Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Moore, Marbury C.P. & Houghton Green Flash, Cheshire - 11th March 2009.

A really enjoyable days birding in Cheshire in pleasant spring-like weather in the company of Bill Berry, saw me connect with my first Lesser-spotted Woodpecker since........ 1995!! And what an absolute joy to behold it was!

Above & below: Male Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Moore Nature Reserve, Cheshire - 11th March 2009. An absolutely crippling male seen on three occasions in the wood on the opposite side of Lapwing Lane to the feeding station. It was good to reacquaint myself with the highly distinctive drumming and call, the latter heard once. A wonderful bird!

In between sightings, time was spent in the company of several senior Fylde birders lamenting the decline of this species in Lancs along with that of Hawfinch, Willow Tit, Yellow Wagtail..... etc etc!

A walk to Birchwood Pool saw plenty of Gulls on the water upon our arrival at the hide. A 1stw Glaucous Gull all too briefly joined the throng before all Gulls were spooked and flew back to the tip.

Next stop was Marbury, where we eventually located the Hawfinch after 45 mins searching. The bird was perched in a tall deciduous tree for several minutes, calling frequently before it flew into some Yews in the vicinity of the Arboretum.

Above & below: Hawfinch, Marbury CP, Cheshire - 11th March 2009.

Our final stop on the journey home was Houghton Green Flash where the two Black-necked Grebes were actively feeding in the middle.

Above & below: 2 Black-necked Grebe, Houghton Green Flash, Cheshire - 11th March 2009.

The final port of call was the local patch, Brockholes Wetland LWT, late afternoon, where an adult Med Gull and a superb imm male Merlin was seen. The latter in particular always a noteworthy year tick on the patch.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Local birding: Long-eared Owl - 7th March 2009.

Enroute to a fruitless check of the Fishmoor Res Gull roost, I was delighted to see the LEO was still in the area close to my home.

Friday, 6 March 2009

East Lancs/N. Yorks birding - 6th March 2009.

One must pay homage to any Diver that is unfortunate enough to land on an East Lancs waterbody, but I felt I was pushing my luck with the Red-throated Diver on Upper Foulridge Reservoir, Colne, by not twitching it until seven days into it's stay. Fortunately, this excellent bird remained and showed well, diving frequently, viewed from the causeway separating Upper Foulridge/Brownhill Reservoir.

Above & below: Adult Red-throated Diver, Upper Foulridge Res, Colne - 6th March 2009.

My next plan of action was to spend time looking for the Rough-legged Buzzard seen the day before by Mark Breaks at Stocks Reservoir/Bowland Knotts. My route from Upper Foulridge would see me pass close to Hellifield Flash on the A65 in North Yorkshire and i'm glad I stopped to look as there was plenty of birds present.

Above & below: 1stw female Greater Scaup, Hellifield Flash, N. Yorks - 6th March 2009. This bird was very distant at the furthest end of the flash.

I was most impressed with the selection and numbers of Wildfowl present: 1 Greater Scaup, 6 Pochard, 12 Tufted, 20 Pintail, 29 Shoveler, 257 Wigeon, 26 Teal, 22 Mallard, 53 Coot and 5 Mute Swan. Waders were represented by 15 Oystercatcher, 30 Lapwing and 3 Redshank. Several hundred each of Common and Black-headed Gulls were present, but somewhat surprisingly, no Meds.

Fantasies of finding an American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal or a Ring-billed Gull went unrealised as I scanned and counted the birds present, spending well over an hour at this little gem of a local site. What a pity it isn't just over the border!

A local birder then arrived and in conversation mentioned that another local had actually seen an adult Ring-billed Gull at the site c2weeks ago! - So I scanned every Gull again, but no joy!

I recalled several year ago hearing of a proposal to drain the flash and build a Caravan park upon it, so I asked the local birder whether the site had any level of protection against any such future threats. It apparently has none. Clearly this is a very important local site and it would be a tragedy if it was to be lost at some point.

Above: 3/4 of Hellifield Flash.

It was now time to look for the Rough-legged Buzzard, so I decided to attack the area from the Yorkshire side, stopping and scanning along the road up to Bowland Knotts/Crutchenber Fell. In the three hours that followed several Common Buzzard were noted at various points, but no sign of the RLB.

Above: Scanning for the Rough-legged Buzzard on the Yorkshire side of Bowland Knotts. The vista to the north from here is one of my favourite views and despite a cold wind blowing conditions were great for the RLB to be hunting if it was in this vicinity. The finder, Mark Breaks, also put in three hours at different times, so that makes six hours combined with no sign of the target bird in this area today.

On Crutchenber Fell, a female Stonechat and several Red Grouse were seen, whilst a Short-eared Owl gave outstanding views, catching and eating two voles whilst under observation.

Another Shortie was seen at Green Pike and a Green Woodpecker heard.

Above & below: Short-eared Owl, Crutchenber Fell - 6th March 2009. With my Canon 100-400 lens out of action, I am already suffering the woes of loss of quality using a lesser lens!

Mark Breaks was in the new hide at Stocks, overlooking the Hodder Inlet and the Gulls roosting/pre-roosting (?) on the exposed mud, so I joined him for the last hour or so of light, seeing 4 ad Med Gulls in the process. More Gulls were roosting in the narrows, so we trudged through the island viewpoint plantation to view them, but no other Meds were noted. On the walk back to the cars, Tawny Owls began calling and a single Woodcock was roding, rounding off a really enjoyable days birding in fantastic surroundings very nicely indeed.

Above: 3 of 4 adult Med Gulls, Stocks Reservoir - 6th March 2009.

Also in the Gull roost at Stocks, a colour ringed adult Lesser Black-backed Gull bearing a pale blue darvic ring on the left leg, inscribed Y254 in black, was noted.

Details of the birds history as follows:

Ringed as an adult on 18.05.07 at Sandgerði, Reykjanes Peninsula, SW Iceland.

Resighted on 31.12.07 at Gloucester landfill site, Gloucestershire, England.

Resighted on 13.11.08 at Stoke Orchard landfill site, Gloucestershire, England.

Resighted on 06.03.09 at Stocks Reservoir, Lancashire, England.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Fylde & local birding - 5th March 2009.

Above: Spotted Redshank, Conder Green, Lancs - 5th March 2009

A few hours Over Wyre saw c3000 Pink-feet on the saltmarsh from Pilling Lane Ends Car Park, but I couldn't find anything amongst them, nor could I find any other Pink-feet flocks anywhere else in a drive around. Drake Scaup at Glasson Marina and Spot Red at Conder creek were the highlights.

Good binocular views of the Firecrest at Stanley Park, Blackpool, were had between 15:00-15:10.

At Brockholes, 109 Curlew came into roost by 17:30 and a late dash to Fishmoor Res resulted in nothing of note being seen in the Gull roost.

Above & below: Curlew roost, Brockholes Wetland LWT - 5th March 2009. Numbers should increase further to perhaps 200+ before dwindling and being gradually replaced by lots of lovely Whimbrel from mid-April.