Monday, 25 May 2009

Wood Warbler - Barbondale, Lancs - 25th May 2009

It's been a long time coming but I've finally seen a Wood Warbler!

There were 2 singing birds in the Barbondale Woodland, however, only this bird was seen. It showed very well c100 yards from the gate at the entrance to the wood.
Other Sightings included:
5+ singing Redstart
2 Spotted Flycatcher
Tree Pipit
Green Woodpecker
mutliple Grey Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Treecreeper, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff (less of the latter)

Barbondale is a site I am hoping to visit much more often as it is one of the nicest place I have visited in Lancashire to birdwatch...I feel the 19oC Sun at 09.00 made a difference mind you

Friday, 22 May 2009

Bowness-on-Solway - 22nd May 2009

single Dark Phase Pomarine Skua Sea Watchers companion!
Arriving on Site at 9.17 I was able to enjoy an hour before High Tide and then a few following hours of Watching. I had great expectations, as arriving on the end of the Viaduct, I joined c10 other birders whom announced that 2 Poms had flown past about an hour before I had arrived.
It wasn't long before I saw my first probable skua sp at 09.35 shortly followed by 'I've got 3 probable poms in the distance'. They began to get closer and started circling at c1 mile distance clearly showing 'spoons' even at this distance. It wasn't until 9.47 that they had come over the viaduct so I has 11 minutes to get to grips with their behaviour which came in handy later on with other skuas. The 3 birds passed High over the viaduct all being pale birds and at the same time, a pale phase Arctic Skua didn't mess about and flew straight up the solway quite low...2 species down.
It remained pretty quiet after this starter until 11.30 when a merlin was picked up across the river and began chasing a presumed meadow pipit and eventually caught it in the air.
I picked up a Fulmar at 11.34 and that came up river passed the viaduct.
Between then and 12.11 there was very little except 9 Gannets which came quite far up river and then at 11.50 a large flock of c100 Kittiwake were flying extremely distant at about 3 miles.
12.11 came and a group of 9 skuas appeared and begun coming closer. At first they appeared like Poms as they were behaving similar to the first birds but as they got nearer, our suspisions were that these weren't Poms and were possibly Long Tailed. At this range, we would have suspected to pick out Spoons which we didn't. To our horror, they turned round and carried on out of the firth!!! A potential Lifer slipping out of my grasp! (Arctic Skua just don't show this behaviour on the Firth, so they were either Pom or Long Tailed...75% Long tail)
Nothing now for the next hour until 13.00 when one of the regulars picked up 2 birds. I got onto shamefully slowly but these quickly joined a group of 7 to make 9...these just had to be the same birds! A second chance!
We were viewing the birds for 10 minutes at c1 miles range. The Wing beats were a lot more 'flappy' than the poms and they certainly seemed a lot slimmer and less barrel chested than the poms. They begun to turn again...NO! as they did, they revealed more features that were pro Long Tailed. Much Paler underneath, paler head, very tern like flight, spiralling fights that i was told was a feature that they had never witnessed coming from Pomarine Skua. We were almost certain that we were onto Long Tailed Skuas...Fantastic but again these failed to come up river.
At 13.16 I picked up 2 Arctic skuas (dark phase and pale phase) and came up the river and begun circling 1/2 past the viaduct. 13.46 came and I picked up 2 more Arctic Skua (again dark and pale phase) at the same time, a regular picked up a Pom at the same place and range that the flock of 9 were picked up and it was clear that this was nothing like the flock, it was a much bigger bird, with a barrel chest and spoons visable almost clearly.
These 3 ended up joining each other and circled for several minutes above the viaduct clearly allowing the two species to be seperated (this is the Dark phase Pom in the picture above)
Based on the information given by the birders on-site and the views I had of the birds, I and the ohter birders were happy that the flock of 9 were definatly Long Tailed Skuas - A lifer!
Final tally of birds:
9 Long Tailed Skua
4 Pomarine Skua (3 pale, 1 dark)
5 Arctic Skua (3 Pale, 2 Dark)

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Amazing Fall Conditions eh? - Spurn - 16th May 2009

Humber Estuary from Crown and Anchor Pub.
Above below: rubicola Stonechat at Sammy's Point

Pied Flycatcher in Churchyard
Barn Owl at Sammy's Point.
With discussion on most bird related wesite of amazing fall conditions for the weekend, I simply has to pay a visit to Spurn. The idea was to go up on Saturday afternoon later on and stay over so I could start first thing on Sunday morning. On Saturday morning it looked clear that the weather front was changing all the time and we would only have a very little time before everything 'buggered off'. This in mind, we set off on Saturday morning and arrived at about 13.00.
My worst fears had come true as it was clear that everything had either gone overnight or mid-morning or become very elusive. There were 5 individuals I had in mind to see - Thrush Nightingale at Kew Villa, 3 Iterine Warblers at Beacon Lane, Sammy's Point and Easington, and Wood Warbler at Sammy's Point. Amazingly, we dipped everything even giving the Nightingale c4 hours of our time up until 20.45!
I decided to not be disheartened by the seemingly uneventful Spurn and take notice of the commoner migrants and obvious 'off course' birds.
acredulas Willow Wabler*, Spotted Flycatcher at Beacon Lane, rubicola Stonechat*, 4 Whinchat, Turtle Dove*, Lesser Whitethroat, Little Egret, Yellow Wagtail and Barn Owl at Sammy's Point. 1sts male Pied Flycatcher* and Chiffchaff at Kew Villa/Chruchyard. Also an immature ringtail Hen Harrier was seen near Easington over the Oil Seed Rape feilds.
*The acredulas Willow Warbler was a very grey bird on Beacon Lane that was lacking almost any sign of a warm yellow colour. The rubicola Stonechat was a very striking and seemingly unapproachable bird. The Pictures can hopefully allow the key features to be noted (it also has a white/Pale rump) Pied Flycatcher and Turtle doves were actually, amazingly, only the second time I have ever seen either of the species in Britain.
I also bumped into Barry Spence who had with his a Purple Cloud moth - c21st for Britain and first for Spurn/Yorkshire

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Spring Migration - Brockholes Wetland LWT - 14th May 2009

There was a certain amount of Spring Migration today with potentially 13 Black Terns Passing throughout the day (Bill Aspin - 1+1+2 >East AM, Carl Partington - 4 >E PM, Myself and other - 5 Mid PM)
Whilst onsite 5 Black Terns were present on No1 pit. There was a Male Garganey On Main Pool between spoon and central Island which was a first for the year.
On the Wader front, there appeared to be a good number of birds onsite - Sanderling (very pale bird), 9 Ringed Plover, Dunlin (S plu) 3 LRP, 2 Common Sandpiper, 19 Lapwing, Whimbrel, 4 Oystercatcher.

A very enjoyable May evening down at the patch.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Red Necked Grebe - First Site Record - Brockholes Wetland LWT - 10th May 2009

Red Necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena - Courtesy of Bill Aspin.
I would like to know of any birds that can compete for the 'Phwarr' factor than an Adult Red Necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena in summer plumage!?!
Allen Holmes found the bird after 10.00am on the morning of the 10th actively feeding on No1 pit. Personally I beleive this is a long overdue site tick sinse No1 and No2 were opened up into the No1 we now know.
It also asks the question that maybe with the opening up of No1 pit, the past records of fly-over Red Throated Diver Gavia stellata and Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus could have landed on the pit and potentially become twitchable records.
During the hour or so that I viewed it, a steady passage of East Lancashires finest appeared as well as 5+ Buzzard Buteo buteo flying high overhead.
A Fabulous site first and the 2nd first in 3 weeks at Brockholes Wetland LWT

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Crosby and Barley - Lancashire and North Merseyside - 3rd May 2009

Today saw a double twitch of a British Rarity and a Lancs Scarcity. We Started off at Crosby, Merseyside to see the Pallid Swift Apus pallidus which has been hawking over Seaforth and Crosby Marine Lakes for a couple of days now
Onsite I spotted the Bird almost straight away, with the help of the birders present. I was hawking with c30 Swift in the southern end of Crosby Marine Lake over the Carp Park. It showed incredibly well for at least 20 minutes mid afternoon and allowed me to note most of the key features of a very nice bird, e.g. Pale appearence, bold pale throat patch, translucent primaries and secondaries into the sun and occasionally at very close views, the scaled body feathers. It even called whilst onsite. A fabulourly educational bird. I also met Chris Batty onsite who really got me into bird watching in the beginning, which was great. [British Lifer too]
Next stop was Lower Black Moss Resr near Barley, Clitheroe. Here I twitched the Female Smew Mergellus albellus that was found this morning by John Metcalfe. The Bird was again located very swiftly after my arrival and fed actively on the northern end of the Res near to the inlet. This is a very good bird in Lancashire nowadays and certainly in May this is a fabulous record, however, i somewhat doubt its credibility as a true wild bird. For now however, this is an overdue Lifer!
This constitutes my 3rd and 4th Lifers for 2009 and in 2 weekends. My List now stands at 256 BOU