Thursday, 6 December 2018

I Made It Into Print Again




Today I received my complimentary copy of the North-East Wales Bird Report 2017 which features this Black Grouse lek photo of mine in it which was taken at Minera near Llangollen last year.

After a quick flick through the pages I can see that I'm in good company there with a few people I know in person or though North Wales Bird and Wildlife Sightings Facebook group including Mel Hughes, Dave Williams and Tony Pope.

North-East Wales is a beautiful area which I visit on a regular basis as it is only an hour and a half from home. The report will make interesting reading and I'm sure I'll find a few new places to visit.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Publish And Be Damned!

Another one of my photos has cropped up in a BirdGuides news article about the possible reintroduction of White-tailed Eagles to the Isle of Wight. In fact it's the one I use for my cover photo on my GeekTeacher.Birding page on Facebook.


And just for interest, one of my Brambling photos has been used as the backdrop to a double-page spread entitled 'Beech Boys' in the December issue of BirdWatch Magazine pictured on the lower right side of the image above with the actual page shown below.  The title is a reference to the fact that Brambling feed mainly on beech mast (nuts) when they can.





Of course, I had to buy a copy, even though I don't think they've used the best photo or positioned the one they used as well as they could have, but at least I got paid for that one!

Monday, 26 November 2018

Slavonian Grebe at Close Quarters



This little beauty has been the star attraction at Brickfields Pond in Rhyl for over a week now.  Although it wasn't a Lifer for me having seen a similar bird on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal near Pennington Flash in 2013, it was great to get some decent closeup views and photos of this little cracker in its winter plumage.

The light was challenging all day as was the distance to the bird -  it did come close once or twice but the sun was behind it and so all the detail was in shadow.

However, with a bit of better light at times and some processing, these shots have turned out OK.


Here are two examples of the bird being close but in shadow, giving a bluish tinge to the shots.


And finally the most usual view we got of the bird today - in the middle of the pond.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

A Sea Duck Visits Bolton


I really should have been working on the presentation I'm giving to the Leigh Ornithological Society this Friday, but when the opportunity arises to have a close view of a bird that is normally way out to sea, you just can't ignore it.

I'm not a great fan of sea-watching: the birds are normally just distant specks on the horizon, your scope is wobbling in the wind, your eyes watering and it's often bitterly cold as winter is the best time to do it.





High Rid Reservoir has produced a number of good birds for me over the last few years.


Another 'Lifer' ticked, I went back home to resume work on my 'Adventures in a Birdmobile' presentation.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Pied Wheatear at Meols on the Wirral

This Pied Wheatear was a recent celebrity bird at Meols on the northern end of the Wirral. A life tick for me and many others, the area was swamped by the birding paparazzi for several days but the bird was unperturbed and continued to perform regularly.

The age old issue of whether it's OK to feed mealworms to vagrant birds like this raised its ugly with so-called 'true birders' moaning on Facebook, blogs and other social media platforms, but only after they'd seen the bird up close and got their own photographs.

I personally don't lure birds with food or sounds of any kind, preferring to wait for them to come to me. But in a crowd of people like this you just have to accept it and I don't believe it does the bird any harm - it can always fly away and frequently does! The hard truth is that many of these vagrants will never make it back to where they should be, which in this case is Eastern Europe.

But if it were down to the moaning people like this there'd only be hand-drawings in bird ID books and David Attenborough programs would be full of animations.












These aren't my photos but they shows the sort of crowd scene that can be expected at every rare bird find nowadays - that's the power of the internet grapevine for you.


Thursday, 25 October 2018

Seeing Double

You wait a birding lifetime for a Rosy Starling to come along and then two come in the space of a week! This bird wasn't in Greater Manchester however, but just outside in St. Helens.  First thoughts were that it might be the same bird as the one in Timperley last week, because that one apparently disappeared the day after I saw it.

But this bird was a different matter altogether though because, as can be seen from the photographs, it came very close and wasn't bothered by people.  When I see birds like this I immediately think of two things: either it's a tame, escaped bird or it's not well.  But perhaps being a 1st winter bird it's just not seen people before.

It turns out that the bird was being fed by an old lady in her back yard where it been seen for a least a couple of weeks.  We saw it mainly on the wall at the back of 'Frydays' Fish and Chip shop, although it did fly up to a chimney and across the road to a rooftop on a couple of occasions.






And the bonus bird was this House Sparrow which made a nice composition sitting on this maple tree.

UPDATE: Unfortunately this story doesn't have a happy ending as a couple of days after I had seen, the bird was reported to have been killed by a Sparrowhawk.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Aerial Shots of a Rosy Starling in Timperley, Greater Manchester


A housing estate in Greater Manchester is not the normal place I'd choose to go birding, but when the opportunity of a lifer nearby appears, I'll go almost anywhere.  It's funny how many rare birds are now turning up in people's gardens on ordinary suburban streets, but I guess it down to the amount of bird feeders and food available.  This one is a Rosy Starling.


I must say right away that I hate walking down a street with a pair of binoculars and sometimes a scope or a camera with a big lens.  It really does feel like an invasion of privacy of the people who live there.  I don't think I'd like it very much if someone was staring up at my house with a scope or camera, but most of the rimes I've done the people have been very amenable and keen to know about what we're all looking at.


The bird used to be called a Rose-coloured Starling and many birders still refer to it by this name.  Either that or they call it the Fawn Yawn and I suppose this is down to its juvenile plumage coloration.  It hasn't yet attained the fine black and pink colours which give the adult bird its name as well as the alternative name, Pink Stink.  What has this poor bird done to deserve such disrespect!

So there we have it - a Life, Year and Greater Manchester tick all in one visit.  Well pleased!


Sunday, 14 October 2018

Note to Self

Write up the following trips:
  • Adventures in a Birdmobile Presentation - 30/11/18
  • LOS Trip to mid-Lancs - 24/11/18
  • Sprotbrough Flash and Old Moor - 19/11/18
  • Lunt - 17/11/18
  • Parkgate and Neston - 8/11/18
  • Burton Mere and Neston 2/11/18
  • Spurn 31/10/18
  • Marshside and Lunt 28/10/18
  • Hilbre Island and Little Neston 27/10/18
  • Denbigh and Wirral 19/22/10/18
  • Rosy Starling 17/25/10/18
  • Leighton Moss  - 10/10/18
  • Mull September 2018
  • Skippool Creek - 19/9/18
  • Marshside - 15/9/18
  • Marshside - 7/9/18

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Not a Great White Egret

With the prospect of adding a new bird to my Greater Manchester Life list, I set off fo Pennington Flash mid-morning in search of the Great White Egret which had been present since yesterday.  This is the second time I've heard of one in Greater Manchester and I had the same result today as I did last time - dip.  The bird had been present in earlier in the morning but apparently had flown an hour or so before I arrived.  It seems the local Grey Herons were giving it a bit of gyp.

So you can only take photographs of what's there, and that's what I did.