Clams down to two but undeterred off we went, Olly Clam and I, Captain determined to find our own.
Soon arrived at Red Rocks with not a cloud in the sky and just a light westerly wind, hardly a breath really but enough to give a chill to the face.
Now Olly Clam hadn't been here for over 20 years and the last time he, a mere spring chicken of a lad [you should see his legs!] and I had walked out to Hilbre with Alex Barter, sadly missed and two other lads whose names I can't remember.
We decided to do the same and set off across the sands only to be blocked from the islands by Olly's lack of wellies.
Whilst Olly was looking for a way over a creek, I took photos of the sand. It's amazing how nature repeats itself at vastly different scales. With imagination one could be looking down on landscape structures seen from space; Sahara Desert for instance.
Off for a large breakfast at Tesco's and a visit to the new log cabin of a visitor's centre at Burton Mere RSPB reserve.
Superb reserve and from the large windows back-tailed godwits, a male hen harrier could be seen along with common birds. Little egrets were here too. How many years have they been here and how many now breed?
To the hide, with siskin and nuthatch on the way. A number of stonechat to be seen here and more waders and duck.
Off to Parkgate to see how the tide was; high tide being at 1.45. Unfortunately high tide wasn't going to be big enough to diplace everything on the saltmarsh so, despite views of a great white egret and a female hen harrier, we decided to go up to Hoylake to see the large wader roost on the beach there.
We were not to be disappointed as over 10,000 mostly knot were near to the nearby tideline with 2 selfish photographers next to them putting them up for their entertainment.
We both digiscoped from the roadway and enjoyed the massed ranks of knot, sanderling, dunlin, grey plover and bar-tailed godwit. Note the sequence - little waders to the fore, larger ones to the back. Wonderful.
Back to Parkgate for another female hen harrier, more little egrets and two very close short-eared owls.
A superb day enjoyed. Great birds, great company and great scenery. CLAM ON!
On the spur of the momment I decided to go over the local patch this morning, but on my way I decided to head up to Stoke on Trent for some Waxwings that came up on the pager.
On route I text Bart to see if he had bothered going out anywhere. I soon received a text back saying that he was at Doxey Marshes looking for a Water Pipit (Its a blocker for him); so I arranged to meet him up there as it is on the way to Stoke.
Parked up at Doxey I walked across the reserve and soon tracked him down.No sign of the Pipit so we teamed up and walked up and down the small river hoping to see the elusive Pipit, but no Joy! We had a couple of Meadow Pipits, a Stonechat, 6 Goosander, the usual wildfoul, Teal etc, and a Grey Wagtail, so we headed back to our cars and headed north to Stoke too look for the Waxwings.
After getting lost a few times we finally arrived at the place where the Waxings had been reported earlier, there were about ten Birders in the car park. We asked if they had been seen. One Birder said, "they were here about ten minutes ago!" We walked over to another Birder and he had got one bird in his scope, so we set up and there it was. Cracking ! a bit distant but hey ho!
We watched the bird for about 5 mins, but then we heard a trilling call above our heads. We checked out the trees behind us in the Burger King car park and there they were, 9 Waxwings! Boom !
We stayed and watched these little crackers for about 40 Minutesand whilst in the car park we asked a few of the local Birders if there was anything else about. One of the Birders was Phil Locker, we both know him off the Facebook group we are in the ASBO Black Lark Group. He gave us Gen, reports of a Jack Snipe up at Tittesworth Res, and Short Eared Owls up on the North Staffs moors. We thanked him and decided to head up for the Snipe & Owls. Thanks Phil.
Tittesworth Res, with the Roaches behind.
At Tittesworth we had met up with two Birders from Wolverhampton, Dave & Paul, so we walked up to the hide from where the Snipe had been seen and upon entering the hide found that it was packed out. The bird was not on show, so we started scanning across the res' onto the far shoreline. 7 Common Snipe were there but no Jack.
Half an hour passed and now the hide was starting to empty so we could sit down and have a better look. Then Dave picked it out. Jack Snipe on the far shore in amonst the reeds. Another Year Tick !
Yet another quality photo!
Now with only 2 hours of light left we decided to head up onto the moors and look for yet another year tick, Short Eared Owls.
View of the Roaches from the Moors
Time was now 15.30 and the light was starting to fade, so all four of us walked up to the area where the Owls had been reported, looking across and down the valleys over the ranges. After half an hour of scanning and views of Red Grouse , Buzzard and Meadow Pipit, Paul picked up a large bird in the skyline to the right of us. We all got our Bins onto it and BOOM -Short Eared Owl ! Nice one Paul.
We stayed for another 20 Mins and got closer views. What fantastic birds they are! I haven't seen one for years so it was really great to see this one.
It was now nearly dark so we all said our goodbyes and headed back home.
Things are a bit on the quiet side and the Clams hadn't sent me any texts saying they were out Birding this weekend, so I decided to have a relaxed weekend chilling with my family at home.
After a few hours I was starting to get ictchy feet, I was thinking of going over the local patch when I recieved a text from Bart asking if I wanted to go up Chasewater for the gull roost, great idea, so I text Tom and we set out at 15.00hrs for Chasewater.
At Chasewater the light was good so we set up on the viewing platform and started scanning through some of the large gulls gathering on the water infront of us.
The roost contaned at this time good numbers of L.B.B.Gulls, Herring, a few Common Gulls, and large numbers of Black Headed, including one still in full summer plumage!
20 minutes had passed and Gulls were still comming in, we contnued to scan through the new arrivals when Olly Clam picked up the Adult Iceland Gull , great!
Iceland Gull, what a great photo NOT! Its the best I could get.
We continued to scan through the roost hoping to find a Caspian Gull or Med Gull, and a couple of old friends joined us , John Holian , and Chaz , more eyes the better! We had 6 Greylag Geese fly low over the water , which we were told by Chaz is a very good record for here.
We stayed until the light faded, had no luck in finding a Caspian or Med , but we had a Adult Yellow Legged !. A nice 2 hours birding , Clam On!!!