Thursday, 31 March 2011

Lancs: Iceland Gull & Kittiwake - 31st March 2011.

Above: 2cy Iceland Gull

Below: Ad Kittiwake

Preston Docks, Lancs - 31st March 2011.

1.5hrs at Brockholes NR LWT mid-late morning provided me with a yeartick in the form of 2 Swallow and also my first 2 White Wagtail of 2011. At least 50 Sand Martin were in the area, 5 LRP and 3 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 2 Redshank and a Snipe, but nothing obviously brought in by the strong SW wind during my visit.

During the afternoon, a trip into Preston with my Wife provided an opportunity to call in at Preston Docks beforehand. The long-staying Juv Iceland Gull was immediately obvious upon arrival at 13:45 and a bonus bird in the form of a Kittiwake, a species I was hoping for at Brockholes earlier in the day, was also present.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Western Isles inc. Mull - 27th-29th March 2011.

Above & below: Pied-billed Grebe, Salen Bay, Mull. Three videograbs of this excellent but elusive and frustratingly mobile bird taken at 350x magnification.

Above: Basking Shark, 28th March 2011. The first Scottish record this year and only the third in UK and Irish waters so far in 2011. Common Dolphin also seen.

Away from Mull, I was fortunate to be involved with the finding of two more White-billed Divers.

Above: The first WBD - 27th March 2011.

Below: The second WBD - 28th March 2011.

Below: Great Northern Diver. A few hundred seen. One birder on Mull counted 69 in Loch Na Keal alone. How many thousands must winter off the coast of Britain and Ireland? 17, mainly summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe were seen in Loch Na Keal and a Red-necked Grebe which I saw at the beginning of March was still present very distantly in Laggan Bay, Loch Tuath. Wheatears were clearly well in with several around the shoreline of Loch Na Keal

Above: Three Razorbill & a single Guillemot.

On Mull, a pair of Peregrine are delighting birders and tourists alike at Tobermory Harbour. For those familiar with Tobermory, the birds perch on the Church by the waterfront shops, allowing brilliant views and photos in between hunting sorties, terrorising the Feral Pigeon population as they chase their intended prey low over the buildings.

Above & below: Common Buzzard.

Above: Golden Eagle, Loch Na Keal, Mull. A couple 0f White-tailed Eagles were seen on a distant nest at another location.

Above: One of two Otter stubbornly remaining on the blind side of a rock. Four Otter seen at different locations on 29th. Mull truly is the Otter capital of Britain!

Above: Rock Pipit.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Lancs: Lesser Scaup, Marshside RSPB - 22nd March 2011.

A good days birding on the south Ribble Marshes was largely spent in the Marshside area watching the 2cy drake Lesser Scaup on the 'Junction Pool'. Unfortunately it was mostly into the sun viewing as the skies were blue and a heathaze was evident. A good Lesser Scaup, better in 'the flesh' than some images viewed over the weekend, suggesting a potentially anomalous rear-headshape. Only my 3rd ever, all have been drakes.

Above & below: 2cy drake Lesser Scaup, Marshside RSPB, Lancs - 22nd March 2011.
Below: About to dive, change in headshape.

A male Wheatear at the former Sand Works was a yeartick, several hundred Black-tailed Godwit and a flock of c350 Golden Plover were present, superb views of Avocets from Sandgrounders, 2 Little Egret, a f/imm Merlin on the Outer Marsh, 2 distant Hirundine sp. heading north over the Ribble were probably Sand Martin.

Views of the Pink-footed Goose flock on Crossens Inner Marsh were simply superb from the inland perimetre of the reserve. 2x1stw Eurasian White-fronted Geese, 1stw Pale-bellied Brent and a single Barnacle Goose were amongst the flock.

Above: 1stw Eurasian White-fronted Goose
Below: 1stw Pale-bellied Brent Goose
Crossens Inner Marsh, Marshside RSPB, Lancs - 22nd March 2011.

Above: Avocet from Sandgrounders Hide, Marshside RSPB, Lancs - 22nd March 2011.

Finally, 1.5hrs of solitude at Hesketh Out Marsh RSPB produced highlights of c30 Avocet, f/imm Merlin, Grey Plover and 5 Grey Partridge.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Local birding, Lancs: Whooper Swans, Med Gulls - 16th-21st March 2011.

Above & below: 16 adult Whooper Swan - Brockholes Nature Reserve LWT - 21st March 2011.

3 LRP and 4 Chiffchaff represented the summer migrants during a visit to Brockholes on the 21st.

Fishmoor Res Gull roost held a record count of 6 Med Gull (5ad consisting of two pairs and a single, and a 2CY) on the 16th. 17th: 5 Meds (4ad consisting of 1pr and two single, and the 2CY) and I could only find a pair of adults tonight, 21st.

Above & below: Ad Med Gull - Pleasington Playing Fields, Witton Country Park, Blackburn - 16th March 2011. I make no apologies for more photos of one of my favourite species! Haven't seen it since the 17th....

.... and suffice to say i've seen no Hawfinch in Pleasington Old Hall Wood!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Spotted Crake, Marshside RSPB, Lancs - 18th March 2011.

Whilst at Fishmoor Res this evening (2ad Med Gull roosted), I received a second hand report of a Spotted Crake seen at Marshside RSPB today (18th) and have spent this evening chasing up the record. The bird was found by Simon Paul to the left of Sandgrounders Hide, in Simon's words, "Where the Water Rail is often seen". Seen at 15:30, for two minutes.

As you can see Simon obtained an excellent photo of it. What a good find. Well done Simon.

Above: Spotted Crake - Marshside RSPB, Lancs, - 18th March 2011 (Photo: Simon Paul).

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Local birding, Lancs: LRP, Sand Martins, Iceland & Med Gulls - 15th March 2011.

Above: LRP.
Below: Pair of Med Gull
Brockholes NR LWT - 15th March 2011.

The day started as in recent weeks, Pleasington Playing Fields and Pleasington Old Hall Wood, with no sign of the Med Gull for the second successive visit and another blank for Hawfinch. Up to four Bullfinch, 2 pair, are regular in the walled garden at POHW, but how i yearn for the days in the 1980's and early 1990's when there was a reasonble chance of connecting with the 'big woodland duo' of Hawfinch and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker here. Yellowhammer, another sadly lost local species, also used to breed immediately to the south of the wood in the 80's as well.

Following this, Brockholes NR LWT yielded two year ticks in the form of 12 Sand Martin & a Little Ringed Plover on No1 Pit. This flock of Sand Martin seemingly moved on after an hour or so. A pair of adult summer Med Gull dropped in onto No1 Pit from 11:30-11:54.

As an aside, Given the number of pairs of Med Gull breeding in the county nowadays, I was astonished to learn recently that Lincolnshire still awaits its first confirmed breeding record!

Visibility at the Fishmoor Res Gull roost was very poor this evening and was a case of 'white-winger or bust'. Fortunately, the 2cy Iceland Gull was present upon my arrival at 17:45 and one adult summer Med Gull was located.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Local birding, Lancs: Iceland Gull, Fishmoor Res, Blackburn - 14th March 2011.

A nice juv Iceland Gull roosted tonight from 18:00 as did 3 superb ad sum Med Gulls.

Prior to this, an hour at Brockholes NR LWT late afternoon revealed the continued presence of at least 3 Ringed Plover squabbling territorially on No1 Pit Island, 54 Oystercatcher, 3 Redshank, 13 Lapwing, 18 Goldeneye and 13 Teal amongst the other usual suspects. The same green (B) darvic ringed Greylag Goose as recorded last spring, ringed at MMWWT in I think winter 2008 (will check), is present again amongst up to 14 Greylags.

Earlier in the day, there was no sign of the ad Med Gull on Pleasington Playing Fields in the hour that i gave it mid-morning. Predicatably there was no sign of any Hawfinch at Pleasington Old Hall Wood in my 7th recent attempt to try and confirm whether they still exist in this part of Lancs. If I were to succeed in the coming weeks, the event would undoubtedly rank equal first with any other top ornithlogical highlight of 2011, no matter what that may turn out to be come the year end?

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