Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Black tailed Godwits

At the end of April, I made a visit to Burton Mere on the Wirral. There were a few different waders about, but probably the most striking and colourful were the Black-tailed Godwits. Many were in their summer breeding plumage, or close to it, and when they were huddled together they looked superb.


As good as they look individually, they certainly look better in a group.


Saturday, 10 June 2017

Stonechat

The Stonechat is a stunning little bird. Especially at this time of year when the male is in his full summer breeding outfit. The black head is much darker at this time and the orange breast nice and bright. The female is not so colourful, but still a lovely bird to watch.
I watched a really lovely pair at Beeston a few weeks ago, but didn't have my camera with me, and I was a bit gutted because the male gave some really good views in the sun. Then just a week later I came across another pair at RSPB South Stack on Anglesey. The light  was even better and they came really quite close to me.

A stunning male, in typical pose.




The female, also keeping a lookout.




With a big juicy spider.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Spotted Flycatcher

I'd only seen one so far this year, but last weekend I came across several pairs in one day. A few visits to the Goyt Valley had come up trumps yet again. Now, I've still not seen a Pied Flycatcher this year, but the Spotted Flycatcher is now well and truly ticked off.
Not a bird that makes it too easy for you to find. More often than not I've picked them out flitting up in the canopy of the trees, as they do their fly catching.
I did however, after watching a pair flit about in a wooded area, discover a nest site. I was absolutely thrilled as I watched one carry nesting material to a nest.
Fingers crossed for them, and I hope I am able to monitor it over the coming weeks.





On the nest after dropping off some feathers and moss.





Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Chough

I've had a pretty successful time just recently tracking down difficult birds. The Chough was another one of those birds. They aren't in many parts of the UK, but a few times I've missed out somehow, even when making a concerted effort to go and find them.
At South Stack on the island of Anglesey, these birds breed and my luck was in. I only had a few minutes watching them, but it was better than nothing. Love the red legs and bill.



Saturday, 27 May 2017

Golden Plover

I've searched for this particular bird species up on the moors of Cheshire for years now. I hear their calls echo around, but I've never found one up here. I see them quite frequently in Norfolk but it was always a bit of a bogey bird for me. I knew that they would be breeding, but they've always been elusive. I've sat in my car waiting for hours. I've wandered the moors of Axe Edge and nearby, but to no avail. Just recently though I had a bit of a tip off, and followed it up. As I got out of the car, that eerie ghostly call was picked up immediately. I could see at least half a dozen or so in fantastic breeding plumage. I walked back and along the public footpath to get a closer look.
Such a stunning little bird. I was just so pleased to see them here, and now I know for future, I should have more success in locating the little blighters.





Saturday, 20 May 2017

Buff-breasted Sandpipe

A special bird turned up yesterday at Burton Mere on the Wirral. A Buff-breasted Sandpiper seems to have lost its way from North America. We do get the odd one or two each year, but it's quite unusual to have one here in Cheshire. It was not a bird to miss. Chances are I might not get to see one again, and as it was only 30 miles down the road, off I popped.
Usually when there is something rare at Burton it is at the hide furthest away, and involves a trek with scope, camera, binoculars and tripod. This time, as luck would have it, it was showing well from the first hide. A real bonus.
I was put onto it straight away by the very helpful RSPB volunteer in the hide.
What a treat, and what a bird.



Saturday, 13 May 2017

Little Gull

A target bird of mine when I visited Burton Mere was the Little Gull that had been around for a good number of days. Thankfully it was staying in a particular spot that wasn't too far a walk.
It was busy picking insects off the water and taking the odd flight, never straying too far from the same spot.

A nice size comparison with a Black-headed Gull (behind).








Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Grasshopper Warbler

I've not come across a Grasshopper Warbler for a few years now. Mainly due to me not visiting a very good site where they are guaranteed. So it was a really nice surprise when I heard one reeling on the Wirral a week or so ago.

A very secretive bird, they don't make it easy for you to see them, and it's usually just their song that you take with you as a memory.
A little different on this day, as this particular bird showed itself a few times in a bush. These pictures make it look like it was just sitting there and close up, but it really wasn't. It barely stopped flitting and these were a good distance away. Thank goodness for the long lens.






Saturday, 29 April 2017

Marsh Harrier

I spent some time at RSPB Titchwell a few weeks back. There was plenty of activity, as birds were busy pairing up and nest building. Others were patrolling territories and some were just looking for breakfast. On my walk along the meadow trail I was looking for a singing Cetti's Warbler when I could see the unmistakable shape of a Marh Harrier heading towards me across the reed bed. Then another went past carrying a rather large twig. I was lucky to get into a decent spot on the boardwalk to watch the pair patrolling the skies for a good ten minutes.
I've watched these birds before many times, but they would never come close enough for any decent shots. Thankfully the light was good and they wanted to play ball this day. What a bird?

A great looking male.





As I was watching the Marsh Harriers a small bird of prey put in a fly by appearance. Too small to be a Peregrine, Kestrel was my next thought, but colours weren't quite right. I ruled out Sparrowhawk. What I had in fact seen was a Merlin. The UK's smallest bird of prey and a real bonus for me on a great morning.

Merlin.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Common Sandpiper

I love the Common Sandpiper, and I was disappointed a couple of weeks ago when I went to one of their usual haunts in the Spring and left empty handed. No sign of any. To be fair, I think I was a little early in the year, but I like to seen them whenever I can so purposely went in hope more than expectation.
This lovely little bird was a really welcome surprise at Burton Mere on the Wirral. I was on the lookout for other things when I spotted it on the banks from one of the hides. It did it's usual thing of moving in the opposite direction, but it came back my about 30 minutes later. It was worth the wait.




Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Northern Wheatear

The long awaited return of our summer visitors has started, and I went out especially last weekend to look for some. I knew a few places to look, places that I've been to many times over many years. Thankfully my main target was there in it's usual habitat and looking rather splendid too.

The Wheatear is a favourite of mine and confirms that Spring migration is under way.
The weather was favourable and I soon picked out a pair flitting around the stone wall.
I was then treated to a lovely courtship display that I had not witnessed before. Welcome back!




The male.

His female mate.