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 26 February 2015

Willow Tit (not Tit Willow)

A few weeks ago I shared a post on Marsh Tits in Norfolk. This week I have the Willow Tit which is pretty darn difficult to separate in terms of looks. In fact it looks almost identical.
The Willow Tit has a larger bib (that bit under the bill). Whole white cheeks and a nice buff brown colour on the sides.
Pennington Flash came up trumps for me once again for this bird in Manchester. Usually very difficult to photograph due to its speed around the branches, I got lucky with this one.

Sunday 22 February 2015

No Laughing Matter

I am slowly starting to appreciate gulls. It has taken me a very long time to take two looks at them, in case it is something other than a Black-headed Gull. I've found myself hunting down the rarer varieties just recently. As I said in a previous post, I even took to bribery to be able to get out to see the Laughing Gull.
Last weekend, I managed to fit in an hour or so at Pennington Flash, where it just happened to have a Mediterranean Gull among hundreds of Black-headed Gull. I also picked out a very nice looking Common Gull too. How times have changed for me and these birds. It's like I'm in a new relationship.

Common Gull

A good looking Mediterranean Gull
Before it moved closer, it was quite obvious amongst the other gulls.

Friday 20 February 2015

Waxwings. Our Winter Wonders.

Waxwings are one of those birds that make you go Wow! Back in the winter of 2010/2011 I was lucky enough to see good numbers of them on a few occasions. Every winter since I've been hoping and praying that I'll see another. There have been some around, but never in a place or at a time that was easy for me to get to see them. Until now.
This particular bird has quite a story behind it. It is a lone bird that has returned to the very same garden that it was feeding in in February 2013 with as many as 100 others. We know this as it was ringed as a first winter female at that time. The rings confirm that it has returned. The very good owner of the house puts apples out for the birds to feed on, and must be commended for his superb work in doing so and alerting others to its presence on a daily basis.
This time the bird is on its own, but it was such a joy to see. I hope its not another four or five years until I see my next one.

Tuesday 17 February 2015


One of the highlights for me when visiting Pennington Flash is the almost guaranteed chance of seeing a Bullfinch. On Sunday I managed to see two pairs as they actively fed from one of the hides. They always take my attention, so I'm not going to say too much else about them but leave you to admire them too.

The less colourful female.

Tucking into a real feast.

Friday 13 February 2015

Breakfast is served.

During my vain attempt to locate Hawfinch a few weeks ago in Norfolk, I did stumble across a bird that I tend to only see in Norfolk. Although, having said that, I did see one in Greater Manchester last year, but that is quite a rarity.
The Marsh Tit. So similar to the Willow Tit, that it is pretty damn difficult to separate the two. It's a great little bird though, and on the cold morning that I saw them (at least 2) they were playing ball rather nicely. Usually so quick to dart in and out of the feeding area, that it's a real challenge to put the binoculars on them.
Thankfully, there was a nice amount of food out for them and they were frequent visitors to a fence post that allowed me to set up the camera and wait.

Marsh Tit, tucking in to breakfast.

Foraging in the undergrowth  were a couple of Nuthatches.

A Robin, so friendly and so close, I couldn't get it all in the image.

Monday 9 February 2015

Look Who's Laughing Now

I wasn't supposed to be birding at all the weekend just gone. I had my daughter, and if there's one thing she detests, it's standing out in the cold looking at birds for hours on end. But this was different. A Laughing Gull was still showing well on the Wirral, at New Brighton, and with the possibility of some Purple Sandpipers too, I had to get the bribery tools out sharpish. This gull is native to North America, and so is hopelessly off course, and only an hour away from my doorstep. With the promise of a hot chocolate from Starbucks, plus a marshmallow on a stick and that I'd need no more than 15 minutes, we were off and out the door.
We (I) found it almost immediately on the pontoons as promised. A smashing looking bird, in its juvenile winter plumage, almost black legs and bill. A real treat for both Eleanor and I. Well, me. The hot chocolate was appreciated though.

On the pontoon with Turnstones, Redshanks and Purple Sandpiper.

Friday 6 February 2015

Lynford Arboretum

Lynford Arboretum is somewhere I always try to visit when I'm spending time in Norfolk. I usually make it one of my stop offs on the way. Well, it's actually out of my way, but well worth it. In the winter months the trees can hold Crossbills and it's a very reliable site for Hawfinch. I wasn't lucky enough to see any this time, but someone had kindly put out some feed for the birds on some fence posts. The temperatures were still well below freezing so it was nice to be able to close to some of our more common species, such as Blue and Great Tits and Chaffinch.

Hey!! That's mine!!

Wednesday 4 February 2015

OMG It's a Bittern!!!

Today, I have turned 40!! Don't really know where the time has gone, but I intend to be around for another 40 at least.
I started my Birthday celebrations at the weekend with my parents in Norfolk, our countries finest county for birds. The weather was not great at all, but we still managed to find some great birds.
Highlight of the weekend was finally catching up with a Bittern at RSPB Titchwell. We'd tried in vein a couple of days prior, but I wasn't giving up, and I arrived at the reserve shortly before sunrise on our last day. I was the only car in the car park and everything was shut. The rain was coming down and I briskly made my way to the Fen hide where it had been seen on most days.
After 30 minutes or so and not long after the hail had stopped coming in I saw a rather large bird heading towards me in the hide from the reed bed. A cursory glance through the binoculars had me panicking. It was the Bittern! In flight! Coming towards (not away) from me!
Through the gloom, I managed to point my camera at it and did my best, but I was excited and was half looking at it with my other eye. Only the second time I've seen one, and my other sighting lasted 5 seconds.
I see this as a good omen for my years ahead. I've celebrated my 40th year with a shaky in flight shot of a Bittern. If I can get another one in the next 40, I'll be ecstatic.


After it landed, I lost sight of it. So well camouflaged in these reeds.

Monday 2 February 2015


There have been plenty of Blackbirds around recently. Lots of them doing some gardening by turning and flipping over the dead leaves on the lawns and beneath hedgerows. Of course, they could be foraging for a meal, which I'm sure they are, but it's always fun to watch them do it. If only they could afford a rake. It would be much more efficient and save them an awful lot of time.

A handsome male standing proud. 

 The female, looking like she's in control of matters.