Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Work took me up north on Monday, though not quite north enough for my liking!
This was my opportunity to see the White-winged Scoter that's been lingering off Blackdog/Murcar, as i didn't twitch it due to my work visit. After setting off at 3:30 and arriving in Aberdeen at 9:30 we then found we couldn't actually start the job until Tuesday morning, which gave me all day to look at ducks. I made for Murcar golf club and set up station overlooking a sizable Scoter flock, obviously no White-winged (well not to my eyes anyhow) but an Adult and 1s drake Surf Scoter was very nice as well as my best views of Velvet Scoter. What i hadn't realised was that i wasn't in the correct attire when it rained, so i got well and truly soaked. So off to the B&B to change then back out late afternoon to try my luck from Blackdog. Again a drake Surf Scoter and this time the flock, considerably smaller was quite close in, again no sign of the White-winged and again i got bloody soaked! (mental note to self : must pack rain mac) To make matters worse a Black Scoter was then picked up later that evening, ah well always tomorrow.
Busy, busy, busy at work yesterday, finally getting finished just before 6pm. So back to the B&B, shower and change and back to Blackdog, this time in glorious sunshine (no mac needed). Of course you turn up to be told by birders on site "the Black Scoter's just flown down the coast" bloody typical. As birders moved off to Murcar i stood my ground with 3 others and sure enough the flock came back to there resting place off Blackdog. As the flock grew so did our chances of picking up the bird and after some 30 minutes scanning the flock it was picked out showing very well at a distance, much better views than the distant llanfairfechan bird. Quite a striking bird with an almost bull necked appearance and very round headed, also noted was a slight brownish wash to the chest and flanks. Most noticable was that it was virtualy impossible to pick out when the sun went in, it was even difficult to see the Velvet's. Very smart bird though and just a shame i am not a dab hand at digiscoping as the results would have been much better. No WW Scoter but some very nice year ticks.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Nice to see you to see you nice.

A week working away in Watford and Milton Keynes came to an end on Thursday with the arrival of Dougie and his better half staying for a couple of days. With the ladies happy indoors we ventured out to Macclesfield Forest in the hope Dougie would get good views of the breeding Little Owls, the parents of last weeks young. After searching with no sign Dougie spotted one tucked up against the dry-stone dyke, never really allowing a close approach.

Friday morning and the ladies were off for some retail therapy at the Trafford Centre, which meant a day of birding. Not quite birding, myself, Dougie and Mike ended up on a farm i have acquired to check out the nesting Swallows. Just 2 nests occupied with 4 eggs in one and 5 in the other, Mike set a net in the barn and we caught a female. A visit in the next 10 days will be needed to hopefully ring the young. The afternoon was a walk around Lindow Common in Wilmslow with the slim hope of Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, no such luck. The evening was a cracking night out seeing the brilliant comedian Dylan Moran in Manchester washed down with a slap up  meal, well kebab at Abduls in Fallowfield. Who said romance is dead!

An early start yesterday at Woolston (again), plenty of birds with the star bird being a juv Treecreeper.

Lots of action in the garden over the last few days, but most pleasing was the sight of Nuthatches back on the feeders. Its maybe been 5 years or more since the last ones see.

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Not really one for fluffy cute birds, but these 3 just cant help but fall into that category.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Thank god for Manx

No sooner had i recovered from the (in total) 5 hours journey for the Robin i was back on the road heading for Point Lynas on Anglesey, in the hope of catching some Storm Petrels. A slight reservation was the fact i thought maybe it was a tad early to be trying, but nothing ventured and all that. We arrived around 10pm and set a net, whilst setting we inadvertently caught a pipistrelle bat. Anybody know what type? Once the net was in place we played the lure but to no avail. So, no sign of stormies but Manx Shearwaters were calling close offshore, so a quick tweak of the amp and a few minutes later we had caught a Manxie, awesome. We processed it and returned to the net to find another, excellent 2 in the space of 25 minutes. Unfortunately that was our lot but a fabulous catch all the same, even if they are are on the vicious side! During the late night/early morning lull we got a surprise when a Quail gave a quick blast of song. With that we packed up and left at 2.30am arriving at Woolston 4.45am where i put in a shift. I must be mad.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Back for Seconds

With no work today decided to head back over to Hartlepool headland for the White-throated Robin. Positive news from site until an hour from the bird, bloody typical. So with (still) no sign i parked up and took a look around the outer bowling green and surrounding cover. With what seemed like 30 or so bodies on site nobody was checking here instead concentrating on the inner green! Having checked the small scrub near the play park i bumped into Martin Garner, we exchanged pleasantries and started to search, it was a quick search. As we wandered along the fence line Martin said "there it is" sure enough it was in front of us on the grass. Over the next 30 minutes it performed well mostly around the inner bowling green and was a welcome upgrade on the brief, congested views i had on Monday. Bumped into Pod back after his pelagic birding in Madeira who managed a photo of yours truly in fieldcraft mode? It didn't work.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The big Four-O

Hit the big time on Saturday, the big 40! I don't feel any different, should i ? It seems to be a big deal to everyone else but me, maybe that's just me? Anyway, had a great day Saturday although i was maybe slightly worse for wear come the end of the day. Started super early (3.30am) down at Woolston opening all the nets we set up the night before and were catching almost immediately, the first Blackcap juvs were in abundance and an early fledged Reed Warbler also found its way into the mist nets. Another juv caught was this Willow Tit that we colour ringed.

The afternoon was spent snoozing, whilst Stacey (the wife) ran around like a blue arsed fly setting up the unbeknown to me gathering happening that evening? Before i knew it my mother, brothers with wives and kids, friends and neighbours gathered for drinks, food and a few games of cards. What they didn't get there mitts into was the amazing cake Stacey had made for me. The only thing that was missing from the party was all our friends from Shetland, you were deeply missed. Other than that it was a fabulous night with good spirits and copious amounts of alcohol consumed. Fuzzy head syndrome ensued Sunsday morning.

Joined old-man-Phil yesterday for the White-throated Robin, top bird but no photos! When it flew onto the blowing green the scrum was intense but the wait afterwards was good fun. Nice to see old friends for a chin wag.