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

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

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Red-breasted Merganser

The final bird to make it onto my year list was the Red-breasted merganser. This bird seen at West Kirby marine lake took my total for the year to 181 different bird species seen, beating my previous best total by 6 from last year.

A common visitor to the UK coastline in the winter months, this is only the second time that I have actually come across one. Just shows you what you can find if you put your mind to it.
I was aware that a few of these were around the Wirral, so I made a special visit to see them. Great looking diving ducks with a nice spiky hair do and serrated bill to help with their diet of mainly salmon and trout.

Pictured here is the female. Quite similar to the female Goosander in clolouration and overall appearance. Unfortunately it was yet another dull grey day, so the colours are not great.
Still it pushed my year total up, so I'm happy with that. I now have a new target to beat in 2016.

I wish you all a Happy New Year. Here's hoping it's a great one! :-)

Monday, 21 December 2015

Merry Christmas

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.

Thank you all for viewing and your comments over the last year. It means a great deal to me and is always very much appreciated. I hope to bring you plenty of new birds and posts in 2016. Until then, enjoy yourselves in the coming week and I hope you drop by again soon.

Thursday, 17 December 2015


Birding on the Wirral is always good. Always a good variety of stuff to see. Unfortunately you cannot guarantee the weather, which seems to becoming a recurring them in my posts of late.
The rain abated, but not for long. I stopped at various locations on a whistle stop trip. Hoylake, West Kirby, New Brighton and Starbucks to keep my daughter sweet and moan free. It seemed to do the trick as we both enjoyed a mint hot chocolate to warm us up.

Knot (on the left) and two Redshank (on the right)


Oystercatcher in the gloom.

Redshank taking shelter at West Kirby.

Shelduck on the beach at Hoylake.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Hollingworth Lake

I had a couple of hours spare last weekend and went for a walk around Hollingworth lake in Rochdale. The weather has been truly dreadful of late, so I was just glad to get out without a howling wind or heavy rain. 
It was a leisurely stroll and not a great deal on the water, but enjoyable all the same as the sun began to set. 

I can't wait for Spring and some potentially drier, less windy spells of weather. Not a guarantee in this part of the world though.


A Cormorant in with some Lapwings.

A distant Kingfisher watching a Great Crested Grebe. 

Thursday, 10 December 2015


It's that time of year on my patch, that no matter when you go out you're pretty sure to see the same variety of birds and not much else. There's not much anticipation of finding something new or unusual. It's just how it is in autumn and winter here. On a recent walk along Old Hall Lane I was accompanied by the usual Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit flocks for visual stimulus. Chaffinches, Robins, Blackbirds and Mistle Thrush kept my ears energised. Then there's always one bird that you know is in the hedge but you can't be sure what it is. You know it's nothing rare, but you need to see it just to confirm it's a Wren or something similar.
Enter the Dunnock, and it's conspicuous 'tseeep' call. I'm pretty sure they could stay undetected if they kept quiet, but I had to see where it was. I waited for a good five minutes leant up against a post trying to keep myself out of sight before it popped up on top of the hedge. We both shared a moment and then went out separate ways.
Like I said before, nothing unusual or rare, but it still put a smile on my face. Job done.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Great Crested Grebe

On my recent visit to Elton reservoir I couldn't help but notice the large number of Great Crested Grebes. Usually a quite colourful bird, their winter plumage is a little more on the drab side. It doesn't take away from the elegance of the bird for me, but there is quite a difference between the seasons.
From juvenile to winter and summer plumage, they could be three different birds.

This was the Elton bird a few weeks ago in winter plumage.

One in summer breeding plumage.

A juvenile with it's stripy head.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Pied Wagtail

I've recently discovered a Pied Wagtail roost site in the centre of Manchester. I was aware of there being some around previously, but not where this one is situated. It's on a particularly busy road with restaurants and offices. In the mornings on my way to work I could here them but never see them. Then one morning just as the sun was coming up I counted 35 leaving the roost site. It was quite a spectacle, and noise, as they are not the quietest of birds. There may have been more, and judging by the mess on the pavement I'm sure there are. A count of around 50 has been seen since.
I managed to take a some close-up shots of one at Elton reservoir last week.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Great Northern Diver

Great Northern Divers have been popping up in good numbers around the country recently. Six were reported in one day at Carsington Waters in Derbyshire at the weekend. There had been one a bit closer to home though at Elton Reservoir in Rochdale. It's a bird I have tried many times to see, and I have been fortunate on a few occasions now. Each time though the views have been distant, and a scope has always been required. Nothing was different at Elton, as this particular bird spent a lot of time under water and once again distant. A great bird to see all the same, and I was glad to be able to add it to my year list, which has now crept up to 180.

This picture is of a previous closer encounter at Castleshaw Reservoir in Oldham a few years back.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Common Buzzard

A cool morning and clear skies often means that the Buzzards where I live will be up soaring and climbing the thermals.
They didn't disappoint at Woodford recently with a couple giving quite close fly pasts. One had been on the ground in a sheep field, while the other appeared from nowhere. The shots below are of it trying to gain height after leaving the field.
I love the call they give as they fly. It just lets you know they're around. Always a great bird to see.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Pink Feet

Pink-footed Geese are what I really look forward to seeing in the Autumn. A trip to Martin Mere in Lancashire is a highlight of this season for me. Thousands and thousands of geese and wildfowl are attracted to the habitat here. It's a real spectacle that I never tire of.
I went a little earlier this year than I normally do and I manages to see the first Whooper Swans of the Autumn come in. It was the Pink-footed Geese that really stole the show for me though.
What a sight and what a sound? They have to be seen to be fully appreciated.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Long-tailed Tit

You seldom see a Long-tailed Tit on its own. You'll usually find them in groups of at least half a dozen. Very small birds with a tail longer than it's body. They do make it easy for you to spot them though with a constant trill of noise as they restlessly work through trees and undergrowth.
I always look round to see them when I hear them. I don't know why, as they are very common here. I just have a soft spot for them. In flight they remind me a bit of a pom pom with a tail. Cute little chaps.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Bollin Valley

I've recently discovered the Bollin Valley less than a mile from my front door. It runs for 25 miles from Macclesfield to Partington, following the River Bollin and is a real wildlife hot spot. How I've not come across it in the last 3 years, I have no idea.
I've only walked a couple of miles along the route, but have seen Kingfishers, Dippers, Buzzards, Woodpeckers and Bullfinch, to name just a few species of bird. Dragonflies, insects, fungi and Longhorn cattle all add to its appeal. A stunning place that needs a lot more investigation by me and my camera.

One of the weirs in Wilmslow.

A great surprise to see this Dipper on the river.

In the very sandy banks of the river I came across this Digger Wasp.

Longhorn Cattle are free to graze.

Grey Wagtail

Monday, 2 November 2015


A nice morning walk with my daughter on my old patch at Woodford was unseasonably warm. It was the 1st November, but I should have dressed for the 1st July. A nice treat and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The birds and wildlife seemed to be enjoying it too, with lots of activity everywhere. Sometimes this place in winter can feel very lonely and devoid of all life, but yesterday it was buzzing.
Jays, Nuthatch, Pipits and Wagtails were all in evidence, as were Tree Sparrows and winter Thrushes.

I love to see birds of prey, and we were greeted by a few. Common Buzzard circled and called overhead, while a female Sparrowhawk darted out from a pine tree and enjoyed the thermals, and I enjoyed the opportunity to take some pictures.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

I was sat in the Ron Barker hide at Martin Mere watching the thousands of Pink-footed Geese the other week, when I noticed quite a few dragonfly still about.  I'm not saying I was bored, but my attention was turned to watching these majestic dragonflies for several minutes.
These were the Southern Hawker variety. One of the more common species in this country and indeed across Europe.
I've never photographed one in flight, but this one stopped outside the hide long enough for me to get a focus on it and push the button.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Newchurch Common - Smew

I'd seen reports of a Smew in Cheshire for the last few days and wondered if I'd be able to get along and see it before it departed. An opportunity arose on Sunday to have a look for it, and the weather was good too. Cold and bright, plus the clocks had gone back an hour, which usually means less people up and about as early as me. I guess I'm a little anti-social in the morning, and I like to have the place to myself.
Anyway, Newchurch Common in Winsford was the destination and a rather large fishing lake. I found it okay, but finding the bird was a different matter. I went the wrong way round and had to double back, but this was not such a bad thing, as it meant I got to watch lots of Goldcrests, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Buzzard and other more common birds.
Having doubled back I eventually got to a good viewing area for the Smew. Such a small duck, with its red head and small frame, it certainly stood out amongst the Tufted Ducks it was socialising with. Only my second seen in the wild and not in a collection. A very nice year tick indeed,

And just to add to the highlights of the day, a Ruddy Shelduck was also on the water in with the Canada Geese. A probable captive escapee, there has been one in this area of Cheshire for a while. Still, I wasn't expecting to see it, so it was a nice surprise.
Seen here very distant, but its orangey beige colour quite distinctive.

It got a little closer for a better picture.