A few weeks ago I managed to see my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year and also my first male Pied Flycatcher of the year. I've been looking for him for a while now without success. I think I was sat in some vegetation with my binoculars for a good hour, and in that time, many birds came to me. The weather was good, sunny and warm, and the day was perfect, with Cuckoo singing over one shoulder and Pied Flycatchers building a nest right in front of me. Doesn't get much better than that for me.
Shocked and amazed are words that spring to mind after I discovered a bird I've been dreaming about finding recently. Initially I was happy enough to find a Cuckoo calling and showing itself really well. Then a small dove popped up and I did think it was a small Collard Dove until I got the binoculars on it and could quite clearly see it was a Turtle Dove. I nearly shouted out, but there was no one around (it was early) and I'd have scared the bird. I was watching it for so long through the bins, that it took off before I could even think about lifting the camera. Never mind I thought. Lifers are worth just admiring and learning about them and their behaviour.
I then relocated it by accident about an hour later. This time I used the camera to enhance my memories of a stunning bird that travels a long way to get here.
I've taken myself away to Macclesfield Forest a few times just recently. Such a peaceful place if you pick the right times of day. You can be left to yourself and nature for ages. The other night I ended up almost face to face with some red deer. That will serve me right for hiding myself away and waiting for things to come to me. They actually did. Always nice to see, but unusual to catch them out in the open.
I also managed to catch up with a family of Dippers. Two juveniles were out and about and looking quite healthy too.
After my trek up and then down Pendle Hill, I carried on my day to possibly Manchester's finest birding site, Pennington Flash. Such a variety of habitats all in one place, it really does attract so many different species at all times of the year. This visit I managed to tick off Common Tern for the year list.
Below here are some of the birds you can get really close to in some of the hides. It's so nice just to sit and watch these birds at close quarters. I sit in some of these hides for ages, no camera, just watching and studying there behaviour. Fantastic.
A really stunning Nuthatch.
A Jay. Pretty difficult to get so close to these very flighty and nervous birds.
Sorry for chopping the tail off of this Magpie, but go too close and I like the shot anyway.
I had a day off work today with the sole intention of catching a lifer before it carried on it's migration north. An early start was required to get to Pendle in Lancashire before rush hour and to give me as much time as possible to see this bird before the forecast heavy rain showers. With the help of a kind walker, I got onto the trail, but it was pretty tough and took me almost an hour from car to summit. Cloud covered the hill tops but I was going to see this bird if it was here. Very quickly I spotted a pair of Dotterel. My target bird, and they were stunning. It felt like Christmas, because I really thought I'd missed them.
I spent more than an hour with these birds observing and generally feeling delighted. It was difficult to leave them. A superb day, and one I won't forget.
The summit I needed to get to is currently in the clouds. Eeek.
The Summit, just to prove I made it.
By the time I came down the cloud had gone.
The male in this species is not as colourful as the female. (Clearly something went wrong there)
When I was in Norfolk a few weeks ago I noticed quite a few Red-legged Partridge in and around the farms. I've come across them on my local patch, but it's usually been a fleeting glimpse as they scuttle away in the opposite direction. This time they seemed to be a little bolder and certainly not so quick to run away from me. I was driving early to Cley one morning, my camera was on the seat next to me with my bins, when I saw a pair scurrying around the undergrowth at the side of the road. There was nothing around, so I pulled over and grabbed the camera. Window down, I aimed the camera at them, fully expecting them to have disappeared. Not this time. In fact they were a bit too close. Shouldn't complain really. They gave me some lovely images, which allowed me to really appreciate this bird that so often is hot footing it in the other direction.
The forecast was good and the best of the Bank Holiday weekend so it was obvious I'd get up and head out birding, early. Not quite this time, as my daughter was with me and she detests bird watching. I failed here obviously in her early years. Still, I did manage to persuade her to come out as I had some target birds to see. Pied Flycatcher and Ring Ouzel were top of that list as I'd dipped on them several times already this year.
After 5 minutes, strike one with a lovely female Pied Flycatcher flitting around the trees. It put on a lovely show.
Strike two, a short time later was the Ring Ouzel. Merrily feeding and moving between fence line and shrubs. It was quite a distance away so this shot is heavily cropped. I hope for better later this year.
To top off a good morning, I bumped into a good birding friend of mine. So a good morning it was indeed.