Visitor From Lapland

December 27, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Shore Lark
The visitor from Lapland was not Father Christmas this time but a Shore Lark that has spent the last couple of weeks on the Fylde coast. I only twitch Arctic birds and the trip to Fleetwood was well worth while with some great views of a very confiding bird. A couple of Snow Buntings were also present plus a small group of Sanderling that were crouching on the beach away from the strong westerly wind. Click here

The motorway journey to and from Fleetwood provided a reversal of the normal trend with six Kestrels seen and only three Buzzards. I know the Kestrels have had a good breeding season but the more likely reason for seeing more Kestrels was that the Buzzards were avoiding the strong wind by not flying.

Locally a pair of Goosanders were on the canal on the 22nd and on Christmas day we had a record four Dunnocks together in the garden plus 2 Reed Buntings.

The Butcher Bird

December 21, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Great Grey Shrike
Yesterday in the Ribble valley I had a chance encounter with a Great Grey Shrike or Butcher Bird as it is sometimes called. It was some way off on top of a pole and was watching the same five Goldcrests that I was watching along the edge of a pine forest. Once it catches prey it impales it on hawthorne bushes in a sort of larder then comes back to eat it when it is hungry hence the name Butcher bird. They are not that common in winter but one did appear at Watergrove reservoir last year. I only wish it was possible to approach it closer to get a better picture on something more natural.

Whilst I was in Bowland I also came across some Bramblings feeding with the roadside Chaffinches. You tend to forget how colourful these finches are and this weeks gallery includes some drinking shots as a reminder. click here

During the week a new bird was almost added to the garden bird list when a Buzzard flew to within ten feet of landing in our pine tree. A Grey Wagtail fed on the lawn one day and it is good to see that the Willow Tit and both Nuthatches are still feeding daily.

Lapland Day Out

December 14, 2014 at 5:21 pm

A day trip to Lapland in search of Father Christmas gave only one hour of daylight and only one bird seen. It was however my favourite bird, a Waxwing, feeding just before it went dark on rowan berries. There were masses of rowan berries in the township of Rovaniemi and this was the obvious reason why no Waxwings have come to Britain this Winter.Plus the strange fact that it was two degrees colder in Manchester when we left than it was in Lapland when we arrived three hours later! My blog photo of this week was taken in Manchester during the big Waxwing invasion of two years ago.

Five years ago, with the temperature 30° below freezing, I spent eight hours in a wooden hide in the Finnish forests filming Golden Eagles and thus suffering with frostbite afterwards! I have included some of those photos in this week’s gallery. Two very different and unforgettable days in the Northern Arctic but both very magical. Click here

On Hopwood this week there was a flock of thirty five Redpolls feeding in the tops of a group of birches. A flock of eleven Cormorants flying past was a weird sight to record in the middle of a golf course.

Winter At Leighton Moss

December 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Leighton MossOn Wednesday the coldest place in Britain was Leighton Moss at minus 5 °C and I was in the hide there before 8.00am. Everywhere looked superb in the hoar frost and better still as an Otter fished in a far off bay. Two Bitterns were seen but as usual they were too far away to provide a photo. A Kingfisher flew past the hide several times so for this weeks gallery I have provided some of the shots I took of Kingfishers this summer. Click here

Last Sunday dawned a perfect winters day as I walked along the Pennine Way at Blackstone Edge. I was hoping to encounter Twite or Snow Bunting but saw neither only Red Grouse were active plus a low flying skein of Pink Footed Geese. In the garden we still have Willow Tit and Nuthatch feeding plus an out of season Reed Bunting.