Friday, 27 August 2010

Pennington Flash

A quick summary of what I saw today at Penny.

Teal Hide
  • 3 Green Sandpipers
  • 3 Partridges
  • Shoveller
  • Lapwing
  • Heron
  • Coot
  • Tufted Duck
Bunting Hide
  • Bullfinch
  • Chaffinch
  • Willow Tit
  • Blue Tit
  • Great Tit
  • Greenfinch
  • Magpie
  • Wood Pigeon
Tom Edmonson's Hide
  • 3 Heron
  • Mute Swan
  • Great Crested Grebe and young
  • Tufted Duck
  • Gadwall
  • Coot
Ramsdale's Hide
  • Black Necked or Little Grebe with 3 young
  • Pochard
  • Gadwall
  • Coot
Horrocks Hide
  • Cormorant
  • Lapwing
  • Great Crested Grebe with young
  • Moorhen
  • Coot
  • Gulls !?!
Pictures to follow ...

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Horrocks Flash, Wigan

Tonight I arranged to meet Rob Thorpe so that he could show me around Horrocks Flash in Wigan. We'd met by chance earlier in year in Abram at Dover Basin and he'd taken me over to Lightshaw Flash to look for the unusually large flock of Black-Tailed Godwit which were there at the time.

As Rob had listed quite a few species here I'd asked him to show me where he goes to see them and he very kindly agreed.  We met up at about 16:25, a little later than planned due to some traffic problems I'd encountered in getting there.  I found Rob's parked car but as he was not around, I sent a text to let him know that I'd arrived - he 'phoned me back immediately and it turned out he was just across the railway line using his scope to look out over the Flash.

Soon we were walking on the path around Horrocks Flash. The first new sighting for me was a single Snipe in the far distance and later we had much better views of several of them together.  Rob also saw a Green Sandpiper but I missed it.  At this point I panicked because I went to look at my OS Memory Map of the area and couldn't find my PDA phone.  As I'd just used it at the car park, I thought I might have dropped it there, or even left it on top of my car. I decided to go back and look for it whilst Rob kindly waited for me - needless to say I found it in the boot of my car, just where I'd put it whilst getting my camera equipment out. Panic Over, but senility is arriving faster every day!

We carried on round the Flash until we got to the canal where Rob noted Willow Warblers, Chiff Chaff and a Kingfisher calling, but again I saw or heard none of them clearly enough for identification. We did get some excellent views of eight more Snipe from the canal and some Mute Swans with this year's downy cygnets, now quite large came over to us obviously looking to be fed.

Later a guy we met whow as walking his dog thought he'd seen a bird with a long curved beak and long thin legs which I immediately thought was a either a Whimbrel or a Curlew.  Rob worked hard trying to find it using both his scope and binoculars to no avail.  He did however come up with a single Black-Tailed Godwit and eventaully thought this might have been what had been seen.

As the dusk approached we climbed up the path from the canal to meet the railway again and got a good view of a flock of starlings getting ready to roost on the power cables of a electricity pylon. The full moon was now visible across the Flash and the light was fading fast. Our final sighting of the evening was that of a juvenile Hobby being mobbed in the distance - at first I couldn't see it, but then it flew across the water and right over the top of us.  A great sight to finish off the walk.

An excellent circular (actually more triangular) route with lots of different habitats to attract variety of birds - Thanks Rob, I definitely be back!

Pictures to follow ....

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Marshside RSPB, Southport

Today I finally got to Marshside RSPB reserve in Southport - not the best time to go perhaps but at least I got there.  At first I was a little disappointed with the birds I saw,  but later I was quite satisfied.  I combined the trip with taking Sarah and Cathy shopping down Lord's Street in Southport whilst I nipped off for a spot of birding.  What a good idea that was!

I started by parking at the sand works car park and walking across the road to the first viewing area.  Here I saw mainly gulls and Mallard, but there was a white Little Egret in distant view for a while.  I thought I'd walk up to Nell's Hide and get a better view of the Egret on the way, but unfortunately the next viewing point was too far past it.

I'd been told there were good views of the Avocets nesting with their young at Nell's Hide earlier in the year - not surprisingly they were no longer there today, but I wasn't expecting to see them.  All I could see today were four Mallard which all looked liked females and some wood pigeons.  Later a few Lapwing landed with what I think were some starlings amongst them.  There were also some good views of blue dragonflies.

From Nell's Hide I walked back along the path to the Soundgrounder's Hide, stopping briefly at the first two viewing points to have another look - nothing there though  There were swallows along the way and I when I got close to Sandgrounders I could see a large flock of birds standing in the shallow water in front of the hide.  A quick look through the binoculars revealed them to be Black-Tailed Godwit with a few gulls mixed in.  This was the biggest flock of Godwit I ever seen and I was very impressed.

I carried on to the RSPB Hide and met two guys in there who told me lots of things about the birds in the area, including the fact that the male Mallard were now in 'eclipse' (moulting) and so looked quite like females and couldn't fly whilst their feathers were renewed.  This explained why I thought the Mallard I saw at Nell's hide seemed to be four females - there were probably two males and two females.

Whilst I was in the hide the guys got quite excited by a Sparrowhawk that had flushed some of the birds and which was chasing something in the distance, but I didn't actually see it.  I did however, get a good view of a Common Sandpiper though and two Black-Tailed Godwit which came very close to the front of the hide, but my photos are not too sharp for some reason - it maybe due to the cheap filter I've bought for my large zoom lens - I think I might remove it in future.

After meeting back up with Sarah and Cathy, I had an ice cream and we went for a nice walk along the pier.  I took a few pictures of gulls on the beach, a row of starlings and the mass of mute swans and coot on the inland lake (does it have a name?)  All in all a great day out and thoroughly recommended.

Pictures to follow....