Category: Bamber Bridge Birder

Glaucous Gull, Southport Beach – 2nd January 2012

I spent my first day birding of the year at Southport beach with the intention of photographing the Gaucous Gull that has been reported from there for a while now. Reading on the internet and chatting to a few local birders suggested that the bird was ill but after catching up with it after a 2 hour search my thoughts are rather different. I’d been told it was very approachable and as I was able to get within 15m of the bird without causing it any due distress I’d agree which would maybe suggest there was a problem with the bird. As the photographs show the bill is rather red suggesting it has recently fed and there seemed to be no problem with it as it took to the air joining a throng of other gulls as an ignorant dog walker flushed it TWICE!!  I wouldn’t mind but it was quite obvious that about 10 birders with a variety of scopes, binoculars and cameras were looking at a large Gull that was on its own sat on the grass as she trundled through flushing the Gull and not satisfied with that she let her dog off within meters of were the Gull had landed thus flushing it again! I don’t tar all dog walkers with the same brush, most stayed away or even took an interest, and one couple even photographed it with their phone. Rant over.

 GLAUCOUS GULL – 2ND WINTER ACORDING TO MY HELM GUIDE
 BELOW TAKING FLIGHT FOR THE 2ND TIME
BELOW BLACK-HEADED GULL

Whilst searching for the Glaucous I came across a single Sanderling which seemed to have signs of oil on its underside. It didn’t seem to hinder the bird as it preened, fed and flew without any signs of a problem.

 ABOVE SANDERLING PREENING OIL PATCH, BELOW FEEDING

 

As I left a large flock of Twite (some ringed) fed near to the Weld Road car park, I estimated numbers of between 80 – 100 but have been corrected with a count of 122 by another birder who was there at the time.

PART OF THE LARGE FLOCK OF TWITE FEDING NEAR THE CAR PARK

2 ticks and updates – 16th December 2011

With 2 birds showing well in North Lancashire that I needed for my life list I spent the first day of a long weekend off work in search of them. The first stop was Leighton Moss RSPB and it didn’t take long to find the Glossy Ibis feeding at the edge of a flooded field near to the car park entrance of the Allens Hide. Scope views were good but only record shots were obtainable as the autofocus kept picking up the branches when I tried photographing it through a nearby hedge.

 ABOVE & BELOW GLOSSY IBIS

Next stop was Heysham Docks were a small number of Twite were feeding in the usual place. As I pulled up on the north side of the harbour. A quick scan along the edge as I walked up the entrance of the harbour brought 2 juvenile Shag and a Turnstone on the walk back. I found the Glaucous Gull at one of the outlets on the south side so views through the scope were good but no chance of any photographs. These views were disrupted as a dredger began work and I was unable to locate the bird for the remainder of my visit. 3 Little Gulls were a nice addition as well as c30 Kittewake.
 JUVENILLE SHAG

 ABOVE & BELOW KITTEWAKE – NOT SURE OF AGES

Even though the blogs been quite I have managed to get out on a few occasions mainly to Crossens-out Marsh with the hope of getting some photos of the Short-eared Owls but though I saw them the weather conditions made photography difficult. A tick with 4 European White-fronted Geese made the trips worthwhile.
Local patch additions included Fieldfare, Redwing and on the 17th December a flock of c20 Siskin which was a nice addition. Buzzard have been showing well recently with 2 giving good views again on the morning of the 17th. The disappointment has been the lack of the local Tawny Owl, it had been calling regularly up to a few weeks ago and I had seen it several times at dusk and dawn but things have been quite of late.



Wall Farm Nature Reserve, Shropshire – 4th November 2011

A call on Monday from Mike Foley prompted this trip down to Wall Farm near to Telford. A Steppe Grey Shrike had been reported from there (firstly identified as a Great Grey) and Mike managed to get down on Tuesday and as my work didn’t take me anywhere near I managed to take Friday off and take the 2 hour drive down to this small nature reserve. I must say I was a little worried as first as my trips to Shrikes have mostly proved fruitless over the years and as Bird Guides had reported the bird before 8.00 most of the week and it wasn’t until after 10.00 that it showed up on the report today. After parking up in the farmer’s field and dropping my £3.50 (all being donated to the British Legion) in the bucket I took the 10 minute walk down to the edge of the ploughed field from where the bird could be viewed.  It was quite distant at first, approximately 600m and though well out of range for photography it was easy to pick up with the scope. For the first 2 and a half hours it stayed at the bottom end of the field but stayed mainly in view occasionally dropping to the ground before returning to the hedgerow or to a high point on a bush or tree. Eventually it started to move closer and spent about half an hour around lunch time at about 400m where I was able to obtain a few record shots. I must admit with these or any other photos I’ve seen I’d struggle to distinguish it from the Great Grey Shrike and even looking in my reference books and the internet I’ve failed to gain any real knowledge about this species, a copy of Shrikes of the world is on its way. After about 4 hours I decided to head home happy that I’d added the Steppe to my Shrike list having only seen Great Grey and Brown I’ve still got a long way to go.

 Above the ploughed the Steppe Shrike could be viewed from, it didn’t even make it down as far as the two large trees in the centre of the photograph.
 Above you can just make out the white wing pattern, much larger than on the Great Grey Shrike

Brockholes LWT – 01st October 2011

With the weather being so nice (26 degees in October!!) Reece and I decided to have a wander around Brockholes for a couple of hours to see if anything good was anjoying the sun. In birding terms a Little Grebe, 4 Buzzard and a single Kestrel were about all of interest that we saw but Dragonflies were out in force. There were more species seen on the day by others but the main species we saw were Common Darter and Migrant Hawker which I’d first identified as a Common Hawker and there were possibly some present as in flight they are hard to tell apart (at least for me). As shown in the photograph below the Migrant Hawker has a a yellow triangle at the base of the abdomen.

ABOVE PAIR OF MIGRANT HAWKERS EGG LAYING BELOW THE YELLOW TRIANGLE OF THE MIGRANT HAWKER
Common Darters where in larger numbers both on the pools and sun bathing on the paths.
 ABOVE MALE & FEMALE COMMON DARTER IN A COPULATION WHEEL, BELOW MALE COMMON DARTER




Aston Rowant NNR – 2nd August 2011

I managed a second visit to this wonderful butterfly site in just over a week and what a difference. The temperature was around 25C  with very little wind and though it was cloudy the number of butterflies was treble the amount I saw on my previous visit.
Chalkhill Blue were flying in large numbers and were certainly the predominant species. Small Heath ans Small Copper numbers were up and I saw at least 10 Silver -Spotted Skippers which were not flying on my previous visit.

 Above the Silver-Spotted Skipper is common during its flying season at Aston Rowant and can be distinguished from other UK Skippers by the silver spots on its under wing.

 Above Essex Skipper below Large Skipper

The Large and Essex Skippers can be distinguished by the Essex Skippers black tip to the antenna.

  Above Small Copper below Small Heath

 Above Common Blue, below female Chalkhill Blue, bottom male Chalkhill Blue

 Top Small Tortoiseshell, above Speckled Wood below female Brown Argus