12/07/2014 Chatterley Whitfield, Staffordshire

Red-footed Falcon: I was unable to go down yesterday and bag this bird, as I had a wedding to shoot at the time I was a little gutted, but the wedding shoot went very well and I did end up with shots like this today!
Dawn and I arrived around half ten and got on to the bird straight away, not long before Steve Burke and Rob Creek turned up. Rob was quick to show me some of his crippling pictures of the bird he snapped the day before.

I was almost crying, as at this time the bird wasn't moving from his wire perch and looked like he wasn't going to either.

But look what results you can get with some field craft, a lot of patience and little bit of luck.
No pet shop bought crickets required, no baiting necessary!

(In Dawns words we stood their long enough)
The bird spent 90% of its time perched upon the nearby telegraph wires above the horse paddock and bizarrely was walking closer to the crowd of twitchers behind the fence! Usually when you see a bird perched up on a wire it is keen to move off in the opposite detection.


20/06/2015 Hampton in Arden, Solihull

Melodious Warbler: Today I finally caught up with the west mids Melodious Warbler, this bird has been in the same area for ages now, but between my wedding photography shoots and work I simply haven't had the time to go down.

And after yesterdays Saltholme Squacco dip it was good to add a new bird to my growing list.

This was my first Melodious but when observed closely the first thing I noticed was it's large heavy set bill and its supercilium more prominent in front of its bill, nice little bird overall.

It was good to bump in to Andy Ingham while there too, I hope he got a better pic then I did!

14/06/2015 Bardsey Island

Cretzschmar's Bunting: I never thought I would be travelling to Bardsey and ticking this little cracker today!

I was on my way to the West Midlands hoping to get myself the Melodious Warbler that has been down there for a week or so now when I got a call from Frank Duff who convinced me to turn around and go with him for the Cretz.

 We arrived at Porth Meudwy or the "Fishermen's Cove", near Aberdaron and after a quick dash from the car park we missed the second boat of the day and had to wait for the third.

Butterfly Orchid: We didn't have to wait too long for the next boat and in no time we were heading up the path towards the lighthouse.

The bird was flittering around the lighthouse compound occasionally coming to a patch of seed the warden had put out.

Frank and I filled our boots with some brilliant views although at the time the sun was in the wrong place - as you can tell from my images!

What a great trip, my first visit to Bardsey, a great day out with Fank and what a brilliant bird to have added to my list.

Two tips if anyone is going, wear waterproofs on the boat, it gets bloody wet on the crossing over!

And if you have time keep an eye out while your walking down towards the harbour, you might find a couple of Butterfly Orchid that are in fill bloom.

12/06/2015 Cumbria

Lesser Whitethroat: I spent the week surveying alongside Mr David Haigh a legend from the Wirral lot. He and I came across a pair of Lesser Whitethroat on a Breeding Birds Survey and I decided to go back in my free time and try for some pictures.
In typical fashion the birds were extremely difficult to pin down, I must have taken at least 300 frames consisting of the back of the bird, blurred branches and tantalising glimpses of the skulky bird.

In the end one of the birds flew across the road and and gave me some blinding full frontal views for only a few seconds before dipping back in to the undergrowth.

This gave me enough time to rattle off a couple of frames capturing these two beauties, time well spent.

Tawny Owl: One another trip out earlier in the week Dave and I were joined by Kenny D. We took a long walk in the village we were staying in and caught up with the local Tawny Owl and several Spot fly.

01/06/2015 Amble, Northumberland

Eider: After arriving home from Dorset and a very early night, Gary, Jon and I left Manchester and headed for the Black-winged Part.

But alas this would prove to be another futile attempt to see this blasted bird!

We arrived not long after the bird was spooked by some Crows and flew North, eventually ending up in Aberdeen!

Never mind!

Ever since Scott brought me to Amble Harbour a couple of years ago after our successful Collard Flycatcher twitch I have always thought Amble was pretty awesome.

So I thought we could go and take some wholemeal bread and visit Ambles famous Eider, and we weren't disappointed.  

In the usual Eider style they came straight over and were not shy, overall we ended up with some great birds, great views, great company but a rubbish dip!

31/05/2015 Arne RSPB, Dorset

Sika Deer: After a sound night sleep in Bournemouth Gary and I packed up early and decided to go to Arne.

I have heard a lot about this place from an old colleague and a mate of mine from the RSPB John Lloyd who used to work there.

The morning was very wet and very grey! Typical birding weather when you go visit a new place however we made the most of the day by putting on our waterproofs and getting on the heath.  The weather had an impact on what we saw as it was no-where near as good as the previous evening on the heath at The New Forest, the highlights were several Green Woodies and plenty of Sika Deer, a mammal tick!

Overall I can say we had a cracking trip with plenty of new ticks for both of us with a great supporting cast and we were both keen to stay another night but made the decision to go home that night and try for the Northumberland Black-winged Pratincole.

30/05/2015 The New Forrest National Park, Dorset

Cuckoo: Once we had our fill of Pagham Harbour, after enjoying the Little and Sandwich Terns and getting some great views of Spot Fly in Norton Church yard Gary and I decided to go back over to Bournemouth where we were staying the night.

Back at the hotel and after a 'shockingly' bad cup of tea made by Gary - don't give up your day job mate! We thought we would make the most of the sunshine and long days and go explore The New Forrest.

Almost as soon as we arrived and after literally dodging the local ponies I caught sight of Dartford's and plenty of Skylark and Mipits. I thought this place was awesome, we managed to see two pairs of Redstart and heard at least four Cuckoo.

Most of the calling Cuckoo sounded very deep in the valley and I didn't think we would get lucky enough to actually see one.

How wrong was I?!
Redstart: As we headed back to the car Gary noticed a cuckoo right by us in a nearby tree. This bird was fascinating as it periodically dropped from it's perch and landed on the ground.

While on the ground it was foraging for worms and other inverts, a behaviour I have never seen before.

30/05/2015 Pagham Harbour, West Sussex

Red-necked Phalarope: From Titchfield, Gary and I headed across the border to West Sussex to Pagham Harbour in search of the Black-winged Stilts and Phal.

Both birds were on Ferry Pool where we joined the growing crowds alongside the road.

The Phal came pretty close and at times gave us some great flight views as a local kes came through a couple of times.

Black-winged Stilt: Although I was a little disappointed that the Stilt was pretty distant, I was still very pleased to finally add this bird to my list, it's been a long time coming!

30/05/2015 Titchfield Nature Reserve, Hants

Greater-yellow Legs: I seem to be getting slower and slower off the mark when it comes to twitching, this bird has been on the south coast for ages now and I don't make the trip until now!

Gary and I left Manchester for about 4am and arrived in good time at Titchfield, not knowing that the reserve doesn't open until 9.30am on the dot, leaving us to explore some of the public paths.

The tide was in when we arrived and we thought that we might have to wait for the bird to follow the tide out and come onto the muddy banks of the reserve for around 2pm.

However we struck lucky!

As soon as we entered the furthermost hide the bird was happily feeding right in front of us. the bird lingered for about 25 minutes before flying out of sight.

The one thing I noticed about Titchfield is the abundance of Cetti's Warbler, they seemed to be all over the place.

14/05/2015 Iona, Mull

Corncrake: Our second day on Mull and we booked on to another boat trip, this time from Fionnphort to Iona.

The day before while on the Lady Jane I managed to pick up some vital information from a fellow wildlife tourist, who advised me that the best place on Iona for the crake was behind the Spar shop near a phone box.

So as soon as Dawn and I landed on Iona we headed straight over to this view point and within seconds heard and saw our first crake.

However the sun was in the wrong position and we decided to knock on the door of the cottage adjacent to the field the crake where in. We asked if we could stand in their garden and they kindly let us.

From here the crake came in to full view and I never dreamed of getting views of Corncrake like this!

Iona is a stunning place full of charismatic Corncrake, white sandy beaches, good food and we also got Spotted Flycatcher and Cuckoo to boot.

So thats its, whats a great birthday treat! The day before I managed to get Golden Eagle on the list and picked up a lovely male Hen Harrier on the drive over to Iona. So this trip adds WTSE, Surf Scoter, WTSE and Corncrake makes it 300!

13/05/2015 Loch Na Keal, Mull

White-tailed Sea Eagle: As part of my race to 300 Dawn and I took a trip to Mull for my 31st birthday celebrations - and am I glad we did!

Mull has always been a place I have wanted to set foot upon, to see their WTSE, Golden Eagle and Corncrake!
We only had three nights in Mull so had a bit of a challenge to see all Mull had to offer.

The plan was to see the Eagles and take a trip to Iona for the crakes, while staying in a B&B near Salen and we took our own car.
I had a good start to the trip, while on the  ferry over to the island I stood on the open deck hoping for some cetaceans. I got some stunning summer plumage GN Diver, Black Guillemots, Fulmar, Gannet and a single Great Skua but no sign of any Whales or Dolphins.

Dawn surprised me with a great birthday present and booked me on to Mull Charters Lady Jane boat, where they take you out on the loch and bait the Eagle in with free fish.

Just as I stepped onto the boat two guys from the RSPB Liverpool Local Group stepped off, Neil and Ron. I was in a state of surprise, when people say its a small world I know what they mean.
This was a highlight of the trip, not only did I get some absolutely brilliant views of a stunning bird of prey, but I also picked up a male Surf Scoter in Loch Na Keal.

The WTSE put on an awesome display and came for three fish making seven passes.

See the link for Mull Charters - I would highly recommend them but book early!


And see this link for recent bird sighting around Mull - looks closely and there is a pic of the Surf Sctoer.


Take a look at Neil's trip report and images too.


10/05/2015 Blacktoft Sands RSPB

Marsh Harrier: Im now on the race to the big 300! So I've been thinking I need to start bagging all the easy birds and took a trip to see Yorkshires Monty's Damion.

Montagu's Harrier: As we just arrived we bumped in to Kenny Dummigan who told us he just had some crippling views of the female but the male has not been seen for about an hour!


Bust after a long weight Damion and I struck lucky with some great views of the pair.

02/05/2015 St Mary's, Scilly

Great Blue Heron: From Somerset we headed straight to Penzance, after getting stuck in bank holiday traffic - new rule don't travel 400 miles at the start of a bank holiday weekend.
We took a morning voyage on  the Scillonian III passenger ferry.

When we arrived on solid ground we made our way through the busy streets of St Mary's towards Lower Moors. St Mary's was hosting a popular boat race and live music event which was the reason for the island being full.
Once we arrived the bird was sitting at the back of a small pond, hey presto another UKMEGA and only the 2nd for the UK!
Initially the bird was a little bit too far for my liking but once Dawn and I left for some lunch at the nearby Juliet's Garden Restaurant, that I would highly recommend, we went back for our last look and this time the bird was down to a few feet from the hide.
The bird however was slightly obscured behind some reeds but once it came out it was like being at a red carpet event as the sound of shutters opened and closed, mine included.
Common Dolphin: Nobody told me how bad the ferry is, the sea was rough and we both felt a bit queasy so we sat up on deck and distracted ourselves by watching dozens of Manxies, Gannet and even a couple of Dolphins.

An excellent trip to see a great bird, very pleased indeed!

01/05/2015 Meare Heath, Somerset

Hudsonian Godwit:  April is starting to shape up nicely with another UKMEGA in the bag!

With only 2 UK expected records and the last one seen 1988 I was in tears that I had missed this bird when it turned up last weekend.

The bird usually summers in northern Canada and Alaska, migrating through the centre of North America in the spring, so I didn't think I would get another chance at the HudWit and was thrilled when it made another appearance.

As soon as we arrived the bird was showing incredibly well and we were treated to the booming sounds of Bittern, great views of GWE and drake Garganey. It was great to see the bird in flight and be able to pick out the black under wing coverts, great to see this bird in flight! 

Here is a nice comparison against a Black-tailed Godwit, note the HudWit (right) is much darker.

Off to Cornwall now - Great Blue Heron here we come!