Friday, March 28, 2008

Local birding: Brockholes Quarry - 28th March 2008.

Migrant grounding weather of SW wind with rain deposited a Scandinavian Rock Pipit, the only decent bird new-in of note during a very wet morning visit. 2 LRP, 18 Shoveler, 2 Teal, 60+ Sand Martin noted. Black-headed Gull numbers were very low in contrast to recent days. Gadwall numbers have done the usual March-plummet with only two birds seen.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Local Birding: Brockholes Quarry - 27th March 2008.

Above: This stonking pair of adult summer Med Gulls dropped in twice during my visit, specnding over an hour on the Main Pool on the second occasion.
Above: Kittiwake - briefly at 10:30, the third individual this week.
Below: Med Gull & Kittiwake.

Above & below: This Jack Snipe gave distant vews on the opposite bank of No1 Pit. Later I approached it to within 10ft only for it to fly c1,000th sec before I pressed the camera shutter....AARRGGHHH!!

Below: Sightings of Raven are becoming more frequent at the site, this is one of a pair that flew south.
Additionally, several Buzzard inc 5 together, 1 Dunlin, 50+ Sand Martin and Chiffchaff were seen.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Local birding: Kittiwake - Brockholes Quarry - 26th March 2008.

Above & below: Kittiwake - Brockholes Quarry, Lancs - 26th March 2008.
An enjoyable couple of hours at Brockholes with a Kittiwake and a pair of adult summer Med Gulls briefly, 1+ Dunlin, 1pr Pintail and 23 Teal all new-in.
Mark Breaks was also on site, the day before he sets off to Fair Isle for another season as assistant warden. As he left, I wished him all the very best, then attempted to bite my lip for what seemed like an eternity before the inevitable "You lucky B****r!!" spewed out!!......... Pardon my french!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Local birding: Kittiwakes - 22nd March 2008.

A check of Fishmoor Res from 07:15-07:30 drew a blank for any of the Kittiwakes of the previous evening, so it was straight to Brockholes in the hope of one there. No joy, so back to Fishmoor for 09:15 to find an adult Kittiwake present, so presumably a new bird.

Above: Ad Kittiwake - Fishmoor Res, Lancs - 22nd March 2008.
Whilst I was checking Rishton Res, Zac Hinchcliffe texted at 10:10 to say there was an adult Kittiwake on No1 Pit at Brockholes, which thankfully remained until 11:45 when it flew SW with other Gulls. Hopefully the first of a few spring records at the site.
Above: Ad Kittiwake - Brockholes Quarry, Lancs - 22nd March 2008.
Afterwards, checks of Anglezarke, Rivington and Yarrow Reservoirs failed to produce any Kitts whilst a large Raptor causing havoc amongst the Gulls over the Island at Belmont Reservoir as I drove past was 'only' a Buzzard on closer inspection, much to my disappointment!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Local birding: Kittiwake & Whooper Swan - 21st March 2008.

Above: 2 ad Kittiwake (foreground) with a Common Gull - Fishmoor Res, Lancs - 21st March 2008.
The delightful Kittiwake is one of my priority species to record locally annually, so following a fruitless vigil at Brockholes yesterday and this morning, and feeling a little disillusioned with the northerly wind, I returned home to do some work on the PC.
At c16:30, following an earlier 'eye-brow raising' pager message relating to 8 Kittiwake at Audenshaw Res, Gtr. Manchester, I noticed that numbers of birds at this site had increased to 13, then 16, by late afternoon.
A sudden attack of guilt at not being out in the field, coupled with paranoia set in, so it was a case of straight in the car and head towards a local waterbody.
At the jcn of my street and the main road I had to decide whether to turn left to Brockholes or right to Fishmoor, mindful that the incoming roosting Gulls at the latter site may drag a Kittiwake in with them.
I plumbed for Fishmoor, arriving just after 17:00. At 17:16 an adult Kittiwake appeared amongst Black-headed Gulls in flight over the water. Brilliant! This was followed 15 mins later by two further adults on the water, the single bird joining them briefly.

Above: 3 adult Kittiwake - Fishmoor Res, lancs - 21st March 2008.

Bill Berry successfully twitched the Kittiwakes and left for home at 18:35. Five minutes later whilst watching the 'pair' to see whether they were intent on roosting, 7 Whooper Swan suddenly appeared high overhead, heading west, a direction that would take them over my house. Without hesitation, the trusty Citroen Berlingo was put into Ferrari mode as I set off in hot pursuit, just about succeeding in catching the Swans up as they overflew Feniscowles before continuing west over Hoghton Bottoms.

Kittiwake takes the Fishmoor Res Gull total to a very impressive 11 species since 1st Jan. The single bird appeared to head onto the roosting roof with the other Gulls whilst the 'pair' appeared indecisive, gaining height over the water before repeatedly dropping back down. I didn't see the outcome due to the Whoopers!

Heres hoping for more local Kittiwake tomorrow......

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Local birding: Brockholes Quarry - inc. LRP - 15th March 2008.

Above & below: Little-ringed Plover - perhaps the first of the year in Lancs?
Good early spring fare was to be had on the local patch today with collective notable sightings amongst the regulars of 1 Little-ringed Plover, 21 Sand Martin, 1pr adult Med Gull, fem/imm Merlin, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin and a Jack Snipe.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Local birding: Iceland Gull - 14th March 2008.

This very pale 2ndw Iceland Gull was viewable distantly from Withnell Landfill Site in fields north of the M65 mid-pm.
At around the same time Burnley birder Mark Fanshawe found an ad Taiga Bean Goose nr Pilling whilst looking for the Ross's Goose, and managed to 'phonescope' the bird. Here are two of his photos.... What an absolute stonker!

Bill Berry and I attempted to twitch it but dipped. A Short-eared Owl, a species in short supply this winter locally, along Bradshaw Lane was some compensation however. A Little Egret was on the saltmarsh off Lane Ends and c20 Corn Bunting at the Eagland Hill feeding station.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Local birding: Y.L. Gull, Med Gull & Rock Pipit - 13th March 2008.

A 2nd summer Yellow-legged Gull and a long overdue Med Gull + 2 Nordic Jackdaw were at Withnell Landfill Site today.

Above: Yellow-legged Gull. Below: Ad Med Gull

Withnell Landfill Site, Lancs - 13th March 2008.

Below: Scandinavian Rock Pipit - Brockholes Quarry, Lancs - 13th March 2008.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Local birding: Brockholes Quarry - 10th March 2008.

I cannot recall ever seeing a Barn Owl as dark as this in the UK, but does this bird fall within the range of extreme variation in female alba or could it be a contender for a guttata/intergrade?? The photos should enlarge if you click on them. I have thus far looked at over 230 photos of 'alba' Barn Owls on the internet taken in England and have not seen anything approaching this bird.

Other highlights include 6 Sand Martin on No1 Pit, a delightful pair of adult Med Gull 14:50-15:00 and a fem/imm Merlin over the main pool at 16:15.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Local and Noth Lancs birding inc Chough - 7th March 2008

What was presumably the same Nordic Jackdaw as yesterday was present amongst lesser marked birds at Withnell Landfill and a check of the available Gulls revealed nothing of note until, as y/day, bird scaring rockets exploded overhead ruining any chances of further scrutiny.
Steven Flynn and Bill Berry were down at Brockholes, where earlier Steve had seen an adult Med Gull, and a spare of the moment decision was made to try for the Warton Crag Chough.

Above: 1stw Little Gull - Heysham Outfall
Below: 2nd summer Med Gull - Heysham North Harbour Wall
Enroute we called into Heysham reserve which produced highlights of single Little Gull and Med Gull . Thanks to PJM for assistance in accessing various areas of the site.
Not realising time was pushing on, we didn't leave the Heysham area until almost 16:00, arriving at Warton Crag Quarry at 16:25 to find the Chough showing well to birders already present, but at 16:40 the bird vanished into one of the holes in the quarry face circled in the photo below and had not re-emerged by 17:00 when we left. Raven and Peregrine were also seen overhead.

A quick scan of Pine Lake revealed c20 wigeon, 1 Goosander, but not the hoped for early Sand Martin.

Back at Brockholes Quarry, 127 Curlew, a few pictured above, came into roost by 18:25, as did 54 Oystercatcher on No1 Pit and a very respectable count of 46 Goldeneye.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Local birding: Nordic Jackdaw - 6th March 2008.

Its been some time since any Jackdaw flocks co-operated for me at Withnell Landfill Site, but today c100 were feeding in adj sheep fields. This Nordic bird was by far the most well marked bird I saw in the fifteen minutes before two almighty, ear-drum shattering rockets from the Landfill Site exploded in rapid succession at 12:30, scattering the Gulls and Corvids for miles around, inc 1 Raven. I left shortly afterwards, but returned at dusk to see both the Barn Owl and a Little Owl in fields between the A675 and the Landfill Site. The Barn Owl has been present all winter according to the Farmer and great to have this species so close to home.

In between visits here, another 30 minutes hopeful scanning for the Tockholes Shrike drew another blank with nothing of note at the Fishmoor Res roost either.