Monday, 31 May 2010

Young Pied Wagtail?

On the same night I took the pictures of the Hobby in the previous post, I also took these rather dark and grainy pictures in the ploughed field next to Rindle Wood.  As someone on the Manchester Birding Forum has asked for ID of a bird similar to this, I wondered if this was the bird they saw.  I just thought it was a young Pied Wagtail - what do you think?  Please leave your answers in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Rindle Road and Astley Moss

Whilst in the Rindle Road area tonight I took these pictures of a raptor over Astley Moss SSSI.  They are only record shots and I'd be grateful if anyone could help it me to positively identify the bird - is it a Hobby or perhaps a Peregrine Falcon?  What are the key differences to look for?

You can double click the pictures to get a better look. Please enter any observations or comments in the section at the bottom of this post - thanks.

Update 29/5/10
Many thanks to all the birders on the Manchester Birding Forum who replied to my post there and confirmed that the bird is in fact a Hobby.  I've reposted the replies made there in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

Later it caught a bird - a Meadow Pipit perhaps?

Now I just need to go back and take some decent photos!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Dover Basin and Lightshaw Hall Flash

Tonight I went out to the Abram area to have a look at the large numbers of Black Tailed Godwits that are being talked about so much on the Manchester Birding forum. I started at Dover Basin where local birders had been going ecstatic about an Osprey catching fish for a week or so in the middle of May.

Unfortunately I missed this great event, so I was determined not to miss the Godwits.  I decided to take only my scope and binoculars with me, as I was not expecting to get close enough to get any decent pictures of anything today - this proved to be the case.

When I got to Dover Basin there wasn't much about.  I saw a couple of the aforementioned Godwits, some Gadwall, Shelduck, Coot, Lapwing and Swallow.  Whilst out at Dover Basin I met Rob Thorpe who kindly offered to show me the path through the undergrowth way to Lightshaw Hall Flash.  On the way we saw a Buzzard just taking off from a nearby field.

Once on the lane overlooking Lightshaw Hall Flash, we set up the scopes and started looking for the Godwits.  At first there seemed to only be a few, but eventually around 30 came into view.  The numbers were vastly reduced from the 200 or so Rob had reported earlier in the week, but there were still more than I have ever seen before.  Other birds we saw here included Redshank, Ringed PloverMeadow Pipit and Swift as well as more Swallow.

Many thanks to Rob for taking me round and furthering my growing birding knowledge.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Latest Pictures

I'm still quite new to serious birding. If I've misnamed or incorrectly identified any of the birds in this blog, please let me know in the comments at the bottom of the appropriate post - thanks.

A Starling in my back garden

A Willow Tit at Pennington Flash

A Chaffinch singing down Rindle Road

A female Blackbird with a meal for her young

A Sparrow at the bottom of my garden

A Dunnock at Pennington Flash

A Mute Swan on its nest in the canal near Moses Gate

Great Tit at Pennington Flash

Young Blackbird training for the World Cup

Dunnock on a Neighbour's Roof

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Renamed Blog

I've decided to rename this blog as I'm starting to write more about my birding days out and the people I meet, rather than just to show my pictures. Links will need updating in various places to reflect this, so please bear with me if anything is not working yet.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Rindle Road and Astley Moss

After a short break in my birding activities (whilst I erected a garden shed), I decided to start off tonight by looking down Moss Lane first and I wasn't disappointed. As I made my way up the lane in my car I came across a Red Legged Partridge which took a sudden turn into the excavations of the new pipeline workings on the northern side. I parked up and followed it for a short while when another appeared, and when they spotted me taking photos, both ran off across the field.

Then I tried taking photos of some Lapwing diving down into the fields but without much success - as you can see by the blur, I'm still getting to grips with taking pictures of moving birds. So I drove a little further down to the trees near the bend in the road just before the lane ends. There was nothing much showing down here and so I slowly crawled back along with my windows wound down. Soon I could hear a bird calling from the trees and so I headed in that direction - I was amazed to find it was a Little Owl, the first time I've ever seen an owl in the wild.  The pcture below shows my first view of the bird, and no, it as not been distorted! The owl really did look as squat as that!

I was so excited I just fired off a load of shots on automatic, without paying too much attention to the settings - I didn't want the bird to fly off without me having any record of it. What I find quite unbelieveable about these pictures is that they are of the same bird. The differences in colour are due to the light, camera settings and post processing.

The next time I looked up the owl had gone, and after a quick search failed to find it I moved on down the lane. I parked up again in a small side lane next to wooded area with very thin birch trees which were all gently swaying in the breeze - the effect was quite mesmeric. I thought I caught a glance of something unusual in a tree but it now looks most likely to be a mistle thrush.

After spending ten minutes here I moved down to the layby at the end of Rindle Road just before the level crossing. Once parked up, I scanned the horse paddock and adjacent field from the metal gate, looking for the Whimbrel which are frequently reported here. Sure enough, there they were, but too far off to take even a half decent photo - I'll need to come back for that one.

Whilst I was there I met Phil Owen and his mate Steve who asked me if I'd seen the Whimbrel. For once I could be of some help, but I very quickly explained that I was still a novice birder. We had quite a long debate about whether or not it was a Mistle Thrush sitting on a fence post fairly close to the Whimbrel - we eventually decided it was after looking through Phil's scope.

I then offered to show Phil and Steve around Rindle Wood and the edge of the SSSI as they weren't sure exactly where it was. Like me, they were interested in finding the Ring Ouzel which had been seen here many times in the last few weeks.  I did my best to explain each area where different birds had been seen, all from what Dave Thacker and others have told me and from reading Ian McKerchar's site information on

In the ploughed field we saw some Yellowhammer and a small bird which again was debated about for a while before Phil and Steve decided it was definitely a Whinchat.  And all the time we could hear a Cuckoo calling from trees behind the SSSI.  Not only that, there was a birder stalking it too. As we moved on in search of the Ring Ouzel, the Cuckoo calling got louder and so we stopped.  It was then that we saw our first glimpses of the bird sitting in the distant trees.  We decided to walk back for a better look and hopefully try for some photographs.

The next few minutes were brilliant because we were treated to a fly-past by two Cuckoos, one of which landed in some vegetation directly opposite us. It was here that I managed to get my first identifiable image of the bird. Still a long way to go on that front!

As we marvelled at the Cuckoos, the stalking birder came across from the SSSI and greeted us. He turned out be Denis Atherton who had spent a few hours trying to get a good view and a picture of the cuckoo.  We chatted for a while and pointed out the Whinchat which he hadn't seen. Denis later e-mailed this cracking picture of a cuckoo sitting on the Astley Moss SSSI sign.  It may be a little blurred, but that's really not the point, is it?

Now I must really try to get one of my own!

On the way round the ploughed fields and back to the road we saw a distant Buzzard over the railway line.

And a solitary Wheatear in the ploughed field near Rindle Cottages.

No sign of the male Ring Ouzel anywhere though - shame, he must have moved on.