Heysham and Conder Pool - 31st August 2009

I made my way straight out to the wooden jetty taking a quick look over red nab rock and both of the outflows. Beyond red nab rock were c200 oystercatcher and a mix of gulls mostly Black-headed. Stage two outflow had plenty of gulls again mostly Black Headed and a few Juvenile gulls that I don’t have the knowledge to identify and having left my camera behind …….. I did manage to pick out one Gull and having made a few notes and checking in one of my many books I’d identified my first 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull. On the wooden jetty itself there were mainly Cormorant and again a number of juvenile gulls, I also managed to pick out 2 Greater Black Backed Gull whilst scanning the area. There were several flocks of Oystercatcher moving across the bay as well as Curlew and a single Common Tern. I’d loved to have stayed longer as the predicted rain hadn’t yet arrived and the wind seemed to be blowing into the bay so a possibility of something interesting arriving but I had to be back for lunch and wanted to call in at Conder Pool before heading home.
Parking up I took a look down the estuary and amongst half a dozen Redshank I spotted a Wood Sandpiper of which I digi-scoped a poor photo with my mobile.
Wood Sandpiper in the forground on the right
On the edge of the grass were several Curlew and a Snipe made a brief appearance as well as a Herron.
Curlew courtesy of Mike Foley
On and around the pool itself were Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Redshank, House Martin, Tufted Duck, Cormorant and 2 Little Grebe.
As I made my way back to the car a quick look up the estuary brought a single Spotted Redshank feeding on the far bank.
Spotted Redshank courtesy of Mike Foley

Brockholes Wetland LWT - 30th August 2009

We spent 2 hours down there at lunch time hoping to see something passing through, but nothing out of the ordinary to report. A Little Grebe, a Green Sandpiper and a Spotted Flycatcher were reported before we arrived but no sign of them while we were there. As usual spent most of our time looking over the main pit with a quick view over No. 1 Pit from the top layby before we left. Plenty of Teal on show as well as a single Shoveler, 2 Shellduck and 4 Goosander flew in and out. Up to 6 Buzzard were spotted in the distance over the woods and Cormorant were showing well at the end of Pit No 1 as well as the main pit.

Stocks Reservoir - 29th August 2009

Another new site for us and a friend and fellow birder, Howard joined us for a few hours in the rain. We weren’t really sure what to expect as we sat in the first hide but a quick glance around with the bins and Reece got a lifer when he spotted 5 Red Grouse at the far side of the reservoir. There were c30 Cormorant also on the far bank along with both Black Headed, Lesser Black Backed and Herring Gull as well as a Pied Wagtail flitting along the shore. A couple of Teal and Tuffted Duck drifted along the water and Mallard were around in numbers. Out of the right hand window of the hide a Common Sandpiper was feeding at the shores edge and c16 Barnacle Geese were feeding at the far end. It was then we spotted a juvenile Peregrine feeding on a bird, not sure what kind as it was distant even with the scope. It didn’t stay long as the Gulls that brought it to our attention continued to mob it.

A brief stop in the rain and we decided to move along to the other hide. Reece spotted a flock of Tits that included Coal, Long Tailed, Blue and Great moving along the trees as well as a single Willow Warbler and a Wren singing in the scrub.
From the second hide we didn’t see much more as the views were similar though we did spot a female Kestrel perched on a dead branch, probably like us waiting for the rain to stop.

We’d like to say thanks to those who read and leave comments on our blog. Any feedback on sightings or places to visit are greatly received.

                                         Derek & Reece

Campfield Marsh RSPB - 26th August 2009

A little off the beaten track is a little of an understatement, it seemed to take as long to get to this out of the way RSPB site from the M6 as it did to travel up the M6 from home. The drive there brought great views of the Solway estuary and I’m sure on a good day there would plenty to see if we knew where to stop. The site is quite a walk so with time not on our side we decided to just take a look from the hide and see what the sea views brought us. On the walk up to the hide there are various view points and with a brief stop at them all we didn’t see much, I’m sure this isn’t usual for the site and on a better day when the weather isn’t so miserable there should be plenty to see. From the hide we weren’t disappointed when soon after we sat down c100 Lapwing took to the air as a Peregrine flew over and landed in the distant trees. We watched the Peregrine for about 20 minutes before it flew off towards the masts. On the marsh it apart from the Lapwing there were Greylag, Teal and Mallard.

Down on the shore were c50 Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Cormorant, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and c50 Redshank. There’s a small pool where amongst the Lapwing I spotted a Bar-tailed Godwit, a first for both of us. Reece spent his time looking for both Golden and Grey Plover but neither showed for the hour and half we spent watching the coastline.

I have heard the area is good for sea watching but not quite sure the best time and place to go. If anyone knows the area we’d be more than appreciative if you could get in touch via email or a comment

Brockholes Wetland LWT - 24th August 2009

Arrived at Brockholes about 7 and we were both gob smacked about the amount of cars parked up. Surely the Wilsons hadn’t turned up or maybe something else? Parked at the back of the queue to be greeted by the Preston Society outing.

A quick chat with Mike informed us of the Green Sandpiper and Whimbrel we’d just missed but hey ho it happens.
We stayed around the main pit with nothing much to report though there seemed to be quite a few Herron around. Teal are increasing in numbers and 4 Widgeon mid moult have arrived over the last day or so. Cormorant were dotted around in small numbers with a few seen in flight as well as a Curlew.

Ring-necked Duck - Westport Lake - 24th August 2009

Another visit to a Staffordshire site on my way home from work today, and yet another lifer. I’d seen before I left that there was a Ring-necked Duck at Westport Lake nr Stoke on Trent. A quick walk around the lake brought various wildfowl sightings including the usual Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Canada Geese and Greylag. Also plenty of Coot around in fact I’d say similar numbers to my local patch of Brockholes Quarry. Now to Ring-necked Duck, I sighted it amongst the Tufted though it was hard to pick out as they were mid moult, it was the bill that gave it away.

I did have my camera with me but as it was absolutely pouring down I’d left it in the car, so no chance of any photo's. There are several discussions on the inter web saying it may be a hybrid but after reading through I’ve added it to my list. The best argument I found on the West Midlands Birding site along with some superb photo’s.

Now off to Brockholes as I’ve read reports the Wilsons Phalarope was seen heading NE from Marshside RSPB this afternoon………………

Martin Mere WWT - 22nd August 2009

A couple of hours up at Martin Mere late this afternoon brought us both a rare tick with a Wilsons Phalarope sowing well from the Ron Barker hide. It had been flitting between there and the Swan Link hide all day and this time our luck was in as we joined a full hide watching it feed amongst the Teal. Also around were 2 Buzzard in the distance sat on a fence and a juvenile Hen Harrier meandering along in the distant fields. A Water Rail dipped in and out of the reed bed and Reece managed a quick view before it disappeared for good. There were c100 Lapwing and 5 Snipe feeding amongst them as well as a single Avocet.

Wilsons Phalarope feeding next to Teal taken through a scope with a mobile phone

Brockholes Wetland - 16th August 2009

Just an hour down at Brockholes tonight which brought a possible pair of Scaup. They were molting so not 100% but the Male had a dirty grey back and no tuft was present so both Reece and I were in agreement with Mike. Just a single Kestrel hunting, 2 Teal, over 50 Coot and even more Mallard. No sign of the Garganey but it has been reported today so was probably amongst the Mallard, also reported today were 3 Shoveler, 2 Redshank and a Greenshank.
No sign of any waders whilst we were there until we headed for the car and 2 Whimbrel flew around the main pool before heading over to Pit No 1.

Marshside RSPB - 10th August 2009

After a lunchtime text from Mike we headed up to Marshside to see the Wood Sandpiper that has been showing well since Friday.
Reece spotted it pretty much straight away after climbing out the car and wandering over to the viewing fence. Also around the area were 50+ Black Tailed Godwit, 10 Curlew, 6 Dunlin, Greylag and Canada Geese, and the usual Gulls.
Also showing well were 6 Kestrel hunting across the marsh to the left of Marine Rd.

'Twitching' the Great Grey Shrike & Haweswater's Golden Eagle - 9th August 2009

With all the other blogers having been up to see the Great Grey Shrike at Alston golf club car park we finally had time to make the journey ourselves. Mike had been up on Monday and it was showing well for the 3 hours he was there but we’d also heard from several sources someone had dipped it on Wednesday. Sources had also said it had been in the area since Easter so for it to have moved on would be very unlikely. So armed with directions and a photo of the valley it was showing we headed off to ‘twitch’ (there’s that word again Reece!) the Shrike.
We found the place easy enough and soon after we set up and had a look around a local came over for a chat. He confirmed what we had been told that the bird had been around for a while and there were plenty of birders there last weekend watching it. Well for the second time this year we missed out on a Shrike, not to worry I’m sure there’ll be another around soon, we’ll just have to get on it a little sooner next time.

Great Grey Shrike taken on 3rd August 2009 by Mike Foley

We did manage Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Rook and a Dunnock before we decided to head off.
After parking up at the car park at Haweswater we headed around the reservoir towards the viewpoint. Wheatear were showing very well mostly females and juvenile and a single female Redstart appeared on one of the bushes briefly.

The only thing we saw on the reservoir was a female Red Breasted Merganser. On the hike up to the viewpoint itself was a large flock of Meadow Pipit and there were several species showing amongst a small copse to the left of the path, but all we could ID was Chaffinch and Greenfinch. The light wasn’t in the best direction and from the photo’s we took the ID of the others are inconclusive. Well on to the viewpoint and our discussion was of the first words of the RSPB ranger ‘It was seen just five minutes ago’. Not this time though, the ranger had just spotted it before we arrived and a quick look through the scope showed it sat in a tree half way up the left side of the valley. It soon took to the air and flew up the right side of the valley to its peak, landing on occasions before taking to the air again. Not sure if the several Raven that were in the air around it were annoying it but it soon disappeared into the next valley. We hung around to see if it would reappear to no avail but did manage a herd of deer, possibly red but not 100% sure, further down the valley. All in all not a bad day even if we did miss the Shrike, Reece managed one of his must see birds with the Golden Eagle.

Fairhaven Lake - 6th August 2009

It was more of an outing with the dogs than a trip out bird watching but we’d armed ourselves with our binoculars and the camera just in case anything interesting showed up. Travelling up we saw one of the nesting Common Tern over Preston Dock, we’ll have to call in soon to see how the chicks are doing if they’ve not fledged already!
Along the beach at Fairhaven Lake we noted a couple of Curlew and Oystercatcher as well as the usual Gulls, mostly Black Headed in various plumages. Amongst the sand dunes were several flocks of different species including Linnet, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit and one or two we couldn’t identify because of distance and light. On the lake itself the only bird of interest was a moulting Tufted Duck.

Martin Mere 2nd August 2009

We spent the morning up at Martin Mere starting down at the Ron Barker Hide. With upstairs looking pretty full we sat alone downstairs hoping for some waders and birds of prey. It was hard to see across the islands being downstairs but we did manage Avocet and a Water Rail feeding down at the edge of the reeds. 2 Whooper Swan were feeding by the dyke and a Marsh Harrier flew over but didn’t hang around.
Apart from Redshank, Teal and Shoveler the only other notable sighting of the morning was a tawny Owl roosting at the top of a pine tree near the Kingfisher Hide.
Also plenty of species of butterfly feeding on the Buddleia in front of the Kingfisher Hide.

In search of a Short Eared Owl & 2 Brockholes Wetland visits - 1st August 2009

First stop of the day was the edge of Darwen Moor via Crookfield Rd car park. I had been told about a Short Eared Owl that had been hunting by daylight in the area, though this was several weeks ago. We spent about an hour searching the area in the wet with not much to show apart from 3 Kestrel, Linnet, a little brown bird? and a large flock of Goldfinch. I’m not sure about other areas of the country but within a few miles of Bamber Bridge Goldfinch have done very well this summer.
With the weather in the area not looking like it was going to improve, no sign of the SE Owl and the fact we could see bright sunshine over Preston we made the decision to head over to Brockholes to see if we could catch any of the passing waders that have been reported recently.
We spent just over an hour searching the main pit with nothing out of the ordinary on show. Lapwing numbers were reduced with only 30 across the pit, 4 Oystercatcher were feeding around the island and Swift, Sand and House Martin and Swallow graced the air.
Along the approach road we spotted 3 Jay and a single Green Woodpecker whilst Reece picked out a Garganey taking a nap amongst the Mallard and a single Teal feeding on the far end.
Later down at Brockholes things improved slightly with 2 Common Sandpiper, 4 Little Ringed Plover and a Shoveler. Also a flock of 15 Long Tailed Tit made their way down the Trees bordering the approach road.