Tuesday, 26 April 2022

I wonder how the Black-winged Stilt got it's Name?

The Black-winged Stilt is a bird I've been hoping to see for a few years now and I thought I'd need to go down to Lincolnshire or Norfolk to eventually see one.  But success comes to those who wait and as luck would have it, one turned up fairly locally at Marshside RSPB in Southport this week.








Saturday, 9 April 2022

Look What's 'Terned' Up!

I was very surprised to see that a Black Tern had appeared at Carr Mill Dam near St. Helens this week as it seems very early for them.  Moreover, it seemed to be sticking around for a few days when normally the seem to fly though very quickly.  My only previous photographs of them were taken at Audenshaw Reservoirs in Manchester and so I hoped to improve on those record shots today.

Well the bird stayed distant whilst I was there and the light was variable, but I did get a couple of better shots than on previous attempts, but still not that great.  I tried a few locations on both sides of the water but although the bird often seems that it's closer on the 'other side', it rarely is!

Still, it was nice to catch up with Karl Bishop and learn about his migration to a compact mirrorless Olympus camera system from his big heavy Canon gear.  Something I'm almost considering myself now that Nikon seem to have produced a decent mirrorless camera with the new Z9. Not sure yet though.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

This is the Real Teal!

There has been a mega rare Baikal Teal at Swine Moor near Beverly in East Yorkshire for a few weeks now, but as it is around two and half hours travel for me to get there I've been 'um-ing and arr-ing' about going.  However, the Leigh Ornithological Society's fieldtrip was to North Cave Wetlands in West Yorkshire today and, as Swine Moor was only another 30 minutes up the road from there, I decided to go for it.  It was worth it!

L.O.S. Fieldtrip to North Cave Wetlands


Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Oh Carolina!

Having been to Watergrove Reservoir in Rochdale for most of the day, I decided to call in to see the long-staying drake Carolina Wood Duck at Alexandra Park in Oldham this afternoon.

Unfortunately this beautiful perching duck is not tickable as it's not part of the official UK Bird List. This is because it's an introduced species from North America, rather than wild indigenous or migrant species. Apparently however, the bird can fly and it isn't ringed, which is unusual for a captive escapee.  

Red-Throated Diver at Watergrove Reservoir in Rochdale


This long-staying seabird gave me the runaround for five hours and never once came close, preferring to stay way out in the middle where the water is deepest. It's funny how the bird always seems closer on the other side of a lake or reservoir, but when you get there it's either just as far away or it's disappeared altogether. That's what happened here. Indeed it went missing somewhere for an hour or so around lunchtime before I finally relocated it.

This was my second visit to Watergrove to get a rare Greater Manchester Life Tick and I was so glad to see it because on my first visit it wasn't here, having flown over to Hollingworth Lake a few miles away. And to my annoyance when I got home it was reported back here on Watergrove Reservoir only an hour later.

Although I've year listed a few times in the past, I only keep two lists nowadays: My UK Life list which is approaching 300 birds and my Greater Manchester Life List which is nearly 200 birds. There's a notional virtual club called the GM 200 Club which I hope to be a member of in the near future, so you can see why it was important that I went for this one. 

I have three aims when I go out on a trip like this: 
1) To see the bird visually
2) To get a record shot
3) To get a decent photo

Well, two out of three ain't bad.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

LEO the Long-eared Owl

I've finally got a decent Long-eared Owl photo after many attempts at trying. They're such secretive birds burying themselves deep in prickly bushes (often Hawthorn) and only surfacing on rare occasions. This bird was about 40 yards away in the shade and I had to stand on tiptoe overlooking a bramble hedge to see it. So, all things considered, they're not bad shots really.

I had to do quite a lot of work on this one as there were several branches going across its face and eyes.