October 3rd I decided to go and find me a cattle egret. The one at Burton Mere Wetlands [Wirral area] seemed the most reliable but the Marshside, Southport bird, although not reported as regularly, offered better views at times. I headed for Cheshire and Burton Mere. Lots of pinkfeet had just come in along with 4 goosanders - apparently a rare sight at Burton Mere. The cattle egret was seen within a few minutes among cattle naturally about a mile away but well seen in the scope. Satnav said it would take 67 minutes to get to Marshside for the other bird. I glanced at the pager just to check. Booted warbler [a lifer for me] Great Orme, Llandudno. An area I knew well. In fact reading the very good instructions I could picture the location. So I set off for North Wales. When I arrived and got out of Tiggy I espied a line of about 8 telescopes only a few yards away.
Here's lifer 426...
Tuesday October 4th I headed north hoping for a rarity or two. I ended up spending a few hours photographing a curlew sandpiper in Phil Stead hide at Saltholme. A bird I had never got that close to. This bird was not especially close but the new kit performed reasonably... ...a couple of blackwits were present too... ..and what's this? This magpie's idea of having a wash seemed to involve aggressively attacking the water!
Thursday October 6th I set off early for Spurn and popped into Canal Scrape hide to have a coffee to set me up for a day's birding. And what a day it turned out to be. Things were soon bobbing along nicely... ...common snipe too... ...a hare was pottering among the bushes on the far side... ...and there was much local excitement when most unusually a purple sandpiper dropped in! Mipits and wheatears were plentiful . I wandered down to the seawatch hide. Sooty shearwater and a Cory's shearwater were my highlights accompanied by a few bonxies, an arctic and lots of red-throated divers. A few swallows were seen. After an hour a radio message tempted me down to Sammy's Point for a possible great grey shrike. People there said they could hear yellow-browed warblers in the second horse paddock but they only saw goldcrests which were everywhere. They remind me of cartoon character birds!
Some young birders reckoned they had seen a little bunting so we hung around in front of a hawthorn bush for about 40 minutes. I started to leave but a low whistle from one of the birders beckoned me back. Little bunting indeed. [also reed bunting on right in photo above]
I set off back to the car. The great grey shrike showed in the horse paddocks but flew off low and south although it has been seen again today [8.10.16] A painted lady fluttered by. Monday 9pm BBC4 I thought... ...and yet another wheatear trotted along in front of me. The 5D SR is said to be tricky to hand hold but I'm happy enough with the 500mm lens and 1.4 converter and 1.6 crop! [Same goes for the painted lady shot]
Bempton Cliff was claiming all sorts so I left the chocolate factory and headed north. I saw the arctic warbler but didn't try for a shot due to distance. The eastern crowned warbler was more cooperative.
6 year ticks in a single day isn't bad for October!
Friday 8th October and I headed up onto Huntcliff, Saltburn to look for lapland buntings but failed to find any. Then I went to Scarborough harbour to look for the [probably] returning black-necked grebe which was easy to spot. At Grindale the only buzzard I saw was a common buzzard so I wondered if the single report of a rough-leg was erroneous. At South Landing a great grey shrike showed distantly in Holmes Gut before flying off over Thornwick Camp.
254 UK 2016