Sunday, 30 December 2012

Daffodils before the years end.....always a good sign!

I was surprised to see the first signs of spring today as a number of Daffodils have began to flower in Sefton Park near to the bottom of Greenbank Lane, wishful thinking I presume!
A pair of Ring Necked Parakeets where squawking away today in the Beech trees at the Greenbank Lane entrance to Greenbank Park, also in the park 2 Nuthatch, Grey Wagtail, Mute Swan, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and the GreylagxCanada Goose hybrid.
In Sefton Park dell area another Grey Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest, 20+ Long Tailed Tits, 2 Ring Necked Parakeets, Treecreeper, 4 Jays, and 3 Stock Dove. Walking towards Aigburth Vale I found Redwings, a Jay and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Whilst walking through the Albert Dock this morning I was surprised to see a pair of Raven around the area, at one time a bird was perched on a Liver Bird (a first for me!), they frequented the area for over ten minutes; moving around the building tops on Liverpool One, Mann Island, and the Dock Road. This may well be a pair in courtship as they are one of our earliest breeders, with birds high up in the Cumbrian fells breeding in February, a breeding pair in the near future may well be on the cards.


Firstly can I thank all of you who have continued to visit South Liverpool Birder of the last twelve months and hopefully you will continue to do so, and a special thank you to those who have left comments; which really improve the effectiveness of the blog. I hope everyone had a great Christmas period and you have a fantastic New Years Eve and not to groggy New Years Day!
I visited Sefton Park yesterday where on the lake around the island I found a male Pochard dozing by the island (we seem to be getting these in the park annually now), female Mandarin, three Tufted Ducks, 6 Little Grebes (with some males in song), female Sparrowhawk, three Mute Swans, with a further twenty Mute Swans and five Little Grebes at the south-end of the lake (unusual to see the Grebes down that end), on the field between the cafe and the cricket club 150+ Goldfinches could be seen together with 65 Redwings feeding on the ground with the finches. Plenty of birdsong can be heard around the area at present.....warming up for spring I presume!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Odds and Sods

I checked the Cotoneaster trees on Aigburth Road opposite St Margarets playing fields this morning in the hope of finding Waxwings, but I drew a complete blank! These trees attracted Waxwings during the last influx a couple of years back and they are full of fingers crossed. Ten Redwings where feeding away on the berries and a pair of Pied Wagtails scuttled along underneath. There must be Waxwings around in South Liverpool but pining them down is another thing altogether, there have been birds in Wavertree and Garston recently, and my own recent sighting in Sefton Park; but they dont seem to be sticking around, which is quite surprising really because unlike the last influx a couple of years back the berry crop seems poor, the trees on Allerton Road central reservation and the chandlers, and the junction of Booker and Brodie Avenues have no berries on them; so the trees on Aigburth Road may prove to be a magnet for them. There have been two separate flocks in Formby today and 16 just up the road in Court Hey Park, Roby.
9 Swans which looked to be Whooper flew south over Penny Lane today as did a calling Redshank and 2 Rooks.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A Cold Start

I visited Sefton Park early this morning together with twelve day old Connor (my new addition to the family) on his first ever birdwatch!
In the dell plenty of small birds could be seen and heard, with over thirty Long Tailed Tits amongst other Tit species, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, 3 Goldcrests, Nuthatch, and a female Blackcap could all be seen. On the feeders behind the Palm House 5 Stock Dove and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and a female Sparrowhawk zooming through livened things up a bit. On the main lake it was very easy to see what was around as only the extreme ends of the lake are ice free! 10 Little Grebes, 7 Tufted Duck, 17 Mute Swans, 75+ Coot, Goldfinches on the Alders near the island, Grey Heron, with the female Mandarin returning again. On the ice a large flock of mixed Gulls could be seen; with Common Gulls of varying degrees of plumage detail showing how diverse this species is: some having yellow legs and bills and light streaking on the head, and the other end of the spectrum some showing grey-blue legs and bills and very heavy streaking on the head. At least 500 Gulls where on the lake around 9:30am with nearly all of them moving off shortly after. Whilst walking past the main island the alarm calls of Blue Tits alerted me to a Common Buzzard which flew in very low over the lake in between the island and the Rathbone statue, from the direction of the Palm House and was obviously trying to spook some of the wildfowl, it then landed in trees behind the main path, after going looking for the bird I spooked it and it flew into the wooded section behind the cave/tunnel.

Waxwings are possible anywhere at the moment with 10 near to Wavertree Technology Park roundabout on Rathbone Road and 50 over the Matalan on Wavertree Road today alone!

female Mandarin - Sefton Park, December 2012

Friday, 23 November 2012


Guess I've had a bit of a break on the old blogging front of late (work, Uni, decorating, and the overdue birth of my second son being among the extensive list of excuses!), but alas the blog is up and running again....the sighting of Waxwings has gave me a kick up the backside. Can I just give a big thanks to everyone for keeping the blog up and running through the comments section. I have managed to get out a fair bit and will post some snaps in a later post, but for now I will concentrate on the here and now:-
I heard that familiar trill of Waxwings today in Sefton Park as I was walking past the cafe; a loose flock of at least 25 flew over towards the Rathbone Statue and seemed to be going down (I couldn't follow them any further as my 9 months pregnant wife couldn't take the excitement!). Hopefully they may be feeding around the park somewhere (they came from the direction of the kids playground), the cotoneaster trees opposite St Margarets School on Aigburth Road may be a good bet too, as they where feeding on these trees during the last influx. Over the last week there have been records from Garston, Bootle, Birkenhead, Crosby, Formby, Warrington to name just a few, so these beauties could turn up anywhere. Otherwise the park was quiet - 15 Redwings, 2 Ring Necked Parakeets and that was about it.
Elsewhere, on Tuesday at Speke/Garston Coastal Reserve I had a Short Eared Owl, Peregrine, Kestrel, Grey Partridge, and 20+Skylarks during a fifteen minute check of the area.....not bad, this is such a good site.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Dragonflies of the Festival Gardens

I visited the newly revamped and very recently opened Festival Gardens on Sunday, and what a brilliant job they have done with it, it is regrettable that in order for this to happen a percentage of the former festival gardens site has been sold off for development, but positives must be gained from negatives. The site consists of formal oriental gardens and open areas; great for families and day trippers, but the site also consists of wilder areas of semi mature woodland and meadowland, plus an impressive string of lakes that flow through the area. Although the park was very busy I still managed to find a Kestrel, Buzzard, plenty of Swifts and House Martins, Whitethroat, and singing Chiff Chaffs and Blackcaps, the tide was high at the time but at low tide the area leads on to the promenade and the shore which at low tide should hold plenty of goodies! Apart from birds; insects where evident with Small Copper, Common Blue, and Speckled Wood but best of all the Dragonfly's and Damselfly's which consisted of Blue Tailed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Variable Damselfly, Common Darters and best of all 2 male and 1 female Black Tailed Skimmer. I have seen Black Tailed Skimmers in the area now for three summers in Sefton Park and seeing them here suggests that this species which is rapidly moving North is now a breeding species in the South Liverpool area. I later had another Black Tailed Skimmer on Sefton Park main lake. Click on the following link for more information on the Festival Gardens.

Last Thursday night on Penny Lane Pipistrelle Bats where flying at dusk around the North end of the lane, and what looked like a slightly larger Brown Long-Eared Bat flying around the corner of Penny Lane and Dovedale Road. Further down Penny Lane on the edge of the Cricket Pitch and railway a Vixen was accompanied by her three cubs, a brilliant sight as they slowly emerged from cover and walked out onto the pitch; the Vixen foraging as the cubs spent more time fighting and causing havock! At the bottom of Penny Lane more Pipistrelles could be seen hunting moths (of which two Swallowtail Moths could easily be identified) and another adult Fox crossed my path. When passing Greenbank Park another adult Fox was mooching around and another two well grown youngsters nearby........... I have never seen so many in such a short space of time.

In Wavertree Mystery Park yesterday I was very surprised to find what looked like a Hooded Crow, unfortunately I didn't have my camera or binoculars but I did get quite close and the bird looked more like a hybrid Hooded Crow X Carrion Crow a very unusual bird in the area, and possibly the offspring of a Hooded Crow that infamously bred with Carrion Crows in the Anfield Cemetery area, but this was over ten years ago; however the Crow family are long lived so it could be possible, the nearest other breeding or interbreeding Hooded Crows are in Holyhead and the Isle Of Man! Elsewhere in the park Chiff Chaff is still in song, plenty of Swallows and a lone Sand Martin was a rare sighting, numbers of Gulls are now starting to is autumn for them now! Coming out of the park I was startled to see a Fox cub running up Wellington Road under the railway bridge in the middle of the day! After zig-zagging over the main road a few times and narrowly being missed by traffic it was in a frantic state,I followed it down the road and ushered it into the royal mail compound where I watched it head for the railway embankment, I recon it would have been okay from there as the den is not far away....fingers crossed.

In Sefton Park yesterday a Peregrine spooked the local pigeons as it shot through heading South over the South end of the Marine Lake, the Little Grebe nesting attempt appears to have failed again, as the water levels rose following the heavy rains the nest seems to have been washed away.........but I would love to be proved wrong. The family of Mute Swans snoozed on the island and  large Carp could be seen surfacing around the South end of the lake. In the dell a Chiff Chaff was in song along with a Grey Wagtail, and a family of Nuthatch. Two immature Grey Herons were fishing around the bandstand area and allowed every close approach (always when I haven't got my camera), in the lake behind the cafe a family of Canada Geese have three young; which is a very rare sight in the park.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

One All - Only Just

I managed to get to New Brighton yesterday for the Little Swift that has been present in the area since Friday; the bird has been elusive at times and highly mobile - ranging across the New Brighton area with local Swifts and has been seen crossing the Mersey towards Bootle Docks! The vantage point of the water tower gardens on Gorsehill Road (near to the large domed church) has been adopted as Little Swift Central (plenty of Holly Blues here too), which makes sense as it is the highest point in the area, yet the bird sometimes only makes very brief appearances and I put in six hours yesterday and only managed two brief views! The bird was seen to go to roost on the Pier House - a modern apartment set up opposite the coast guard on the promenade on Saturday evening with apparently the residents complaining of the huge amounts of birders aiming lenses up towards their windows (well the bird was roosting on a window ledge), with this in mind the bird may well still be roosting here....worth checking out. Checking photos of the bird it is clear that this is a juvenile from this year, which shows that this must have been a recent arrival, after fledgling in North Africa (or maybe Southern Spain) it has migrated North rather than South! I wonder how long it will take for it to realise? Whilst in the area I couldn't help thinking how many rare Swift species go unchecked in urban Swift colonies, I think we should check over these birds more often.

Last Tuesday evening I attempted to find the male Montagus Harrier that has been giving birders the run around for a while out on the mosses, I set up at the New Causeway at Great Altcar; being the site the bird has most regularly been seen from, but alas after four hours there was no sign, the bird hasn't been seen now for the last few days and the general feeling is that it has departed, however the moss lands of South-West Lancs are vast and the bird could still be around somewhere......fingers crossed! Montagus Harrier aside I did manage to find a good few sightings whilst in the area - Barn Owl, 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Buzzards, 3 Kestrels, singing male Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Sedge Warblers, 2 Yellowhammers, 3 Whitethroats, Corn Bunting, 10+ Reed Buntings, and a Brown Hare....... not bad for a few hours birding. On the way home I got off the train at Saint Michael's and walked through Sefton Park where plenty of Pipistrelles could be easily seen right through the park and up Greenbank Lane, where a Fox rounded the night off nicely.

Elsewhere the Little Grebes are again attempting to breed in Sefton Park and the Mute Swan family was down to two chicks after the runt disappeared, the Parakeets in Greenbank Park raised at least one fledgling, on Friday night I was lucky enough to see a vixen Fox out with three cubs on the cricket pitch next to Penny Lane, with another in Greenbank Park, the Blackcap and Chiff Chaff are both still on territory off Penny Lane too.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Greenbank Photos

Apart from the previously published photos of the breeding Ring Necked Parakeets here is a selection of recent breeding species in Greenbank park.

Great Spotted Woodpecker - Greenbank Park

Great Spotted Woodpecker (juv) - Greenbank Park

Great Spotted Woodpecker (juv) - Greenbank Park

Great Spotted Woodpecker (juv) - Greenbank Park

Pied Wagtail - Greenbank Park

Stock Dove - Greenbank Park

Mallard - Greenbank Park

Mallard with young - Greenbank Park

Nuthatch - Greenbank Park

Nuthatch (juv) - Greenbank Park

Nuthatch (juv) - Greenbank Park

Mute Swan - Greenbank Park (eggs failed to hatch again)

Moel Famau and Loggerheads

I went for a 12 mile walk in Wales yesterday, a circular route that took in both Loggerheads and Moel Famau, it was a great day and quite rewarding for wildlife in general. Loggerheads Country Park has been a popular and well known site for many of the woodland species for many years; not surprising due to the sites closeness to nearby urban areas such as Liverpool, and it didn't let me down this time with Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts, Dipper, Spotted Flycatcher, Birds Nest Orchid, Green Flowered Heleborine (not flowering yet) Herb Paris, and Common Lizard all on the reserve; plus a stunning display of Rock Rose on top of the Loggerheads cliffs to end the day. Outside of the reserve on the rest of the walk I found Barn Owl, a Cuckoo ( plus three others heard) being mobbed by Meadow Pipits as it sought out their nest to lay its egg in, Tree Pipits, Garden Warblers, Whitethroat, Buzzards, Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers, Yellow Wagtail, 2 Kestrel, and Common Spotted Orchids. All-in-all a good days birding.

Birds Nest Orchid - Loggerheads Country Park

Common Buzzard - 8
Barn Owl - 1
Cuckoo - 4
Kestrel - 2
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Pied Flycatcher - 3
Redstart - 6
Dipper -1
Garden Warbler - 3
Whitethroat - 1
Tree Pipits - 3
Redpoll - 2
Willow Warbler - 9
Chiff Chaff - 13

Tree Pipit - Moel Famau

Cuckoo - Moel Famau

Summit of Moel Famau looking East

The Eye of the Storm

Raven - Tower of London

Red Crested Pochard - Richmond Park

Egyptian Goose - Richmond Park

Egyptian Goose family - Richmond Park

Green Woodpecker - Richmond Park
Last week we had a family break in London, and very clever as we are, we decided to go during the half term holidays as to avoid the crowds generated from the Olympics, a couple of weeks after booking we realised that are dates in the
capital city matched the jubilee celebrations! Never mind, we had a great time anyway, and I think I may have invented a new Olympic sport of dodging union jacks waved by neurotic royalist morons descended onto the capital from the far flung depths of the commonwealth! Rant over, I did manage to do a bit of birding and the pick of the bunch has to be a Black Redstart I could hear singing around the Tower of London.....but never managed to see the dam thing!                                                 
Pheasants Eye - Wanstead Flats
Other highlights included a couple of Peregrines over the city, and a walk around the Wanstead Flats (East London) came up trumps with a singing Nightingale (again I never saw the bird!), 3 pairs of Great Crested Grebe, 2 Egyptian Geese, Kestrel, 5 Cormorants, Pheasants Eye, and a Roe Deer. We visited Richmond Park which is a fantastic site; an ancient hunting estate set in a huge area of open land festooned with750 year old Oaks, their was something a bit surreal about watching herds of Red and Fallow Deer with the city skyline in the background, apart from the Deers I managed to connect with all three Woodpecker species, with Green Woodpecker especially common in the park, also an unusual Moth species with very long antenna. by far the most common species had to be the Ring Necked Parakeets with at least 350 seen during the day.....maybe Sefton Park in a few years time! The Parakeets certainly must take up nesting sites, yet native hole dwellers such as Starlings, Stock Doves and
Mute Swan family - Richmond Park
Woodpeckers are much in evidence in the park too. On the lakes in the park we found breeding Egyptian Geese, Mute Swans, Pochard, Tufted Duck, and a lone male Red Crested Pochard..... an absolute stonker it has to be said, but the jury's out on the birds wild credentials! A great visit to London for the family and a bit of birding thrown in ..... perfect.
Red Deer - Richmond Park

Red Deer - Richmond Park

Red Deer - Richmond Park

Red Deer - Richmond Park

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Perindod Melangell

I visited the Tanat Valley area of Mid-Wales this week and walked the Perindod Melangell route (about fifteen miles), it proved to be a fantastic route and I only passed one other group of walkers during the whole day! The walk encapsulated a great deal of different habitat including touching on the edge of the Vrynwy RSPB estate, due to this I managed to find a decent selection of birds including; 5 Red Kites, male and female Hen Harrier, Short Eared Owl, 2 Buzzards, 6 Redstarts, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Dipper, 2 Grey Wagtails, Tree Pipit, Garden Warbler, and a few surprises such as Peafowl and Guinefowl! Also a strange fungi(?) of some sort which I have not seen before (any ideas ?). A great route and a great days birding in relatively quiet countryside.

Red Kite - Tanat Valley

Red Kite - Tanat Valley

Red Kite - Tanat Valley


'Japanese' Pheasant - Tanat Valley

House Sparrow - Tanat Valley

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Breeding Parakeets ...... PROVEN

Ring Necked Parakeet - Greenbank Park

I have not been around much lately which is an obvious testament to my lack of blogging! Yet I have had decent sightings recently, most notably breeding pair of Ring Necked Parakeets in Greenbank Park. If you face the noticeboard (the one at the northern end of the park) and look up and to your right they are nesting in the obvious hole in the Plane Tree, with chicks (or maybe just chick) viewable at times. Be patient as the adults disappear for long periods and are remarkably silent and wary when nesting. Another pair has joined the resident pair over the last couple of weeks and have been duly dispatched! I think his pair may be breeding around Greenbank College/allotments area, in Sefton Park I presume that a pair (or more) are breeding as I have heard birds calling from the area behind the cafe over the last few weeks and Will reports he was watching one in the park yesterday (nice one Will).

Ring Necked Parakeet - Greenbank Park

Ring Necked Parakeet - Greenbank Park

Ring Necked Parakeet - Greenbank Park

Apart from Parakeets I have found a great deal of other hole nesting species in the area, in Greenbank Park two pairs of breeding Great Spotted Woodpeckers have fledged young as have two pairs of Nuthatch, a breeding pair of Treecreepers are ever present around the north end of the lake (with a breeding pair close to the footbridge on Mossley Hill Road North), and a pair of Coal Tits are nesting in a box in that area. Other passerines in Greenbank include a breeding pair of Pied Wagtails, and two Blackcaps on territory (as is one on the bridge on Penny Lane along with a Chiff Chaff), On the lake the Mute Swans have again been unsuccessful at rearing young again this year, three broods of Coot have hatched but are quickly dispatched by the Lesser Black Backed Gulls (gruesome sight). I have heard a Little Owl calling during the night recently and as with previous years seems to come from the direction of the allotments in between Greenbank Road/Drive, 2 Grey Herons can be seen regularly using Greenbank Park lake during the early mornings.

Grey Heron - Greenbank Park

Grey Heron - Greenbank Park

Grey Heron & 2 Mute Swans - Greenbank Park

The warm weather has brought lots of Pipistrelles out and at dusk can be seen all over the area. I have found a great deal of Cuckoo flower in the area recently which probably explains the occurrence of good numbers of Orange Tips, also their have been plenty of Holly Blues around too. I recently discovered more of the rare Solomons Seal over the wall behind the Penny Lane sign and the Honey Garlic is again in flower in Greenbank Park (this is arguably one of the rarest plants in the North-West region).

Elsewhere in Wavertree Mystery 3 male Whitethroats, 3 male Blackcaps, and a chiff chaff are on territory. In the woodland adjacent to Greenbank Drive I have found 3 Blackcap, 4 Chiff Chaff and a Willow Warbler all on territory, together with breeding Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, and Song Thrush. In Sefton Park the Swans have raised three young, with both Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch breeding in the same tree in the dell, Grey Wagtails are breeding nearby too. A Nuthatch reared young in the lone Ash Tree along the main path behind the cafe and Peregrines are still being occasionally spotted in the area (where exactly are they?), odd Buzzards are occasionally seen loafing around on thermals or being harassed by Crows and probably originate from further east in the city.

Honey Garlic - Greenbank Park

Solomons Seal - North Mossley Hill Road

Mallard - Sefton Park

Ramsoms (Wild Garlic) - Greenbank Drive Wood

Ramsoms (Wild Garlic) - Greenbank Drive Wood