Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Cuckoo dips and Cheshire Ticks

On Thursday we decided to put the disappointment of dipping the Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Porthgwarra behind us and venture out on our local squares. 

First stop was the flooded field at Burleydam.  The 2 Whooper Swan and the Green Sandpiper were still present, but there was no sign of the Black-necked Grebe which had been seen last week.  We added a pair of Stonechat (a good record for our squares), plenty of Yellowhammer and Skylark, Wigeon and Lapwing to our sightings before moving on to Blakemere. 

Blakemere, Bar-mere and Ossmere were all very quiet and the only thing worth mentioning was a Drake Scaup at Ossmere.  No Goldeneye today but never mind gives us an excuse to try again later in the week. 

Cornwall - What no Yellow-billed Cuckoo !!

Lesser Yellow Legs

Monday, 20 October 2014

Local News ~ Mon 20th October

We ventured out this afternoon, following news on the grapevine of two nice birds in the local area at Burleydam - a pair of Whooper Swan and a Black-necked Grebe. 

The lake which has formed at the start of a farm drive on Lodmoor Lane held good numbers of wildfowl upon arrival and has apparently been a permanent feature for 3 years following heavy flooding. We spent about an hour on site recording 30-40 Wigeon, 20 or so Teal, 10 Mute Swan, a Green Sandpiper, 50+ Lapwing and the target species, pictured below. The photo was taken on an iPhone 5 hand held to a Swarovski 80hd.

Whooper Swan and Black-necked Grebe.

Briefly onto a non-bird note, I have recently moved onto a canal boat with my girlfriend (Sam) and our dogs (Luna and Harpo) and have moored in Nantwich Marina and as such much more canal based and local birding will be on the cards. So back to the birds! Over the last few days there have been a few nice bits knocking around our moorings with at least 4 Tawny Owls very active in the lights of the Marina and extremely vocal, much to the detriment of our sleep! We have also had a regular kingfisher in the Marina which occasionally perches on our Tiller bar and a very active pair of Grey Wagtail. Of note - it is as worth a mention that a flock of 70+ House Sparrow, 100+ Skylark, 20+ Meadow Pipit and 20+ Linnet are currently wintering in the "mile field" of Welshmans lane on the outskirts of Nantwich. Please keep a watch on this place for more on our canal nature adventure!

Kingfisher on our boat

Harpo (left) and Luna (right)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Local Patch Cholmondeley

The Cholmondeley Estate is one of my Local Patches, and we are lucky enough to have had access to the estate for about 13 years as Lady Cholmondeley is the Patron of the Nantwich Natural History Society.

Yesterdays visit with Ashley and Alex was unplanned and as often happens it turned out to be one of the best visits we've had for bird sightings in a long while.

Deer Park Mere was quiet so we headed off on foot to the Hide on Chapel Mere.  En-route we met the Estate Manager, James Hall, who usually has plenty of information on any wildlife sightings on the Estate.  Todays subject was snakes and slow worm, and just how many are on the Estate.  As we continued our walk to Chapel Mere we noticed some good numbers of House Martin feeding for a short time and then moving on.  Other birds seen included Raven, Buzzard and Kestrel.

At Chapel Mere the reed beds still held plenty of Reed Warblers and we even had a Sedge Warbler. Dragonflies were everywhere, which could explain our next sighting, a pair of Hobby feeding around the Mere.  The Hobby is a good record for the estate and we watched them for around forty minutes and managed a few photos.  Butterfiles were abundant and I got some good clear photographs of them too.  As we were leaving this part of the estate, I found a Spotted Flycatcher - another good bird for the estate record book. 

Back at Deer Park Mere, whilst trying to photograph a second Spotted Flycatcher off the Bridge. I spotted a Flock of Waders heading towards us - 38 Lapwing 3 Ruff and 6 Dunlin.  Unfortunately they didn't land, but again all good birds for this Estate. 

A great few hours out and just a few miles from home.   

Cholmondeley Castle showing Dear Park Mere 
(library picture)

 Small Tortoiseshell

 Common Darter



 Spotted Flycatcher

 Spotted Flycatcher

 Speckled Wood

 Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Unusual Local Breeding records

Last Week an email from Jason Mossman was circulated around the Nantwich Natural History Society, informing members that he had seen a Goosander on the River Weaver with 10 chicks.  As this is a brilliant breeding record for Cheshire I headed off to try and get some photos for the blog.  It was difficult to get close to them without disturbing the birds, but I did manage a few snaps, the best of which you can see here.  I recorded 1 Adult with 8 Chicks and a Kingfisher, who was very happy to pose for photographs. 

A second record well worth a mention is an adult male Grasshopper Warbler holding territory in suitable habitat within the breeding season.  This would suggest breeding has occurred or at least been attempted this year, again on the River Weaver in Nantwich.  (Library pic)


Grasshopper Warbler - Library picture



Thursday, 7 August 2014

Summer catch up

Just a few photographs from the last few weeks covering what has been a busy time doing survey work.  Sadly we haven't had a lot of spare time for leisure birding.

We did manage a weekend in North Wales at the Tern Colony on Anglesey at Cemlyn and The Little Tern Colony at Gronant.  Also a few visits to the New RSPB reserve Burton Mere Wetlands on the Wirral (this is the former Inner Marsh Farm site).  The RSPB have done a great job with the site and you could comfortable spend a whole afternoon there. 

 Speckled Wood




 Little Grebe with chicks

 Reed Warbler

 Little Egret now a common site at Burton Mere RSPB

 Black tailed Godwit

 Common Whitethroat


 Sandwich Tern

 Sandwich Tern


 Common Blue

 Little Tern

 Little Tern

Great black-backed Gull 

 Common Blue

 Dark Green Fritillary

 Dark Green Fritillary

 Dark Green Fritillary

 Dark Green Fritillary

Meadow Pipit

Saturday, 26 April 2014


We began today at 5am with a visit to the RSPB Capercaillie watch at Loch Garten. Unfortunately thick fog was against us and despite persevering for an hour and a half, visibility was always less than the distance to the "forward" hide (c50m) Although our quarry species alluded us, we were rewarded with excellent view of the smart male Redstart pictured below, which sang throughout our time in the hide whist the female remained within the nest box. Further to this, Red Squirrel and Siskin flocks offered a further distraction from the distinct lack of Capers. I would love to give you an update as to how the Osprey is doing....but we couldn't see it!!!!

Having made a decision that the fog was going to hang all morning, we moved on to Loch Mallachie. Spending approximetley an hour walking the loop trial, we finally heard our first Crested Tits, located on the Loch side. Here we also recorded Redstart, Goldrest, Treecreeper, Crossbill sp x 2, Goldeneye and Common Sandpiper.

Having briefly stopped back at the hotel for refreshments, we continued on toward Cairngorm Mountain, calling in at "the second" Osprey nest, seeing the female proudly sat on her nest, now we were having to compete with heat haze!!

Above 2 images: Snow Bunting

The majority of the afternoon was then spent birding the Cairngorm area recording of note Snow Bunting (above) and a stunning pair of Ptarmigan (below). Click on any of the images to enlarge and remember book for our 2015 at 2014 prices, limited time only!

Above 4 images: Ptarmigan