28/11/2016 Blackburn

Waxwing: In the birding calendar there are some really great red letter days that I really look forward to, one of which is the Waxwing eruptions. When these charismatic little birds come to the UK in large numbers.

Of which there have been 25 Waxwing favouring the area around Go Outdoors in Blackburn. I like the fact Waxwings are attracted to urban areas and can be seen around town centres and retail parks, they are birds anyone can find anywhere!

In my humble opinion these are one of the best British birds, they are relatively scarce and can only been seen during one part of the year and they are stunning, with yellow waxy wings and tail tips and a rosey crest.

The birds have been seen regularly feeding on the berries of a Rowan tree opposite the Griffin Pub near the Tesco Express, however when I arrived all I saw at this tree was a gang of birders and photographers and no Waxwings.

Although I didn't see any birds on the Rowan, there were plenty in that area with plenty calling in a tree off Garden Street.

The birds eventually moved off Garden Street and flew across the road to Portland Street.
Here they spent the afternoon loafing around the treetops and occasionally coming down to feed on berries.
It was great spending the afternoon watching the birds as they flew around the houses and feeding on the berries.

When I got home I was gutted to read on Facebook that there was a small flock of Waxwings spotted in the car park of Toby Carvery in Lowton.
This is only 5 minutes up the road from where I live. I guess it goes to show that these birds can turn up anywhere!

I'm sure I will either be back in Blackburn or finding some Waxwings a little closer to home.

21/11/2016 Lytham St Annes

Desert Wheatear: Another grey day with more wet and windy conditions and I'm out again on the coast for another rarely-seen bird.

Thought to have come all the way from Sahara and the northern Arabian peninsula were the western race breeds.
If the weather dramatically improved and was hotter and dryer the long golden sandy beaches wouldn't be that far from its natural home.

Unfortunately the weather was typical for a dull November day on the Fylde.

The bird was like a wind up toy, scuttling across the windswept sand and was happily feeding within a cordoned off part of the beach and was away from the many dog walkers and other visitors to the beach.
Despite the prevailing winds and increasing rain I was really happy following the bird as it tried to outwit us birders and our cameras.  
This is my 2nd British Desert Wheatear in as many years and both were on the North West coastline but I think despite it's bedraggled windswept look the bird is a first calendar year male with its remiges and retrices very worn and the greater coverts showed broad buff all pointing towards

It was also great to catch up with Pete Kinsella who was out braving the November weather.

20/11/2016 Mistley, Essex

Forster's Tern: I got lucky this time, as while Dawn and I were visiting my mum in Essex, this little beaut turned up!

We only had to wait an hour in the grey and cold before the bird came into view giving us some brilliant flyby views and cheering up the waiting crowds.
Unfortunately I was too slow with my camera and struggled with the railings that obscured the auto focus, but excuses for the poor images aside, it was brilliant to be in the right place at the right time and to see the bird.

Dawn and I both hungry and cold then went for the best pizza I have had in a very long time at an Italian restaurant,  Lucca Enoteca is simply the best Italian restaurant around!!

15/11/2016 Little Woolden Moss, Manchester

Great Grey Shrike: This would be my third visit to see this bird, but you can't blame me it's an absolute cracker!  

The bird was still favoriting the farm houses and buildings at the end of Moss Lane and although it was still disappearing from time to time it would regularly reappear on the aerials on the cottages.
I also caught a glimpse of the female merlin that has been regularly seen in the same area, it flew low and headed over the polytunnels.

13/11/2016 Pennington Flash

Long-tailed Duck: I definitely wasn't disappointed after seeing todays LTD at penny as it came in pretty close, compared to its more distant movements yesterday.

While there I bumped into lots of familiar faces, Ste Culley, Paul Kurs, Laura Bimo and Jakie to name a few.
Yet another great find by John Tymon who picked out this drake LDT out yesterday afternoon, unfortunately I spent another day DIY shopping, this time for new wooden flooring.

I got more shots of the birds bum then I did of the actual bird, it was actively feeding and diving beneath the water and as soon as it came up and I raised my camera it was down again foraging.

09/11/2016 Houghton Green Pool, Warrington

Fieldfare: After the US election results I decided to go cheer myself up and go birding!

Its the best medicine.
I started at Pennington  Flash with a very pleasant walk although it was very quiet on the bird front with the highlights being 7 Goosander

From penny I had a spot of lunch with Dawn then went to Houghton Green where I was treated to some cracking views of one of my favorite British birds.
The pool was typically empty, with a handful of Wigeon, Teal and Black-headed Gulls with 23 Lapwing on the bank.

However there were five Fieldfare along the Hawthorn bushes, they were not that difficult to get close to as they were busy feeding on the Autumn berries.

The world has changed and I feel like a minority who strongly opposes so much that the right of politics stands for, definitely a nice bird to see and one that put the smile back on my face.

07/11/2016 Little Woolden Moss, Manchester

Great Grey Shrike: It's always good when you wake up with no specific birding plans to then pick up a decent local report of a bird down the road.

Despite the poor light the bird showed really well at times.
The bird seemed to favour the television aerials and bushes surrounding the cottages near the farm, however the bird did disappear for short periods before coming back to the cottages.

The GGS seemed to be taking an interest in the House Sparrows and was observed attempting to catch one and I think this is why it was keeping to the area  around the cottages.
Great to bump into Dave Steel who did a brilliant job of finding the bird, he also gave me a lot of information on the birds movements.

It was also nice to meet Brian and Margaret Hilton two Manchester based folks who were lovely to chat to.

05/11/2016 Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB

Cattle Egret: Today I decided not to go for either the Cliff Swallow that was found yesterday at Minsmere or Eyebrowed Thrush found in Northumberland and decided to be a good boyfriend and spend the day with Dawn.
Dawn wanted to go for a walk as it was a lovely, if a little cold, beautiful Autumnal day and I managed to convince her to spend the day with me on my old stomping grounds on the Dee Estuary.

We started at BMW where we spotted 5 Cattle Egret hanging around with their namesakes to the right of the visitor centre.
From here we went Harrier and Owl spotting at Burton point and Parkgate, disappointingly we didn't see any Owls but had a few female Hen Harriers.

Still, we cheered ourselves up by stopping off at Parkgate's fabulous chip shop for a spot of lunch!

03/11/2016 Skinningrove, Cleveland

Eastern Black Redstart: After seeing social media full of images of this little stunner, I couldn't turn down the invite when Iggo got in touch asking if I wanted to go.
If only all twitches were like this, almost as soon as we walked onto the beach the little bird wasn't shy and showed incredibly well.
Like other Redstarts the bird is fond of bobbing it's head and acting like a Robin. It typically flicks its tail which is considered diagnostic.

There are five commonly accepted subspecies of the Black Redstart. Take away the fact that the subspecies occur in different locations the main difference is observed in the bird's upper-part colouration of the adult male.
Phoenicurus ochruros phoenicuroides. Occurs from Tian Shan eastwards to Mongolia.The male adult birds have lower breast, belly and flanks with a stunning deep rufous colouration and the pale wing-patch is absent and sometimes have white foreheads.

The species typically inhabits stony ground often in mountains, particularly cliffs. However they have recently expanded their range of habitats and moved into towns, villages and urban areas. So the rocky tidal defences is a home from home for this little chap.

01/11/2016 Pennington Flash

Red-throated Diver: Autumn was in full swing at Penny today which made for a lovely morning, it was crisp and bright with plenty of Autumn migrants such as Redwing and the RTD, a great find by Bill Harrison who struck lucky yesterday.
Great-crested Grebe: Unfortunately and typically the RTD stayed pretty much out in the middle of the lake between the Rucks and the Yacht club, best views from the western end.  

I spent most of the morning walking and driving around the flash and still the bird kept its distance, unlike yesterday when Colin Davies got some great shots.

After getting frustrated with the diver I got distracted by this GCG which was happily feeding in a small pond behind the Flash and posed for pictures.