Thursday, 31 March 2011

Marshside rspb, 30th March 2011

With rain forecast and the postman had just delivered my new 2x teleconverter, i decided to
visit Marshside to twitch the Lesser Scaup and try out the converter too.
As i looked through the screen at Junction Pool the Lesser Scaup was with a small group
of Tufted Ducks about 30 metres away. The light was very overcast and dull with
rain showers. I was pleased with the images i took given the conditions.

After spending twenty minutes with the Scaup and light rain falling, i moved on to shelter
in Nel's hide. Two Med' Gulls were present, an adult and a 2nd summer bird, along
with a few Ruff, hundreds of Golden Plover and Black-Tailed Godwits.

From Sangrounder's was: an immature male Merlin, c30 Avocet (well spread out) and just
2 Pink-Footed Geese. I spoke to one of the assistant wardens in the hide about the Avocets
breeding success last year. He told me that from around 35 breeding pairs, only one chicked
survived, due to predation from Foxes and Gulls.

All the images below were taken with the 2xtc attached to my 300mm f2.8.

Imm' male Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Showing it's very pronounced, almost tufted
rear crown peak.

Med' Gulls

Little Grebe


Immature male Merlin from Sandgrounder's hide

Golden Plovers, Pendle, 28th March

These lovely Golden Plovers were feeding in the fields by Pendle Hill. 

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Hawfinch and spring migrants

25th March 2011 A visit to see the Hawfinches at Sizergh Castle in Cumbria
had me up and out early in time to see these wonderful birds. I arrived at the car park
where the birds had been feeding at 7.20. and immediately there were two birds calling
high in the crown of a tree.
After several minutes of waiting the birds dropped down to the ground to feed but
frustratingly, i couldn't see them behind a small bank on the edge of the car park.
The birds would feed for a little while then escape to the tree tops. Around 3-5 birds
were around that morning with the last sighting at 8.40 when a single bird fed on the
gravel of the car park with Goldfinches.

Leighton Moss rspb was the next stop, with a singing Chiffchaff by the car park and
several Sand Martins over the reserve were the first of the year for me.
A lovely 2nd summer Med' Gull was in the Black-Headed Gull colony in front of the
Lillian's hide and A single Sparrowhawk hunted over the reed-bed.

The Eric Morecambe Pools held around 1000 Black-Tailed Godwit with smaller
numbers of Redshank, 7 avocet and a single Knot, Merlin, and 2 Peregrine.
A little further away at the saltmarsh near Warton were more spring migrants in the
form of 5 Wheatear and a White Wagtail, with a steady northward movement
of Sand Martins. 9 Buzzards were in the air together over the
Warton Crag hillside.


a little closer!

Black-Headed Gull colony

air combat


Pied Wagtail

Mediterranean Gull


 Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

singing Skylark

Monday, 21 March 2011

Warton Bank, 20th March

The spring high tide at Warton on the banks of the river Ribble is always a birding treat.
The tide today reached a height of 10.6 metres. Enough to cover the marsh and temporarily
displace normally, hard to see birds.
Myself and Sean Johnston arrived about fifty minutes before the tide was in, stopping briefly
at Preston Dock for the Iceland Gull which was present but rather distant.

The weather was very grey and overcast with occasional drizzle, which probably accounted
for the less than expected crowd, around a dozen only.
The weather didn't deter the birds and Short-Eared Owls numbered at least 3, singles of
Peregrine, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Merlin and Sparrowhawk, with 2 Kestrel and 2
Buzzard seen, bringing the raptor count to seven species.
The incoming tide pushed 2 Jack Snipe from off the marsh and out on the Ribble was a pair
of Eider duck.

The star birds at this site are the Water Pipits and we saw a max' of three together. They
showed reasonably well but i have seen them better in the past. Meadow Pipits fed
amongst them, along with several Reed Buntings.

Short-Eared Owl

Water Pipit

Whooper Swans

Warton marsh at high tide. A female Merlin is the
lump on the right-hand side of the log.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


19th March 2011 a perfect date to see displaying Goshawk in Lancashire and a trip to a well
known site in search of these magnificent birds was fruitful, well, kind of...

These birds are never easy to see and so a visit to a potential breeding site to watch for
their display flight in spring, stands to be the best way to see them. At the site in question
i watched one bird at just after 10am for around two minutes as it soared over a hillside
before a half-hearted attempt at "sky-dancing". Another sighting shortly afterwards and
that was it for the day!

Fortunately, the local Sparrowhawks were a little more obliging and i watched two seperate
birds dispalying at 09.45 and 10.15. Also seen raptor wise, was Peregrine (three sightings)
Buzzard (many) and Kestrel. A singing Chiffchaff on the walk back to the car was the first
of the year.

My first images of Goshawk in Lancashire, lot's
of room for improvement! The above shot shows
the heavy bodied appearance as it comes "head-on"

These images were taken at a range of 1km


Plummeting into the conifer plantation. At a
distance Goshawk tends to look much paler
than Sparrowhawk.

Red Grouse

Burning the old heather.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Marshside RSPB 13th March 2011

Still feeling a little poorly from India, a couple of hours birding therapy at Marshside
would put me back on the road to recovery. My girlfriend dropped me at the
reserve and i spent most of the time sat comfortably in Nel's hide.
As always at Marshside there was a lot to see.

Golden Plover c650, Black-Tailed Godwit 1000+ plus a few Ruff. Lots of the commoner
wildfowl; Pintail, Wigeon, Gadwall and Teal, one of which had been killed by an immature
Great-Black Backed Gull, something i've seen several times here.

I counted 39 Avocet on the reserve. 32 from Sangrounder's with 7 from Nel's. The
volunteers were preparing the nesting areas for them. Amazing to think that you had
to travel to East Anglia to see these birds in the eighties!


Tufted Duck

The Avocets return

Little Grebe

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Mediterranean Gull

12th March and the adult Med' Gull reported earlier by Bill Aspin was still present on the
playing fields at Pleasington. It took me around half an hour to find, as the bird was not
present on arrival. It showed down to twenty metres or so, but couldn't get it to come to the bread i was feeding the Black-Headed and Common Gulls with.

Despite this i had some excellent views and managed some reasonable shots in the poor light. The bird had just a few white flecks on it's hood remaining but more or less 100 percent breeding plumage, lovely!

Mediterranean Gull

Driving back home, i chanced upon a  flock of c15 Waxwings flying over Lookers Garage at Burnley.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Kites, Goa, 2011

I filmed these Kites with a wide-angle lens just above the tree the Brown Fish owl was roosting in.