Monday, 11 September 2017

Purple Heron in Lancashire

August just fizzled out really following the first two weekends. I managed to join the "I dipped the Caspian Tern twice" club but it wasn't until the Bank Holiday weekend that we all popped out again.

Saturday August 26th started like any normal Saturday used to at Westport. As soon as news broke, The Stalker joined us and we headed up to Leighton Moss. We walked straight to one of the hides and there was the juv Purple Heron feeding away in the reeds. The hide was packed, and there were even some birdwatchers among the crowd.

Struggling as to where to go next, I suggested a Black Grouse site I had visited in 2001. Obviously a sunny afternoon at the end of August is prime time to see Black Grouse so we didn't really know what to expect. The drive took over an hour, but the scenery was nice and it was part of the world we don't visit very often. And when we arrived there were two Black Grouse sat in a field. Result!

And finally to catch up we headed off to Bempton on September 2nd to photograph some Gannets. And amazingly we found some. Not in the bushes as expected, but on the cliff face.

On the way back home we called into Lound GP for six Red-crested Pochards and then to Rutland for the summer plumaged Red-necked Grebe and an eclipse drake American Wigeon.

Oh and then there was this.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

To Murcar and beyond....

A quick advert from our unofficial sponsors tonight.

And a little bit of music to listen to while reading the blog. 

Apologies for the last post. A real low point in Clayhead blog history. Even lower than the blog about Mr Wrong Trousers and Mr Duck-on-a-rope Man (showing well hey - tug it in a bit to get it closer).  

Anyway, back to Murcar. I can't even remember where I got to. Oh yes, that dreadful song...

Right. We headed up to Murcar with the intention of if we didn't see it on the Friday, we could stay the Saturday. Just to recap, it was Shirley Not, Hilda's nephew and The Stalker who headed north. We parked up by the now very familiar Murcar Golf Course and walked out to the beach.

Hard to know what to caption for this photo but here goes - Entrance sign to Murcar Golf Club
We met two birders coming the other way. As often happens, they instantly recognised us and started chatting, asking for photo's, autographs, merchandise, you know the usual stuff. Anyway, they had seen the WWS and told us where to view from, and what else was in the flock. Result. We almost started grinning, but it did put a spring in the step of The Stalker (wow he can jog on a sandy beach. Olympic standard beach walker) and Shirley Not. Unfortunately Hilda's nephew decided to admire the view and do a bit of beach combing. 

We walked down the beach to the first pill box. Yes there were a few Scoter but The "Mo Farah-esque" Stalker decided it was the next pillbox that we should walk to. It was a Blakeney Point type walk; constantly looking for some hard sand. We must have walked nearly 15 miles down that beach to the 2nd pill box. 

We set our scopes up. It was a decent sized Scoter flock. We scanned expectantly. We soon found a Surf Scoter which was good news - the two birders we met told us there was a Surfie in the same flock.

We scanned that flock for hours. We made a decision to head off up to the dunes to gain a bit of height and this made viewing slightly easier. It was amazing to see an active Scoter flock in action. What amazed us was that all the Eider were grouped together, all the Velvets were together and the rest was on the edge. We watched the whole flock go to sleep. We watched a small group of Velvets start to feed, then after over three hours of scanning, we spotted a Velvet with a slightly more pronounced eye patch. And we all watched it. And we all saw it. And we all knew it was the adult White-winged Scoter. And the we sort of breathed a sigh of relief. It was tough birding.

Celebrate? Not really. Late to the party? Not really. Some of us saw it in 2011 so if anyone was late to the party it was the 2016 tickers! For one of the group it was the 3rd time he'd seen the bird.

The "late to the party celebration" photo.  
It was a relief more than anything. The afternoon turned into an attempt to re find the bird for more birders who turned up but despite repeated scanning, we never saw it again. We did see a fine juv Pomarine Skua and a Bonxie fly past, but by mid afternoon, we were fu@@ked, sorry flagging.

After a quick break in Macs, CJW headed south and managed to carry on driving to the borders. He did a sterling job and showed he was amongst the second best drivers in the car. Unfortunately, the Clayheads main driver had to bail him out. As it was, we arrived home well after 1am, due to a complete closure of the M6 in Cheshire. It caused mayhem. 

But it was a job well done.  

Sorry for lack of photo's and video's this time from Lord Lichfield. You should have heard RBA shouting down the phone at him. All I could hear were the words incompetent, fraud and amateur being said. Anyway, here's the only other picture taken that day

But at least you didn't have to listen to the world's worst song again. When I'm driving, that was the sort of music we listen to. Fantastic hey!