Posts Tagged ‘Crossbill’

Another one of our, “looked forward to” trips, was last Sunday. With Bob K at the wheel nearly a full A Team left Rochdale on a cold spring like morning at 6am heading for World`s End in North Wales. Lots of frost around greeted us in the elevated area and even at the early hour quite a few birders had assembled to witness something very special. It was a Black Grouse lek! Firstly around 5 male birds showing their absolute finery and making lots of bubbling sounds as they went toe to toe with the nearest other male. Then we moved to the main lek in which we estimated around 25 males all having some input to this great spectacle in the bird world! They were later joined by a few females who sat around the edges enjoying the show. You can never tire of watching this unusual activity. Quite a few Raven were flying around and “gronking” sounds were all around at one time. In a small larch copse we saw Crossbill, Siskin & Goldcrest and as the grouse lek ended we had a search for a Great Grey Shrike that was a regular winter visitor to these parts. We stopped along the small road as a few other birders were watching something, it was a very distant Great Grey Shrike. We moved on and found another shrike ourselves about 1/2 mile away, the bird quickly made its exit and was not seen again. We moved into the Conway valley to search for the Hawfinch at Llan Bedr y Cenin, we were not lucky on this occasion but were treated to great views of a few Red Kites that have moved into this beautiful area. With the tide being in, a trip to Morfa Madryn (The Spinnies) was next, but frankly it was a little bit of a let down as nothing new was seen, apart from one of the bringer’s of the spring a singing Chiff Chaff which was very nice. News of Surf & Velvet Scoters near Old Colwyn had us dashing up the coast to try to find them. None of us really knew were we where heading for but we must have found the right spot as there were some other birders present. We asked the question about the Surf Scoters and we got the negative (usual) reply! With a flat sea and the sun behind us we began to search through the ever-moving flock of thousands of Common Scoter. We must have a chance of picking one up of these resplendent American sea ducks. Luckily it was myself that finally found a cracking drake Surf Scoter, we really deserved to find one after many hours of searching in unfavourable conditions didn’t we? It did not end there with up to 6 male Velvet and a further 3 more Surf Scoter being found. A few Fulmar,Brent Geese, Red Throated Divers,Guillemot & Razorbills were also seen, a really excellent haul. A very, almost tame Iceland Gull had been present on the beach at Pensarn for a while now so we called in to see it and take a few pictures, guess what? it had flown off just before we got there! A few Ringed Plovers made up our day in North Wales and the usual traffic problems haunted us on the way home, but it had all been worth it as we all got around 10+ new birds for the year lists. Cracking day out.

Dave O.


One of our most eagerly awaited trips of the year to the uplands of England to see the Black Grouse was last Sunday, what a day it turned out to be. A quick call on the way up to see a few Hawfinch at Sizergh Castle got the show on the road. With the clocks having sprung forward, a few dissenting voices about the early start could be heard. But never the less we passed through a valley bottom that was completely white with frost with lots of Common Gull shivering with the cold, car outside temperature guage read 1 degree, upon return in the same valley the guage read 19 degrees! As the sun came up we began to climb and were soon rewarded by sight of a Ring Ouzel heading up a gully close to the road and a male Wheatear sat out on a favourite rocky perch. We were also serenaded by “chipping” Snipe and displaying Golden Plovers and a few Curlew, Skylark and Meadow Pipits for good measure and with the complete lack of any other humans except a farmer or two it seemed like heaven! Our next call had about 10 Ring Ouzel, busily feeding and chasing each other around with a few Redshank for company. The cameramen amongst us went and got some pictures of the birds. We headed for our “regular” place to see Black Grouse and, after about half an hours searching, we managed to see a male bird walk across a field and promptly disappear into the undergrowth, much to the dismay of Steve B, who had wandered off and missed the bird. Chris B. knew another location and we headed for it. After 10 minutes another male bird showed really well and Steve was happy. We called in at an area that had been “clearfelled” and managed to see a pair of Woodcock that had been disturbed by a couple who were collecting wood ? Also a couple of cameramen who were covered in camouflage gear and hated our presence as they tried to take pictures of some Crossbills, boring bastards I think. We now paid homage to a little railwayana in the form of a trip to the site of an old British Transport film called, “Snowdrift at Bleath Gill” about a steam loco getting stuck in bad weather and how they got it out. Next stop Leighton Moss to twitch a few Chiff-Chaff`s and meet up with “Ginger” a regular at these parts who had no news about owt good in the area. Then we decided to visit a new area in the form of Longridge Fell to see/or not to see, a “Lancashire” Great Grey Shrike. What is it with me and GGS in Lancashire? as we searched all the area and came up with my regular score on this species, nowt! But the area was nice but next to no birds though. Time to head for home on what had been a lovely sunny day that we will all remember. Called in at Kingsway “puddle” in Rochdale on the way home as one of our locals had seen 4 Ruff along with Little Ringed Plover and these birds were all still present when I arrived at 6pm. What a day!


Our “annual” trip to the east coast is usually onshore high wind, rain and cold. Quite a nice change to sit on the cliffs at Flamboro` in shorts and getting a suntan! We reached the almost empty carpark at 8-30am, and after 2 an half hours sea doggin’  we saw a good list of species to add to our year lists including:- 4 Sooty Shearwaters, Balearic Shearwater, 10 Arctic Skua`s, 3 Great Skua`s, Little Gull and lots of Kittiwake`s. Large amounts of Gannets, Terns and Auks also present. One numb rear-end later, and a trip to Filey Dams LN Reserve was made. Apart from high water levels it still held 3 Ruff, Greenshank and a moulting Shelduck plus all the usual regulars, including a Sparrowhawk and a Grey Heron that “spooked” the birds, enabling us to see all the birds in flight! Where to go next? after consulting a map we realised that the raptor viewpoint at Wykeham was not that far away,we decided on there. Only Chris had been thier before and upon arrival 3 lads from Burnley told us that they had seen an Osprey and a distant Honey Buzzard, This place is really good for watching passing or local raptors as you can see many a mile. After a 10 minute wait 2 Goshawks flew above our heads and the lads said that there was a family party in the area, these birds kept flying around and gave great views. Also seen:- 2 Buzzard, Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine (it flushed the Goshawks out as it flew past) A party of 5 Crossbills and some Siskins also settled in the pine trees. What a place, we will be calling back at Wykeham. News of some waders at Lin Dyke hide, Fairburn Ings near Castleford had us getting a little nearer home. The sun was still beating down as we reached the hide enabling us to see all the relevant features on:- 3 Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stint, 3 Ringed Plover. Then from nowhere the local Peregrine flushed the waders away and as we left the hide a small party of Swift passed through the reserve. Time for home now, cracking day out!

In a 3 hour “vigil” at Clough Bottom in which there was heavy showers, light rain and mist then, warm sunshine the following birds were seen:- 9 Greylag Geese (landed on res at 3-20pm and flew off in the direction of Burnley at 4-00pm) 1 Mallard, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 LBB Gull, 4 Wood Pigeon, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Swallow, 2 Grey Wagtail, 10 Wren, 18 Dunnock, 1 Robin, 2 Song Thrush, 4 Blackbird, 14 Willow Warbler,3  Blackcap, 8 GOLDCREST – smile (finally caught up with them at Clough Bottom this year!),  3 Spotted Flycatcher, 12 Coal Tit, 24 Blue Tit, 40+ Great Tit, 1 Treecreeper, 2 Jay, 4 Magpie,6 Carrion Crow, 32 Chaffinch, 4 Goldfinch, 5 Crossbill (2 Juv`s).

Clough Bottom

Clough Bottom

Dave Ousey.

The Western Bonelli`s Warbler just in Derbyshire at Tintwistle was too much of a good bird not to go and see, so we went on Friday afternoon and endured traffic jams, torrential rain, Steve wearing a safety helmet in a monsoon and guess what on top of all that birders telling us were the bird had been etc etc. After 4 hours of this the little blighter refused to show for us. We headed for home and even thought that the bird must have drowned (How wrong we were). No news about the warbler on Saturday so I cheered myself up, on a hot sunny day by going to one of the most famous wader sites of the 50`s,60`s and 70`s, you guessed it Altrincham sewage works ( Now called water treatment works). About 5 Green Sandpipers and a fleeting glimpse of a Wood Sandpiper and 5 Black Tailed godwits were on show. As I reached home news of the Bonelli`s Warbler broke again. If its there in the morning I will go early as it “a morning bird”. Got to Tintwistle at 9am and guess what?  the bird was on show and making its little call near the bridge at the end of the reservoir, result, my first Western Bonelli`s Warbler on mainland Britain! Crossbill and a perched Kingfisher completed a nice trio of new birds for this year. Think I fully deserved the warbler for all my efforts! Regards, Dave O.

Bonelli`s Warbler Site