Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Monday, 24 October 2016

Waders

As many of you will know, I could, and do spend hours watching wading birds. They're some of my favourite bird subjects. You know where they're going to be and there are no branches, twigs or grass in the way. That said,  you can't just walk up to them and ask if they would mind you taking a picture.
Patience is key, and not frightening the birds is of utmost importance. If you stay still and low and don't look intimidating, you will gain their trust and everyone is happy. The birds can go about their business and I can (hopefully) get some got shots as they do it.

One of the many Ringed Plovers along the Wirral coast.




A Turnstone doing what Turnstones do. Brilliantly camouflaged at the same time.


Monday, 17 October 2016

Cormorant

At West Kirby marine lake there are always plenty of waders around and usually roosting. I came across a Cormorant though that was particularly sleepy. I wasn't sure if it had just come in from a long flight and was exhausted, or was just generally tired. I don't normally see these asleep. They're usually fishing or standing wings aloft to dry.
Still, it gave me a chance to view this sleeping beauty.



Friday, 7 October 2016

Cattle Egret

There have been a couple of Cattle Egrets around in recent weeks in the North West. One has been present up at Marshside RSPB reserve in Southport and the other has been at Burton Mere RSPB reserve on the Wirral. I've only ever seen one before, a couple of years ago, and also at Burton Mere.

When I arrived it was hiding behind a bush on an island in front of the main reception. So I made my way out towards a viewing screen a couple of hundred yards away, in the hope that I'd get a better view. Although I was further away, I could actually now see the bird, even though it seemed to want to hide away at every opportunity. 
It is slightly smaller than a Little Egret and has a yellow beak as opposed to the black of the Little Egret. It does spend time in with cattle too, as did on this occasion. 

So these are just record shots once again (as they were a couple of years ago). Hopefully one day I will get a little closer, in good light, with less vegetation, less haze etc etc. The agonies of photography. You rarely get all elements working in your favour, especially when the subjects are birds. Still a great bird to see and this took my year list to 187.



A distant but stunning Curlew Sandpiper was seen from the IMF hide. This took my total to 188. I'm hoping to get to 200 species this year, but time is running out.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Redshank

A trip to the Wirral coast is often required for me. Good numbers of waders are always on offer. One of the most common in the area I visited was the Redshank. Thousands in fact along the bank of the Dee Estuary.





Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Dunlin

Burton Mere wetlands on the Wirral is always a good place to birdwatch. There is always a good variety of stuff about, from woodland to wildfowl and a smattering of the not so common birds. Recently there have been good numbers of waders dropping in, and as I can't resist staring at waders for hours, I took myself along to check them out.
It wasn't long before a small flock of Dunlin flew into view, accompanied by one single Ringed Plover.

A Dunlin in front of some Shoveler ducks. 

Enjoying the sunshine.

Along with the Dunlin, there are four other species in this picture. How many can you see? 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Linnets

A bird that was in good supply at Spurn was the Linnet. There were several large flocks around and it was good to get quite close to a few of them. They are a very flighty bird, and usually when they see you coming they are off and far into the distance. The males are stunning looking birds, and for me underrated. Quite often their name is preceded by "Oh it's just a". Not for me though. Fascinating birds to watch.

The rather dull looking female, but actually a nice looking bird.

Catching the morning sunshine at the breakfast table.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Little Egrets - Kilnsea

While at Spurn last weekend, we visited Kilnsea nature reserve. A great little wetland spot with plenty of scrapes, pools and grassland. For such a good site, it's a shame that there is only one small hide available. There was a queue to get in on both occasions that I visited last weekend. Having said that, the birds are the most important thing and they are still there in good numbers, largely undisturbed.
There were a few Little Egrets knocking around in front of the hide. I always find them fascinating to watch as they make their way through the shallows looking for food.



In front of (and below) the Egrets were a couple of Knot, foraging.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Spurn - Migration Festival

It has been a while since I've been out and about. School holidays and other commitments do get in the way some times, but I try to make the most of the time I have when I can get out with the binoculars and camera. Last weekend was one of those special days, when weather, company and birds all come together in one place to make it memorable.
A 4:30am start saw my friend Phil and I heading to Spurn on the East coast. Arriving just after 7am we found our first good bird within minutes. A Spotted Flycatcher, which was joined briefly by a Redstart in the hedge.
Overhead was a constant stream of hirundines and hundreds of Meadow Pipits. Warblers were in very good supply, with Reed, Willow, Whitethroat, and Sedge in various places.

Some good sea watching turned up a couple for the year list in Black Tern and Red-throated Diver.
A Mediterranean Gull in a field was nice to see and there were plenty of waders on the mud flats. One that got away though was a Wood Sandpiper that was taken by a Peregrine moments before I could get into the hide. With 70 different species seen in the day though, I couldn't really complain, but I did feel a bit gutted about that Wood Sand. :(

This Sedge Warbler was in hand after being ringed and soon after released.

A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was one of many seen on the day.

Starlings were starting to gather on the power lines. A sure sign that Autumn is just around the corner.

A small party of Northern Wheatear were in this ploughed field at Kilnsea.

Willow Warbler

A Yellow Wagtail spent a lot of its preening in the sunshine.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Old Freinds

The birds are pretty quiet at the moment, so I've decided to take a look back on one of my favourite summer visitors to these shores. The Common Redstart. Some friends and I watched this particular male bird over a couple of years, and it was exciting to see him return, When he did, it was great to watch and spend a lot of time with him, as he looked for a mate and eventually raised young.
A stunning bird.

Our old friend, the male.



The female Redstart.

A good view of that tail on the female.


Friday, 12 August 2016

Ringed Plover

I found this Ringed Plover in the mud at Titchwell a few months back. Great little birds and I usually see them scurrying around on the beach or at the edges of water pools. It was nice to see one out in the open on the mud. It was busy looking for food, doing what it does best.




Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Curlew - Woodford

I've enjoyed watching the Curlews on my patch this year. I think maybe I've taken them for granted in the past. Walking on past them and thinking 'yep, that's a Curlew'. They've captured my attention for some reason in recent months. Putting on fine displays for me. Some from a distance, as they set up territory and others from a lot closer as they staged deflection tactics to protect their young.
The unmistakable call can be heard for miles, and the bubbling nature makes me instantly scour the landscape to try and spot them.


They'll soon be moving on for another year. I look forward to them returning to Woodford once again.


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Red Admiral

The birds have gone quiet for the time being, while they moult and re cooperate from the breeding season. It gives me the opportunity to look at other things, like bats (in the evening) and butterflies during the day.

It's a great time for butterflies at the moment. Lots are on the wing, and it's the time of year for the The Big Butterfly Count 2016 The idea is that you spend 15 minutes counting and identifying as many butterflies as you can. Near me, the most common this year seems to be Small White, but one of my favourites is the Red Admiral. Quite often seen on Buddleia, they contrast very well against these light colours.





Friday, 5 August 2016

The Arctic Tern

I've returned to the Arctic Tern once again. While on Inner Farne I spent quite a bit of my time trying to photograph these majestic birds in flight. Not as easy as you may think. It is a small island and there were lots of people there to enjoy these birds too. So finding a quiet spot where I could just get the birds in the shot proved quite a challenge. It didn't stop me trying though.

I chose to pick a spot on the path where a few of the Terns were quite feisty. As people approached, they took to the air and made an assault on their heads. I took this as my opportunity to try and get some shots. It proved quite difficult. As you can see below, lots came out with the bird not fully in the frame. I gave up here and tried another area.


I found a different area on the island where the birds were coming in off the sea, and had a little more success. The light was much better, the birds were more relaxed, and this made it easier to predict their movements. It meant I could follow them and have a pretty good idea where they were heading next and where I should aim my camera. I was happier with these shots.



My best of the lot (in terms of flight shots) were taken when I moved down to the shore line to watch them. 



Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Fulmar

I only saw a few of these birds on my trip to the North East. I thought that I would see lots on the rocky islands and coast lines, but that wasn't the case. Still, the few that I did see were a real pleasure.
In flight they have a very stiff wing beat, and glide quite a lot. They are tubenosed seabirds and related to the Albatross. A quite unusual looking bird, but one I enjoyed seeing fly above my boat.