Local Patch, Warblers & Butterflies - 29th April 2011

I managed a few trips up to the local patch the first being on the way back from an early walk with the dogs at Cuerden Valley Park. On the way up I’d heard a Willow Warbler calling by the top kissing gate and more were heard on Cuerden itself as well as a Whitethroat calling near the paddock and Chiffchaff calling around the park.
On the way back through as well as the usual calling Chiffchaff there were 2 calling Whitethroat and 2 other Whitethroat in the area where 2 successfully nested last year which was a good sign and prompted a return visit with the camera.
Though I heard 2 Whitethroat calling the nesting pair were very elusive and it took a 45 minute wait sat in the long grass before I got the few shots shown.
Though the wind was up there were several species of butterfly in evidence and I came across a single Blue-tailed Damselfly which I think is a little early for them and the first dragonfly/damselfly I have seen this season though I have been checking the Dragonfly Pond at Cuerden regularly.

Short-toed Lark - Fleetwood Nature Reserve 25th April 2011

Lancashires first Short-toed Lark was reported on the 24th and Zac told me about it whist we were counting the Whimbrel in at Brockholes. I checked Birdguides in the morning and it had been reported early so we took a flyer and headed out. After dropping Mrs G at freeport we picked up the bird on a stone path just out of reach with the camera but giving good views through the scope. The local dog walkers were being petty good in staying away from the area but there is always one even though she could see c20 birders watching the area she ploughed on regardless. The bird of course took to the sky at first heading away, I managed to stay on it as it circled and headed over the top of us relocating at the edge of the model airplane field. I manage a few photos before heading back, also picked up a Lesser Whitethoat on the reserve a second lifer on the day for us both.

Whimbrel Roost - Brocholes Nature Reserve - 24th April 2011

Brockholes Nature Reserve is a well known site to see this passing migrant as they make they way to Iceland from their North Afican wintering grounds. Slightly smaller the resident Curlew and distinguished by the stripe above its eye they roost in ever increasing numbers between the end of April and mid May. Last nights count was 89 birds with 2 Curlew amongst them before the light faded at 21.00. Wimbrel numbers and other sightings from the site can be found on their facebook site Brockholes Sightings (this page is run by birders and not LWT)


Cuerden Valley Park - Easter Weekend

On the Friday I headed up to see the Dipper at 7am and after waiting for 15 minutes it appeared preaning on a rock sticking above the water line of the river lostock. It wasn't even disturbed by a local bin wagon that was emptying local skips, it just continued to preen and dip on the rock before flying down river and beyon sight.
There was the usual woodland birds on several early morning walks over the weekend including many Chiffchaff calling but the other warblers have either passed through or are staying quiet at the moment especially on Stags Lodge where Blackcap and Willow Warbler have been seen this year but not in the past week. Another missing warbler is the Whitethroat which bred successfully last year but there's time yet. The local Buzzard past over yesterday along with 6 Oystercatchers which are local to home but I've never seen them on the patch before. Butterflies are starting to emerge with Orange Tip, Small White, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell in evidence in various numbers.

Back Yard Birding 16/17th April 2011

I was laughed at this morning as I put a large clump of Jaspers (one of my border collies) winter under coat that I had brushed off him on to the feeding pole. This afternoon though the laugh as on me as Reece spotted this Blue Tit collecting it to line its nest and I watched as it returned several times to collect about a third of what I'd put out.
Yesterday we had a pair of Coal Tit visiting the feeders for the first time this year and this stunning Starling is a regular visitor to the fat ball.

Brockholes Nature Reserve LWT - 10th April 2011


With the weather being the best it has been all year I decided to head down to Brockholes in hope of getting some passing migrants and re-build my collection of phototgraphs after loosing my hard drive recently. Though I heard a Chiffcaff there was no sign of any other warblers though Willow, Blackcap and Whitethroat have all been reported so far this year. No1 Pit had 2 Ringed Plover and 2 Common Sandpiper on the spits as well as Greater Black Backed Gull, Cormorant, Tufted Duck, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Lapwing and Greylag. I deceided to take a walk down to the Ribble in the attempt of getting some Sand Martin shots with not much luck. The one below was about the best of the 50+ I took of the c50 Sand Martins that were present. No sign of any Wheatear though a few have been reported but there were several Reed Bunting males and Tree Sparrow as well as a male Kestrel mobbing a Carion crow.
Butterflies are starting to appear more frequently with Small White, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock, the latter being very aggressive towards the other species.

Dipper @ Cuerden Valley Park - 9th April 2011

I finally took the advice of some of the blog readers and visited Kem Mill at 7 this morning with hope of finding the Dipper. I wasn’t disappointed as it appeared within seconds of my arrival so I took the opportunity to take plenty of photos at close range as it hunted along the river lostock. It wasn’t until I checked through my photos as I awaited its return that I realised I hadn’t turned the image stabiliser on so some very poor results. I watched the stretch for about 45 minutes and early on it kept flying in and out so there is a possibility it could be rearing young close by. Other sightings included Chiffchaff, Wren, Great & Blue Tit, Mallard and a Treecreeper ( IS turned on!)


After my brief visit to Kem Mill I headed up to Stags Lodge with the dogs where on the previous evening I’d seen my first Willow Warbler on the patch. It was still calling in the morning on the bank of the river lostock where a male Black Cap was also calling again the first on the patch for the year. Other sightings included Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Carrion Crow, Canada Geese, Mallard, Coot, Magpie, Blue and Great Tit.

I also spotted a Blue Tit entering one of the traffic lights at the A49/A6 crossroad, one nested there last year so with any look it will again this year and I’ll try for some photos.

The feeders have been busy and Great and Blue Tits have now returned after not being around for several weeks after the tree was cut down. It also looks like we have a pair of Dunnock in a conifer hedge at the other side of the ginnel, the male has spent most of the day calling its alarm call due to our cat lazing in the sun on top of our shed.


Marshside RSPB - 2nd April 2010

 I finally managed to visit Marshside RSPB today to try and see the Lesser Scaup that has been reported there over the past few weeks. I wasn't to be dissapointed as it sat on the junction pool fast asleep for at least the hour and a half that I was there.

It was a nice tick though i was a little disappointed that it didn't wake up during the visit. Other species noted on my visit were Chiffchaff, Wheatear, Meadowpipit, Skylark, Little Egret, Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit.
The local patch has brought up a couple of new species for the year with a Sparrowhawk and Grey Herron on the patch last night as Reece and I walked the dogs. For a full list of our years sightings click 'LOCAL PATCH' at the top of the blog.
Earlier in the week I was working at Whitstable Harbour and though I didn't have my gear with me saw quite a few nice birds. 30+ Turnstone on the side of the Harbour and then later in the day on the beach and on both occasions gave good photo opportunities though as usual I didn't have my camera. Gulls included Herring, Common and Black-headed though all in small numbers, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, House Sparrow could be seen around the harbour and a single Swallow flew over at lunch, my first of the year. A Great Crested Grebe was out on the sea amongst the Gulls.