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 March 2016

Water Rail - Titchwell

I got extremely lucky at Titchwell last Friday. On the walk back to the car I came across not one, but two Water Rail. Each were in the ditch at the side of the path, only on different sides. There was already a bit of a crowd, but it didn't seem to disturb the birds in the slightest. They carried on their foraging and allowed me my best and closest views ever. Some late afternoon sunshine just added to the moment and lit the birds up beautifully.

Excuse the grasses once again.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Lapland Bunting - Blakeney Fresh Marsh

A day trip to Norfolk over the Easter holiday started with a quick change of day, due to a storm heading our way on the Saturday. So I turned up a day earlier, as there was sunshine forecast on the Friday.
A quick look at the what was around, and I soon had my radar firmly set on Blakeney fresh marsh for the Lapland Buntings that had been present for a few days. A few stops on the way meant I had already ticked off Hawfinch, Treecreeper and Marsh Tit before 8:30.
I followed the coastal path to where there were already around a dozen birders with scopes set up. I waited for about twenty minutes before the first bird landed in front of us. A very nice looking male. It proceeded to feed on the ground in some really stunning sunshine. The light made for some great shots, as it always does.

A different male sat on a fence.

A female eventually joined and was great to see the comparison.

Sunday, 27 March 2016


It's not often I am able to get as close to a Skylark as this. I'd stopped in a layby on the moors to see what was about when I spotted this Skylark wandering around on the grassy verge. The camera was in the boot. So I had to stealthily get out of the car and walk crouched to the boot, all the while hoping it hadn't seen me, or at least seen me as a threat. (I was also hoping no one else would drive past and see me behaving in such a way). Anyway, I managed no to scare the bird off and rested on my wing mirror to get these pictures.
So well camouflaged, and nice to see it this close for a change.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016


I had a little drive around the moors of Cheshire at the weekend. I was mainly looking for Golden Plover up above Wildboarclough. I didn't see any, but I did hear one or two. They're quite difficult to pick out against the light grass and heathers and with dull conditions. I'll return at a later date and on a sunnier day to find them.
A little bird did make me pull over as I drove home though. A nice looking male Stonechat. Of course, once parked up and out of the car it took flight. I managed to track it down though, and watched for a few minutes as it flitted about. Great little birds.

Monday, 21 March 2016


The beach at Titchwell is often just too far away for my little legs to muster the energy. When I do bite the bullet though and follow the path the whole way from the car park it is quite often well worth it. My problem is that I stop (a lot) on the way and look for other things, and it can take me a good while to get there. Then I'm thinking about heading back.
Anyway, on this particular day I was pleased to see some Bar-tailed Godwits on the shore line. A year tick for me.

The bird in flight showing its barred rather than black tail feathers.

One of the obvious differences from the Black-tailed Godwit is the upturned bill. Slight curvature can be seen on this bird.

Brent Geese in flight. Always a safe bet at Titchwell.

A Cormorant taking a breather.

And in flight shortly afterwards.

A Lapwing enjoying the mud in the sunshine.

Thursday, 17 March 2016


Lots of activity from the Nuthatches at the moment as they hold down territories and set up homes for the Spring. There seems to be a constant calling in the Bollin Valley near to where I live. They are a super looking bird and one of my favourite woodland birds. Probably only beaten by woodpeckers.
If you have trouble seeing them, they will help you out at this time of year. Calling frequently, and allowing you to pick them out as they scurry around the trees, quite often upside down.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Common Gull

I rarely manage to get decent pictures for bird comparisons. I think that I'm always too busy focusing on one specific species and getting that nice unobstructed shot to think about how one looks in comparison to another. By chance, and by no means done on purpose, I managed to get a nice comparison picture of  a Common Gull and a Black-headed Gull. Both were stood nicely on the directional post outside Horrocks hide at Pennington Flash.

Common gull on the left, Black-headed gull on the right. Quite a difference.

Friday, 11 March 2016

The Longest Twitch

Two weekends ago my birding friend (Phil) and I embarked on what was to be my longest "Twitch". I have never really classed myself as a twitcher. I prefer to stay local and if something rare is around, casually stroll along and see if I can find it. 
On this occasion, the lure of Britain's 7th ever Hooded Merganser (if proven to be truly wild) was too much for us to resist. A 5:30am meet saw us heading down the M6 before we knew what had hit us. It never dawned on me that it wouldn't be there, as is my nature to be positive at all times. 180 miles later we arrived in Wiltshire at the correct site, to be told by a friend of Phil's that it had, to use his words, "buggered off". The air in that particular car park turned blue for several minutes as the three of us exchanged expletives of varying types. If I was keeping a list of English swear words I'm sure we ticked most of them off at this point.

So, what do you do when you've travelled 180 miles on a Sunday morning to to see a bird that wasn't there? Get straight back in the car and drive to the next target bird is the correct answer. Fortunately for Phil (who had kindly volunteered to drive) and I, it was on our way home. Well it was 25 miles further north if the truth be told, but we were heading in the right direction.

Enter the Penduline Tit! 'Please be there' I thought, as we parked up again. Joy of joys, it was there. Not very easy to see it must be said. I think we waited for 10 minutes or so for the two birds to show in the freezing cold. They didn't make it easy for us to see them either. Superbly camouflaged in the bulrushes. They stayed distant, but it was hard to complain when they had at least bothered to turn up, unlike the Hooded Merganser. It was a life tick for me, so was happy. Shame the pictures were not better, but it could have been a lot worse I suppose. 
From now on, I'm limiting my twitches to a 50 mile radius. That's the plan anyway.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Great Northern Diver - West Kirby

Some weeks back I headed to the Wirral to look for a reported Great Northern Diver. It had apparently been showing well for some time and giving very good views. The day I chose was grey and overcast, and by the time I got to West Kirby on the Wirral it had started to rain. Not ideal for finding a dark bird on dark water. Still, it didn't deter me. I was determined to find this bird and try and get close if I could. Easier said than done. There's not a lot you can do when a bird wants to stay out fishing in the middle of the lake.
I did the best I could, but the light, and anything else I can think of were against me. I had to settle for some more long distance shots. One day I will get some decent pictures of this species, and when I do I'll be over the moon.

Friday, 4 March 2016


I've been very fortunate to have several pairs of Bullfinch on the feeders outside my lounge window recently. I've counted up to five pairs at once, which I think is the most I've ever seen together. Along with Siskins, Redpolls and lots of the more common species, it really has been a good time to watch out of the window and while away the hours as the rain continues to fall.
I guess it won't be too much longer before they are harder to spot. The leaves will begin to emerge on the trees and Spring will soon be with us. Thankfully, I have some pictures to remind me when this does happen.

A good looking male.

And never far behind him, is the female.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Pennington Flash

A cold frosty morning at Pennington Flash is perfect for me. As long as you wrap up warm, it's ideal for lots of activity and a good variety to be seen more easily than normal.
I spotted a Kingfisher sitting in the red Dogwood. Too distant for the camera but great to watch through the binoculars. Plenty of gulls on the water and Cormorants at the end of the spit.
A pair of Mute Swans swam close to the shore line near to the car park and allowed me to get this nice close up .

Mute Swan

One of many Stock Dove seen from the Bunting hide.

Willow Tit on a frosty branch.