Bumper January birding

Well this retirement malarkey takes some getting used to - being able to go off for the day any time you want (within reason) is helping the year-list no end. Last year we had a brief sojourn in Cyprus (seeing Wallcreeper and Finsch’s Wheatear) and I visited my old friend John Gilligan in Musselburgh, enjoying the birds of the East Lothian coast for a couple of blustery days. Helping compile the Cheshire Bird Report for 2017 was another new challenge but it was published before the end of the year with 2018 in prep, not to mention the 2019 Lancashire Bird Report data coming in now. Christmas was busy with family fun & frolics and footy matches but once January came around,  it was time to get out and enjoy the remarkable number of good birds that were/are present.
Lancashire has been blessed with some good winter birds this year, the mild weather encouraging several long-staying birds - the Long-billed Dowitcher at Marshside is a bit of a show-off as, rather surprisingly, is the Purple Heron at Eagland Hill. Add to those the Ring-necked Duck at Pine Lake and the usual winter fare of wildfowl and waders in abundance, January birding has been excellent.
Long-billed Dowitcher, Marshside
Even over the Pennines there are plenty of great birds and a trip with John Wright to see the Eastern Yellow Wagtail near Newcastle and Lesser Yellowlegs at Nosterfield was very successful.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Prestwick Carr
Yesterday I decided to take myself off to South Yorkshire And the run of good scarce birds continued without hitch! First port of call was the Rough-legged Buzzard at Stainforth. It was sat in a tree visible from the road as I arrived but after 30 seconds of a scope filling view, it flew off! It’s a beautiful bird! From there it was only ten minutes to a couple of Cranes in a field near Thorne Moors and then onto Hatfield Moors where a Great Grey Shrike gave distant views.
Common Cranes
From there it was off to Wakefield and Angler’s Country Park/Wintersett Reservoir which had load of birds including the sough-after Ferruginous Duck and a Long-tailed Duck. What was most pleasing was seeing Yellowhammers there - a species we see so little of now in Lancashire. Now back to some local birding.