Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Pied-Billed Grebe, Hollingsworth Lake, Greater Manchester, 10th November 2010

Whilst at work, me mate Ian Corbett from York rung me that a Pied-Billed Grebe had been found at Hollingsworth Lake, Greater Manchester. Fantastic, the grebe I was missing from the set. I finished work, got home and saw the images on Birdguides that the bird could be photographed reasonably close.
Next morning I drove to the Country Park, and the leaving birders all said the bird was showing.
I quickly walked the perimeter of the Lake, to where 50 odd birders were viewing the grebe which was showing across the small mere.
I had a walk down to the very small hide and entered, and to my amazement was virtually empty. Ivan Ellison was sat on the right hand side, and showed me some of his images on the back of his camera.
He explained that the bird would swim through the narrow channel, that joined the main lake (that the grebe was now favouring) back to the small mere.
I got into position as the bird was now right at the mouth of the channel, about to swim back into the small mere.
As it entered the channel, I got ready and the bird dived. It rose way off to the right having been underwater right past where i was sat. Typical! It then swam further off to right and seemed to roost for a while before wandering around the mere.
It then looked like it was about to swim left back through the channel, but turned back from where it had come from. Aaarrgghh!
I waited patiently and then all of a sudden it popped up right in front of the hide (which by now was heaving with twitchers).
I rattled numerous frames off as it was so close. There was no more room in the hide, and I felt I'd got what I'd gone for, so made my exit.
My good mate Mike Malpass was in the crowd getting images and all in all, I was glad I'd got down there early.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Waxwing, Barrow, Lancashire, 30th October 2010

An invasion of  88 Waxwings at nearby Barrow had Ian and Michelle Walker and myself heading for what we hoped would be excellant photographic opportunities.
We weren't disappointed as the flock were gorging themselves on Rowan berries, much to the delight of the watching birders. There was a constant noise of waxwings and camera shutters going off!
We were all happy with our images.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Buff Breasted Sandpiper, Crossapol, Tiree, Outer Hebrides 30th September 2010

With the news of a Northern Parula residing on Tiree, I was itching to go. It was my last day of a set of 4 shifts and the allure was too much. My good friends Mike and Jane Malpass were guiding at Leighton Moss, but when I asked if they were interested in going, both were up for it.
I left home that night at 2300pm and arrived in Bury to pick them up. We arrived in Oban for 0500am, ready to catch the 4 hour ferry trip to Tiree at 0830am.
Within 30 minutes of leaving Oban harbour, we had news that the bird had flown. (Just my luck).
Robert Pocklington was also on the ferry, and on arrival at Tiree at 1230pm, via stops at Mull and Colonsay, we all made our way to the little wood at Carnan Mor where the Parula had last been seen.
The message had been correct, the bird had gone. There were some long faces there, but if you stay at home, you don't see the bird, so you make the best of it, and get on with it. (Still had a long face though)!
We had Greenland Redpoll to keep our eyes open, and it had real  bull neck on it compared to the other Redpolls that were frequenting the nearby area.
With that, we headed towards Crossapol, where a pair of Buff Breasted Sandpipers had been seen near to a nearby football pitch.
It didnt take to long to find them, so Mike an me tried to photograph them. They were so close they were running round our feet. It helped with the disappointment of the Parula no-show.

With that, we headed back to the ferry port for the 1800 pm ferry back to Oban. We landed at Oban at 2200pm and the drive back home followed. I got back into bed at 0300am the next day.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Marmora's Warbler, Blorenge, Gwent, Wales, 10th June 2010

A visit to The Blorenge with Mike Watson to hopefully see the Marmora's Warbler was the order of the 'early' day. We struggled finding the site which was shrouded in thick mist after we missed our turning (even though Mike had visited days earlier. The mist was that bad. We arrived safely on site just after 0200am and tried for some shut-eye before first light. At 0410am the Marmora’s Warbler singing could be heard from the car, and so we had a walk round to try and locate it through the mist. Its silhouette could be seen from the top of gorse bushes as it sang whilst flying round its territory.
The weather deteriorated and the mist came lower, so we decided to head down the valley to get a brew and a bacon butty in nearby Abergavenny. Having been refreshed we drove back up to the car park, and walked down the road to where more birders were assembled. Usual suspects were around, Tristan Reid, Dave Hutton and the bird didnt disappoint landing feet away from where we all were. No one invaded its privacy and all stayed on the road.
Id seen Marmora's Warbler before in Corsica, so it was nice to get one on me British list. Great day, great company, and a superb bird.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

American Wigeon, Caerlaverock, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland 20th February 2010

News of an American Wigeon at Caerlaverock had me heading up the M6 north to see this American duck that had eluded me for ages. Every time I'd set off for one of these birds, I'd failed to connect. Not the rarest bird in the world, but surely today I had to make contact.
I wasn't to be disappointed, as on arrival the staff told me which pool it had been seen on. I paid the entrance fee, and headed to where it had last been seen.
Straight in front of the hide window, swimming around with Eurasian Wigeon, Shoveler, Mallard etc was the bird I'd travelled for.

Whilst photographing the bird, Ian Corbett texted me to say there was a juvenile Rose Coloured Starling coming to a feeding station in someones front garden in Kendal. So it was there I headed to as there was plenty of the day to go at.
Arriving in Kendal about an hour later, I parked up across from where the bird had been seen. It wasn't about, but there was enough food to keep it going for a while. I got me camera set up and waited patiently. Within minutes, it was sat on the house roof, so it was inevitable that it was going to come down and feed on the apples that were laid out on the garden.
 It did exactly this and wasn't phased by me or anyone else who was watching it.

A great day, connecting with two birds, and getting some images as well.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Black Throated Thrush, Newholm, North Yorkshire 21st January 2010

Thrushes have to be one of my favourite birds. They are always elegant and always catch your attention if a rarity is found. I'd travelled to Swansea to see my first Black Throated Thrush, so a trip up to North Yorkshire wouldn't be too difficult.
I arrived in Newholm, and the road was void of anyone, never mind twitchers. I positioned myself on the opposite side of the road, to where the bird was being seen regularly. The house with feeders.More birders were turning up, and as they did, the Thrush appeared in the garden already mentioned. It came and went, and when it did go missing it did so for quite a while, always returning to the same garden. A quality bird that didn't disappoint.