Another fresh arrival to these shores is the Common Sandpiper. I found five the other evening around the shore line of a local reservoir. They were all very vocal and there was a lot of display going on and chasing from one side to the other. This all made it very easy for me to pick them out. It also meant I could stay in one place and watch them and just enjoy their exploits. I was the least of their worries as they jostled for a mate and territory. A super bird that I like to watch each year as it skirts around the banks for food. Just stay out of sight, or they will be off.
Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you
Wednesday, 11 May 2022
I have never been able to photograph the Garden Warbler. These birds do not make it easy to see them, and more often that not they will sing from within trees or bushes. Also, they are not exactly brightly coloured birds, so not the easiest to spot as they move through the branches. During lockdown I found three pairs locally, and a couple of the males gave really good views. Of course, I didn't have my camera with me due to the restrictions. So I made it an aim of mine for this year to revisit the sites and see if they came back. This is where keeping handwritten records came in extremely useful, as I knew the dates and I'd seen them and where exactly.
I found two of the three pairs upon my first visit this year, and this time I had my camera at hand. They didn't exactly play ball as they did last year, but a little patience paid off, as I was able to get a few quick shots of one before it retreated back to it's hideaway. As you can see below, they are next going to win any awards for looks, but they do have a very nice song, and similar to that of the Blackcap.
Friday, 6 May 2022
My recent visits to the Goyt Valley have been in hope of finding newly arrived migrants. One of those I always look forward to seeing again are the Pied Flycatchers. A lovely little black and white bird that flits around the canopy of the trees looking for it's meal. I came across my first one on the 18th April, which was almost identical to the previous years first finding. This particular male was singing, which helped me to track it down in the first instance. Seeing it after that was not so easy. I always forget how small they are, and it's always a job to see the movement through the branches. See it I did though, and spent a good amount of time watching it flit and pick off insects, then stop for a bit of song.
Friday, 29 April 2022
I'm so fortunate to live close to some fantastic bird habitats. One of those habitats is upland moors. Go at the wrong time of year, and you'd wonder if you're the only one alive up here, as it can be very desolate and the weather unforgiving. The wind howls through at speed and the icy chill can be felt no matter how many layers you have on. Fast forward to Spring, and it's still not particularly warm, but signs of life come from all angles. The Curlew can be heard bubbling, the Red Grouse pop their heads up and the Meadow Pipits are like swarms of flys as they are absolutely everywhere. Throw into the mix returning Wheatears, Golden Plover and if you're very lucky the Ring Ouzel, then it's a very special place to be.
Every year I make numerous visits hoping to see the Ring Ouzel return. I saw none last year, and was beginning to wonder if disturbance by many more walkers since Covid lockdown had pushed them on to other parts. Thankfully this year I have seen them on a few occasions and in song too. I hope this means that last year was just a blip.
The female, which is brown and the bib not so crisp white as the male.
Thursday, 21 April 2022
An Easter weekend break at my parent's in Norfolk gave me an opportunity to top up my year list. It also gave me the chance to look for a rare goose that had been in the area around Cley and Blakeney for a few weeks. The Red-breasted Goose was associating with a flock of Brent Geese, and most likely had joined the wrong flock as it left it's wintering grounds. This was the first seen in Norfolk since 1988 and the first time I had seen one outside of a Wildfowl and Wetland Trust centre, where they help to captively breed this endangered bird. With only 40,000 of these birds estimated to be in the wild, these really are on the brink. Whatever this birds origin, it was a real pleasure to be able to see it and spend some time with it.
It wasn't an easy find. Blakeney is quite a vast area with long grass and vegetation. Add to that, multiple flocks of Brent Geese to scan through, it was down to my trusty side-kick Lisa to actually pick it out and make my day. We were able to follow the path in it's direction to get closer views. There was the river Glaven between us and it, and a good 50-100 yards. It continued to feed and walk towards us and gave me a great opportunity to get some shots that I didn't think I would ever get. What a special bird it is.
Thursday, 14 April 2022
The weather is improving, the temperature is warming up. The blossom is on the trees, and some of our Summer migrants are starting to return. Things are looking good again, and the air is filled with bird song that I've not heard for a long time. Chiffchaffs in particular are now here in abundance, and they aren't wasting any time in letting people know that they are here. Other than the Wrens, Tits and other garden birds, they are a real noticeable call to hear, and it makes me smile. They will soon be joined by Willow Warblers, Whitethroats and some other more exotic looking birds, but right now I'm loving hearing them call incessantly. It adds a little extra joy to my walks.
Friday, 25 March 2022
A walk around my local patch serves to remind me that there is always something to see. Any bird of prey always gets me looking more than twice. Kestrels are common in my area, but it's always nice to see them and watch where they go and see what they do. It was a bit gloomy, but the colour came out ok.
Friday, 18 March 2022
There has been a Red-throated Diver on a reservoir in Greater Manchester since before Christmas, and nothing but laziness (and the cold wet weather) has stopped me from venturing out to go and see it. Usually seen around the coasts of the UK, it's quite unusual for one to stay so long in land. My usual sightings of these birds are through a scope whilst sea watching on the East coast, so it was really nice to be able to see one at very close quarters and for a prolonged period of time. I would usually see a Great Northern Diver in these parts at this time of year, but the Red-throated is quite unusual.
The weather last weekend was good, so I made the 30 mile trip round to Watergrove reservoir in Rochdale. A place I have been on many occasions, and more often than not it is windy and very wet underfoot. Initially I spotted the bird on the far side, and walked along the wall in hope that it would make it's way across to me at some point. I watched it dive and waited for a good few minutes before it resurfaced. Much to my delight, it was only about 30 metres from me now, and there it stayed without diving for almost half an hour. What an absolute treat to watch this bird so close, and it even meant the camera got an outing too.
Thursday, 10 March 2022
The sun has returned in recent weeks, and even better than that, at the weekend. Woo hoo! Being able to go for a walk without covering up your binoculars from the rain, and even getting the camera out of the car is a nice feeling.
I took a few local walks last weekend to Redesmere and Chelford. There were good numbers of birds about enjoying the sunshine too. Birds that I have noticed an awful lot this winter have been Siskins. They seem to be around on most of my walks and in places I'd not come across them before. There was a large flock of 50+ at Redesmere and within that flock were around a dozen Lesser Redpolls. Both of these birds are quite small and flighty, and also like to feed at the top of trees. If they are not making their calls they can be easily overlooked. I managed to track them down and once seen, they were happy to keep feeding and doing acrobatics. Both these birds like to feed upside down and it can look quite comical at times.
In Chelford the long staying over-wintering pair of Smews were still in attendance. They are usually a telescope view away, and tucked under the over hanging vegetation, but on this occasion both were out in the open and in the sunshine. A great opportunity for a record shot.