22/05/2017 Lightshaw Flash, Abram, Wigan

Barn Swallow: Today I spent some more of my time down at the Dover Basin which included Abram Flash and Lightsahw Flash.

I spent a few hours yesterday looking for the Osprey which has been in the area for a couple of weeks.
Again I had no luck, but spent a very pleasant morning in a part of Wiagn which is lovely.
I also met three lovely people who were also out looking for the Osprey, James McGowan, Denise Ryder and her partner.
Despite not seeing the Osprey, yet again! It was still a pleasant morning.

19/05/2017 Burton Mere Wetlands, RSPB

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: OK these are possibly some of the worst images of BBS that you will see, however this bird was too far fro my lens and I had to use the iPhone and scope combo!

Despite the bad pictures the bird showed really well at time while at other time sit was obscured by the vegetation or pretty distant.
The news came though this morning while I waved goodbye to Dawn as she went off to work and I just poured myself some cereal.

Leaving the stewing bowl of Weetabix I grabbed my gear and ruched down the M6/M56 towards the bird.
I was really surprised of how small this bird was, it often came right up close to a Ruff and Redshank were you could see the size comparison.
This is the first twitchable Wirral record since 1973.....although there have been some recent local records at Frodsham and Woolston Eyes.

Hats off to Colin Wells who found the bird tis morning, a top bloke.

18/05/2017 Hilbre Island, Wirral

Shore Lark: Very scarce bird of the West coast, this local mega was found by Hilbre legend Steve Williams on the 15th of May.
Since then every man and his dog has gone across and seen it, I've had too much on, either newt surveys or Birthday celebrations.
I don't often spend much time on Hilbre but when I get the chance to go over I always enjoy myself, especially when the sun is out and the rain holds off.

The Shore Lark was busily feeding at the back of the island on the open grassy paths opposite Buoymaster's house.

Meadow Pipit: Plenty of activity around the island with mipits feeding young, Swallows doing the same and a single Wheatear foraging in the same area as the Shore Lark.
Whimbrel: After spending around 40 minutes with the Shore Lark I was joined by Colin Davies who was good company. We ended up down on the rocks scanning through the Dunlin and Oystercatchers looking for Whimbrel.
There has been four Whimbrel around Hilbre for a while and we could hear them calling from up on top of the island.
Great to catch up with Steve Williams, Colin Davies, travelling Dave Haigh and Graham Connolly who was sporting a brillinat LFC tshirt.

16/05/2017 Belvide Reservoir, Staffordshire

Spotted Sandpiper: One of the most widespread sandpipers in America, they typically spend their winters around the southern states to southern South America and are very scarce in the UK!
Saying that there are currently two twitchable summer plumaged birds in the UK at the moment, this one at Belvide Reservoir and another at Buttermere in the Lake District.

When I arrived the bird was out of sight for around 20 miniutes before it came out, albeit at some distance before flying right in front of the hide!

The the sound of camera shutters rapidly firing I was relived it came out, and so close!

Great to see some faces that I haven’t seen in a long while

14/05/2017 The Great Orme, Conwy

Chough: Today I woke up with news flashing on my BirdGuides app of two good local-ish birds the first was a Shore Lark on Hilbre found by Steve Williams of the Hilbre ringing group.

The second was a female Subalpine Warbler on the Great Orme found by Marc Hughes‏.
Having another free pass from Dawn I decided to spend the best part of the day on the Orme, which was beautiful in the summer sun, if a little windy on top.

We arrived to find a couple of local birders scouring the bushes along the wall near the limestone pavement including Steve Burke.
After chatting with these guys I soon realised that the bird was going to be typically illusive, and helped search the bushes for sometime before heading off. The bird wasn’t seen after I left and these guys had been searching all morning too.
I think the bird was seen twice early on and Steve Burke got some images of two different Sylvia one of which did look interesting, the other looked like a Common Whitethroat.

I did however get a bonus prize on the way off the Orme as I had this Chough feeding just off the limestone pavement - I’ve seen many Chough in my time but never one so close.

12/05/2017 Lynemouth Flash, Northumberland

Citrine Wagtail: How does that saying go?.....
You wait for one Citrine Wag and two come along in the same week....well something like that anyway.
After wasting most of our morning in Seahouses I was keen to see something decent and rescue our day, so we decided to go down and see this female citwag that has been reportedly showing well.
As we arrived in Lynemouth and during our car journey down we searched for directions, postcodes and any information we could find on this flash. The truth is, it ain't no flash, it's more of a flooded field. This was probably part of the reason we struggled to find the place.

However I sent a tweet out to some top blokes who got back to me promptly. Cheers again to Sam Viles and Andrew Kinghorn for their help, if we are ever in the Crown and Anchor I owe you a pint.
Almost as soon as we arrived the bird performed brilliantly and gave us all some stonking views.
I was particularly thrilled as this was my second UK citwag and the first bird was seen at some distance and in a hazy, grassy area.
So all in all a great night away with one new addition to the UK life list and a second round with a top bird. It also means that I will have to come back up to Northumberland another day to visit Farne, which is always a good thing.

12/05/2017 Catton Moss, Northumberland

Short-toed Lark: First of all I have to say how wonderful Catton Moss is, it's full of upland breeding birds, many of which had young or displaying. The place was full of Curlew calling and Snipe drumming overhead. Brilliant!!! 

The one bird which was unusual was this little chap, a Short-toed Lark which gave me and a fellow birder Alistair McCulloch a run around. The bird took one and a half hours to show before flying in to the nearby sheep pen and disappearing, before returning to the path which it favours and giving us some awesome views.
The main purpose of our trip was for Dawn and I to spend a night away in Seahouses with the intention of getting the boat across to Farne so made a booking with Billy Shiel's Farne Island Boat Tours.

However I have to say that their customer service was horrendous, after making a booking (no deposit necessary) and turning up at 9.30, on time and ready to go, they told us that the landing on Inner Farne was too choppy and no boats were running, but come back at 11am and we can get you on the next boat. That was fine as the weather had changed over night and I understand that we were unable to get a boat. My main issue is that when we came back after waiting around all morning they said that no boats at all were sailing. Now they have a twitter account and our email and telephone number so why on earth would they not get in touch or at the very least put some information on their Twitter account or website. This was a morning well wasted. I was not impressed.

07/05/2017 Morfa Madryn Nature Reserve, Conwy

Citrine Wagtail: A classic bogey.....a bird that I have been trying to tick off for many years, but for some reason has eluded me. I have dipped before and it's pretty scarce and I have never seen one in the UK before.  Well not until today!
I was originally offered a trip out to Worlds End, Wrexham with Damian and Neil, but after a couple of drinks at a friends wedding the night before I couldn’t face an early morning. So when I woke up, in a leisurely fashion I decided to try my luck for the Cit Wag and made my way down the A55.

When I arrived the sun was out and the tide was out, so I wasn’t holding my breath too much as these birds tend to go missing in the heat of the day. After the long walk from the car park to the hide I was told that the bird hadn’t been seen for at least 3 hours.
I wasn’t deterred and stayed on and searched the area it was last seen. It wasn’t until Pete Kinsella arrived who first spotted the bird that our spirits were raised. The bird however didn’t want to play ball and suckled out of view for much of the time before reappearing and giving us all great views.

Always a highlight when you tick a new bird as it is also to bump in to Pete and Sue and Kinsella and Mark Nightingale.

29/04/2017 Whitedale Valley, Dunsop Bridge, Lancs

Pallid Harrier: Originally when I saw that there had been information posted about a Harrier species on Lancashire heathland I thought that some one had dropped a clanger!   
However after seconds thought perhaps the RSPB who released the info are boxing clever, with such an attraction as this, the 1st ever male Pallid Harrier for Lancashire there will be more people watching this site, more publicity and more focus put on scrupulous game keepers.
And what a superb bird he is too, seriously stunning! After a very early start in order to complete a breeding bird survey I felt too tired to go driving up the hills and walking 4km to view the bird.
But once I got home and started to relax I saw Bill Aspens Tweet quote '@BillAspin More Bowland Pallid Harrier, absolutely epic! Spectacular views of a truly stunning bird. To those hesitating about making the trip, just do it!'

So I did.....
I arrived in good time and took on the long walk through the valley with gusto and connected with the bird almost straight away.

It was also good to catch up with some local faces, some of which I hadn't met before or seen in a while.


26/04/2017 Hale Lighthouse & Carr Lane Pools

Whitethroat: Hoping to see one of the Channel Wagtails that have been reglarly seen at Carr Lane Pools Gary and I decided to spend the afternoon at this sunny part of Cheshire.
Wheatear: We could only manage to pick up a couple of the standard Yellow Wags but we enjoyed watching them along with Blacktailed Godwits and Dunlin dropping in from Town Lane.

Once we were satisfied that we had searched Carr Lane Pools adequately we moved on down to the Lighthouse, starting from Within Way.
It was here we heard a Lesser Whitethroat calling on Within Way but only managed to see another Common Whitethroat. There were also Yellow Wags flittering around the crops in the surrounding fields.

Towards the shore line we picked up large flocks of Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and some nice Wheatear.
Hale Lighthouse and Carr Lane Pools is a smashing place, particularly when the sun is out.
Common Swift: Before setting off back home I thought we would chance it again and give Carr Lane another go for Channel Wags, but again was only rewareded with the standard variety.
We were however treated to some low flybys from some Swift and bumped in to Dot, who as ever, is always a pleasure to chat with.

25/04/2017 The Quarry at Dingle Gardens, Shrewsbury

Night Heron: This was a rare chance to kill two birds with one stone today as I had to pick up a new Clulite (used in my GCN survyes) from a countryside shop in Telford which also give the chance to catch up with the adult Night Heron.
This is presumed to be the same adult bird that was seen at Venus Pools, a reserve about seven miles south of Shrewsbury, however it didn't show quite as well at Venus Pools.

As soon as I arrived the bird was just sitting in a tree on the ornimental pond in part of the local park called The Quarry. The bird wasn't phased by the growing crowd of birders, dog walkers and on-lookers who were passing.

After a two hour wait the bird became more active and started to take an interest in the pond, before bobbing its head at the water and walking out further on to the branch, it flew off it's perch and down on to the water.

There is some suggestion that the bird is an escaped individual due to it having a mark on its leg - take a look at this image.

Here is the flight shot!

The bird flew right down to our feet and started feeding, it must have been about one metre away on the pond edge.

The crowd of birders grouped together in a hushed huddle as we watched it walk right past us then out of sight. The bird was then best viewed from the opposite side of the pond where is was standing under some shrubs.