25/02/2016 Banks, Southport

Little Owl: After three previous visits and approximately eight hours waiting, the Banks Little Owl finally gave up and came out to get it's pic snapped.
I arrived mid morning but the Owl still wasn't fully awake and was even yawning as it warmed itself in the sun.

The bird was happily perching and beautifully framed by the barn door until a dog walker came out of nowhere and spooked the bird.

The bird eventually reappeared on the roof, not often a dog walker does me a favour, usually they obliviously get in the way and let their dog run amock.

This is probably the most photographed Little Owl in the North West and there are tons are great pictures out there particularly on:



Well worth a look.

20/02/2016 Rhos-on-Sea, Conwy

Black Redstart: Despite todays relentless rain Dawn and I joined my little sister (Kirstin) and her fella (Sam) on a double date to North Wales.

We spent most of the day in the amusement arcade on Llandudno Pier but I managed to convince the group that it would be rude not to go and see the local bird life too!
So on our way home we stopped at the white house with the monkey puzzle tree on the promenade at Rhos-on-Sea for the female black red. Here I bumped in to Anglesey's finest, Stephen Culley who was sure he had seen two birds; a male and female, so well worth keeping your eyes peeled if you're taking a walk down there.
I even managed a quick trip to Kinmel Bay for the beautiful Snow bunting but in fading light and bad weather I decided the pictures were rubbish.

Despite the rain and wind, the black red not showing as well as I was hoping and spending a small fortune in the 2p machines we all had a great day.

07/02/2016 Abberton Reservoir, Colchester, Essex

Drake Smew: There are a few things I really do cherish, family, Dawn and birding so mixing all three on my recent trip to Essex was great.
Dawn and I traveled down to see Eddie Izzard, a childhood favourite of mine who was performing at the Palace Theatre London so we thought we would stay at my mums in Essex.
We drove straight to Colchester hoping to get a lot closer to drake Smew than I have before, but was a little disappointed as the birds were still a little way off.
In the end I counted 3 redheads (females) and 2 drake (males).

Grey Phalarope: Although the Smew kept their distance we struck lucky as while we enjoyed a slice of lemon drizzle and a cup of tea we were informed that a grey phal had turned up.
Apparently the day before a Sanderling was reported this was not really chased up and the old regulars were saying it was probably the grey phal.
So once I finished my amazing slice of cake I made my way down to Gwen's Hide where the bird was busily feeding on the edge of the reservoir.
Again the bird was distant but a great year tick and a great record to see for Abberton.

31/01/2016 Norfolk

Brambling: Dawn surprised me with a post Christmas trip away to Norfolk as she knew I was keen to see the resident Golden Pheasant and the Pallid Harrier that has been there for ages.
Unfortunately this impacted on my attendance at Leigh Ornithological Society's open day of which I can't apologise enough for, but I don't think I was missed too much as the open day was a big success. Well done guys.
We arrived in Norfolk on Saturday morning and went straight to Wolferton Triangle. We saw the Golden Pheasant but very briefly, so much so that I was unable to get a picture. We waited a few hours before heading off to Flitcham hoping to see the Pallid Harrier.
Again after a long wait we didn't see the bird so moved on to Holme Dunes and dipped again, this time we dipped Shorelark. Although Saturday was a bit of a wash-out we were still thrilled to see a huge flock of over 100 Brambling at Abbey Farm.

Brambling are one of my favourite birds so to see so many was just awesome and was a welcome distraction from an empty field - which the day before had contained a Pallid Harrier.
Egyptian Goose: We stood opposite the hay bails facing a long hedgerow that was full of birds, not just Brambling, we counted good numbers of Red-legged Partridge, Tree Sparrows, Goldfinch and even a Stoat! We even had this Egyptian Goose drop in
The goose stayed for a short while feeding on the spilt grain before taking off - probably to Abbey Farm bird hide pond.

Golden Pheasant: First light on Sunday morning we went straight to Wolferton Triangle with the hopes of getting a picture of the bird as the day before I only saw it briefly and was therefore unable to get a pic.
Dawn and I didn't have to wait long before the spectacular bird came from the dense Rhododendron bushes that line the edges of the road.
The bird walked across the road right under the famous Wolferton Triangle 'give way' signs that often come up on bird sighting reports as a marker to where the bird had been seen.
This was Dawn's favourite bird of the trip and I can totally understand why, it is a glorious looking bird with its golden mane and colourful body leading to a superb long flashy tail.

Shorelark: Thrilled with better views and even a couple of record shots of the Golden Phes we decided to wait on positive news of the Pallid Harrier before chasing after it and instead we went to Burnham Ovary for the Shorlark.
Burnham Ovary is a great place, first of all its stunning with distant views of sand dunes a serpentine creek full of waders and vast fields full of geese we both enjoyed the long walk over to the beach.
The fields contain excellent numbers of Brent Geese, Lapwing, Curlew and we spotted a Sparrowhawk and Kez hunting the field margins. Dawn also spotted a washed up daed seal which was sad to see.
There had been three birds reported over the last few days from the beach opposite Gun Hill, as we did not know precisely which dune was Gun Hill when we reached the edge of the sand dunes I asked Dawn to pick a direction and chance our luck.
Dawn's a little star and she picked the right way - within 5 minutes we found the trio feeding at the far end of the beach in the shingle.

A real Norfolk scarce bird specialty and a confiding bird it was a real treat to get so close and watch them go about their daily activities.

Cracking little birds!
Living on the North West I vary rarely have the opportunity to see Shorelark and can remember the last one was the Fleetwood bird back on the 4th of December 2014.
A scarce bird across the UK and a mega on the North West coast, so for me it was great to connect with them.
I noticed that one of the birds had a gammy eye, it appeared to have completely lost it's eye and the condition around its face.

I observed the bird rubbing it's injured side of its face up against the pebbles and rocks however it was still feeding well and moving around with the other two birds without any obvious problems.

 Pallid Harrier: While walking back from the Shorelark at Holme I checked BirdGuides and saw that the Pallid Harrier had made an appearance and come back to Abbey Farm, so with a hurried pace we headed back over to Flitcham.
When we arrived the bird was sheltering from the rain in a nearby tree and a small crowd started to gather. I watched it for about quarter of an hour before it took off in chase of the local Linnets.
The bird quartered the field giving us some brilliant views and showing us all of it's diagnostic features before flying out of sight.
By this time the rain came in a little harder and with a long journey ahead of us combined with empty stomachs we decided to make an early dash home following a stop to McDonald's.
We had a great weekend away, great birds, great food and great company, thanks Dawn for being patient during the twitches and not moaning 'too much'.

Norfolk.....we'll be back!