This was a new lifer for me. The Glaucous Gull had been present for a number of weeks at Hollingworth Lake in Rochdale. An opportunity presented itself to me last weekend to get along with my camera to see it. It really didn't take long to locate either as it was stood on a pontoon just feet from the lake shoreline. It soon took flight along with the Black-headed gulls as visitors to the lake threw bread. Once it was in the air with the other gulls it was clear to see how big this bird was in comparison. It was also very white compared to the Black-headed gulls.
For comparison of size against the much smaller Black-headed Gull. It was huge!
A tricky bird to find at the best of times, it was a real bonus to find one out in the afternoon on a walk with my parents in Norfolk. It was bit grey and damp and so not easy to photograph. I spent most of my time just admiring it through the binoculars and with the naked eye. They look so majestic in flight with those broad white wings. A real bonus to seen at any time of the day or year.
Light didn't help, but at least the face and tail feathers are in focus.
Something a little more common, in the form of a Blue Tit and a Great Tit. These were taken on a cold frosty afternoon at Pennington Flash. There's always a lot of activity at the feeding hides and on this particular day there were many Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, plus a few Willow Tits.
A couple duly obliged to perch on the nearest posts from the hide.
There's something about the Waxwing that has that Wow factor for me. So when one was reported just 15 minutes away from my front door, I couldn't not go and see it. I usually see them in larger flocks, but this was a single bird that had been around for a few days and had a ready supply of berries on hand.
It was a cold grey day, and the sky was typical of many that are the background of my Waxwing pictures. Thankfully the bird itself does enough to brighten up even the dullest shots.
Only gripe I have is that it stayed in between the branches of this tree and it was difficult to get a clean shot of it. Shouldn't really complain. The bird was happy enough, I was happy to add it to my year list and delighted to catch up with one again.
I'd seen that a Hooded Crow had been in Wigan for a week or two, or at least reported for a week or two. I'd always wanted to see one and it wasn't too far away. I didn't want to miss out, or have that regret of missing out, when it was not even 30 miles away. So I made the effort to go and see it. A close relative of the Carrion Crow, it is usually confined to northern Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.
On arrival it had been flushed/scared off by an over enthusiastic photographer. Now these are really getting on my nerves, as they are giving most, if not all bird photographers a bad name. They have no field craft and move selfishly towards the birds to get better pictures and ultimately flush them. This means no one gets to see them properly. They will then move/chase after the bird. When will they learn, that if you just stay still and maybe even hide out of view that the birds may actually come to you? This means that you can get your pictures and those that have no interest in photographing them can also enjoy the bird for as long as possible. They are there for everyone, so stop being so selfish.
Anyway, now I've got that off my chest. It eventually flew back and spent a lot time on the heath, and gave me good views and even a fly past. Very pleased with this particular lifer.
Every year I make specific trips to Lynford Arboretum in Norfolk to attempt to see the Hawfinch. Most prove fruitless. I've seen them on a couple of occasions, but they have all been distant and for not long at all. For my Birthday treat I decided I would take a trip down to Darley Dales in Derbyshire to see if I would have any joy finding a flock that had been in the area recently.
On arrival, there were several behind St Helen's church high up in the trees. They soon moved off, and here began the game of cat and mouse around the church yard. They would disappear for some time, then come back for a few minutes. I did get some good views, although I could always want a bit more.
A great bird and the largest of the finches. I'm happy to tick it off again for this year.
When they did come close, they stayed well in cover and into the light.
These pictures were the best I could muster. Always room for improvement.
I'm not huge fan of gulls. Mainly as I really struggle with their identification in their many different phases of plumage. One that I do like a lot though is the Common Gull. There seem to be many in Norfolk and it's where I seem to come across them without looking out for them.
A bird that 10 years ago, or maybe less, would have had me hotfooting it take a look, is the Little Egret. A real success story in it's recolonisation of parts of this country, it's now a rare day when you don't see one on a coastal visit. This chap was standing on it's own at Salthouse. Maybe it was waiting for it to warm up, as it was really cold that morning.
Throughout the winter months several Purple Sandpipers can be seen along the rockier parts of the north Norfolk coast. I was fortunate to find one at the weekend. Not the easiest bird to find, especially in the the gloomy conditions of Saturday morning, as it blends in really well with the dark stones. Having a hunch where to look does help, and I've found them here before. So I was delighted to find one as I peered over the seal wall. It paid no attention to me at all as it looked for food and the tide crashed into the rocks.
A bird I always look froward to seeing, as it is just a little different (and not as common) as other wading birds.
I've not posted for a very long time. A lot of my time was spent training for my first marathon in October of last year. In fact, I have now run two. So I put my camera away for a bit, but still have my passion for birding, and I will be doing more this year than last. Not that I ever stop looking out and keeping my lists.
Anyway, I dusted off my camera and binoculars at the weekend when I when to Norfolk to see my parents. As luck would have it, there were a few decent birds very local in Sheringham. I pushed my year list up towards 80 for the year already.
One of my target birds was a very 'out of season' Black Redstart. A bird that I usually see high up on the buildings of Manchester city centre, and in the summer at that, it was nice to be able to see it at close quarters as it hopped around the surrounding apartments.
A great little bird to get on the year list in January.
I had a lovely time at South Stack on the island of Anglesey in later Spring. There was a lot going on, as birds were busy pairing up, nest building and some were only just arriving to these shores following their migration.
The weather was perfect and it was a joy to be in amongst some lovely looking birds in all their summer finery.