Archive for the ‘Rossendale’ Category


Early October and its Spurn time again!  Our dear wives look forward to it just as much as we do, I think.  After all the exciting few weeks that we have had recently at Spurn, we thought that with the weather, not appearing to be very good for migrants, that it could be quiet, correct! Caravan booked at the excellent “Sandy Beaches” and with all our supplies myself, Bob K & Steve K set off at 6am with Bob at the wheel. First stop was Stone Creek to meet John Hewitt (co finder of the Mugamaki Flycatcher a few years ago) He always keeps us up to date with the passing birds from this area. His dedication to this area has to be admired and his knowledge of the quantity of birds is second to none. After a nice 30 minutes with John we usually walk up to Stone Creek Battery to see what we can find but, with the tide in, we headed to Patrington Haven to see what we could find.  In the fields on the way we saw a small party of Red legged Partridge & a single Grey Partridge. On the walk up to the Haven (of last years long staying Ivory Gull fame) we saw two Marsh Harriers hunting the area. Lots of the more common waders, ducks & geese were seen. A Yellow browed Warbler had been reported at Easington Gas Terminal so off we headed.  A few “dudes” where looking for the bird, but no joy, a few Wheatears seen and the sea was very quiet. There followed a walk in from the north to Easington Lagoons, yes its a long way, and with all the waters having been flooded by the tidal surges, no waders were seen at all. 362 Brent Geese, 5 Pink footed Geese where the highlight. We were joined by Billy from Middlesborough who told us about his recent trip to Japan, what a place that is!  We had a look around Kilnsea, Crown & Anchor and Canal Scrape (with a silent C) the birding was very slow. Then lots of Swallows were seen in the last 2 hours of daylight and a single Whinchat. At the caravan we enjoyed a hearty meal of Goulash and then headed for the club along with Martin Q, Steve & Chris B. Saturday morning and a check of the birds on the Humber with lots of the more common waders but, alas, no Curlew Sandpiper. A Firecrest was eventually seen well at Pancho`s Pond, Kilnsea then a Yellow browed Warbler near the Crown & Anchor. After breakfast we checked out the sea and the Warren area and had a walk up to the area that the sea had washed away last winter. A smart Merlin was the only bird of note apart from uncountable waders on the Humber, very spectacular. It makes the area from the old “narrows” to the point an island 2 hours before & after high tide. No vehicles are allowed beyond the Warren, so, if a rare bird is found a long walk will be required. A call from Martin Q alerted us that a Barred Warbler was showing well at the silent “C” canal scrape. At twitch speed (only to check our response time out really) we got to the hide and within 10 minutes were enjoying distant views of the Barred Warbler, nice one Martin. We then headed for the Sandy Beaches clubhouse to watch Wigan v St Helens grand final. A couple of punches from an irate Wigan player and after lots of disappointing finals the championship was heading to St Helens!  At the Crown & Anchor we entered the quiz and after loaning one of our number out to an opposing team, we enjoyed a good laugh. Steve & Mandy R from Rossendale also joined us.  After being beaten by one point we headed back to the club for a nightcap. Sunday morning started very misty and a trip to Sammy!s Point was arranged. Next to no birds were seen there, I cannot remember it so empty. After a brew & a meal we broke camp and headed for home. Despite the lack of anything rare we all had enjoyed ourselves in excellent sunny conditions and will all be back next year.

Dave O.

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With a counter attraction on the Wirral of Cattle Egret, Red necked Phalarope & Pectoral Sandpiper, we put it to the vote and went to Spurn on the east coast. We thought there was more potential of something “rare” turning up and we were not disappointed. A full “A” team was assembled at a dark Newhey and Bob K kindly packed us all into his car. As the mists of the motorway began to clear it became a nice, warm day as we arrived in the Spurn area. Around 6 Whinchat were seen near Kilnsea Wetlands along with 2 Little Stints. At the seawatching hide, which was almost deserted as a Honey Buzzard was in the Easington area, we managed to see a few Arctic Skua’s a single Sooty Shearwater and a Great Skua and a steady flow of more common seabirds e.g. Sandwich Tern, Common Scoter & Gannets. A trip to the Crown & Anchor carpark had us soon watching a very bright Yellow browed Warbler and a bird, which for me, was my bird of the day, a Wood Warbler, very well marked and not seen very much on autumn passage. We then walked the Canal triangle to see if we could get on the Corncrake that had been seen earlier, without any joy. The churchyard and Beacon Lane where visited without any new birds and then as lots more birders returned from the Easington area, we decided to try for the Honey Buzzard ourselves. A good look around revealed mainly Kestrel’s and Wheatears, so back to Spurn. A showy Wryneck on “Sunny Beaches” caravan park was seen next, what a lovely bird and fairly close. Then a smart Great Grey Shrike was seen from the road in the canal triangle, it was seen chasing and catching bees and was great entertainment. A trip to Sammy’s Point allowed us to watch an energetic Red breasted Flycatcher for a couple of minutes, then a tantalising glimpse of a large raptor, that promptly disappeared! A Redstart & more Whinchat’s and one of our lads had 5 Curlew Sandpipers on the falling tide, they had gone when we left Sammy’s, we also missed a Barred Warbler, you can’t see all the birds. A call at the Canal Scrape and at Kilnsea Wetlands was our last birding of the day. A bird filled trip that will be remembered as, “one of those days at Spurn”. We reached home around 5-45pm with news of a Great White Egret on one of our local reservoirs in Rossendale ummm should I go?

Dave O.

 

 

 


The American Buff Bellied Pipit had gone missing for a few day’s from Burton Marsh on the Wirral, but it re-appeared on Saturday,so a trip was arranged as all our group (except me,again) needed this species for a “lifer”. I felt much better than my last visit as we all arrived at the marsh (except Bob K who was entertaining an Australian journalist) with myself at the wheel. As daylight crept up about 20 souls looked into the tidal wrack in the marsh as pipits seemed to be dropping in out of the sky. Then a birder at the side of me said that he had the bird only 10 metres away, not exactly panic, as the bird was easily picked out in amongst all the other Meadow Pipit’s present.

American Buff Bellied Pipit - Burton Marsh

American Buff Bellied Pipit – Burton Marsh

American Buff Bellied Pipit - Burton Marsh Mob

American Buff Bellied Pipit – Burton Marsh Mob

Great result for the A Team and the customary hand shakes were made. A female Hen Harrier glided past and put up all the birds on the marsh whilst looking for it’s breakfast, a real spectacular sight. A visit to the Fylde area was planned so a bit of a drive ensued, a Jay flew over the M6 and another species was added. At Clifton Marina no Grey Partridge were seen but Buzzard’s and lots of Wigeon & Teal. Our trip to Warton Bank for the regular Great White Egret was marred by it not being present, lots of Mute Swans and Little Egrets kept us looking though. Lytham Crematorium next, were at least 6 Ring Necked Parakeets were seen, they always brighten up the dullest winter day’s, don’t they? Again we were to be disappointed at Marton Mere as the regular Long Eared Owl’s were not seen by ourselves, although a passing Sparrowhawk helped. We then drove to the Pilling area and had good views of a small flock of Corn Bunting and Tree Sparrow’s at a regular winter feeding area. No sign of any Barn Owl’s in the area but a few Whooper & Bewick’s Swan’s were seen.

Wigeon Flock - Freckleton

Wigeon Flock – Freckleton

We called at Blackburn town center to see if the Waxwing’s were still around but it appears that they had gone to roost just before we arrived. So we missed a few species we thought we should have got but as Steve B said,”We got the main bird, the pipit”. Good day out in reasonable weather.

Dave O.


Happy New Year to all. The arrival of an American Buff Bellied Pipit on the Wirral in December was an unusual sighting. The bird had chosen to spend its time feeding on the tidal wrack caused by the recent gales,high tides etc.So, as all our team (except me) needed to see this species a trip was planned for our annual New Year’s Day bash. A trip to a local hostelry the night before had rendered me a little delicate,so no driving for me. A meeting in Whitworth at 8am was agreed with Steve & Chris B with Chris driving. We reached Burton Marsh just after 9am and about 30 other birders were present. It was cold,wet and proper miserable as an hour past with no sign of out target species, but with Wheatear, Siberian Cliff-Chaff, Goldcrest and Stonechat for company who could complain. A trip around the northern coast of the Wirral revealed all the regular gulls and waders and we even managed to see Jane Turner (of bird identification fame) in her Land Rover! At New Brighton a lonely Shag sheltered from the icy rain that blasted us around the marina as we searched in vain for Purple Sandpiper. Tunnel time and a trip through the docklands of Liverpool, what a thriving seaport it used to be with lots of very large buildings, from which a Peregrine Falcon departed whilst seen hunting for a meal. A Great Northern Diver was seen, on the being re-furbished Marine Lake. At Marshside, the wind continued to blast us all as we quickly found the Ross’s Goose, allegedly an escape? Lots of wildfowl, Golden Plover, Lapwing and gulls then the female Long Tailed Duck was seen and enjoyed by many as it fed in the shallow flood pools by putting it’s head underwater and swimming along, how strange!

Long-tailed Duck, Marshside, Southport. 1st January 2014.

Long-tailed Duck, Marshside, Southport. 1st January 2014.

Ross's Goose, Marshside, Southport. 1st January 2014.

Ross’s Goose, Marshside, Southport. 1st January 2014.

We then found out about a large flock of “winter” swans near Bank’s Marsh of we went. The flock were eventually found and as we watched them from the car both Whooper & Bewick’s Swans were seen then a Black Swan all the way from Australia to end a really unusual trip. I did feel much better as we got home by 4-30pm. We managed to see around 65 species in the day. Dave O.


20th December.

A Great Northern Diver had entertained Steve K on his latest fishing trip to Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield, Yorkshire. He said what a dark, well marked bird it was and that it was even singing/calling a little. Worth a go on a Friday dinner trip after work I thought. Upon arrival I could see the bird at some distance away and as I got closer the sheer bulk of the bird became apparent. It was pretty dark but some of its breeding plumage was still evident. It did not do much diving and showed really well. After checking out the weir where the Ring Billed Gull is usually found in winter,it was not there or has not been reported yet, I headed for home and the news about an Ivory Gull in Yorkshire came out.

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

21st December.

Steve K needed Ivory Gull, so a trip was hastily put together with Steve, Bob K and Phil R and myself making up the number. Upon hearing the news that the bird was still present we all met in Milnrow and Bob drove us over the hill to Patrington Haven,Yorkshire. At midday we walked the half a mile to Outstray Pumping Station and could see about 20 birders break away from the main group. Had the bird flown off? As we approached we were told that the bird had finished feeding on the fish that had been left out for it but was still in the area. All was not lost as we quickly found this ermine clad arctic wanderer only 100 metres away sat on the tideline. It quickly brought memories of fruitless trips to Inverness, Cardiff and finally seeing the species in Aldeburgh, Suffolk prior to the millenium. What a bird it is. Lots of waders on the shore and a quick moving Merlin to watch as we waited for the Ivory Gull to come into feed again. After about two and a half hours the bird began to circle then land on the pumping station then it landed about 20yards away and the cameras began to click. Even I felt like one of the paparazzi as I photographed one of the stars of the birding world! The light was beginning to fade as we headed away and all really enjoyed being in the company of such a splendid bird. (Sorry for going on a bit)

Ivory Gull, Patrington, Dec 2013

Ivory Gull, Patrington, Dec 2013

Dave O.


I know its a bit late but I have got behind with all the coming’s & going’s of this month. The last month of this already memorable 2013 year has been extraordinary and was to end on a real high for us all. It all started with the finding of a possible Baikal Teal near Marshside, Southport, Lancashire. The presence of a hybrid type Teal/Wigeon duck put a few of going, but myself and Bob K had a quick dash to the area. About 100 fellow birders assembled along a banking and watched a drake Baikal Teal in amongst a mass of Wigeon and Teal. It was fully winged and un-ringed. A really attractive bird and certainly not coming to bread! A Bewick’s Swan flew over the area and a large flock of Pink Footed Geese landed close by and began feeding. Could it be a wild bird? During the next week the North of England was subjected to some pretty severe gales and flooding but the Baikal Teal was still present. So, myself Chris B and Steve K went for another look on the 7th December. A really nice winter’s day birding and after a fairly long wait the Baikal Teal was seen from the main road. We had to rescue Steve K from a local breakfast haunt before the first sausage bit the dust! Great views of the bird in winter sunshine,what a cracking bird. It’s now up to the birding gods to decide if its a real bird (just how do they do it?) The search for a Ross’s Goose at Marshside only revealed a farmyard type bird the Ross’s had disappeared for a couple of day’s we were told. Walked full length of the RSPB Marshside reserve and enjoyed lot’s of birds.

Baikal Teal, Southport

Baikal Teal, Southport

Dave O.


The wintery weather that we are still getting didn’t put us of having a trip into North Wales last Sunday. After a little planning and the promise of a 5:30am start, it wasn’t surprising that there were only three of us. Steve B, Chris B and myself at the wheel. After getting rid of some snow we left Rochdale on time and by 7am reached Minera, near Wrexham. Then a climb into the snow and ice line, up a steep gradient made us all wonder as to our sanity! Then we found the reason why we were here, 10 Black Grouse at a “Lek”. Great displays and much noise accompanied this spectacle. They were distant, but undisturbed by our presence as we stayed in the car, on a bitterly cold morning. A Peregrine was a nice sighting as it flashed by silhouette against the snow.Worlds end 001 Worlds end 008 Worlds end 005 Worlds end 003 At the other end of the valley more Black Grouse were seen, bringing the total to around the 30 mark. The hoped for Great Grey Shrike was not seen by our team but others found it back up the valley. My luck with seeing Great Grey Shrike’s carries on. Well the one in Clocaenog Forest is much more reliable to see, we were told by a group of Greater Manchester birders. We went to a couple of raptor watch points but were inundated by lots of Ravens, Buzzards, Red Kite’s, then after a slog up a mountain path we arrived at the highest point in the forest. Great views, but next to no birds and not a glimpse of the Great Grey Shrike that we were told had just been seen by 2 leaving birders! The sun was now shinning as we headed for the coast for our third call at Rhos point, this year, to search for Purple Sandpiper. As usual they were not present or showing themselves. Now comes the duck part of the title, one of our team has not caught up with Surf Scoter yet. We have called at Llandulas to search the enormous flocks of scoters for the Surfies but have always failed. Today we thought our luck was in, as we saw 4 Velvet Scoters and the large flock of birds were coming closer inshore, but,as luck would have it, some prat in a boat sailed right through the centre of them and scattered them all away, thanks pal! After we had added Red Breasted Merganser we decided on a last call at Burton Marsh, Cheshire. Upon arrival, I said that it would be a little early for the Short Eared Owls to be out hunting and of course up to 3 birds were quickly found. One of which was a really pale bird, that we have seen before. A Peregrine on a post and lots of Little Egrets were also seen. We headed for home having all added at least 4 species to our year totals. The day was a real success and the early start was rewarded with watching the Black Grouse “Lek”.
Regards,
Dave O.


No leaves yet on the trees, time to try for the difficult to see Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Having only ever seen about 7 or 8 of these birds it has always been a bit of a challenge to see them at all. We knew of the birds at Moore N.R. near Warrington, but after several misses in past years, we decided to give them a proper go and have an earlyish start. Just myself and Steve K. for the trip and we departed Rochdale at 7am, with Steve driving, reaching Moore by 7:45am. It was frosty in the early part but nice in the morning sunlight. As we arrived we asked a birder if the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers had been seen and he said,”Not yet”. With me being a little suspicious of seeing the birds at all and Steve K. saying, “We will see one within half an hour of leaving the car”. Guess what? We left the car park area and we saw 3 birders looking in the tops of the trees about 150 yards away, what were they looking at, surely not the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker? As we got there,we heard its characteristic drumming. Then sat out and showing itself to the world was a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, what an absolute stunning bird, my first for a long time. Steve you got it bang on. We enjoyed 10 minutes with the bird and had another look a bit later on in the sunshine. Lots of Blackbirds and small birds were creating a lot of noise in an ivy clad tree, there must have been a Tawny Owl hidden away in there somewhere but we did not see it, just a Redpoll! A short drive away was our next port of call, Richmond Bank near Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station between Warrington and Widnes, just over the river from Moore in fact. The sun was now shining which could make the viewing a bit more difficult but a lot more pleasant! We got in position and “teamed up” with another 3 fellow “gullers” and set about trying to find any “white wingers” in amongst the many thousands of birds present. Birds were flying in most of the time from the tip in Warrington adjacent to the River Mersey to bathe and rest up. After about 30 minutes an Iceland Gull was found and we were told to look for the bird near to a blue barrel, after much confusion we realized that there were more than one blue barrel! We all managed to see the bird after much laughter. Another Iceland Gull was found and then a huge Glaucous Gull was picked out dwarfing all the other birds present. This object in the background, to define the birds position, was a grey tin and not the now famous blue barrel’s. We also saw our first butterfly of the year, a Small Tortoiseshell. We met Paul from In Focus and had a good chat about his recent exploits. He said he hadn’t been twitching this year but went up for the Harlequin Duck in North Scotland! Another strange bird was a albinistic Black Headed Gull with a black mark through its eye? It was dinnertime when we left and we headed for Pennington Flash, Leigh to twitch a Willow Tit, we saw three of them. The water levels were to high for the hoped for Green Sandpiper. So, we headed for home. We reached Rochdale by 3pm and had really enjoyed the day. We must make it an annual event?

Regards,
Dave O.


Lots of Waxwing’ s still around, but where could we go to almost guarantee seeing them? The flock in Brighouse, Yorkshire seemed to be the best bet, for a very good reason and then we could try to find the Ring Billed Gull near Mirfield, afterwards. Just myself and Steve K. meeting in Milnrow on a cold morning for the trip. We got into the town centre in Brighouse and quickly found the William Hills bookies and there, sat on the wires above the betting shop were about 120 + Waxwing’s. What a great sighting. Nearly all sat together whilst a few of them fed on what appeared to be a Cotoneaster, berry laden bush. A very early starting traffic warden was on the prowl (have they really no scruples these fellow? humans?) so we beat a retreat to Mirfield. The gull had been seen regularly near a weir on the River Calder, which, we eventually found after a bit of walking. Steve K. asked a few of the fishermen had the caught much and mentioned what we were looking for and the reply was that the bird had been on the small pools now & then! We searched a few factory roofs and as we approached the canal we met some birders who told us that the Ring Billed Gull was sat on a roof 200 yards away. We hurried to the spot and there was nobody there, ah well! We waited by the weir without any sign and after about an hour the few birders there went to look at the roofs again, just leaving myself and a man from Huddersfield (yes, I do have an aunty in Huddersfield) What happened next? The bird flew in and sat on the weir for about a minute then flew away. The returning birders were not impressed, with our sighting, but after about half an hour the bird returned and spent 5 minutes showing well to all people present. It was time to head back to Lancashire and try to find Richmond Bank, near Fidlers Ferry. It was a little difficult but we got there just in time to see the departing “gullers/birders”. They told us that the tip closes at 1pm and all the large gulls had flown off (including Glaucous, Iceland and Yellow Legged Gulls that had been seen) You live and learn, there were still a lot of gulls to look at at the unusual site though. We also met John Tymon a Pennington Flash regular and we had a nice natter about birding in general. He told us that Short Eared Owl’s are sometimes seen late afternoon at Risley Moss. So we gave it a go, but only managed to see a single Woodcock that someone flushed. At the Woodland Hide, Steve managed to bump into a lady who was speaking Hungarian to her friend and Steve joined in with them, that has never happened to me before, felt like I was on my holiday’s! Time for home and with about 3 year ticks each for our efforts. Spring is only just around the corner.

Regards,
Dave O.


Lots of reports of unusual gulls in the Anglers/Wintersett country park area’s had us organising a trip out on Sunday. Only Steve B missing, sunning himself in the middle of the Atlantic! After a late start, well 7:30am, we left Chris B’s home and headed over the hills into Yorkshire. We reached Wintersett, and it was a little icy and quite misty so we walked over to Anglers. The Long tailed Duck showed pretty well and the mist began to break up, we had a plan to return to the area for the gull roost later in the day. Another look at Wintersett revealed two handsome drake Scaup and a few Grey Partridge. The “boatmen” had begun to arrive at Wintersett, so we left the area like the bird also did. We headed to Old Moor RSPB reserve for the reported female Smew along with a supporting cast of Brambling, Yellowhammer & Tree Sparrow. We managed to “clean up” all the target species at this very well supported reserve. Lots of people out on an unusually warm February day! Next stop was Edderthorpe flash, but,unfortunately the light was against us, so not much seen here apart from our first singing Skylark of the year, what a gem! Back at Anglers for the gull roost and a well filled bird hide saw us all get a seat and wait for the action. A Yellow-legged Gull usually appeared at 3:20pm, but it was early today and we all enjoyed great view’s of the local “bully” chasing even bigger birds around the water. This bird was a lifer for one of our number and most appreciated by all. A concerted effort was now required to find a Kumlien’s Gull that had been appearing most late afternoon’s in the roost. To a full hide, one of us found a gull with no black on its tail and a pale grey back and said, “Have a look at that gull”. The bird was watched and photographed and lots of interest shown in it and it was pronounced, by the local gull expert’s, that, that was the bird we think is a Kumlien’s, result! After so much excitement in the hide another chap came in and said, “The Caspian Gull is showing on Wintersett Reservoir”, off we went again through the mud and tangled undergrowth. There was nobody looking at the large gathering of gulls as we arrived, we said , “We will find it ourselves, we have a picture”. After about an hour and as the gulls had multiplied ten fold, all we had seen was the Yellow-legged Gull again and lots of candidates for the Caspian Gull but nothing we all agreed too was the bird! It was getting cold so we left the reservoir all agreeing that we had enjoyed the gull roost, we must do it again. We reached Rochdale by 6:30pm all of us with at least 6 year ticks in the bag. A memorable day out.
Regards,
Dave Ousey.