Posts Tagged ‘Red Throated Diver’

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.


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.

A Little Bustard was found near Bridlington,Yorkshire on New Year`s Eve. A couple of the A Team had not seen this species before, so a trip was planned for Friday the 2nd January (not our usual New Year`s Day trip due to poor weather forecast,Big Mistake) Now Steve K not really known for his “quick off the mark” theory to twitching, took his good lady out on New Year`s Day and saw the Little Bustard,well done Steve. On a bitterly cold morning the other 4 members of the A Team left Newhey at 7am reaching Fraisthorpe by 9am with myself driving. The narrow road down to the beach car park was surrounded by around 100+ birders all looking rather sad, the bird had not been seen or froze to death? After about an hour we decided to rescue what was left of the day and head for Bridlington Harbour. It’s around 25 years since most of us have been there, when we did an RSPB “Seabird Cruise”. A couple of Purple Sandpipers and lots of Turnstones were seen. A call at South Landing, Flamborough was next with Rock & Water Pipits seen, quite a few Red Throated Divers and a few Common Scoter also. A visit to the Grindale area was next but, to continue the “dipping” theme of the day, no sign of the reported Rough Legged Buzzard. On the journey over to Wakefield we would have expected to see a couple of Red Kite`s, but they were also not seen. At the Calder Wetlands near Wakefield the Blyth`s Pipit was looked for twice and the theme continued we just not connecting. A few duck species were added then a Common Snipe was seen and declared “Bird of the Day”. A day to forget really as it was very cold. A nice early return over the hill into Lancashire and we all hoped for better luck in 2015. Around 60 species were seen on the day so not a bad start.

Dave O.

Whilst one of our number was watching the Great Spotted Cuckoo in Pembrokeshire and another doing his conservation thing the 3 remaining members of the A Team (Steve B, myself and Chris B at the wheel) headed for North Wales. Our target was the Black Grouse at the well named World’s End, we left Brooks End at 6am and arrived at our destination by 7-30am. A bit of frost about but not snowbound like last year! Three aptly named Blackcocks were soon seen at the side of the track and about 30 birds in total were seen during our short visit. Its advisable to stay in your car so not scare the birds and you should have reasonable sightings. Raven, Skylark and lots of Meadow Pipits were seen but the Great Grey Shrike was not around and a couple of fly past Siskin made up the sightings. Up to 8 Surf Scoter have been seen each day from Pensarn Beach over the last week or so, must be worth a go then? The wind was fairly strong from the west as we arrived and the tide was in and the light perfect, but if you dont get all 3 at the same time your chances of seeing them are very limited. After about an hour of watching Common Scoter and a few passing Red Throated Divers, we decided to go without any success, the wind was blowing us about that much!. A nice Snow Bunting was seen on the seawall though. We headed off to Aber Ogwen / The Spinnies, were two Chiff-Chaffs were singing away, they gave this delightfull nature reserve a spring like feel. A Water Rail feeding below the bird feeders and a distant Slavonian Grebe and two Greenshank made up the species. A little detour to see some Chough`s followed and after a bit of good bird observation by Steve B two of these captivating birds were seen. Another visit to Llandulas and again Pensarn still drew a blank with the Surf Scoters, mind you they were not reported from any other birders on Sunday. A quick look in at Haughton Green Pool near Warrington did not reveal the hoped for Black necked Grebe’s but lots of people walking their dogs and low water did not help. Home by 5-30pm, with around 8 new birds for the year.

Dave O.

Nice to get out and enjoy a day by the seaside birding, we thought it would turn out a bit different! Myself, Steve B and Chris B left Rochdale at 6:30am last Sunday, with me driving, to clear up a few species in North Wales, one of our favourite areas. It was fairly mild, but warm clothing was required. First stop Rhos Point, we knew the tide would be out thus lessening our chances of catching up with the Purple Sandpipers and how right we was. Next to no birds were seen here. Onto Aber Ogwen (The Spinnies) and again the estuary was devoid of a regular Greenshank and Red Breasted Merganser. The only things moving were cockle pickers. A Slavonian Grebe was eventually picked up alongside lots of Great Crested Grebe’s. The hide had lots of common woodland species and a Water Rail feeding below the feeders only 6 feet away and no cameras with us! Llanfairfechan Sewage works and Morfa Madryn next, but not before I missed the turning and locked the brakes, quite a “Sweeney esque” entrance. The Firecrest didn’t show and not much at Morfa Madryn too. Surely our luck would change and we would see the drake Surf Scoter at Llandulas, certainly with Steve B now sporting his “old” telescope as well? After looking through what appeared to be thousands of Common Scoter and not even a Velver Scoter for our efforts, we gave up. We did see Red Throated Diver, Fulmar and “dodgy” Rock Doves, onto our next call. Now these birds rarely let us down the Snow Buntings at Kinmel Bay on the outskirts of Rhyl, but the “town planners” have been messing around again making it difficult for us to enter the right area of beach. A bit of a drive around and we finally found a hidden away Asda, walked east and found about 16 Snow Buntings, the boys took a few pictures and we enjoyed the area in good sunlight. We saw a couple of Ringed Plover also. I got an interesting call from one of our Rossendale birders about a Bittern that had been found, typical I thought, as soon as I leave the area something good turns up! We might squeeze in a visit today, but not before we go and see the Lesser Scaup at Shotton Pools. We arrived, did the commando training course to be able to stand with the other birders and enjoyed this American duck as it dived and fed very happily in the company of Tufted Ducks. Unfortunately, the Greater Scaup that had been with it had gone, that would have made a great comparison picture. We set of for Rossendale, not exactly full of confidence that we would see the Bittern. Then after getting led to the area through lots of slutch, we surveyed a couple of ponds without any sightings of this skulking species. Well it did follow the pattern of the day though! Home for 5:00pm and better luck next time.


Dave O.

The weeks events went like this,  excellent strong winds from the east, 3 Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers on the east coast on the same day (none were twitchable for us and none stayed the day after), lots of eastern specialities dotted around the same coast, so, with this in mind, a trip out east was arranged for Sunday. As usual, the weather was mild and the wind blew from the south west, just the kind of wind direction that you dont want for an east coast trip! You never know what might turn up at Spurn in various weather conditions though ! The 4 of us left Milnrow at 6am and after various diversions on the excuse for a motorway / permanent roadworks, the M62, we arrived at Spurn by 8-15am. First call was to see a Greenish Warbler behind the Riverside Hotel, but, it was that windy that you couldn’t see any movement in the low bushes. Lots of Redshank were flying around though. A call at the Crown & Anchor car park revealed none of yesterday’s rarities, except a very showy Lesser Whitethroat that almost turned into “bird of the day”. A seawatch followed with a single Sooty Shearwater, lots of Red Throated Divers, Little Gulls, Gannets but not much else. I then took the team to visit the Beacon Lane/ Easington Lagoon area using a much easier path (the team might not agree with this) for me this was the highlight of the day as we saw, Short Eared Owl, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Brent Geese, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Whinchat, Reed Bunting. Ste K was watching some gulls flying over the long ponds. He then announced that at least one of them was a Med. Gull. A quick check confirmed this true.  Back to the car, and we drive close bye where the gulls had settled. A scan of the gulls, and we clearly see two Med. Gull. Continuing our drive, to visit Canal Scrape with Mute Swan and 3 Greylag Geese that flew in, not much else though. We checked the mist nets at the observatory and lots of Redpoll had been caught by using a tape lure, but again, not much else. Another call at the Crown & Anchor car park and someone had seen a “Barred Warbler type” bird or was it the Lesser Whitethroat again? As we exhausted most of the parts of Spurn to visit, a check of the phone revealed a Yellow Browed Warbler at the west end of Easington village, off we went to try to see it. Again, with no shelter, the bird just could not be found. At this point we realised that heading for home was our best option. We called in at a flooded Fairbairn Ings reserve and only saw an underwater scene with lots of wildfowl. We reached home and all got “browny points” for being early,we also got at least 2 year ticks each, so, not a bad days birding, we also had a completely dry day until we got to the Wakefield area when the heavens opened!!

Dave Ousey.

None of us have ever been to Hilbre Island, just off the Wirral, so, on Sunday we decided to go! The reason was that one of the team needed to connect with Leach’s Petrel and a sighting of Long Tailed Skua would be appreciated for both of the other lads. There had been some action on the sea during the week with high winds etc. and as the forecast was just as bad, we all donned extra waterproofing. Leaving Rochdale, nice and early we reached West Kirby at 7:40am and encountered 2 almost naked gentlemen ( totally naked waist down), who had been swimming in the marine lake, we are not alone being a little eccentric birdwatching then are we? The weather was not going to script, it was not very windy and fairly mild, though the wind did get up once we were on the island. After working out which path to take, at 8:07 we headed of along the mile plus of sand, rocks, seaweed and sticky mud( I think it was mud??) reaching Middle Hilbre and onto Hilbre itself at around 9-00am.

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A few other birders later joined us at what looked like a lifeboat slipway with a birding hide above it. We made camp and began watching the in rushing tide, a few Grey Seals were fun to watch as they did their “surfing”. It wasn’t very long when we saw our first skua of the day a distant Arctic Skua chasing one of the many Sandwich Tern’s that were around. Great Skua soon followed on, then a Pomarine Skua was on view for a while as it flew around the wind turbines and green buoys chasing more terns until they dropped there prey. Gannets, Red throated Divers, Scoters and lots of waders were also seen over the high tide period. The highlight though was a juvenile Long Tailed Skua that flew towards and almost over were we were stood! A Great Northern Diver was seen with a Red Throated Diver and a nice comparison was made. A stunning Peregrine had flushed a lot of the waders on the way out to the island. As the tide began to retreat we had a look for other birds on the island and found:-20 Linnet, 1 Robin, 1 Swallow, 4 Meadow Pipit, 1 Pied Wagtail and a brief look at a Wheatear. All in all we really enjoyed the experience of visiting a remote island. The walk back was made a little quicker with the news of a Blue Winged Teal at Southport. Off we go through the tunnel again, this time the weather was dreadful with almost storm conditions welcoming us to Marshside Reserve, Southport. Met an old birding friend of mine and he said that the duck had not been seen for over an hour, we gave it 45 minutes, but, the weather was apalling and not as they say, “good weather for ducks”. We also missed a “Great White Egret” that was possibly, just a close to the road, Little Egret,there’s me being scepticle again! By now home and some dry clothes were beckoned, we reached home by 7-00pm, another excellent day’s birding.

Dave Ousey.

7am blast off on a dark and cold morning. we are off on our yearly trip to the North Wales coast, hoping to pick of some of those hard to get birds. Once out of Greater Manchester and into Cheshire, the weather improves a great deal – doesn’t it always? Roads are free and no sign of any snow that should have fallen as predicted by the met orifice yesterday.
Llanbedr-y-cennin:- No sooner had we arrived and parked up, Steve is onto a couple of Hawfinches perched in a near by tree. Before we all get our optics on the bird, a very noisy landrover pulls up along side us and sends the birds away. Not satisfied with the brief glimpse we spend the next 30 minutes looking for a better view. We scatter, only for a single bird returning back to our starting place for us to get a good view.Job done, back in the car. No common Sandpiper from the bridge.
Aber- something:- It is cold up here. Last year I managed to get stuck in a snow ditch, not once but twice, almost giving up till a kind person lent his back and strenght to free us. That day was like today did not produce a Chough, but we did add a couple of Ravens. We grumble about harsh winters driving the Chough’s away Etc.
Spinnies:- At sea level we comment on how nice it is to have the sun on our back for a change. Out on the Estuary, Little Egret, Red Breasted Merganser, Greenshank, and a raft of 30+ Goldeneye are added. On the reserve it self, the Kingfisher is marked abscent -grumbles about winter again.Additions included Treecreeper (Nutcreeper- to Bob).
Llanfairfechan. Tide is in as we arrive. A couple of Red Throated Divers, Turnstones, a few Great Crested Grebes. Nowt much else. Not wasting much time here, We bomb to our next site.
Rhos area.:- The tide has pushed the waders close in, great opportunity for some detailed snaps of Grey and Ringed Plover, as well as Dunlin and Turnstone. Out on the sea, the odd Guillemot and Razorbill pass west, along with good numbers of Red Throated Divers. No sighting from many birders of Purple Sandpipers – Grumbles.

Kinmel Bay:- As quick as it takes to say “5 Snow Buntings flying west” we  are onto our next quarry. Some of us are not quick enough out of the car to see them. So tooled up we head of in the direction they flew. Ticking off the lovely Sanderling, we soon clock the Snow Bunts. Photo time. a few clicks later and we are on the road again.
Shotwick area:- In a field next to the new bridge, plenty of white swans are grazing. Out with the scopes, and scan over 80 Bewick’s Swans among Whoopers and Mute Swans. The most number of Bewick’s I have seen.  Newston old baths:- Earlier in the day reuters informs us of Water Pipit at the Old baths.
A bit of a walk, we pass many families with dogs, all making a bee-line for the bridge with the Troll. Dave losses it abit with nonsense of families wading over a boggy field to stand on the very bridge that the Pipit feeds under and be noisy. No chance of a sighting here today. Walk back to the car.
Burton Marsh:- As the sun begins it’s decent, We pick up a couple of Ring Tails, and a Marsh Harrier, Nothing else. No Barn or Short Eared Owl – Grumbles about the winter etc.
A good days birding with highs and lows. Nice to feel the suns warmth again.