Posts Tagged ‘Red Breasted Merganser’

With two of the “A” team needing to see the Pacific Diver that has been present at East Chevington, Northumberland for a while and with the promise of fine weather, we arranged to go. We met in Newhey at 6am, a time that our driver Steve K seemed unfamiliar with having had to miss his regular large breakfast. Myself, Bob K & Chris B made up the numbers. We made good progress using the satnav in Steve`s car, even allowing for some of its eccentricities, we reached the car park at Druridge Bay at 8-50am. We had a good look at Ladyburn pool first and could not find the diver, so we headed for its regular haunt, North pool. The weather was really nice and sunny, but not that warm. We soon found the Pacific Diver and all enjoyed its diving and preening in the sunshine, handshakes all around then. We called into one of the hides and had good views of a few Scaup and eventually saw the Slavonian Grebe, a bird that I have not seen for a few years.
After a slog over the sand dunes we found a flock of around a 100 Twite, Bob K went and got a few good pictures of them. We did a bit of sea watching and saw: – Guillemot, Razorbill, Red Breasted Merganser, Shag, Common Scoter & around ten Red Throated Divers, a few Sanderling, Ringed Plover also. After 40 minutes or so a single Skylark began singing and seven Shorelark flew onto the beach near the Twite, we really enjoyed watching them for the short time they were there. Some really nice birds at this reserve and lots of people out enjoying the weather.
We decided to go and have a look at the long staying Eastern Black Redstart at Skinningrove, Cleveland. We reached the area after a bit of my dodgy navigation (as I had been before) we got to the bird’s favoured area and apart from: – Rock Pipit, Stonechat, Robin & Wren, the bird was nowhere to be found. A few early returning Fulmar entertained us high up on the cliffs, but after 30 minutes most of us returned to the car for refreshments, apart from Bob K. After a long search of the area he had found the Eastern Black Redstart and it was now back in its normal place on the rocks, well done Bob. The bird performed very well for us all and lots of pictures were taken. On our way back to the car Chris B casually mentioned that he had not added Pine Bunting to his British list. Next stop it is then.
After a very long slog over the hills south of Whitby, which are very picturesque, also with lots of Sunday drivers, traffic problems etc our chances of seeing the Pine Bunting had gone. We did go to its daytime area at Dunnington, near York, but it was too late as all the birds had gone to roost. We headed for home after a really good days birding at around 7pm.
Dave O.


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 arrival of post breeding birds back into the country is always an exciting time for us birders, so when an American White Winged Scoter was seen in Aberdeenshire it was time to gather the troops. With my friends from over the border in Yorkshire being “up for it” and no real response from the regular A Teamers a trip was arranged for Saturday night. We met in York and with Darren W, Nigel S and organiser in chief Mark K set off north. With the A1 being subject to-night closures a trip up the A19 was planned then across country to Edinburgh. We passed over the Forth Bridge and marvelled at the new bridge being built along side the old one. We pressed on through Aberdeen and soon found our way to the Blackdog area, then apart from a couple of wrong turnings (yes I know blame me) we headed down to the golf clubhouse at Murcar. It was just 4-30am as we all donned our waterproof`s, gloves and wooly hats (well it is July) and headed out to the dunes overlooking the sea. The four of us found what has been the regular watching area, which is raised with a good view over the sea. The weather and conditions were perfect, flat calm sea, next to no wind and overcast skies. We all began to search through the 500 or so scoter flock and all noticed a bird with very large white patches on both wings, this must be our American White Winged Scoter?  The bird was given a good-looking at and we saw:that its bill was pinkish towards the last third, it had brown flanks, it had white facial patches around and behind its eyes, the white wings showed at rest and were much more obvious as the bird dived or preened. It tended to always be in the company of Velvet Scoters against which it appeared slightly larger. We enjoyed the bird for over an hour and also saw:- Eider, Red Throated Divers (are you sure Mark) and lots of passing terns. We had all got a new British species, it was well worth the effort.

We went up to the Ythan Estuary (Newburgh) to see the breeding plumaged King Eider, but guess what? it could not be found. The seals made up for it though and lots of terns, 200+ what a cracking estuary this is, so undisturbed. We tried to locate the American Wigeon also, but without any joy. At Blackdog another search through the massive Eider flock was fruitless.

Setting off south to Loch of Lowes, near Dunkeld at around 9am, we called in for petrol in Aberdeen. What fun that was, we could not find a petrol station, until one finally gave itself up! The drive over the A & B roads was a little unusual to say the least but, we made it. We made our way to the main hide/center and found out it was £4-00 each to get in, what happened next?? (answers on a postcard) We sought out another viewing opportunity and after all agreeing that a stain on a distant tree was an Osprey, Nigel S got his scope and found the real Osprey, well we were tired.

A call into Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, along the sea wall did not reveal the hoped for Surf Scoter, but an unusual amount off moulting Red Breasted Merganser`s were watched with still more Eiders in various stages of moult.

Of we went again down the A1 on a beautiful day enjoying this picturesque road on a fairly quiet day for traffic. We were heading for the River Wansbeck (of Red Necked Stint fame) to try to catch up with a Bonaparte`s Gull. We got to Ashington and had to pass through a caravan site and walk down to the beach and estuary.We had a good look for the bird but could not find it. We decided to head for home after a very long day`s birding. We had all seen a new bird for Britain but had been unlucky with the supporting cast. We headed for home, which I reached at 8-00pm. What a brilliant day out with great company.
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.