If you keep trying to do something without any joy, don’t give up, stick at it and eventually you will succeed. Now that is one of my many profound statements which can really be applied to the “A Teams” effort`s to see the Red Breasted Goose near Pilling, Lancashire. We had originally planned to go to see the Pacific Diver at East Chevington, Northumberland, but, after looking at the weather, decided against it.
Steve B, Bob K and myself set off at a leisurely time intending to call at the Pilling area for any news of the goose and then onto Heysham, Pine Lake and Leighton Moss. We reached the all too familiar area and began to sift through the many flocks of Pink Feet without any joy. After a while we decided to head up to Thurnham to watch the Whooper and Bewick Swans. We also managed to find a Pale Bellied Brent Goose in amongst more Pink Feet. Around this time our friends from York, Nige & Mark, had arrived in the area and after waiting around in the area that the Red Breasted Goose had been seen in on Saturday, actually saw it fly in! A hurried call from Nige had us dashing back to the right place, giving my car its first taste of “twitch speed”. Would it fly off after all our efforts over the last few weeks? We reached the area and after some parking difficulties, dashed along the road to meet the boys who put us straight on the bird, thanks for that lads! The bird was feeding very happily with it travel companions White Fronted Geese as we enjoyed the bird. You are all probably a bit bored with this “saga” but it has been a real hard bird for us to locate.
Next stop was Conder Green, surely the Spotted Redshank would be there after all it was high tide, no we missed it, but we did see a Common Sandpiper. Onto to Heysham north harbour wall in the hope of seeing Mediterranean Gull and a nice flock of Twite. The road through Lancaster has always been a torturous one and it again proved difficult, I thought the new road to Heysham would have made it easier. Upon arrival we found the path to the harbour had been blocked off, so we quickly left the area, stopping only to watch a Red Breasted Merganser fishing. At Pine Lake near Carnforth we watched a smart couple of Long Tailed Ducks swimming around.
Our final stop was Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, at Morecambe & Allen Pools we were rather disappointed to not find many birds at all, although one of the pools is almost empty due to a sluice problem. In the main reserve we had really good views of a Marsh Tit and along the public causeway we managed to watch Nuthatch & Treecreeper busily feeding. A Marsh Harrier was making all the wildfowl take to the air as it hunted the marsh. We climbed up the new tower and had a panoramic view of the reserve, good way to end a rather unusual days birding!
Dave O.


 

The long staying Red Breasted Goose that has been in the Pilling area in Lancashire has been admired by visitors from far & wide, but not by any of the A Team. One of our members has already been twice without any luck. So it seemed right that as the bird has been in the same field for the last three days that we make an effort to see it. News from Steve K on Saturday said the bird was visible from his car, no problem then. Dave O in different “twitch mobile” along with Steve B and Chris B left Rochdale at 7am, surely what can go wrong?

We reached the Pilling area and saw a flock of Twite feeding in a favoured weedy field and perching on the wire fences, nice start to the day. We took up our position on Backsands Lane and watched the great spectacle of all the geese(mainly Pink Footed) leaving the overnight roost, some passed right over us and a few landed in the same field that the Red Breasted Goose has recently favoured. After 1.5 hours of this the target bird was not seen, we decided to check out other fields also without much luck. We had a look up towards the Eagland Hill area for Chris B to see the Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer & Corn Bunting. Next stop over to Cockerham to watch the Whooper and Bewick Swans, then Conder Green to again miss out on the Spotted Redshank, well the tide was out.

A decision to go back to the Eagland Hill area looked like being a good one as, on arrival, we were told that the Red Breasted Goose had been seen around 9-30am, it was now 10-30am and no news of the birds appearance had been given to any of the news services. Thanks for that Mr Finder! We were invited into a man’s garden to watch the large flock of geese that were feeding on beet. He told us that he had been watching it there earlier in the morning, there was no sign of the bird so, we headed off to Knott End. The Black Redstart near the slipway apartments was much more obliging, we enjoyed watching that. Back to Eagland Hill to watch the huge flocks of geese coming and going and with a passing Peregrine and a perched up female Merlin to entertain us, we must not grumble. Kevin Hughes and his entourage also made the day an enjoyable one. We called in at Fishmoor Reservoir, Blackburn and had pretty good views of the juvenile Glaucous Gull as the sun began to go down. (The Red Breasted Goose was not seen again up to today 7/2/2017)

Dave O.


A juvenile White billed Diver had been found on the River Whitham near Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. A strange inland record for the county, but even stranger was that the last one in the county was also found on the same river! Myself and Bob K decided on a last minute trip to see the bird and an early start was planned. 6am dawned and we departed from a gloomy Newhey heading along the most famous “carpark” outside London, the M62. My trusty Satnav took us towards the A1 and then into Lincoln. At this point I must really sympathise with all the commuters who have to pass through Lincoln on a daily basis, it’s a real mess. We pressed on and reached Kirkstead Bridge, near Woodhall Spa, we immediately saw the White billed Diver in the river at the side of the road, what luck! There now followed a game of “cat & mouse” as we walked up and down the river to try and get a couple of pictures of this rather splendid bird. After an hour or so the bird had won and we retreated to the car to get warm.
News of a male Ring necked Duck on some gravel pits in Kirkby on Bain soon followed, so after some expert directions from one of our York birding colleagues, we arrived safely. We found the Ring necked Duck, after a bit of searching (isn’t that what birding’s all about?) and really enjoyed distant views of a cracking American duck. Lots of different pits / pools in this area holding lots of duck and gulls from the nearby active tip. Worth keeping an eye on this place.

Our next port of call was to be Rufford Abbey C.P in Nottinghamshire that usually has a small flock of Hawfinch. The dry weather we had enjoyed, turned to being a little damp as we found our way into the country park area. As we got out of the car a flock of 5 Hawfinch flew above us and landed in a tall tree for us to admire, more nice birds to enjoy. We watched a small flock of Redwing feeding on the ground along with Mistle and Song Thrushes, really nice to watch. It was time to get home and we reached very wet Newhey around 3-30pm. Nice day out watching some cracking birds.
Dave O.


A Red breasted Goose had turned up in Norfolk with a large quantity of Pink footed Geese in December. It didn’t stay long in Norfolk and was relocated in North Lancashire in the Cockerham area. Myself and Steve B decided to have a go at seeing it and left Rochdale at 7am on a cool morning. We called at Fishmoor Reservoir, Blackburn to try to catch up with a couple of white winged gulls that had been seen there recently, but as it was still fairly dark we headed up to the Cockerham area. Lots of geese flying around was a truly great spectacle as the sun began rise, we checked a few of the large flocks out but could not see anything except Pink footed Geese. We headed down into the Thurham area and found a flock of around 300 Whooper Swans with 4 Bewick Swans also seen. A field also contained about 6 dodgy looking Canada Geese, after watching them we realised that they were not moving, then a man appeared and picked them up, they were decoys! A message said, “Red breasted Goose just flown over Sand Villa near Cockerham”. Off we went to try to connect, but on arrival, true to form, the bird had flown out onto the salt marsh! Now for some real birding as we spent a couple of hours sifting through the main flocks and finding: – 11 White fronted Geese (Russian) 2 Bean Geese (Tundra & Taiga) Barnacle Goose, lots of Curlew, 2 Buzzards. Great fun watching the geese push each other around whilst most of them just wanted to feed. We met up with Sarfraz & Paul, fellow Rossendale birders, who both needed Bean Goose. They managed to be put onto the Bean Geese by Rob Creek (GM Birder) well done Rob.

Up to 50 birders were scattered around the area waiting for the Red breasted Goose to reappear, so we decided to have a look at the Lane Ends, Fluke Hall, Eagland Hill & Bradshaw feeding areas. We soon found lots of Tree Sparrows, Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank. As we arrived at the eastern end of Eagland Hill we located a flock of Chaffinch and a few Yellowhammers, Corn Bunting and then Steve B said, “There is a Great Grey Shrike in that bush” and sure enough, there was! Grab the cameras and take some pictures, some other birders arrived and also saw the shrike. Well done to Steve for finding the bird, we picked up Red legged Partridge as we headed back towards Cockerham. We gave the flocks another good grilling, then at 3pm we decided to leave the area and return to Fishmoor Reservoir to try for the gulls once more. As we were reaching Fishmoor the Red breasted Goose reappeared at the same place we had been watching at around 4pm, isn’t that typical.

At Fishmoor it was very cold but about 6 hardy souls were busy looking through the big flocks of gulls as we arrived, one said, “The Kumliens gull has just taken off” and we just could not get on it as it headed for the Walker Steel roof and out of sight. After about 10 minutes, I began to watch a gull bathing in a peculiar fashion and it had no black on its wings, it was an adult Iceland Gull, I suddenly had lots of people asking for directions and wanting to use my scope. I have not seen many adult Iceland Gulls before and really enjoyed watching it. Another 5 minutes went by and I saw a large white bird land on the reservoir and again began to wash in a peculiar fashion, dipping its head in the water and rolling its wings in the water as if to dive, like a Guillemot does when it dives(hope that helps) It was a juvenile Glaucous Gull. Again I had found a good bird and gave directions to people who wanted to see it, fame at last! Steve B was by now frozen and really wanted to go home so that he could go out and drink some freezing cold lager. I bade farewell to the hardy souls at Fishmoor, who said that I must return soon! Got home by 6-15pm after a really enjoyable days birding in Lancashire.

Dave O.


   

The possibility of going out birding this Sunday looked very slim with rain forecast for most of the day and with illness etc, we decided to give it a miss. Whilst I sat in my night attire, watching it rain and contemplating having to watch the millionaires of Manchester & Liverpool ballet teams trying to cheat the good referees of premier, foreign football, the phone rang. It was Bob K asking if I would like to go for the Black throated Thrush at Adwick upon Dearn, Yorkshire. Certainly I would, we met at 11-45am and Chris B joined us. We followed Bob`s trusty sat nav and arrived around 1pm, nobody told us of the long muddy walk to the area the bird was frequenting. We found around 20 birders but, you guessed it no bird. It had been chased off by the local Sparrowhawk about 10 minutes prior to our arrival. Nige S from York had arrived and he told us that Adam Hutt had found the thrush (famous for finding the Rock Thrush at Spurn / Kilnsea a few years ago) this morning. After about an hour of searching and wandering around the birders all moved with a purpose, the bird had been found in a field near the village.

The same muddy trail back to the car park was followed, then lots more mud to splash through. After the 20 minute hike to the village a crowd of birders seemed to be looking at something, scopes all pointed down into a field with a green crop in it, was the thrush there? Yes it was, if a little distant, a few borrowed scope views of the bird soon confirmed the identification. After 10 minutes the flock of thrushes flew up into the tallest tree and began to preen, again distant scope views were made, time to move on we thought. Bob K had a bright idea to follow another very muddy trail to get to where the thrush had been sat, okay we did follow him and saw a couple of Siskin for our troubles, but alas no thrush. We all arrived back at Bob`s car looking like we had been playing football, steaming & muddy. The Black throated Thrush had been a new bird for Chris B, so the effort we made was well worth it. We arrived back in Rochdale by 6pm.

Dave O.

 


 

Me and Steve K decided on a leisurely, local trip to see what we could find. It was quite foggy in the Rochdale area and as we headed for Pennington Flash (via a new way brought on by myself not watching road signs) the fog did not seem to be lifting. Such birds like Long Tailed Duck, Cettis Warbler and as the Pennington Flash locals say, “Plus the usual’s” might well be encountered. A rather gloomy flash was investigated but no sign of the LT Duck, though it did “appear” later in the day, perhaps the gloom did lift? Lots of photographic opportunities in the various hides but no sign of the Bittern in the Teal hide. Time to move on, we headed for Rindle Road where 3 Grey Partridge became the highlight of a rather quiet area.

News of 18 Waxwings in Morrison’s car park in Hyde had to be worth a go. The Trans GM trip did not take long and as we arrived the birds could be seen high up in the tallest tree. We got a good place to park and spent a pleasant hour watching the Waxwings, who came pretty close to feed on some red berries. They really do brighten up the dullest winter days with their shrill calls and lovely colours.

Our last call was to be Rhodes Lodges / Alkrington Woods to see if we could locate the local population of Ring necked Parakeets. Again we had no luck but Steve K did manage to see a splendid Kingfisher as it dashed across a lodge. I have not visited this area for a long time but it must have some potential. We made our way home after having, certainly, an unusual day out!

Dave O.


Our annual “blow away the cobwebs” trip started with an early (6-30am) departure from Rochdale for four A team members. We decided on Merseyside initially and we headed for Marshside, Southport with myself at the wheel. After a tricky drive in the dark we soon reached Southport and it was still dark! A good mooch around as the dawn broke, had us all watching a Great White Egret in the company of a Little Egret, nice for comparison. The usual expected birds were seen and then at Nell`s Hide a Lesser Snow Goose (Blue Phase) was seen right outside the hide and a couple of “phone scope” pictures were taken. The bird soon departed in the direction of Martin Mere?
A few Cattle Egrets had been seen a couple of times in Birkdale, but after meeting a couple of birders, who narrowly missed the Lesser Snow Goose, told us that they had looked for the egrets without success, we had a look anyway and they were right, no sign, but 3 Grey Partridge at the side of the road in Hightown helped. Next stop Seaforth & Crosby Marina. It was very cold and fairly quiet bird wise but lots of people out enjoying the sea air. We headed through the tunnel onto the Wirral and straight to New Brighton. We arrived just in time to watch around 10 hardy souls plunge into the icy waters for a swim, we think we are daft sometimes! Purple Sandpipers on the pontoon with Dunlin, Redshank, Turnstone, Shag, Cormorant and a small selection of gulls gave us all some photographic opportunities.
Final call of the day was the beautiful Dee Estuary, which never fails to be interesting, we parked up on Denhall Lane and searched for any of the numerous birds of prey that hunt the marshes. In around an hour we saw: – 1 Short Eared Owl, 6 Marsh Harriers, 2 Kestrels, 3 Buzzards, 4 Hen Harriers (including 1 cracking male on show for around 5 minutes) Brilliant birding. We even tried to turn a gull into a male Hen Harrier shortly before the real one appeared, was it the dreaded two bird theory or what? Home by 5-30pm after seeing around 65 species.
Dave O.


blue-rock-thrush-9blue-rock-thrush-18blue-rock-thrush-6old-oakWhen people tell you about an “unusual” bird that they have seen near where they live, what do you do? Get a description from them and then show them some pictures or better still go and have a look at it. It usually ends up as being a fairly common bird but, on this occasion, the bird turned out to be a Blue Rock Thrush!  It took around two weeks for the news of the birds presence to leak out Now, I will not get into the why`s and wherefores’ about where the bird came from but certainly it is worth going to see.

With most people having gone back to work it was left to Bob K, Steve K and myself to try for this normally southern European cracker. We left Newhey at 5-45am in Steve K`s Vauxhall Insignia (recently acquired) and all sat very comfortably. The weather men had promised us freezing fog etc for the journey down, but we only saw fog for around the last 15 miles. We reached the beautiful town of Stow in the Wold around 9am and parked up to the news from our grapevine friends that the bird was still present.

The morning frost made walking a little precarious and when you are in a rush things can go wrong. A small group told us the bird was sat on top of a roof around the corner, off we went again and found a large group of birders admiring the thrush. We managed to join the crush and had good views of the bird. We stayed in the area for around two hours and had some good and some distant sightings of the Blue Rock Thrush. I even managed to fall to the ground whilst trying to negotiating a fence, now I know how racehorses feel. I even managed to take a few pictures of the bird but it was mainly “backlit” as it sat on roofs, chimney pots, aerials etc. We met lots of birders as we joined different little groups watching the bird and had a good chat with them, especially Kevin Hughes and little Marie from Macclesfield. We returned to the car, had some food and decided to head for home having achieved our target. The notorious M6 did not let us down as we crawled for quite a few miles in the roadworks. We reached home by 3-45pm after a good days twitching.

Dave O.


The Dusky Thrush, that seems to have taken up residence in the small village of Beeley in Derbyshire, was still giving decent views in the orchard at Dukes Barn Recreation Centre, so, a trip with 2 of the “A Team” was organised. The two Steve`s B and K both needed to add this species to their lists, so a 7am start from Norden was sorted with Steve K at the wheel. We followed a much better route than I had followed last Tuesday and traffic was very light. We arrived at the Chatsworth House car park and waited to be transported by bus to the village. Myself and Steve B decided to walk even though the service was free, Steve K enjoyed the bus ride!

Upon arrival in Beeley village news that the bird was still present greeted us but it was not on show at the moment. We had a walk around until we found the right place to watch the orchard and after negotiating the adventure playground we saw around 100 birders squashed together. This was a bit of a shock to us all seeing so many birders. Steve B decided upon having a little more adventure and fell from the boardwalk and into a muddy pit. Some people will do anything to get to the front of a crowd! During our wait for the bird to arrive the ladies of the activity centre were selling bacon & sausage sandwiches to the gathering flock. Nigel and Paz from York joined us just as the Dusky Thrush flew in and gave excellent views as it fed on fallen apples and various other food. What a cracking bird to see fairly close, it was very flighty though and was soon off into the shelter of the trees. The bird repeated this performance before disappearing around midday.

We adjourned to the centre and enjoyed the catering that the ladies had worked to provide us all with, then with not much else to go and see we decided to head home. The two Steve`s both had a lifer and we had been able to sample what real hospitality is from the people of Beeley, excellent.    Dave O.


With the lads from York needing the Pallid Harrier for a Yorkshire tick, it only seemed right to join them on their quest for the bird after many failures. The bird has been frequenting the area around Welwick since early November, apart from the odd trip across the water to see what Lincolnshire had to offer. We met at North Cave at a civilised time around 9am, news that the bird had been seen at 8-15am sort off made us visit the site first. We arrived at 10am with the news that the bird flew west and had not been seen since. It looked like we would be in for a long wait!
Lots of birds were seen in the area with Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Redwing, Fieldfare, Starling and Stock Dove. Once the birds of prey began to hunt the marshy area the place seemed to come alive. Kestrel`s, Buzzard, Merlin, Marsh Harrier and a cracking Sparrowhawk all were seen hunting. The hours rolled by on a very pleasant day and the birder`s began to arrive in the hope that the star of the show a juvenile Pallid Harrier would put in an appearance. Some of Greater Manchester`s finest birders were also in attendance and I had a good laugh with them. At around 2-10pm a harrier was seen, the bird sat in a distant bush and allowed all the telescopes to focus on it and to all decide that that was our bird, the Pallid Harrier. The bird remained on show for around 30 minutes distantly hunting the saltmarsh chasing and nearly catching a Curlew then a Pheasant. Really nice bird to watch. A supporting cast of 4 Short eared Owls were also a delight to watch them hunting. The light was now beginning to fade rapidly and it was time for home. The 4 hour wait for the harrier was well worth it and Mark K and Nigel S both had a new bird for their Yorkshire list!


Dave O.