Larophile wanted

I've drove by Lyme & Wood Pits Country Park a few times and wondered if the working tip was a) viewable and b) attracting scarce gulls.

Well I got one answer ... There are easily viewable large numbers of gulls probably in excess of several hundred.

The disappointing thing though is that these gulls seemed easily spooked something I had not anticipated as gulls are normally approachable.

This meant that I could only view from afar and I am a birder who doesn't own a scope. Well that my excuses out of the way for not finding a 2cy caspian gull!

I will be back .......

Elsewhere there seemed a nice mix of habitats so here are some other sightings:

Kestrel
Buzzard
Sparrowhawk
9 lesser redpoll
21 yellowhammer
Willow tit
Great spotted woodpecker

Paul B

Sent from my iPod

Eccleston Mere

Goosander 1 female
Goldeneye 3 (2males, 1 female)
Pochard 5 (4 males, 1 female)
Tufted Duck 11 (8 males, 3 females)
Little Grebe 1 juv.
Snipe 5
Buzzard 1
Pink-footed Goose 200 flying over Catchdale Moss

The Goosander was my first of the winter on the mere.

Eccleston Mere 3pm-4.30pm

1 Goldeneye
1 Kestrel (in fields to the west of the Mere)
1 Buzzard (perched in the wet wood)
3 Little Grebes (all swimming close the island on the SW side)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (calling in the wet wood)
Kingfisher (calling near SW corner)
4 Tufted Duck
2 Grey Heron
1 Cormorant

The Great Crested Grebe which is in its summer plumage (as Colin noted earlier in the week was still present)



Blackcaps my garden, Eccleston

I set up my camera today on a remote shutter in the hope of photographing the blackcaps feeding. Only the male visited today, although I didn't have as much time to keep a look out for them as yesterday. He seemed to be feeding on virtually everything apart from the apple that I'd stuck in the tree for them and focussed my camera on! Luckily, he fed from it just before the light went and I got some shots. Unfortunately I think the noise of the shutter scared him off. The photo of the female is from yesterday through the kitchen window when it was feeding on the berries of the wisteria/honeysuckle (whichever one it is!).

Blackcaps are really interesting birds. Wintering blackcaps have been recorded in small numbers in Britain for well over a century but since the 1940's and 50's, the numbers of birds overwintering has steadily gone up - 22 birds on average per winter in the 40's and 50's, 380 on average in the 70's, 3000 in the 80's, and in the 00's nearly 3000 from Garden Birdwatch gardens alone.

The birds that overwinter here aren't from the same population that visit in the summer but rather are from Central Europe. The UK overwintering population have been found to have more fledglings than those that migrate further south and are therefore producing more offspring that are genetically programmed to come here.

 
 

Damian P

Eccleston Mere

It was lovely and bright at the Mere this morning. In previous years and earlier this year, the redpoll were associating with the goldfinch and siskin flock, but when I've seen them recently, they've been on their own making them much harder to find.

Lesser redpoll 1 feeding on the grasses in the SW corner
Siskin 8+ with the goldfinch flock
Bullfinch 1m, 1f feeding on the ground in the SW corner
Kingfisher 1
Goldeneye 1m
Pochard 3m
Treecreeper 1
Goldcrest 1 heard singing in  the SW corner
Cormorant 1
Teal 4 flying over the dead wood



Damian P

Eccleston Mere

Still quiet at Eccleston Mere this afternoon.

1 Male Goldeneye
2 Tufted Duck
2 Cormorants
Great Spotted Woodpecker heard calling in the wet woodland
30+ Canada Geese
1 Kingfisher
1 Grey Heron
The usual mix of Great Crested Grebes, Mallards, Moorhens and Coots.

1 Buzzard at Valencia Farm Eccleston Park.

My garden, Eccleston

The male blackcap was joined by a female today and they were both in the garden virtually every time I had chance to look. They don't seem too fussy about what they're eating, mainly fat based stuff but also sunflower hearts, apple, and the berries that are on the wisteria/honeysuckle(I'm not sure what it is!). The grey wagtail is still visiting a few times everyday also.
 
Damian P
 

Eccleston Mere and Catchdale Moss

Really quiet again at Eccleston Mere, just one each of snipe, bullfinch and goldeneye, and six tufted ducks. Also a Great crested grebe in summer plumage! All trees still appear to be standing...

On Catchdale Moss, in the ploughed field behind the Stanley Arms, about 500 Pink-footed geese.

My garden off Gunning Avenue

A male blackcap has been visiting my garden today. We get them every year at this time, I'll try and get some photos while I'm off. The grey wagtail has been visiting daily as have a pair of coal tits. No sign yet of the siskin or brambling that came last year.

25th December Eccleston Mere

Another quiet afternoon at the Mere although a few different species of birds were around.

2 Grey Heron
3 Goldeneye (2 Drakes and 1 Female)
1 Little Grebe
6 Tufted Duck
4 Jays
25+ Flock of Goldfinches
The normal collections of Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Canada Geese and Great Crested Grebes.
1 Nuthatch in wet woodland
2 Buzzard
Mistle Thrush
Small group of Goldcrests in the Wet Wood.
Large numbers of Magpies and Jackdaws coming into roost.

Also called in later at Valencia Farm and managed to get close views of a Red Fox and a single large Brown Hare which had been flushed by the Fox. Not as good as last Saturday evening at the Farm as a Red Fox, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and a Barn Owl where all seen within twenty minutes in the same field and all within 200 metres of viewing spot. Great views of the Buzzard, Fox and Barn Owl in particular. Sadly no sign of a Barn Owl this evening.

Eccleston Mere

Snipe 7
Siskin 25 in the SW corner
Lesser Redpoll 3
Teal 4 in the wet wood
Goldeneye 1 male in the NE corner
Little Grebe 1
Kingfisher 1

Eccleston Mere

It was desolate around the Mere this afternoon, there was hardly anything about...

Bullfinch 1f in the southwest corner
Cormorant 4
Teal 2 in the dead wood

Damian P

Wild Goose Chase

Spurred on by the bright start to the day I spent a late lunch hour today trying to figure out what the pink-footed geese get up to during the day.

Today's clear but crisp start to the day seemed to have a few geese up and moving in a similar fashion to when they first arrived in September. That is moving over my house in Billinge.

A quick scout of the fields around Fir Tree Farm and Kings Moss didn't produce any grounded geese but it wasn't long before they're distinctive call could be heard - wink wink!

Several skeins totalling about 400 headed toward Crank and then up over the high ground of Moss Bank/Crank Caverns. And ghats when it got interesting ......

From a distance the geese seemed to settle behind the high ground perhaps on an unknown wet field full of carrots or spuds?

I headed over that way and found to my bemusement that there was a good looking field there but no geese - the plot thickened???

I could however hear some wink-winking which seemed to be coming from the direction of Rainford Hall/Fairfield Hospital but there was a bank of trees in the way ... Typical!

Frantically trying to figure out how to get a better view I decide that the best bet may be to look for access via Moss Bank perhaps Cherry Tree Lane.

At this point I realised that the calls I could hear we're not coming from the ground but the air in the distance, so much for my hearing. It looked as though I was too late and something had spooked the geese and they were off.

Just then there was a a distant call of wink-wink from a different direction so I decide to stay to see where this new skein would land.

But land they did not .....

Every now and then someone tells you something about birds and you won't quite believe it until you actually see it happen.

This new skein which bare in mind came from the direction of Skelmersdale, met up with the others that I thought were previously grounded and then headed of in the direction of the Rainford mosslands.

A bit odd I thought at first but then thought a big deeper. The hill at Crank at 90m is quite a landmark easily seen from all directions.

I stayed a little longer as I could see that the sun was setting and knew this vantage point afforded good views and I could see geese moving to the north and west.

I heard a grey partridge call whilst a couple of mistle thrushes fought over a holly tree and its rich red berry reward.

It soon became apparent that this landmark was just that as small skeins of 30 to 120 geese headed for it like a beacon from all different directions before "meeting up" and changing direction to go to roost on the rainford mosslands.

I wonder how often that happens?

Nature truly is Amazing.

Paul B

Eccleston Mere

Water rail 1 in ditch on west side
Siskin 80 in wet wood
Snipe 10
Goldeneye 3 (2 males, 1 female)
Tufted duck 4
Kingfisher 1
Grey wagtail 1
Nuthatch 1
Goldcrest 1

The Water rail was in the ditch between the outlet and the south west corner. It didn't seem too bothered by my presence, and I just walked alongside it for a couple of minutes. Unfortunately it was too dark in the ditch for a decent photo, and it didn't stay still for long enough. It was very vocal, squealing away most of the time I was watching it.

The siskins were an impressive sight in the woods, one of the largest flocks I've seen at the mere.

Eccleston Mere

It was quite windy around the Mere this morning, I just managed to get back to the car before the rain started. The fieldfare was in the car park of the Mere, the best view I've ever had of one. The redpoll were in the hedge just past the water outlet on the right.

The last two times I've been to the Mere, I've seen a black-headed gull with a partly grey head. It looks like it's in transition between winter and summer plumage but I'm not sure if it's early or late!

Fieldfare 1
Lesser Redpoll 2
Goldeneye 1 male
Cormorant 2
Teal 1
Pochard 1 male


 
 
Damian P

Eccleston Mere

Snipe 9
Goldeneye 1 male
Pochard 2 males
Tufted duck 3 (male & 2 females)
Siskin 2
Cormorant 3
Black-headed gull 200
Common gull 30
Lesser black-backed gull 2
Herring gull 50 (mainly flying over)

willow park newton le willows

10+ teal
1 mandarin
1 mute swan
1 little grebe
6 +tufted ducks
first time at willow park what a lovely little place will be revisiting in near future

Eccleston Mere

Goldeneye 2 male
Kingfisher 1
Little grebe 1
Willow tit 1
Treecreeper 1
Pochard 1
Goldcrest 2
Redwing 30+
Fieldfare 20+
Buzzard 1
Siskin 2



 
 
Damian P
 

Eccleston Mere 7th and 8th December


7th December

- 15 Canada Geese
- 8+ Great Crested Grebe
- 2 Grey Heron
-  1 Sparrowhawk (showing well in the flooded woodland) 
- 40+ Pink Footed Geese (flying over)
- 1 Goldeneye


8th December

- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Kestrel
- 2 Grey Heron
-6 Wigeon
-10+ Redwing
-1 Goldeneye

Much quieter at the Mere this evening than yesterday. The Canada Goose flock wasn't there today and apart from a small group of Wigeon dropping in late on at dusk there wasn't a great deal of activity. 



Simon Skidmore

Eccleston mere

Goldeneye 1 male
Willow tit 1
Pink-footed goose 200 flew over
Teal 1 male
Tufted duck 8 (3 males, 5 females)
Kingfisher 1

Eccleston Mere

Goldeneye 5 (3m, 2f)
Cormorant 1
Little grebe 1
Teal 3
Grey Wagtail 1
Siskin 10+ in the Goldfinch flock
Kingfisher 1+
Redwing still plenty in the hedge
Fieldfare few over
Kestrel 1
Damian P

Eccleston Mere

Goldeneye 2, male and female still present
Water rail squealing in the ditch again a bit past the water outlet
Willow tit 1+ in the south west corner
Siskin 5+
Treecreeper 1
Grey Heron 5 all in one tree!
Song thrush 1
Cormorant 1
Gadwall 2+
Pochard 1 male
Buzzard 1
Kestrel 1
Kingfisher 1
Tufted duck 4
Redwing 5 in the hedge on the right
Fieldfare 4 over
 
Damian P

Eccleston Mere

Goldeneye 2 (1m,1f)
Raven 2 flew over cronking
Bullfinch 2(1m,1f male in the hedge down the right, and the female next to the stream)
Willow tit 1 in the dead wood very vocal and finally seen today
Teal 1 at the back of the dead wood being very elusive
Little Grebe 1
Siskin a few with the finch flock but nothing like the numbers of the other day
Redwing 20+ still in the hedges and a few small flocks over
Fieldfare 13 over
Tufted duck 10 (5m,5f)
Kestrel 1
Buzzard 1
Common Gull? 1

 
I was pleased with my list this morning, I've not seen bullfinch, raven or little grebe at the mere for a while now, and can't remember if I've seen goldeneye there before. The male goldeneye (presumably the one that Paul found the other day) was joined by a female although they were pretty much keeping as far away from each other as possible!

Is the gull a 1st winter common gull?


Goldeneye Male

 


Goldeneye Female

Raven
 

Common Gull?
 
Damian P

Eccleston Mere

There were lots of redwing in the hedge down the right of the mere this afternoon, and even more in the trees in the southwest corner. The finch flock is huge, I'm not very good at estimating numbers in flocks but I'd say easily 100. Of the ones I saw today, most were siskin followed by goldfinch. The only redpoll I saw flew up from the ground in the southwest corner. Two skeins of pink feet flew over as well, the largest one about 150.
Gadwall 6 (3m,3f)
Redwing 40+
Siskin 20+
Redpoll 1
Willow tit 1 heard in dead wood
Goldcrest 3
Pink footed goose about 200
Also - water rail heard in the ditch before the water outflow on the right. Thanks to Colin for the id from a recording.
 
I heard the grey wagtail through the open bathroom window this morning - the kids saw it but I didn't.
 

Eccleston Mere

Gadwall 7 (3males, 4 females)
Tufted duck 10
Little grebe 1 juv.
Grey wagtail 1
Kingfisher 2
 
 

Quick Lake Tour

After a windy cold night I always feel its worth checking the local lakes in your lunch hour as who knows what may have been blown in ..... their are a few inland common scoters at the moment whilst great northern divers are not unheard of neither.

Carr Mill Dam - Difficult to scan from a single location but being the largest you would hope it would hold something but not today save a large gathering of gulls and the regular great crested grebes.

Taylor Park - quite a few of the commoner species all crammed into a small space, with a handful of tufted ducks.  After a quick scan I found a single pochard, fairly unusual in the district.

Eccleston Mere - Again fairly barren but it did produce the highlight of the day with a stunning male goldeneye towards the top end.  Also a female grey wagtail kept me company on the way around the far side.

Paul B

Snowed in!

Damian and I arrange to meet early doors near to Fir Tree Farm (http://www.firtreeshopandcafe.co.uk/) with a hope of catching the dawn flight of the thousands of geese that I had witnessed a few weeks back.  In addition to nearby barn owls and also the hope of discovering a finch roost amongst other things we were hopeful of a good few hours patching .....
 
The weather forecast looked good and upon arriving a few redwings were "shreeping" over as a kestrel sat atop a telegraph post but in the distance a familiar orange-pink glow loomed. 
 
Whilst trying to work out which direction this squall was headed I noticed a few distant skeins of pink-footed geese beginning to leave their overnight roosts in the continued search for food.  Near to 300 geese in total headed toward the mosslands of Rainford and a single fieldfare was heard.
 
And then just as Damian arrived the heavens opened, with drizzle, then sleet, followed by hail and proper snow ...... maybe you should change your name mate!
 
We gave it a go much to the amusement of the gathered black-headed gulls on a flooded field.  I swear they actually came closer to see these two mad men for a laugh.
 
After a few more redwing and realising that snow is wetter and colder than rain we called time on our planned exploits and headed home.
 
And low and behold come 9am the bloody sun came out and shone gloriously all day. 
 
At least I have the luxury of being able to work from home allowing the wintering coal tits to keep me entertained and they busily go about caching sunflower seeds.  I look forward to having randomly sprouting sunflowers all over the garden next spring, I apologise now to the neighbours.
 
And the kick whilst I'm down was the resident sparrowhawk using the thermals generated by this huge swing in temperature to soar over the local gardens in search of prey.  Four seasons in one day, I love the UK.
 
Should I try again tomorrow?
 
Paul B

Eccleston Mere

Just a quick walk around the mere this afternoon, produced 5 Pochard (3 males, 2 females), 5 Gadwall (2males, 3 females), 6 Tufted ducks, a Grey wagtail and a Snipe.

Earlier, on my way home from Southport, I saw several flocks of Pink-feet flying around the Rainford bypass area, but couldn't find any flocks on the ground today.

My Garden Off Gunning Avenue Eccleston

A grey wagtail visits my garden every winter and made it's first appearance of this year today. We've lived here for four years, and it has visited every year without fail. I put out meal worms once I start seeing it and in previous years it has visited pretty much every day I'm here to watch for it. Here's a photo I took of it a few years ago...

 
 
 
We went to Pennington Flash today to try and see the Cetti's Warbler but I'm not sure I saw it. I saw a skulky brown bird in the right area that refused to show itself properly but it was silent unfortunately. We did see kingfisher and a water rail from Pengy's Hide and all the normal from the Bunting Hide (willow tit, bullfinch, stock dove etc).
 
Damian P

Billinge Hill

Not much around this morning but it was lovely and sunny...
Skylark 16+ around the summit
Goldcrest 1 near Beacon farm
Yellowhammer 6
Kestrel 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Buzzard 1
Tree Sparrow 20+
 
Damian P

Ecleston Mere

Tawny owl 1
Kingfisher 2
Gadwall 6+ (2 males, 4 females)
Little grebe 1
Pochard 1 male

Newton Lake

Still plenty if teal on the lake with over 100 present. Lots coming into pristine plumage now too .... What chance a green-winged teal ......?

Paul Brady

Sent from my iPod

Eccleston Mere

I got drenched going around the Mere this morning! I had a look for the tawny owl but couldn't find it despite knowing exactly where to look. Two of the mallards were mating today-is that normal for this time of year?!
 
Redwing 1 in the hedge and a few more overhead
Pochard 3 (2m,1m)
Gadwall 7-10 (at least 3 males)
Tufted Duck 2 (1m,1f)
Kingfisher 1
GS Woodpecker 1m
A few siskin heard flying around

Damian P

Eccleston Mere

Tawny owl 1
Kingfisher 2 chasing each other around the mere
Teal 1
Tufted duck 2

Eccleston Mere

Chiffchaff 1
Gadwall 11 (5 males, 6 females)
Teal 6
Little Grebe 2 juvs
Cormorant 5
Great Crested Grebe 12

Eccleston Mere

Gadwall (3f,2m)
Tufted duck 2
Fieldfare 25+ one flock heading south
Redwing 5+ including one in the trees in the dead wood
Goldfinch 60+
Siskin 5+
Lesser redpoll 3
Kingfisher 1
Treecreeper
GS Woodpecker 1m
Kestrel 1m
Water rail heard in SW corner
It's hard to accurately count the finches as they're a mixed flock and are very mobile. Hopefully the coming storm will get rid of some more leaves to make things easier!

Damian P

Eccleston mere

Wigeon 1 female
Pochard 2 (male & female)
Gadwall 4 (2 males, 2 females)
Little grebe 2 (juvs)
Chiffchaff 1 in hedge by the stream
Lesser redpoll 8
Siskin 1
Willow tit 1
Goldcrest 4
Coal tit 2
Pink-footed goose 30 distantly over Catchdale moss, flying west.

Eccleston Mere

Gadwall 5 (2 males, 3 females)
Pochard 2 (male & female)
Willow Tit 1
Jackdaw 300 roosting on the island
Kingfisher 1

I was hoping for a skua, a gannet, or even a phalarope this evening (there's been a few inland records in other parts of the country this week), but unfortunately none today. Perhaps tomorrow following these winds....

Eccleston Mere

Pochard 2 (1m,1f)
Siskin 1(f) in the dead wood
Redpoll 3 in the dead wood
Goldfinch 20
Nuthatch 1
Chiffchaff 1 half heartedly singing/calling
Kestrel 1
Sparrowhawk 1
 
Nice to see a few finches back at the mere.
As I left the house this morning, 5 skylark were trilluping above me. I also had a look up Green Lane for redwing and fieldfare but there were none about.

Chiffchaff
 

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Eccleston Mere

Redwing 100 over NE
Fieldfare 50 over NE
Gadwall 5 (2 males, 3 females)
Chiffchaff 1
Kingfisher 1
Grey wagtail 1
Treecreeper 2

Quite unusual to see Redwings and Fieldfares heading north east at this time of the year. Normally I see them heading south west!

Eccleston Mere


Skylark 50 over SW in two flocks
Grey wagtail 1
Kingfisher 1
Chiffchaff 2

Eccleston Mere

Water rail 1 in SW corner
Teal 3 in wet woodland
Grey wagtail 1
Buzzard 1
Chiffchaff 1
Tufted duck 2

It's hard to know if this is the same water rail as that seen yesterday. The south west corner is a favoured spot for water rail, but yesterdays bird was in the wet woodland. There's a lot of habitat for water rails, and it would be no surprise if there was more than one.

Eccleston Mere

Water rail 1 in wet woodland at the south end
Teal 2 in the wet woodland
Willow tit 1 in hedge by the stream
Tufted duck 6
Kingfisher 1

Glossy Ibis, Horwich

I was working in Manchester today and so took a bit of a detour on the way home to see the Glossy Ibis in Horwich. I don't really do twitches very often but they've been there for almost two weeks now and I knew it was going to be pretty certain that I'd see them. There were quite a few people there with huge lenses, a few birders, and a few locals just coming along to see what all the fuss was about. My photos weren't great because I was looking into the sun but it was great to see such rare, exotic looking birds in such a normal setting. I'm off to Leasowe tomorrow night after work for the Turtle Dove, I might just get into this twitching lark...

 
 
Damian P

Yellow browed warbler in Rainford

30/9/2013 Derby Drive, Rainford 9am
I woke up on Monday morning and went down to the kitchen. I had just put the kettle on when I heard a bird call from the garden although not overly familiar with the species I had a pretty good hunch as to what it was. I grabbed my "garden bins" as a small bird flew from a Leylandii to a large Rowan. It was a Goldcrest. The bird could still be heard as another small bird dropped in, a calling Chiffchaff. Then another Goldcresrt and two more Chiffchaffs. I could still hear the other bird calling and when I lifted my bins to yet another small bird i nearly dropped them. There in the rowan was an absolutely pristine Yellow Browed Warber. Smaller than the accompanying Chiffchaffs and slightly larger, more elongated than a Goldcrest, its long bright supercilium and double wing bars almost glowing. It didn't stay still for long and flitted about  the tree with the other birds. Then panic set in. My camera was still in the car having been to see the Glossy Ibis in Horwich a couple of days before. Suddenly the whole flock flew from the Rowan heading west. I ran to the car, grabbed my camera and spent the next hour hanging out of our bedroom window hoping it would return. I was an hour late for work by this time so had to leave. I shot back at lunchtime and spent another hour hoping for its return but the little sprite didnt come back. So that was it my best garden tick ever and what a cracking little bird. Unsurprisingly I have spent the week grilling every small bird that has come into the garden.

Kings Moss and Bickerstaffe

Large flock of Greenfinches on King's Moss (on Pimbo Lane near Maddocks Farm - look for roadwork type barriers in the field where a pipe is being laid) Saturday afternoon. Feeding on stubble field.
Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipits and Starlings also present. 

A little further afield , New Way Farm , New Way , Bickerstaffe. 15 Curlew feeding in field late afternoon.


From an email from Dave Humphreys







See the GALLERY for more photos





 

Billinge Hill

I went looking for yellow-browed warblers this morning but no luck...
Grey partridge 2
Goldcrest 4
Bullfinch 1(f)
Coal tit 1 (heard)
Nuthatch 1 (heard)
Treecreeper 1
Chiffchaff 2
Tree sparrow 20+
Kestrel 2
Great spotted woodpecker 1
Jay 3
Lots of yellowhammer and meadow pipit and a few skylark from the summit. No redwing or fieldfare yet.
 
Grey Partridge
 
Damian P

Billinge Hill

A quick trip up the patch today produced some interesting results.

Kestrel
Buzzard
Jay x5
Mistle thrush x18 feeding along the road up
Song thrush x2
Bullfinch x3
Great spotted woodpecker juvenile
Willow tit
Yellowhammer x6
Tree sparrow x2
Linnet - just one!?!
Blackcap female

The last sighting was the most pleasing on several fronts. Firstly a blackcap this late in the year could mean that it's a migrant and furthermore that it could be a over-winterer .... But perhaps better than that was the fact that it was feeding on some seed I had placed out earlier. It just goes to show that everyone can do there big to help wildlife in the upcoming tough winter months.

The presence of more than two bullfinch ie a pair plus all those mistle thrush gave it a winter feel today, bring on the red wings and field fares!

Old Coach Road

Had a nice walk around the Old Coach Road with my wife today. It was the first day we've had without the kids for years!

I think I saw a merlin but can't be sure. When I initially saw it with the naked eye I thought it was swift-like in shape. It then started to repeatedly dive-bomb the flocks of meadow pipits and was really nimble in flight. It never came that close for me to get a decent view and I'm not familiar enough to id it from it's jizz. I know I've never seen a kestrel or a sparrowhawk flying like that though. The other possibility is hobby but I'm not familiar enough with that species to id it from jizz either. Is the dive bombing particular to one of these species? I had brief views of another raptor later on that I wasn't immediately familiar with and managed a few more shots - see the gallery.

(I've put a post on the bird forum Id thread about the two raptors... http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?p=2838051#post2838051 )

Peregrine 1 (see bird forum thread)
Pink-footed geese around 400 in separate skeins
Curlew 7 in the grass field to the West of the Old Coach Road
15+ skylark
30+ meadow pipit
1 swallow

Update - I've taken off the possible merlin. The general consensus on the bird forum thread was a kestrel from the photos. I've never seen one behave like that though!! You learn something every day!

Update 2 - The merlin/kestrel was most likely a hobby!, but I'll never be sure.

Damian P

Eccleston Mere

Teal 1 female
Willow tit 1
Swallow 2
Chiffchaff 2
Kingfisher 2
Black-headed gull 200
Skylark 3 over

Also: 70 Pied Wagtails over Queens Park this evening.


Glossy Ibis, Horwich

Four Glossy ibis today in a field with cows opposite the Bob Smithy pub in Old Chorley road, Horwich, showing exceptionally well in the bright sunlight, and offering great photographic opportunities. More photos on my blog.
 

Twitter @sthelensbirds

Don't forget to add @sthelensbirds on your Twitter accounts for all the latest sightings .... such as the c300 pink-footed geese over Billinge.

We also retweet other local sightings from neighbouring areas. 

Just include @sthelensbirds in your tweet to let us know about your sightings and include the hashtag #sthelens for easy searching too.

Tell your mates too!

Thanks

Peregrine Billinge Hill

We were watching a flock of woodpigeon from the summit when Paul saw a bird land on a distant pylon. He thought it may be a peregrine (I hadn't seen it land and thought it was a woodpigeon through my bins when it was perched!) so I took a photo and saw this when I zoomed in...




Peregrine 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Kestrel 1
Willow Tit 1
Bullfinch 1(f)
Blackcap 2 (f)
Chiffchaff 7+
Swallow 20+

Also yellowhammer, pied wagtails, skylark, meadow pipit, tree sparrow all present.
Damian P

Billinge Hill Area

I did a big lap of Billinge Hill this morning starting at Crookhurst Farm and then walking to the summit and across to Crank Road, over to the pine copse, down past Promised Land Farm and Billinge Hall, and then back via Red Barn Road. I didn't see that much considering how far I walked!

Wheatear 1f in the horse paddocks
Skylark10+   in the stubble fields opposite the horse paddocks
Tree Sparrow 35+  30+ in a hedge near to Beacon Farm and 5 on the feeders at Red Barn Farm
Meadow pipit + yellowhammer in small numbers

Female Wheatear

Meadow Pipit
 Damian P

Havannah Flash

Swallows 20
Buzzards 6
Kestrel 1
Canada goose 30 flying over
Grey heron 1

OLD COACH ROAD / DAIRY FARM ROAD

600-700 pink footed geese at 6:30pm
60 swallows
1 barn owl at 8pm
3 kestrel
1 buzzard
2 brown hares

New Brighton - it's that time of year again.

They're back - Leach's storm petrels on the north Wirral coast. There'll be even more tomorrow morning..... 
 

More on my blog.

Black-necked grebe @ Carr Mill Dam

Thanks to info from Dave Owen and Colin McCooey (see his great Flickr feed http://www.flickr.com/photos/94251136@N06/ ) I was able to get there to photograph this wonderful juvenile black-necked grebe.

Also, present was this wigeon which is ringed ... cant quite make out the numbers but hopefully somebody can.  They are quite scarce at the dam so I was pleased to find it feeding and resting amongst the canada geese.

Other birds of note included grey wagtail, kingfisher and a lone great black-backed gull looking quite menacing!

With these winds who knows what will turn up next .....?

Carr Mill Dam

Black-necked grebe between yacht club and Goyt Valley, at far end of Sandy Bay with Coots.

Thanks to Dave for the info.



Eccleston Mere

Willow tit 1
Blackcap 1 male
Chiffchaff a few including 1 singing
Great spotted woodpecker 2
Kingfisher 2
Mute swan 1 adult
Tufted duck 4

No sign of yesterdays spotted flycatchers this morning.

Spotted Flycatchers at Eccleston Mere

The spotted flycatcher was feeding in the dead wood on the south side of Eccleston Mere. It was still present when I left and Colin saw it again at 9.45. The kingfisher were very active also this morning. I had six separate sightings but I'm not sure how many of these were the same birds, two juveniles were together in the bushes at the end of the stream on the south side.

Update - Spotted Flycatcher still present in wood next to stream 1.05pm as per Colin D.

Update 2 - Spotted flycatcher still present at 1.30pm. It's doing a circuit of the trees high up. Walk down the stream for about 30 m until the wood on your right ends, then look in the wood. About every 10 minutes it was returning to the tops of the tall dead tree - Colin

Update 3 - It's moved to the South West corner still present when I left at 4.00 p.m
The latest photos with the spots makes it look like a juvenile and one from earlier looks like an adult. I think there might have been at least two of them. - Damian

Spotted Flycatcher 2
Kingfisher 2+
Willow Tit 1 heard (seen later on)
Goldcrest 2
Nuthatch 1
GS Woodpecker 2
Blackcap 1 male
Treecreeper 1
Mute Swan 1
Tufted Duck 2
Buzzard 1
Lots of willow warbler/chiffchaff including 1 singing chiffchaff

Juvenile Spotted Flycatcher

Adult Spotted Flycatcher







 
Damian P

Eccleston Mere

Gadwall 2 (male and female)
Kingfisher 1
Tufted Duck 5
Swallow 10
Chiffchaff 1 singing
Willow Warbler 1 singing feebly

A misty, murky start to the day at the mere. No sign of the mystery aythya but could easily still be present.

Eccleston Mere

There's an odd looking aythya duck on the mere at the moment. More photos and a description on my blog. If anybody has an opinion on this I'd be pleased to hear it.
 
Also today Kingfisher and about 30 Swallow.
 
 

Eccleston Mere

Black Tern present 10am, but no sign after initial sighting. Thanks to Dot for the info.

This evening, two eclipse Mandarins, 6 Tufted Ducks, Kingfisher and Buzzard.

At least things are moving now!



Eccleston Mere

Yellow-legged Gull 1 adult
Lesser black-backed Gull 30 adults
Kingfisher 1
Mute Swan 1 adult
Buzzard 1
Jackdaw 200

Hen Harrier Old Garswood Road

Ringtail Hen Harrier seen over fields from Old Garswood Road, near Carr Mill Dam yesterday evening at 6pm. Also large numbers of finches and sparrows, as well as lots of willow warblers and tits. Thanks to John for the info.

Eccleston Mere

Kingfisher 3
Swallow 30
House Martin 10
Tufted Duck 4
Jackdaw 200
Mute Swan 1 adult
Buzzard 1

Plenty of activity from the Kingfishers at the moment, with the adults feeding young. The Jackdaw roost is quite impressive as well, but I'm desperate for something new to turn up, I've been watching most of these birds for two months now!

Eccleston Mere

Little Grebe 1 juv.
Tufted Duck 5
Nuthatch 1
Mute Swan 1 adult
Kingfisher 1
House Martin 20
Swallow 10

Just like buses .....

Promised Land Farm
The highlight for me was finding my second Spotted Flycatcher in a week, when I hadnt previously seen one in St Helens!
2 Little Owl
Sparrowhawk
Kestrel
Buzzard
Chiffchaff

Red Barn Lane
Whitethroat
Yellow Wagtail
12 Greenfinch
5 Yellowhammer
8 partridge (bad light at distance so no species given)
Lots of swallows including recently fledged young

Larch Close, Billinge
Song Thrush
5 Common Buzzard over (inc 1 very pale morph bird)

I was particularly pleased with the song thrush in my garden as these bird are red-listed having declined alarmingly and (almost) unexplainably in the last 30 years.

Peek-a-boo and Mystery Guest

There are a few broken down buildings around the north and west side of Billinge which always mean that there is good chance of catching up with an owl or two given the amount of good hunting habitat.

I started with a quick view of the Barn Owl nest at Fir Tree Farm on a TV screen in the barn.  Happy to report their are 3 healthy looking chicks and 1 much smaller .... will it survive its siblings attentions and competition for food???

But I have been meaning to catch up with the fella  in the photo for some time however and despite the cloudy, grey conditions he played a game of hide and seek with me!  I think I won as the phot below shows but I'll let you judge ......

A few minutes later co-incidentally I met a man who worked the farm for a long time and he said these Little Owls and their offspring have been present for about 40 years!  Here's to another 40 years of occupation

After catching up with a few of the other locals (kestrel, buzzard, yellowhammer)  I made my way to the small Scots Pine copse to chance my arm for a few crossbills .... and maybe even a two-barred crossbill.  No luck with those but I was happy to see the coal tits and goldcrests

However, I was nicley surprised to see a Grey Wagtail feeding around a small muddy pond in the copse with a few chaffinches.  Then my attention was drawn to the hedge by a familiar "churp" which turned out to be a 40 strong flock of Tree Sparrows which were feeding on spilt grain along the path, including many young ones

Despite several promising breaks in the cloud the weather was doing its best to keep birds sheltered as the relative hive of activity of a couple of days ago - Red Barn Lane was surprisingly quiet.  A dozen or so pied wagtails flitted about on the golf course but there was no sign of any yellow wagtails as in recent days.

At least a few swallows are still feeding young in the stables but the berry laden bramble and elder were deserted.

For some reason my attention was drawn to scan the fencelines and fields perhaps in the hope of a wheatear or two when this caught my attention ....


And on the back of the camera it looked worse but by watching it go back and forth to a regular perch I deduced that this could be interesting so I crept a little closer and closer and closer until i could take this ...


A lovely fresh looking Whinchat .... just goes to prove if you get out there and have a good old rummage you'll find something worth writing about :)

Newton Lake

Thursday, Newton Lake, 1 Common Sandpiper, 110 Canada Geese, 3 ad. 1juv Little Grebe.

Canada geese

On Havannah flash at 6am this morning and watched a large skein of Canada geese approaching from the direction of Fiddlers ferry power station, as they came overhead they split into two groups one headed towards Newton and the other towards St. Helens. I wondered if these geese are the one,s which are  on Newton lake and the Retail park in St. Helens , making this journey every morning? over the past few days I have seen Canada geese flying over The Flash in different directions.

Billinge Hill

Myself and Paul Brady went on a long walk around Billinge this morning. We started at the hill and then walked across Crank Road then down the public footpath that runs along Promised Land Farm. We then walked through the woods at Fir Tree Farm and back across Crank Road to Red Barn Road and then back up to Billinge Hill again. The highlights were the spotted flycatcher which was feeding from the wires near to the summit of Billinge Hill, the yellow wagtail which was behind one of the houses on Red Barn Road, and the wheatear which was in the horse paddocks south of Billinge Hill. The majority of the warblers were either near to the summit of Billinge hill or near to the disused building on Red Barn Road. There was lots of bird activity at the hill this morning.

Spotted Flycatcher 1
Yellow Wagtail 1 (juv)
Wheatear 1
Willow tit 3
Tree sparrow 25 (a single flock along Red Barn Road)
Blackcap 4
Willow Warbler 5
Chiffchaff 5 (2 singing)
Whitethroat 6
Coal tit 2
Goldcrest 2
Grey Partridge 2
Meadow pipit 1
Grey wagtail 1
Yellowhammer many
Linnet 2
Kestrel 1
Buzzard 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Lots of swallows and 1 house martin



Damian P


France Holiday

I've just got back from a two week holiday in Brittany with the family. We had a fantastic time and will definitely be going back to France again next year. I didn't really do much birding but managed to see at least three new species - marsh tit, green woodpecker, and manx shearwater. I may have seen a sooty shearwater as well but am not sure...

 
Here's the manx shearwater...(or is this a Balearic??)
 

 
 
There were also lots of butterflies and moths about including this beautiful swallowtail which I haven't seen before...
 
I'm not sure what these are..

 
We went to the Sept Iles nature reserve on a boat trip one day, the gannet colony there is amazing.
 
Other birds of note were this stonechat which was happy to pose for me near Ploumanac'h,
 
and this spotted flycatcher which was at Tregamere Zoo. Weirdly, the only two spotted flycatchers I've ever seen have been at zoos!
 
Damian P