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.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Whopping Whooper count

I was housebound this morning except for a brief excursion round the corner to check if the Waxwings were present; they were atop a tall poplar along Red Cat Lane and flew off west at about 10.30. When Ruth returned home I was given the green light to get out from under her feet and hastily made my way to WWT Martin Mere to have a look for the Bewick's Swans seen yesterday. I popped into Infocus to get an update from Andy and then headed for UU hide to look through the massed Pink-feet, c.7000 were present, with much coming and going. No other species were with the flock but the 'pied' pair did put in an appearance and neck collar PHP was there. I took the opportunity to do some counting; Shelduck 920; 265 Wigeon; 1630 Teal (the drake Green-winged Teal was with them); 12 Shoveler; 16 Pochard;  840 Coot; and 225 Lapwing. I counted 43 Ruff but Andy has counted 63 earlier in the day.  Three Buzzards were lazing about and an adult Peregrine scared in the living daylights out of all the Teal before alighting in it's usual post.

From UU I could see a distant female Aythya and closer inspection proved it to be the female Pochard x Ferruginous Duck hybrid that has spent the last fw winters on the mere. As the light faded it was clear to both Andy and I that big numbers of Whooper swan were piling onto the mere. I proceeded to count them a got three counts of between 2400 and 2500, we settled on the average which was 2480; a reserve record! More pink-feet arrived and the total at dark was 11600. I never did see any Bewick's though.......

Whoopers being fed in front of Raines observatory at 3.15
The female Ferruginous Duck x Pochard Hybrid with Pochards in front of the Infocus shop at dusk (below)

One of the lazy Buzzards

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