Whos keeping an eye on me....

Thursday, 28 October 2010

In search of the Waxwing

Well they have arrived, across the country good numbers of Waxwings are now reported.... close to home too at Macclefiled forest.
A quick trip before work to add a bird to the year list.... er well .... not this time. Even with an ambundance of Hawthorn and Rowan berries the Waxwings were not at this location this morning. The trip was still very worth while with cracking views of 25+ Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Pheasant, Goldcrest, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel amongst the usual woodland birds. Suprisingly no Redwings this morning.

A pair of Greater Spotted Woodpecker guarded their territory, while a lone female pecked her way along a fence checking out each and every post along its length.

This silouetted Kestrel was in a hurry as it flew across a meadow towards the forest

 and this one wasnt in quite such a hurry

Further down the forest, the only thing of note were 3 male Pochard on Ridgegate.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Button Moon

Yes its a sign that its going to be freezing over night but the virtually full moon against a perfectly clear sky really lit up the East Cheshire evening this week.

Images taken with Canon 40D + 100-400mm Lseries lense, mounted on Gitzo Tripod
Watch out for some weird and wonderful moonscapes as the winter draws on!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

a Peak District ramble

I took the opportunity to show a fellow photographer around our local countryside. Omega is visiting the UK from Chennai in India where he helps to run two childrens homes. He is here visting sponsors at poynton high school and contacts at the Macclesfield based charity "India Direct".  Anyway as luck would have it for me.... his occupation..... professional photographer. Well Ok the walk will do me good, but you never know I might get some photography tips along the way.

I wanted to show Omega some varying landscapes... lowland, moorland and high peaks.
The itinery: Axe Edge Moor, Chrome Hill, Parkhouse Hill, Ramshw Rocks, Cat & Fiddle, Threeshire Heads, Danebower, this was all dependand on the weather and the time.

We started off passing the Cat & Fiddle early morning, this would be our meeting place with Liz & Helen for lunch, we were heading straight for Parkhouse and Chrome hills via Axe Edge moor. Red Grouse are now setting up there winter territories and therefore are very visible and vocal. Omega was suprised to see such a stunning bird at close hand. He muttered a few disconcerting words about leaving his telephoto lense at home but was happy to take charge of mine and took some stunning shots of a this male:

What a fabulous bird! We were able to witness at close hand a very shy and secretive bird preening, something you wouldnt normally see, so to get a shot of it was just priceless.

So as they say... "onwards and upwards", well not quite, the next location is the fabulous twin peaks of Parkhouse hill and Chrome hill Nr the village of Earl Sterndale. Not particularly high but prominant and spectacular most definitely! From the dizzy heights of Axe Edge Moor you look down into a valley at the hills, Chrome hill looking from this angle like a sharks tooth, not until you get closer and from another angle does it look like a stegosaurus.

                                                       Parkhouse hill is equally impressive

having climbed these peaks on many occassions I didnt push Omeaga any further and we declined the climb!. In the partially flooded fields along the roadside were 2 Golden Plover, a dozen or so Lapwings and a single curlew.

Next stop was the nearby Ramshaw rocks situated very close to the Roaches. Great light made for some super images, Omega looked like he was on top of the world!

                                                         it really is a stunning landscape

One last place of intrest before we meet up for lunch... the beautiful Threeshire Heads (where Cheshire, Derbyshire & Staffordshire all meet). It is said that the bare-knuckle fighters used this place to stage their fights and avoided arrest by simply stepping into the next county to continue beating the living daylights out of each other!

and of course this time of year the colours look spectacular making the walk through the valley even more special. On the way back we followed the river Dane and walked back via Danebower quarry. Kestrels hunted overhead while Stonechats flitted in front of us from the heather to the drystones walls and back again.

Sorry Omega if the walk back from Threeshire heads became more of a race than a ramble... time was not on our side!
Once through the valley you reach the imposing Chimney at the now disused Danebower Quarry

looking back from the car you get this fantastic panoramic view of the Danebower valley looking towards the Threeshires and Cut-thorn hill.

Lunch at the Cat & Fiddle was only spoilt by the predicted heavy downpours that cancelled the afternoons activities.
Omega I hope you enjoyed our fantastic landscape on your whistle stop tour of the high edge.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Garden raptor

A nice suprise this afternoon to look out of the window and see this fella sat in the tree. He was kind enough to stay put for a while to allow some shots. It watched and listened to the small finches that were brave enough to come to feed but not once did he attempt to catch prey... maybe he had just eaten.

Looking up 
Looking down 
Looking at yer.....

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Autuminal Colours

A quick trip to Macclesfield Forest on Wednesday to try again for the elusive Crossbills turned to be fruitless, however more than a few nice suprises made up for it. Their favoured spot at Standing Stone car park didnt bring any me any Crossbill rewards but a whole load of winter migrants did show well.
The highlight of 4 Bramblings was worth the trip alone. Mixed in with a flock of chaffinch the Bramblings showed extremely well feasting on the pine cones and needles.
3 Goldcrest, one of which showed down to a few yards were also superb and upto 15 Redwings flew close by. Several Siskins were mixed in with a flock of Gold and Greenfinch and just to make sure we hadnt yet finished other highlights of the short trip included Raven, a very large Skien of Pink Footed Geese c100 birds, 2 male Pochard and Little Grebe on Ridgegate and a lone Fieldfare Nr Leathers Smithy PH.

Further down the forest the sun did shine allowing the autuminal colours a chance to reflect on the still reservoirs.....

Teggs Nose in reflection (Bottoms Reservoir)

Autuminal reflection (Bottoms Reservoir)

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Cross off the Crossbill ......

Friday 8th:
A quick trip to Macclesfield Forest to try and catch up with the Crossbill. Unfortunatly high up Nr Standing Stone the fog lingered, a small flock of 20+ birds appeared close-by but suddenly changed direction away from a cone filled spruce and we lost them heading back into the dense woodland. No chance of a positive ID but quietly confident that these were indeed Crossbills. We (myself & Chris E) waited for a while longer but the fog thickened, we had little choice but to retreat to lower ground.

Further down the forest the fog dissapeared and the reservoirs have returned to normal heights following the Autumn rain.

Ridgegate reservoirs has now started to attract the first of the winter migrants, 6 Little Grebe and a single male Pochard. Plenty of Coots, Mallards, Cormorants and Tufted Ducks.

Sleeping Tufted Ducks

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

New day New bird.....

A short trip out with a friend Chris E over to the Wirral.... Inner Marsh Farm to be precise. We set off with two target birds in mind, Black Tern and Little Stint. They both obliged very early on, although the Tern was always quite distant. The Little Stint however were an incredible 6 Little Stint, which became 8 later in the day... long after we had left..

The main hide pool was very busy with countless species all showing very well. Some of the highlights were a single Curlew Sandpiper that seems to be staying as I think this is its 4th week, 10 stunning Golden Plover that had dropped in overnight , 4 handsome Spotted Redshank, and an incridible 25+ Snipe all in open view, (these are normally a very shy and reclusive bird often hidden from view), 5 Ruff of which one caused a little confussion (it turned out to be a smaller juvenile female Ruff) and a single Water Rail that wandered out in front of the hide, again a very reclusive and shy bird.

There were plenty of other species on show and in good numbers: Lapwings, Dunlins, Black Tail Godwits, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Grey Heron, B H Gulls, Common Gull, Mute Swan, Mallards, Greylag Geese, Morehen and Coot.

Unfortunatly Inner Marsh Farm currently has only the one hide and when anything of note drops in (Black Tern, Little Stint, Spotted Redshank etc...) it does get busy. We probably timed the visit well by going early morning and getting a few hours in before it got too busy. On the way out of the reserve it was nice to at least hear 2 Goldcrests amongst the many woodland species. Unusually no raptors were seen this morning.


Sunday, 3 October 2010

North Sea Skua cruise

A very early start to the day..... Cant be late the boat leaves at 9am.
First port of call is to pick up my mate Hincho, he isnt a birder like myself, but enjoys the dayout and is sure to get a good kip on the boat, two and a half hours later we pull into Bridlington Harbour.
First things first, a big mug of tea and a full English breakfast. This still leaves a few minutes to walk the harbour before queing for the Yorkshire Belle.
The incoming tide looks rather choppy, maybe Hincho wont get his kip afterall!

The harbour walls are full of juvenile Gulls, probably Greater Black Backed, but maybe Lesser Black backed.

However choppy the tide looks, at least the sun is coming up.... it could still be sun glasses weather

The harbour is starting to liven up now especially with day trip fishermen. The boats leave one by one and set off into the warming sunshine.

as we leave the harbour the birds are showing well however the locals are not yet up.... the beaches are still deserted.

Although fairly quiet on the trip a new life bird was seen. Originally called as a Black necked Grebe it was actually a Slavonian Grebe as the record shot below shows.

During the trip it was sadley quiet for the target birds of Skuas and Shearwaters, however plenty of other good stuff kind of made up for it. Black Tern, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Kittiwake, Teal, Purple Sandpiper, Little Gull, Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannets....

The Gulls were happy to chase the chum line at the back of the boat.... theres nothing like an easy meal

as we came back into harbour, news came through that a few rarities were close by at Flamborough head. So a short detour up the road we arrived at the lighthouse

After a fruitless search of the headland news came of a Great Grey Shrike further towards the golf course a few minutes away.... after a mini twitch another lifer was dually bagged

Great dayout