12/10/2014 Burnham Norton, Norfolk

Steppe Shrike: After being cooped up indoors with some serious man flu it was great to get back out and bag some new ticks.

I was very lucky this bad boy hung around all week and even more lucky when the bird came close.
When Alan and I arrived the bird was a few yards too far for my lens but only after a short wait the bird hopped up on to the fifth post before flying across the field and even more distant.

12/10/2014 Ness Point, Suffolk

Red Backed Shrike: From Burton Norton we dove through to Ness Point and picked up this little beauty!

Upon arriving we bumped in to a very polite local who pointed us in the direction of the birds preferred bush.

We waited with this guy for a few minutes before catching sight of the bird in a completely different bush further up the car park.
I was happy to tell this guy the bird was elsewhere as he had been waiting for a few hours in this one spot for the bird to turn up.

The bird came incredibly close as it picked off wasps that were bathing in the sunlight.

Our main aim for heading through to Suffolk was to catch up with Minsmere's Little that had been seen on and off all day.

However our luck ran out and we dipped the crake!
However due to time restrictions Alan and I were forced to leave and was proper gripped!

Perhaps an excuse to take Dawn away for a weekend......if the bird continues to show.

05/10/2014 Horwich Moors

Black Redstart: Thanks to Andy and Ian for the early morning update on Manc birding forum which persuaded me to to take a trip up the moor.

I drove up to the mast and as soon as I made it to the mast compound, where the black red was last reported, I stumbled upon Steve Burke.

After a catch up Steve told me he had the bird perching a few feet away from him only 20 minutes before I arrived. So I kept Steve company while we waited for the bird to show up again.

We decided to take a walk around the mast compound and after a long search we spotted one on the main building, only briefly before it flew off.

Steve and I relocated not one but two black reds on one of the fences surrounding one of the mast's guy ropes.

A good Sunday afternoon with some good company and a couple of cracking black reds.

21/09/2014 Spurn, North Yorkshire

Masked Shrike: My first day back from sunny Spain where I was treated to stunning views of Booted and Short Toed Eagle. Bee Eaters and Purple Swamp Hen but the best day of my annual leave was at a very busy and very dull grey day at Spurn!

Alan and I arrived around 11ish after fighting our way through the M60 and its awful ongoing speed restrictions. When we finally got there and found a parking space we made our way straight to the Shrike.
To begin with the bird was pretty distant, occasionally flying down to the ground after bugs and back up in to the hedgerow. The bird however was working a circuit up and down and soon came pretty close giving us and the hordes of twitches some cracking views!  
Barred Warbler: For a long time I have been after a barred, this along with a long list of other tarts ticks.
We waited in a site where a barred had been recently seen and bumped in to Steve Burke and Rob and the Doc Brewster.

Again we didn't have to wait long before the bird came out and showed itself.
So far I was on for a great two tick day, and thought we could try for the Olive-backed Pipit that has been knocking around which would make this an excellent three tick day.
Wheatear: This however was always going to be a stretch too far, after missing it around lunch time when Alan and I were occupied stuffing our faces and warming up in the nearby pub.

We did however pick up a stunning Wheatear on the rocks.
Red-breasted Flycatcher: I then bumped in to Jonnie Fisk while looking in another hedge for a RBF.
Spain was good, but adding two ticks to my list was better, especially the 3rd Masked Shrike!

09/09/2014 Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire

Harbor Porpoise: What a day!

Tanmay, Gary and I booked ourselves on to the Stena Line trip from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire hoping for some good sea watching.
Gannet: Previous trips the week before had thrown up Sooty and Balearic Shearwater and although I didn't hold much hope we searched and scanned every pair and every raft of manxies.

Stena Line have been offering this non landing return trip from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire and back for a while now for £5 and you can't argue with that!

So despite the lack of sooty and Balearic it was still a very good trip.
Manx Shearwater: The ferry offers two viewing platforms at the rear of the craft, one smoking and the other non-smoking. This area is caged off which slightly restricts viewing but you can still pick out the birds as the craft runs very smoothly.
Almost as soon as the ferry set off we had bagged a tonne of manxies and gullies. A bit further out to sea we picked up Fulmar, Gannet and the odd juvenile Kittiwake.

The shear numbers of birds were awesome.
Guillemot: Our return trip was a little quieter however Garry spotted a Common Dolphin and Tanmay and I picked up a few Harbor Porpoise.

All in all a very good, cheap and different day out.

07/09/2014 Hoylake

Greenshank: From BMW Gary and I set off up to the North Wirral Coast, starting with Hoylake, however our timing was a bit off and we couldn't pick out many waders on the shore.

We did have some nice wader action from the walk towards Leasowe picking up good numbers of Reshank, Turnstone and Dunlin.

On our way back we encountered this little gem, a Greenshank that was frantically feeding in a shallow pool.

Dunlin: The Greenshank behaviour was awesome to witness, as it chased fish with it's head dipped under the water.

07/09/2014 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Pectoral Sandpiper: What a superb day on a superb RSPB nature reserve. OK I will always have a soft spot for BMW but after a day like today you can't but revel in how good it can be.   

After saying hello to some very friendly and familiar faces Gary and I took the trek to Inner Marsh Farm Hide. The hide, like the car park, was chocca but we manged to get a seat and quickly picked out the pec among several Ruff.

Hobby: Out of nowhere came a swooping Hobby that dashed through the startled wader flock.

The Hobby gave everyone in the hide some stunning views as it did a U-turn and tried again.
Eventually the wader flock came back and touched down in their usual places, the pec went back on to its mud bank and the Lapwings to roost on the main island.
After the pack of waders had a good shuffle we then spotted 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 2 Little Stint.
Red-necked Phalarope: The phal was still showing well, this time a bit closer while it was spinning in the water foraging for food.

Hobby, Pec sand, Cattle Egret, red neck phal, 2 Little Stint and 3 curlew sands can't be bad!

06/09/2014 Great Orme

Wheatear: There are days as a birder I loath, those grey windy days when you see nothing, but there are days when the sun is shining and you find yourself on a stunning part of Wales and despite not seeing your target bird it still turns out to be a great day.

I headed up the very Great Orme hoping to bag another Dotterel but ended up dipping it due to some dog walker spooking the bird before my arrival.


However as I searched for the Dotterel I spotted plenty of Wheatear zigzagging across the heather and perching on the limestone outcrops.

But alas there was no sign of the Dotterel.

Meadow Pipit: It was relatively quiet up there, I searched the grave yard, looked over the Gauze bushes and picked up very little. No migrants no flycatchers or redstarts.
Chough: I did however encounter a pair of Chough honking away as they flew over head.

Nice to bump in to Karen and Dave too.

04/09/2014 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Red-necked Phalarope:  One of the things I don't like about living in Wigan is that I cant make it across to BMW as often as I would like.

So when I do its always great, especially when you trow in a brand new tick!
One of the guys in the hide said he first saw a picture of a red-necked phal in a book when he was 12 and it has only taken him 50 years to actually see one, then Mark Payne pipped up and said its only taken Austin 30 years!!

 Well cheers dude, but its now firmly on my list.