Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bowness-on-Windermere and wider Cumbria - 18th-21st Nov 2006.

A return to the rented house named 'Cannon Close' on the outskirts of Bowness-on-Windermere, for a long weekend (scene of the March 2006 blog post 'Hawfinch fest') had me wondering beforehand as what the Hawfinch situation would be at this different time of year to my previous visit. I was not to be disappointed.

4+ Hawfinches were seen with relative ease from the Bedroom window on all three mornings, though only one of the three mornings was calm enough to give hope of perching birds on the tree tops.

This was the only photo i took of a Hawfinch during my stay. Taken with 300mm lens from bedroom window.

Unlike my previous visit, a walk around the grounds of 'Cannon Close' revealed that the Hawfinches were not as obvious during the daytime as they were in March, bringing me to the conclusion that although they obviously feed in the nearby vicinity during the day, they are probably using the relatively well-wooded garden of the neighbouring property, which contains a fair number of coniferous trees, as a roost site. This was reinforced by 40+ Siskin, similar numbers of Chaffinch, and 4+ Hawfinch seen leaving the adjacent grounds early on the first morning, as well as my observations in March.

This is clearly a good site for Hawfinch, with numerous sightings of 9 birds in March and 4+ in November. I'll certainly give the grounds a look from the road whenever in the vicinity in the future.

Above: Bedroom action!! - Watching Hawfinches!

Above: Spectacular views of Windermere and distant fells from the bedroom window.

'Offshore' from the property were numbers of Tufted Duck (60+), 3 Goldeneye, 1 Wigeon, 10 Goosander, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, Coot, Cormorant and Grey Heron. A Roe Deer was stood on the lawn early one morning and a juv Peregrine performed a low flyover of the property on the final morning, which even my Mum managed to see!

A drive along the Cumbrian coast on Sunday 19th saw Pam and I call in at most of the towns and villages, one of the reasons being that I had not spent much time along this stretch of coast at all over the years (save a twitch for a Ross's Gull in Workington harbour in the early 1990's).

This 1stw Shag was photographed in Whithaven Harbour.

This hybird Carrion x Hooded Crow was on the beach at Ravensglass.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Long-billed Murrelet - Dawlish, Devon - 12th November 2006.

The 550 mile round trip for this once-in-a-lifetime UK mega rarity would have been worth the walk, never mind the drive down the M6/M5 from Blackburn.

Setting off at 02:00hrs, the team consisting of Myself, Mark Breaks, john Wright & his girlfriend Helen arrived at Dawlish at 07:30hrs. Shortly after our arrival, news came on the pager that the bird had been located about a mile south of the seafront, off the Langstone Rock, followed by a forced march, paratrooper style, by c200 birders eager to get their first view of this ultra-mega rarity, occurring for only the 2nd time in Europe!!

The Murrelet showed extremely well close-in for prolonged periods throughout the morning. It was constantly feeding and dived very frequently, surfacing up to 70yrds away from the spot it submerged.

Mid-morning it swam purposefully offshore at least a mile, presumably for a siesta, after a hard couple of hours feeding, before returning close-in just before mid-day, when it showed in superb light to an appreciative audience of several hundred.
It was thought that 1,250 birders enjoyed such views during the course of the day. Should it stay longer, this will surely go on to become the most twitched UK rarity of all time.

A fraction of the assembled birders enjoying the Murrelet at Langstone Rock, Dawlish, early morning of Sunday November 12th 2006. Click on images for larger picture.
In all we spent five hours on-site, noting a supporting cast of 2ad Med Gull, several Red-throated Diver, 2 Common Scoter, 1 Razorbill, 5 G.C. Grebe, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 10 Shag, 6 Eider, distant Gannets, Rock Pipit and c20 Turnstone.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Marshside, Southport, Lancs - 4th November 2006.

Highlights of a couple of hours at Marshside included this adult winter Yellow-legged Gull roosting on the inner marsh, and an ad Little Egret frequenting the outer march near the sand plant. Other birders seen included, 1 Barnacle Goose with Pink-feet, 1 Merlin, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Stonechat, many Wigeon, c20 Black-tailed Godwit.

Having to be home by 14:00hrs meant I had left the area c30 minutes prior to the discovery of a rough-legged Buzzard just up the road at 'Hundred End'.......... AAARRGGHH!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Glossy Ibis, Pilling, Lancs - 29th Oct 2006

A trip 'Over Wyre' with my 12 year old cousin's son Lewi (a budding birder/future wildlife conservationist), to show him the Glossy Ibis resulted in good views of the bird feeding in it's favoured stubble fields adj to Fluke Hall Wood, Pilling.

Other birds seen in the area inc a nice juv Merlin near Pilling Lane Ends, whilst the 'Ibis field' also held 25 Whooper Swan. c30 Redwing were present in Fluke Hall Wood.

A search for the long-staying Snow Bunting by the car park failed, possibly due to the number of dog walkers in the area.

Afterwards, a trip to Leighton Moss, specifically to get Lewi Bearded Tit which were showing on the grit trays by the causeway resulted in total failure. Despite being told that mornings were the best time, we still thought it worth a try arriving early afternoon. Despite a 1.5hr vigil only distant calls by the Bearded tits were had.