Sunday, January 27, 2008

Local birding: GW Teal, Slav & GG Shrike - 27th Jan 2008.

A full day in the field with Gtr Manchester birders Phil Rhodes and Neil Tasker. Both were keen to see the Slavonian Grebe at Barrow Lodge and Great Grey Shrike at Hollins Farm, Higham.
Above: Great Grey Shrike, Hollins Farm, Higham - 27th Jan 2008.
Shortly after we set off on foot from the car parking area at Grove Lane Plantation, the pager alerted us to the presence of the Shrike at 10:08, only 15 minutes ago, but by the time of our arrival at Hollins Farm at 10:35 the GGS had dissappeared and it was over an hour later when Phil located the bird in the millenium planting at 11:45. After ten minutes of reasonable views, the Shrike began to move further up the long, northward extending belt of planting at which point we left bound for Barrow Lodge.
Above: Slav Grebe - Barrow Lower Lodge - 23rd Jan 2007.

Upon arrival, the 'big gun' photographers were out in force, and perhaps not surprisingly the Slav was maintaining its distance from the roadside bank of the lodge for the hour or so that we were onsite.
Now mid-afternoon, a decision was made to visit the Stocks area mindful of a significant arrival of wildfowl the previous day, and also in hope of perhaps a Hen Harrier or even the elusive Stocks Shrike.
First stop was the field opposite Dalehead Church and a walk up the road followed but no sign of the Shrike on any of the isolated Hawthorns. Next we stopped at the causeway where Margaret and Brian Breaks informed us of the scale of the wildfowl spectacle to be had further towards the bay following a further large overnight Duck influx to the site.
Viewing from the picnic area between the car park and first hide, it was indeed impossible not to be impressed with the number of Wildfowl present and a significant number of the 596+ Wigeon, 326+ Pintail and 540+ Teal counted earlier were on view with more Teal asleep on the far side of the reservoir. At 15:30, I had the good fortune to notice the vertical white stripe of a Green-winged Teal asleep and partially obscured on the far bank below Eak Hill. It wasn't until some 30 minutes later that the bird awoke and moved position revealing no anomalous features to suggest anything other than a pure GWT. In the poor light and at distance, the bird appeared to be an adult drake, unless any subsequent closer views indicate otherwise. The poor quality of the videograbs below reflect the poor light for videoing on 200x magnification.

Drake Green-winged Teal - Stocks Reservoir, Lancs - 27th Jan 2008.

Above: a fraction of the Wildfowl present on the open water. Just where do these huge mid-winter influxes of wildfowl to Stocks originate from, particularly Pintail?

Both drake Tufted x Pochard and female Ferruginous x Pochard hybrids were present today. A Common Buzzard heading to roost over the reservoir rounded off another excellent days birding in East Lancs.