A WALK ON THE WILDSIDE---PAUL FOSTER

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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Wirral.... Leache's Storm Petrel

Having kept an eye on the weather forecast and tides, conditions were very favourable for Leache's storm petrel to be moving along the wirral peninsular.I had encountered these birds about 7 yrs ago in the same place, but views were always distant.

Strong North/North westerly winds had been the norm over the last few days, and I anticipated that these conditions would bring birds in close to the shore, I noticed that a few sightings had already been posted onto the local websites,soI headed to a favourite spot that I knew, knowing that the tide would still be out, I decided to recce other areas for any future trips!

Some interesting places were found, particularly Hilbre island, which involved getting the tides right and a 50 minute walk across the sand..One or two other birders had made their way back from the island and he had had good views of the petrels coming through!

Heading back to my initial spot and with the high tide due in,I set up my camera hoping for a few images.The first couple of hours produced a few birds, but always out of range.I made a few record shots, but knew that I could do a lot better.

The following day I was back by the Mersey mouth, ready for a few birds to venture out.They are known to take shelter up the river when conditions prevail and this is what I had hoped for.I tucked myself in behind a break water and sat it out.Almost within 20 mins, a bird was spotted moving out, but again distant.The wind was beginning to build in strength,and some heavy showers were endured,conditions were spot on for some close encounters!

More birds began to show albeit distantly, then from nowhere one appeared 20 metres away, the wind was pushing them right in as they came out of the bay.I felt that I had a better opportunity with the Petrels about 400 yds higher up to my left,as the earlier bird had followed the tide line.I knew that I would be really exposed to the elements but decided to brave it out!

Other photographers and birders were also in position too.The wind and swirling sand was quite taxing and I was worried about my gear getting damaged.I saw one or two tripods blown over, which foolishly had been left unattended!Plenty of Leaches were now showing well, some even flying low behind me onto the sand.A grey phalarope flew in and flopped down amongst the waves, just metres away!Sometimes the birds were just too close to focus on,so I repositioned some 30 yds back from the tideline.Trying to hand hold a heavy lens in these conditions was becoming hard work, but I persevered!

I braved a few hrs of the elements and counted over 50 birds coming through.It was a memorable encounter and well worth the  100 mile round trips!Some of my better images are below,I hope you enjoy them and please keep well!

                                      A posse of birders gathered!

                                                       Grey Phalarope
                                                 Literally yards way.

                                        They hip hopped along the tideline!
                                           



Well wrapped up and a close encounter!

                                What hardy little birds they are, about the size of a starling!



Sunday, 10 September 2017

Wilson's Phalarope Lancs

Yesterday afternoon, news came through of a juv Wilson's Phalarope being reported from a local wetland.Gathering the camera equipment together,I set out to try and get a few images of this North American wader.With all the bad weather and hurricanes out there at the moment, it had been blown of course and made landfall here.The last time such a bird had been reported in Lancashire,was 2010.
 There was a few other birders about, keen on seeing the wader.Views were rather limited, as you had to cram behind a screen and look through the different slots.The bird was about 50 metres away and flitted between the main and small shallow pools.
 It was really active in its search for food.It's needle sharp bill picking off flies from the surface.Every now and then it would start spinning around in circles to displace the mud which held invertebrates.
 They usually migrate to South America on lakes high up in the Andes,but it certainly was a welcome bonus here!
 In between some heavy showers,I gained a few images!An interesting fact is that it is one of the only shorebirds that swim in deep water too.
The bird has not yet been reported today,10/09/17,so lets hope it returns!
 This particular site has held all three Phalarope species now,so credit must go to the local birder who found it and put the news out!
I hope you enjoyed the small account of my afternoon and thanks for dropping by!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Wood warbler

 For the last few weeks a Wood Warbler has been present at a local nature reserve in the Trough Of Bowland.I took the opportunity  to see this lovely summer migrant,as it was on territory and actively looking for a mate!

The bird was easily located with its trilling call,high up in the canopy and it gave a few short fluttery display flights to the lower branches enabling good close views.As I write this,the bird has been there a good few weeks now,and is still displaying.

Whether it finds a mate,remains to be seen,as they really are in serious decline .Also present, was a Tree Pipit which had returned to its patch to breed.I just love the call of this bird and again it is not at all common to the area!

Thanks for dropping by and please keep well!




Tree Pipit


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Local Tawny Owls!

Last year I made a few owl boxes for the local tawnies,I was over the moon when I spotted this adult enjoying the morning sun in late march!
A few weeks later,I decided to investigate further and was pleased to find this adult incubating!

Checking the box to see if they had hatched,I was greeted with this clutch of 4 eggs!

Again leaving it for a week or so,another inspection revealed these little fellas!

Which a few week later had grown considerably into quite large owlets.There seems to be plenty of voles about this year so they should,t go hungry for long!Not long after,literally days ,2 of the owlets had fledged and were sitting quite high up in the pine trees.A quick look in the box revealed a single healthy chick!




The adult was never too far away,keeping a watchful eye on her youngsters.I have another box too, that tawnies are using.I am hoping to go for an inspection in the next few days.This pair went down approx 2 weeks later than the first pair,so hopefully there will be chicks present.Meanwhile to complete the hat trick,I had reports of a fully fledged youngster in a separate area only a half mile away,so the local Tawnies seem to be doing extremely well in my neck of the woods at the moment!Thanks for dropping by to view the blog and I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Waxwings in East Lancs

With the influx of Waxwings being reported in the far north eastern parts of Britain,it was only a matter of time before they reached our part of the country!Birdguides gave reports, of good numbers in the Lake district before a couple of dozen or so finally appeared in Blackburn Lancashire!

Being only a stones throw away from where I live ,I eagerly got my gear together and made my way to the site!A few birders and photographers had gathered at the location and with the early morning light filtering through,I happily clicked away at the Continental visitors.The birds were quite flighty and alternated between the berry trees and some larger sycamore/ash trees on the periphery of the car park!

An enjoyable couple of hrs soon passed by,with old acquaintances renewed and new ones formed!Thats all part and parcel of the hobby,you do meet some fine folk!A couple of hundred or so images were obtained,a few of which I have put together below.So please keep well and catch up with you soon!
Actually this first image was from a few yrs back,but it is one of my favourites!

Part of a flock of 26!


Yes I did manage one actually with a berry between its bill!







Monday, 17 October 2016

A trip to the East coast!Spurn (part 1)

Easterly winds were forecast for the coming weeks, so I decided on having a few days out towards Spurn on the East coast.With these conditions forecast and it being October this cold only mean one thing,and thats lots of birds being blown across on their migration South!

I was also hoping that it would bring in one or two rarities,such was the strength of the wind.Yellow browed warblers had been recorded in excellent nos,so everything was going to plan.Redwing had began to arrive on our coasts with hundreds of song thrush and blackbirds,all coming for the autumn berries which would be their staple diet for the next few months!

October on Spurn always draws crowds of birders from far and wide,if there is a better place to go in mainland britain to enjoy migration at close hand,then I would like to know,its an absolute mecca!
 Goldcrest were constantly flitting through the bushes and numbers of these diminutive birds were high.There was always the chance of a firecrest amongst them,so you had to be on your toes!I was lucky enough to find a Firecrest up by Sammy's point,which gave a very good show of itself!
                                                   Firecrest at Sammy's Point

    Some    cracking birds began to filter through the grapevine,one such was this Red Breasted Flycatcher           below!This was discovered at Easington cemetery,high up in the sycamores!
 A first for me was this Red Flanked Bluetail also on show at the cemetery.Another of these had been found at the point a few days earlier,but I didn't fancy the 3 mile walk there and again back,with all the camera gear it wasn,t for me!

The bird was flitting about the many headstones that were in the cemetery,but always kept its distance!
Sometimes it flew down to ground level to search for insects and flies.It was only on show a few hrs after being located and when dusk approached it wasn,t seen again!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Eric morecombe hide/leighton moss

So with good reports of Greenshanks being reported from Leighton moss,myself and Brian Rafferty decided to have a run up there to see what was about!It was a dreary morning to start but with us being sat in the Eric morecombe hide,at least we would be dry and comfortable!

On arrival the hide was pretty empty,not surprising really with the inclement weather,not many people had bothered to venture out,we were extremely glad that we had made the effort,as up to 20 Greenshank were avidly feeding in the food rich mud ,some being just 5 metres away!

We were certainly gonna fill our boots with these lovely waders.It was interesting to watch them feed in small groups quickly running through the shallow water picking at anything that they disturbed!

Also on show was a brief view of a water rail that had decided to leave the cover of the reeds,again to look for food in the brackish water.A good few hrs were spent observing the waders at close range,an avocet was also present scything the shallow water.All in all it was a productive day with the camera and as always, enjoyed in good company! Hope that you all enjoy the images and as ever keep well!