The Wirral is an amazing place for bird watchers, as I think I have said many times before. It offers something every month of the year. Spring brings the usual migrant species, but it is also a great place for almost guaranteeing certain species that are not easy to find once they disperse throughout the country. Whinchat is one of those and I love being able to find one and even better if you can get a few shots of it.
A male Stonechat with a small caterpillar in it's bill.
My last few visits to the Norfolk coast have turned up some recurring birds. The Purple Sandpiper I have looked out for especially on the rocks at Sheringham, but the Common Gull and Common Redshank don't require as much effort. There are plenty around most of the year.
The Common Gull was very obliging for flight shots.
The Purple Sandpiper has been a constant presence for the last 4 months for me.
While I was trawling the trails in the Goyt Valley looking for migrants it appeared that all the action was happening just a few feet from where I had parked the car. When we returned to the car, with only Pied Flycatcher of any real note on our list, I spotted a Common Redstart flitting around the low trees. It was one of my target birds and I was delighted to find it. Another started singing not far away, and I'm not sure if I saw a second one, or if it was this same bird playing tricks on me. Either way it was great to be watching this species again. It's a big part of my year to find these birds. I love them!
As was the way on this day, nothing sat up nicely without any branches in front of it.
I usually make a special trip to Woolston Eyes near Warrington each Spring to see the Black-necked Grebes. Fantastic little birds, that when in their breeding plumage are something you must see. Not a great deal bigger than the Little Grebe and they spend a lot of their time diving and underwater. So not the easiest bird to find our watch. Well worth the trip though for a few views like this.
A long overdue visit to the Goyt Valley turned out to be very fruitful, with almost all my target birds safely ticked off. I thought it was going to be a disappointing trip when after an hour or so all I had was Canada Goose and Great Crested Grebe. I was grateful to bump into a fellow birder who kindly put me onto a male Pied Flycatcher. I didn't see any last year, but I ended up see two males today, with a third bird also noted.
Typically though, it was a grey afternoon, and the birds were content to hide behind branches and leaves and out of range for any good shots.
Seeing them more than made up for it though.
I wanted to discover a new site the last time I was at my parents. So I sought out Kelling Heath. It turns out that what I thought was Kelling Heath previously, was actually a mile and half away from the proper site.
It was a bright morning, not particularly warm, but there was plenty of activity on the heath.
From the car park I could hear plenty of bird song, with Skylarks, Linnets and Yellowhammer calling in the distance and my first Chiffchaff of the year.
It's a fantastic place, and I can imagine this being alive with Cuckoo calls in a few weeks time, maybe even Turtle Dove. It is supposed to be home to the Dartford Warbler and Adders, so I will be visiting again soon.
Linnets were in very good numbers on the gorse.
Great to see Yellowhammers in good numbers. One more for the year list.
These pictures were taken last Spring on an a visit to the RSPB reserve at Burton Mere on the Wirral. Lots of different birds on show and making themselves visible.
One of the birds I'd set out to see was the Great White Egret. There have been a few on the Wirral in the last 24 months. Needless to say, this was one of the birds that was not playing ball on this day.
A bird always to be found on the beach at Sheringham is the Turnstone. It's pebbly beach is a great attraction for this small wading bird. There are also some nice big mossy rocks for it to probe for food.
Spring is with us (even if the weather is not particularly agreeing with that statement) and the bird activity has most definitely changed in recent weeks. The sound of geese overhead has been replaced with the calls of the Redshank, Avocet and other waders at the many nature reserves of the North Norfolk coast. I even heard my first calling Chiffchaff last week.
While I was sat in a hide at Cley waiting for a little bit of sunshine a Redshank obligingly walked towards me. It made up for the poor light and the distance at which anything else interesting was.
Something always turns up to make the trip worthwhile.
I was at Elton Reservoir looking for a Black-necked Grebe (which I did find) when I scanned a small raft of gulls and notice two Mediterranean Gulls that had dropped in. I was expecting to see the common fair, but these were instantly obvious to me to be the Med kind. A lovely black hood, red bill and white crescents above and below the eye.
A Black-headed Gull for comparison. You can see the hood is more chocolate brown and does not extend as far down the nape .
After 10 minutes of preening, they took flight noisily.
They gave a nice fly past as I stood waiting patiently.
While at Elton reservoir in Bury recently there was a Scaup on the water. This wasn't my primary target here, but it was nice to add to the year list all the same.
It was spending it's time alone at the far end of the reservoir, with just a male Pochard for company. Both were diving frequently and seemed to spend more time under the water than above it.