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

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

Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Secretive Jay

I've always found the Jay a particularly difficult bird to photograph. Sometimes it's even quite difficult just to see. They seem to disappear in the warmer months and only show again in the autumn when there are acorns to be stored for the harsher winter months. Of course, they are always there but just a secretive and skittish bird. More often than not you'll see them heading in the opposite direction, high up, as they've spotted you first.
The other week at Pennington Flash, I was grateful that one bird (helped by the hide I was in) was able to be a little bolder and come out into the open. It even gave me a few precious seconds to get some shots. It was a little dark, so they are not the best, but are some of the better shots I have of the Jay.



Who goes there?

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Bullfinch

It's always a pleasure to see a Bullfinch, and I'd not see one for quite a while. So I went to one of the places that you can almost guarantee to see them. I was not disappointed. Quite a few pairs were around. So I sat and enjoyed their company for quite some time and manged for pictures too.

Pretty good looking male.


And a good looking female too.



Monday, 23 January 2017

The Warming Winter Sunshine

Early morning and the late evening sun provides some wonderful light. Something a bit different to the norm. Add some water into the mix and you can get some very nice atmospheric results. An early start in North West Manchester provided a great opportunity for such light.
It was cold and calm, and there were plenty of birds. Most were very busy after their roost and quite a number came close enough for some good views.

A Coot making the most of the warming sunshine.

Female Mallard.

Moorhen.

A Pochard also enjoying the sun, but sadly it was a bit too bright in this shot.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Robin

Cold and frosty winters morning. What bird epitomises our winter here in the UK more than any other? It's the Robin for me, and there have been plenty about. I have a window feeder on my lounge window and it has been the most frequent visitor, practically taking up residence in it.
There has been plenty of song too, with territory setting going on.

Making the most of some plentiful seed.


Looking nice and plump.


Friday, 6 January 2017

Winter Berries

I went in search of some reported Waxwings in Warrington the other day, but they didn't show up. There were plenty of berries on the trees for them, it was mighty cold and the light perfect. Typical that they didn't want to play.
A small consolation though, were the very good numbers of Fieldfares, Mistle Thrush and Redwings. Initially a bit wary, they soon settled down to give some really very good views.

Fieldfare


A very photogenic Redwing. Shame it wasn't a Waxwing though.



Monday, 2 January 2017

Scaup

Happy New Year to you all. I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2017.

It was a very cold -3 with frost and ice on the ground as I headed out this morning, determined to get my camera back in use and the promise of some good light.
I headed to Pennington Flash with the intention of giving my fledgling 2017 year list a really good boost. I wasn't disappointed, as I rarely am when I visit Manchester's premier birding site.
A few birds had been around for a few weeks that are not your usual every day birds, so I concentrated on finding these first. Close in from Horrock's hide I found my first target bird in the shape of a Scaup. Two in fact. Similar in looks to a Tufted Duck, but without the tuft on the head and different bill. There also a tell tale white band around that bill, that is much higher than on the Tufted Duck.






Sunday, 4 December 2016

Winter Thrushes

I've had a couple of walks over this weekend. It was very cold on both days, but Saturday was grey, miserable and overcast. So no pictures on days like this. That said, I was mightily impressed by the numbers of winter thrushes that were on my patch in Woodford. It seemed as though every hedge, bush or tree had Fieldfares, Redwings or both in them.
So I returned today when the sun shone, and this time managed a few pictures. They were all so skittish though. Anything closer than 30 yards and they were off. So I turned to stealth mode. This meant I was stood close to, but not in, a hedge for quite some time, not moving. I was happy with the Fieldfare shots I got. Could have had a few less branches in front of it, but it's better than nothing.




Redwings were not so accommodating, and very flighty. This was taken at quite some distance.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Waders

As many of you will know, I could, and do spend hours watching wading birds. They're some of my favourite bird subjects. You know where they're going to be and there are no branches, twigs or grass in the way. That said,  you can't just walk up to them and ask if they would mind you taking a picture.
Patience is key, and not frightening the birds is of utmost importance. If you stay still and low and don't look intimidating, you will gain their trust and everyone is happy. The birds can go about their business and I can (hopefully) get some got shots as they do it.

One of the many Ringed Plovers along the Wirral coast.




A Turnstone doing what Turnstones do. Brilliantly camouflaged at the same time.


Monday, 17 October 2016

Cormorant

At West Kirby marine lake there are always plenty of waders around and usually roosting. I came across a Cormorant though that was particularly sleepy. I wasn't sure if it had just come in from a long flight and was exhausted, or was just generally tired. I don't normally see these asleep. They're usually fishing or standing wings aloft to dry.
Still, it gave me a chance to view this sleeping beauty.



Friday, 7 October 2016

Cattle Egret

There have been a couple of Cattle Egrets around in recent weeks in the North West. One has been present up at Marshside RSPB reserve in Southport and the other has been at Burton Mere RSPB reserve on the Wirral. I've only ever seen one before, a couple of years ago, and also at Burton Mere.

When I arrived it was hiding behind a bush on an island in front of the main reception. So I made my way out towards a viewing screen a couple of hundred yards away, in the hope that I'd get a better view. Although I was further away, I could actually now see the bird, even though it seemed to want to hide away at every opportunity. 
It is slightly smaller than a Little Egret and has a yellow beak as opposed to the black of the Little Egret. It does spend time in with cattle too, as did on this occasion. 

So these are just record shots once again (as they were a couple of years ago). Hopefully one day I will get a little closer, in good light, with less vegetation, less haze etc etc. The agonies of photography. You rarely get all elements working in your favour, especially when the subjects are birds. Still a great bird to see and this took my year list to 187.



A distant but stunning Curlew Sandpiper was seen from the IMF hide. This took my total to 188. I'm hoping to get to 200 species this year, but time is running out.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Redshank

A trip to the Wirral coast is often required for me. Good numbers of waders are always on offer. One of the most common in the area I visited was the Redshank. Thousands in fact along the bank of the Dee Estuary.





Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Dunlin

Burton Mere wetlands on the Wirral is always a good place to birdwatch. There is always a good variety of stuff about, from woodland to wildfowl and a smattering of the not so common birds. Recently there have been good numbers of waders dropping in, and as I can't resist staring at waders for hours, I took myself along to check them out.
It wasn't long before a small flock of Dunlin flew into view, accompanied by one single Ringed Plover.

A Dunlin in front of some Shoveler ducks. 

Enjoying the sunshine.

Along with the Dunlin, there are four other species in this picture. How many can you see? 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Linnets

A bird that was in good supply at Spurn was the Linnet. There were several large flocks around and it was good to get quite close to a few of them. They are a very flighty bird, and usually when they see you coming they are off and far into the distance. The males are stunning looking birds, and for me underrated. Quite often their name is preceded by "Oh it's just a". Not for me though. Fascinating birds to watch.

The rather dull looking female, but actually a nice looking bird.

Catching the morning sunshine at the breakfast table.