Posts Tagged ‘Marsh Harrier’

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.


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.

The full “A” team assembled in Newhey (after brief introductions) and after a small discussion we decided to head for Alkborough, North Lincolnshire as the Western Purple Swamphen was still present. As two of the team still needed to see this species, we soon arrived on a beautiful Lincolnshire (8 miles north of Scunthorpe) morning. The news was good, the bird was still present, as we entered the hide the bird was showing a little distantly, but well enough and with 6 Spoonbills, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Ruff, Marsh Harrier and lots of Avocets it certainly made me think I was on a Mediterranean reserve!! We had a walk towards the place where the River Humber splits into the River Trent and the River Ouse, always wanted to see this area, we all enjoyed that. As we left the area there were still lots of birders around the hide, enjoying all the birds present.

News of a Baird`s Sandpiper at Hatfield Moor`s N.R. reached us, so as it was another potential “lifer” for Chris B, we made plans to go. A supporting cast of a Pectoral Sandpiper and a Black Necked Grebe added a bit of “let`s get there”. We arrived at the Boston Park car park to the news that the sandpiper was still present. Now anyone who has ever visited the Hatfield Moors reserve will know that it is large, so, when the “good” birds turn up they are always a long walk, the distance to the Baird`s Sandpiper was no exception. After 30 minutes slog over track and raised peat bog, we saw birders in the distance. As we arrived the sandpiper was showing well down to 25 yards allowing for some reasonable pictures being taken (not by me though) as it was another lifer for Chris, the handshakes passed around. The Pectoral Sandpiper was pointed out to us and good views of it at around 30 yards distance were had. A juvenile Peregrine Falcon then put all the birds on that part of the moor to flight, except the Baird`s (perhaps it has never seen one before?) We met a couple of birding friends and had a good natter on the long walk back to the carpark. We called in at the Boston Park pool to try and find the Black Necked Grebe that had been present a few days. There were a lot of Little Grebes and a couple of Great Crested Grebe, but no sighting of the bird. Then I picked it up and as I tried to get the others onto it, it dived and was not seen again after much searching. That was a real mystery! Bob K had us all home by 4-30pm, another good day out birding, well done to all.

Dave O.

After a very unusual week at home, it was really good to know that I have a lot of friends around me to tell my troubles too. So, when Bob K asked me to go out on Sunday, I could not miss the opportunity. A nice Steve K type start time of 9am with Bob at the controls, we headed for Broomhill Flash not far from Old Moor N.R. A Barn Owl was seen then a lovely Kingfisher flashed past. A small group of Black tailed Godwit`s in brilliant plummage were also seen.

Next stop Hatfield Moor N.R. with the hoped for Hobby and various dragonflies. It was nice and sunny by now as we passed through Doncaster. We parked up and began to explore this large nature reserve. Another perched up Kingfisher was found, but not long enough for Bob to get a picture! At the veiwing platform across from where a 2nd World War plane had crash landed, we had a rest and enjoyed the sunshine. Not many birds or much really happening. In the hide a smart Yellowhammer was seen.

Next stop Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve, we made our way around starting at the Alkborough end. Quite a few Marsh Harriers where in the air at once, always nice to watch. A couple of Bearded Tits were seen dashing about feeding their young family. The real highlight came when a lady said that there was a Peregrine Falcon in the distance coming towards us with prey in its talons. As the bird came fairly close towards us we soon realised that the bird was a Hobby! At the Goole end I expected to see lots of Avocet`s and guess what, not a one was present on the reserve. The presence of 10 Spotted Redshank, some in cracking plummage, was another highlight. Blacktoft is still one of my best northern nature reserves to visit, certainly over the warmer months. We got home at 6pm and really enjoyed the day after a very bad week at home. Thanks Bob K.

DSCF3741.JPGDSCF3742.JPGDSCF3746.JPGJust two A Team members enjoyed a good trip to our second favourite county, Yorkshire. We met in Milnrow at a reasonable time and in Steve K`s car headed for Spurn Point. Yesterday there had been some good birds,Red backed Shrike and Turtle Doves, but upon arrival it was apparent that everything had cleared out, or had they? There was low cloud/mist, a strong wind blowing in the wrong direction for any good migrants, but we had a good look around the wetlands. A number of Arctic Tern and a single Cuckoo were seen,so,after about an hour we decided to cut our losses and head for North Cave Wetlands were two Glossy Ibis had been seen. As we passed through Patrington a check of the bird news revealed a Red backed Shrike at Spurn,typical!
The weather had improved greatly with wall to wall sunshine, even Hull looked nice, although there was still not much sign of life after Hull City had gained promotion back to the Premiership! Upon arrival at North Cave Wetlands news of the two Glossy Ibis was good. We hurried along to a small crowd and saw the two birds feeding and being sent packing by the local Moorhens, what nice colourful birds Glossy Ibis are. News of a breeding pair of Mediterranean Gull`s quickly followed, so we went to a hide and after around twenty minutes searching through the large Black headed Gull colony, Steve K saw the “unmissable” head of the Mediterranean Gull, this bird was in fabulous plummage.
We headed for Blacktoft Sands Nature Reserve and headed for Singleton Hide were the single,female Montagu`s Harrier is occasionally seen from. The local Bearded Tit colony seemed to be very busy feeding young as they were very showy and dashed about the reedbeds. Up to six Marsh Harrier`s seemed to be on show most of the time but, we had no joy seeing the Montagu`s Harrier, which is still waiting for a male bird to re-appear.We then began birding the other hides,Cetti`s,Reed and Sedge Warbler all singing. A nicely marked group of Black tailed Godwit`s were seen at Ousefleet Hide and again after a lot of searching the “eagle-eyed” Steve K found the male Garganey, well done Steve. We enjoyed the day,even after the slow start at Spurn. We reached Milnrow by five thirty.
Dave O.

Myself, Chris B, Bob K met at my home for our annual trip to Bolton Abbey Woods, Bob was at the helm. Leaving at 6am and reaching the woods by 7am on a beautiful, sunny morning. The birds all appeared to be singing, but our ears (mainly Chris ) soon located the Redstarts and we saw them fairly well, truly, colourful gems of the woods are Redstarts. A distant Cuckoo was also heard.We descended to river level and the smell of the various plants that grow down there was truly powerful, mainly Ransoms and Bluebells. Chris showed us a number of unusual plants also, Honeydew, Lords & Ladies. Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiff-chaff were all singing at once then, the bird we have not heard here for a few year`s, Wood Warbler. Great to hear it singing, but locating it was a different matter. The amount of Pied Flycatchers in the area, seems to have increased, I wonder if the custodians of this area have used the “Cork in nestbox” idea to stop Blue Tits using the boxes and waiting till the Pied Flycatchers return before “uncorking” ? A walk up to the shelter revealed Mandarin, Marsh Tit and a further Wood Warbler. Chris found a Woodcock really close to the path and Bob found a pair of Spotted Flycatchers in a similar area, nice to see. The area was begining to get busy with runners, noisy cyclers, walkers and the usual yapping dogs, time to leave!

The long drive over to Foulshaw Moss from the Skipton area was helped by the sightings of a few Swifts chasing each other around in the little village areas. It was warm as we arrived at Foulshaw, Bob & Chris saw an Adder and we all enjoyed Green Hairstreak and Four Spotted Chaser Dragonflies. A distant female Osprey, Tree Pipits, Buzzards all added up to a really nice hour at this new(ish) reserve.

We called into Leighton Moss to see if we could find Reed Warbler, no problem as we walked along the causeway. Up to three Marsh Harrier were also observed. We called in at the Morecambe & Allen hides and were shocked to see the area completely flooded. The Black headed Gulls at the Allen hide were all flying about with no sign of any of their nests remaining also no Avocets present, a problem with a breached culvert?

News of a Little Gull being present at Stocks Reservoir had us heading in that direction over some lovely countryside. We reached Stocks and a kind lady helped us with our parking arrangements, cant say anymore! At the first hide a search for the Little Gull was stopped in its tracks as a Black Tern was found (by us?) We watched it twisting & turning as it caught its prey items, one of the birds that people have difficulty getting me away from. The local birders arrived and so did the Little Gull spending most of its time with the Black Tern chasing insects, never seen that before.Think thats why we enjoy birding as much as we do because you never know what will happen next. We had all had a truly good days birding and arrived home by 5-15pm.

P.S. We had originally decided to go for an Alpine Accenor at Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire, but as it was not seen, I think we all made a good call!!

Dave O.



A juvenile Pallid Harrier had been found near Flitcham in Norfolk in early December. What with bad weather, work etc in the way, a trip to see it was not possible until the Christmas break. We planned to go on the 27th, the day after the floods in Rochdale, but coupled with the heavy rain forecast for Norfolk, we cancelled. The bird was not seen on that day, so, a wise choice. Tuesday 29th dawned and four A Team members left Newhey with a promise of good weather and a number of species being lifers for a couple of us. A 5 o`clock departure meant we got to Norfolk by 8-25am in Steve K`s car. We entered the packed hide just as a Barn Owl and then a Woodcock flew by, then minutes later the Pallid Harrier was seen about 200 yards away eating the remains of a pigeon! A lifer for 2 of our crew, we had good views of the bird out of the hide and along the road as it hunted a large field. The weather at this point was truly good, with a blue sky and temperatures well into the teens, very unseasonal. We watched the bird for about 30 minutes on and off and decided to head along the coast to see other species. In the Choseley Barns area the hoped for Rough legged Buzzard was not seen. After watching another Barn Owl in a roadside field, news that a Rough legged Buzzard had been located at Choseley, we made our way back and were rewarded with distant, but good clinching views, were there 2 birds in the sky at once as we arrived? No news was forthcoming regarding a Red rumped Swallow in the Holkham area, so we pushed on towards Cley, where a Black Brant was in with a flock of Brent Geese. The goose was soon located, which resulted in another lifer for a team member. We admired the bird for 30 minutes or so, but could not find any other of the rarer goose species at Cley. We were well entertained by around 3 Marsh Harriers that kept putting up all the smaller birds on the marsh. We called in at Holkham on the off chance that the Red rumped Swallow had been found but alas it was not (The bird returned the day after though). A Bittern was a nice find as it flew around and again 2 Marsh Harriers lifting all the birds up in the bright sunshine. A call in at Holme Dunes to see the Shore Larks was our next stop. We were told that the birds were a mile walk away and we gave up as time and daylight were against us. We had all really enjoyed the day and headed for home around 3-30pm. The amount of birds of prey and large numbers of Pink footed Geese were really impressive. An accident on the bypass near to Sleaford, meant a half an hour`s diversion through the town centre, not ideal, but we enjoyed all the pubs and quaint buildings in this never before visited town. We reached Newhey by 7-30pm, a long but memorable day. Well done to Steve K for all his efforts behind the wheel.
Dave O.

I had been keeping my eyes on the birds that have been occurring at Burton Mere Reserve, Wirral throughout the week. It`s only a good hour from Rochdale and with having no football to go to (Dale@ Southend) decided that a trip was needed. Just a solo effort was made and I arrived at 11am on a very nice autumn day. After speaking to the very helpful staff at the reserve a walk down to a screened off area was made and a nice Jack Snipe was eventually located. It put its head up and had a “bob” around for a short while, I did not see the other Jack Snipe or Goshawk that had been seen earlier. Back at the reserve headquarters a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper had come out of hiding and showed fairly well mixed in with Black tailed Godwits and some Knot. Its 2 years since I have seen a Curlew Sandpiper ,so, I spent a good 20 minutes admiring it. There were around 5000 Teal on the reserve also Pintail, Shoveler and Mallard. A flock of 300+ Pink Footed Geese were also seen and reminded me of the approach of winter! Three Black Swan`s then flew from the estuary area and landed on the reserve, really nice birds to watch in flight. The reserve has transformed access to all area`s including Inner Marsh Farm and is well worth a visit. I was told of a good vantage point to look out over the Dee Estuary for birds of prey etc. It is called Hillfort and is reached over the railway bridge that we used to pass on the way down to the hide at Inner Marsh Farm. The view over the estuary was quite good and further improved as the sun came out. Three ringtail Hen Harrier`s were seen first, all having a right go at a Marsh Harrier, good for size comparison. About 3 Short Eared Owl`s were also out hunting the still fairly well flooded marsh area after two recent high tides, always nice to watch these graceful birds. A Great White Egret along with 2 Little Egret`s, 4 Whooper and 3 Bewick`s Swan`s were also on the marsh. A Green Sandpiper was first heard then seen and along with Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel made up a good hour at a new vantage point. I could have stayed a little longer it was so nice, but like we say all good things have to end. Got home by 4pm.
Dave O.

With all the strong winds that had blown various American birds to our fair shores, could it be that a Bufflehead found on Ullswater, Cumbria could be genuine? We thought we would give it a go as it had gone fairly quiet on the east coast. So, four A team members set of from Norden with myself at the helm after all enjoying a “lie in”. Just a few cars marked the area that the bird had been found in, on Saturday. It was still there and showed distantly at first until a nearer vantage point was found. What a stunning bird, similar to a drake Smew in “wow” factor! Then, I think you know what I am going to say, some person who obviously enjoys spoiling the moment said,”It`s got a ring on its leg”. Always the same problem with any wildfowl having to prove its authenticity. Have they not all escaped from various places? Later in the week and off course “darn sarf”, another Bufflehead was found also wearing leg adornments. How come they both escaped in the same week? Anyhow it was a beautiful morning in lovely countryside and a trip over the Kirkstone Pass was enjoyed. We headed for Leighton Moss and watched an Otter, a Great White Egret and a Marsh Harrier but not much else.We paid our respects to one of our number who passed on a few years ago and we headed for Conder Green. There were a few waders around but not the hoped for Spotted Redshank or Green Sandpiper. Time for one of those special birds with loads of character the Ring Necked Parakeet. After visiting the grave of Les Dawson, who always made us all laugh, a couple of parakeets were heard and seen very well, always enjoyable! I must point out that the birding was a little slow so some distractions had to be sought! We have had better days, but, it was nice to get out. We all got home by 5pm.

Dave O.

After the re-finding of a Wood Warbler on a local patch on Saturday, I thought my luck was in, it was to prove far from the truth! A very rare bird had been found off the Welsh coast and we had assembled a team who might have been tempted, but the bird was not seen on Saturday, so we decided to head out east. Myself, Bob K with Steve K at the wheel met in Milnrow at 6am on a fairly nice morning. As we passed Leeds the weather turned very drizzly and did not change much all day. First stop was Strensall Common near York, a new place for us to visit, but after extensive searching and 2 hours walking the birds we had hoped to see were not located, perhaps it was too late in the season? The weather did not improve as we reached Wykeham Forest near Scarborough, as the whole of the usually beautiful valley viewpoint  was obscured by mist. A good search of the nursery area was made and not a sight or sound was heard of the quickly disappearing Turtle Doves. At the viewpoint the mist cleared a little then came back again, time to leave! We headed to Bempton Cliffs, knowing we would see a few birds there. It was the first highlight of the day watching the Gannets, Kittiwakes, Puffins and lots auks battling against the wind. There seemed a lot of Puffins present, but we were told the numbers are down.The visitor centre accommodated one of our number to visit its inner sanctum, after which we quickly left. Next stop was Blacktoft Sands, to hopefully connect with a pair of Montagu`s Harriers. On arrival we were told that it had been 40 minutes since they had been seen. After being entertained by 4 hunting Marsh Harriers for 20 minutes, the male & female Montagu`s Harriers got up for about 2 minutes, albeit a little distantly but quite spell blindingly, certainly the birds of the day. A quick look at a Bearded Tit and then no joy with the Yellow Wagtails ended, what was a fairly poor day in the field. The rare bird was re-found in Wales also, which really helped. Home for teatime and it was dry back in Lancashire.

Dave O.