Saturday 28 February 2009

Back to the tip.

Back to Arpley tip this morning for our organised gull watch, observer numbers were lower than normal but fortunately that seemed to mirror the gull numbers. Still, a good selection was seen with a juv Glaucous Gull first off that showed well most of the morning together with 2x1w Iceland Gulls, 4 Yellow-legged Gulls, 1w Med Gull and a 3rd winter Gull that superficially looked good for Caspian, it ticked all the boxes but its head didnt fit ? Theres a photo so see what you think. Once we cleared off from Arpley it was over to Richmond Bank and just in time also, within 2 minutes of arriving we had an Adult Iceland Gull then a 1w Iceland Gull and that was it ? A tidal surge up the mersey covered the exposed mud banks and cleared out the gulls. All in all a great days learning, again.

Friday 27 February 2009

1 in 5000

Decided to whet my appitite this afternoon in preperation for tomorrows Arpley gull watch with a visit to Audenshaw Reservoir for the gull roost. The last time i came here was in 2007 and have memories of dodging dog shit, not too bad now with the Fort Knox like security fencing doing its trick, bar the few missing railings to squeeze in ! Plenty of gulls were spread across the 3 Reservoirs but for all the searching the best i could come up with was an Adult Med Gull amongst close to 5000 Black-head & Common Gulls with about 30 LBB mixed in and not a single Herring Gull in sight. I cant believe with the ammount of Common Gulls this place gets it dosen't get RBG more often, maybe they are just being overlooked ? The light was fading fast by the time the Med Gull was found and probably got the worst photo ever.

Monday 23 February 2009

For the doubters ?

Recieved a couple of comments regarding the photo taken on Saturday of the Adult YLG, doubting it is actully one ? So just to be clear i have uploaded an uncropped version of the pic. Hope that makes it clearer for you !

The mantle is clearly lighter than the LBB 's in the foreground and darker than the Herring Gull behind the LBB at the top of the picture.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Pump House RBG

Sounds like a new weapon for the MOD. It was infact Pump House Flash at Sandbach holding a roosting Adult Ring-billed Gull, never really got its head out of its wing but when it did ....

News out of Shetland, a Bean Goose was found on my patch. Bastard.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Gulls, Gulls, Gulls

After missing the last venture over to Arpley Landfill a fortnight ago (shetland) it was a good to be back amongst the 'experts' from Seaforth. Glad i put my thermals on also it was bloody cold with a westerly wind blowing across us. Apparently the first visit we made some 6 weeks or so ago, which was bloody freezing had a windchill of -10c. Not so bad this time thank god. Once in position the gulls gave good views albeit a bit distant, at least 4 Iceland Gulls (2w+3x1w) and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls (adults) showed well most of the morning, a possible 3w Caspian Gull gave all to brief views and not a Med or Glaucous Gull in sight ? When our stint at Arpley finnished a handful of us went over to Richmond Bank where 2 Iceland Gulls (from Arpley) showed well and my faux pa for the day was saying "is that a Kittiwake?" when in fact it was a Common Gull, dickhead ! But a great days learning and found out some very interesting news that i hope comes to fruition. Mega tick ?

Friday 20 February 2009

Yes it is a Blackbird.

I cant wait for the spring, 2 Red-backed Shrikes, Common Rosefinch, Red-breasted & Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat and Willow Warbler were all garden ticks last spring. More of the same will do nicely and it cant come quick enough.

No, it's not a pidgeon ?

No this isnt a Feral Pidgeon but a Rock Dove, taken a couple of weeks ago. When i first went up to Shetland i was quite excited about getting them in the garden, dont know why they are common as pidgeon shit. But when you only get 4 other species of bird generally in the garden during winter you will take what comes i suppose.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Spring ? Bollocks !

For my 37 years on this planet i was told constantly as a child that spring does not happen until the daffs are in bloom ? So i make that another 2-3 weeks, and so will probably coincide with with the clocks going forward and BST.
You may wonder where this is going ?
Well, i recieved an email from the UK400 newsgroup stating spring migration had started ? What, during the 3rd week of Feb. What a load of shit. Just because a Swallow & Sand Martin were seen down south, and Ringed Plovers & Oystercatchers were moving inland, does that make it the start of the spring migration. A Swallow was seen in Cornwall during Jan, why did it not start then ?
Even with a few stray migrants spring still wont start before the daffs, but when it does then we can all get excited.

Monday 16 February 2009

Work !!

Anybody that knows me knows i dont work too much, well not if i can help it. I am not lazy i just get the chance not to work. Well, today i had to work until lunch, and it looks like the i will be working the rest of the week. That is unless something spectacular happens like the Mega Alert going off (Pacific Diver doesn't count) or BT install my phone line in Shetland ?
That said looks like i am working, what a bitch. Dont know why i posted a pic of a Great Tit.

Sunday 15 February 2009

Bombycilla garrulus veneficus.

Before i got down to fininshing (well not quite) the painting i decided to take a trip over to Middleton to see the 40+ Waxwings that have been residing there for about a fortnight. The light was shit so photography was a challenge, but i managed to position my car so at least i got decent views without having to leave it. Local birders came and went with one chap, who was trying to photograph them getting an earful from one of the local residents, shouting from her bedroom window. Classy.

Saturday 14 February 2009

I hate painting.

Up to my eyes in painting and i bloody hate it, why anybody would want to pursue a career in painting & decorating is beyond me. So as i am confined to the house thought i would post a picture of the Tawny Owl at Moore NR taken yesterday.

For all visitors to Moore NR this fella is a must, predictably delightful.

Friday 13 February 2009

Friday the 13th.

I am not one for superstition, but when the first person you see out is weilding a chainsaw the memories of that movie classic come flooding back. Fortunately the chainsaw weilding man wasn't a maniac he was part of the Moore NR forestry team felling some trees. The reserve was quiet on a hole, highlights being a Woodcock flushed from a roadside ditch and a female Brambling in with an ever increasing Yellowhammer/Reed Bunting flock. Lots of gulls were on the move from the mersey making their way to Arpley landfill. Pumphouse Pool yeilded the main body of gull activity but a rather poor selection was evident with only 1w Med Gull of note. Met up with 2 seaforth lads (gull guru's) in the hide at Pump House and happened to mention viewing the tip from the top of the access road behind the pool, which is still on reserve. From there we had good but distant views of the tip face and were rewarded with 1w Iceland Gull. So after what started as maybe a bad omen, turned out to be an decent day. FYI the next Fri 13th is in March.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Cheating ?

Stuck in the office for most of the day, fortunatley my office is in my back garden and right next to 3 apple trees from which 8 feeders hang. Plenty of activity with a pair of Bullfinches, upto 6 Siskins, 2 Lesser Redpolls, a dozen or so Golfinches and Greenfinches, mixed LTT, Blue & Great Tits and lots of House Sparrows. I think its always nice to get photos of birds in natural surroundings but i suppose in suburban areas birds on feeders are natural surroundings, still i cant help thinking it feels like cheating but at least you can get some decent images.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Today wasn't a classic.

A check of the weather forecast last night was a total waste of time. Met up with Malc for a trip around NW, with Downholland Moss, Marshside, Ainsdale, Crosby/Seaforth then probably Sandbach to end all on the agenda. The forecast for today was fine & dry, well it was bollocks it was wet & miserable. Decided to call at Birchwood en-route for fuel and the reported Waxwings, fuel was no problem even tho the sneaky bastards are slowly increasing the pump prices, the Waxwings on the other hand were no where to be seen but that comes as no great surprise. Downholland Moss failed to produce not only any Pinkfeet but no Corn Buntings either ? So off to Marshside for the ever present GWT. Driving along the coast road i noticed something i have never seen in my 37 years of living ? THE SEA. It was spring high tide and now i would rather be at Parkgate Marsh ... ah well. Oh yeah, no sign of the resident GWT. Peregrine was as good as it got on the marsh. Ainsdale beach proved fruitless and we totally sacked Crosby/Seaforth off and went to Sandbach to check the gulls. The rain was still falling and it was cold, around 150 gulls were present on pumphouse holding nothing that jumped out at you. There was a brute of a Herring type gull present. Head had a flat crown with a steep forehead, yellow bill was large with thick dark band,red gonys and tip had a grey/green tinge to it. Eye on first appearance was small and dark but as the light improved showed a pale iris but eye was small. Could'nt see the legs nor the primarys but the mantle was same as argentaus. Probably just a normal Herring after all it is a gull. Cold and wet we decided to call it a day, did manage to see the salt pile thats been in the news recently, hardly a highlight in fact on a whole today wasn't a classic.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

A few more.

A few more shots taken from The Catch.

Picture Birds.

A fruitless journey (again) up north at least provided me with a chance to test out my new camera & lens. First stop was Hogganfield Loch in Glasgow and a search through the wildfowl, no sign of the Lesser Scaup but a nice female Scaup performed well with its Tufted cousins.

Once in Shetland managed views through the snow of the lingering Tundra Bean Goose at Sandwick feeding with Greylags then a quick shop at Tesco and it was over to The Catch. Plenty of action with at least 6 juv Iceland Gulls plus a juv Glaucous Gull present, lots of Eiders, Shags & Fulmars which all gave great opportunities for photography.

Footnote : BT are wankers.