Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Smew, Brockholes Nature Reserve LWT, Lancs: 29th Dec 2010.

A few more high magnification digiscoped efforts of the excellent Smew currently frequenting the River Ribble between Brockholes Nature Reserve and Brockholes Bridge.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Brockholes Nature Reserve LWT: 28th Dec 2010.

A couple of images of the redhead Smew currently on the adj River Ribble. Pity the light was absolutely dire.

This is the first site record proper in the period Aug 1998-2010, though up to 4 Smew frequented a stretch of the Ribble just upstream of the site back in January 2010. An older record involved a pair seen on the stretch of River upstream of the entrance bridge on a date in the 1980's.

Great to see a resurgence of this species locally in the last couple of winters. I assume this latest bird is the redhead recently seen to roost on Alston Reservoir's, Longridge. Chances are the 'White Nun', which also roosted at Alston at the same time, is also lurking on a local stretch of the Ribble....

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Juv Iceland Gull - Preston Docks, Lancs - 20th Nov 2010.

A cracking bird, coincidentally perched on the same groyne as a 2ndw Ring-billed Gull was in Feb 1991!

Waxwings: Above, some of the 40+ at Preston Docks. Below: A single at Ewood, Blackburn, the first time i've seen this species in the Rowans opposite the McDonalds in nigh on twenty years of checking in influx winters.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Great Northern Diver: Fleetwood Marine Lake, Lancs - 10th Nov 2010.

Hard to resist twitching these magnificent beasts when an opportunity in the county arises.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Pied-billed Grebe: Hollingworth Lake, Gtr Manchester - 9th Nov 2010.

Bombshell news broke early afternoon concerning the discovery of a Pied-billed Grebe in Rochdale! The bird, an adult, gave excellent scope views to the assembled gathering of birders in the nature reserve corner of Hollingworth Lake. A tremendous find for the birders involved!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Great White Egret, River Ribble, Mitton, Lancs - 5th Nov 2010.

Excellent scope views were had of the first Great White Egret for the East Lancs Ornithologists Club recording area, on the River Ribble just upstream of the Aspinall Arms at Mitton mid-afternoon, albeit in miserable weather and light conditions for images.

This surely has to be the same bird as that seen flying NW over a vis mig watchpoint at Oxenhope Moor in West Yorkshire on Monday 1st Nov.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Local birding: Brockholes Nature Reserve LWT: 10th Sept 2010

Absolutely no movement through the site in three hours mid-pm - early afternoon. 1 Green Sandpiper (above), 1 Common Sandpiper, 30 Lapwing, female Goldeneye, 9 Shoveler, 7 Gadwall, c30 Teal, 26 Tufted, c30 Sand Martin and a Sedge Warbler.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Spurn, East Yorkshire: 8th Sept 2010.

Having not been able to check the Gull roost at Fishmoor on the previous evening, I awoke early to have a crack at first light to see whether the Caspian Gull had roosted for a second night. This is very hit and miss as you have such a short opportunity to try and connect with a target species due to the Gull's starting to disperse at the first chink of light and c30 mins later it's all but over. However, when I switched my phone on I received a text from Tony Disley offering me a lift to Spurn. The time was 04:50. Following a short period agonising what to do, I was in Tony's car twenty minutes later heading eastbound towards the hallowed peninsula!

Upon arrival we began at the Crown and Anchor car park where 2 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Blackcap and a Garden Warbler showed in the bushes, whilst two adult Med Gull flew over towards the Humber and 2 Little Egret fed along the shoreline.

News filtered through that there were more migrants at the Point, including a Spotted Crake which had been seen in the Point Dunes. What a lovely out-of-context migrant! So, thats where we headed next.

A few Whinchat and Wheatear were noted at New Road and once at the Point car park, a single Little Egret was noted on the humber as was a single adult Med Gull which flew south along the Humber tideline. This Spotted Flycatcher was perching on the wall by the car park.

Above: Spotted Flycatcher (Tony Disley).

The next few hours were spent at the point, where totals already noted by Spurn regulars included 25 Pied Flycatcher. For us, aside from Common Whitethroat, probably the most numerous of the common migrants was Tree Pipit with perhaps 15+ or so seen south of the point car park - the end of the Point itself, including 8 flushed from the point dunes south of the Green Beacon. I love the call of Tree Pipit, which has always been my favourite call of the common migrants.

Above: Tree Pipit (Tony Disley).

Smaller numbers of Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Redstarts, Willow Warbler, several Whinchat, Wheatear, Garden Warbler and a single Lesser Whitethroat were seen and several Flava Wagtails were noted heading south. A few Swifts were also on the move, and we recorded c20 during the day the largest flock being six flying south down seaward side of the VTS tower and an adult Med Gull flew south past the end of the Point. A few glances offshore revealed some Wildfowl on the move, with three flocks of Teal totalling c70 individuals, 6 Shelduck and 5 Wigeon > south, as did two Common Scoter, but directly over the peninsula.

Scarcities recorded by others at the Point included the Crake, Ortolan, 1+ Barred Warbler and 2 Rosefinch, but try as we might (the Crake aside which was a classic single observer sighting) we failed to connect with any of the more quality migrants.

It's incredible how fast time flies and already it was gone 13:00 and with still no scarcities seen we headed north towards Tank Ditch/Wire Dump where a Wryneck had been showing near Post 63. Typically, the bird had disappeared and it took c1.5 hrs before I was fortunate to have it fly past me as I walked a path on the seaward side of the road. The Wryneck landed on the path briefly out of sight, then showed in a bush before heading off again west of the road. A while later we saw it again in Tank Ditch itself. Other migrants in this area included several Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Willow Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher. Several Wheatear were just north of Wire Dump Trap, but there was no sign of the Rosefinch that had been seen here earlier either.

Above: Pied Flycatcher & Common Redstart (Tony Disley).

A thirty minute seawatch from the Narrows on the incoming tide was fruitless, 3 Swift > south well offshore the highlight, 2 juv Common Tern > SE and a Gannet > north. An eclipse drake Eider was on the sea and a Little Egret on the Humber.

A brew in the Bluebell cafe (£2.50 for a cup of tea and a twix!) and a chat with some other birders who had just come back from Beacon Lane revealed that they were similarly struggling to connect with the quality migrants. We weren't the only one's! 6 Yellow Wagtail (1ad, 5 juv) fed amongst Cattle by the Borrow Pit.

The last couple of hours was spent around Easington where 4 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Spotted Flycathher, 3 Redstart, 2 Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were the best we could come up with.

Finally, a postmortem of the days events with other birders outside the chippy in Patrington revealed that all had failed to connect with anything but the Post 63 Wryneck! An enjoyable day nontheless and as always great to be back at Spurn.

Left - right: Andy Makin, Tony Disley, Phil Rhodes and Myself - Narrow Neck, Spurn - 8th Sept 2010.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Local birding: 2CY Caspian Gull, Fishmoor Res, Lancs: 5th sept 2010

This bird was located just before 20:00, c20 mins before light failed completely and in already dull, cloudy, rain threatening conditions. These images are the best I could obtain. At the moment I have aged it as a 2cy on the basis of broad tertial fringes and a consistent feature in the videograbs of the raised right upperwing are the pale inner primaries.

Dick Newell kindly commented re the age as follows: "It looks like a typical 1st winter bird, but the tertials have rather broad white fringes like a second winter. I don't see any 3rd generation grey feathers in the scapulars, which I would expect for a 2nd winter. So, either a rather advanced 1st winter or a delayed 2nd winter. Would need better pictures to be sure which it is. Probably, as you say, a 2nd winter (=2CY). But Caspian Gull, yes."

Alan Dean kindly commented as follows: "Yes, looks like a Caspian. As you say, images not overly clear in failing light but what can be seen of mantle and covert pattern look quite like a 1 cy in some respects but the tertial pattern in image ‘a’ (for example) looks to have the more complex terminal pattern of a 2cy and this would also explain the rather short primary extension i.e. outermost primaries dropped during moult to 2W."

East Yorkshire (Flamborough & Hornsea): 3rd Sept 2010.

Above: Olivaceous Warbler twitch on the south side of the legendary Old Fall Plantation.

With my car in for a service, I got my wife to dump me at Brockholes for five hours or so enroute to work in the hope a Curlew Sandpiper would fly through as there are quite a few appearing at coastal Lancs sites. My visit only lasted one hour though, as Dave Bickerton kindly offered a lift for the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler at Flamborough, a bird I was particularly keen to see, giving me only enough time to note a juv Ringed Plover on No1 Pit and the continued presence of the eclipse drake Garganey on the Main Pool before Dave collected me. Janet Davie made up the final team member.

Arriving at Flamborough at c12:00, we were soon insitu on the southern side of Old Fall Plantation where several excellent scope views were had of the Olivaceous on and off over a c2.5hr period. I didn't get any photos, preferring instead to concentrate on getting views of this very educational bird, a species I last saw in Greece way back in May 1994. 1-2 Pied Flycatcher, Willow Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher were in the same area.

Whilst there a shout went up of Buzzards, of which there were 21 in all, thermalling S/SW to the east of Old Fall Hedge. Almost immediately came calls of up to two Honey Buzzards amongst them, but try as i might in the c1.5 minutes all/most of the birds were in view all I could connect with was Common Buzzards.

Following the Olivaceous we walked south down the Old Fall Hedge then walked a route towards the Lighthouse, Bay Brambles and along the road back to the field car park. Many Linnet were present, another Buzzard went south, single Sparrowhawk, 3 'flava' Wagtails and very pleasing was two sightings of flyover Lapland Buntings (3+4).

We missed a Barred Warbler at the Bay Brambles by seconds, and an hour scanning the wider Bramble area produced 2 Lesser Whtethroat, Common Whitethroats, juv Stonechat, House & Tree Sparrows.

Next stop was Hornsea Mere, where a Common Crane had been present for a few days. The bird was eventually found very distantly, visible only through a small gap in the bankside trees on the far side of the Mere, a great spot by Dave. If we hadn't have been stood in the very spot we were we would have dipped it, pure and simple! Even at this distance, the Crane gave pleasing scope views. A Black-necked Grebe was very conveniently, although distantly, bang in line with the Crane, mid-water. A check of the visible shoreline before we left revelaed a juv Greenshank and three juv Ruff 20+ Teal and a Red Crested Pochard.

Talking to a local, I enquired as to how many Little Gulls were currently roosting on the Mere. "Very few" was his reply to which he also mentioned there were only small numbers offshore as well. A total contrast to the mind boggling 15,000 that roosted here a few (several?) years ago. What a hell of a spectacle that must have been! A fine piece of Halibut in Hornsea rounded off the day nicely

Above & below: Adult Common Crane, Hornsea Mere, digiscoped with camcorder at great distance!

Below: Black-necked Grebe, Hornsea Mere.

Below: To absent friends, thanks once again for the Sandwiches Tim (in-joke).