A great year for new birds! My first ever Dalmatian Pelican, White-tailed Eagle, Demoiselle Crane, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Cliff Swallow, Brunnichs’ Guillemot, Siberian Accentor, Eastern Black Redstart and Dusky Thrush, plus first ever UK Blue Rock Thrush! Celebrations aplenty for reaching The Big 400 UK Bird Species and the publication of my first books
The New Year 2016 rather appropriately began with a Salford Docklands trip to see the Great Northern Loon
This bird remained on-site until April and attracted hundreds of visitors, providing many birders with their first trip to this site
Film: Great Northern Loon @ Salford Docklands
There were many local patch visits to Salford Docklands during 2016 gaining data for the book “The Birds of Salford Docklands”
“The Birds of Salford Docklands”
Early in the year, a Pallas’ Warbler showing in the hedgerow adjacent to Heswall ETW on Target Road on the Wirral
Mancunian Birder Article – On Target
Film: Pallas’s Warbler, Merseyside
January & February sightings of Chiffchaff on Pomona Docks yet again showed how very important this site is for passerines, and in the Spring Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat on territory, Little Ringed Plover, Northern Lapwing, Common Sandpiper and a large Sand Martin colony were again noted!
With the Greater Manchester Green Summit happening in March 2018 it really is time to be talking seriously about how valuable urban nature reserves are to humanity
Pomona Docks on Salford Docklands, Greater Manchester
Film: Pomona Docks, Eden Project North
Return To Pomona public event, Pomona Docks, Salford Docklands, Greater Manchester
Saturday 28th May was a superb day showing more people around this urban ecological paradise on the Return To Pomona event! In June I visited the Eden Project in Cornwall for the first time, and it really makes you think we need something similar here in the North!
Architects’ Ecology Centre plans on Pomona Docks, Salford Docklands, Greater Manchester
Cornflower, Pomona Docks, Salford Docklands
Ecologist Zoe Barrett found Northern Wheatear and a drake Northern Pochard on Pomona Docks, plus rare Bee Orchids showing the floral value of this urban site
Drake Northern Pochard, Pomona, Salford Docklands
In June, a research trip to London that included a stroll through St. James’ Park to have a look at the Pelicans, recording a personal moment recalling how seeing these birds helped get me into birding when I was a young lad !
“A Mancunian In London”
“The Family Crest” Red-crested Pochard Article
@MancunianBirder shares birding memory in London!
It was therefore a full circle moment, on 19th June, to be seeing a DALMATIAN PELICAN in Cornwall, the first time I have seen a Pelican in the wild in the UK
Film: Dalmatian Pelican, Restronguet Creek, Cornwall
@MancunianBirder, Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
A pair of Ruddy Shelducks on the Slimbridge WWT nature reserve on 21st June were a fine Summer solstice surprise and looked like they had just arrived – but where from ?
Film: Ruddy Shelducks, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire
After paying homage to the long-staying south coast / Radipole Lake RSPB eclipse drake Hooded Merganser, we began a long pilgrimage North, via the Red-necked Phalarope on Grindon Lough in Northumberland, to the Isle of Mull, the EcoTourism Paradise, to look for my 400th UK Bird Species, WHITE-TAILED EAGLE
The Big 400 moment! Connecting with my first White-tailed Eagles!
Celebrating Good Times on the Isle of Mull #TheBig400
Read all about it!!
“The Big 400 – A Personal Journey To 400 UK Bird Species”
Thanks to Shaun @MancunianSpring for the photos!
Film: @MancunianBirder talks about The Isle of Mull
On 11th July, after 12 hours of searching, I connected with the DEMOISELLE CRANE (also known as the Koonj) in Northumberland – this was apparently the last sighting of this bird in the UK, reports suggest it was relocated in Denmark
Demoiselle Crane, Grindon Lough, Northumberland
A summer of White Stork research, including many hours spent searching fields and suitable habitat, such as a rubbish tip in the Midlands, and visiting the inaugural East Anglia Re-wilding programme
A sighting in the wild in Worcestershire on Monday 18th July of a White Stork in flight at Throckmorton Tip flying towards Wyre Piddle, picked up after hours of mooching and scanning !
In September, I saw my first EURASIAN BEAVER along the beautiful River Otter in Devon, it took three days to see, including some very early mornings
Eurasian Beaver, River Otter, Devon, September 2016
Trenow Cove, with it’s spectacular views on Mount’s Bay in Cornwall, is the very picturesque site for the famous mega HUDSONIAN WHIMBREL
Film: Hudsonian Whimbrel, Trenow Cove, Mount’s Bay, Cornwall
The Dalmatian Pelican was still on a long summer residence, and whilst birding the Hayle Estuary news came through that Graham Gordon, a colleague from the infamous Brit birders “Birding In The USA” Cape May days, had found a mega rare American hirundine, a Cliff Swallow, on the Isles of Scilly!
Many thanks to George Kinnard for arranging the charter boat, and to Shaun for skilfully filming my Baywatch impression!
Film: Onboard the Falcon charter boat from Penzance to Scilly
On the Isles of Scilly CLIFF SWALLOW, Lesser Yellowlegs, Temminck’s Stint and Whinchat seen in just 2 days! Really great to be on the islands again, for the first time since 1995!
Film: Whinchat, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly
Film: Lesser Yellowlegs and Temminck’s Stint, Isles of Scilly
In Cheshire Yellow-legged Gull Sandbach Flashes and a pair of Ruddy Shelduck at Winsford Flashes
Thanks to Paul Brewster, Focalpoint Optics Manager, for the digiscoping equipment!
Yellow-legged Gull, Sandbach Flashes, Cheshire, September 2016 (@MancunianBirder)
Whatever the origins of the Manchester North American Wood Duck/s this species certainly caught the imagination of the local media and resulted in an interview on That’s Manchester with Chyaz Samuel, and a newspaper article, birders should always be looking to find the angles that inspire to bring birds and the environment to the attention of the masses
Film: Mancunian Birder That’s Manchester interview
Film: Drake North American Wood Duck, Manchester
Newspaper articles on birds are notorious for fake news!
A twitch to Fife in Scotland for the Anstruther Harbour BRUNNICH’S GUILLEMOT, a species from the Arctic Circle
The trip was successful with the bird filmed in the harbour, with some accompanying genuine Scottish harbour sounds!
Film: Brunnich’s Guillemot, Anstruther Harbour, Fife
Rare Bird Alert! Finders In The Field – Brunnichs’ Guillemot
On 1st October I found a duck that resembled a possible mega Western Spot-billed Duck at Fog Lane Park, south Manchester
In my opinion this species could be a potential vagrant to the UK from Asia, therefore I documented the bird as fully as possible, just in case! It took a while to see that the open wings were heavily pinioned, therefore, this bird was very obviously a bird that had been placed on the park duck pond from a collection, especially as it might have been a Mallard hybrid?! This was yet another episode filed in the “Educational Birding” file
As the Western Spot-billed Duck is closely related to the Mallard and are found on ponds, it is possible that a vagrant could actually turn up in the UK with Mallards on a duck pond, but not this one! A first-winter drake in Cumbria on the River Eden in March 2014 might be a candidate for the British List
Western Spot-billed Duck (or perhaps WSBD x Mallard hybrid?), Fog Lane Park, Manchester, October 2016
Moving swiftly on to perhaps one of the biggest ornithological events of the 21st century! The mythical SIBERIAN ACCENTOR influx into Europe, numbering a huge 213 birds between 4th October and 6th November, including 69 in Sweden and a bird at Easington, East Yorkshire that attracted thousands of birders to the Old School House grounds, where this bird fed in the open, famously around a big yellow skip, much to the joy of the huge crowds!
MEGA! Siberian Accentor, Easington, Yorkshire, October 2016
Film: Siberian Accentor, Easington, Yorkshire
Rare Bird Alert! Finders In The Field – Siberian Accentor
Birdguides “Bird Of The Week” Siberian Accentor, Easington
Julian Hughes of RSPB Conwy on the Siberian Accentor influx
Also, around Spurn a Shore Lark near the Bluebell Café, plus a very elusive OBP, and flocks of White-fronted Geese
The Lancashire Ross’s Goose that arrived as a first-winter bird in November 2013 again returned in the Autumn, firstly onto Newton Marsh on The Fylde, then Marshside Marsh RSPB, where three Cattle Egret were also present
Ross’s Goose, Marshside Marsh RSPB, Lancashire, October 2016
On 1st November a party of four adult Whooper Swans flew onto Castleshaw Reservoirs, one of my local patches amongst the hills above Oldham, Greater Manchester, giving some superb views
Whooper Swans, Castleshaw Reservoir, Greater Manchester, November 2016
A trip to the North-East, to the Cleveland coast, for my first EASTERN BLACK REDSTART and a Barnacle Goose flock at Saltholme RSPB Reserve
The famous Eastern Black Redstart on the Cleveland coast, November 2016
Film: Eastern Black Redstart, Skinningrove, Cleveland
It was a mega carry on into the winter, with a DUSKY THRUSH being found near Chesterfield in December, however, this wasn’t even the rarest thrush to be found in the Midlands during the winter!
Film: Dusky Thrush, Beeley, Derbyshire
Also in December, following up a report of 2 drake Barrow’s Goldeneye on the River Mersey east of Chorlton Water Park, a pair of Goldeneye were seen, presumably not the same birds that were reported! I find it’s always worth following reports like this as you just never know your luck in the big city!
Film: Goldeneye on the River Mersey
2016 was completed in fine style with the publishing of my first books, a joint effort on “Fruitful Futures: Imagining Pomona” and a solo effort, “The Birds of Salford Docklands”, two books on the ecology of the area of docklands located to the west of Manchester, now generally known as Salford Quays
“The Birds of Salford Docklands”
“Fruitful Futures: Imagining Pomona” Book Launch, Manchester
Also in the Salford area a Great Grey Shrike over-wintered on the Mosslands, and the Little Woolden Moss Lancashire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve continued to progress from strength to strength
Great Grey Shrike, Salford Mosses
Pink-footed Geese, Salford Mosses
Natural Beauty of the Salford / Manchester Mosses
A BLUE CHRISTMAS !
During the festive season, another sub-urban mega, this time in the Midlands! A male BLUE ROCK THRUSH in the Cotswolds, giving great views around the gardens and houses of Stow-on-the-Wold! Although I have seen this species on Mediterranean birding trips this was my first UK sighting – happy days!
Male Blue Rock Thrush, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, December 2016