Saturday, 31 March 2007

Derbyshire delights.

It is located only 45 miles from Rochdale, but it never fails to remind me of Eastern European landscapes. Howden reservoir, situated at the northern end of Ladybower reservoir, just off A57 (snake pass), Manchester – Sheffield, offers fantastic views of part of the famous Derbyshire peak district. Howden reservoir is famous for two reasons: 1 – this was where the great war time film ‘The Dambusters’ was filmed, where Lancaster bombers drop Barnes Wallaces’ bouncing bomb onto the water surface towards destroying the dam. 2 – Goshawks. This Buzzard sized Sparrowhawk, in the right time and place, can give viewers fantastic Ariel displays to the fortunate. From the visitors center take the long road to windy corner and look over towards Cold side oaks. This spot is called by the locals as,’Windy corner’, very apt. The peak times to view them here are mid March to mid April. In the past, I have had great success from 11am to 1pm. Also there is good chance of Peregrine falcon putting in a appearence. Lower down from Howden, the visitors center offfers you few species on the bird feeders.

New to the list Red Grouse and Siskin.

Total 94.

Monday, 19 March 2007

“It may be winter outside…but in my heart it’s spring”

To beat this weekends foul weather coming from the North. I headed East, too mop up on some long staying birds.
First stop. Pule Hill, Halifax. This hill, overlooking Halifax town itself, was favoured by a single Shorelark. A bird that is more typically found on the shores of the East coast, seems to have overshot it’s landing grounds by 70 miles. I struggled to stand upright, in a real “hooli” of a gale. After about an hour, I was fortunate to find the bird. But the wind did not allow for any photos.
Second stop: Fairburn Ings RSPB Castleford. For a few weeks now, a pair of Long Eared Owls, had taken up residency in evergreens. Once pointed out, a single bird was easy to spot. Other birds of note where good numbers of Tree Sparrows at the feeding station. With the Owl found quickly, it’s of to the next stop.
Budwith, Nr Selby. Part of the extensive Lower Derwent Valley floodplain. Two male American Wigeon, had made friends among a few hundred European Wigeon. Their notable size and plumage differences made this another spot in no time, but too distant for photies. So with the “Yanks” in the book, A short trip to:
Blacktoft sands RSPB, Ousefleet. Part of the exciting complex of habitats around the Humber estuary. The tidal reedbed is the largest in England and is important for its breeding Bearded Tits, Marsh Harriers and Bittern. It was here that I once choose to volunteer to spend a ‘Birthday week’, pulling up weeds, digging dirt, and guiding visitors around the reserve for NO PAY, just feeding my soul, with the knowledge that I have contributed to the future of both existing and visiting birds. The reserve is waiting for the start of the ‘wader season’ to begin. Single, Avocet (RSPB logo), and Spotted Redshank, where the only specialists on show. Above the extensive reed beds, 3 ‘lezzer’ female Marsh Harriers, practiced ariel maneuvers! with each other, in readiness, should, a male show up. An excellent day, in atrocious wind.
Additions to the list included: Avocet, Snipe, Spotted Redshank, Shorelark, Long-Eared Owl, Linnet.
Year Total: 92

Monday, 12 March 2007

One Swallow, doesn't make a summer..

The first migrants from Africa slowly trickled into Manchester, with news of a very rare bird called a Desert Wheatear. The bird had found itself way off course, in a field, in that magnet (NOT), for all rare birds called Irlam. When I arrived, I was greated by a few hundred twitchers, all with faces like slapped-arses. The bird didn't like Irlam too much, and flown away. Ah-well!. I carried on my trip to Marbury C.P. in hope of catching a glimpse of the much sort after Woodpecker. Alas no. But got some more pictures of the locals.

Migration News: The first Swallow has arrived.

This week, we should see Sand Martins, Chiffchaffs, and Common Wheatears, making a welcome return, with a chance of something rare turning up. The spring migration has begun.

Years total: 85 - New additions: Green Woodpecker & Skylark.

Monday, 5 March 2007

"Love is in the air.."

March for me, means one thing. For the last eight years, I have making 3 trips to Marbury country park, Cheshire to see Britain's smallest Woodpecker - I have still yet to see them. Whilst waiting for a sighting, or even sounding of this very elusive bird, there are plenty of opportunities to photograph the other inhabitants of the wood. This weekend, you could not help but notice that most of the birds where beginning courtships. On the lake, many Grebes where starting their must see, fantastic courtship rituals with there intended. Kingfishers where flying around in groups, using the bright sunshine to reflect the electric colouring of the feathers to attract partners. Overhead, seven Buzzards danced on the air, with the same hope. The aggressive Robins spent most of the time chasing each other. A fabulous day spent with nature.
New species to the list: Water Rail, Raven, Little Grebe.
Year Total 83.