15/10/2017 Pwll-du, Gwent Normally

Common Rock Thrush: This bird is know  by many names such as the Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, European Rock Thrush and the Mountain Thrush, however is should be better known as the Not-so-Common Rock thrush as here as only been 28 records across the UK of which only two have been available to twitch, one for five days on Scilly in 1996 and a two day female at Spurn in 2013.
Typically when I arrive the bird moved from about 20 meters away to over 100 meters away, still I was thrilled just have connected with the bird.  The bird spent much of its time flitting over light vegetation in search of food, eventually resting on a perch from which it will hunt.
The one this that really stood out when watching the bird was how at home it looked in an old disused Welsh mine. Typically they are found breeding on steep and rocky mountain slopes or higher alpine meadows, they prefer areas over elevations of 1,500 metres with open hills and light vegetation.


30/09/2017 Ryhope, Durham

Scops Owl: Last Wednesday while i was sitting in work hammering away on the keys of my laptop writing and Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) my phone pinged.....BirdGuides......Eurasian Scops Owl, Ryhope Durham!!!


Well, that's was my day in the office ruined, knowing I was stuck at work and was going to miss yet another cracking bird.

The same happened on Thursday , however the bird was reported much later in the day and on Friday there was no sign, no re ports and i feared it had moved on.

This morning the same thing happened my phone pinged.....BirdGuides......Eurasian Scops Owl, Ryhope Durham!!!


But this time I was free from work and in no time I had was whizzing my up the motorway towards the East coast.
I made really good time and arrived while the bird roosted in the same Elder that it roosted in on Wednesday.


Tricky bird to see, made even more tricky by the tens of birders who were scrambling around to get the best vantage point as there was one leaf right in the way!

Spotted Flycatcher: A nice distraction from the crowds and the narrowing elbow room, was this SpotFly which was fly catching from the same Elder bush
Barred Warbler: There was also a Barred Warbler that came out of it's dense cover and showed itself for a few seconds before melting back in to the shrubs.

17/09/2017 Wells Wood, Norfolk

Arctic Warbler: Last week I finally caught up with this little Phylloscopus, I was hoping for a two tick day but unfortunately I dipped on the PGtips that has been in the area. 
My first thought when I saw this bird is that it would be a tricky bird to pin down on ID, but upon closer inspections with its bright olive-green above and grey-white below plumage and it's upturned white supercilium, prominent white eye-crescents interrupting dark eye-stripe, distinct white wing-bar it became more apparent.
The bird made itself more difficult to ID with its feeding behaviour as like with most typically Phylloscopus the bird hardly spotted moving while it foraged amongst the birch tree leaves.

Still I was happy with the record shots and more happy with the fact I saw the bird.


16/09/2017 New Brighton, Wirral

Leach's Petrel: There are certain days which are truly spectacular - and today is one of them!

It's been a long while since the Wirral has had such good conditions at the right time of year to produce such brilliant numbers of these little ocean swallows.
Leach’s Petrels migrate west of Ireland between their breeding sites, on remote islands off Scotland and Iceland, and wintering areas thought to include the Bay of Biscay and farther south in the Atlantic as far as the equator. And it's the gale-force south-westerly winds apparently blew some Leach’s Petrels back north from their wintering areas into the Irish Sea.


Over the last couple of days there has been up to and possibly more than 35 Leach's spotted, they have also been spotted all the way up the Lancashire coast, from Ainsdale, Blackpool Promenade and Haysham.
After watching for about an hour i moved on to New Brighton Lifeguard Station as I wanted to get closer to the shoreline.

This was a winner, as there were two LP that were dancing on the waves close to shore, one even made a dash over the sand and rested its little legs for a while.
After getting windswept myself I decided to go meet Patrick who was at the other ed of New Brighton, which had slowed down so decided to head back to the two on the beach.
Grey Phalarope: These perfect conditions don't only bring out Leach's of the Irish Sea but Grey Pahls too! There have been reports of two individuals around New Brighton.
I saw this one next to Perch Rock as it flew in just after first light and landed in front of me, but only for a few seconds before taking off and getting blown away.
I watched one getting harassed by a some gulls and later saw this bird exhausted sitting on the sea,  between fighting the Aileen's gales and the local gulls it was bound to feel knacked.
I didn't have long as i had to get back home to collect a dilivary and had some work to crcak on with and left patrick and the rabble of birders to enjoy the rare north west experiance.
Great day, great birding, great company!

Spurn Migration Festival


Wryneck: What a weekend and what a place, this was my second Spurn Migration Festival and this time I went with some of the north west lads, Patrick Damion, Iggo and Tony Broom, unfortunately Neil was unable to attend.






I arrived a little later then the others as I was working away that week carrying out autumn bird surveys in Norfolk.
Upon my arrival I headed over to Sandy Beaches caravan Park to see the Wryneck and meet up with a Iggo and Patrick.  Here we watched the bird carry out some unusual behaviour as it flew upon to the Perennial Sow Thistle and started to eat the aphids straight from the stems.
The bird was present in this area the whole weekend.


 Long-billed Dowitcher: Apart from the Wryneck and and full of migrant birds like redstarts and Pied Flycatchers there wasn't much else to be seen and we spend a few hours searching and hoping for something great to drop in.





Black Redstart: Well our preys were answered as a heavy but small shower passed over us which allowed a Long-billed Dowitcher to drop in.






This was what everyone was waiting for as as soon as news reach us we set off to see it, along with every other person at Spurn.

We had some excellent views before heading off in search of our own finds.

04/09/2017 Smithfield Market, Manchester

Yellow-legged Gull:  After reading and seeing several images of Smithfield's Fishmarkets YLG I presume by Rob Creek, I was keen to go and have a look myself.
 I've seen several YLG in my time birding, but often at some distance at places like Moore NR and Richmond Bank, so to see one a lot closer was great.
Big shout out to the contributor's and admin who run MBF, this is a great asset and full of useful sightings and information. I didn't even know there was a huge fish market in Manchester.
Almost as soon as i arrived in the car park I spotted the bird loafing up top the main building, It remained here for about 20miniutes before flying off on to a lamppost the disappearing  in to the yonder.

I was informed that I may have been the last person to see the bird before it disappeared however it looks like its come back.
So well worth a visit for anyone who would like to see it.

Just make yourself known to the guys in reception once you have parked up, they were pretty approachable and friendly.


26/08/2017 Leighton Moss RSPB

Purple Heron: After my first visit to see the purple Heron at Leighton Moss last week I was keen to go and try my luck again, for some better images.


..........and I wasn't disappointed.





Upon my arrival the bird was in it's usual place, viewable from Greizdale hide, tucked in and obscured by the reeds on the left hand side.

Seeing the bird was made more difficult by the eight or so birders scrabbling over one another to get a better view, whenever the bird decided to lift it's head up from the reeds.
Eventually my patience paid off and the bird walked in to view revealing its whole body and legs before talking off for a short flight on to the water and out of the reeds.
I was absolutely thrilled, Purple Herons are great birds enhanced by the fact this bird should be overwintering in Africa made seeing it even better.
The bird eventually moved completely out of view and was hidden again by the reeds. I did however read via Twitter that it flew off once more, but this time it headed over to the causeway and roosted with the Little Egrets.

19/08/2017 Carnforth, Lancashire

Autumn Lady’s-tresses Orchid: (Spiranthes spiralis) The Autumn Lady’s-tresses are out now and a must see little gem of a plant. They unfurl their sprilaised flowers at the time of year when most plants have set seed.

They get their scientific name of “spiralis” which describes the arrangement of flowers that form an elegant spiral up the stem.
Autumn Lady’s-tresses flower from August to September and can be found on calcareous grasslands or sandy dunes of Jack Scout, near Jenny browns point, Cranforth. Here there is a large colony growing on the limestone hills that have short but not overly cropped grassy sward.


Up close the Orchid have crystalline petals that appear through the lens as fresh and crisp as fresh snow, these are enhanced by the pastel green stems that has short sparkly hairs on.



This is a new Orchid tick for me and I was surprised to how small they actually are, I was even told by Isabel Hardman who kindly gave me some information and directions the night before.
They grow no more than 7-20cm high when flowering they are not easy to spot. Stopping to look closer at what appears to be a short grass flower head can often lead to their discovery.
Purple Heron: From Jack Scouts I went on to Leighton Moss where I saw my first UK Purple Heron, and although it was probably the worst view of a Purple Heron I've had in my life I was happy to finally have caught up with one and have it on the list.

13/08/2017 Titchwell RSPB

Turtle Dove: Ever since I took a trip with some old birding pals of mine a couple of years ago I feel in love with Norfolk.
 
One of it's enigmatic birds is the Turtle Dove, a species under huge pressures and decline across Europe, so it's always  red letter day when you catch u with one.
This year there has been a breeding pair close to Titchwell who have taken up residence within the car park and have been seen on a regular basis, even with their youngster.
Titchweel is a great place and there is always something good to see. Along with the Turtle Dove I had five Spoonbill, dozens of waders including a Greenshank, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit and a lovely male Hobby.