Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Great Crested Grebes Deliver Again!

Burnet Moth

Small Skipper

Burnet Moth

Meadow Brown

Small Skipper

Soldier Beetle

Red Admiral Butterfly

Got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me...
Life, I love you,
All is groovy___

Lyrics courtesy of Paul Simon

29th June. With the coming of another hot day I thought I’d head for the best place I know on patch for insects at this time of year. I wasn’t disappointed. I wouldn’t even try to guesstimate the number of Small Skippers seen today. Every where I looked at over this relatively small area seemed to produce one, two or three of them at a time. Not long on the wing, I believe they were looking to spread their genes as they seemed to be constantly on the move and disappearing into the longer grasses. It certainly wasn’t easy to get a photograph although I managed to eventually. The Meadow Browns were numerous too and seemed intent on the same pursuit as the Small Skippers. The Meadow Brown seems to my eye to have a water colour wash on the underside of the wings. One Large White appeared. It wasn’t long after noon, so I had chosen the hottest part of the day and so can’t be surprised at the movement of the butterflies. I was mindful of the Ringlets that I had seen at the weekend. Again, newly on the wing and all males I reckon, as the males take to flight a week before the females. Another butterfly that is becoming more common in this area, although I’ve yet to see one on patch.

We had been talking about moths at the weekend and Burnet Moths were mentioned. Numbers of Burnet Moths were about today and they were a lot more laid back and easier to photograph than the butterflies, as were the Soldier Beetles. The red and black of the Burnet Moth is definitely a sight to behold on a hot sunny day. Having taken some time out just to watch what was going on in this area I decide to walk on down to the small lake. I initially got my eye on one of the juvenile Great Crested Grebes which appeared to be completely independent now, as is its sibling. Just as well, as I was very pleased to see the pair of adults with their second brood of three youngsters. On the back of the female for the most, but then slipping off into the water to be fed by the male. When year end comes and I write up my highlights of the year, there is little doubt that the Great Crested Grebes are going to make an appearance. With the other pair still on the larger lake we have at present nine Great Crested Grebes on Killingworth Lake. It’s been good to see others taking such an interest in them.

It was cool down by the lake so I took a quiet and slow stroll around. I found no sign of the Little Grebe or the Sedge Warbler. There were at least twelve Lesser Black Backed Gulls, most of them loafing on the sports centre roof and at least two Common Terns. Swifts and House Martins fed and drank over the lake. I counted circa seventy-five Canada Geese, most of them gathered in two flocks on the larger lake. Common Blue Damselflies were much in evidence as they had been when I was watching the butterflies.

I slowly walked back towards the ‘insect area’ and watched the butterflies again before heading off to the area behind the village. Despite the coolness around the area of the lake I was feeling hot by now. I found a Red Admiral Butterfly, but had to get into the brambles and other vegetation to get a photograph of it and still it was quite distant. It flew before I could get a closer shot. Perhaps just as well or I would have ended up scratched and stung no doubt.

I heard both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. The song of the latter appearing much weaker and quieter now and in fact there was probably more huit huit than song now. The business and sounds of spring have passed by now taking us into a quieter, but no less interesting phase of summer. I watched a family of young Long Tailed Tits as they called and moved through the bushes.

The wind seemed to be getting up more now and was perhaps a sign of a change in the weather. Cloud was also building up, although it remained very warm. Today had given me time just to ‘look and listen’ and I continued in this vein as I tried, unsuccessfully, to get an arty shot of the patch. As I rose from my knees I was surprised by a young lad returning home from school down the narrow pathway. He seemed to realise what I was doing, at least I hope he did! Anyway he gave a polite smile and a hello before continuing his journey.

On my way home I found a rather nicely coloured Magpie feather which is now in my possession. I make use of such things in the occasional talk I give.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Just Like the Meditterranean!

We are hoping the sea will be like this when we go on our pelagic trip!!!

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a day that I could give you
I'd give to you a day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I'd sing a song to make you feel this way
Lyrics courtesy of John Denver et all

26th Jun. I completed the regular coast, dene and pond walk today along with Tom. When I closed my eyes I could have sworn that we were in the Mediterranean area. My sunburnt arms tonight suggests we were! Not often the all weather birders get sun tanned.

You can read about the birds at Tom Sorry if the link doesn't work as I seem to have problems with these, however I'm sure you'll find your way to AughtonBirder. I saw my first butterfly before we left Killingworth this morning, but failed to I D it. There were good numbers about during the day. Butterflies seen were Small White, Large White, Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Ringlet and Meadow Brown.

Bird of the day was definitely the pair of Lesser Whitethroat. An unexpected Yellow Wagtail on the wetland too! The Fox made a brief appearance here.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

E U Plans to Cut Wildlife Funding

Please see here for details

I hope you can take a few minutes out to support the campaign.

Monday, 20 June 2011

All Weather Birders Smash the Record!

Light and colour adding to an atmospheric day

And there's nowt the matter with the 'Ahhh' factor as far as I'm concerned.

19th June. It was a wonderful morning as I watched Killingworth Lake whilst waiting for Tom’s bus to arrive. I found two pairs of Great Crested Grebe, plus of course the two youngsters, one now seeming to be fending for itself. I also found a Little Grebe on the larger lake. Little Grebe used to be regularly seen on the lake, but not so in recent years. Three Common Terns flew close by me and I also found Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting. For the first time this year I caught sight of House Martins flying over the lake with larger numbers of Swallows. One Lesser Black Backed Gull was seen. I had a chat with two interested passers by who told me that a Mute Swan had been killed on the road just a few days earlier. These guys had certainly been keeping an eye on the birds on the lake and its good to know that there are people around who do so. We were soon heading for St Mary’s Island.

Despite the forecast for heavy rain the morning continued to be bright and warm and the sea relatively calm. There was a dearth of wading birds, but a small flock of Ringed Plover, Oystercatchers, the odd Curlew and a few Lapwings were all seen. For a change, the most active area was the wetland. Here we found at least two reeling Grasshopper Warblers (briefly seen), Sedge Warblers, Common Whitethroats, Sand Martins, Goldfinch and Reed Buntings in some number. Both Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were flying and singing over the fields.

We had seen a few Sandwich Terns and the odd Common Tern over the sea before we headed in the direction of Hartley and Seaton Sluice. We began to pick up small groups of Guillemot on and over the sea. Eider Ducks were numerous and a small flock of Common Scoter flew southwards. A bite to eat in the fish and chip shop gave us a short rest before some sea watching, some of it from the Tower Hide. The hide saved us from a soaking from the only really heavy downpour of the day during which time the mist enveloped us for a time. It didn’t last very long however. We noticed large numbers of Kittiwake, numbers of Gannet, some flying quite close to land, numbers of Guillemot, a smaller number of Razorbill and the occasional Puffin. Numbers of Fulmar has been around the cliff areas, with at least one or two on the cliff ledges still. Rock Pipits were carrying food to a nest. We saw our first Turnstones below the area of the hide. Once again there had been no sign of Redshank.

It wasn’t long before the rain and mist passed over and we off in the direction of Holywell Dene. Over all the dene appeared to be quiet. However we eventually added a pair of Grey Wagtail to the list along with three Stock Doves. It’s never easy to watch birds in the dene at this time of year but we came across a number of the commoner species including Song Thrush in full song. Chiffchaffs were around in number as were a few Willow Warbler and Blackcap. The dene was peaceful. One lady out with her dogs recognised that we were bird watching and took dogs off to bathe further down the burn. Good to see that courtesy and consideration is not dead!

In stark contrast to the last time we has visited The Avenue was quiet too. Although once we got closer to North Pool Common Whitethroats began to appear as did Linnet. The water in North Pool is lower now. We didn’t have the excitement of finding any rarer wading birds this time. It was mainly Mallard, Coot and Moorhen in evidence. As we walked to the public hide at Holywell Pond, Reed Bunting was heard. From the hide we fond at least six Grey Herons, the Canada Geese family which included seven youngsters, Little Grebe, Pochard, Mallard, Tufted Duck and a single Lesser Black Backed Gull. Also seen were the first and only Redshanks of the day. Two of them. Curlews were also heard. On the way to the members hide we found that there is now a small feeding station viewable from the pathway. A very good and nice idea, but I couldn’t help wonder how long this will be left alone considering the problems of theft and vandalism that have been experienced at the hide feeding station! Let’s be optimistic and hope it is left alone. We had a great sighting of a young Great Spotted Woodpecker. Not long fledged I would guess. It perched perfectly still on a branch directly in front of us, as if perhaps waiting for a parent bird to appear, before making some not entirely successful efforts to balance on the tree where a feeder was placed.

The pond was quiet this evening, but I enjoyed my time watching from it anyway. Evening at this time of year is so peaceful. The Mute Swans brought their seven cygnets to the front of the hide where they curled up to sleep. Some very young Moorhen chicks appeared and looked as though their heads had been sprinkled with red paint. Mallards also had very young chicks with them. A single Shoveller was amongst some other special sightings. A female Great Spotted Woodpecker visited the feeding station. A parent bird of the youngster previously seen perhaps. The rain began to fall again, although it didn’t last too long. The all weather birders had been very adept at keeping dry on the outside today, but felt that a little wetness on the inside would be nice so we adjourned to the pub for a little break. Well, bird watching is supposed to be fun you know! We weren’t finished yet however. Owls were on our mind.

We were soon walking back toward the pond and we bumped into Holywell Birding (Cain) and British Birder (Stephen). Tom and I took another look at North Pool and as I stood in the hedge (well I had been drinking lager) a Lesser Whitethroat began tacc’ing and popped out of the hedge to investigate. Cain returned and thanks to him we located the Barn Owl very quickly. We had some great sightings of it returning with prey and it had been a great way to end (or at least almost end) a long, but great day. As well as the Barn Owl we added Yellowhammer (heard) to the day list along with both Grey and Red Legged Partridges. A light shower of rain was hardly noticed by us.

What’s this about smashing records then
, I hear you ask. Well on counting up our day list it appeared that we had amassed a total of seventy-eight species (this may yet turn into seventy-nine) breaking our record for the walk which stood at seventy-six. We just failed on this occasion to make the magical eighty, but there will be another time. We took home some new year ticks too. I seem to remember it was well past 9.00pm when our birding ended. Everyone was tired and I’m sure all slept well. I seem to remember dreaming about birds! Today had been one of those days which to me underline what bird watching is all about.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

A Quiet Patch

Small Tortoiseshell

Large Skipper

16th June. Although thinking that the wagon-way area of the patch would be entering its quiet faze now I still decided to take a walk along that way. I took a slight diversion before joining the wagon-way proper and found numbers of Swallow, House Martins and Swifts flying, at times very low over the fields. Skylarks were in the air too. It often seems that every bit of spare ground in North Tyneside is quickly gobbled up for housing and commercial use but it is still possible to look from the high ground and have a practically uninterrupted view down to St Mary’s Lighthouse and the sea beyond. I wasn’t the only one taking in this view today as a cyclist stopped to take photographs.

Once back on to the wagon-way I didn’t see too much to excite bird-wise although did eventually pass two Common Whitethroat territories, having good sightings of the birds. The odd Chiffchaff was heard. Further along the pathway a Yellowhammer was heard briefly and more Skylarks were in the air. Linnets were the only other birds of real note.

I did find six species of butterfly today, but not in large numbers. The first and most common was the Small White. Next came a Small Heath in the taller grassy area where I also found at least four Meadow Browns. Three Small Tortoiseshell (I was able to take a good look at the under-wings of one of them) were seen as well as one Red Admiral and two Large Skipper. The Large Skippers were found in almost the exact same spot as I had found them last year. Quiet, but never uninteresting!

One of the points I learnt at the butterfly conservation talk on Tuesday was that it is no longer thought that the invasion from Europe of the parasitic fly Sturnia bella is having a major effect on Small Tortoiseshell numbers. Whilst there has been a massive decline in this butterfly's numbers over recent years, numbers have gone up recently. Personally I couldn't help wonder if the warm periods experienced over the past two years was the reason for the increase and that perhaps the insects effects were just somewhat hidden. I suppose time will tell.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

House Martins at Last!

14th June. Not long returned from an interesting talk at the Rising Sun Country Park on Butterfly Conservation in North East England. A buffet and some wine made for a nice evening. Before I went along I at last saw some House Martins on patch. Fifteen birds were flying and chattering overhead south of the village area. These are the first ones I have seen on patch this year. There were a few Swallows feeding low over the lake today too. It’ll be interesting to see any information as to how these birds have faired during such dry weather and lack of mud for nests. As I watched the House Martins a female Sparrowhawk flew high above them. It kept appearing and seemed intent on finding a meal. I heard Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Common Whitethroat. Good sightings were obtained of a Common Whitethroat returning to the nest with insects. A male Blackcap also gave a good sighting as it gleaned leaves.

Little wind today meant that temperatures jumped a level and it was a pleasant evening even as darkness came in. I had arrived home in time to see the very cute Water Vole on Spring Watch. Also the discussion as to whether Magpies and other corvids have a detrimental effect upon songbirds. The usual views of course were expressed by the RSPB and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. The views of some will never change, no matter how much research is done!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Harthope Valley

12th June. I stood in the sunshine at Killy Lake watching the Great Crested Grebe family and hoping that the Met Office weather forecast would be correct and that there would be no heavy rain until 16.00hrs. Confusing, as the Evening Chronicle forecast heavy rain all day and the BBC home page changed its mind on several occasions as to whether it would be wet or dry! Never mind we were going to Harthope come what may and Tom, Cain and I were soon heading north and passing the odd Common Buzzard on the way. The sun continued to shine, but there were some threatening grey clouds over the Cheviots.

As we approached the valley Tom spotted Red Legged Partridge. On our return journey we were rewarded with another two Red Legged Partridge in the valley and on that occasion I saw them! Anyway, once into the valley we soon found Green Woodpecker as it flew to the right of the car giving a decent, but brief sighting. A stop by the bridge brought us our first Grey Wagtail of the day. The decision had been made to take the hike to look for Ring Ouzel so as to avoid any rain that might come later. Early on the walk we found two birds which flew in front of us and quickly disappeared. We were confident that they were Ring Ouzels. Tom and I had found them in almost the same area last year. We hung around for awhile, but the birds did not reappear. There were numbers of Meadow Pipits in the area.

We soon heard our first Whinchat of the day and had decent sightings of them. One male gave a stunning sighting as it followed us past what we think was a nest close to the pathway. As good and close a sighting as I have ever had of a Whinchat. We saw five (at least) Whinchat in all. A decent sighting of the Ring Ouzel was proving to be not so easy. We did find Red Grouse and Kestrel. Later in the day we had excellent distant scope views of a Kestrel on the nest with three chicks that looked close to fledging. A really nice high point of the day. Cain takes the credit for find the nest and carrying his telescope. Not easy considering the hiking to be done. A party of four Ravens was heard calling and seen flying high over the hills. We reached the point where we could view Scotland in the distance. Still no good sighting of Ring Ouzel. A Kestrel continued to hover above the crags. I tried to make out a bird on the skyline which turned out to be a pair of sheep’s ears! The only butterflies seen today were a very faded Peacock and a Small White. I did find a very nice Spotted Orchid, but botanising wasn’t really on the agenda today..

We began our descent and had not given up hope of Ring Ouzel sightings. Eventually Tom got his eye on a bird in the distance. It was a recently fledged Ring Ouzel and it looked very thin. The partial white collar was plain to see. I guessed parent birds would be close by and it wasn’t long until we had good sightings of a male and female Ring Ouzel on the ground. They eventually seemed to join the young bird. Another male Ring Ouzel joined them, but was chased of by the other male bird. So it had been hard work to find them but we did finally have good sightings of those four birds and taking into account the two early on the walk we had found six Ring Ouzels. These had definitely been the target of our day, but there was much more to the day then one species and even if we hadn’t found them it would still have been a great day. I think!:-)

We thought we were going to be caught in heavy rain as we made our way down to the valley floor. In the event the storm clouds passed over and we were in sunshine for much of the time. Red Grouse were seen again just before we hit the footpath past Langleeford. Another Kestrel was found. At least five Kestrels (+ the three chicks) were seen today, four of them in the valley area. Common Buzzards were seen and Curlews called intermittently as they flew over the valley. The odd Lapwing was also seen.

It wasn’t long before we had our second sighting of Green Woodpecker and also of Grey Wagtail, this one perched in a tree. Willow Warblers were around in great numbers and we also saw numbers of Lesser Redpoll. Gaining good sightings of the latter birds at times. One really good sighting of a Garden Warbler was had, but for me the star bird on this part of the walk was a singing Tree Pipit which hung around for sometime giving us an excellent sighting. It eventually took off and rose into the sky before flying off. There were quite a few Mistle Thrush about, Song Thrush and Yellowhammer were heard and Goldfinch seen. Jays were heard and two seen. When we returned and sat by the burn for lunch I expressed surprise that we had not seen a Dipper today. No sooner said when a Dipper flew up the burn. Unfortunately the same tactic did not work for Redstart and we failed to find one, although we did stop at the likely spot after lunch where we heard our first Chiffchaff of the day. Sand Matins, Swallows, House Martins and Swifts were around in some number in the valley. I seem to recall four or five Wheatear seen today.

On our way home we made a brief stop at Druridge hoping to catch sight of the Spoonbills, but found that they had left. We did watch the Avocets at Cresswell and found that one youngster still survives. We counted twenty-two young Shelduck which appeared to be following one pair of adults. Other Shelduck were about. A Stonechat was seen on the edge of the dunes. Time was getting on and the rain had now arrives as forecast by the met office so we didn’t spend much time in the area However we still managed a list of sixty-one species today which had included some very special sightings. It had been an excellent days birding. Thanks go to Cain for the driving. Thanks also to the Met Office for getting the forecast correct. Goodness knows where the Chronicle gets their forecast from! As for the BBC home page……well that’s just best ignored at all times! Despite the decent weather, numbers of cars parked in the valley and it being a Sunday, we didn't come across that many people. Now that's the way I like it!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Bullfinch Song

9th June. A walk on patch this evening gave me a wonderful sighting of a male Bullfinch fully lit by the sun and so showing off the remarkable plumage colouring to the full. A great sight to behold. Even better was listening to the bird’s quiet and quite mournful song which is so often drowned out by other bird song. I don’t hear it very often in the field, but I am well accustomed to it as I play a tape of the song during one of my talks for beginner bird watchers. Tim Birkhead in ‘The Wisdom of Birds’ (strongly recommend this book) points out that the Bullfinch is unusual as it does not sing to hold a territory, but simply to attract its mate. The Bullfinch is thought to be monogamous and pairs stick together year round. Although the song of the bird is a weak one it does have great abilities in the sense that it is known to be able to learn new songs from humans. Such was the Bullfinch’s ability to learn the tunes of folk songs, that there was once a thriving market in the sale of these birds. Apparently as English folk songs were very popular the market in London was especially strong. Of course they were often kept in cages as pets, not just for the ability to sing but because of the male’s birds sheer beauty. I may have this wrong but I seem to remember that the late James Alder (local naturalist) kept a rescued Bullfinch for sometime. The Bullfinch certainly has a song that I won’t forget and it reminds me of the equally mournful song of the Dupont’s Lark that I listened to in central Spain.

I was actually listening for Grasshopper Warbler this evening, but I still haven’t heard any on patch. I did hear more than one yesterday, but that will be another blog. I did hear the song of Blackcap at length tonight and eventually got my eye on the bird. I later found another pair which appeared to be nesting close to Dunnocks. On the way to the lake I closely watched as a Common Whitethroat moved through the bush.

Numbers of Swift flew overhead at varying heights as I watched a young Great Crested Grebe follow a parent bird around the small lake. It was soon joined by its remaining sibling, so the parent was being kept busy. It seems to me that a second brood may be being attempted, as the other parent sat in the same area as I last watched it on what appears to be a loosely built nest. I noted that one of the other Great Crested Grebes has made a return on the larger lake, but seems to be alone still. A Coot sat on the nest as a youngster swam nearby and the other adult carried sedges to and from the edge of the lake to the nest. Despite the baldness of the floating reedbed I note that it has not prevented the pair of Greylag Geese producing a brood of five hungry goslings. The whole family were alert to the feed being thrown into the lake and were soon taking their share as the adult bird chased of the Mallards.

The sky was still full of Swifts as I returned home on what was now a rather chilly evening.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Twitching Circus at Hartlepool Headland!

6th June

For the benefit of Mr. Kite
There will be a show tonight on trampoline
The Hendersons will all be there
Late of Pablo Fanques Fair-what a scene
Over men and horses hoops and garters
Lastly through a hogshead of real fire!
In this way Mr. K. will challenge the world!
The celebrated Mr. K.
Performs his feat on Monday at Hartlepool
The Hendersons will dance and sing
As Mr. Kite flys through the ring don't be late
Messrs. K and H. assure the public
Their production will be second to none
And of course Henry The Horse dances the waltz!

(Lyrics (with minor alteration) from Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band)

As you know I’m not into twitching in a big way, but I do make the occasional exception, as my header shows. Today (Mon) was such a case and I joined the twitching circus at Hartlepool Headland along with Tom, Cain and Phil and I guess several hundred other circus members. Top of the bill was the White-throated Robin. The first one to appear on mainland Britain and only the third in total in the British Isles (last seen in 1990), as I’m sure people may have heard on more than one occasion!

I don’t care much for standing around in big crowds of scope and camera carrying hordes. This is not bird watching as I know it. However I did feel I ought not to miss out on this one. After standing for sometime near the bowling green with little more than a very nice Dunnock to show for it, I began to feel that our luck was not to be in. It was interesting watching how the circus was apparently being conducted and directed by one or two individuals. I noted though that few were taking much notice of their endeavours. When frustration set into the expectant participants, we were all advised to move back. Some began to do so until someone made the error of suggesting that the photographers stay put. That was definitely the wrong thing to say it seemed, and brought a few comments of ‘all or none’ or words to that effect. None’ won the day. Others were getting agitated because fellow watchers were watching from what they thought the wrong spot and began to telephone friends to say so!

When Lee Evans left followed by friends, I thought well that must mean there is going to be a no show. However they had simply gone around the corner. Everyone else eventually made for the new viewing point. The view unfortunately was blocked a twelve foot wall and this is when the real fun of the circus really began. Whilst circa fifteen twitchers stood upon the roof a small white van, I found Tom and Cain in negotiation with a builder over his ladders. I thought they were negotiating very well until interrupted by someone else who thought he could negotiate even better and apparently saw it as his job to intervene.

By now individuals were attempting to get up onto the top of the wall by any means possible. The wall became a gallery of various body parts. I think a few of a certain age ought to have known better! I watched Tom pull himself up the wall attached to the legs of another twitcher, and thought, I ain’t going to try that. I did ponder on the idea of asking Phil if I could stand on his shoulders. I thought better of that too as he may have wanted me to return the favour. I thought it best to try for the ladders. By now ladders were appearing from all angles as builders merchants were being hijacked at every opportunity. Just as I arrived for my turn at the ladder the damn bird disappeared, and in any event the owner of the ladders wanted them back as he had been working all day and wanted to get home for his tea. I think he underestimated just how hard the circus participants had sweated whilst looking out for this bird!

Now that ain't working, that's the way you do it
Let me tell you them guys ain't dumb
Maybe get a blister on your little finger
Maybe get a blister on your thumb
We got to install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We got to move these refrigerators
We got to move these colour T.V.'s

Dire Straits lyrics

I did eventually get to the top of a ladder, and without a safety net I’ll have you know. I believe there is a photo in existence which may appear at some point.:-) Still didn’t get my bird. Having found that Tom, Cain and Phil had had good sightings there was no way I was going home with them not having seen this White-throated Robin. On my third attempt up the ladders I did finally get a very good sighting. White-throated Robin joins my life list. Ouite a nice bird I must admit.

I seem to remember much action up and down ladders still taking place when we moved on. I wasn’t aware of any injuries occurring. A minor miracle in itself I reckon. Despite what seemed mayhem I have to say most people were behaving very well and lining up at the ladders in an orderly fashion. We were soon off to Seaton Carew and yes we did have a fine sighting of the very much more obliging adult male Red Backed Shrike. Only my second seen in Britain. I’ve seen many on my travels but can’t really remember seeing one any better than I did today. It was a relaxing end to a surreal day, with Kittiwake, Guillemot and Great Crested Grebe showing on the sea.

I have to admit I tend to enjoy my little forays into the world of the twitch.:-) Although I guess I enjoyed the Red Backed Shrike as much as anything and I prefer to bird in peaceful surroundings.

No photos here I’m afraid but I’m hoping to see some good ones from Cain (Holywell Birder).

Thanks for the good company and laughs guys.