RSPB - Big Garden Birdwatch - 29th January 2011

As everyone no doubt knows this weekend is RSPBs big garden birdwatch when you report the birds seen in your garden over an hour period. I sat down after topping up the feeders and getting rid of my own and next doors cats (not literally). I don't get anything too exciting in on my feeders with only having a back yard with a few feeders on a tree and some seeded brown bread and suet scattered on top of my shed. Sightings across the hour included 1 Dunnock, 3 Goldfinch, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Robin,  2 Blue Tit, 1 Starling 5 Blackbird and 1 Song Thrush. Though I don't keep a 'back yard list' the Song Thrush was a first, feeding on the bread and suet. Anyone wanting to take part in the survey can find further details here RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Back to see the Red-necked Grebe - 23rd January 2011

 The plan was to head up to Lytham to try and get some better photographs of the Red-necked Grebe that seems to be enjoying the delights of Fairhaven Lake of late. On the way up I called in at Preston Docks to see the over wintering juvenile Iceland Gull but a quick scan over the water revealed nothing. So back in the car and off up to Lytham where I bumped into Robin who'd had the same idea as me. A quick look over the fence and the Grebe was easy to pick out as it dived for food. We headed down to the lakes edge and watched it diving and feeding often being mobbed by other birds as it fed.
As well as the Grebe Coot, Mallard, and Tufted Duck frequented the lake as well as various gulls and a pair of Merganser. The Merganser seemed to spend most of their time diving and were often surrounded by oppertunistic junvenile Herring Gulls looking for an easy meal.
Next was a quick trip to Lytham Cemetery to see the resident Ring-necked Parakeet. I often see them when I'm down in London but have never had chence to photograph them before and the 6 birds that were present were more than happy to hang around to be photographed.
On the way home we decided to call back in at Preston Docks and see if the Iceland Gull was back. After a five minute scan and a long look at a juvenile Herring Gull it finally turned up on the water amongst c50 Black-headed Gull. Unlike previous visits to see the bird when it seemed to keep itself to iteself on this visit it seemed to be quite aggressive often using bullying tactics to obtain a quick meal from other Gulls.

I knew I should have brought my camera! - 21st January 2011

Things have been very quiet on the birding front so far this year for me with just a trip out on New Years Day along the Ribble Estuary with Colin Bushell and friends which I didn't get around to blogging but was a great 4 hours birding and a quick trip up to Fairhaven Lake to see the Red-necked Grebe. On Friday the 21st I was working away in Southampton and had just shut the boot on the car when I heard what has become a familar call over the last few months. It didn't click at first what the call was but as I turned to look in the nearby trees I counted 12 Waxwing. Now I've wanted to see Waxwing for years and last year was the first time I managed this with the large influx in the Preston area but Southampton was the last place I suspected to see them and without even trying. The light was great and they didn't seem to be bothered by the workers that were smoking almost under the trees. My next thought was to get yet some more photographs but as the title suggests...................

Red-necked Grebe,Fairhaven Lake - 9th January

It was late afternoon when Mrs G and I arrived at Fairhaven Lake with our 3 border collies. The plan was to walk the dogs and hopefully get a few shots of the Red-necked Grebe that has been on the lake for about a week now. It was quite distant when we arrived but I managed a few shots before the boys decided they'd had enough and wanted to move on. It turns out these were my best shots even though I got closer views as I left but with the sun going down behind the sand dunes I struggled to focus in the fading light. At least a few record shots more than I got when one visited Brockholes on 10th May 2009.