Sunday, 29 September 2013

Back on my favourite local patch

We spent the late morning/early afternoon today on the Cholmondeley Estate. It was a beautiful Autumn day and it seemed a shame to just sit indoors.  The first birds we heard as soon as we got on site, were a flock of Crossbill, spotting them was a little more tricky.   We heard them constantly as we walked the path and finally managed decent views as they settled in a distant plantation. 

A good display of Raptors included: Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine. As we watched the buzzards overhead we recorded 150+ House Martin heading south westerly at a considerable height.

A single female Pintail was showing distantly on the mere, this is an excellent record for this part of Cheshire.  As we walked round the edge of the mere, we only saw a single Reed Warbler, an indication  that most have now moved on.   

The pictures below show some of the fungi we saw today - a new interest for us.   

 Fly Agaric
 Speckled Wood
 Birch Polypore


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Great Snipe - Great Day

As work commitments kept us from seeing the Great Snipe on the East coast at Kilnsea over the weekend we set out this morning with fingers crossed, as initially negative news had been put out.  

I have found 7 Great Snipe in Europe over the years but have dipped at least six in Britain, bearing that in mind I was very keen to add the species to my British list.  Survey work out of the way we were on the road for 10.30am and around three hours later we arrived at the site.  The next 3 hours were spent watching this wonderful bird.  The Blue Bell Cafe provided us with half an hours relief from the increasing gusts of wind,  along with an excellent light lunch in the company of an even rarer sight than the Great Snipe,  Shropshire Birder Martin Ryder and his wife whom we have not seen out birding for a long time.   

Gannet has eluded me so far this year so I decided to have an hour sea watching.  For those of you who know me - yes it really was an hour - for those that don't know me,  I hate sea watching and an hour is as much as I can take.  However, the hour produced 3 Gannet, a single Arctic Skua and 20 Common Scoter, so was well worth my time.  From here we moved on to the nearby Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Kilnsea Wetlands wader scrape.  2 Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 3 Ruff, 3 Little Egret and a couple of Little Stint to add to the days list.  

A Red-backed Shrike had been showing well for a few days at Peter's Lane Easington,  just a short drive away so we stopped for 10 minutes before heading back to Cheshire. 

 "Give me some room and I will show way better than this"

 Great Snipe

 Little Stint

 Red-backed Shrike  - "honest" 

Little Egret

Monday, 9 September 2013

Local Patch and Pennington Flash

Late Thursday afternoon I decided to take a walk with our dog up to Cholmondeley and have a saunter around Deer Park Mere.  It turned out to not only be a pleasant autumn walk but a worthwhile venture recording three Spotted Flycatcher. This is the only time we seem to record this species on the Estate - during the return migration. Other birds of note were Raven (4) and a couple of Reed Warbler along with a very showy Tawny Owl.  On the drive back home the lanes of this part of South Cheshire well, the wires above the lanes, were alive with Swallow readying themselves for there long journey South. 

 Tawny Owl
 Barn Swallows
 More Swallows

Friday morning the weather was bright and sunny as I made the 50 minute drive to Pennington Flash in Greater Manchester.  A moulting male Lesser Scaup had been seen there and my aim was to get some close up photos.  3 hours later the nearest the bird came was in the shot you can see below !  Still a very pleasant place to while away a few hours birding.

 Lesser Scaup
 Great Crested Grebe
Tufted Duck

Friday, 6 September 2013

Another Cheshire Lifer Stilt Sandpiper

Ashley Powell (author) / Mark Powell / Alex Gummer 

I was working away on Saturday, so it was not until Sunday that we had a chance to nip down the road to Northwich for yet another Cheshire lifer!! Stilt Sandpiper has been a bit of a bogey bird for me over the years, so to potentially see one less than 20 miles away from home was a very exciting prospect.

Despite being distant the Stilt Sandpiper showed well and at 60 x magnification a great view was achieved. All of the identification features of this superb North American wader could be seen after a while, including the leg colour when it eventually stopped feeding. After spending a couple of hours with the bird and chatting with some old friends, we went for a stroll around Ashton's flash, here a number of Ruff and Snipe were added to the wader list, see pictures below. Thanks to Pete Antrobus for his fantastic picture of the Stilt Sand, featured below.

 Stlit Sandpiper Cheers Pod
 its there somewhere
 there it is
 Green Sandpiper
 Common Snipe
 four of the seven Ruff on site
Two More