I spent a weekend in Northumberland with my Dad back in the summer, with the Farne Islands the main focus. Puffins in particular were the real focus, as my Dad had always wanted to see one, and what better place to see them in their thousands than these islands off the north east coast. It wasn't exactly wall to wall sunshine, and it was pretty gloomy on the day we took the boat out to the islands, so the pictures are not the best, but this little sea bird lights up any occasion.
Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you
Friday, 3 December 2021
A few weeks back I was lucky enough to see a couple of Hobbies in my local area. The first I was able to see was a juvenile bird, but already very adept at catching it's prey. The second bird was an adult.
You don't get a lot of time to watch these birds as they fly over and often carry on through. I managed to point the camera up to get a few shots as it went on it's way.
Wednesday, 17 November 2021
Redwings have been pouring in in their thousands over recent weeks. It's always exciting for me when there is a new arrival and these, the first of our Autumn Thrushes, are no exception. It's nice to have something new to look for or listen for. They're not the easiest of birds to see at this time of year though. With trees and hedges still holding onto leaves, they provide great cover for these berry lovers. Listening out for their call is usually the best way to know they are around, and then you have to be patient as they will take off at the slightest movement.
I think I waited along a hedgerow for about 45 minutes for these pictures at the weekend. I was positioned with the sun behind me and almost in amongst the tree line. The hedge they were in had a quiet road the other side. Every time cyclists went past they would fly across to the trees, wait a few minutes and then head back. This happened constantly while I was there, but I soon got to know the pattern. One would return and then followed by another and another. It made it easier to know where they would fly to first to perch, and how they would do it. I had no worthy pictures in the first half an hour, but then suddenly I cracked their code and was able to get quite a few.
The light was perfect and it the air was still. A very enjoyable morning spent with these good looking birds.
Thursday, 28 October 2021
There had been a Black Redstart not too far away from where I live for a few days, and I felt compelled to make the effort to go and see it. I usually see these birds high up on the rooftops of buildings in Manchester during the summer, so I thought it would be good to see one at a more reasonable height and position for my neck.
This little fellow was hopping around the roof of the Cat and Fiddle pub on the border of Cheshire and Derbyshire. I didn't locate it on my first attempt, so returned the next morning to find it. It hopped up into view after about 10 minutes of searching and then we just stood looking at each other for a while. So I thought it rude not to take a few pictures. Here is the little beauty.
Female/Immature Black Redstart.
Friday, 22 October 2021
I took an afternoon walk just to get out of the house last weekend. I didn't really know where I was going or what I was going to find. It had rained most of the morning and that hadn't helped my mood. So I ended up at what is becoming one of my favourite local spots. Lapwing Hall Lane in Chelford. There's a really good mix of woodland, scrub, farmland, hedgerow and a very large lake that attracts a good variety, especially in winter.
I could hear Redwings overhead and it wasn't long before I caught a glimpse of a few. They had probably arrived in the week for their winter stay here. I carried on to a wooded area that is very good in the colder months. First bird I could hear was a Bullfinch, followed closely by another Redwing and a Goldcrest. Then I spotted some other birds flitting around. I was delighted to get a small group of Bramblings in my sights. I'd not seen any this year, so was pleased to add them to the year list. Great birds, and I was really pleased to see them here. I was able to stand and watch them for 20 minutes before I'd had my fix and moved on.
Thursday, 30 September 2021
There was a very good supporting cast at Blacktoft where I saw the White-tailed Lapwing. Numbers weren't great, but the variety was. There was plenty of wildfowl, with Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall and Mallard in attendance. Snipe were plentiful, and I do love watching them. Even if they are resting and doing very little I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time studying them and their striking plumage. A couple of Spotted Redshank were good to see. A Great White Egret put in an appearance and got itself added to my year list. Oh and almost forgot, a Bluethroat. A rarity here and yet another lifer for me. A great day all round.
Saturday, 25 September 2021
Reports came in towards the end of last week that a White-tailed Lapwing (Plover) was at RSPB Blacktoft Sands, off the Humber Estuary in Yorkshire. Now this is not a common bird at all here in the UK, with only 6 previous records. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to head along the M62 to try and see it.
On arrival it hadn't yet been seen, but there were half a dozen hides to check, so it could still be around. Eventually it was spotted, but it was asleep behind a very overgrown island and could only be seen by a few to the far right of the hide. 4 hours later it took off and landed out of sight. This meant a quick march to the next hide to see if it was there. Thankfully there it was, wide awake and feeding.
It was worth the wait for a very good looking bird and a life tick too.
Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Similar to the Whinchat, is the Stonechat. I see these regularly throughout the year, but sometimes I come across a very showy pair. This was the case at Holme-next-the-Sea on the North Norfolk coast.
I suspected this may have been a pair busy nesting, so I didn't hang around, but was able to get some quickfire pictures before leaving them to it.