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

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

Friday, 29 May 2020

This is why I love Birdwatching.

I had a superb few hours out last weekend. Up with the Larks, as the saying goes, and out to my favourite Spring/Summer location in the fine Cheshire countryside, which covered ancient woodlands, rivers, reservoirs, moorland and quarries. 
I'd found a pair of Pied Flycatchers a few weeks ago. On my return visit I located them again. This time they were busy taking food to a nest site. I suspected they were close to a nest site so was pleased to see that they were successfully feeding young.
Not far away was a male Redstart, singing as they do right at the top of a nearby tree. They never make it easy to see them.

A very good looking male Pied Flycatcher with a small caterpillar for his young ones.


Male Common Redstart.

I'm very lucky to be able to see Ring Ouzels each year. These upland birds like rocky slopes for their nesting habitat and arrive in April time. Once again there is at least one pair that are feeding young, and the male put on a nice show in between his food collections. The sun was shining and he looked in very good shape.






I look forward to days like these all year. April and May are my favourite birding months. When the countryside is alive with our migrant birds and the sun is shining and I just happen to be in my favourite peaceful place. It's what I long for, and when I get days like this I just feel so content.

The Spotted Flycatchers were also still around, and I hope to catch up with their young in future weeks.


Friday, 22 May 2020

A Bumper Day

I went a little further afield last weekend, as we are now allowed to do. The weather was set to be sunny pretty much from the off, so I headed to my favourite of places close to Macclesfield Forest. I was there nice and early, so as to beat any walkers or cyclists. I stopped off at a few points on the way, where I knew I wouldn't even need to leave the car to see things.
One of these places had me watching a pair of Crossbills drinking from a puddle at the side of the road. A great start!

I moved on and parked at an area I have been to often. The area has Dipper and Grey Wagtail on the river nearby most of the year. You can add another half a dozen species or more at this time of year though. With Swallows, House Martins, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff to name a few. I was lucky enough to hear and see a Common Redstart just behind me, and on a short walk I picked out a lovely male Pied Flycatcher. A Cuckoo was calling not far away, but it never revealed itself, much to my annoyance. It sounded so close too.

Male Redstart making sure he's heard high up.

Male Pied Flycatcher, again high up and too far away.



I did find, (and I really wasn't expecting to) a pair of Spotted Flycatchers. They were likely to be new in to the area, and they were busy doing what Flycatchers do, but also perching nicely now and again. I kept my eye on them and I think they were checking possible residences, which would be great news. They made my early morning get more than worhtwhile.






The pair together.



Friday, 15 May 2020

The Camera is out

I ventured out with my camera on Wednesday evening. It was about seven o'clock and very quiet everywhere in terms of people, so I thought it safe and okay to take my second walk of the day. It felt exciting again to be able to look through the viewfinder of the camera after such a long time. To see the bird come into focus and press the shutter button. So strange for something quite meaningless, but something that gives me great joy. I don't plan on taking the camera on all my walks, as it means stopping and that is not always ideal in these times. So early mornings and evenings for me, when it is at its quietest.

Anyhow, I managed to see quite a few birds, including some lovely House Martins, Swallows and Great Crested Grebes over and on the water. I also got to see quite a number of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. Hard to tell apart in looks, but always helps when they sing for you.

A Willow Warbler




 And the very similar Chiffchaff


Great Crested Grebe

Friday, 8 May 2020

Lockdown Birding

I've managed to connect with a few summer migrants recently when on my daily bike ride. Only having binoculars on my back (in a rucksack) means I've not taken any pictures, so these are from last year and a similar time.

I was delighted to find some Wheatears on my local patch. I really thought that I might miss seeing these birds this year. Over the course of a week, there were up to 3 birds present. I think some may have moved on quite quickly, to be replaced by others, but it was great to be able to stop and watch them hopping around. Some of the females looked to be of Greenland race. Quite a bit stockier and darker in colour. Great looking birds and one I always look forward to welcoming back from migration.

Male Wheatear


A bit further down the road, and I could hear a Common Whitethroat singing. It took me a while to locate, but I knew it was there. It did eventually show itself at the top of a tree, where I like to see them. Great to have them back in the country. Hopefully I'll get to see them lots more on my rides and walks.






Sunday, 3 May 2020

Spring Movement

Pre-Lockdown and a look back at my last visit to the North Norfolk coast. I guess it was early Spring, but things were starting to move about and birds were starting to pair up. There was more birdsong to be heard and some birds that had not been around these parts were seen again.
I saw a lot more deer on this visit, than during the warmer summer months.I even caught out a family of Roe Deer, as they quietly ate their breakfast. Showing that it does pay to get out early and also to be quiet. You'll never know what you won't have seen had you just been a little more cautious.


This looks like one of the young. 


These Oystercatchers were enjoying the rich pickings left by the retreating sea. This one with a small crab.


Ringed Plover were busy scuttling along the sand.


This Skylark was singing from the ground. More usually seen singing on the wing.


Saturday, 25 April 2020

Dartford Warbler

This bird I've only seen a handful of times and getting good views is never guaranteed. There are only ways to improve your chances of getting a good view. One of these is visiting at the right time of year and when they are most active. Early Spring is a good time to try and see one of these very secretive Dartford Warblers. This is when they are looking for mates, singing a little more and just a little more showy.
On the whole these diminutive little warblers like to work their way through the gorse and occasionally sit atop.
I was having a very lucky year before the lockdown, but that coincided with me making more effort and trips out to see things so that I could get a list of 200 birds seen in the year. That may not now be possible, but at least I can look back to some very good looking birds already seen and ticked this year.

This female came to see who was walking past.

The male soon showed itself, but only fleetingly. It stayed low on the bush.





Friday, 17 April 2020

Woodlark

Back in March I made a visit to my parents on the North Norfolk coast. At this time of year (and many others if I'm honest) I like to go in search of the Woodlark that I know are often here, but I have yet to successfully find one. Many fruitless trips to their favoured area has always left me disappointed, but I am not one to give up easily.
On this particular occasion I got lucky on two days, with not one but three birds, and at one point all in the air singing. This really was a case of being as cautious as possible. I didn't want to disturb these birds that were obviously setting up territory and pairing up. So I stood very close to a bush and just waited for them to come to me as I melted into the background.
I was rewarded with some very close views, and the real bonus for the first time this year was some very good sunlight.

It was worth the long wait to get some good pictures of these lovely birds.


You can see how I've probably overlooked these birds on many occasions. Once again, nature providing such amazing camouflage. It is there, I promise.


Thursday, 9 April 2020

Summer Visitors during Lockdown

As my camera is currently not aloud out due to the lockdown, I've had to go back to some pictures that I took at a similar time last year. These are of two birds that will almost inevitably serve as a reminder of this terrible COVID-19 lockdown in years to come.

In a year when I was striving so hard to tick off 200 birds, I'd made a fantastic start. Now I'm left wondering if I'll be lucky enough to see our Summer migrants. I understand the importance of the lockdown and I am observing it, it just affects people in different ways.

Anyway, I do enjoy my time outside when I go out and I'm always listening and watching. The sound of the Chiffchaff is a great start to Spring, and I'm hearing more and more of them on my walks.  A great little bird, very similar to the Willow Warbler, which I am hoping that I'll be able to hear or see very soon.

The Chiffchaff


Now, these were a really nice surprise to find last Sunday. Sand Martins!!! I've been waiting for them to arrive, along with the Swallows, and I found 8 of them flying over my local river Bollin where they nest in the river banks. Maybe all is not lost after all. This took my year list to 142.😃