Monday, 31 December 2012

Westport Lake 31st Dec

Well after yesterdays failed Scaup viewing I decided to try again today, after being in work for the morning and mainly that was sitting in a dark office due to no power to the site, a well needed stroll was on the cards.

Gemma didn't not seem to keen especially I had to wake her up from her slumber in her car seat but Daddy knows best!

After walking 3/4 away around the lake the target bird was found along with a couple of very horny male Goldeneye who were displaying all the time and even to a probably confused female Pochard (what would you call a duck 1/2 Pochard 1/2 Goldeneye?)

One spot of interesting behaviour I did note is that the Blacked Headed Gulls have taken to mobbing the Coots as the bob to the surface on the hope of nicking a few scraps of food.

Westport Lake 30th Dec

After doing a spot of battling through the sales with Lesley for a new dress and well needed break and breath of fresh air was needed, so I took Gem to feed the ducks at Westport Lake with the hope of seeing the Scaup that had taken up residence.

Gem enjoyed feeding the ducks finding it very funny to watch, I did manage to see the Scaup or at least I thought I had out in the middle of the lake diving often making it tricky to get good views often having its back to me so I played safe I decided to try another day when I could be more certain. A well marked female Tufted Duck got my attention for a while and did pose for the camera a bit.

Silverdale 23 Dec

With not much else to do than either veg in front of the telly or go for a walk, I opted for the latter and wrapped Gem up and grabbed a few old crusts to tempt the local gulls and wild fowl down at the void.
The walk over from Parkside didn't produce anything I keep looking in the pool in between the new houses and industrial estate but still no sniff of any Snipe.
Over on the Void itself nothing too exciting gull wise just the usual Less Black Backed and Black Headed, with a few Buzzard and Raven over head. A Grey Wagtail took flight as I turned up from the concrete watch point.
The bread soon brought over a few Coots and as it drifted the Black Head Gulls became more interested allowing for a few BIF shots.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Westport Lake 11 Dec 2012

A spot of lunch time birding was the order of the day today, with a female Common Scoter turning up at Westport Lake over the weekend, which again had me doing other things such as our annual migration to the Lincoln Xmas market.

The bird was soon found on the lake the job being made easier by quite a large area of the lake being covered in ice, and with the sun shining it made for a pleasant lunch time stroll and was better than being stuck in the office.

Rhyl and Rhos 01 Dec 2012

The 1st Dec saw us heading along the North Wales coast with fingers crossed to hopefully see the Desert Wheatear that had turned up at the oasis that is Rhyl by the golf course, well it does offer a Sun Centre.

After missing my turn due to Mr Brain being switched to auto pilot off the A55 we had to turn around but we eventually came to the right spot pulling into the caravan park, the weather was lovely and sunny but a tad on the fresh side to say the least, so wrapping Gem up in her snow suit (well there was snow on the mountains) we headed for the sea wall path. The first birder though we bumped into told us the bad and now typical news for this year that there had been no sign of the bird today, and we would just have to make do with a few Sandling.

Well I quite like Sandling so not a total waste of a journey and I managed to grab a few nice shots from the sea wall with out having to venture on to the beach as I didn't wish to spook the birds. I also got a shot of a Pied Wagtail which when I saw it at first out of the corner of my eye did make me think I had refound my target bird.

The ringed Sandling turned out to have been rung in Iceland in May of this year.

From here it was a on to find a place to have lunch we choose to head for Rhuddlan Castle, which was a good decision as we found a load of birders and photographers enjoying great views of Waxwing.

The last port of call was Rhos for the high tide and hopefully some more wader action in the shape of those lovely dumpy Purple Sandpipers. This was not to be, the rocks by the prom were devoid of any waders, with all the birds over on the break water, a couple of Purple Sandpipers were in amoung the Redshank and Turnstone but no chance of a photo. But there were some fairly tame Rock Pipit on show on the beach.

All was left was to head home via Snugburys to get some Christmas pudding icecream.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Novembers highlight must be the coming of the Waxwing, these eruptions are always something to look forward to and my home area of Newcastle-U-Lyme/Stoke-on-Trent always plays host to usually good numbers of these fantastic looking birds. This year was no exception and as always they choose the best places around the city, this year it was near festival park around the Gala Bingo and Burger King drive through!


The start of the month though found me gricing rather than birding, heading off to Barrow Hill in Derbyshire with the hope of photographing the GBRf and plain white 20 No 3 aka 20906 (the plain white one destined for La Farge cement works in the Hope Valley).

The 11th found me and Gemma staking out the Gala Bingo car park for the for mentioned Waxwing. On turning up I as ever was told they had just left and we spent the next 30 minutes watching the Thrushes attack the Mountain Ash berries. As charming as these birds are they are no Waxwing. Well after some wait and chatting to other birders the stars of the show appeared.
The light was rather rubbish now although a brief window of sun allowed to grab a few shots before we had to head home as feeding time for Gemma was fast approaching.

I did try again on the 16th but was met with wind and rain, although seeing them the camera stayed in the boot.

The 18th saw us heading down the M6 to see the Black Necked Grebe at Gailey we found the bird on the far side of the reservoir in good light although to far away for anything more than a record shot.

At least you can tell what it is (well just), the afternoon had me back on the Waxwing hunt at Gala Bingo again bumping into Steve Seal.


Thursday, 6 December 2012

October Up Date

October was a quite month birding wish in the Rowley house hold with only local areas been visited.

On the 14th I suggested a gentle stroll along the canal at Chedelton, with a sly visit to the Churnet Valley Railway in my head to get a shot of the now bandit style livery applied to 33021 in the same style as applied to 33012 back in the day.
In the flooded fields between the canal and the river quite a few wild fowl were noted plus a few Snipe hiding in the longer areas of grass.

The Void was the port of call for a nice local stroll with my daughter on the 21st this place usually is a void of anything when I visit but I did have a spot of luck seeing a nice Grey Wagtail feeding along the pools edge, with a Meadow Pipit for company although the Wagtail never liked it getting too close.
A nice scene of a adult Coot feeding its chick made also for pleasant viewing with quite a few Lesser Black Gulls starting to fill the pools open water to finish off the visit.

On the 24th we all headed for a well earned day out to Conwy, although the tide was out thus most stuff was on the river estuary it still had for a pleasant walk and quite a few birds were seen on our stroll. Although as expected most activity was seen when walking along the river bank.
From the first hide we got great views of a Little Egret although nothing rather these days was good to watch one fishing before taking flight.

On reaching the river we came across a large group of Meadow Pipits feeding in the grass and as we approached along the path and they took flight a Snipe shot up out of the grass as well,

On the river itself another group of Pipits were feeding although upon closer inspection they turned out to be Rock Pipit one more for the year list.
Out on the exposed mud were Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Cormorant and a single Knot mixed in with the Redshank.

Come the 26th we finally decide to go along and see the Scaup that had decided to make Westport Lake its home, Steve Seal pointed out the bird for us which made our life much easier in finding the bird although it was in a spot that didn't really lend itself to grabbing a shot. We couldn't really hang around as we had a date with the play area for our daughter to wear herself out on. We did though get a front line seat for a couple of Coots really battling it out which made for interesting watching.


September Catch Up Time

Well what feels like years not months I thought I had best to write a few words and try to get things back up to date. I will give a month by month up date starting with September.

Up to recently not too much birding has been done although the odd mission  has taken place, but my success rate has dropped off quite shapely. Thinking of changing my alias to Dipper rather than Gronk.

Back in September (yes its been that long since I wrote anything) I was successfully not seeing the Semipalmated Sandpiper over the boarder in Cheshire although it was a nice spot that I was pointed in the direction of (as per usual the bird had done a bunk by the weekend when I could go), manged to pick up a few year ticks in the shape of Grey Plover, Knot, Curlew Sandpiper and Sandling. One ting was sure it wasn't half windy there.

The weekend after we were back on the Wirral this time heading for Burton Mere, no real target just somewhere to spend a pleasant family day out. Good number of birds were seen around the reserve, the visitor centre is a love it or hate it place, not helped with people taking up camp there all day so taking over the place rather than letting new arrivals a chance to see whats on offer, so you tend to be looking over peoples shoulders all of the time. From the hide which faces over Io Inner Marsh it's sister reserve we manged to watch a Grey Heron in the process of catching a fish always a pleasure to watch.