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

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

Wednesday, 17 November 2021


Redwings have been pouring in in their thousands over recent weeks. It's always exciting for me when there is a new arrival and these, the first of our Autumn Thrushes, are no exception. It's nice to have something new to look for or listen for. They're not the easiest of birds to see at this time of year though. With trees and hedges still holding onto leaves, they provide great cover for these berry lovers. Listening out for their call is usually the best way to know they are around, and then you have to be patient as they will take off at the slightest movement.

I think I waited along a hedgerow for about 45 minutes for these pictures at the weekend. I was positioned with the sun behind me and almost in amongst the tree line. The hedge they were in had a quiet road the other side. Every time cyclists went past they would fly across to the trees, wait a few minutes and then head back. This happened constantly while I was there, but I soon got to know the pattern. One would return and then followed by another and another. It made it easier to know where they would fly to first to perch, and how they would do it. I had no worthy pictures in the first half an hour, but then suddenly I cracked their code and was able to get quite a few.

The light was perfect and it the air was still. A very enjoyable morning spent with these good looking birds.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Black Redstart

There had been a Black Redstart not too far away from where I live for a few days, and I felt compelled to make the effort to go and see it. I usually see these birds high up on the rooftops of buildings in Manchester during the summer, so I thought it would be good to see one at a more reasonable height and position for my neck.

This little fellow was hopping around the roof of the Cat and Fiddle pub on the border of Cheshire and Derbyshire. I didn't locate it on my first attempt, so returned the next morning to find it. It hopped up into view after about 10 minutes of searching and then we just stood looking at each other for a while. So I thought it rude not to take a few pictures. Here is the little beauty.

Female/Immature Black Redstart.

You can just make out the red of the tail in this light.

Friday, 22 October 2021

Signs of Winter

 I took an afternoon walk just to get out of the house last weekend. I didn't really know where I was going or what I was going to find. It had rained most of the morning and that hadn't helped my mood. So I ended up at what is becoming one of my favourite local spots. Lapwing Hall Lane in Chelford. There's a really good mix of woodland, scrub, farmland, hedgerow and a very large lake that attracts a good variety, especially in winter.

I could hear Redwings overhead and it wasn't long before I caught a glimpse of a few. They had probably arrived in the week for their winter stay here. I carried on to a wooded area that is very good in the colder months. First bird I could hear was a Bullfinch, followed closely by another Redwing and a Goldcrest. Then I spotted some other birds flitting around. I was delighted to get a small group of Bramblings in my sights. I'd not seen any this year, so was pleased to add them to the year list. Great birds, and I was really pleased to see them here. I was able to stand and watch them for 20 minutes before I'd had my fix and moved on.


I continued my walk and leant on a gate to see what was across a stubbly field. I thought I was going to be looking at a large flock of Canada Geese, but it was obvious very quickly that I had a good number of Pink footed Geese in with them.  I'd seen a few large skeins fly over recently, but these were the first of the year that I'd seen down on the ground. Winter has arrived (in bird terms) and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

The Pink footed Geese are the ones with the darker heads, with Canada and Greylag at the back.

Unusually, there were still some signs of the summer months with some butterflies and dragonflies still on the wing. 

Small Copper Butterfly

Comma Butterfly

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve

There was a very good supporting cast at Blacktoft where I saw the White-tailed Lapwing. Numbers weren't great, but the variety was. There was plenty of wildfowl, with Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall and Mallard in attendance. Snipe were plentiful, and I do love watching them. Even if they are resting and doing very little I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time studying them and their striking plumage. A couple of Spotted Redshank were good to see. A Great White Egret put in an appearance and got itself added to my year list. Oh and almost forgot, a Bluethroat. A rarity here and yet another lifer for me. A great day all round.

Spotted Redshank

Common Snipe

Great White Egret

The Goldfinch were busy feeding while I was sat in one of the hides.

A very distant Bluethroat that was flitting around a long way away at the base of the reeds.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

White-tailed Lapwing - Blacktoft Sands

Reports came in towards the end of last week that a White-tailed Lapwing (Plover) was at RSPB Blacktoft Sands, off the Humber Estuary in Yorkshire. Now this is not a common bird at all here in the UK, with only 6 previous records. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to head along the M62 to try and see it.

On arrival it hadn't yet been seen, but there were half a dozen hides to check, so it could still be around. Eventually it was spotted, but it was asleep behind a very overgrown island and could only be seen by a few to the far right of the hide. 4 hours later it took off and landed out of sight. This meant a quick march to the next hide to see if it was there. Thankfully there it was, wide awake and feeding. 

It was worth the wait for a very good looking bird and a life tick too.

The White-tailed Lapwing with is really nice long yellow legs.

Seen here on the left, with a Ruff on the right. Giving a good size comparion.

I saved my best for last.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021


Similar to the Whinchat, is the Stonechat. I see these regularly throughout the year, but sometimes I come across a very showy pair. This was the case at Holme-next-the-Sea on the North Norfolk coast.

I suspected this may have been a pair busy nesting, so I didn't hang around, but was able to get some quickfire pictures before leaving them to it.

Friday, 3 September 2021


I made many trips and travelled many miles in search of a Whinchat in the Spring of this year, and all to no avail. I didn't find any on passage or at a trusted site for breeding. I had all but given up seeing one this year. Until that is I saw reports of them on the move again, and they were starting to move down off the hills. I had somewhere that usually gets the odd Redstart and Stonechat passing through at this time of year, and so I thought I'd go and take a walk and see if there was any sign. I checked the usual fence lines and bushes, but no sign of any Whinchats. In fact there was very little of interest about. 
I hopped over a style and carried on my walk towards the River Dean. Plenty of Swallows were around and the juveniles were resting on the fence wires. I took a cursory look through the binoculars across a wheat field, when I caught sight of a bird zipping over the top. I got a good look at it, and long enough to rule out Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit that can be in the area. I thought it might be a Stonechat, but then it popped up on top of the crop. This was a Whinchat!! I'd actually forgotten to look for one by this stage, so it was real delight to see one. Only issue was that I didn't had ;eft my camera in the car.
I walked all the way back to get it and returned. Thankfully, it was still there and I was able to get a few pictures. Another good year tick.

Friday, 20 August 2021

RSPB Bempton Cliffs

Last month I made a visit to Bempton cliffs with a couple of my birding friends. We were hoping to see the Black-browed Albatross that had been in the around for a couple of a few weeks. Unfortunately on the morning we went, it had decided to go AWOL, and wasn't seen at all that day. It has since returned, but is very hit and miss. I'm hoping to see it one day, but will leave it for a while just at the moment.

Meanwhile, there was plenty to see on the rocks and sea below. Gannets galore, plus the usual Guillemots, Razzorbills and Kittiwakes. It was a hot day, which was a bonus, as the near 3 hour journey would have been really miserable in the rain. Just a reminder that not every twitch is successful, but I guess that's part of the fun.

Not an Albatross, but part of the same family, a Fulmar in flight and good light.

Gannets were plentiful.

Ever wondered what a sleeping Guillemot looks like? 👇

Kittiwakes were noisy on the cliffs.

There were not too many Puffins left.