Sunday, 27 October 2013

Whirling Dervish

Today had me heading off to North Wales and to be precise Gronant, this place has been good to to me in the past with Shore Lark and of course the Little Terns in the Summer so I had high hopes for today.
The target bird being the Grey Phalarope which had taken up residence in the pools in the dunes just before the start of the board walk to the Little Tern area.
Well me and Gem hoped the storm due in was not going to hit early and the weather was going to hold and it did, arriving with very mild weather and even wonderful full sun we headed off down the path, we were soon enjoying watching the bird spin around and around, I knew they spun around when they fed but these fellow was really going for it and very close in giving great views. Two lifers in two weeks can't be bad, I wonder was next week will bring?

Grey Phalarope at Gronant

As I promised my daughter a visit to the beach off we trekked along the board walk, nothing of interest on the beach a few Sky Lark and Linnet in the dunes though as we headed for the beach.

Next we head off to Rhyl for the Hoopoe which was obviously into it's cycling and had been by the BMX and bike circuit course for a few days now, I drove around in circles a bit at first, I knew it was behind the Marine Lake but just how to get there was proving tricky but a kind couple gave me directions (who save use men can't ask for directions).  Walking around the path a Orange bird flew from the cycle course and over to the river inlet, thinking I was just trying too hard to find the bird I thought my mind was playing tricks, but it turned out it was indeed the Hoopoe which I had seen take flight. I was soon watching it feed in the grass by the inlet, two target birds in the bag we headed back to the car for lunch and then home, a successful day if there ever had been one.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


With it being our last day off we decided to go out for one last trip with a Green Winged Teal being at Carsington and the fact it has Snugbury's Ice cream and a decent park for Gem it was a no brainier so we headed off for the afternoon.
Getting to the wildlife centre we were soon pointed in the direction of the Green Winged Teal by the wardens, although it was asleep for all the time we were these only briefly raising its head for a few seconds, be we shouldn't grumble as it was a another lifer.
Other birds noted were Snipe, Teal, Pochard, Wigeon, Coot, Lapwing and Black Headed Gull.

Snipe at Carsington

Green Winged Teal Carsington

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Having the week off and the weather being fine we all headed off to Formby with the kids all back at school and being a week day we hoped that the place would be nice and quite making for some good Red Squirrel action.
Getting to Formby for mid morning in wonderful full Sun we found our first Red Squirrel soon as we parked the car, you can't buy nuts any more as it was encouraging in the evil Grey ones! so the Nat Trust have put up Red Squirrel only nut feeders all around the Squirrel walk which means easy viewing.
We enjoyed great views all around the walk and Gem was having a great time watching the Squirrels and playing with the fallen cones and needles.
We also bagged Jay, Great, Blue and Coal Tit, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker and we heard two flocks of Crossbill fly over, one even flew over us down on the beach car park.

Red Squirrel at Formby

On the beach we had great views of a small group of Sandling which by staying still and low and allowing the birds to come to me rather than me to go to them I had great close views, wonderful little waders and great fun to watch. Plenty of Razor Shells were on the beach as well as a couple of Oystercatcher.

Sandling on Formby beach

We called in Martin Mere on the way home just to kill an hour or so so we just played in the park and had a coffee before coming home, was a great relaxing day home and some great wildlife was seen to boot.
I even copped a 507 (028)! so only one more to finish off the class.

Monday, 30 September 2013

The Worlds Fastest Duck and Friends

Well no birding for me really this weekend, allow on the Sunday I did take Gem around Westport Lake nothing to really report.
On the Saturday though I headed off to the Barrow Hill Live Event a sort of open weekend combined with a model show.

The main reason for me going was the chance to grab a shot or two of the two 86/7's stored there plus the GIF 37's after there return from Spain, although I saw a couple on their way to Spain they were always tucked away in Bescot yard so I never got a chance to photograph them.

Plenty of people attended the event probably encouraged to come out due to the good weather.

84001 inside the round house

D6700 aka 37350 the pioneer EE Type 3 part of the National Collection

20189 in LU Red stabled on Barrow Hill

37703 under restoration for DRS

New Kettle Tornado on the shuttle trains

86702 in Electra colours

86701 in Colas colours stored at Barrow Hill awaiting it's fate

50008 on display at Barrow Hill

The Fastest Duck in the World aka Mallard on display at Barrow Hill

E5001 being displayed at Barrow Hill with a possible return to the mainline on the cards

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Sandbach Flashes

On Saturday I decided to head up for the Stilt Sandpiper that had turned up at Sandbach Flashes, having never visited this location I was expecting to have to drive around the South Cheshire countryside but luckily Jane Turner on the Bird Forum posted some directions which were spot on.

It's a rather unassuming location with just a bit of a pull over area off the road to park in and basically a foot path to view the flashes from.

After scanning the area for a few minutes the bird came into view walking back and forth behind some Canada Geese at first just give me the odd view, although eventually it walked around the spit and came into full view. A nice looking bird, as it was always on the move I decide to just watch and enjoy the bird rather than trying to set up the scope camera.

Also noted at the sight were plenty of Lapwing, Snipe and Greenshank.

Sunday was spent at Nantwich Food Festival stocking up on unusual beers and cheese's, the Smoked Garlic Cheddar by the Cheshire Cheese Company is really nice and goes well with Chili Jam.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Bank Holiday Week Catch Up

Have not really posted anything for a while and that's because I have not really been out and about much of late.
I did pop along to the bird fair on the Friday and played with the nice and shiny optics and went along to the talk by Alan Davies and Ruth Miller of the Biggest Twitch fame which was interesting and was much better than been at work.

But to the Bank Holiday!

Lesley was on nights which meant I just had to keep Gem entertained, and preferably out of the house so Lesley could get some well needed sleep.

Sunday found me sitting at Longport by the long gone signal box, when I was younger I spent many a happy Saturday afternoon here watching the Carless Tanks worked by 37's of all sorts, I even got an invite into the box once!
I was here again for 37's, this time of the DRS sort, a pair were top and tailing a EMT service train filling in for drivers whom were working to rule as they don't feel the railways need to operate on a 7 day a week basis and that there 40K salary doesn't cover Sunday working makes your heart bleed.
Any way good on EMT for allowing passengers to still travel by train rather than by replacement bus even better for using 37's. Brought back memories of the loco hauled service to Llandudno that use to pass through Stoke and more so as 425 use to be one of the regulars back then.

37405 at Longport on the Crewe to Derby service train

37425 on the rear of the Crewe to Derby service train fresh from being named Concrete Bob/Sir Robert McAlpine

On Monday I took Gem to visit the steam pumping plant at Claymills near Burton, if you are into Victoria industrial engines its well worth the visit, plenty to see only the single main engine was working out of the four but with the various steam belt driven work shops as well plus a ride on a miniature traction engine it was a good day out. Plenty of train activity was seen which was a bonus . Also being next to a sewage works and open fields there was quite a bit of birds life around. I think the Damselfly is a drab form of the Common Blue.

60099 at Claymills on the Kingsbury to Humber empty tanks

Drab Form Common Blue Damselfly

Having the week off meant we have managed to do a spot of birding, on the Thursday the 29th Aug we headed off for a quick walk around Hanchurch Woods along the path from the Wood Cutters Cottage, being close by its a nice quick place to head for.
Walking along the track we could hear a Raven calling which eventually came into view along with a nice Buzzard perched on a dead tree.
The high light came when a flock of 21 Crossbill came down to settle in a Birch tree and eventually one or two dropped down for a drink in a pool a bit further back from the path.

Crossbill at Hanchurch

Saturday, 10 August 2013

In the Night Garden

I did my usual trick and found out about the Night Heron that had turned up at a reservoir in Leicestershire too late to really do anything about it, so I crossed everything I had and hoped it would just stick around till the following weekend, checking last night if it was still there and finding out the positive news, and with directions obtained early in the week the decision was made we were off to the East Mids.

It was not that hard to find Thornton Reservoir and it turned out to be a nice little spot although we walked the long way around to the bird after parking at the wrong side of the dam, well the walk did me some good and the weather was fine.

The bird was partly hidden in a small gap within the trees but we could make it out alright and it did move into a bit better spot to be viewed so we did end up getting quite good views through our scope.

We also got to see it's larger Grey Heron cousin and a Little Egret plus a brief fly past by a Kingfisher.

After this we decided to head for the near by Tropical Bird Gardens as it was only earlier afternoon and no point in heading off straight home, the cream teas are quite reasonable although no clotted cream so they lost points there. Lesley made a new friend as well.

Rudyard Lake

With news of the Caspian Tern being found out about on the 26th Jul all my original plans for the weekend were rather put on hold.

Originally the plan was to to send the morning sat on the end of Crewe station mainly to see the GB staff rail tour to llandudno but that was now on hold awaiting news if the Tern was still around on the Saturday.
A quick check on the computer and we were soon off to Rudyard to do a spot of life ticking.

It took a while to find the road that led down to the Northern end of the lake, on Streetmap it looked like a proper road with a nice car park at the end we were after turned out it was a dirt track with just a bit of a pull over area at the end. No matter we were there and as it appeared every birder from around the area judging by how packed the area was.

We soon found the spot to view the Tern and straight away regretted not taking the scope, but we were taken pity on and a kind gent allowed Lesley and me views through his scope.

Ok they are crap shots but it at least proves I saw it.

After here we headed for the Leek show which was quite a nice way to spend the afternoon.

That evening I decided I still fancied seeing the rail tour so looking up the return times on Real Train Times website it was off to Crewe to grab a few shots of the return leg back to Cardiff.
The 20's looked and sounded great, would have preferred both London Under Ground liveried choppers but that's just me.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Welsh Holiday

We manged to get away for the week at the beginning of July just missing out on the heat wave which was a shame would have been better being able to walk around in our shorts rather than having to wear our jackets but you can't order the British the weather to play ball. We had a good week away so I shouldn't complain that much.

Was more of a family holiday than a birding holiday although we did manage to slip in the odd spot of birding.
Staying near Criccieth at a place called Chwilog in a cottage at Wernol Caravan Park it was a great little spot having no real neighbours to speak of apart from a few sheep and cows. In the evenings we could watch bats and listen to near by Tawny Owls calling. The mornings usually allowed for a view of a Hare or two in the field.

Being in the area it would have been rude not to call in at the RSPB Osprey viewing area at Glaslyn near Portmadog. We manged to see the female plus a couple of the chicks although in the haze it wasn't the best of views but talking to the warden and one of volunteers was great, always a pleasure meeting such dedicated people.

The next chance we had for a spot of birding was a day out on Anglesey, the first port of call was Cemlyn bay always a great spot top visit and worth the drive over the island itself, on getting to the car park by the old buildings it was clear we were going to have the place to our selves which in the end we did. The first birds we saw were 4 Choughs feeding in the field by the car park we saved us looking for them at South Stack.  The next bird on the list was a Ringed Plover feeding in the pool by the car park.
Over on the beach itself we were soon enveloped by the sound and smell of the Tern colony  a get amount of activity was on show added to by the mournful calls of the Seals from around the other side of the head land.

Next it was off to Holyhead Harbour not the greatest of places but holds some great birds in the shape of Black Guillemots in total we saw 8 birds coming and going not that close but good to watch through our bins.

Then it was off to our last port of call South Stack, here we added to our days total with Raven, more Chough, Guillemot, Razor Bill and Kittiwake.

On a visit to Portmadog we decided on a walk along the Cob to gain a few views of the marsh and to just generally enjoy the Sun. Not much about bird wise just a single Black Tailed Godwit on the sea ward side plus a few steamers through including one in Southern style Green.

Heading into the mountains for a drive and a general warder around we came across a few very picturesque areas one holding a nice group of Butterworts I have never seen before these carnivorous plants so I was well chuffed stumbling upon them even if the weren't in flower.

Our last day been fine weather the start of the mini heat wave that spread across the country we headed for the beach at Black Rock Sands. The place is very child friendly and we even added to our bird tally picking up Rock Pipit and Linnet on the beach.