Showing posts from August, 2010

A Day for Raptor Watching

With high pressure in charge of the weather it seemed that today would be a good day for the possibility of raptors passing through our area. I headed down to Rishton Reservoir to find three adult Common Gulls in amongst the Black-headed's - the first of the autumn. There was also a juvenile Greater Black-back, single juvenile Herring and several juvenile Lesser-black backs.

A Sparrowhawk flew low over the water and started to hunt Pied Wagtails (of which there were about ten today) with no success. Soon it was joined by another and they circled up over the wood and away.

A couple of Sand Martins were present but the Linnet flock was down to eight. Four Grey wagtails were on the reservoir or by the farm and a Blackcap chacked from the hedge.
Back home, I spent some time in the garden in the vain hope that a bop may pass overhead - I've had three Ospreys from my back garden in the past, so there was some form. As I had my elevenses, the Swallows started to alarm and so I thought …

Rishton 30th Aug

The reservoir is still low after all the rain we've had. There weren't many changes to yesterday's avifauna. More Pied Wagtails though, up to 14, as well as a few Meadow Pipits on the shore and overhead. The odd Grey Wagtail is regular now as is a Raven in the fields beyond the reservoir.
A single Common Sandpiper was in the far corner with three Lapwings but that was about it. Cut Wood was a little more interesting with quite a selection of bird song. The Robins had decided to start singing or tacking as perhaps some non-residents passed through. Coal Tits were singing and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling away.
Back home a Willow Warbler gave a brief snatch of song and we've had several juvenile Goldfinches on the feeders along with a few more Greenfinches and Chaffinches.

Ah well, back to the bird report.

Rishton Res 29 Aug

Once the driving rain ceased this-morning, I headed out to the reservoir to see what had dropped in. The wind was blowing strongly with gale force gusts so getting settled in a semi-sheltered spot was slightly problematical.

Three Great Crested Grebes bobbed in the middle of the reservoir and a couple of Teal dabbled in a sheltered spot close to the railway track. There were a few Canada Geese present but within half an hour several parties arrived - probably pushed off other feeding areas in the vicinity. A total of 303 Canada's and a single Greylag were on the far bank by the time I left.

The flock of Linnets that's been present for a few days still numbered around 25 but the number of Pied Wagtails had reduced from a peak of 16 to six. There were no signs of any waders at all but a few juvenile Herring gulls had joined the juvenile Lesser Black-backs as well as a single Greater Black-back. Numbers of Black-headed Gulls was down but they could have been dispersed around the …

Lancashire Bird Report

Steve White has nearly finished his editing work and I've started to put the photo-sections of the 2009 Lancashire Bird Report together. The front cover will feature the Velvet Scoter that stayed a few days at Barrow Lodge towards the end of last year (and also featured in BB photograph of the year competition).
With a bit of luck and a following wind, we should get the report out to members of the Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Society in early October.
Things are generally quiet on the bird front locally. Garden feeders are busy and Swallows and House Martins are busy feeding broods of chicks nearby. I keep scanning the flock of Black-headed Gulls that frequents the fields on the opposite side of the canal but still no Med's just yet.

I see no ships - or birds for that matter

Having spent the last couple of days in Cumbria helping Paul with his open garden (at which a very commendable £1800 was raised for charity), the sound of the wind and rain lashing at the bedroom window called me out of bed and into the stormy weather that was battering Lancashire this-morning. I decided to resist the temptation on the east coast and combine a trip to the Lancashire coast with a visit to mum in Ainsdale and to fix her computer problems!

I called in at Rishton Reservoir en-route - the rain was almost horizontal from a westerly direction and there's no shelter at all out there when the wind is in that direction - good preparation for the Sefton coast later. A minimum of 280 Black-headed Gulls took shelter on the far bank whilst a single Common Sandpiper and Grey Wagtail fed along the near shore. Several Swallows hunted low over the water and a few Sand Martins joined them briefly.

I decided to find a place near my old sea-watching haunt of Freshfield Dunes when I re…

Ring-billed Gull at Longridge

With regular flurries of showers, I've been visiting the Reservoir regularly. The two Dunlin have surprisingly stayed around and on Tuesday there was a Redshank in the far corner. However the last couple of days have drawn blanks for Little Ringed Plovers so I guess they've finally moved on. A couple of Common Sandpipers are still very active and the expanse of mud must surely attract something in soon but today there was just a single Dunlin.

Meanwhile, at Alston Reservoirs at Longridge, Gavin Thomas had noted a Ring-billed Gull at the roost on Monday and Tuesday evening so Bernie and I headed there on spec last night and arrived just as the message came out that it was there. Sitting on the Reservoir wall (us and the bird) we got some reasonable scope views as it sat rather forlornly in amongst hordes of Black-headed Gulls and a few Lesser Black-backs. The ring on the bill was not entirely obvious as it was covered in dried mud but everything else was good. A couple of ropey…

One good tern deserves another

I started yesterday morning at Rishton Reservoir where the two Dunlin were still present as well as an adult and three juvenile Little Ringed Plovers. There were also three Common Sandpipers but only one Great Crested Grebe.

Having said that I felt it would be a good time to visit the north-east, I got a text from John Wright suggesting a trip over for the Syke's Warbler at Druridge Bay. The alternative was to start work on a path over the front garden so the decision was a no-brainer. Having picked up Tim and Janet Davie en route, John made good time up to the site  - the sun came out just as we approached the assembled masses around 1pm and the bird obligingly sat on top of a bush before decamping to another a little further away. We spent the next hour or so enjoying sporadic views of the bird initially but then some much better views of this pale 'hippo' as it moved to a stand of dog rose rather than Hawthorn.

It's 34 years since I saw my first Booted Warbler on Fa…

The waders came in two by two. Hurrah, hurrah!

At last, some good waders on Rishton Reservoir this morning. I was just about to step out of the door when I got the message that Steve Grimshaw had got a few waders at Rishton Reservoir this morning and five minutes later I was enjoying the sight and sound of a couple of Greenshanks on the far bank. I could hear them calling as I came out of Cut Wood. There were fishermen on the Reservoir but they had all stayed at the dam end and so left the lovely expanse on mud and sand undisturbed. This was in stark contrast to Wednesday when there were just 141 Canada Geese on the field and very little else due to disturbance - I guess the local LRP's were keeping a low profile.
Anyway, not only were there these two fantastic birds but a couple of juvenile Little Ringed Plovers (probably the local birds), two Ringed Plovers and two Dunlin were also feeding actively on the far shoreline. A single Common Sandpiper spoilt the run of doubles and then seven Lapwing came in just before the Greensha…

Home again

The weather improved for our last couple of days in Normandy so we fitted in a walk around the forest at St Sever and a visit to the coast at Bec D'Andaine overlooking the bay of Mont St Michel.

The forest walk was predictably quiet with several tit flocks (Blue/Great/Marsh/Crested/Long-tailed) and a few Great Spotted Woodpeckers. I heard a party of Crossbills fly over and Bernie saw Short-toed Treecreeper. Spotted Flycatchers were dotted around the place and the walk was rounded off with a splendid Silver-washed Fritillary.

We got to the beach at Bec d'Andaine at high tide but the height of the tide was nothing to write home about and the waders were rather distant. There were several Dunlin and Ringed Plovers closer but no Kentish (they breed in the area). A couple of Curlews and a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits were on the shoreline.

The journey home was livened up by a Honey-buzzard over the road beyond Caen and a Red Kite near Grantham. (I forgot to mention the Hobby…

Lac du Gast

About 12km from where we’re staying is the Foret Dominale de St Sever, a large forested area that would be excellent in spring and early summer (times of the year we’ve not visited yet). Towards the southern end is a reservoir, Lac du Gast that I tend to visit a couple of times.
Today’s visit had all the usual suspects around – there are several pairs of Great Crested Grebes, lots of Coot and Mallard as well as a few Grey Herons and Cormorants. I was delighted when a Honey Buzzard took flight and circled up before heading away north.
I came across a mixed Tit flock in the woods Blue/Great/Marsh and then the distinctive bubbling call of Crested Tits. I’ve seen the latter at the cottage on one occasion. Also in the flock were Nuthatches, Short-toed Treecreepers and Great spotted Woodpeckers. I’m sure there must be Middle-spotted here, I’ve seen then a few miles south of here but really the time if year is important for them and Black Woodpecker.

Cotentin Marshes

Today I did my first bit of semi-proper birding, paying a visit to the Beauguillot reserve near Utah Beach first before a brief visit to the Ponts d’Ouve area.
The path to the beach on the edge of Veys Bay is flanked by a tall elder hedge on one side that was heaving with berries and consequently lots of Blackcaps and Blackbirds. Even the elusive Robins were a little more showy here. There are a couple of hides under the hedge that look out over a marshy area where we had Common and Green Sandpipers, around 40 Little Egrets, Several Herons and Cormorants, a family of Little Grebes and a few flava Wagtails. A Marsh Harrier floew over here – I’ve seen Montagu’s here before but not today.
On the other side of the path is and area of reclaimed marsh where I’ve heard Quail on previous visits. Today we were treated to an adult Hobby as well as several Reed and Sedge Warblers that inhabited the reed-lined ditch along the path.
At the end of the track, two Zitting Cisticolas were tsipping around…

Iles Chausey

It’s taken us a while but eventually we got ourselves organised to take the trip to the Iles des Chausey out from Granville. It was a cool morning but the forecast had promised our first sunny day of our holiday so it seemed a good day to pick.
I wasn’t disappointed with the crossing as not long after we had left the port, I noticed an Arctic Skua chasing a Sandwich Tern. There were also a few Common Scoters flying overhead, heading towards a favoured non-breeding area off the Carolles Cliffs and Gannets plunged into the sea quite close to the boat.
There wasn’t a great deal of interest on the main island but I could see its wonderful potential in the migration period – lots of cover and bushes to harbour migrants and rarities, I’m sure.
We did see a few lizards and a dead smooth snake but otherwise it was a day relaxing on the beach – yes the sun did appear right on cue!


We’re staying in a rural cottage in the bocage area of Basse Normandie between Villedieu-les-Poeles and Brecey. It’s a spot that we’ve visited four or five times now as guests of our friends Fiona and Jean-Luc and we’ve never failed to have an enjoyable and relaxing time here.
Set on a hillside with views over the fields and woods, you can see as far as Mont St Michel in the distance, its distinctive conical silhouette being visible most of the time. However the weather in this area is so like the south-west of England – it just occasionally gets a bit warmer at times!
The birds of the area are typical of the region. Lots of Blue/Great Tits, Nuthatches, Greater spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Blackcaps and lots of Buzzards! Fiona is very proud of her Spotted Flycatchers and this year they’re nesting in the ‘cellar’. Yellowhammers call from the surrounding fields and Jays are always screaming their raucous calls. I’ve seen Short-toed Treecreepers here regularly and Lesser Spotted Woodpeck…