Sunday, 24 February 2013


North Wales revisited.............started day at Flint Castle, flock of birds on salt marsh, flew up onto castle walls. Good views thru scope.....54 twite.

Next stop Kimnel Bay.......walked along towards viewing platform, met ringing group who had just cannon netted over 100 sanderlings and ringed plover.Spent some time watching ringing, weighing then on about 100yds to see snow buntings, 9 birds on beach, only 20yds away at one stage.

Llandulas.............much too choppy to pick anything unusual out of scoter flock offshore, 1 red throated diver and lots of great crested grebes.

Time for coffee and cake at Conway sign of firecrest.

Llanbedr sign of hawfinch. sign of hawfinch.
2 red kite, 2 raven, 1 peregrine, Conway valley.

Last stop......sewage works at Morfa Madryn.   First bird as soon as I got out of car.....a crest.....but just a goldcrest. Also treecreeper, long tailed tit and great spotted woodpecker. Then more goldcrests, and then low in hedge right next to gates to sewage works.......a stunner........a FIRECREST......a lifer for me and what a great little bird. Really bright compared to goldcrests which were feeding with it. Big white eye stripe and very bright on shoulders, possibly a male. Even managed to get a picture, but as you can see, not great, but it was quite gloomy and the firecrest was very mobile. Watched it for about 15 min, came as close as 10 yds.


Saturday, 23 February 2013


Hawfinch at Sizergh 2012 -Phil Tomkinson
There you  go Sean, wonder if he's still there? (Taken by Birder Phil last year, very large camera!)                                       Laura

Sat 23rd Feb..........popped into Moore LNR today,  12.00-01.30pm.     Great views of male lesser spotted woodpecker, watched for 15 min, calling and drumming, still present when I left, chased by great spotted at one stage.

Last Sun 17th Feb...........Went up to Sizergh. Really good view of Hawfinch in car park, had to wait for an hour, 8.30-9.30am,  lots of other birders waiting too, well worth the wait, what a massive finch.

Then went to Marton mere on way home, wandered round mere, not having a clue where to look until bumped into local birders who showed me long eared owl. Even when looking thru scope from 30 yds away very difficult to see, then it turned its head, big ear tufts and even opened big orange eyes.

Sean.         ( will have to get some photos! )  good winter birding.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Know a Farmer? or just love tractors!

The RSPB has this week launched its annual search to find the UK s most wildlife-friendly farmer.

The Nature of Farming Award celebrates farmers who work hardest to help threatened countryside wildlife, such as skylarks, brown hares, bees, butterflies and plants.
It's run by the RSPB, supported by Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife, and sponsored by The Telegraph. 

Last years winner, Henry Edmunds, narrowly saw off the three other fantastic finalists with his organic farm in Wiltshire, which hosts an array of rare birds, bumblebees, moths and butterflies. 

Applications for this year s award will be accepted until the 18 April. There is always a high volume of entries with numbers increasing year on year and the charity hopes this year will be its best yet.

After the closing date, judges will select eight regional winners, and then a panel of experts will decide which four should go through to the national finals.  There will also be a highly commended category, to recognise the efforts of farmers who have excelled in their support of farmland wildlife.

When the competition reaches its final stage, control will shift to the UK public, as they decide the overall winner.  People can cast their votes online, over the phone, via The Telegraph, or at country shows
throughout the summer.

RSPB Head of Conservation Management and one of this year s judges, Nick Droy, said:  More and more farmers are recognising that running a profitable farm business and helping wildlife on your land can go hand
in hand.The RSPB provides advice to help farmers do their bit for nature on their farm and we'll support them every step of the way, but ultimately, its them and their local communities that do the hard work. They're the real heroes.

The recent EU Budget deal dealt a terrible hand to Europes wildlife, with potentially huge cuts to wildlife friendly farming schemes. But there is hope for the UK, a country which has led the way in investing
in this field. If Owen Paterson shows leadership and uses his powers wisely to ensure that as much funding as possible will go towards those farmers and land managers who provide the greatest benefits for wildlife and the countryside, then all will not be lost.

In excess of 30,000 RSPB supporters lobbied David Cameron to vote for Nature at the European Budget meeting by voting for a favourable outcome for wildlife. We hope the Prime Minister and his Environment
Secretary have taken notice of this.

This year s judging panel:
Nick Droy - RSPB Head of Conservation Management Advice
Martin Warren   Butterfly Conservation Chief Executive
Victoria Chester   Plantlife Chief Executive
Fergus Collins   Countryfile Magazine

All the details on how to enter can be found on the RSPB website at

The competition is run by the RSPB, supported by Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife, and sponsored by The Telegraph.

The EU LIFE+ Programme funds RSPB work which supports wildlife-friendly farming that furthers sustainable development.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Wet Wanderings in Wales

On the Promenade

Group trip to Llanfairfechan, Sunday February 10th

Despite the most unpromising of weather forecasts, a dozen group members met up on the promenade at Llanfairfechan, overlooking the tip of Anglesey and Puffin Island. And the day started extremely well, with a dipper seen bobbing in the fast-flowing stream beside the car park,  even before we’d all finished assembling !
Red Breasted Merganser 

From the promenade we could see several red-throated divers in the middle distance, with great crested grebes nearer in, as well a red-breasted merganser sitting on the lake right behind the visitor shelter. There were also considerable numbers of oyster catchers flying west in front of us, so in due course we headed into the wind and rain and followed them along the shoreline towards Morfa Madryn reserve. This combines freshwater pools and wet grassland, favoured by lapwings in particular, with saltmarsh and shallow estuarial waters. Having arrived at high tide, we were rewarded by the sight of a great mass of oystercatchers huddled along the shingle spit curving across the bay in front of the (very welcome) hide, together with smaller numbers of bar-tailed godwits, dunlin and redshank. As the waters began to recede the dunlins in particular became very busy, dashing around to find the best feeding, and were joined by a few ringed plovers, as well as the larger waders.
Plovers & Dunlin   (N Prendergast)
Oystercatchers away

It was time to move on, so we headed back to the promenade, via a short detour to the sewage works, situated in a small wood nearby. Several pied wagtails and one grey were seen, as well as a meadow pipit, making the most of the insect life around the settling tanks.  Then we drove a short distance further west to visit The Spinnies at Aberogwen, described as a coastal lagoon, with reedbeds and woodland surrounds, and another view on to the great bay of Traeth Lafan. 
Little Egrets (N Prendergast)

The  lagoon hosted mallard, wigeon, teal and a little grebe, as well as two little egrets, hunched up on the shoreline, though we were not fortunate enough to catch sight of the local kingfishers.
The second hide on the reserve gives views on to the shore as well as inland, and from there we spotted a greenshank, showing well in contrast to the smaller darker redshank, as well as one egret busy hunting in a muddy creek.
Greenfinch  (N Prendergast) 

Incoming Robin  ( N Prendergast)

Then it was back along the beach, passing a rock pipit along the way, and on to Conwy for a quick check on the RSPB reserve and a welcome cup of tea.  A small flock of pochard looked very striking in the fading light, and we almost spotted the firecrest, known to flit among the trees ..... But there were siskin and redpoll, and we certainly did find our final target for the day, which was the scoter, a seaduck which winters in the area. Chris confidently led us to the shore at Llanddulas, and sure enough there in front of us was a huge flock of scoters, looking almost like a floating mass of seaweed until they briefly lifted off the water.
Along the Beach

All in all, everyone agreed it had been an excellent winter outing, with a final total of 57 species seen.

Anne Pope

Saturday, 9 February 2013

National Nest Box Week

Fancy & Fernando raised 7 chicks in 2009

Welcome to National Nest Box Week

If you've never built a nest box before, why not give it a go this year? Or if you haven't got the time, it's easy to buy a good one. Go on, take part for Britain's birds!National Nest Box Week is great for birds. Starting on St Valentine's Day, it's the time we remind ourselves to provide homes for dozens of species, from Blue Tits to Barn Owls.

NNBW aims to:

Encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife.

The natural nest sites on which many of our bird species depend, such as holes in trees and buildings, are fast disappearing as gardens and woods are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired. Since National Nest Box Week was launched in 1997, thousands of enthusiastic naturalists across the UK have put up boxes to compensate for this loss. It is estimated that there are now 5-6 million boxes in gardens across the UK.

NNBW is organised each year by the British Trust for Ornithology

Baby Great Tits, ready to fledge


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Marbury Country Park

Marbury Country Park 

Went to Marbury Park nr Northwich this morning .... it started out fairly mild and calm .... I was amazed to see dozens of small birds on the feeders a lot more that at Moore Nature Reserve.. I stayed until about 14:30hrs as by that time I was quite cold and my feet were freezing. Brrrr!  Although I was in the hide and was dry ... it was persistently raining  ... funny as the small birds were flying through the viewing slots and out through the back of the open hide ... Plenty to see but still no Bitterns .....  Grrrrrrrr! Thought that it be easier to see, as the weight of the starlings had flattened the reeds down. I was informed that there was three Bitterns there ... invisible ones if you ask me ;-)

 Lollipop - Long tailed tit


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Spring is on its way

Juvenile Cuckoo Parkgate 2008

Spring may be a little way off but with the BTO's exciting satellite-tagging project we can see it coming - literally! David the Cuckoo has decided the time is right to head north. After a silence of 10 days, new locations reveal that he had travelled 980km (608 miles) and is now in the Central African Republic. He is the first of the BTO's tagged Cuckoos to start the journey back.  Stay tuned to the blogs for more news or become a Cuckoo Sponsor to receive updates by email.


Friday, 1 February 2013

I could have stayed at home

I missed a trip out today to Burton Mere Wetlands with Tomo, another appointment in the morning sunk that idea. Must catch up with the Egrets, Merlin's, Harriers,Spotted Redshank, Bramblings and Water Rail soon. 
Dinner time with the weather closing in, saw me making a mad dash for New Brighton. Rob had reported a large flock of mixed waders on the pontoon -  "1 Ruff, 18 Purple Sandpiper, 310 Turnstone, 130 Dunlin and 1,200 Redshank on the pontoon at New Brighton pontoon. Can't have been much room left!"
We'd caught up with the purple Sandpipers at Christmas on a Local Group walk. Me thinks another looksy would be nice. 
I didn't count them but it was busy.

Mixed Waders, New Brighton Pontoon 01/02/13

A didn't linger, not even for cake & coffee, a thought  had entered my head..  A snap decision and I  was heading for Hoylake and the Kings Gap. (I'd missed the high tide wader watch  a few weeks before, had sulked a bit after hearing about the masses of swirling flicks, on the the tide line)  Fortunately I was in luck the tide appeared to be on its way out but there were plenty of birds on the shore. Small flocks of Dunlin went through toward Hilbre, and parked up along the shore further along  sadly, too far for my bins alas. But I was compensated by plenty of Oycs, Redshank, Curlew and  mixed Gulls, including some massive Gt Blacks.  Managed to get reasonably close to those sitting on the tide line by the life boat station. 
Shelduck! and his mates

Ten minutes later I was running to the car, I was soaked  and I'd only been out an hour and half,  but I was glad I went.