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, 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.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Bollin Valley

I've recently discovered the Bollin Valley less than a mile from my front door. It runs for 25 miles from Macclesfield to Partington, following the River Bollin and is a real wildlife hot spot. How I've not come across it in the last 3 years, I have no idea.
I've only walked a couple of miles along the route, but have seen Kingfishers, Dippers, Buzzards, Woodpeckers and Bullfinch, to name just a few species of bird. Dragonflies, insects, fungi and Longhorn cattle all add to its appeal. A stunning place that needs a lot more investigation by me and my camera.

One of the weirs in Wilmslow.

A great surprise to see this Dipper on the river.

In the very sandy banks of the river I came across this Digger Wasp.

Longhorn Cattle are free to graze.

Grey Wagtail

Monday, 2 November 2015


A nice morning walk with my daughter on my old patch at Woodford was unseasonably warm. It was the 1st November, but I should have dressed for the 1st July. A nice treat and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The birds and wildlife seemed to be enjoying it too, with lots of activity everywhere. Sometimes this place in winter can feel very lonely and devoid of all life, but yesterday it was buzzing.
Jays, Nuthatch, Pipits and Wagtails were all in evidence, as were Tree Sparrows and winter Thrushes.

I love to see birds of prey, and we were greeted by a few. Common Buzzard circled and called overhead, while a female Sparrowhawk darted out from a pine tree and enjoyed the thermals, and I enjoyed the opportunity to take some pictures.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

I was sat in the Ron Barker hide at Martin Mere watching the thousands of Pink-footed Geese the other week, when I noticed quite a few dragonfly still about.  I'm not saying I was bored, but my attention was turned to watching these majestic dragonflies for several minutes.
These were the Southern Hawker variety. One of the more common species in this country and indeed across Europe.
I've never photographed one in flight, but this one stopped outside the hide long enough for me to get a focus on it and push the button.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Newchurch Common - Smew

I'd seen reports of a Smew in Cheshire for the last few days and wondered if I'd be able to get along and see it before it departed. An opportunity arose on Sunday to have a look for it, and the weather was good too. Cold and bright, plus the clocks had gone back an hour, which usually means less people up and about as early as me. I guess I'm a little anti-social in the morning, and I like to have the place to myself.
Anyway, Newchurch Common in Winsford was the destination and a rather large fishing lake. I found it okay, but finding the bird was a different matter. I went the wrong way round and had to double back, but this was not such a bad thing, as it meant I got to watch lots of Goldcrests, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Buzzard and other more common birds.
Having doubled back I eventually got to a good viewing area for the Smew. Such a small duck, with its red head and small frame, it certainly stood out amongst the Tufted Ducks it was socialising with. Only my second seen in the wild and not in a collection. A very nice year tick indeed,

And just to add to the highlights of the day, a Ruddy Shelduck was also on the water in with the Canada Geese. A probable captive escapee, there has been one in this area of Cheshire for a while. Still, I wasn't expecting to see it, so it was a nice surprise.
Seen here very distant, but its orangey beige colour quite distinctive.

It got a little closer for a better picture.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Tree Sparrow

You tend to hear Tree Sparrows before you see them. An incessant tuneless chirping that comes from within hedges, bushes and trees. I actually think they are a smashing little bird, and sadly one who's numbers are dwindling due to loss of habitat.
There were healthy enough numbers of them at Martin Mere the other week. They seem to do very well here, with lots of feed supplied and a wealth of places to forage and keep out of harms way.
Never easy to see more than a fleeting glimpse, but I was very patient once I'd heard the raucous noise coming from one particular tree. More than a dozen flew out and then back again, but only a couple popped their heads above the parapet.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Dunlin - West Kirby

On a low tide at West Kirby you can see lots of waders scuttling about the pools that have been left behind on the beach. Busily probing away with there long bills. A few weeks ago, there were mainly Redshanks and Turnstones, but in amongst them was just one solitary Dunlin. Keeping himself to himself, but with the 'safety in numbers' attitude of sticking with the other waders. Always nice to see them.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Wheatear - Burton Marsh

One of the birds I look forward to seeing most, as a sign of Spring arriving, is the Wheatear. Such a great looking bird and one of my favourites.
Last weekend I came across one at Burton Marsh on the Wirral, but this bird will be on his way out of the country very soon, off to warmer climbs.

I had some nice warm sunshine to help light the little guy up.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Furry Friends at Formby

A nature filled day last weekend included a visit to Formby on the Merseyside coast. Formby is famous for its colony of red squirrels, and it's an animal that I adore and have always wanted to get some pictures of. I've never managed it before, as they're not exactly co-operative, but I had a good couple of hours with them and some decent results at the end of it.
To start with I was more captivated with the Nuthatches and Woodpeckers that were numerous in the woods. During this time, the squirrels were playing around up in the canopy, chasing each other and eating. A couple then decided to come down and search for food on the ground. I seized my moment (which didn't last much longer than five minutes), but it was worth it.

The lovely sandy beach at Formby. If I'd taken my shorts I might have had a paddle in the sea.