Monday, 30 September 2013

Harriers and Hogs

Hedgehog, Cottam, 28/9/13
Great Crested Newt, Cottam, 28/9/13
I have been really busy of late as I have been carrying out ecological survey work day and night! Over the last couple of weeks this has led me throughout the North-West, Midlands, and North-Wales. I have spent a great deal of time at a Great-Crested Newt site at Over-Peover near Knutsford, apart from the Great-Crested Newts we have found Common Buzzard, Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, a regular pair of Raven, 5 Nuthatch, and singing Chiff Chaffs. A Bat survey in Telford resulted in Common Pipistrelles, and Brown Long Eared and being startled by a Badger as it made its way across a field of corn at night, and a Great Crested Newt survey near Preston on Saturday came up trumps with a Hedgehog rescued from a Newt pitfall trap! Also on this site I found two female Great Crested Newts, 47 Smooth Newt, and a Brown Hawker Dragonfly.

juvenile Little Grebe, Sefton Park, 27/9/13
More locally Little Grebes are showing well on Sefton Park Lake, with one adult bird feeding a striped plumaged juvenile; this must prove that they have raised two broods in the park this year, with two ages of juvenile on show on the lake, other birds included 4 Grey Wagtails, Chiff Chaff, 15+ Swallows, and family of Nuthatches near to the café, the family of Mute Swans with four surviving young, and a female Tufted Duck. Nearby I had 4 Common Buzzards over Camp Hill on Saturday, continuing their colonisation of the suburbs, and 2 Ring Necked Parakeets, and 4 Mute Swans at Greenbank Park.

Little Grebes, Sefton Park, 27/9/13
I have been involved in a Pink Footed Goose survey on the mosslands over the last week, which has turned up some fantastic birds, from my situated vantage point to the East of Haskayne I have seen a pair of Marsh Harriers on each visit since last Monday looking towards Downholland Moss, female Merlin, female Peregrine, 2 Little Owls, and a juvenile female Sparrowhawk pursued and killed a Red Legged Partridge last Friday and continued to pluck the bird in full view for over an hour, other birds have included 3 different Kestrels, another Sparrowhawk, plenty of Common Buzzards, Wheatear, my first Redwing of the Autumn, 90+ Goldfinch, 45+ Linnet, 250+ Red Legged Partridge (with one covey this morning holding over 60 birds) and best of all an Osprey this morning which left its overnight roost in trees towards Plex Moss shortly after first light. Apart from these great sightings the Pink Footed Geese put on a great show as they left their roosts, with the majority of birds feeding just outside our survey area on Plex Moss which held 5000 birds this morning and smaller numbers of 650 near to my vantage point at Haskayne.

Little Grebe, Sefton Park, 27/9/13
Things are really starting to heat up in the North-West now with a Blyths Reed Warbler, Common Rosefinch, loads of Yellow Browed Warblers, Lesser Scaup, and Glossy Ibises seemingly everywhere and this is only today! A little road trip may be required.

Hedgehog, Cottam, 28/9/13

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Martin Mere

During a family trip to the Martin Mere "Bird Zoo" today I managed to sneak off for a quick look around the real reserve, the best sightings were 6 Curlew Sandpipers and a Little Stint from Millers Bridge hide and a daytime calling Tawny Owl near to the observation tower: a round-up follows:-
Whooper Swan - 2
Pink-Footed Geese - 40+
Curlew Sandpiper - 6
Little Stint - 1
Tawny Owl - 1
Marsh Harrier (juv) - 1
Common Buzzard - 1
Chiff Chaff - 2
Tree Sparrow - 5
Ruff - 20+
I took my eldest son Dylan (6) canoeing in the reedbeds on the reserve and we were lucky enough to spot a Water Vole swimming alongside us under a bank before it clambered up into cover, Dylans first Water Vole...lets hope they recover from their long decline so it is not his last! Also in the reedbed area we had at at least 6 Migrant Hawkers and many Common Darter Dragonflies.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Straining The Eyes!

Stilt Sandpiper, Elton Hall Flash, Sandbach, Cheshire

I am working at a site near Nutsford, Cheshire this week undertaking some Great Crested Newt consultancy work, this involves early morning starts, but, more importantly early finishes! Which yesterday provided me with the opportunity to catch up with Cheshires STILT SANDPIPER (first for me!), the bird has been present at Neumans Flash since Saturday but yesterday was flushed by a Sparrowhawk and relocated further south in the county at Sandbach Flashes. After a mad dash to the site I soon found the bird roosting on one of the spits on Elton Hall Flash, unfortunately with the heat haze and the long distance I could only manage a photo that insults the term record shot (I promise you that's the bird to the left of the Lapwing)! But still, LIFE TICK!
Grass Snake, Private Site, Cheshire
After this I visited a private site in the county which boasts a population of Grass Snakes which are being monitored, I was lucky enough to find three first year animals, also on the site were 10+ Bullfinches, 2 Buzzards, 20+ Common Darters, Black Darter, 7 Southern Hawker, and a Brown Hawker.
Lesser Scaup, Pennington Flash
Today I managed to see the drake Lesser Scaup off the south shore of Pennington Flash which may well be the same individual that has been seen at the flash on two further occasions over the last few years, the bird showed very well compared to yesterdays Stilt Sandpiper but rarely woke and raised its head as it constantly bobbed along roosting on the open water with Tufted Ducks and Pochards. I didn't have the time for a look around the main reserve but an impressive 27 Great Crested Grebes could be seen from the Car Park area, and both Bullfinch, Chiff Chaff, and Willow Warbler could be seen off the footpath along to the Grebe.
Lesser Scaup, Pennington Flash
Today as I continued with the Great Crested Newt work I found 2 Raven, 2 Common Buzzard, Chiff Chaff, 2 Nuthatch, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a fearsome looking Great Water Diving Beetle which landed in a Newt pitfall trap.