About Graham Clarkson

Born & brought up in Marshside, I started birding there in the mid 1970s & made my first birding trip to Martin Mere in 1977. I've lived, worked & birdied in Abu Dhabi, Northern Ireland & Gloucestershire & I've spent time working in Kazakhstan & Madagascar. I enjoy birding my various West Lancashire patches, making frequent birding visits throughout the north-west of England and North Wales. I stray elsewhere in the UK & enjoy birding abroad from time to time. I'm particularly interested in wildfowl (especially pink-footed geese) with an interest in waders & raptors, bird counts & surveys & conservation. I'm trying to get the hang of photography & digiscoping - I'll get there eventually.

My degree from Edge Hill University is in conservation biology. I've guided on numerous birding days out & trips & guided birding holidays to Lesvos, Andalucia, Extremedura, Majorca, Camargue, Hungary, Finland & Florida. I enjoy showing people birds & habitats & helping them learn more about birds & enjoy birding. I'm currently involved with the Birdwatching and Beyond course at Edge Hill and a brand new venture; Skein Birding.

As well as birding I'm interested in captive breeding & reintroduction projects & zoos, how they're managed & how they contribute to conservation. I'm a proud Lancastrian & love the Lancashire countryside & landscapes. I'm an Evertonian & also keep up with what's happening at Southport, PNE & Bristol Rovers. Gardening, dogs (I have a Labrador & a Tibetan Terrier) and keeping chickens (especially Marsh Daisys & Scots Dumpy Bantams). Ruth & I have two marvellous boys who both love nature too. I hope you find the blog and subjects covered interesting; please feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Winking all day and all of the night

Pink-footed Geese feeding in wheat stubble, Higgin's Lane, Burscough.

One of the fantastic things about living in West Lancashire is the constant presence of Pink-footed Geese from September right through to April. The winking calls of overhead skeins and grazing flocks is comforting and gives me a sense of home. Hearing the distincive, high-pitched wink-wink ang-ang excites me everytime I hear it.  At the moment I can hear geese from my house 24 hours a day, it's fantastic. Large flocks are currently feeding on wheat stubble on the outskirts of Burscough. Yesterday I wandered out at lunchtime to have a look at the flock feeding along Higgin's Lane, c.3600 were there, presumably from the c.12000 roosting at Martin Mere. I spotted a neck collared bird and read the collar, FIA. Kane Brides a colleague from HQ sent me the info on FIA today and I found out that I was reunited with an old friend. FIA was ringed as an adult female on 30/07/99 at Thjorsarver in Iceland and was regularly seen at various Scottish and Norfolk sites, including by me at South Creake in Norfolk on 31/10/01! In subsequent years she was seen in Lancashire a few times, including at Martin Mere by my colleagues David an Estelle Walsh and by Martin Mere regular Lee Bailey. She hadn't been reported since November 2010 so it was nice to bump into this old friend yesterday.

Pink-footed Geese coming in to land at Higgin's Lane, Burscough

Large numbers of Pink-feet winter in Lancashire, and seeing as they're my favourite bird I spend a bit of time looking at them. I also coordinate a team of volunteer counters on behalf of WWT and we work together to ensure we count all of the key roost sites in the county. The first coordinated count this autumn will be on 14th October and we'll count the roost sites at Martin Mere, Simonswood, Alt estuary/Taylor's bank, Ribble estuary, Wyre estuary, Morecambe Bay and Lune estuary. The dedication of the volunteers is superb and they all love Pink-feet, I think the sight and sound of the huge flocks is addictive. If you're interested to know what happened with Pink-feet in Lancashire in 2011 have a read of my account in the Lancashire Bird Report, it's on sale at the Infocus shop at Martin Mere.

Pink-footed Geese with suburban Burscough in the background
Old friend FIA, who I hadn't seen since 2001.

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