Sunday, 26 September 2010

Rindle Road and Moss Lane

Here's a short summary of what I saw today on beautifully sunny September Sunday:

Kestrel perched on telephone wires near Rindle Road

Kestrel hovering over scrubland near  Rindle Road
  • Kestrel
  • Jay
  • 3 Buzzards soaring
  • Great Tit
  • Family party of 8 Long Tailed Tits
  • Loads of wood pigeons
  • Cormorant over
Cormorant over Moss Lane

Male Pheasant in field off Rindle Road
  • Loads of male and female pheasants (probably destined for the pot!)
  • 2 blackish ducks over
  • Loads of gulls over
  • My first Stoat
Stoat in Astley Moss SSSI

Friday, 24 September 2010

Hope Carr Nature Reserve (Again!)

Twice in one week, eh? Must be good!  What happened was that I sent a plea to a member of the Manchester Birding Forum for a guided tour of all the good spots here and Ray Ashcroft very kindly showed me round tonight.  I decided not to take my camera tonight so I could concentrate on getting my bearings here and talking to Ray without distraction.

Whilst I was waiting for Ray to arrive at the agreed time of 6pm, I spotted a Jay in the trees near the filter beds - all on my own too!  Ray arrived promptly at 6pm and we set off immediately on a route in between the filter beds.  Before we knew it four Green Sandpipers took off from bed 9a - at least Ray said they were, I wouldn't have been able to tell myself.  He pointed out the characteristic wing shape and white marking on the back - and then another one flew out from right beneath us!  This time I got quite a good  look and saw the markings quite clearly.  Five Green Sandpipers is a good tally for this time of year, so Ray was pleased, but we were obviously far too noisy for this bird which is easily spooked.

Ray then showed me round the rest of the area pointing where he'd seen various birds including Kingfisher along the River Glaze and the famous Grey Phalarope of 2007 on one of the filter beds.  We finished off by having a look at the main lake and as well as the usual suspects there was a Little Grebe swimming in and out of the reeds on one of the banks.

All in all an interesting location and one to which I'm sure I'll return in the future.  Thanks Ray.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

My Back Garden

Tonight a flock of around eight to ten tits arrived in my back garden making a lot of noise.  They were mainly Long Tailed tits but I'm sure there was a Great Tit and perhaps a Coal Tit in with them.  I only managed to get a half decent photo of one of them however.
Long Tailed Tit in my back garden Hawthorne bush

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Hope Carr Nature Reserve

Tonight I ventured out to a small nature reserve on my doorstep but somewhere I had never been before.  It is called Hope Carr Nature Reserve and it gets the odd sighting reported now and then on the Manchester Birding Forum.  After reading the blurb on the aforemention website I printed out the hand drawn map and set off down the East Lancs Road towards the Greyhound Hotel behind which lies the Hope Carr area.

The nature reserve is next to a water treatment (sewage) farm owned by United Utilities.  Not a pleasant environment you may think but actually many of the filter beds are overgrown with vegetation and are obviously no longer in use (although others still are used).  As one who regularly passes the sewage works in Davyhulme near Urmston I was expecting the worse but there was no unpleasant sewage smell when I visted to night.

Apparently this Nature Reserve is well past its hey-day in the 1980's and 90's. Although the main path is still clear and accessible, many of the lakes, ponds and filter beds have become overgrown or colonised by trees and vegetation somewhat restricting the views.

Although I set off a bit late and it got dark quickly, I did get to see the following birds either along the path or on the main lake tonight:
  • Kestrel
  • Grey Heron
  • Gadwall
  • Mallard
  • Coot
  • Moorhen
  • Canada Goose
  • Magpie
  • Carrion Crow
  • Woodpigeon
I also saw what I first though was a Blackcap although I am by no means sure, as well another small warbler type of bird.  I had a good sighting of about ten Canada Geese flying overhead and then landing with a great deal of splashing in the main lake.

On the way back to the car I came across a young lad who was waiting for his mate so that they could go fishing together.  I asked him about where he goes and the paths around the area.  He told me that he had seen Kingfishers and many other birds here but often in areas where you were not 'officially' supposed to go. I smiled and thanked him for his help. Just before I got back into the car I had a quick look round the working filter beds - this area looked a lot more promsiing for waders and the like, so I'll need to have a good walk round at a future date.

On returning home I sent a message to one of the birders who posts sightings for Hope Carr on the Forum asking if he might show me round the places he goes to see Green Sandpipers and other waders - I now think the filter beds are where I should be looking for these.

Looking forward to another visit during the day when I have more time to look around in daylight hours.  Too dark for pictures today.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Anglesey Again

On what turned out to be a disastrously short overnight stay in Anglesey on Bank Holiday Monday, Sarah and I managed to see very few birds and certainly many less than I had intended.  We had gone to do some geocaching and birdwatching and had carefully planned our route up the western side of Anglesey before cutting across to Holyhead - however, it seems it just wasn't meant to be.

The first proper birdwatching location was Llanddona Beach on the southern side of Red Wharf Bay. Here there were three Little Egrets in and around the marshes on the edge of the beach .  The first bird we saw was on the marshland and a little distant but quite clearly a pure white Egret.  But we had a really nice view of two more flying over us as we waded through the stinky swamp.  Unfortunately I didn't have my Nikon camera with me and so there are no pictures of the birds, just my sodden feet taken on my Canon compact!  The only other birds I spotted there were various sorts of gull.

We left Llanddona heading for our next location and then disaster struck as we approached Pentraeth - when we stopped the car, the rear driver's wheel was smoking with horrible fumes and it had got red hot.  The brakes were either seized or had failed in some way. After letting it cool down for a while we tried to reverse and got a terrible clunking sound as the wheel didn't want to turn round.  After waiting a little longer, I decided to try to free it by driving back and forth in short bursts and it seems this made things a little better.

We then planned an alternative route to as directly as possible to Holyhead where at least we had a bed for the night. Sarah drove in short bursts whilst leaving the window open for the smell of burning, and every so often I got out to check the wheel temperature and see if it was smoking again.  In this way we thankfully managed to limp to Holyhead with the promise of a hotel, hot meal and hopefully repairs at a garage in the morning.

In the morning I was up 7am to look for garages - unfortunately the one right next to the hotel had shut down for good and the next nearest didn't open until 8.15am.  So I went back to the hotel still wondering if I could get it fixed in time to get home for a medical appointment I had that evening in Wigan. When I returned the garage said it could be fixed today but not before five o'clock - therefore I'd need to go home by train at 12:30am for my appointment. Whilst in Holyhead I didn't even have time to look for the Black Guillemots in the harbour and so I was really miffed about that.

As I had waited for nearly four weeks for the appointment (and couldn't get changed) I got the train home on my own whilst Sarah waited for the car to be fixed at the garage in Holyhead.  On my train journey home I managed to see some Oystercatchers and either Curlew or Whimbrel on the beach at Talacre in Flint - and that was about it I'm afraid.  Still, it was nice to see the landscape from a different view for once - you get to see so much more on the train.