On my patch in recent weeks there have been some fantastic birds dropping in. Spring, I find, is the best time of the year for seeing birds you don't normally see on your doorstep. The quite impressive list includes, Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper, (I did see it eventually) Little Grebe, Wheatear and Little Ringed Plover. The LRPs have dropped in and moved on again quite quickly but are a real joy to see when you catch them.
The new green keeper on the golf course is doing a sterling job with the drainage.
A Stockport rarity. Little Ringed Plover
Northern Wheatear have been in good numbers this year at Woodford
The other day, I missed a Common Sandpiper on my patch. Work got in the way of my birding once again. On Saturday though, I made my current pilgrimage to Macclesfield Forest. The heavy rain made me sit in the car for a few minutes. I could see the stoney bank of Teggs Nose reservoir and thought, I'll just have look through the binoculars to see if there is one. I put the window down and there it was. A Common Sandpiper bang on cue. Lovely little bird and very dainty looking in flight. I managed a few shots when I eventually got out of the car, but the light was poor and the rain was still falling, so they are quite grainy.
Can you spot the Sandpiper?
Same picture, but cropped heavily to reveal the Sandpiper.
Some more shots from Macclesfield Forest. A nice mix of birds seen last weekend. Another Crossbill below here and a Siskin.
I found a pair of Mandarin ducks sat up in a tree. Not really where I thought I might find them, when I was looking for Redstart and Flycatchers. I think this site will only get better in the coming weeks with the hopeful return of these two species.
Look at that bill.(please excuse the branch in the way)
A pair of Mandarin ducks in a tree. Not where I expected to find them.
Just when you think it might be something interesting, it's usually a Chaffinch.
The Dippers have been quite active along the river Dane recently with possibly 3 separate pairs along one stretch. Always nice to see, and certainly one of those birds that I would always stop to watch and be fascinated at their behaviour on and under the water. They more often than not fly low along the water much like a Kingfisher. When they are searching for food they can submerge themselves under water to pick up invertebrates such as caddisfly larvae. A very strange thing to see, a bird under water and enjoying it.
You can see here the Dipper with it's head under water, just above the mossy stone.
I love the bright early mornings. I was out for sunrise today in hope of finding Common Redstart or Pied Flycatcher. I had no joy on either front, but did end up with an impressive list all the same. It was back to Macclesfield and into the forest to start with. Crossbills once again were in good numbers. These were joined by Siskins, Lesser Redpolls and Woodpeckers of the Great variety.
I moved on to Wildboarclough where I watched 3 Dippers at different points and also caught sight of a Goldcrest.
Danebower quarry was the next scheduled stop and after a short wait the prized bird was seen, well two in fact. Ring Ouzels!! One of this pair took a dip in the river and had a good clean.
I ventured further towards the quarry and came across another pair. 4 in one morning!! I'd only ever seen one before in my whole life. Good times.
After this everything else seemed a little disappointing, but there was time for my first House Martin of the year and plenty of Red Grouse, Wheatears and Meadow Pipits. Oh, and Golden Plover formation flying over the moors.
Ring Ouzel at Danebower
Excuses in early. This was digiscoped with the sun in front so it does look like a blackbird, but it's definitely a Ring Ouzel.
A family party of Crossbills. Female on the left, male in the middle and immature on the right.
Another poor digiscoped shot, of Red Grouse this time. Look at those false eye lashes.
Our summer migrants are starting to return to our shores. The Chiffchaff's song, if I am being honest, annoys me quite a bit come May and June. But hearing it for the first time in Spring makes me glow with excitement. It's the realisation that everything will be as normal and we will soon be joined by the many other migrants that make their own long journeys. Blackcaps too are appearing in good numbers. Their scratchy song can be heard now. They don't make it too easy for you to see them though, as they sing usually among the branches, as opposed to perching nicely on top for you. Very nice looking birds.
Pennington Flash in Leigh has many different varieties of habitat, which is why it attracts so many different species of bird and is widely seen as the premier birding site in Greater Manchester. Just this week, an Osprey has been on site on more than one occasion.
My highlights today were seeing my first Sand Martins of the year and some good views of Snipe. A truly stunning little bird I never tire of seeing. You rarely leave the Flash disappointed. If all else fails there is always the Bunting Hide, where you are more or less guaranteed good views of Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Willow Tit and many more. I try to get round the whole site but always make a point of calling in to the Bunting as one of my last stops. Below are just a few Bullfinch shots from today.
A lovely pair
A handsome male
An equaly good looking female (if not so colourful)
Another trip to Mum and Dad's meant I got to do an early morning walk around Roding Valley Meadows in Loughton. A nice cold frosty start saw a lingering mist over the River Roding, but a good list of birds were seen nonetheless. A Little Egret was close to the Oakwood Estate along with two Ring-necked Parakeets and a Green Woodpecker. Closer to the Buckhurst Hill end were Reed Bunting, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, with a single Kingfisher darting along the river. (Yes Wayne they are there!)
Lots of birds were in full song and a few of my pictures here show just that.
Early morning mist over the running track and River Roding