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, 2 February 2023

Water Rail - Elton Reservoir

One of my hardest to find birds each year is the Water Rail. The winter months are the best time to spot them, as the cold weather draws them out from their secretive reed bed homes, but they certainly don't make it easy for you, or give you a free ride. Sometimes you'll hear their squeal like calls, but never set eyes on them, and on other occasions you'll get the briefest of flights from one bed to another. Every now and again though they stay out in the open a little longer to give a good view. Make the most of it, as you don't know when you might get as good a view.
This one was seen at Elton Reservoir along the canal. Unfortunately the sun was in the wrong position, but beggars can't be choosers. A cracking bird to watch.


Perfectly camouflaged against the reeds .




Thursday, 26 January 2023

The Wirral

A day trip to the Wirral is always a good day out and more often than not packed full of birds. The Dee Estuary is one of the most important sites in the UK for wetland and shorebirds. Large swathes of marsh and wetland attracts many different species and lots in good numbers. From Pink Footed Geese to raptors and waders. There's plenty to see, and even more so on a sunny day. I took a day off work last week to coincide with some good weather and I made the most of it, visiting many familiar spots along the Wirral coast.
One favourite to see in the winter time is the Hen Harrier. The viewpoint of the marsh gives many miles to see from left to right and out in front. There could be many birds out there undetected while you scan the whole length. So picking out this ring-tailed Hen Harrier was a real treat. It was quite distant but a real joy to watch through the scope. These are no more than record shots, but a nice reminder of the day.

Hen Harrier

Another bird that appears annually on this part of the coast is the Snow Bunting. This one has been plying its trade in the sand dunes. A great little bird to see.

Snow Bunting


 

Friday, 20 January 2023

Snow Days

This week the clouds decided to drop snow rather than rain. The clouds are still here, but at least the snow gives back a little more light than the roads and pavement. It also meant that the birds were very active in my garden due to the cold weather. I had to top up the feeders as they were munching their way through loads. I decided to see if I could take some pictures of them from the lounge window. As I've not been out with the camera a lot recently due to the dull grey skies, it gave some light relief.

To top it off I had a Goldcrest that stayed around quite a while for me.

Female Blackbird does not look best pleased with the snow.


This Coal Tit looked blended in well.

Europe's smallest bird, the Goldcrest. So small and so fast. It never stays still.




Hard to beat a Robin in the snow.


Thursday, 12 January 2023

Drake Smew at Lapwing Lane

At a site I visit frequently in Chelford, there is a female Smew that overwinters, and has done for the last few years now. Not a common bird here, so it's nice to be able to see it fairly regularly. I don't see it on every visit as it is quite a large body of water and there are many places it likes to visit where it can be hidden from view. Excitement grew just after the new year, when a male and another female both turned up. I have never seen the male in a wild setting, only at the Wildfowl and Wetland sites where they are captively bred. So to see a male just 20 minutes down the road was a big thing. 

It's such a smart looking bird and such a contrast to the female. The male is mostly white with a black mask around the eyes, while the female is pretty grey looking with a red head. I think it is my favourite duck, along with the Pintail, so to be able to see one was pretty exciting. Can you tell how excited I was?😄 The only downside was that the light was once again poor and grey, with the threat of rain, so I didn't manage anything other than record shots that are pretty grainy, but still a great record of my first male Smew all the same. Being able to watch through the scope was more than good enough for me.

Drake Smew


Drake and female together (in poor light)

The female a little more in the open

Final image of the male when it emerged from the undergrowth


Thursday, 5 January 2023

Winter Thrushes

During the recent spell of wet weather, the fields local to me have become pretty waterlogged. Moorhens have started to venture off their ponds and are wandering around these fields in search of food, as are the Grey Herons. At the weekend it was the turn of our winter thrushes to have a look and see what the wet ground had to offer, There muse have been rich pickings because there were hundreds of Redwings and a very good number of Fieldfares too. Add to that our local and migrant Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, it was quite a sight.

Clearly they have now finished off the crop of berries that they had been feasting on in recent weeks, and been forced to the ground. There must have been something good there as they were there all day, bar the odd flushing from trespassing dog walkers.

Redwing




More distant and nervous Fieldfares.




Saturday, 31 December 2022

Icy Cold

A pre-Christmas weekend break in Norfolk turned out to be a very cold one. Freezing conditions the week before and also a sprinkling of snow made the journey a little more hazardous than normal, but to be expected at this time of year. The ground was frozen solid, as were many of the water sources on the marshes. One bonus, was that the previously muddy areas were now not so muddy and passable without the need for wellies.

With so much water frozen a lot of the birds were forced to congregate together on smaller open patches. There was still plenty to see, with a good selection of waders and wildfowl on offer. It was just so bitterly cold that I couldn't stay out as long as I wanted to. The wind on the coast was really biting, and especially at my fingertips.

Dunlin


Dunlin flying over the ice. Not something I'm used to seeing.

Curlew

Curlew and Little Egret

Little Egret and Black-tailed Godwit

Little Egret


Tuesday, 20 December 2022

Down by the Beach

A cold morning at the beach in Norfolk during the winter months always throws up some good birds. These were taken at the start of this year, when it was cold, but not as cold as it is here right now. 

There were some Pintail on a pool at Cley, and on the sea were several Red-breasted Mergansers. The beach held all sorts of waders, with Oystercatchers, Dunlin, Sanderling, Plovers and Curlew. Geese were flying overhead making lots of noise, just in case I hadn't noticed the vast numbers with my own eyes. The sun had not been long in the sky, so it made for some very nice light.

Pintail


Red-breasted Merganser

Common Redshank

Oystercatcher

Sanderling


Sanderling and Oystercatcher


Saturday, 17 December 2022

Morning Glory

Early mornings in Norfolk are great. If you can be out before the early dog walkers you can find some true gold. Much like these Golden Plover at rest with a few Lapwings. The sun was just starting to rise and the light was a nice orangey gold. I've said it many times, but this really is my favourite time of the day. When it's just me and nature, it feels like it belongs to me. Only I am seeing it at that time, and it feels special. Just need a few more of them to be bright like this, and not cloudy. Here are a few pictures of what I saw.

Golden Plover with a few Lapwings.


Grey Heron looking rather cold.

Grey Plover

Bar-tailed Godwits

Bar-tailed Godwit scouring the coast line

Black-tailed Godwit


Tuesday, 13 December 2022

The Darkest Months

When I took these images earlier in the year I was a bit disappointed with them. The light was not great, but it was better than these images portray. Having said that, and now that we have returned to deepest darkest winter, I now like the look of them. This is how things look a lot of the time at the moment in the early morning gloom. The cloud is thick and the sun struggles to penetrate, meaning that a lot of the birds appear to be colourless or varying shades of grey. I'm happy with these now and they look quite atmospheric.

Great White Egret


Marsh Harrier

Mute Swan


Friday, 9 December 2022

Goldeneye

In recent weeks some of our winter ducks have returned, and one of my favourites is the Goldeneye. Upwards of 20 are now on the local Redesmere lake. Always quite a timid duck, and so they tend to stay at some distance. These are no difference and they've been spending most of their time a good 200 metres from my viewing point. The odd few have taken a flight a little closer, but none of the males so far.

These are a couple of females that strayed close enough for me to get some pictures.

Female Goldeneye