goodbyes and head off home to do a spot of gardening. This proved to be a bloody awful decision as the Two Barred made an appearance not long after I left, gutted!

Ring Ouzel:  One consolation was spotting this male rouzel high up in the trees across from the viewing platform - a year tick!
Willow Warbler: Great weather, great company and good birds to be had, oh and thanks to Mr Jones for sharing his superb pictures of the two barred with me, I would like to say I am well and truly green!

You can't win them all I guess!

13/04/2014 Famborough Head

Crag Martin: When you wake up at 2am after only 3 hours of sleep then cram yourself into a rammed car, sandwiched between two sleepy birders you do think 'bloody hell why do I put myself through this?'

But the early start really paid off as when we arrived at North Landing just after 6am we were only waiting half an hour or so before the sun rose and the Crag Martin made an appearance.

The views were sensational as the bird flew only a few metres from us before heading towards South Landing. We then took off for the south when news made it our way of the Tawny showing well on the other side of the golf course, we picked up our pace towards the Tawny when the Crag Martin whizzed passed us once more.

Tawny Pipit: The Tawny was happily showing itself for some photos before a keen birder who needed the Crag Martin ran passed and spooked it.

A quality two tick day - cheers to Mr Payne, Frank Duff, Al and Rodger all quality lads.

Definitely worth the early rise!

12/04/2014 Pendle Hill

Dotterel: A day off with the Mrs and I was lucky enough to have dragged her up Pendle Hill in what seemed like gale force winds.

After a steep and tiring hike Dawn and I made it to the summit where I found a local birder who kindly informed me that he had just been watching the bird until a dog spooked it and it flew off, gutted.

Looking over at a very unhappy, windswept Dawn I started to think 'bloody hell if I don't relocate it I am in for it!'

After a while scanning across the summit I found the bird actively feeding among a small gully between the white summit point post and the stone walls.

However we were keen to get out of the wind and down the hill and in our haste I missed some Ring Ouzel - but never mind I was happy to have just picked up this beauty.

10/04/2014 Holcroft Lane, Culcheth

Corn Bunting: This morning I took a trip to Holcroft Moss, a Cheshire Wildlife Trust Reserve.

But on the way I stopped off for some Corn Bunting action and I wasn't disappointed.

I pulled up just off Holcroft Lane where I came across two singing males sitting on the telephone wires next to Franks Farm.

This was my first time at Holcroft Moss and I think the site is simply stunning, its a cracking peat bog full of Sphagnum mosses and grasses (if that's your thing) this site is a SSSI and one of ongoing restoration.

If you go make sure to look out for the Hebridean Sheep that graze the land in a conservation friendly way, you can actually see where they have eaten all the young Silver Birch and Willow Trees creating a unique and natural place surrounded by the M62 and farm fields!   The highlight was seeing my first Common Lizard of the year and finding such a lovely site.

07/04/2014 Newton Lake, Newton-le-Willows

Ringed-necked Duck: As I sit in work Birdguides pings on my phone and I see that a bird I need has been found practically on my doorstep! Typical as here I am stuck in work, over an hour away!
So I ducked out early from work and after a little bit of speeding I made it at the Lake where the bird showed well just before the light dipped behind the trees.
It has no rings, and was loitering around with a small flock of tufties. I was also informed by a top bloke, Chris Tynan that the bird was certainly not coming to bread as he witnessed someone throw in a loaf when the bird moved away - contrary to what I read on a local forum.

What a little cracker!

In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger 'Ill be back' tomorrow morning at least.

01/04/2014 Abram, Wigan

Chaffinch: Turf wars!  Its definitely springtime, a time when birds are preoccupied with mating, nest building and rearing young.

Birds are trying to establish territories for nesting sites and this instinct sometimes results in them attacking other male birds that are invading the territory - or in this case their own reflection!

This might be one reason not to wash your car, or a good excuse if the Mrs says you need to, so leave that desert sand alone.