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, 30 September 2022

Until Next Year

It's that time of year again, when we say goodbye to our summer visitors and look forward to welcoming our winter friends. Some birds, like the Swifts, went quite a while ago, whereas I am still seeing some House Martins and Swallows around. They may of course just be on their way home and feeding en-route. Still brings a smile though as I look up and think awwww you're still here. I tend to look at them for a little longer than usual as I also think it might be another 6 months until I see them return. Hurry up Spring!!! It's already been too long. 

Some juvenile Swallows that I was watching over a meadow a few weeks ago on a lovely warm day.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Burton Mere

 A visit to the Wirral is always good, and especially RSPB Burton Mere at this time of year. Waders are returning from their breeding grounds and in good numbers it seems this year. There have been high numbers of Curlew Sandpipers on site, and I managed to see a few. A real bonus was a Pectoral Sandpiper which had been found just moments before my arrival.

Pintails were on the water, as were some Wigeon, a real sign of the changing seasons. Lots of Snipe were good to watch as they probed the mud. Teal numbers were climbing too. A Great White Egret was close in to one of the viewing screens, and a lone Avocet was also good to see. There was a good supporting cast of Cetti's Warblers, Green Sandpipers, Mallards and Coots. 

A few of the Black-tailed Godwits that were on the reserve.

A Curlew Sandpiper (centre) and a Snipe to the left.

This Great White Egret gave me my closest ever views of one, from behind a screen.

A Pectoral Sandpiper (centre) with some Teal 

3 Ruff (to the right) and a Curlew Sandpiper on the left

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

All Things Not Birds

It was a quiet time for birds a few weeks ago, but the weather was lovely and warm and perfect for other things to be on the wing. In particular the butterflies and dragonflies around Lapwing Lane Pool in Chelford. I had more than a dozen species of butterly and 3 or 4 species of dragonfly. They don't always make it easy for you to identify them though, and even harder is trying to get them to stop still where you'd like them to. That said, I had a great couple of hours stretching my patience.

One of my favourites, the Comma butterfly.

And with wings closed, resembling a leaf.

Small Copper. Very small and not easy to photograph.

Speckled Wood

Common Darter Dragonfly

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Autumn Feeling

 With the weather taking a more autumnal feel in the last week or so, it felt fitting to make a trip up to the mooors, where there will be a bit more going on in the months to come. Well, if there is not much going on it is certainly a very nice place to take in the scenery. 

A bird that will become more conspicuous is the Red Grouse. There were a few family parties around and all looking splendid in the sunshine. I love to hear their bubbling calls and to watch them scurrying around, trying there best to stay out of site, but then always popping their heads up as they give their position away.

Another upland bird that will soon be making it's way down the slopes in the weeks to come is the Stonechat. They nest up in the moors but will be looking for warmer lowlands and food soon. I found this juvenile flitting in and out of the bracken. It seems to be a good year for Stonechats.

Friday, 5 August 2022

Spotted Flycatcher

It's one of the last migrants to arrive to these shores, and maybe that adds a little something to it for me, as I cannot settle until I've tracked down a Spotted Flycatcher. They arrived towards the end of May and once again, I'm so lucky to know of several places that they return to each year. Just half an hour from home, and I'm able to spend a good amount of time viewing them. I love watching their flycatching escapades as they leap, catch, and return to the branch from which they took off from. Such agile birds, but very quiet. Very little song or calls, so you really are relying on your eyesight and peripheral vision to spot them. Cracking little birds.

Friday, 29 July 2022

Reasons to be Outside

Early Summer was great for welcoming back our migrant birds. Areas of the Peak District in particular for me are a great place to go and find them. On a warm June morning you should be able to pick out the calls of Common Redstart, Tree Pipit, Common Sandpiper and Pied Flycatcher. Of course, that does require you to be in the right area, and it's not always guaranteed. They can be there, and just not singing or calling. Or more commonly they're spending their time at the top of the canopy looking for insects. Add in the fact that the leaves are now out to make it even more difficult to spot. It does mean that I spend more time out looking than I would normally, especially if I've not been successful. Not that I'm complaining. Outdoors is when I like to be most.

Male Common Redstart

Tree Pipit

Willow Warbler with food for the young

Friday, 15 July 2022

A Tern for the Better

I take a trip out to Anglesey and North Wales at least twice a year if I can. At this time of year it is for the sea birds and the Terns in particular. The coast boasts some very good areas for these nesting birds.

The Little Terns are protected 24 hours a day by wardens. They are are there to deter predators such as foxes, Peregrines and Kestrels, and sadly from human intervention, either from egg collectors, or marauding dogs allowed to run free despite the signs asking them to be on a lead.

Each year this species is increasing in numbers at the site, and it is the largest breeding site in the UK for this bird. That said, numbers are still extremely low, and for that reason the wardens are very important and do a fantastic job. 

Little Tern

Sandwich Terns are in abundance at Cemlyn Bay and are the largest of our Terns. I'm always greeted with their screeches as they fly overhead on their way out to look for sand eels. I use it as an opportunity to practise my flight shots. If I miss one then I know another will be along in just a few seconds. Here are some of my better efforts. As you can see, they fly very close as they go about their business.

Sandwich Terns

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Yellow Wagtail

Seeing or finding a Yellow Wagtail each year is by no means a given. I don't often visit their habitat at the right time of year, which in hindsight I really should do. A friend of mine kindly let me know of a field where he'd seen up to seven birds. It was too good an opportunity to turn down, so off I popped to try and locate them. It wasn't long before I heard and then saw a couple land on a muck pile. There were plenty of insects to keep them occupied and feeding. I sat and watched for a good hour, which gave me a good opportunity to take some decent pictures.


I just love this vibrant lemon yellow colour.

Friday, 10 June 2022

Red Kite - Cheshire

In recent weeks there have been numerous sightings and reports of Red Kites in my area, which is not entirely unusual at this time of year. But the reports usually dry up as the birds move through. This year there seem to be quite a few reports still which I'm hoping means that some may have set up home in the area. Fingers crossed if that is the case.

I wasn't actually out looking for them on this occasion, and I had packed the camera and binoculars into the car, when I could see this particularly large raptor heading towards me. Views through the bins immediately had me onto this stunning Red Kite. A quick grab of the camera as it approached and then flew straight past me. Superb views of a bird I often only see from the car. What a smashing looking bird.

Taken by surprise as I hid behind the open boot of my car.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Golden Plover

I know of a field that often has Lapwings and Curlews in it at this time of year. They are joined by Golden Plover sometimes, but it seems like its a bit of pot luck as to whether you will see them or not.

I pull in frequently to check to see if they or anything else is there. It's a really triumphant feeling when you stop and scan the ground and there they are, scurrying about in all their finery. There were a up to a dozen on this evening, and some were making their lovely call. Nice to see them close up and not hundreds of yards away on a sandbank or field in Norfolk. They'll be here to breed, so hopefully I'll see a lot more of them in the coming weeks and months.