Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Reed Bunting

I spent a couple of cold icy hours doing the rounds at Pennington Flash a couple of weeks ago. It was one of those where after a few minutes the tips of your fingers begin to hurt. No pain, no gain as the saying goes, so I braved it for as long as I could.
I actually love a cold frosty morning. Birds are more active in their search for food and far less secretive. Gloves, hat and several layers are a necessity though.

Reed Buntings were the most abundant bird this particular morning, which was good because I'd not really paid them too much attention recently. So I sat particularly still in a couple of the hides to do them justice. They didn't disappoint, with some lovely poses for me.




Monday, 1 February 2016

Goldcrest

There has been a real abundance of Goldcrests this winter. Catching a glimpse of one as it flits in and around the trees or bushes is quite often as good as it gets. You have more chance of hearing one with it's constant high pitched call always getting my attention in the bushes or conifers.

This guy stayed still long enough.


I am linking to Nature Thursday, hosted by Jutta. Nature Thursday

Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Elusive Water Rail

A bird that I see all to rarely is the Water Rail. It is such a secretive bird, that catching a glimpse is usually all I get, and not on too many occasions either. It's one of those birds that really gives me a thrill when one comes into view. It makes me gulp and take a sharp intake of breath.
Having seen one the other day at Pennington Flash I hoped that I may be able to get some pictures of it. Why should this occasion be like any other though? It did what it does best, and that is to stay out of harms way in the undergrowth (and why not?).
I stayed watching for what seemed like seconds but may have been longer. It was all too short but a real privilege at the same time. What a great looking bird.

These shots are typical of what you see of a Water Rail.


At least I managed a face shot this time.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Pennington Flash

A cold bright and frosty Saturday morning was a welcome relief after what has seemed like weeks and weeks of dark and wet ones. I headed off to Pennington Flash, for just a couple of hours. It never disappoints and is always a safe bet for something to see, no matter how common. Plus, it's just a wonderful place to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle and mundaneness of everyday life.
Lots was seen, both out on the water and along the many paths. Cold weather always brings the birds out to forage for food a little less carefully than normal. There were plenty of finches, Robins, Blackbirds and Tits. Plenty to brighten up anybody's day.

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Collard Dove

In the summer I saw quite a number of large flocks of Collard Dove. In fact I came close to running a few over as they ambled along in the road, almost oblivious to the danger coming towards them.
These pictures, taken at Pennington Flash show one at more sedate times, having a drink.




Tuesday, 12 January 2016

My Charity Runs

Something a little different and away from birds.

I've decided to do a couple of runs for charity this year and am going to try and raise funds for Francis House. Francis House provides care for children and young adults with life threatening conditions. They also provide support and friendship for the whole family during these difficult times. You can find more information on their website:  http://www.francishouse.org.uk 

The runs that I have chosen to do are the Liverpool Half marathon on 13th March and the Manchester 10K on 22nd May. I am currently in training for the half marathon which involves me running 4 times a week. One long run at the weekend, which is currently at 9 miles, keeps me out of trouble.

I'd much rather be out with the camera, but I want to give something back this year, and this is my way of doing it.

Please take a moment to read about Francis House, the charity I have chosen, and if you feel able, I would love you to donate as little or as much as you like. I know it is not easy (ever) let alone straight after Christmas, so anything is greatly appreciated. My last race is in May, so no great rush. I have set up a Just Giving page to help with donations, and it can be found here: Just Giving Adam Jones

Thank you for reading and many thanks. :)



Black-headed gull

Not a bird that I take photographs of a lot, but they are real characters the Black-headed gull. With many roosts in Greater Manchester it's not difficult to know where they'll be hanging out. Quite often they're squabbling over some food that's been left to litter the pavement or just generally squabbling.
When there aren't many other birds around you can pretty much guarantee a Black-headed gull will help focus your attentions.
(No black or chocolate brown heads here as they are in winter non-breeding plumage)

I think this is a first winter bird, judging by it's plumage. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Gulls are not my greatest strength,

This chap looks more of an adult with it's nice reddish legs and no juvenile feathers in the wings.


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Jackdaw

This is my favourite member of the Crow family. (I think I've probably said that before). The Jackdaw. With it's stunning blue eyes and greyish hood, it stands out from the other corvids for me. An intelligent bird and always great to watch. It can make a lot of noise too, but I don't find it too annoying.

These images were taken on a grey afternoon at Hollingworth Lake in Rochdale. I like the contrast it gives with the Jackdaw. The grey behind the first two pictures is actually the water of the lake reflecting the sky above.



With a little more colour to work with here the grey head is easier to see, plus the blueish tinge to the feathers.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Red-breasted Merganser

The final bird to make it onto my year list was the Red-breasted merganser. This bird seen at West Kirby marine lake took my total for the year to 181 different bird species seen, beating my previous best total by 6 from last year.

A common visitor to the UK coastline in the winter months, this is only the second time that I have actually come across one. Just shows you what you can find if you put your mind to it.
I was aware that a few of these were around the Wirral, so I made a special visit to see them. Great looking diving ducks with a nice spiky hair do and serrated bill to help with their diet of mainly salmon and trout.

Pictured here is the female. Quite similar to the female Goosander in clolouration and overall appearance. Unfortunately it was yet another dull grey day, so the colours are not great.
Still it pushed my year total up, so I'm happy with that. I now have a new target to beat in 2016.

I wish you all a Happy New Year. Here's hoping it's a great one! :-)





Monday, 21 December 2015

Merry Christmas

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.

Thank you all for viewing and your comments over the last year. It means a great deal to me and is always very much appreciated. I hope to bring you plenty of new birds and posts in 2016. Until then, enjoy yourselves in the coming week and I hope you drop by again soon.


Thursday, 17 December 2015

Wirral

Birding on the Wirral is always good. Always a good variety of stuff to see. Unfortunately you cannot guarantee the weather, which seems to becoming a recurring them in my posts of late.
The rain abated, but not for long. I stopped at various locations on a whistle stop trip. Hoylake, West Kirby, New Brighton and Starbucks to keep my daughter sweet and moan free. It seemed to do the trick as we both enjoyed a mint hot chocolate to warm us up.

Knot (on the left) and two Redshank (on the right)

Knot

Oystercatcher in the gloom.

Redshank taking shelter at West Kirby.


Shelduck on the beach at Hoylake.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Hollingworth Lake

I had a couple of hours spare last weekend and went for a walk around Hollingworth lake in Rochdale. The weather has been truly dreadful of late, so I was just glad to get out without a howling wind or heavy rain. 
It was a leisurely stroll and not a great deal on the water, but enjoyable all the same as the sun began to set. 

I can't wait for Spring and some potentially drier, less windy spells of weather. Not a guarantee in this part of the world though.

Coot

A Cormorant in with some Lapwings.


A distant Kingfisher watching a Great Crested Grebe. 


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Dunnock

It's that time of year on my patch, that no matter when you go out you're pretty sure to see the same variety of birds and not much else. There's not much anticipation of finding something new or unusual. It's just how it is in autumn and winter here. On a recent walk along Old Hall Lane I was accompanied by the usual Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit flocks for visual stimulus. Chaffinches, Robins, Blackbirds and Mistle Thrush kept my ears energised. Then there's always one bird that you know is in the hedge but you can't be sure what it is. You know it's nothing rare, but you need to see it just to confirm it's a Wren or something similar.
Enter the Dunnock, and it's conspicuous 'tseeep' call. I'm pretty sure they could stay undetected if they kept quiet, but I had to see where it was. I waited for a good five minutes leant up against a post trying to keep myself out of sight before it popped up on top of the hedge. We both shared a moment and then went out separate ways.
Like I said before, nothing unusual or rare, but it still put a smile on my face. Job done.




Friday, 4 December 2015

Great Crested Grebe

On my recent visit to Elton reservoir I couldn't help but notice the large number of Great Crested Grebes. Usually a quite colourful bird, their winter plumage is a little more on the drab side. It doesn't take away from the elegance of the bird for me, but there is quite a difference between the seasons.
From juvenile to winter and summer plumage, they could be three different birds.

This was the Elton bird a few weeks ago in winter plumage.


One in summer breeding plumage.

A juvenile with it's stripy head.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Pied Wagtail

I've recently discovered a Pied Wagtail roost site in the centre of Manchester. I was aware of there being some around previously, but not where this one is situated. It's on a particularly busy road with restaurants and offices. In the mornings on my way to work I could here them but never see them. Then one morning just as the sun was coming up I counted 35 leaving the roost site. It was quite a spectacle, and noise, as they are not the quietest of birds. There may have been more, and judging by the mess on the pavement I'm sure there are. A count of around 50 has been seen since.
I managed to take a some close-up shots of one at Elton reservoir last week.



Thursday, 26 November 2015

Great Northern Diver

Great Northern Divers have been popping up in good numbers around the country recently. Six were reported in one day at Carsington Waters in Derbyshire at the weekend. There had been one a bit closer to home though at Elton Reservoir in Rochdale. It's a bird I have tried many times to see, and I have been fortunate on a few occasions now. Each time though the views have been distant, and a scope has always been required. Nothing was different at Elton, as this particular bird spent a lot of time under water and once again distant. A great bird to see all the same, and I was glad to be able to add it to my year list, which has now crept up to 180.

This picture is of a previous closer encounter at Castleshaw Reservoir in Oldham a few years back.


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Common Buzzard

A cool morning and clear skies often means that the Buzzards where I live will be up soaring and climbing the thermals.
They didn't disappoint at Woodford recently with a couple giving quite close fly pasts. One had been on the ground in a sheep field, while the other appeared from nowhere. The shots below are of it trying to gain height after leaving the field.
I love the call they give as they fly. It just lets you know they're around. Always a great bird to see.





Friday, 13 November 2015

Pink Feet

Pink-footed Geese are what I really look forward to seeing in the Autumn. A trip to Martin Mere in Lancashire is a highlight of this season for me. Thousands and thousands of geese and wildfowl are attracted to the habitat here. It's a real spectacle that I never tire of.
I went a little earlier this year than I normally do and I manages to see the first Whooper Swans of the Autumn come in. It was the Pink-footed Geese that really stole the show for me though.
What a sight and what a sound? They have to be seen to be fully appreciated.




Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Long-tailed Tit

You seldom see a Long-tailed Tit on its own. You'll usually find them in groups of at least half a dozen. Very small birds with a tail longer than it's body. They do make it easy for you to spot them though with a constant trill of noise as they restlessly work through trees and undergrowth.
I always look round to see them when I hear them. I don't know why, as they are very common here. I just have a soft spot for them. In flight they remind me a bit of a pom pom with a tail. Cute little chaps.