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.
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.
On a quiet day at Elton reservoir where there didn't seem to be an awful lot happening on the bird front, I took to playing a game. Match the gull to the number painted on the buoy. There are lots of these markers on the reservoir. I think they are for the sailing club to use, but not 100% sure about that. Anyway, Elton is a very good place for gulls, and I thought I'd see what we had out there, on what was a grey day.
In at number 9 is a nice looking Common Gull.
At 8 we have a Lesser black-backed Gull and juvenile.
At 6, a sleepy Black-headed Gull.
And finally at 3, another Black-headed Gull. It gave me something to do on my way round the reservoir. I'm sure there will be a rarity along very soon.
The Wirral provides a fantastic habitat for wading birds. On the rocks of West Kirby, along with the Turnstones were good numbers of Redshank. As is often the case here, they were busy shielding their eyes from the strong breeze blowing in off the sea. Others were even busier on the beach. Running around and looking for a nice meal.
My trip to the Wirral included a stop off at West Kirby marine lake. I pulled up at the usual spot and parked. Just a short walk from the pavement are some rocks where waders like to congregate. There were plenty of Turnstone at one end and Common Redshank at the other. A little peep over the wall and I was able to get very close to these super little birds. I don't know why, but I have a particular soft spot for Turnstones. I spent a lot of time watching their behaviour in Norfolk, and I've got to say they fascinate me.
They don't scare easily, and if you keep quite still, they will come very close to you. I've even had them walking around my feet before. Lovely, busy little birds, and as the name suggests, they do flip and turn over the stones in search of food.
This chap was having an afternoon nap.
There was quite a variety of plumage's among the birds. Some still had a lot of their summer breeding plumage.
I took a trip out to the Wirral at the weekend. The morning weather was not nice but my weather app was telling me I would get a window of a couple of hours when it wouldn't be raining and a possibility of sunshine too. It was all I needed to get in the car and head west.
I could see the clouds breaking but it took a while for the light to really improve. By the time I got to Leasowe, and its very iconic lighthouse, the sun was peeping out and everything looked a lot better.
Unfortunately there wasn't too much action on the bird front and the tide was well out. Still, I had a nice little walk and its always nice to be at the coast and smelling that fresh air.
Unfortunately, it's that time of year again. Our summer migrants are starting to gather up their things and head back home. As sad a time as it is, to think that we won't see some of these birds for another six months or so, it actually becomes a very good time of year to see some in good numbers.
I took a leisurely Sunday walk around Elton reservoir last Sunday hoping for some stop off waders. No such luck, in fact it was very quiet indeed. Almost 3/4 of the way round and the best bird so far was a Little Grebe. A nice bird to see, but not really what I was hoping for. Then from the canal path, I scanned down towards some trees and a fence line where I could see some activity. Pale, white-ish front and doing that characteristic hopping and leaping into the air to catch, well, flies. I needed closer inspection, but this did have all the characteristics of a Spotted Flycatcher.
I checked my map, and there was a public footpath and a style to cross to get me closer, but the field held some rather long horned cattle. I braved it, but have never come so close (intentionally) to something that looked so dangerous. I moved briskly, and there it was, in all its glory. Maybe the last one I see until May next year. A stunning Spotted Flycatcher. Destination: Africa.
I couldn't resist posting some more of my pictures from Bempton Cliffs. The sound and smells on the East coast were quite breathtaking and at times eye watering. As I've mentioned before, it was the Gannet that I really came to see, and there were plenty around both in the air and on the rocks.
Plenty here sat on nests. Its a shame to see so much rubbish on the rock. Discarded fishing nets and ropes seem to be the most popular nesting material.
Another good mix of birds from Pennington Flash. Nothing unusual this time, just a good variety.
Great Crested Grebes have been quite numerous on the main Flash. With some fast developing juveniles around too, it seems to have been a good year for them, or maybe its just an average year and I have noticed too much before. Either way they are always nice to watch.
Greenfinch have been in good numbers too, and this is something I've noticed in other parts of Manchester and Cheshire too. This is good, as some years back they were quite hard to come by.
A Jay came down to greet me as I parked the car. They'll be getting busy soon to stash food for the winter.
While I wait around for the Bullfinches to show at Pennington, there are lots of other birds to keep me occupied. Never a dull moment here, with plenty of wildlife to keep me entertained.
I could sit in the hide for hours watching birds flit in and out and numerous squirrels scampering around.
One particular bird that you don't see very much at all, or for very long, is the Willow Tit. They don't hang around. Usually, if you're quick enough, you can spot them on the fringes. Then they'll dart to a table, take a seed, and then just as quickly dart back into the cover of the undergrowth. All done in a matter of seconds.
Trying to get anything on camera is a real challenge, but who doesn't like a challenge?
This little guy showed me all its best sides before flitting off in the blink if an eye.