Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Friday, 9 April 2021

Black-necked Grebes

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. 


With a nearby Coot, for some idea of size. These are very small Grebes.




I'm looking forward to catching up with these again next winter, hopefully.








Friday, 2 April 2021

The Hills Are Alive

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.

A really good looking male Wheatear.



Damn that tuft of grass. I'll see if I can get rid of it some how later.


The female




Friday, 19 March 2021

Exciting Times

Once again confined to living room birding, there has been some excitement this week, with a first Blackcap of the year visiting. A very nice looking female has spent a few days now scurrying around the various hedges and has even taken to having a nibble at a fat block. This bird was a day earlier than the first Blackcap I saw last year. So this makes me think that it may be a fresh in migrant.

Female Blackcap


More excitement when the male Bullfinch decided to put on a show for me, with the female that I presume is the same as the one I saw last week. I could hear it's call while I was sat in the window and then it flew straight across from my eyeline. A real treat.



Also this week, has seen a pair of Robins gathering nesting material and taking this to the bush outside my kitchen window. I have everything crossed that I get a group of youngsters in the months to come.


With leaf in beak.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Garden Gold

 Well, it's been pretty quiet of late. I am only birding on my daily walks, and rarely taking the binoculars out let alone the camera. So unfortunately there has not really been anything new to report.

Having said that, I did have my garden highlight of the year (so far) this week, with a female Bullfinch visiting. I thought I could hear it's call while working away at my desk, but couldn't see anything from there. I carried on, but then it flew across my window to the trees opposite. I was hoping that the male would soon follow, but sadly it didn't. I can't complain though. What a bird to have outside your window. Just to think that I wouldn't have seen this had I not been working from home. A real bonus.

Hopefully soon I will be able to get out and about a bit more, as it's really starting to frustrate me. I need my birding and photography fix. Plus the best time of year is coming, in terms of migration. 

Female Bullfinch





Friday, 26 February 2021

Sitting on Thick Ice

 A couple of weeks ago I had a dental appointment in Macclesfield. Running a little early, and afforded the opportunity to drive somewhere in the car, I stopped off at a very frozen Redesmere on the way.

I'd say the mere was 85% frozen with thick ice. This meant that the gulls were close in and resting on the ice, while anything else was distant on the very small open patch of water. It's much easier to check out the gulls if they are not bobbing around on the water. 

The Black-headed Gulls here were plentiful, with this one particular bird in the centre already in full breeding hood. The legs were also noticeably darker.


There were a few Common Gulls on the ice too. You can see the yellowish legs on the one left of centre with two sat on the ice just to its right.

I do like the Common Gull. Unfortunately it is not actually that common. Of the two sat on the ice to the right of the bird stood (again just left of centre) one has not yet developed it's yellow bill and is more grey with a blackish tip. This will be a 2nd winter bird and will develop this more into adulthood.

Common Gull sat behind Black-headed Gull. Shows the difference in size between them. Common Gull is quite a bit larger, and has a streaky head.

A really good looking Lesser Black-backed Gull in the centre here. Again, shows how considerably larger it is in comparison to the Black-headed Gulls that surround it.


Everyone else making sure the Lesser Black-backed Gull has plenty of room. No ones friend.



Friday, 19 February 2021

Garden Goings On

Still in lockdown, still not going out with the camera. So I have resorted to poking the camera lens out of the lounge window on my lunch breaks, as I am working from home. Thankfully there is a lot of activity out there at the moment, and the cold weather is helping to keep the birds very interested around the feeders. Coal Tits and Long-tailed Tits are busy on the fat blocks, but far too quick to capture as I stand at the window. Blue and Great Tits are always around and the odd Redwing pays me a visit.

I tried to pick out the easy targets, and some of those happened to be the ground feeding birds.

Dunnocks are looking good at the moment.


Female Blackbird.

Not exactly a bird, but I couldn't resist this little guy.


Robin

A distant Treecreeper has been a nice surprise visitor on a few occasions. Tends to move around with the Long-tailed Tit flock. 

Long-tailed Tit. Apologies for the blur. I am hand holding without a rest or monopod.




Saturday, 13 February 2021

Spring will soon be here.

I'm taking a look back at some pictures I took in the Spring of last year, as I can't get out at the moment. Not birds this time either.
I saw this Brown Hare while at Cley in Norfolk. It spent a good time chasing around the surrounding fields. Nothing unusual you'd think about that, but then it did something I've never seen a Hare do before. It got into the water and swam from one side to the other. It really shocked me, and had me watching open mouthed.

 

Not where you'd usually expect to see a Brown Hare.

This Stoat came back to see if I was really watching him. I sure was, and I knew he'd pop his head back up.

Friday, 5 February 2021

2021 Year List Begins

On New Years Day I headed out to try and kick start my new year list. I stayed local, but concentrated on an area I knew would give me a good number of birds across different habitats. With woodland, open farmland, hedgerow and water, I thought I'd be in with a good chance of seeing a variety of birds. I actually ended the day on 46 species, so was very pleased for just a few hours.

It was cold, with some fresh snow having fallen in the early hours, but already starting to melt. I knew the birds would be out and eagerly looking for food.

This Robin gave me an almost picture postcard pose in the snow.


I've found a really good Tree Sparrow location, with around 30 birds. Not easy to find these days, so I always take my time when around them to observe and enjoy these secretive little birds.


Lovely chestnut brown caps and the black markings on the cheeks.


The real surprise of the morning was finding these Whooper Swans. 25 in total, and a really good early year tick. They didn't hang around long, but just long enough to ID them at distance through the binoculars and to take a couple of record shots. As you can see, these differ to our native Mute Swans with their yellow bills, and are just visiting here for the winter. They will head off back to the arctic tundra to breed in the Spring.