Popular Tags:

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!

An Active Week

November 29, 2008 at 9:39 pm


Plenty of action this week with Waxwings to find and good numbers of birds in the garden. In fact the garden birds have peaked at eight Long Tailed Tits, twenty one Goldfinches, twenty House Sparrows, thirteen Greenfinches, two male Bullfinches and two Jays, besides the numerous Blue tits and Great tits, one Coal Tit, three Collared Doves, three Blackbirds. eight Starlings, two Robins, three Chaffinches, one Wren and one Great Spotted Woodpecker.

The Golf course has also proved good with a Stonechat catching insects one morning and a Green Woodpecker calling on another morning. At dusk one day there were five hundred Corvids going to roost. Another bonus was finding a roost of over fifty Reed Buntings one night on Hopwood set against the best sunset I have seen in ten years!

Local Waxwings at last at a school in Oldham, there were twelve in a fog. Luckily I managed some film before it became dense with a maximum day temperature of one degree centigrade. It was a tragedy to find that one Waxwing had flown into one of the school windows the day before and died – imagine flying all that way from Russia and then dying in what was probably the first window it was to see!!

A Snowy Day

November 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Snow Bunting

Two days after my entry last week about Waxwings I was filming twelve on Rowan trees near Whalley on the most perfect day you could have imagined. I had almost forgotten what a fantastic bird they are and the three hours behind the camera lens passed very quickly. Although in typical Waxwing fashion I only had ten minutes of video to show for it!

Early morning on the twenty second, as I crossed a moorland road above Burnley, eighteen Snow Buntings landed on a gravel path only to be flushed by the only jogger in the area. These are the only Snow Buntings I have ever seen on my local moors and almost surpassed the views I was to have of the Waxwings.

On day three of the Waxwings a Sparrowhawk flew through the flock and sent them off in a southerly direction not to be seen again that day. The big question is when will they arrive in my area around Rochdale / Oldham / Middleton?

In Hopwood woods more Woodcock have now arrived and in the garden we had both male and female Sparrowhawks on the same day. The male looking like last years gem bird.

Have You Seen One Of These?

November 16, 2008 at 9:05 pm


It must be only a matter of days now before we have Waxwings feeding on local berries with over a hundred in the Penrith area and a northerly wind forecast they should soon make their way South. I checked over a dozen Rowan trees today that had berries on them and every one had a Mistle Thrush guarding them so the Waxwings are in for a fight when they arrive. There is, however, a huge Hawthorne crop and these may be an easy alternative.

I flushed my first migrant Woodcock this week in Hopwood Woods and there should be many more to follow when we have some Easterly winds.

Wherever you go there are parties of Long Tailed Tits and on a perfect morning on the twelfth at Dovestones reservoir eight Long Tailed Tits were the only decent birds that I saw.

During the week the garden has continued to impress with a first visit of the Winter of a female Greater Spotted Woodpecker ,which now seems to be a daily visitor as does the Jay,.Goldcrest and Long Tailed Tits came one morning. We now regularly have more than twenty House Sparrows and twenty Greenfinches.