Sunday, 20 January 2008

Water, Water, everywhere...

It's my first chance to get the new years list started.
Fiddlers ferry, Penketh, SJ5786. A new site for me. Gulls are the quarry today, and and our gull identification has to be up to scratch. The weather isn't kind here, with only a few minutes of dry weather in the time we was there. Farsands of gulls are on an exposed sandbank of all kinds. Our first sweep turns up nothing special. Start again, more consentration needed. Alan spots the first special gull. Iceland gull. This largest, all white gull, stands out like a sore thumb the second time. It's size equals a Herring gull. While looking for the larger version of the Iceland gull (Glaucous Gull). I challenge Alan to change my positive ID of a Ring billed gull. Alan who has seen farsands of these, looks stunned, and says 'That is a Ringed Billed Gull'. ( I knew it was), not what was recorded here. I try taking some record shots, but the weather is against me, and they turnout rubbish. We get six species of gulls, and a soaking, and we head for a reserve with some hides.
Pennington Flash, SJ6499, It's like summer here. Dry, and several coats warmer than Fiddlers, also theres a lot of water about. We decide to have breakfast in the worlds best hide, (Bunting hide). My jaw drops as the floor that is usually flooded in finches and buntings, is just that..Flooded! and a couple of Mute Swans are swimming around feeding on the grain. You just don't prepare yourself for a couple of Swans at a feeding station for Bunts and finches - Weird.
The golf course has has been closed through surface water for 11 days now, and with the forcast of 7 more days of rain, the feeding station may attract Sea ducks.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

"And so..the end is here.."

So with the Christmass visitings out of the way, It's time to get back to the matter at hand. The list is balanced at 87.
28th Dec. - I have been cursing the break for a week now, not being able to follow up a report of a bird that I have only ever seen once before, 15 years ago, yet every year I spend about 100 hours trying to see one. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker! at Fairburn Ings (only the 2nd ever), has been seen every day now for a week. I am off, first chance I am allowed. 30 minutes there, and I have it. About a thousand hours of missing this the smallest 'pecker, have been forgotten. My bird of the year?, Nah, Decade?, millenium? more like. Also on the reserve, a bird I have had 2 trips to see this year, Water Pipit - got it.
Pugney's Country park - has a funny Pochard I need. Red Crested Pochard (I am not taking bread, and not listening to locals about it's origin, these are scratching times.) - Tick.
3 from 3 ticks in one day, nice.
29th Dec. - I am out with my mate Alan. I can't resist another peek at the Lesser 'pecker, so we call in, tick it, and relive our own personal failures about this species, many times Alan was with for a whole day hoping to see one.
Tophill Low Res. Two drake Smew, Great Northern Diver, 3 Greenland White-Fronted Geese, can't believe my luck. tick, tick.
30th Dec - Too much to do, so It's time to cleanup local birds only - Alan and me set off in the fog to the Pennines a couple of miles away. it's touch and go If we see anything. A brew and wait for the fog to burn off. 2 Twite appear from nowhere, but now Snow Bunting (this years bogey bird). Try another spot. While we have another brew, I spot a Peregrine, Raven, And about 20 Twite, alas no Snow Bunt. Thats' two more Ticks.
31th Dec. - Watergrove. Woodcock, very elusive, and that's how it stays for this year, elusive. The towel hits the ground - 192 So close.