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

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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Buff-breasted Sandpipe

A special bird turned up yesterday at Burton Mere on the Wirral. A Buff-breasted Sandpiper seems to have lost its way from North America. We do get the odd one or two each year, but it's quite unusual to have one here in Cheshire. It was not a bird to miss. Chances are I might not get to see one again, and as it was only 30 miles down the road, off I popped.
Usually when there is something rare at Burton it is at the hide furthest away, and involves a trek with scope, camera, binoculars and tripod. This time, as luck would have it, it was showing well from the first hide. A real bonus.
I was put onto it straight away by the very helpful RSPB volunteer in the hide.
What a treat, and what a bird.



Saturday, 13 May 2017

Little Gull

A target bird of mine when I visited Burton Mere was the Little Gull that had been around for a good number of days. Thankfully it was staying in a particular spot that wasn't too far a walk.
It was busy picking insects off the water and taking the odd flight, never straying too far from the same spot.

A nice size comparison with a Black-headed Gull (behind).








Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Grasshopper Warbler

I've not come across a Grasshopper Warbler for a few years now. Mainly due to me not visiting a very good site where they are guaranteed. So it was a really nice surprise when I heard one reeling on the Wirral a week or so ago.

A very secretive bird, they don't make it easy for you to see them, and it's usually just their song that you take with you as a memory.
A little different on this day, as this particular bird showed itself a few times in a bush. These pictures make it look like it was just sitting there and close up, but it really wasn't. It barely stopped flitting and these were a good distance away. Thank goodness for the long lens.






Saturday, 29 April 2017

Marsh Harrier

I spent some time at RSPB Titchwell a few weeks back. There was plenty of activity, as birds were busy pairing up and nest building. Others were patrolling territories and some were just looking for breakfast. On my walk along the meadow trail I was looking for a singing Cetti's Warbler when I could see the unmistakable shape of a Marh Harrier heading towards me across the reed bed. Then another went past carrying a rather large twig. I was lucky to get into a decent spot on the boardwalk to watch the pair patrolling the skies for a good ten minutes.
I've watched these birds before many times, but they would never come close enough for any decent shots. Thankfully the light was good and they wanted to play ball this day. What a bird?

A great looking male.





As I was watching the Marsh Harriers a small bird of prey put in a fly by appearance. Too small to be a Peregrine, Kestrel was my next thought, but colours weren't quite right. I ruled out Sparrowhawk. What I had in fact seen was a Merlin. The UK's smallest bird of prey and a real bonus for me on a great morning.

Merlin.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Common Sandpiper

I love the Common Sandpiper, and I was disappointed a couple of weeks ago when I went to one of their usual haunts in the Spring and left empty handed. No sign of any. To be fair, I think I was a little early in the year, but I like to seen them whenever I can so purposely went in hope more than expectation.
This lovely little bird was a really welcome surprise at Burton Mere on the Wirral. I was on the lookout for other things when I spotted it on the banks from one of the hides. It did it's usual thing of moving in the opposite direction, but it came back my about 30 minutes later. It was worth the wait.




Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Northern Wheatear

The long awaited return of our summer visitors has started, and I went out especially last weekend to look for some. I knew a few places to look, places that I've been to many times over many years. Thankfully my main target was there in it's usual habitat and looking rather splendid too.

The Wheatear is a favourite of mine and confirms that Spring migration is under way.
The weather was favourable and I soon picked out a pair flitting around the stone wall.
I was then treated to a lovely courtship display that I had not witnessed before. Welcome back!




The male.

His female mate.


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Purple Sandpiper

A wader that I long to see each winter is the Purple Sandpiper. A small number over winter around our rocky coasts, and having missed them closer to home on the West coast, I managed to pick this one up on the East Anglian coast.
The rocks at Sheringham beach are an ideal spot, and I'd tried a few times on recent visits to pick one out. No luck. So I made a special effort to be at the beach for first light. This always helps as there is less disturbance from other people and the birds, fresh from roosting, like to look for food and so are quite active. I could see nothing at first apart from a 30 strong group of Turnstones. Always nice to see but not what I wanted on this occasion. Then as the light improved I managed to pick out a Purple Sandpiper washing itself.
I managed to track it as it moved about for the next half an hour or so.
Really pleased to have caught up with one.








Sunday, 12 March 2017

Turnstones - Salthouse

A weekend at my parents new house in Norfolk a few weeks ago gave me the opportunity to visit the coast. The North Norfolk coast is home to many varieties of waders, and one of my favourites is the Turnstone. I know a few places where it is easy to get quite close to these inquisitive birds.
I find them quite comical and love watching them as they scuttle about on the rocks or shingle beach. I parked up on a road that leads directly to the beach, and it being early there was no one else around. I could see about a dozen birds on the stones quite a distance away, so I started to walk slowly towards them. It didn't take long before they were actually all walking towards me. So I took my opportunity and got down low and waited for them to come to me.
They gave me some good views and it seemed that they thought I might have some food for them. I didn't and so just enjoyed them searching amongst the stones for their own






Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Secretive Jay

I've always found the Jay a particularly difficult bird to photograph. Sometimes it's even quite difficult just to see. They seem to disappear in the warmer months and only show again in the autumn when there are acorns to be stored for the harsher winter months. Of course, they are always there but just a secretive and skittish bird. More often than not you'll see them heading in the opposite direction, high up, as they've spotted you first.
The other week at Pennington Flash, I was grateful that one bird (helped by the hide I was in) was able to be a little bolder and come out into the open. It even gave me a few precious seconds to get some shots. It was a little dark, so they are not the best, but are some of the better shots I have of the Jay.



Who goes there?

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Bullfinch

It's always a pleasure to see a Bullfinch, and I'd not see one for quite a while. So I went to one of the places that you can almost guarantee to see them. I was not disappointed. Quite a few pairs were around. So I sat and enjoyed their company for quite some time and manged for pictures too.

Pretty good looking male.


And a good looking female too.



Monday, 23 January 2017

The Warming Winter Sunshine

Early morning and the late evening sun provides some wonderful light. Something a bit different to the norm. Add some water into the mix and you can get some very nice atmospheric results. An early start in North West Manchester provided a great opportunity for such light.
It was cold and calm, and there were plenty of birds. Most were very busy after their roost and quite a number came close enough for some good views.

A Coot making the most of the warming sunshine.

Female Mallard.

Moorhen.

A Pochard also enjoying the sun, but sadly it was a bit too bright in this shot.