Happy Christmas To All

December 24, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Blue Tit

Dull and uninteresting weather this week but the garden has made up for it on the twenty third. On a very mild day we were graced with twenty Goldfinches, fourteen House Sparrows, ten Starlings, ten Long Tailed Tits and a record eighteen Blue Tits. Not forgetting a very active Goldcrest!

My usual circuits of all the Rowan trees in Middleton and Chadderton failed to produce any Waxwings. However, on a shopping trip to Rochdale on the twenty third six were feeding on Rowan berries at the junction of Manchester Road and Tweedale Street. This being a notorious area where three years ago I was accosted by prostitutes and people throwing fridges from upper floor balconies I decided to give them a miss!!

At eight am on the twenty fourth three male Goosanders landed on the canal for the second time this week.

No filming on the twenty fifth as even serious film makers are entitled to one day off. But if Waxwings appeared well……..?

All Five Thrushes

December 20, 2008 at 7:09 pm


On the coldest day of the week I took some great film of a Fieldfare eating Hawthorne berries on a bush in the local hotel car park. Normally very wary this Fieldfare posed beautifully for the camera and having filmed Ring Ouzels in Spring and Blackbird,Redwing, Song and Mistle Thrushes last week this completes all the British thrushes in one year, something I have never managed before in thirty eight years.

I went chasing Waxwings at Offerton during this week and duly arrived at an apple tree where three had been feeding the day before only to find that the house owner was having double glazing installed and the windows had already been dropped to the ground next to the apple tree! Only bird present was a male Blackcap and with all the noise it was last seen heading south towards Africa.

The garden this week has been brilliant with twenty different species being seen on the sixteenth including eighteen House Sparrows, Goldcrest, nine Long Tailed Tits, Sparrowhawk and male and female Great Spotted Woodpecker. In fact there were twenty one if you count a Tawny Owl that was calling from the garage roof just before midnight!! Not bad for a garden measuring only twenty five feet by fifteen feet.

On Hopwood during the week there was a Woodcock in the open and six Snipe and a Jack Snipe in a marshy area. Four Gooseanders ( one male and three female) landed on the canal on the nineteenth after the ice had melted.

One That Got Away

December 14, 2008 at 11:10 pm


Having photographed a Redwing eating Hawthorne berries during the week I was amazed to find that it dropped two out of every three berries it plucked off the tree. (see photo) It was not surprising that there were other birds on the ground cashing in.

I made three trips to Stocks reservoir during the week to film the Starling roost and got much more than I bargained for. On the first night a Peregrine turned up and had a go at the Starlings and on the second night a male Goshawk alighted right in front of me. As I put the camera back on the tripod a car went past on the road and off the Goshawk went – another one that got away.

Waxwings have finally turned up in Castleton, with seven on yellow Rowan berries in Smalley Street on the twelfth. They were, however, gone the following day!

Two Jack Snipe were present in the Thornham fields and two hundred plus Pink Footed Geese flew eastwards at 9.30am on the fourteenth.

Double Grand Slam

December 7, 2008 at 7:14 pm


We have just had the best week of Winter weather I can ever remember, coupled with some very colourful sunsets. Three days of minus four overnight plus four inches of snow on the 2nd produced plenty of bird activity and lots of Starlings in the garden with sixty eight in one tree in the avenue!

The ultimate three local Winter birds to me are Waxwing, Woodcock and Jack Snipe and to see all three within two miles of home is what I have termed the ‘Grand Slam’ and achievable very rarely. Well this week I have done it twice – firstly on the third with nineteen Waxwings in Oldham, two Jack Snipe in the Thornham fields and Woodcock in Hopwood woods. Secondly on the 7th with six Waxwings in Middleton, three Jack Snipe at Thornham and a Woodcock at Hopwood. In fact I also saw a Kingfisher today on Lords Wood lake, which was frozen, so I may have to retitle the Grand Slam to something else!

During the week I have visited Stocks reservoir to film the roost of Starlings. On the first visit there was a magnificent sunset and the Starlings came in low over the water – quite a spectacle but no aerial activity. On the second visit there was six inches of snow but I never got down the last hill to the waters edge. However on the moor above there were two Stonechats and one caught a two inch caterpillar in all that snow.

On the 2nd December the snow had just fallen and we never ventured out of the Avenue. I did however, film thirteen different species of birds in the back garden.

There are now Redwings and Fieldfares on all the hedgerow hawthornes which still hold an exceptional crop of berries. Come on you Waxwings!