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, 10 January 2013

Misty ducking

Despite the party being over I still have leave to use up, so I was off today. So, I volunteered for work. I was asked if I would help complete some duck surveys. Of course it didn't take long for me to agree. The terms and conditions weren't exactly complicated. I was asked if I'd mind counting ducks at Houghton Green Flash, Pennington Flash, Rostherne Mere and Frodsham. Playful Peter offered to give me a had, so we set off in the mist and arrived at Houghton Green Flash in the mist, not much to see really; a few Wigeon (which I duly aged for Carl Mitchell), some Tufties and Pochards, nowt much else. Second site was Pennington Flash, a big site this so we devoted the bulk of the morning to it. Plenty to see here; Goosanders, Goldeneyes, Shovelers, Teal, Great Crested Grebes, Little Grebes, 410 Lapwings, 21 Snipe and nice non-breeding plumage Med Gull on the flash. The woods and scrub surrounding the scrub provide a welcome sanctuary to a range of species and flocks of Redwings in the hawthorns were interrupted by a couple of Song Thrushes in full song. Two different Willow Tits were singing, with a third bird was seen in the scrub and a fourth at the feeding station where at least 12 Bullfinches, six Stock Doves, c.30 Greenfinches, ten Reed Buntings and two Coal Tits competed with a plague of Grey Squirrels for sunflower seeds and peanuts.

One of 410 Lapwings from Horrock's hide at a misty, cold Pennington Flash
From Horrock's hide
Lunch break at Pennington gave us an opportunity to look through Mute Swans and Coot to look for darvic rings, we found three of each; should keep Kane Brides happy.
Third stop of the day was down the M6 at Rostherne Mere. The Mere held a few Goosanders, Goldeneyes, Shovelers and Tufted Ducks. Two Water Rails squealed from the reedbeds next to the hide (permit only) and a Buzzard and a Peregrine drifted over the observatory as we departed. First time I'd been here since 1983 when Steve Riley and I came looking for a Smew. Great to see Natural England opening up access and providing concessionary footpaths; top marks!
Fourth and final stop was a misty and cold Frodsham, lots of ducks on gathered on tank six, primarily Teal but with Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall, Shelduck, Pochard and Tufted Duck all present. At the far end of the tank we spotted a male Hen Harrier quartering along the reedbeds and scrub - always a quick way of cheering up a dull, cold afternoon. Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrel were all seen here and disturbing large flocks of Lapwings, I counted 1200, joined by c.200 Golden Plovers. Down toward the river at the old sheep farm we counted ten Ravens and then as the mist rolled in from the Mersey the light pretty much went and so we did.
Silhouette of a Raven at Frodsham late this afternoon

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