Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Masters of Camouflage

Ring-Necked Duck, Marton Mere Ring-Necked Duck, Marton MereMet up with Mike "the cockney" Brown yesterday and took a trip up to Marton Mere, Blackpool to catch up with the male Ring Necked Duck, didn't have much trouble with that as there was only one area of the mere unfrozen, and what luck directly opposite the hide adjacent to the camp site. The only trouble was that it hardly ever woke up, as the photo shows! Still a really nice bird and it was good to catch up with one as I haven't seen one for a few years now.

Whilst watching the Ring Necked Duck we where lucky enough to have a Bittern fly past the hide and out of sight in the reeds to the right, what was even more bizarre is that Mike actually spotted it along with a possible Cettis Warbler!

Long-Eared Owl, Marton Mere Long-Eared Owl, Marton MereWith or without the Ring Necked Duck and Bittern, Marton Mere deserves to be visited for its roosting Long-Eared Owls, we took a walk around to the Northern end of the reserve to find 6 birds roosting no more than 30 feet away! It was a real privilege to get so close to these birds as they have become much rarer over recent years, with regular roosts in North Liverpool and Pennington Flash becoming very unreliable. Check out the pictures to understand the post title!

Long-Eared Owl, Marton Mere Long-Eared Owl, Marton MereAfter leaving Marton Mere we headed up to Leighton Moss and we where delighted to find 2 separate flocks of Waxwings (yes Waxwings again) with at least 30 birds involved, unfortunately the weather had taken a turn for the worst and had become the most murky afternoon imaginable, not very good for Waxwing photography! Bullfinches, Marsh Tits and Nuthatches around the feeding station. We headed up to the Lower Hide (a regular pilgrimage for Otter watching), unfortunately the gloom was against us and no Otters appeared, however Water Rails and Bearded Tits showed and Roe Deer could be heard barking away, a great end to a great day.
Waxwing, Leighton Moss Waxwing, Leighton Moss

Waxwing 6

Had a quick check around the Allerton area yesterday morning for Waxwings and had 4 birds flying over Allerton Library towards Green Lane area at around 9:45, they are still lurking around somewhere, or is "lurking" a little harsh for these beauties?

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Waxwing Bonanza

I cant help but trip over Waxwings lately! I was out Xmas shopping along Allerton Road this afternoon when I found 30+ Waxwings in the Plane trees outside the Barclays Bank, they where soon joined by other smaller flocks and flew off towards Green Lane where they where joined by another mobile flock, when I left them there was at least 60 birds on Allerton Road.

I returned at 2:30 and they where still present (about 40) together with other smaller flocks, again they flew off towards Green Lane and where joined by many more birds, all together at least 120 birds! I stayed in the area (near the Barclays Bank) for around 30 mins and when I left about 40 birds where still present, yet other smaller flocks regularly returned and departed.
I get the feeling that if you are lucky enough to have berry bearing shrubs or trees in the garden in the Allerton area you could well be treated to stonking views of Waxwings.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Waxwing 4

Waxwing, Allerton Success at last! I finally caught up with Waxwings on Booker Avenue today (albeit only one) after dipping yesterdays flock on Allerton Road. No sign of the flock of 50+ that have been further down near Brodie Avenue, but I managed to catch up with this bird towards the top-end of Booker Avenue, going towards Calderstones Park; and I'm pretty sure I heard a few more too. This bird was loosely associating with the mixed Thrush flock, which included Fieldfares and Redwings, as was reported yesterday by Sean O'Hara, so a big thank you is deserved. The flock was mostly moving through the back gardens, so more Waxwings could have been involved. After a short time the Waxwing took off and flew down Booker Avenue and carried on past Mather Avenue. It appears that 2 flocks are roving the area and smaller numbers are now tied up within Thrush flocks, where next I wonder?
Also at least 5 Brambling at Sudley House this afternoon and 4 Moorhens tucked away under a Cotoneaster on Greenbank Road opposite Penny Lane!

Waxwing, Allerton

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Muntjacks in Wavertree!

I couldn't believe my eyes today as I was walking over Mill Lane railway bridge and looking towards Wavertree Technology Park I saw 2 Muntjack Deers bounding across the tracks into cover, either side of the tracks here are flanked by birch scrub and provide adequate cover. These animals must be new to the area; maybe attracted further into the city from areas like knowsley (via the railway lines)to escape the cold spell or are they resident now? A number of years ago they could be found in Everton Cemetery in the north of the city, are they more urbanised than we think, certainly they are increasing and in the south of the country they can be found in many habitats including semi-urban areas. Roe Deers are also increasing around the borders of the city, in the last couple of years there have been animals at Switch Island, Knowsley, Fazakerley, Ainsdale, Sefton to name but a few. I also found a female Stonechat near to the bridge, a good record in itself!

Elsewhere I had a Rock Pipit over Wavertree Mystery Park and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Grey Wagtails, and plenty of Fox footprints everywhere in the snow!

Waxwing 3

Visited Greenbank and Sefton Park (to play in the snow with the boy) had a Waxwing flying South over Greenbank Road and 5 Nuthatches in the park.

I was in Croxteth Park on Friday and found 2 Buzzards, Harris Hawk (without jesses), Sparrowhawk, GS Woodpeckers, Fieldfares, and Nuthatches.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Waxwings 2

Again I accidentally bumped into a flock of Waxwings today whilst working in Bootle at about 2.00pm, a flock of 15 birds came from the area of Merton Grove, flew over Stanley Road and appeared to go down around Pembroke Road/Balliol Road near to Hugh Bird College. This was a great relief as I found out yesterday a flock of 50+ Waxwings had been found in Booker Avenue, Allerton (just down the road from me), but due to work commitments I have not been able to catch up with them as yet. I always find it a bit strange when another birder finds something in my local area, surely I need to try harder! Hopefully I will catch up with them tomorrow.
Surely with the amount of birds elswhere in the region Liverpool has a few undiscovered flocks lirking on cotoneasters near you!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Waxwings (briefly)

I was down at the University of Liverpool today at about 1.00 pm and noticed a flock of at least 20 Waxwings fly over the campus near Oxford Street. The flock where very low (just over rooftop level) and appeared to be local (not just passing over). I later gave the area a brief search at about 3.00 pm but couldn't relocate them. I will search the area around the uni and the Metropolitan Cathedral tomorrow............fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Clywdian Hills

looking west from Moel-Y-Parc looking North from Moel-Y-Parc Blew away the cobwebs on Sunday with a nice long hike around the clwydian hills, centred around Moel-Y-Parc and Caerwys. Lovely weather all day long combined with a 12 mile walk, and some decent birds too, with Perregrine, Buzzards, 2 Green Woodpeckers, Redpolls, Siskins, Dipper, large numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares in hedgerows laden with berries (I have never known a better berry crop), Nuthatches, Goosander, Little Grebes, and plenty of Ravens.
Raven, Moel-Y-Parc
Any ideas? Good numbers of Starlings roosting on the Runcorn bridge on the way home, along with a Perregrine feeding on one unlucky bird, sometimes traffic jams can come in handy.

The Orange Blob

Brambling, Hale Woods
Visited Hale on Saturday after the report of a Ruddy Shelduck on Friday, seen from the hide at Pickerings Pasture (on the other side of Hale Marsh). After scanning the marsh I found a distant orange blob in with Canada Geese, but it was to far away to say whether it was Ruddy, Cape, or one of the weird hybrids that knock about. Other birds in the area included a Perregrine, 4 Buzzards, Sparrowhawk, Tawny Owl, 3 Grey Partridge, a mixed flock near the lighthouse contained at least 100 Skylarks (with more passing over), and 2 Brambling in the woods.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Until the Spring.....I presume

I was working in the centre of Bootle early yesterday morning, from about 5:3o am to be precise! Happily for me there was plenty of visible migration to keep me occupied, with, 25 Fieldfares, 100+ Redwing, 200+ Chaffinch, 5 Redpoll, 2 Siskin, 30+ Pied Wagtail, 120+ Jackdaw passing over, also Perregrine and Sparrowhawk, but the icing on the cake was two huge flocks of Pink Feet moving SW between 8:55am and 9:15am, containing at least 4000 birds, the first flock containing 2500 birds at 8:55am, to my delight (and bemusement of passers by) held a RED-BREASTED GOOSE, presumably the bird that has recently been seen on the mosses.

Due to the direction these birds where heading, I wouldn't be surprised if they where taking the next step down to East Anglia (although I have seen them heading in all sorts of odd directions over the city in the past). If a Red Breasted Goose turns up in Norfolk any time soon I'm having it!

Also, we visited Hoylake and West Kirby for a walk with Dylan on Saturday, managed to get his first Little Egret (5 in total) on the Saltmarsh, pair of Stonechats in the dunes, 5 Red Breasted Mergansers and 2 Great-Crested Grebes on the Marine Lake.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Always watching

I was in Lydiate (just off the Southport Road) today, and to my surprise a Kingfisher flew through the culldisack where I was working, a strange sight to say the least; yet I suppose it is quite close to the canal. Also there Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron, and good numbers of House Martins.
Buzzard over Switch Island too.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Tatton Park

Fallow Deer, Tatton Park I visited Tatton Park yesterday with the family and took Dylan off looking for the deer herds in the park, we soon found good numbers of Fallow Deer and took loads of snaps of them, also saw small numbers of Red Deer but more distantly. Dylan was chuffed getting so close to these animals, as was I; unforgettable for him I hope.
Fallow Deer, Tatton Park Fallow Deer, Tatton Park Fallow Deer, Tatton Park
Fallow Deer, Tatton Park Fallow Deer, Tatton Park Also in the park we saw Green Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, 6 Buzzards, Willow Warbler, Badger set, and best of all a juv Arctic Tern on the main lake (a good record so far inland).
Fallow Deer, Tatton Park
Fallow Deer, Tatton Park

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Got any Leach's for this?

After the news of Wednesdays fantastic sea watching on the North Wirral coast,I arrived at New Brighton today as early as possible (6:45am), the early start was well worth it with at least 38 Leach's Petrels, Juv Sabine's Gull, Juv Arctic Skua, Fulmar, poss Roseate Tern, 30+ Sandwich Terns, 30+ Arctic Terns, Grey Seal, and 4 Guillemots. All before 11.00am.

The Leach's where particularly impressive; with some birds landing on the beach and some showing no fear and flying very close within a few feet, in fact one flew in-between me and another birder only eight feet apart! My best year this century!

Some of the Leach's and the Fulmar where seen to head downriver and not return back out again, I often wonder how far these birds go, It would be nice to see one off the South Liverpool shore at Otterspool Promenade or Speke/Garston Coastal Reserve but I haven't got the bottle to check these areas and risk missing out on a real goody from North Wirral.

In other areas today a Common Buzzard was being mobbed by crows over Sefton Park and a Grey Heron and Grey Wagtail at Greenbank Park.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Noisy.......But well worth it!

Although at times the area can be rather loud due to its proximity to Liverpool Airport, Speke Hall Estate and Speke/Garston Coastal Reserve is a very good (and under watched) area. I visited this morning and found quite a few highlights, a female/juv Marsh Harrier was pursued low over the coastal reserve and the Airport by the local crows, Peregrine at Garston Docks, Sparrowhawk still feeding young, 2 Kestrels, 2 Common Buzzards plus a recently fledged young bird calling out to its parents on the Speke Hall Estate; proving breeding in the area, who would have thought ten years ago that Buzzards would be regular in parts of the city now?

Coastal highlights included a juv Little Stint, Greenshank, 5 Turnstones, 65 Ringed Plovers, 250 Dunlin. Passerines included plenty of all three hirundines passing through, Tree Pipit and 2 Yellow Wagtails over, Chiff chaffs mixed in with mixed Tit flocks, and a flock of 250 Goldfinches!

Other highlights included plenty of Southern Hawkers, Common Darters and Brown Hawkers. I tried my hand at photographing Southern Hawkers in flight - harder than it sounds, managed to get some ok shots.

Southern Hawker, Speke/Garston Coastal Reserve
Southern Hawker, Speke/Garston Coastal Reserve Things are certainly moving through now, AUTUMN HAS ARRIVED!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Birds, Butterflies, and Cricket

I went to the Lancashire vs Hampshire county game yesterday at Liverpool Cricket Ground on Aigburth Road, and I found Purple Hairstreaks still in flight there, with at least three of them in the vicinity of an Oak tree at North-West end of the ground, also plenty of Holly Blues and Whites. A couple of Common Buzzards circled over and drifted off towards the estuary; from the direction they came from I suspect they must have been migrants. The best of all was a Clouded Yellow which drifted across the pitch during play! Oh and I found the time to watch a bit of cricket in between also!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Answers on a postcard please!

The fine weather on Monday had me and the family heading for the delights of Chester Zoo summer holiday season! All was not lost however as I managed to see a Hobby over the East side of the zoo (maybe they are regular in the area, I don't know), other highlights included a Buzzard, plenty of Migrant Hawkers and Peacocks, Holly Blues (its turning out to be a very good season for these), and last but not least a very unusual butterfly species that had obviously escaped from the butterfly house in the Zoo, however I managed to see at least three of them around the zoo, Maybe there is a small feral population? Grasping at straws I know! They certainly got my blood rushing for a moment when I thought they where Swallowtails! Anyone know the ID?

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Another Purple Hairstreak

Visited Sefton Park later in the afternoon on Sunday and was surprised to find another Purple Hairstreak (my third for the day, see previous post) along with good numbers of Holly Blues. Apart from Butterflies Buzzard, Red-Eared Terrapin, Migrant Hawkers, all three hirundines and a Swift.

Later on at dusk in the woodland around Sefton Park Cricket Club I found a family group of Foxes out foraging (three young and the vixen), after spotting me the vixen then began to bark (or shriek) at me for at least a couple of minutes before I moved off! A distant calling Tawny Owl and Brown Long-Eared Bats where around the cricket ground also.

Purple Hairstreaks - New Site

I was in Liverpool Cricket Ground on Sunday Morning and was surprised to see a couple of Purple Hairstreaks along with Holly Blues. Although Purple Hairstreaks have been recorded in South Liverpool in the past, it has always been sporadic. I have seen them myself in the past in Calderstones Park and Allerton Cemetery, and they are certainly under recorded because there are good numbers of mature oaks in the cities park and woodlands.

Sparrowhawks in flight at last

Sparrowhawk, Mossley Hill
The family of Sparrowhawks nesting near my home have finally fledged over the weekend, resulting in three juveniles fledging. Both adults and young birds where on the wing during the weekend. Amazing how something so elusive only a few weeks ago, is now very obvious in the area!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Secretive Sparrowhawks

I was amazed recently to hear young Sparrowhawks calling from private land near Greenbank Park, about 200 yards from home! Over the last couple of months I have only seen Sparrowhawks in the area on two or three occasions, proving how secretive they are when they are breeding. Fingers crossed when the young fledge I will be able to view them from the public land.
Not much else of note:- 19 Pied Wagtails, Southern Hawker and Commas in Wavertree mystery yesterday. Large numbers of Large Yellow Underwings in the moth trap last night as I am quite a novice in this field they are about the only thing I can ID. Maybe I will start posting a few images and anyone more clued up can let me know what I've caught!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Lesser Yellowlegs at Inner Marsh Farm

I visited Inner Marsh Farm yesterday to catch up with the elusive Lesser Yellowlegs and combine it with a walk down the Dee shore from Neston. Walking from Neston was quite quiet really, no sign of Cettis Warblers at Neston Sewage Works and Neston Old Quay, however, there was a distant Marsh Harrier on the outer-marsh. Lots of common passerines starting to move through with good numbers of Whitethroats, Chiff-Chaffs, and Willow Warblers. Also good numbers of common butterfly species, with Wall Brown, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Small Tortershell, Peacock, Comma, Green-Veined White all in good numbers. Dragonfly's included Brown Hawkers, Migrant Hawkers, Southern Hawkers, and Common Darters.
The Lesser Yellowlegs showed well on no.2 pool most of the afternoon, and it was interesting to see one in more heavily marked summer plumage compared to winter plumage, it reminded me of Marsh Sandpiper to a certain degree. An adult Hobby (see if you can spot it in the wheres Wally type picture below) performed well for over an hour hunting dragonfly's and then returning to same perch. These are cracking birds and it is great to see them increasing in numbers in the North-West. Not much else at IMF apart from 20+ Little Egrets and 3 Ruff.
IMF really has the potential to become a flagship RSPB reserve with the creation of new scrapes, habitat creation, introduction of sluice gates already in place, and 4 hides, visitor centre and believe it or not toilets, all due to be completed by next spring. Who knows in the future there could be Marsh Harriers and Bitterns breeding there one day!

Hobby, Inner Marsh Farm
Lesser Yellowlegs, Inner Marsh Farm
Whitethroat, Inner Marsh Farm
Holly Blue, Burton Marsh

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Hilbre again

Had another attempt at showing Dylan the Grey Seals on Hilbre Island this afternoon and believe it or not the rain held off! The seals came very close to the north-end and down to about 20 feet. It realy is amazing to get so close to these large marine mammals and has got to be one of the regions most memorable wildlife encounters.

Other highlights around the islands included 300+ Sandwich Terns, 5 Shags, Little Egret, Turnstones, and Rock Sea Lavender.

Atlantic Grey Seal, Hilbre Island
Atlantic Grey Seal, Hilbre Island
Little Egret, Hilbre Island
Oystercatcher, Hilbre Island
Shag, Hilbre Island
Rock Sea Lavender, Hilbre Island

Friday, 23 July 2010

Broad-Leaved Helleborine

Broad-Leaved Helleborine
I was amazed recently to find a Broad-Leaved Helleborine growing in Wavertree near Wavertree Road and Tunnel Road. I returned to the area today to photograph it. This species is probably the most widespread Helloborine nationally but, however, it is locally very scarce. There was a well known plant growing nearer to Liverpool University which was reported a few years back by Eric Hardy and was thought to be an accidental introduction, but it would appear that there is a small local population as I found another 2 non-flowering plants today away from the first plant.

Hilbre washout

Little Egret, Hilbre Island
We decided to visit Hilbre Island last Tuesday with the aim of showing our son Dylan his first Grey Seals. Instead of the pleasant trip we expected the heavens opened just as we reached the main island and the rain grew steadily stronger and stronger! However Dylan did see his first seals through the gloom.

Grey Seal, Hilbre Island
Not much showing on the island due to the weather but 2 Little Egrets, 120+ Sandwich Terns, Wheatear, and a Dark-Green Fritilary (unusual between the Great Orme and the Sefton Coast) struggling across the West side of the island in the driving rain!

A special thank you to the Ranger on the Island that generously offered us a lift back to the mainland.