Leighton Moss & Warton Cragg - 30th May 2009

We were within half a mile of the visitors centre when we spotted the first of the 5 Marsh Harrier of the day. We pulled over into a lay-by and watched it glide effortlessly over the mere and trees. Searching the area brought sight of a further 2 Marsh Harrier and at least 4 Buzzard.
Didn’t see much from the feeders on our first visit but on our way out we watched Nuthatch, Greenfinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Great Tit and Mallard. Around the hides we didn’t see anything out of the ordinary with 50+ Black Headed Gulls some on their nests with chicks, a young drake Shoveler, Gadwall which we seem to be seeing all over at the moment, Tufted Duck, a pair of displaying Mute Swan and 70+ Black Tailed Godwit.
On the way out we saw a family of Nuthatch and Long Tailed Tit as well as a Pied Flycatcher. We bumped into the warden soon after and he said it was probably the first to be seen on the reserve.
On to Warton Cragg to watch the Peregrine. We found the nest with the female covering the chicks, there are 2 but we only saw one on our visit. The Male was sat on the ‘Bell Rock’ and it took one of the guys who guard the area against chick theft to point it out through his scope. The male took flight whilst we were there and we spotted him soaring in search of prey but brought nothing back before we left. Along with the Peregrine were 50+ Jackdaw and we heard a Ciffchaff calling from the trees.

Loch Lomond & Dodds Wood - 26th - 28th May 2009

Just got back from three days in Scotland, not all bird watching but did manage to get a little in. Reece was hopping for some big ID’s whilst we where there with reported Golden Eagle and Osprey and I was just hoping to catch a Diver having not seen one before.
We didn’t manage anything on the first day though we did see a Red-Breasted Merganser on Loch Lomond whilst wandering around the shops at Balloch.
On the second day we managed a trip up to the RSPB site at Inversnaid, but with it raining for most of the drive up I wasn’t hopeful about seeing any of our wish list.
As we drove down into the hotel car park we spotted a Hooded Crow hybrid, the usual white was not distinctive but you could still a slight paleness. I have read that the Hooded does cross breed with the Carrion and I’m sure this bird was the probable result of the same. Heading down the track and along the shores of Loch Lomond Reece spotted only his second Dipper feeding along the Loch edge. It didn’t hang around for long and could only get a record photo before it flew off. We tried a little loch watching but apart from the great views and the odd Gull saw nothing else of note. Heading up the track we stopped to watch a Greater Spotted Woodpecker feeding its young. From the same area we also watched a Buzzard circling on at the top of one of the peaks, the best shot we have is below. It was as you can see quite distant but observing its behaviour, it hung in the same spot in the air for several minutes, Reece thinks it may be a Rough Legged Buzzard. If anyone can help us with the ID of the bird (knowledge of the area or even an ID from the profile) it would be more than appreciated. We didn’t stop much longer with the rain and the midges but we did manage to see a Redstart and heard a Cuckoo, the first being a lifer for both of us. We are already planning a trip back next summer when the weather is hopefully better and can spend more time exploring the area. Heading back we noted Meadow Pipit, Whinchat, Grey Wagtail and 2 Red-Breasted Merganser on one of the smaller Lochs.
On the way back we had time to call in to see the Osprey at Dodds Wood. The walk up to the viewpoint didn’t take long and was quite pleasant in the sun. There are 2 viewpoints, the first overlooking the lake where, if luck may get views of them fishing. The best bet is to head straight to the top viewpoint and call in the other on the way back. The viewpoint has very good views of the nest and we were both surprised on how close we where. There are RSPB wardens milling around and we chatted to a few who were more than helpful. There are also plenty of scopes so you don’t have to hall your own up with you. I did manage a few photos but none good enough to post, it just means we’ll have to plan another visit soon. We stopped for about 15 minutes watching hoping to see the male fly in but no such luck, but we did catch an amazing if only brief view of a Goshawk flying around the hillside 20 meters below the viewpoint. Other notable sightings on the trip down were Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Blackcap and Tree Creeper.

Twiching at Marton Mere & Newton Marsh 25th May 2009

A previously unplanned visit but after seeing a rare bird report so close to home plus a little arm twisting from Reece took us up to Marton Mere to see the Laughing Gull. It's the first time we'd 'twiched' a rare bird so does this make us twichers? Reece says a definate 'NO!'.
As we walked onto the mere we met a birder who pointed us to the east side of the mere so off we walked. As we approached we saw many scopes pointed onto the mere from where people usually feed the birds so we set up on the path near the bench as no one was there. First look through the scope and Reece was on it so a few quick photographs before before it disappeared on us. We were lucky though and it hung around for a further 10 minutes before flying off to a different part of the mere and away from our view. Heading back we called into the container hide and the hide with the feeders but nothing really to report from any of them. Amongst the reeds and trees around the mere we noted 3 Sedge Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Linnet, 15+ Reed Bunting, 10 Whitethroat (lifer for Reece), 1 Goldfinch, 2 Dunnock and 6 Magpie. On the way back we called in at Newton Marsh. We counted 28 Black Tailed Godwit along with a Heron, 2 Shellduck and the usual Moorhen, Coot and Mallard.

Brockholes Quarry 24th May 2009

With the pending trip to Scotland this week we decided to stick local and paid two trips down to Brockholes Quarry, the first being at 09:00 with the hope of seeing more of the warblers and maybe even the Hobby that has being showing over the past few days.
As we walked the approach road we heard the distinctive call of a Sedge Warbler and after a little watching one appeared the first of three that morning. Over the main pool at the same time a Sparrowhawk circled over, not sure if this is usual behaviour of the bird as all previous sightings have been in flight. The Jay showed for us again on the fence but soon disappeared as a lifted the camera, a bit camera shy I think but I’ll get a good shot of it one day. Further along views of the main pool brought us 1 Shellduck, 10 Black-Headed Gull, 7 Lapwing and a Pied Wagtail. No sign of the usual waders but different times bring different birds. Onto Pit No. 1 from the second lay-by and again no waders but we did manage 1 Greater Black Backed Gull, 8 Lesser Black Backed Gull, 8 Greylag, 1 Reed Bunting, the usual Tufted Duck and Canada Geese as well as 3 Buzzard showing well.
We then moved to a small area near the main buildings that contains some marsh and a small expanse of water. 2 Oystercatcher, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Mute Swan, 2 Mallard and a Wagtail. A bit of an argument to what it was as it was in flight when we saw it, Reece suggested Grey were as I say Pied, both are seen in the area so we still don’t know. It was then we moved back to the main pool walking the east end in search of warblers but as much as we heard their calls all we saw was a Reed Bunting.
We then joined several other birders in search of the Hobby but a good half hour search of the skies only brought more Buzzards with a total of 10 for the morning.
Chatting with the other birders we’ve found some new areas to explore to increase our life lists and hope to be reporting on them in the coming months. Last spot of the morning was an area of reeds we’d been told Reed Warbler had been seen and when we arrived we could hear at least two. Sitting amongst the grass for fifteen minutes only brought sight of one but that was enough for a reasonable morning birding even though we didn’t see the Hobby.

The second trip to Brockholes Quarry was at 18:30 and the waders seemed to be back on the main pool with 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Ringed Plover and 2 Dunlin and 2 Heron showing along the island edges. We then decided to sit on the west shore of No1 Pit for an hour and enjoy the last rays of a warm sun. 2 Great Crested Grebe were fishing, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Mute Swan with 2 signets, 4+ Reed Bunting and 1 Sedge Warbler.
There are a couple of Hawthorne bushes near the spot we sat and every time we are in the area we catch sight of a bird and also hear its call but have yet to ID it. It’s probably something we have seen before but we’d just love to know what it is. If you ID them please could you let us know?

Brockholes Quarry - 23rd May 2009

Another evening down at Brockholes Quarry again, seems to be becoming our local patch at the moment and not a bad patch either.
Only watched the main pool tonight, we spent most of it chatting with Mike.
Reece got a few good sightings the first being a male Hen Harrier that flew east over main pool. The other was a Buzzard (or was that a Kestrel Reece?) hugging the thermals over the A59.
Showing on the main pool this time was the Common Sandpiper we saw for the first time the night before last, along with 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 5 Oystercatcher, 2 female Teal and 3 Gadwall.

Brockholes Quarry - 21st May 2009

Bright sunlight tonight so we thought we’d head down for an hour to see what was showing. Had a good look around the main pit to see what we could find and all we could come up with was the 2 Teal (male & female) from last night and 2 Gadwall.
Over to the No. 1 Pit and things improved. From the bench at the second lay-by you get a good view of the edge of the pit where the waders (if any about) tend to feed.
We got good views of 2 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 1 Oystercatcher and 1 Common Sandpiper, a lifer for us both.

Brockholes Quarry - 20th May 2009

An hour down at Brockholes in the rain this evening though it wasn’t raining when we left home. On the approach road saw a Roe Deer watching us before nipping over the fence and disappearing into the trees. Also along the road were a Jay that soon moved off as we came close and a Willow Warbler.
On the main pool we sighted 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Teal and a single Knot, no sign of the other 2 that were with it last time we were there.
Over on the No.1 Pit amongst the usual sightings was a Little Ringed Plover.
We are hoping to spend some time there on Sunday during the day to see if we can see the Green Woodpecker (a lifer for Reece) and other reported sightings that seem to show through the day.

Field House Farm, Brancaster & Titchwell Marsh - 19th May 2009

Well I managed to take my own advice and get a little birding in whilst at work. I was working on a farm near Brancaster, north Norfolk and not only had a few sightings on the farm but also managed to get up to Titchwell Marsh for an hour, a local RSPB reserve. On the farm I watched a Pied Wagtail whilst working and 2 Goldfinch joined it on the ground for a few minutes. Also plenty of Swallow and House Martin hunting flies over a nearby field and 2 Swift flew over before I left. Other sightings included Woodpigeon, Oystercatcher, Jackdaw, Pheasant, Skylark and Chaffinch. I then headed down to Titchwell Marsh for an hour and was directed by one of the wardens to a couple of hides were I might have some good sightings.
First I headed to the Fen Hide in hope to see the Bittern which has been showing well lately, but as my Leighton Moss experiences show the bird eludes me. No sign of the Bearded Tit whilst I was there either another bird I always seem to miss out on at Leighton Moss. I did manage to see 4 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler (there seemed to be a lot around with calls coming from everywhere) and a male Blackcap. The Marsh Harrier was also showing though very distant. Onto the Parrinder Hide were you have good view of both marshes. I sat down made myself comfortable and spotted my first lifer for the day. I must add I asked the RSPB warden to ID it for me but there it was an Artic Tern along with a Common Tern. Very similar birds, as was pointed out the Artic have shorter legs and only a slight tip of black on the end of its bill. Plenty of Avocet around, flying between the 2 marshes and 20+ Turnstone feeding on one of the small islands. A flock of 30+ Brent Geese flew in joining the Gadwall, Shellduck, Shoveler and 70+ Black-Tailed Godwit.
The Marsh Harrier showed further and a Little Egret flew over as I left.
I didn’t have a lot of time and will look to go back as there if possible.

It was then back to the farm just to check on things before the long drag back. I was just entering the farm track when I spotted several crows mobbing something. I stopped to take a quick look and saw the best sight of the day. 4 Carrion crows were mobbing a Marsh Harrier which in turn was mobbing a Honey Buzzard. Had to check several books to confirm the ID but the wing patterns and size compared with the Harrier made it a certain ID. I see a lot of Buzzard on my travels and it was slightly larger and different wing patterns. I did grab my camera but had no chance of even getting a record photo with the my lens, need to be saving for that Sigma!

Brockholes Quarry 17-05-09

An hour down at Brockholes Quarry between showers brought Reece his 4th lifer of the day with 3 Knot showing well while we were there. Going to have to stop taking him with me or at least try and fit a little birding in whilst I’m travelling for work!
Along with the Knot we saw 1 Curlew, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Ringed Plover and a male and female Gadwall.

Bradshaw Lane @ Stakepool, Conder Lake & Leighton Moss - 17th May 09

We managed to get in three sites today with more lifers for the pair of us plus Howard, a birding friend in tow.
First stop was Bradshaw Lane, Stakepool a place we'd been told about by Mike. The place itself is a farm track where a local farmer puts out some seed and can be viewed from a lay-by at the end of the track without getting out of your car.
2 lifers for Reece with more than one of each Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer on view with the latter singing its distinctive ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’ call.
Also feeding were 4 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 2 Robin, 1 Greenfinch and 8+ Chaffinch. In the local fields were 5+ Lapwing, 2 Oystercatcher (1 on its nest) and 6 Shellduck as well as Swift and Swallow gracing the air.

Next a brief visit to Condor Lake, and as soon as we pulled up Reece spotted 2 Black-Tailed Godwit feeding on the banks of the creek. Further investigation and a few photographs later and we added 3 Redshank, 1 Ringed Plover and several Shellduck. On the lake were 3 more Redshank, Tufted Duck and Mute Swan.
Turning back onto the main road we spotted a further 25 Black-Tailed Godwit feeding so pulling up, Reece grabbed as many photo’s as he could. Finally onto Leighton Moss, we’ve been here a few times now but always missed out on the Allen and Eric Morecambe Hides. This time we headed straight there, wanting to see the Little Gull we had been told had been spotted there the previous day.
Searching out between the many nesting Black Headed Gulls we spotted 2 Little Gull feeding on the distant islands. Also from the Allen hide we sighted 4 Avocet, 4 Gadwall, 5 Shoveler, 5 Shellduck, Oystercatcher and a single Pochard with plenty of Swift overhead.
Onto the Eric Morecambe hide were we saw better views of one of the Little Gulls, 6 Pochard, 2 Avocet, 5 Shellduck, 2 Greater Black Backed Gull (Mating), 5 Shoveler, 2 Curlew and a Buzzard.
As we left we heard a Lesser Whitethroat but as much as we tried we couldn’t add it to our life lists. That’s the thing about summer all the leaves grow back and obstruct the view of the returning migrants!

Brockholes Quarry 14th May 2009

Been away for a few days so no birding as such but managed a few sightings on my travels. A pair of Red Legged Partridge wandering across a farm road near Brancaster then a single Red Grouse while heading across snake pass, both lifers. Also managed 3 Red Kite on the way down the M40 between Oxford services and High Wycombe, this stretch is always a good place to see them and I’m sure I’d have seen more if it hadn’t been raining.

Received an email from Mike last night letting me know about Black Tern at Brockholes Quarry and hoping not to be disappointed we headed up there tonight.
I’d checked the forum and 4 had been seen during the morning so was a little hopeful.
Arrived just after 7.00pm and joined the others to watch 5 (3 male and 2 female I was informed) Black Tern feeding over No. 1 pit. Also on No.1 pit were 5 Ringed Plover flying low over the water but not really settling anywhere. After an hour we headed back to the main pit where 8 Whimbrel where present before we left at 8.45pm. Also sighted were another 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plover and a Curlew. There was also a Garganey on the main pit though we didn’t see it when we looked for it as we left. A Roe Deer moved from the trees across the road and then over the main bit as we were leaving. Not sure if it was a young male, if you know please let us know.

Brockholes Quarry 10th May 2009

Not a pre-planned visit but with me being away some of this week and Reece’s rugby training we wouldn’t get chance to see the last of the Whimbrel, so off we went.
What an end to a good day birding, as we walked down the road we caught up with Stephen (from the Preston Society) who pointed in the direction of a Red Necked Grebe on No. 1 pit. Heading up to the viewing point we joined Mike and another couple who pointed it out to us. We got good views for about half an hour or so though most of the time its head was down, only briefly coming up as geese flew close overhead. The sun was also in our faces so getting any photographs was impossible.
After final dragging ourselves away we spent the rest of the evening watching the main pit. Not many Whimbrel in with only 8 showing up until 9pm, 20 had been reported in and out earlier. Also on the main pit were 2 Teal (male and female), 1 Little Ringed Plover, 7 Sand Martin, 3 Oystercatcher, 2 Greylag, 3 Curlew, 1 Cormorant, 5 Heron, 25 Swift, 2 Pheasant and a Roe Deer near the gate as we left.

Heysham Power Station & Leighton Moss 10th May 2009

Well we thought we’d make a day of it and it turned out to be a good one with 8 lifers for Reece and 4 for myself but more of that later.

Arrived at Heysham power station about quarter past nine, we had planed on a very early start but had been told sightings were better with the tide coming in rather than out. Walking down to the harbour mouth we sighted Goldfinch, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Greenfinch, Long Tailed Tit, Blue Tit and Chaffinch.
Along the front of the power station were Lesser Black Backed, Black Headed, Common and Herring Gull as well as a single Whimbrel.

At the harbour mouth we saw our first lifer with a Black Guillimot swimming around at the end of the jetty with a second sat on the jetty with 2 Turnstone (Reece’s second lifer). Other sightings from the harbour mouth included Cormorant, Shag, 20+ Turnstone and Oystercatcher 500+ flying across the bay to roost further down the coast. On our walk back amongst the starling and swallow we noticed what we at first put down as a Pied Wagtail but having looked at the photos and our Collins British Bird book what we actually saw was another lifer, a White Wagtail. How many have I misidentified over the years?

Driving on up to Leighton Moss we spotted Eider 10+ on Morecambe Bay and 2 Buzzard further north along the A6.

At Leighton Moss we didn’t have as much time as we hoped but managed a little time in most of the hides. At the feeders we logged Marsh, Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Bullfinch (all Male), Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and a Grey Squirrel.

Around the hides we sighted Marsh Harrier 5 (though we saw them across 4 hides so not sure if 1 or 2 were the same bird), Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Cormorant, Coot, Moorhen, Black Headed and Greater Black Backed Gull, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Shellduck, Pochard, Little Egret, Raven, Heron and Lapwing. Reece also spotted a Water Vole as well as the 2 Red Deer we saw from one of the hides.

Also ran into Mike as we were leaving, hope you had the rest of a good day and may see you down at Brockholes later.

Brockholes Quarry 8th May 2009

Out on my own tonight, so no log book as Reece usually logs everything. My memory isn’t as good as it was (not that it ever was good!) but here goes.

As I arrived 2 Curlew headed south over the river and a mix of about 30 House Martin, Swallow and Sand Martin were feeding over the Ribble.

Swifts were back in number tonight with 150+ sighted along the road and over the main pit. The usual Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen and Mallard were scattered across the main pit.

The Whimbrel numbers have dropped considerably since my visit on Wednesday with 8 leaving soon after I arrived and only a further 20 showing before I left at 9.
The Sanderling was still showing though on the main pit now plus 6 Dunlin and a Ringed Plover.

Brockholes Quarry 6th May 2009

We spent an hour and a half down there tonight mainly watching the main pit.
Only managed to see 108 Whimbrel tonight, and 20 of those headed north just before nine after a very noisy half hour or so.

Other sightings on the main pit included, 8 Dunlin, 5 Lapwing, 1 Shoveler, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 female Teal, 1 Heron, 5 Oystercatcher, and 10+ Tufted Duck.
With 31 Swift and 3 House Martin overhead, some Sand Martin were around but we didn’t manage to spot any.

On the other large pit we were pointed in the direction of a Sanderling, a lifer for us both as well as 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Great Black Backed Gull.

We were told about the decline of the Slender-Billed Curlew and how sightings should be reported. This came up because of their similarity to the Whimbrel. Any one interested in how to identify them and who to report the sightings to use the following links (thanks Mike).


Marton Mere, Stanley Park & Newton Marsh - 4th May 2009

Not a great day for birding with all the rain but we headed out none the less.
First stop was Marton Mere with the hope of seeing the many warblers that have been reported to have returned to the area.
As usual we were to be disappointed with the warbler count with only Chiffchaff and Sedge Warbler making an appearance. Others were around but with the wind and rain they were keeping out of sight if not silent. We weren’t disappointed with the lifers though with 3 for me and 4 for Reece (one still to be confirmed but I think from the look of the photo we’re including it for now), Linnet, Lesser Redpoll and Sedge Warbler plus Ruddy Duck for Reece.

Possible Lesser Redpoll sighting
Ruddy Duck

Other sightings on and around the Mere included a female Greater Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Lapwing, Mute Swan, 3 Cormorant, 3 Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, 50+ Swallow, 14 Swift, 50+ House Martin, 5 Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tit, Dunnock, Wren, Kestrel, 3 Heron, 2 Greylag and Reed Bunting.

Next was down to Stanley Park, our first visit and though not a good one I’m sure we’ll be back. Had a good view of the Heronry counting 18 amongst the nests. We also noted a single Pink Footed, Greylag, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe and Wren.

On the way back we paid a brief visit to Newton Marsh with only a Redshank and 2 Bar Tailed Godwit of any note.

Brinscall to White Coppice - 3rd May 2009

We took a trip up to Brinscall to take the walk to White Coppice hoping to see the Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker and Redstart we’d been told are in the area.
We arrived just after lunch which I think was a mistake as there were plenty of walkers around, some with dogs (nothing against them we walk and have 2 dogs) so I think next time it will be at least a morning start.

We took the path following the Goit to White Coppice cricket ground, plenty of woodland to hopefully see plenty of birds. No such luck, plenty calling but the most we saw were a Curlew overhead, a pair of Song Thrush feeding under a holly tree and 2 Mistle Thrush on the grass embankment near the cricket ground. The joy of summer birding in woodlands is trying to spot them calling amongst the trees.

Anyway undeterred we stopped for a brew at the café at the cricket club before heading back via moorland. A few more sightings on the way back which included Meadow and Tree Pipit, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Heron and Pied Wagtail. Also saw 2 Roe Deer amongst the long grass though they soon moved on when walkers appeared
No sign of the trio of birds we wanted to see but hey thats birding.