Posts Tagged ‘Water Rail’


 

I don’t often chase after birds that might not get accepted by the great bird gods, but, I had a lapse and thought about the Dalmatian Pelican in Cornwall. I saw a message from Dave W, from Huddersfield, on RBA asking for a lift or offering transport to see the bird. Steve K has always wanted to do a “silly night trip to Cornwall”, this could be a chance? Along with Bruce from Stretford we all piled into Bruce`s car at around 4am and set off for Restronguet Creek, just south of Truro. We arrived around 10-30am and searched this beautiful part of England for the pelican, without any luck. We met a few locals who told us all about the bird and one kind lady showed us a picture she had taken! It became apparent that the pelican was not in the area. At 2pm a local birder told us that the bird had flown off around 2-30pm on Saturday and a few minutes later a message came on RBA news repeating the same. We all said we would not have made the journey if we had known this earlier. A few Whimbrel on the creek didn’t really soften the blow for the journey home. But the news of a Western Purple Swamphen at Minsmere, Suffolk had us all thinking. Good company and a good day out in nice sunny conditions was had by us all. A new bird for the “dip list” then. We reached home by 10pm.

Monday morning dawned and a tired “dipper” woke up to find that the Western Purple Swamphen at Minsmere had been elevated to a mega!! Mark K in York was contacted and a team was put together with young Ellis from York our third member. A 4am meet at Fairburn near Castleford was arranged with myself at the wheel. The journey down was fairly uneventful with scattered rain and mist in patches. The oil on the road kept me on my toes as we slid our way towards Minsmere, the news on the Swamphen was positive, this added a couple of mph, and we reached the premier reserve at around 8-45am. A damp spell welcomed us as hurried to the south hide area, about 30 birders were watching something, and it was the Western Purple Swamphen. The bird kept close to the reed fringes, disappearing for short spells, but showed really well at around 100 yards distance. We all watched, what is potentially a first for the United Kingdom, for about an hour and enjoyed watching the birds feeding habits. Along with a squealing Water Rail we all enjoyed the moment and exchanged handshakes as is the norm, when you get a lifer. In other parts of the reserve we saw: – Stone Curlew, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and lots of other types of waders. After catching up with a few old birding friends at Minsmere we had a drive up onto Dunwich Heath and saw about 3 Dartford Warbler`s, what smart little birds they are. They carried food to their nestlings and must have had a good breeding season as it is likely to be their second brood at this time of year?  The journey home was made a bit more interesting by the driver of a Post Office articulated vehicle trying to push me off the road. The A14 by this time was full of waggons and was a bit of a nightmare to be honest, upon reaching the A1 we stopped for a nice coffee, then pressed onto to Fairburn. At 5pm I dropped the lads off and got onto the M62 which looking more like a car park, finally reaching home around 6-30pm. The journey home always seems easier when you see the bird though, excellent trip out. Need a rest now, but what`s this, a trip to Cornwall again next Sunday to try for the pelican, well go on then!

Dave O.

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We thought we would have a change and have a trip on a Saturday with myself, Bob K & Steve K for company, with Steve K driving. We quickly worked out a trip into Yorkshire with a  couple of new sites on the agenda. We met at a time that had allowed more sleep and we set off into a dense fog patch from Rochdale to Brighouse, it cleared as we arrived at Fairburn Ings near Castleford to reveal a nice winters morning. After a visit to the far end of the reserve and watching up to 40 Red Legged Partridge feeding in a field. A pair of  Pintail  were also seen. We were told that the male & female Smew were in the Village Bay area by one of the locals. These beautiful ducks were soon seen on the water and after a couple of minutes took flight towards the visitor centre, a Kingfisher was seen by Steve K. As we headed towards York around the Bramham area A64/A1 a single Red Kite was seen (thanks for the tip Mark K) Our first visit to Rufforth Airport to watch the many different types of small & large gulls that are usually drawn to the area by the local tip was quite a successful one. It’s not an easy place to find but the large flocks of gulls that gather in the area help you get there. Around 5/6 birders were already on station and as we set up an Iceland Gull was soon found as we searched the bathing gulls. The microlight aircraft, that were landing and taking off, kept flushing the gulls, but it meant birds from the various flocks came towards the area we were watching and an adult Glaucous Gull was then found by one of us, what an excellent bird! Both these white winged birds were well watched and really enjoyed in the hour or so we were there, nice place to visit. We now had a bit of a dilemma, there had been 2 Great Grey Shrikes reported in the south part of Yorkshire the day before, but as yet not reported today. So, we headed off back into Lancashire to find the single Waxwing at Orrell Water Park. As we reached the area we saw cameras pointed skywards and quickly the Waxwing was seen and photographed. It was a little unusual seeing a single bird after the large flocks of recent years. A look around the water park for a Mandarin & a Water Rail were unsuccessful, but the star bird showed really well eating apples on a bird feeder in someones front garden. Another visit along Rindle Road, Astley Moss did not reveal the hoped for Yellowhammer, but a Sparrowhawk and lots of Reed Bunting were seen. Good trip out.

Dave O.IMG_8464


A mini trip around Greater Manchester with myself and Steve K leaving Rochdale around 8am. The weather was kind to us with the recent snow having been washed away in most areas. Binn Green near Greenfield (ex-Yorkshire) was first up and the expected Red Grouse were soon heard then seen with a Raven for company overhead. The feeders around the car park at Binn Green were very busy as 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers chased each other around, lots of tits & finches but no Brambling or Siskins. We headed for Heaton Park Reservoir were a very strong wind welcomed us as we balanced on the wall and looked through the fence. Our target species here was a Long Tailed Duck, as 3 had taken up residency on the reservoir. Lots of Teal, Goldeneye, Goosander and a couple of grebe species were found along with a small amount of gulls, As we both searched the water we found a single Long Tailed Duck but did`nt find the other 2, it happily floated around preening, perhaps it had been on the bank? On Rindle Road, Astley Moss the hoped for Yellowhammer or Treecreeper sightings never materialized but a large flock of Redwing and lots of Reed Bunting were seen along with Kestrel, Buzzard and a large flock of Jackdaw were noted. Pennington Flash held its usual amount of noisy people and good birds and fun with the car parking ticket machine! Even a group of grown men “playing” with toy cars on the car park did`nt stop us both enjoying this good place to birdwatch. A trip to most of the hides, but, in Bunting hide, a few pictures were taken as the birds fed quite close to us. The highlight was the 2 Water Rail`s that kept coming out to feed near the Moorhen`s and Stock Dove`s, good entertainment, along with a Willow Tit lots of finches, tits, Nuthatch and Blackbirds were really enjoyed in the dull winter weather, A return to Rindle Road around 3pm did not add any other species to our list. We both saw around 9 species for our year list. At home by 4pm to watch the magic of the FA Cup unravel more strange results. Nice days birding and close to home.

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.

Regards,

Dave O.


A full squad of the A team, in Bob`s car, set of to see some of the more unusual species to be encountered in Wales. A quick discussion on what provisions we have. This included 4 pies, and 2 pasties (Ste K.), and Chris having stolen some chocalate money from his young one – Shame on you Chris.  We had planned the trip to coincide with the “good” weather that had been predicted, don’t listen to all you are told! Instead of a nice day we had to get through snow, blizzards and later a nice sunny day when we got back into England. Our first stop was Rhos point for Purple Sandpiper, we dont have a good record here and that didn’t change. At Tal-Y-Cafn bridge the normal Common Sandpiper wasn’t seen, but a Treecreeper was not seen by all of us. Surely our luck would change at Llanbedr-Y-Cenin with the Hawfinch`s, all we got after a 10 minute search was a blizzard heading our way along the Conway valley, a hasty retreat to the car and a reappraisal needed. We called in at Llanfairfechan as the tide began to go out all we got was blasted with cold air. Not what you would call a very successful morning!

At The Spinnies, Aber Ogwen the weather and our luck began to change. A Water Rail showed quite well for all apart from Steve B who had to hang on and wait for it to reappear and missed a Goldcrest ! We met up with an friend of ours from the Wirral (posh Liverpool) who we had not seen for a while and he pointed out a few Slavonian Grebe in the estuary and we showed him the Tundra Bean Goose. A Greenshank and Spotted Redshank were also seen at this lovely reserve. We called in at Llandulas and were rewarded withe vast amounts of Common Scoter, but, try as we may we couldn’t pick out a single Vevet Scoter with any degree of certainty. We ventured onto the Wirral and soon found a few Bewick`s Swans in the company of both of their other swan cousin`s. At Parkgate the Spoonbill and a Great White Egret both gave themselves up very easily, but not so the White Fronted Geese at Inner Marsh Farm, maybe if we would have gone to the new reserve we might have seen them. After we got over the morning the afternoon got better and around 7 – 10 year ticks were seen.Bring on spring.

Regards,

Ozzy