05/03/2015 Richmond Bank

Firecrest: What a stonker a really lovely little bird to connect with, and it has been a very long time since I last saw one. 

Dawn and I spent the morning feeding the Ducks and Gulls at Three Sisters NR. I was hoping to pick up the nice Med Gull that has been knocking around there, but alas no luck, never the less we did have fun feeding the birds though.
From here we decided to go and try for the Richmond Bank Firecrest, knowing the site really well I didn't hold out much hope as there are huge areas of brambles, willow and scrub.
As soon as we arrived we bumped in to a couple of gullers waiting on the receding tide to bring back the gull roost, and were kind enough to inform us that they had seen the Firecrest within the last hour and pointed us in the direction that the bird flew off.
Despite getting some relatively decent shots this little bird was so hard to pin down, I must have taken a couple of hundred blurred images of the bird foraging and out of focused brambles!
Dawn and I were joined by another birder when we noticed there was actually two males, as one came out of nowhere and they started chasing each other until they flew off out of sight.

04/03/2015 Gunners Park, Southend, Essex

Serin: I have been putting this twitch off for far too long now so I decided to just go for it, and I am very glad I did.

I left Wigan around 3.30am and was surprised and thrilled to come across a Barn Owl flying over the car along Wigan Road (A573), right up the road from where I live!
I made good time getting to Essex but parked miles away and struggled to locate the car park where the birds have been favouring.

After getting in touch with local birder Max Hellica, I was soon pointed in the right direction.

Cheers Max.
Once I located the precise site the day turned out to be a perfect twitch. 

The birds were doing a continuous circuit where they would spend some time singing in the Willow at the back of the pond and they would eventually come out and land on a nearby Ash.   

Nice and easy, perch yourself next to the Ash Tree and wait, the bird will soon turn up and show really well. No running around and no long waiting.

29/02/2015 Leighton Moss RSPB

Green-winged Teal: Great to catch up with this years first American counterpart of the Eurasian Teal.

Mainly identifiable by its very obvious vertical strip at the front of its flanks - Eurasian Teal have a vertical stipe.
As usual as soon as I arrived the bird had moved from the Grizedale Hide where it had been showing a lot closer and over to Tim Jacksons Hide, a little further from my lens and in worse light!
Never the less it was great to pick the bird out amongst the many Eurasian Teal and add to the year list.
Shoveler: There where loads of other 'dross' as some other people would say - me however think a good drake GWT, Shoveler and 18 Snipe makes for a good morning out.
Wigeon: Not the American variety, but great to see at close quarters. But gain does an American Wigeon go down as 'dross' - not to me!

28/02/2015 Slimbridge WWT

Common Carne: Dawn and I woke up early and decided to give the new car another big run out and with the local reports slim on the ground I thought I would try again for the fudge duck down at Slimbridge.
After a quick McDonalds and a good run down to Gloucestershire we headed straight over to the Tower Hide where the fudge was last reported.

We waited about half an hour before a familiar face turned up.
Great to see some locals so far from our stomping groups up North, Peter & Sue, a great couple from Wrexham who share the same passion for birds and Tony from Halton a great local birder with a wealth of knowledge.
Ferruginous Duck: I waited with them for about half an hour before trying our luck at another site on Slimbridge where the duck could be found.

On the way Dawn and I got distracted by some lovely Crane showing well from one of the hides.
 Then out of nowhere Tony turned up saying "Aust the birds back, com'on" so we raced back up to Tower Hide and there it was, suckling about the reeds of the Knott Pool.
We watched the bird come out in the open water and paddle across to the nearby bank, giving us all some cracking views!

Thanks again to Tony who came back and gave me a heads up, I owe you a drink mate, cheers.

26/02/2015 Pensarn, Conwy

Iceland Gull: This is by far the best view of a large white winged Larus I have ever had, I have seen many down at Moore NR and Richmond Bank but always at a distance.

This bird however was not camera shy!
As soon as Dawn and I arrived at the car park the bird was sitting on the beach within a few feet of us both.

This was before a very inconsiderate dog walker came right past the bird and moved it a bit further up the beach.
We followed it and watched it for a good ten minutes before another dog walker came crashing past us.

I mean it's obvious I am watching this bird, I have my camera at the ready and binoculars strapped around my neck - you don't have to be a brain surgeon to know what we are doing and to have the common sense to stay at a distance and not disturb the bird.

I guess this bird was less bothered than I was as it kept coming back to the same car park and even landed right beside my car!

This image shows it happily loitering around the car park. I guess it was hoping for a free hand out and to stay close to the resident gulls.

We tried for the Surf Scoter from the top of Old Colwyn but could only see a large flock of Common Scoter riding the waves.

 What a cracker!

25/02/2015 Loscoe Lake, Normanton

American Wigeon: A bird I have dipped many times last year and a bird I really enjoyed seeing. 

I feel like I am getting a little closer to 300 now!

I would like to give a huge shout out, firstly to the Doc who was kind enough to pass on some info regarding the directions to the bird.

And to Pat Hograth and Helen Keough who I bumped in to at the lake and who soon become life savers as my camera battery died on me and Pat was happy for me to use her lovely images on my Blog!

Excellent, thanks again.

(images courtesy of Pat Hograth)

22/02/2015 Parkgate

Short-eared Owl: Some days you win - last Friday I spent all afternoon watching and hoping for a good shot of a shortie with no luck, however today my luck changed!

Today Garry and I headed past all the Sunday birders and crowds of twitchers who were gathering around the old baths car park and donkey stands flash and headed up towards the golf course.
I had been told that this area is the best place for the SEOs as they have been roosting on the ground near here.

This tip paid off as in the end I think we had at least four maybe five individual birds, and three at the same time, looking at when we saw them and comparing the distances.