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, 3 January 2013

D & G day out delivers

This morning Lancs birders Colin Bushell, Dave Mallett and I headed up to Dumfries & Galloway for a change of birding scenery. Our first port of call was the  Loaningfoot and Mersehead area to look through the numerous Barnacle Geese there. The geese certainly worked us hard, but at least we saw a Short-eared Owl while looking through the flocks. A single leucisitc Barnacle was good to see and eventually our patience was rewarded with views of a distant grazing Red-breasted Goose.

Leucistic Barnacle Goose at Loaningfoot
Having enjoyed the Barnacle Geese we had to choose our next destination and despite the distance we picked the wild west and headed to Loch Ryan. Stranraer initially seems like an unlikely birding destination with it's urban, industrial skyline (anyone noticed the cheese chimney?), but looking out onto Loch Ryan it's a different story. With minimal effort (and with the benefit of calm water) we quickly picked up an impressive array of seafowl;  flocks of 249 & 390 Scaup; eight Common Scoters; two Long-tailed Ducks (including a stunning male offshore at the Wigg); c.30 Red-breasted Mergansers; c.25 Goldeneye; c.40 Eiders; one Great Northern Diver; 25 Red-throated Divers; 20 Slavonian Grebes, 12 Great Crested Grebes; two Black Guillemots and two Razorbills. At the Wigg nature reserve we picked up  94 Pale-bellied Brent Geese; a Rock Pipit; c.80 Linnets; c.65 Twite; a Sparrowhawk; a leucistic Oystercatcher; a Little Egret and 1320 Pink-footed Geese that were flushed from a nearby hillside.
 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at the Wigg, Loch Ryan
Leucisitc Oystercatcher at the Wigg, Loch Ryan
Excellent local knowledge by Colin had us head over to West Heugh M.O.D. base to search for Greenland White-fronted Geese and Hen Harriers. We quickly located a dozen White-fronts mixed with a group of Greylags, a change of location to try and get a better look at the the geese brought us close to c.440 Greylags with other geese flying to roost including c.650 Pink-feet and 60 more Greenland White-fronts. Four Whooper Swans flew past and it was interesting to see the number of Roe Deer increase as the light faded, we ended up seeing about 20. The best sight of all was watching Hen Harriers coming to roost. We saw seven come in, four males and three females; really impressive. A good day out in good company, Dave excelled at the driving and Colin did the directions; I really didn't have to do anything!

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