Double Grand Slam

November 28, 2010 at 8:39 pm


Regular readers of this blog will know that two years ago I invented the so called grand slam – the best three Pennine birds you could see in one Winter’s day. These being Jack Snipe, Waxwing and Woodcock. It is a special day when you achieve sightings of all three, well this weekend I have had two consecutive grand slams. On the twenty seventh of November I encountered a Jack Snipe in the Thornham fields followed by thirty Waxwings in Bolton. At dusk in Hopwood woods I found three Woodcock to cap the day. On the twenty eighth of November a Jack Snipe was still in the Thornham fields and four Waxwings were feeding in Rochdale. This was followed by fifty Waxwings in Bolton and and a further three Woodcock on Hopwood. Apart from the birds the weather was perfection for Winter with unbroken sunshine, no wind and minus seven and minus nine at dawn.

On the twenty seventh I gave a filmshow to Bacup Natural History Society and when I arrived at the venue it was minus six degrees – the coldest temperature I have ever experienced before giving a filmshow in forty years. What was more remarkable that a man in the audience had travelled from Burnley on the bus for the filmshow. Nothing unusual in that you might think but this gentleman was aged one hundred and one! Making him the oldest person ever to have attend one of my shows. I felt quite humbled in his presence.

In the garden a Reed Bunting has made a return to feed and the Nuthatch is a regular visitor. Two Long Tailed Tits have fed but where are all the others from that record breaking season that they have had?

Transatlantic Wanderer

November 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Pied Billed Grebe

I suppose I had to eventually give in and go and have a look at the Pied Billed Grebe at Hollingworth Lake. I took one quick photo through the video camera as shown and some video which has now been edited into the Pennine Birds DVD. It was interesting to see but give me a Waxwing anytime! As I was leaving someone arrived from Nottingham so it is still providing a big attraction to the twitchers.

The garden has been busy this week with maximum counts of three Carrion Crows, three Bullfinches, three Jays, five Chaffinches, five Long Tailed Tits, seven Starlings, fourteen Collared Doves and fourteen Blue Tits. On one day we had twenty species of birds feeding which is always a milestone for a small garden.

All our time this week has been spent on the Pennine BIrds DVD which is now nearing completion. My gallery of photos on the website has also been updated during the week – have a look.

Golden Autumn

November 14, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Autumn Colours

The Autumn colours seen on the river Hodder in Bowland are the subject of this week’s photo. It is my favourite Pennine river and the colours this Autumn have been exceptional due, so I am told , to the dry sunny Spring that we had this year.

Whilst I was wandering along the river I came across the footprints of an otter which was good to see , so let’s hope the mink of yesteryear have all been driven off by the otter. A good look at the Waxwings, at Barrow, on my way home recharged my batteries for a while.

I have made no moves just yet, to go to Hollingworth Lake to see the Pied Billed Grebe as I do not wish to line up with a hundred or so twitchers to tick off a new bird. I may go during the week when they have all gone back to work!

On Hopwood thirty plus Greenfinches going to roost at dusk was good to see, bearing in mind the health problems that has beset this once common bird.

Seal Pup Surprise

November 7, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Grey Seal pup

This weeks photo is of a Grey Seal pup on Islay, the first I have been lucky enough to encounter in Autumn. A trip to Islay in Autumn is always a spectacular event but you must be prepared for some wild weather. Out of twelve days on the island we had three perfect days with good sunrises and sunsets but in contrast we had nine wild days when more than three inches of rain fell, so be warned. The consolation is however that you can still bird watch from the car in pouring rain. In fact I am willing to bet that most Autumn birdwatchers to Islay don’t even leave their car to go for a walk!

I never thought I would see the day when I saw my first Waxwing of Winter before I saw my first Fieldfare. However, back home in Rochdale that is exactly what has happened. Today, the seventh of November I found six Waxwings in Oldham and I have yet to see a Fieldfare locally. Are we going to have the best Waxwing Winter ever? Let’s hope so.

In the garden a Collared Dove was taken by a female Sparrowhawk and there has also been a male Sparrowhawk hunting in the garden this week. A male Bullfinch has made a welcome return in the last few days to feed.

On Hopwood there are good numbers of Redpolls, some Siskins but to date no migrant Woodcock. Perhaps they will come in soon with the Fieldfares?