Posts Tagged ‘Ruff’


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As I watched the rain splashing against the windows at home last Sunday morning, I casually looked at the BBC Weather news. It was sunny in the Southport area, so, I decided to have a look at the 6 Cattle Egrets that have been in the Birkdale area for some time. As there were no takers to accompany me I got my birding gear into the car and off I went. Within 10 miles of leaving home the rain stopped and it was really quite nice. As I reached the bird’s usual feeding area, the sun was shining, now to find the 6 Cattle Egrets. A couple of Little Egrets fooled me at first, but as I searched around an area of allotments 10 egrets could be seen quite a distance away. As I scoped the birds the 6 Cattle Egrets were picked out along with 4 Little Egrets. They were happily feeding and some of them seemed to be in some form of breeding plumage. Such a large concentration of this species I have never seen before in Great Britain. I watched the birds for about half an hour and set of back for home and as I got to 10 miles from home it began raining again.
Myself and Bob K decided to try to see the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers in Moore N.R. near Warrington on Wednesday. The rain was still falling at a great pace as I picked Bob up around 9-30am. We reached Moore and began to explore the wooded area, plenty of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Green Woodpecker but no “drumming” was heard and perhaps the rain was drowning it out? As we headed back to the car to dry out a bit, the rain finally stopped, so we went back to the area we had been searching before, still no joy, but the first Chiff- Chaff of the year was heard and along with a nest building pair of Lesser Redpoll it made it all worthwhile.
One of my many favourite nature reserves was next at RSPB Burton Marsh, the normal friendly staff told us were all the birds we wanted to see were located. Avocets, Ruffs, Spotted Redshanks and then to listen/see the Cettis Warbler what a place. A Little Gull had arrived last Saturday and was still on the mere and gave good views in amongst the small Black Headed Gull colony, who seemed to like chasing their smaller cousin away. At this stage I made a little boo-boo (not my normal type) but the heads of a couple of gulls were visible and I casually said, “Are those Kittiwakes over there?” A local sage replied with a comment of, “If a single Kittiwake was on here this hide would be full, those are Common Gulls”. Whoops by me, the birds were now seen in all their glory and the sage was quite correct! We had a look up at the “Hill Fort” area that looks out over Burton Point and most of the Dee Estuary with a Great White Egret the only highlight. As we walked back to the car it began to rain again, so we headed for home. This was a bit of a nightmare with 10 miles taking one hour on the M56, but it was rush hour!
Dave O.

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As we usually follow a regular set of trip`s in spring, it`s always nice when the Bolton Abbey trip come`s along, it reminds us that its migration time. The early start from Rossendale at 5-30am, with me at the helm, Bob K & Chris B for company, is always good and it was to be again. Walking down into the valley at Bolton Abbey woods on a clear but cold morning the bird song seemed all around us and the smell from the plants was quite invigorating! A few Pied flycatchers were heard and then seen, then Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Chiff-Chaff, Willow Warblers and finally up to 4 Redstart`s with 2 males having a right good old go at one another. A freshly cleared area revealed Red legged Partridge`s and a female Pied Flycatcher. No sign of Mandarin,Goosander, Common Sandpiper or Kingfisher on the river, that was unusual. The lack of any Wood Warbler song for the second year in succession was a worry, wonder why? We called in at the Barden area, that had always looked good for Ring Ouzel, as we always comment in passing, so as we stopped to look, 2 female Ouzels and then 2 males were seen along with 2 Ravens, 2 Wheatear and a single, showy, calling Cuckoo. We watched all the activity at this point and really soaked it up, until, right on cue, a man on a motorbike stopped to ask us what we were looking at and all the birds disappeared, so did we! A call at Hellifield Flash was soon done with nothing to report. At Foulshaw Moss (on the Barrow Road) the returning Osprey`s are well wardened and will, hopefully raise some young. A Raven`s nest was bursting with activity as 3 young and two parents were on/in it, quite a sight. A few Tree Pipits were parachuting around and singing. Cracking little reserve, a couple of Swift were also noted. Next stop Leighton Moss lower hide to see the Pied Billed Grebe. Along the causeway Reed & Sedge Warblers were heard just as the rain that has followed us around began to fall. A full hide was further swelled by our arrival and the grebe was seen, sat 20 yards in front of us slightly obscured by vegetation, smart little bird! For a change a Marsh Harrier was not seen. A female Bufflehead near Warrington was going to be our next stop until a plastic ring was found on its leg, so that was abandoned! A Wood Sandpiper had been seen at Alston Wetlands, Longridge. Upon arrival a birder said he could not find the Wood Sandpiper and cursed his luck, having missed the Pied Billed Grebe at Leighton Moss twice already. We told him we had seen it 40 minutes earlier and he was off like a scalded cat! Well we did not find it either but 2 Ruff in breeding plumage made up for that. We searched the area for anything else, but as the rain intensified we decided to head for home, early start early finish. Reaching Rossendale by 4pm. Good day out.

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.


An almost full compliment of A-Teamers(communication/time zone problems?)left Rochdale at the later time of 7am for a day out in North Lancashire.First stop Conder Green with myself driving in my “new” car. The hoped for Spotted Redshank that is always reported could not be found anywhere. Lots of Common Sandpiper’s and Redshank’s though, with the air full of hirundines. Nice place to visit but lots of hiding places for waders during low tide. A call in at Aldcliffe Marsh was a little disapointing as the bushes etc obscured any decent viewing of the pools. At Foulshaw Moss the weather really improved and hope of seeing White Faced Darters on the pools also.Great long distance scope views of 2 young Osprey flapping their wings whilst an adult was seen flying around. A hunting Hobby was seen, but the hoped for darter’s were not seen despite much searching. On the Leighton Moss, Allen and Morecambe pools, a Ruff was seen in a really untidy plummage along with Redshanks and Black tailed Godwits, but again the hoped for Spotted Redshank was not located. Time for some butterflies up on Arnside Knott. As I searched for my first Treecreeper of the year(still not seen one), Steve B said, “I know a place were the butterflies will be”. So after a trek through the undergrowth we managed to find a single Northern Brown Argus and about 10 Scotch Argus, really nice to see these species in a quiet area. Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Grayling were also seen with other more common species! Heading towards home we made our way over the “Cross of Greet” road hoping for Ring Ouzel, but the Tour de France passed through last week and probably scared them all away! Great event though. Time was against us but, a dash up Croasdale(only 40 minutes Steve) and after Bob and Chris had seen a Ring Ouzel fly out, myself and Steve B had to slog our way to a gully to see another or the same Ring Ouzel,sorry for blocking you view Steve! It made it all worth it and great countryside to be in. We reached home around 6-30pm.

Dave O.


We had planned to go to Hilbre Island on the Wirral, but, the winds did not look very promising, so, we decided to go to find the Blue winged Teal’s in Lincoln. A fully employed “A” team met in Newhey for a 6am departure with Bob K at the wheel. My idea of a shortcut over the tops turned into a bit of a nightmare with thick fog/mist hampering our progress. We reached the M62, which was surprisingly short of roadworks, but still shrouded in mist and upon reaching the A1 the mist cleared. As we reached Lincoln the famous cathedral was engulfed in the early morning mist, normally associated with San Francisco! We began the half mile walk to Boultham Mere, formally a gravel pit for railway ballast and the sun began to shine. A Chiff -Chaff was around and as we crossed the drain we met a couple of birders, who told us the birds were still present. A quick look in the hide revealed nothing only sunlight. At the south western end of the reserve was a seat and as we rested on it, the 3 Blue winged Teals began feeding only 25 yards away, result for us and a tick for one of our number! A really pleasant reserve in a nice city makes a pleasant change. Blue Wing Teal 22-09-13With the main target birds seen, where too now? Blacktoft Sands was the answer to see an elusive Spotted Crake. An hour later at 11-50am we sat in Singleton Hide and as we had only missed a brief appearance by 10 minutes it would show would’nt it? By 3pm the bird had beaten us and had really earned the title elusive, not much consolation for one of our number who still needs it! Lots of Ruff, Snipe, Lapwing and a couple of Green Sandpipers made up the waders present. Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel & Buzzard were the birds of prey present. Next stop,  Fairburn Ings,  for a “nailed on” species of duck whose name escapes me. As we got there a lady birder told us that,  “they” had been flushed off by a Grey Heron! Despite a 45 minute search they were not seen. Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Dunlin, Garganey were seen though. All the birds suddenly took to the air and we thought that the 5 Grey Herons were to blame for this, but Steve B, who had left the hide, had seen and photographed a Fox grabbing a Canada Goose. At least someone would have had a good meal on Sunday evening!

Dave O.


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!
Regards,
Oz