Last weekend I spent a day in North Wales. It's a trip I really enjoy doing each year. I started out at Cemlyn Bay and was really looking forward to catching up with some waders and Whimbrel in particular. There were lots around the bay, but they are a shy bird that will fly off if they catch sight of you, so caution is always required. Once you have their trust though, you can observe them and watch them go about their business. Slightly smaller than a Curlew, it has a shorter and less curved bill, but a really nice bird that is worth putting extra effort in to see each year.
Friday, 7 May 2021
Friday, 30 April 2021
One of my favourite Summer migrants is back in the country and I'm so pleased. The Redstart is a bird a long for once we get past the winter months. Countless checks of areas I'm likely to find one start in earnest from the end of March. These are in hope more than belief that one has come across early. Even still, the anticipation on those visits keeps me restless. Is that one? No. Is that one? No. And so the pattern continues, usually until mid April when they do eventually arrive.
I'm lucky enough to live in an area of the north west where these colourful little birds choose to call home for several months of the year. I've spent some good early mornings with these over recent weeks and they are fascinating to watch, as the males flit between branches and the ground for spiders and insects, and then remember their duty of singing to attract a mate. The song is what gives them away best in wooded areas, because they are not the biggest of birds, and are quite often found up in the canopy of the trees. It's a lovely fluty song.
Anyway, here is a lovely male Redstart. I hope to see many more in the coming months.
Tuesday, 27 April 2021
At this time of year if you venture into the Peak District you are bound to hear the bubbling call of the Curlew. It's a great sound to hear echoing down the valleys, only made better by a fly by.
Thursday, 22 April 2021
I set out one evening this week to see what I could find, but secretly really hoping to find a Ring Ouzel. This blackbird like bird has been moving around the higher ground recently and some seen in good numbers, but I hadn't come across one yet. Nothing where I would usually find them, so forlornly moved off to another area to just sit and see what would turn up. I was kept amused by the local Red Grouse and the bubbling Curlews, while a Stonechat that just popped up in front of the car out of nowhere and sat on a post and watched me, rather than the other way round.
Out of the blue, a large bird came into view and continued to quarter the area. A Short-Eared Owl!! Wow, I've not seen one of these for a few years now, and forgot how they make the adrenaline flow. This was really very exciting. I watched at distance, now out of the car, with the binoculars before it turned and headed towards me. Time to grab the camera from the car quick.
I stayed probably for an hour, mesmerised, finding it hard to drag myself away. In that time I saw 2 others at distance. So there are definitely 3 birds in the area. This all bodes well for some nice sunny evenings coming up. I had completely forgotten about not finding the Ring Ouzel. This more than made up for it. In spades.
Wednesday, 14 April 2021
An early morning visit to one of my favourite places was just the tonic I needed to lift my mood. It's been ages since I've been able to go here, or at least it feels that way. I was greeted with two Common Sandpipers almost the minute I stepped out of the car. These birds are great to watch as the scour the perimeters of our reservoirs, lakes and waterways. I'm looking forward to seeing more of these as we go through the Spring and Summer months.
Good fieldcraft is needed to photograph these shy birds, as more often than not they will head off across the water when they've seen you. Good use of a wall and knowledge of their movements helped me keep one step ahead. I left this one in peace and it was soon joined by it's companion.
Friday, 9 April 2021
I'm lucky to have some Black-necked Grebes that visit locally during the winter and early Spring months. These little divers are never easy to pick out on a large body of water, but when the sun is shining in the right direction it can be a little easier to pick them out. Thankfully this pair were not stuck under the vegetation around the edge, but out a little and enjoying the warmth of the sun.
These pictures are heavily cropped, as they were distant and I do not try to get too close to these birds. I used my tripod (which I rarely use) and good old fashioned fieldcraft, and patience.
Friday, 2 April 2021
Some freedom at last in terms of lockdown here in the UK. We are now aloud to venture a little further than previously and have ended the days of 'stay at home' (for now). So I went as far as I dared and made my way to the hills of the pennines in search of some of our Summer migrants. Who am I kidding? It was to see anything that wasn't a Blue Tit, Coal Tit or Blackbird. My year list needed to grow and I needed to shake off the shackles of the last 3 months.
It was cold and a bit gloomy to start the morning this Good Friday, but that also has it's benefits in stopping so many other people being out at the same time. I went to some of my usual haunts and picked up Dippers, Sparrowhawk, Chiffchaffs, Grey Wagtails and then some new ones to the year list with a pair of Stonechat. Then my first Wheatears of the year. These really are great birds to see, and they tend to make it easy to photograph them too, by perching nicely on rocks or grass tufts.
Anyway it was good to be out, and see new things. There were plenty of Grouse about and Ravens overhead, with a large flock of Curlew in the grass. I feel like the year has finally begun.