Mancunian Birders Notebook 2014

Photo: Garganey and mystery duck at Sale Water Park, October 2014 (Photographer: Tony Disley)

January

The year began with a look at some ducks on the Manchester Ship Canal (MSC), a fitting way to start the year as 2014 was the MSC’s 120th Anniversary!

Local birding highlights, 2 Ravens on Chat Moss, male Merlin Barton Moss, 1000 Pink-footed Geese at Partington, male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker & Willow Tit at Moore (Cheshire), Red-breasted Goose at Pickerings Pasture (Cheshire) and 2 Long-eared Owls at a private site, and a trip to the London area included a look at Bookham Common and a pair of Wood Ducks

February

The local highlight was an Iceland Gull @ Richmond Bank (Cheshire), and a classic trip to the North Wales coast, with a very confiding Slavonian Grebe at Llay Pool, 3 Surf Scoters and a Great Northern Diver on the sea off the Surfside Café at Pensarn, Mediterranean Gull, Greenshanks and Spotted Redshank at Aber Ogwen, and a flock of 100 Brent Geese in Fforyd Bay

The highlight of a trip to the Midlands was a male Red-flanked Bluetail at the Shire Valley in Gloucestershire, with some interesting wildfowl watching – a Marbled Duck and a drake Smew at Stanwick Gravel Pits, and a goose fest at Slimbridge with Tundra Bean Goose, White-fronted Goose, Barnacle Goose and Brent Goose, plus Common Crane and Bewick’s Swan

March

Some more quality birding in Cumbria, my first ever Black Brant with a Brent Goose flock at Roa Island, 6 Emperor Geese, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck and 2 Barnacle Geese on South Walney, a male Black Grouse on Alston Moor and a Whooper Swan at Rockcliffe Marsh, and in Lancashire, Ross’s Goose and 11 Whooper Swans at Martin Mere, and a Spotted Redshank, Marsh Harrier and Avocets at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve

Two sightings of Mandarin in Greater Manchester, a pair at Worthington Lakes (also the Smew) and a female on the Bridgewater Canal

April

A great Spring weather-wise, and for summer migrants, with a fine drake Garganey @ Altrincham ETW, and many hours were spent watching the Wheatears on Pomona Docks and Yellow Wagtails on the Mosses

May

My highlight of the year was a Whinchat on Pomona Docks

I was one of many birders who travelled to Elton Reservoir to see 2 White-winged Black Terns

A superb trip to the South Coast via South Wales for stunning views of a singing male Savi’s Warbler at Newport Wetlands RSPB and Slimbridge to see the parent Cranes with a chick, 4 colourful and mobile Bee-eaters on Portland, the drake Hooded Merganser at Radipole Lake RSPB Reserve, singing Quail at Martin Down, and Dartford Warblers and 4 Spoonbills at Arne RSPB Reserve

June

Red-necked Grebe and Lesser Scaup at Frodsham, Marsh Harrier on Mosses, singing male Lesser Whitethroat on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal, and the stunning Short-toed Eagle in Sussex

July

A big trip to the North-East, for some Tour de France action in Yorkshire, Black-winged Pratincole at Hurworth Burn Reservoir in County Durham, a Lesser White-fronted Goose at Hauxley Nature Reserve in Northumberland, Roseate Terns on the Farne Islands, 3 Spoonbills at Druridge Bay and the Bridled Tern in bonnie Scotland

A twitch to the Midlands for Pacific Golden Plover at Middleton Lakes RSPB, Night Heron @ Seeswood Pool and 2 Ruddy Shelducks @ Pitsford Reservoir

August

Manchester ducks – Chilean Yellow-billed Pintail at Elton Reservoir and Garganey at Pennington Flash, and trips to the Hale/Pickerings Pasture area of Cheshire produced sightings of Golden Plover, Little Egrets & 3 Barnacle Geese

September

Interesting month, with a trip to Essex – Spotted Flycatcher, Arctic Skua, Mediterranean Gull, Hen Harrier and Purple Sandpiper, and some decent birding in Cheshire, Cattle Egret, Pectoral Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Hen Harrier, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Egrets and Little Stints on Dee Estuary, Curlew Sandpiper at Hale lighthouse, blue Snow Goose at Neumann’s Flash, and seven Avocets at the Wigg Island Nature Reserve on the Mersey Estuary

October

Some good finds – Raven and Pintail @ Pomona Docks, and at Sale Water Park, a Garganey and an interesting duck that caused a lot of head-scratching from a number of birders, and brief sightings of a Chiffchaff, all providing education ! A Great White Egret at the picturesque Flint Castle on the Dee Estuary, a Purple Sandpiper at New Brighton, and drake Red-crested Pochard on the Wigan Flashes, Manchesters’ very own Norfolk Broads!

November

Coinciding with the National Green Surge, Green Woodpecker at Dunham Park, and Ring-necked Parakeets at Chorlton Water Park

December

A holiday on The Fylde in Lancashire, Great Grey Shrike @ Lytham Moss, and Greater Scaup @ Fairhaven Lake, and more ducking and diving in Manchester area with Mandarin @ Bridgewater Canal and four Wood Ducks at Greenfield

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