Posts Tagged ‘Avocet’

A hurried decision to go with the lads from York, Nige S & Mark K was fully justified with a really good days birding. We met in York and with Mark driving, we were soon at Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool. A couple of Ring Necked Parakeet`s gave excellent close up views on a sunny but cold morning. Next stop was the Jewish Cemetery on the way up to the headland in Hartlepool. The Shore Lark was soon being watched and gave quite a good show. The fish quay in Hartlepool has been used by lots of white winged gulls over the years and, as we managed to be invited in we found a very obliging juvenile Iceland Gull. The bird was photographed many times, some really close shots. We also watched a couple of fishing boats come into dock and chatted with the men on the quayside about the state of sea fishing in Britain. We called at Newburn Bridge on the coast to watch one of the local Mediterranean Gull`s and a few waders as they fed and preened on the foreshore.
At Seal Sands on Teesside we searched for a Spotted Redshank without success, but Nige found a newly arrived flock of Avocet`s, spring is nearly here we all thought. We watched the seals as they used as little energy as possible trying to get into the water, great fun! We headed for Redcar and were soon watching a small flock of Velvet Scoter and in trying to get a bit closer managed to catch a couple of waves in our footwear. Just down the road behind The Stray Café we had hoped to see a small flock of Snow Bunting, but with lots of people and dogs around they were nowhere to be seen. At Marske by the Sea a couple of Lapland Buntings had been seen in the morning. On site birders told us that they had not been seen for a couple of hours. We decided to walk the large stubble field and we managed to encourage one of the Lapland Buntings to fly up and call as it flew around us, very nice indeed. The birds were left in peace to enjoy the food left out by some birders.
As we were so close to Skinningrove it made sense to call in and enjoy the Eastern Black Redstart that seems to have taken up residency there. The bird did not let us down, showing really well and a few pictures were taken. Along with the Rock Pipits, Stonechats & Wrens and lots of enquiring tourists a very nice hour was spent on the sandy beach admiring the Redstart. At Lockwood Beck Reservoir a Water Pipit had been showing all day, well up until we got there! A few Grey Wagtails were seen, but that was all. Our final call was to be Danby Beacon were lots of Red Grouse seemed to be dotted all over the place, they are always good entertainment. The drive back over the North York Moors was very spectacular, especially Rosedale, but being a heavily keepered area the chance of seeing any birds of prey was minimal. We reached York after a good days birding around 5-30pm, thanks for showing me some new places lads.
Dave O.


The weather forecast seemed like we might be in for some rain last Sunday, but, we decided on a trip anyway. We met in Norden and with Chris B at the wheel we headed of to Sizergh Castle. Nearly a full A team arrived at a wet venue to see Hawfinch, a species we do not often miss here. We missed last time and after 20 minutes of standing under the National Trust cafe verandah in wet and cold conditions it looked like another dip. We decided to “tough it out” and were rewarded when a single Hawfinch was seen feeding along with Bullfinch and Chaffinch, quite a sight in breeding plumage. It was time to employ operation, “Find a Hide”, as we headed for the Allen and Morecambe Pool hides at Leighton Moss. Greenshank and Ruff were again our target species as we had missed out a few weeks ago and as the rain lashed against the hides it did not look good. Lots of Black Tailed Godwit, Avocet and Black Headed Gulls were present, but alas no target waders. A stop to listen for Cetti`s Warbler was also fruitless, can we blame the birds for not singing in these conditions really? We stopped at the “Blue Gate” at Leighton Moss (well it used to be blue) and heard and saw Willow Warbler and Blackcap. Real harbingers of spring these two species, Chris pointed out a couple of fungus, one called King Alfred`s Cakes quite a curious shape and all black! We carried on to the Lower hide as the rain just fell from the sky, I re-told my story about the Golden Oriole that I saw one December along this path, don’t know if I have told them that story before as they appeared to not be listening! On arrival we tried to dry out a little bit with distant views of Sand Martin,House Martin, Swallow and quite a few ducks then, someone saw 2 Otters. We were then treated to 10 minutes watching these beautiful mammals swimming, diving and generally enjoying themselves in the monsoon conditions. It’s a long time since I have seen them, we all enjoyed every minute of it. We decided to head for home the scenic route and check the area out as the rain did slightly subside. We came over the “Cross of Greet” road, always looks good for various hill dwelling birds, but unfortunately it is well gamekeepered and we know what that means. As we used the car as a hide we searched for returning migrants and were lucky to see a male and female Ring Ouzel sat close to the road, they then landed on a dry stone wall and after chasing each other up a boulder strewn valley were lost to view, excellent! We called in at Stocks Reservoir and a male Mandarin duck was found but not much else, we will be back soon when the Cuckoo comes back in few weeks though. We all got home before 3-45pm and in time to watch the Manchester derby football match. Even the excesses of the weather did not prevent us from all enjoying the day out.

Dave O.

The birding scene has been fairly quiet this winter (lets hope for a biggy soon) so, we decided to try to see some of the birds that where in our county. Again almost a full A Team left Rochdale at 6am and with rain in the air, we headed north. I drove in my “new” Nissan Quashqai (think that’s how you spell it) its really comfortable and as 3 of the team are now pensioners we need to look after ourselves! We first called at Sizergh Castle, which was stolen from Lancashire in 1974, to see Hawfinch, the rain was still falling but even after a good search no Hawfinch were seen, we don’t often fail here? Well off to Leighton Moss and the weather improved rapidly. The ex warden on the reserve, John Wilson was present and he told us he had not seen the White Fronted Geese that we had come to see, yet. A few Avocet were present though, no Ruff or Spotted Redshank were seen either. At this point I must offer my sincere apologies to Bob K for not giving him credit for having seen a couple of Yellowhammers on the feeders going down to the Allen Hide, single observer sightings are always looked upon sceptically and Bob K did also see the same species at Astley Moss a few weeks ago, it all worked out right in the end. As we searched the fields at Leighton Moss for the geese a small flock flew towards us, what luck, they were the White Fronted Geese. They were watched for a good while and really enjoyed. We walked to the public hide and watched a couple of Marsh Harriers hunting, always a good sight. A call in at Warton Crag revealed Raven & Peregrine Falcon and lots of Jackdaws! At Conder Green the tide was in which allowed us to easily find the resident Spotted Redshank still in winter plumage. At Cockerham we searched for the large flocks of Pink Footed Geese, but found them landing near Pilling Lane Ends along with lots of waders and resting on the salt marsh. Singles of Red Breasted Merganser & Brent Goose were also seen at Pilling, cracking place with the tide coming in. At Bradshaw Lane / Eagland Hill feeding Stations lots of Tree Sparrows, Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers were seen, knew we would see them eventually Bob K! We had a little look around for a Barn Owl in the area, but no joy. A Black Redstart has been in the Newton Le Willows area for a couple of weeks, so we decided to give it a go as it was on the way home. After finding the right area we searched for 20 minutes but had no luck. We all had a good day and all saw a minimum 9 species to add to our year lists. Spring is on its way boys.

Dave O.

A family holiday spent at the Sahara Beach Hotel in Skanes, Monastir, Tunisia. It was our fifth visit to the area so I already knew where to go birding. Managed to do some birding every day, but mainly in the morning, usually around 6-15am as it became very warm around 9-30am. The area around this hotel is dominated by very large salt lagoons and lots of breeding birds, including Yellow legged Gull, Slender billed Gull, Little, Common and Gull billed Tern’s and good numbers of Collared Pratincole. Waders in the shape of Black winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover. Lots of Greater Flamingo directly behind the Monastir Airport, along with Spoonbill and Stone Curlew in small numbers. At the local dump near Sahline, up to 180 White Storks were present but the spectacle of uncountable numbers of Yellow legged Gull will stay with me for a long while! In the hotel area’s Hoopoe, Serin, Crested Lark, Bee-Eater, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Spanish Sparrow were seen in varying numbers. Around the salt lagoons various bushes and mixed habitat held up to 8 Great Grey Shrikes of the algeriencis form that allow close attention to photograph! Also in those area’ s are small numbers of Zitting Cisticola(Fan Tailed Warbler), Greenfinch, Linnet, Short Toed Lark and the abundant Rock/ Feral Dove. Smaller numbers of Collared, Laughing and Turtle Doves also.Large flocks of Spotless Starling are great to watch as they dig for food on the ground and squabble just like “our” one’s. There are lots of Swift and with a bit of luck a few Pallid Swift can be found as they chase their prey close to the ground. Small numbers of House and Sand Martins were seen, but not many Barn Swallow’s (think there is a sad decline this year in their numbers) On the journey from Enfidha Airport to our hotel a single Carrion Crow was seen flying around a small village, a bit unusual that? A single Barbary Partridge was seen one early morning in the scrub around the salt lagoons and in the evening a single Hobby was out hunting and then a flock of 5 Shelduck flew past. A few Kestrel’s and Sparrowhawk’s were seen again in small numbers. Our our return home and near the airport at Enfidha a Booted Eagle was seen hunting and great end to a very localised birding / family holiday.

A 6am start with myself driving and Steve & Chris Brown on the trip. A nice morning and our first call at Holyhead Harbour to see the Black Guillemots. The birds where soon located and a few pictures were taken. We used to have to go to Fedyr Fawr to see these stunning summer plummaged birds,but, now its much easier to catch up with them. It was a strong off shore wind that greeted us at South Stack RSPB reserve. Plenty of Manx Shearwaters were heading to the north and up to 5 Puffins were seen alongside lots of Guillemots & Razorbills. Large gulls patrolled the cliffs in case any food was availiable from the breeding areas. At our much awaited destination of Cemlyn Bay, the sun shone and 20 degrees of heat but, alas, the wind was that strong that any pictures could not be taken as it took you all your time to keep your telescopes or bins still! Sandwich, Arctic and Common Terns were seen and a single Roseate Tern and the most splendid Meditereanean Gull in breeding plummage also. A walk along the adjoining headland was very nice but, mainly birdless. At Frodsham a Red necked Grebe and Lesser Scaup had been present for a few days so, we headed over there. A few comments about how well watched the place used to be and the variety of birds that used to be found followed and as we arrived a few birders were present and information was exchanged on the whereabouts of our two “target” species. The Lesser Scaup was with some Tufted Ducks on number 6 tank and looked too be starting to moult. The Red necked Grebe was on the Weaver Bend and required climbing over barbded wire, metre high grass and various obstacles that were on the footpath to the river! It was well worth the effort as the bird showed well if a little distant for close camera work. An Avocet was seen, bringing back some memories of myself and Steve B seeing our first in the north west in almost the same place many years ago. We met a twitching friend of mine and he told me about seeing the Short Toed Eagle, thanks for that Simon! Next stop, much nearer to home, Rindle Road and Astley Moss for the hard to locate Treecreeper. This species is prooving hard for me to see this year, is it declining? No joy on that species again, but a tip of from another birding friend had us in the deep grass again and succesfully finding a Yellow Wagtail in a field full of Llamas, it was a bit odd true but, again worth the walk. Time for home, back at 6pm and we all got at least 9 year ticks.

Dave O.

With the hour less in bed catching one of our number out and another preparing for an overseas visit, a much depleted “A Team” left Rochdale at 6am with myself at the wheel. First stop, to “tick off” Mandarin, was Preston Grasshopper’s rugby club pond, good start no Mandarin`s, the theme would continue later in the day! Sizergh Castle, just in Cumbria, next stop and a waiting Hawfinch was seen sat on top of a tree. Cracking bird this one, a quick look at the feeder`s for my bogey bird in 2014,Treecreeper revealed none present. A male Scaup has been present on Middleton pond near Heysham village for a while, it was too good to miss and the bird duly obliged with excellent views, I made friends with a couple of Mute Swan’s also. We went past Morecambe F.C. and headed for Heysham harbour. A lot of fishermen and their vehicle`s were parked along the harbour wall and one in particular was parked very badly and it looked like it was going to turn nasty as a security guard tried to reason with the offending parker! About 6 Wheatear, 2 Twite and lots of Linnet`s in the area but, the real stars were masses of Meadow Pipit`s moving south, a real migration in action moment. At Leighton Moss 60 Avocet, 100 Black Tailed Godwit and the constant clamour of Black Headed Gulls reminded us about spring,then 3 Sand Martin headed past us,excellent. Along the causeway the bird of the day was firstly heard then flew out and sat on top of a reed, a male Bearded Tit, the bird was nicer than any picture I have seen,a true gem! A couple of Marsh Harriers were around then our first Swallow`s past just overhead heading north. A couple of butterflies were seen,Brimstone & Peacock and a few Chiff-Chaff in song all added to the general good feeling about the day. Over the hills to Stock`s Reservoir next with a hope of catching up with a large fish eating raptor the focus. No luck in that direction also,but a sunbathing Little Owl made up for it. A few more Sand Martin were seen over a couple of rivers as we headed towards home. We headed for the canal in Littleborough to catch up with a Mandarin,that was nearly always around, and after a good walk we had no joy. The pair of Garganey at Shaw Moss pond near Hollingworth Lake were quickly seen and we headed for home. We all saw about 8 species to add to our “year lists” and all enjoyed birding in warmer,drier conditions than we have had of late!

Dave O.

A  full “A” team enjoyed a day out, starting from Dawlish Avenue at the back of Marshside Marsh, Southport.It was very cold and the hoped for Spoonbill was not seen.At the old sand winning plant,  spring finally arrived with 3 male Wheatear seen,its been a long, cold winter,but, they brightened up the mood! At the deserted RSPB hide lots of Avocets were seen and as we searched the marsh for White Fronted Geese we found the Spoonbill.At this point a small falcon was seen chasing a Meadow Pipit,we then all watched a magnificent Merlin for about five minutes as it hunted down its prey,unforgetable! On the outer marsh lots of Pink Feet were seen then a couple of Barnacle Geese but not the White Fronts. Next stop Burrows Marsh on the Fylde as the tide was rising,  for the Water Pipits.It took a while but we had pretty good views of a couple of them and we left all very happy.At Conder Green Pools a Greenshank was seen.We made our way to Leighton Moss then home via the Trough of Bowland and managed to see lots of Red Grouse


Dave O.

Blast-off 6:30 – Dave ‘The Stig Ousey’ at the wheel. We are off for two reasons 1) Some good birds in Lincolshire. 2) Somthing on the tele? we have to miss. Dave manages to keep the speedometer below 100 – most of the time..Good man. One time he tries to get the car on two wheels. As the tyres stop screeching Dave says “I like to throw things about abit sometimes”

Immingham North-West from Grimsby on the Southern side of the Humber. Two days ago a Collared Pratincole took a liking to these small ponds. This is likely to be the bird that was seen at Spurn the previous weekend. Collared Pratincoles look like large chestnut & black coloured Swallows. A good looking bird we have all seen abroard. For me this is a Lifer for Britain, having dipped out twice before. It’s a chilly morning with an easterly wind blowing into our faces. No sign of the ‘Prat’. Other year ticks here Snipe and Little Grebe. Once again Whitethroats all over the shop. After a 40 minute wait, ‘the Prat’ shows it self close bye. Jaws drop, cameras click, broad smiles for all. The bird put on a magnifcent show – ‘Leaching’ (Bob’s term for flying like a Leach’s Petrel) for bugs and landing in view for minutes. A lovely bird, appreciated by all.

Collared Pratincole

Back on the road again. We leave behind a plume of dust as we blast off for Tetney Lock, 36 miles away. Tetney looks out across the Humber Estuary directly opposite Spurn Point. We quickly get  Two Short Eared Owls quartering the saltmarsh. In a ploughed field We see Seven Dotterel sitting low, keeping out of the wind no doubt. Behind us a small drain has attracted some Yellow Wagtails. No sign of what we really wanted to see though a Tawny Pipit. It has been seen here since the previous weekend. But not today, or  since. A common Sandpiper makes its way on to the list. Loads of Whitethroats ..again.

Covington Res. next stop. A large res that should attract some stuff..but not today. Time for Plan ‘B’.

Blacktoft Sands. still glorious sunshine. The usual Marsh Harriers are displaying. We count 68 Avocets on one of the pools. Briefly, five Whimbrel fly through. And that was it. On the way home we call in at..

Weeton, Nr Harewood for Red Kites. We count nine in one go. Some managed to glide above our heads. Always appreciated seeing these Red Kites. Then Home. A great days birding by all.