Red Kite 28-04-09

I was working down in Llanelli (South Wales) today, didn’t have time to check out the WWT site but decided to head home the scenic route rather than the motorways.

Managed to see a Red Kite around Powys, couldn’t stop as I was in along line of traffic and there were no lay-bys around. Shame as I had my camera with me and could have got some reasonable shots a it was low and close to the road.

Also 6+ Buzzards on the way back. Seem to be seeing them more and more over the last few years. I’d say almost as frequent as Kestrels on the motorway network in some areas.

Pilling Marsh and Brockholes Quarry 25-04-09

Spent the afternoon at Pilling Marsh with a birding friend again mainly to try and ID the bird from last week (He’d already been back twice to try and see it again). Within 5 minutes of sitting down and scanning the area a couple turned up who I was chatting to last week and had seen the bird in question during the week quite close. A Wheatear they suggested and after looking it up in several at hand books I must agree. Most likely a female and the plumage enhanced by the very bright sunlight last week.
No such luck this week started to rain early after arriving and the sky was very overcast so no such luck for any photography.
Notable sightings across the 4 hours we were there were Redshank 30+, Shellduck 50+, Oyster Catcher 25+, Lapwing 30+, Swallow 10, Cormerant 10, Knot 150+, Pink Footed Geese 150+, Meadow Pipit 3, Wheatear 5.

The pink footed flew in quite late on, having seen 6 at the end of the marsh I thought the large flock we saw last week had headed home. The Knot were a sight to see, the flock flew across the marshland before heading across the top of us over the ponds and into the distance.

In the evening we (my son and I) spent back at Brockholes Quarry.
A good night for us both with 2 lifers – 2 Little Ringed Plover and a male Garganey. Other sightings included 2 Avocet, Lapwing 5, Shoveler, Oystercatcher 6, Whimbrel 143 by the time we left at 9pm, 2 Chiffchaff, House Martin, 5 Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Curlew 2 and Gadwall 2 (male & female).

3 Swift were seen just before we arrived, the first I know of in the area up to now.

Brockholes Quarry 23-04-09

Managed a trip down to Brockholes Quarry for a few hours this evening. Didn’t wander to far, just viewing the main pit for the Whimbrel.

Met some knowledgeable Birders who frequent the area who not only passed on some sightings to look out for, they also shared their scopes (left mine at home, mind on other things notably the chippy. Was starving!). Thank you if you are reading hope to meet up with you again.

Notable sightings through the evening were 24 Whimbrel, 2 Cormorant, 2 Gadwall (male & Female), 3 Heron, 5+ Oystercatcher, 7+ Tufted Duck, 2 Grey Wagtail, 3 Mute Swan, 30+ Swallow & House Martin, 5+ Lapwing, 3 Redshank, 2 Shellduck, Kestrel, 9 Curlew and 2 Bats (rather large, not sure what kind though)

The whimbrel were hard to spot as were the redshank (the first time I’ve seen them at Brockholes) as lighting was poor and the lack of my scope.

Will be trying to make another visit hopefully again this weekend if only to explore the other pits. There has been lots of interesting sightings sown there recently.

Cuerden Valley Park 21-04-09

I spent two hours out with the dogs tonight wandering through Church Walk, Stags Lodge and Cuerden Valley Park. Hard to do a spot of birding with them and even harder to get some photos.

Anyway notable sightings included 2 Greater Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 3 Song Thrush, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Wren, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Rook and Swallow.
The Warblers seem quite vocal at the moment, nice to see them back.

Pilling Marsh, Glasson Dock and Leighton Moss 18-04-09

The day started as Pilling Marsh, our first visit and definitely not our last.
We arrived about 11:30 and spent two and half hours there. It’s a good location as you don’t even have to get out the car, (if it’s raining) to view the area. We parked up and sat on the picnic bench and to our surprise there were 150 Pinkfooted Geese feeding in a nearby field. Talking to a couple later on they told us that they seem to head back later every year. Other notable sightings were Common Gull, Redshank, Lapwing, Meadow Pipit, Curlew, Oyster Catcher and a yet to be identified yellow thrushlike bird running along the marsh grass (as soon as I get the ID I’ll post it)

Next we moved up to Glasson Dock again another first time visit. Redshank and Shellduck were noted on the river and Mute Swan, Coot and Tufted Duck on the Lake. Also a Kestrel hovering around the area, though every time I even thought of lifting my camera it seemed to move on. At the mouth of the river we sighted 50+ Mute Swan, as well as a group of 4 unidentified waders (left the binoculars in the car, we’d only initially stopped for an ice-cream!) , Shellduck and Gulls. On the dock itself we noted Great Crested Grebe and Coot.

Last stop was Leighton Moss and yet again 3 Marsh Harrier were on show. We were told of an earlier sighting of an Osprey but no sign of it whilst we were there. Again we only visited the public hide were we noted Greylag, Teal, Gadwall, Pochard, Shoveler, Lapwing, Heron, Cormorant, 3 Greater Black Backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, 2 Buzard, 2 Blackcap (male & female), Wren, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Willow Warbler.

All in all not a bad day out though I’d like to get up to Leighton Moss earlier next time to explore the rest of the area.

Stags Lodge 15-04-09

Had a quick trip out with the dogs tonight to Stags Lodge - the Bamber Bridge End of Cuerden Valley Park. Amongst the usual suspects were a male Blackcap, 2 Willow Warbler and 2 Chiffchaff and as we walked the area I would say there were at least another 5 singing their little hearts out.

Martin Mere 13-04-09

With the bank holiday sunshine continuing for a change, we decided to take a trip up to Martin Mere for the afternoon. Checked the recent sightings on their website and the various warblers took our interest as some we haven’t seen before and the need to brush up on the ability to ID them.
First we checked in at the Infocus shop to see what had been seen and we soon added Crossbill, Restart and the nesting Kingfishers to our ‘What to look out for’ list.

Showing well from the shop were 40+ Avocet as well as a single Ringed Plover on one of the islands.
Next we headed down to the Ron Barker hide looking for the reported Crossbill but as usual unable to find any sign of it. Sightings from the hide included the male Kingfisher from the nesting pair, Black Tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover, Redshank, 2 Teal (male & female) and Shellduck.

Heading back we around towards the UU hide we saw the usual array of Finches, Tits, and Tree Sparrow which seem to do well here. Also Song Thrush and plenty of Pheasant milling around amongst the bushes surrounding the paths, no sign of the warblers or Redstart though, maybe we should have visited in the morning (early bird and all that).

From the UU hide we sighted Greylag and Pink Footed Geese, Heron, Oyster Catcher, Reed Bunting, and a single Hare resting in the sun (for at least 15 minutes a guy who was trying photograph it told me).

Walking the dogs up at Stags Lodge (the Bamber Bridge end of Cuerden Valley Park) I noticed there’s an early (5 am) walk with a local birdwatcher on the 26th April. I might drag myself out of bed if only to try and increase the species number I see there.

Heysham & Leighton Moss 11-04-09

Headed up to Heysham having read the observatory blog, hoping to see some new species. Well we got chatting to a guy in the nature reserve car park (thanks whoever you were) and it turns out we should have gone up first thing in the morning. Anyway undeterred we took his advice and moved further around the power station and headed out onto the front. Plenty of small birds in the woodlands around including greenfinch, chaffinch, chiffchaff, a single Marsh Tit as well as Magpie and Carrion Crow.

Out on the sea front and on the jetty we saw Cormorant, Shag, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Oyster Catcher and 50+ Turnstone.
After a couple of hours in the sun headed up to Leighton Moss, (thanks for the idea Cliff) to see if there was anything interesting. Didn’t have much time so just headed for the public hide and we weren’t disappointed as we walked down the path to the hide 2 Marsh Harrier appeared. Sightings from the hide included a 3rd Marsh Harrier, 8 Greylag, 2 Pairs of Tufted Duck, and 3 Great Blacked Backed Gull.

We’d parked the car on the main road and on the way back decided to stop and have a look around in the woods and again not a disappointment along with a Song Thrush singing its heart out we sighted Wood Warbler, Chiffchaff, Tree Creeper, Pheasant amongst the usual woodland birds.

Will definitely try Heysham again but will make it an early start next time.

Brockholes Quarry 10-04-09

Managed a few hours out in the rain this afternoon. On the way managed to take some photos of a Kestrel feeding on top of a lamp post.

Not sure on what the pits are called yet but when I do I’ll add them to my posts.
Saw two Goldfinch sat in amongst some dandelions as we pulled up and 5 Curlew flew over.
Tufted Duck, Canada Geese, Coot and mallard as well as mix of gulls (forgot my scope so no ID) were present on the pit with the large single island,
On the smaller pits several Great Crested Grebe and Heron as well as a few Tuffted Duck.
On the walk round to the other large pit we spotted 2 Greylag, Canada Geese, Oyster Catcher and Curlew as well as 3 Pheasant that frightened my son as they took flight as we passed.
On the other large pit we saw another Heron, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, a pair of Gadwall, Coot, Moorhen, Cormorant, Lapwing, 2 herring Gull and 20+ Black Headed Gull.

Also plenty of Reed Buntings amongst the reeds at the edge of all the pits.

As we were leaving a mixed flock of 50+ House Martin and Swallow started to feed on the numerous midges.

Cuerden Valley Park 09-04-09

Well after our second attempt at leaving home, (having turned back at the first outing after spotting several black rain clouds and heading back to change) we set off with our 2 Border Collies in tow (or was that us).
Heading up the A49 out of Bamber Bridge, past the Stags Lodge car park we saw the usual Blue and Great Tits, Magpie, Carrion Crow and Blackbird.
Heading into the main part of the park via the A49 car park we headed over the M6 bridge and turned right passing through the grounds of the Sue Ryder Home. Plenty of birds around hear most of them being very vocal but as we had dumped our binoculars because of pending rain and being urged on by two very energetic dogs we found identifying half of them a slight problem. Woodpigeon, Blue and Great Tit, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Wren, Carrion Crow, Jay, Greater Spotted Woodpecker were sighted around the grounds.
Down towards the main path through Cuerden and up into the woods usually brings plenty of sightings but it was very quiet here tonight apart from a passing flight of around a dozen Swallow there was only chaffinch, the odd carrion crow and the usual Tits on view. There is usually a flock of about 150 Jackdaw roosting at this time (had seen them earlier in the week) though nothing around tonight.
While resting for ten minutes by the main Lake we saw the usual Mallard and Canada Geese along with a pair of Great Crested Greebe, 2 Coot, 3 more Swallows and the illusive Grey Wagtail (called so as every time I point my camera it takes flight).
Heading home we saw more Canada Geese and Mallard on the pond on the grazing field in front of the Sue Ryder Home.