Saturday, 14 January 2012

Great Grey Shrike, Marl Hill, Bowland, Lancashire

January 13, 2012:
For each of the past few years a Great Grey Shrike has been reported within this general area of Bowland (from Stocks Reservoir to Waddington Fell), often arriving here before Christmas.

Perhaps due to the mild weather in early winter, a first sighting was made only yesterday at Marl Hill where a bird was seen in an isolated private garden where feeders are put out for tits and finches. No doubt this was the attraction for the Shrike. After an hour’s unsuccessful watch here on what was a beautifully bright and calm sunny morning today, a move further east along the road was rewarded with a sighting, the bird perched high in typical shrike-fashion on the tip of a roadside tree. It was possible to view it and photograph it down to about 25 metres before it was disturbed by an oncoming vehicle and was lost from sight. It made a brief return later but a further 3 hours of watching proved blank. Here, there is a large area of suitable but rather inaccessible terrain into which the bird presumably vanishes for long periods of time. A small flock of ten Crossbills, a very distant view through the 'scope of a Ringtail Hen Harrier over the moors to the north, and a Stoat in ermine in a nearby field, greatly added to the interest.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Tundra Bean Geese on Lytham Moss, Lancashire

January 8, 2011: Several small flocks of Tundra Bean Geese have been reported at various places in the north-west of England over recent weeks and for them to be present here in such numbers is quite unusual. One small flock of five birds had been seen on stubble fields at Lytham Moss for almost a week now and so today's task was to attempt to locate them. The Moss is a large area of flat agricultural land, much of it waterlogged at this time of year, and not always readily accessible by road in the remoter parts.

A search for these birds in heavy drizzle and poor light took quite a while but they were eventually located on wet stubble surprisingly close to a major road, although the birds themselves were well concealed from the passing traffic by a large hedge. There were five Bean Geese in the group and as they fed amongst the short residual growth, their bright orange legs were clearly evident. A sixth bird had attached it to the group but this had a very much paler back than the others and when a clearer view was finally obtained the bright pink legs of this Pink-footed Goose contrasted strongly with the orange legs of the five Beans'.

[Pink-footed beween the two Bean Geese]