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, 21 February 2013

Hawfinch heaven

Nipped over to North Wales with Pete Kinsella yesterday. Started off staring at the sea off Llandulas. Thousands of of Common Scoters bobbing about with small, dispersed groups of Red-breasted Mergansers, Great Crested Grebes, Red-throated Divers,  Razorbills and Guillemots out there. Two Fulmars drifted through, the Common Scoters just couldn't care less, simply bobbing, bobbing and bobbing about. Occasionally they dived, some of the more radical ones flew short distances and some even engaged in display, the males dancing across the water. After 45 or so miutes of staring Pete declared 'Surfie' and of course he was spot on; a fine male Surf Scoter gently drifting through the flock of his more common relatives. Closer inspection revealed a second male Surfie - result. Frozen and scotered out we headed inland to the Clocaenog forest and the mast at Craig Bron Bannog. On arrival me met a couple of local birders who suggested we shouldn't bother as it was a bit misty up there. Ever intrepid we ignored them and headed up to the top. Of course they were right, we had good views of our hands but little else in thick, swirling mist. No Great Grey Shrike and certainly no displaying Goshawks. Nevermind, always next time.
So, off we headed to look for Hawfinches at Llanbedr-y-cennin in the Conwy valley. The usual Ravens and Buzzards were the only birds of note on the journey. We parked up and exchanged pleasantries with a local birder at Llanbedr, agreeing to give each other the nod if we bumped into any Hawfinches. Pete and I searched the churchyard and failed, heading up the road where the local birder beckoned us over; he'd jsut seen six feeding on the deck. Excellent. Eventually we picked a couple up flitting in the trees and one obligingly fed on the deck. Others were calling constanting in a thick stand of yews, and we were delighted to watch one singing (a behaviour tick for me in the UK.....). Three more local birders joined us and I walked up the road a little and picked up at least ten Hawfinches in treetops, these flew  over the valley towards Caerhun, the ten proved to be twelve. These were quickly followd by another eight and eventually three more. Amazingly 23 Hawfinches in total, very pleasing.

One of 23 Hawfinches at Llanbedr-y-cennin, Conwy. 20/02/13.

Assessing our options we choose Llanfairfechan and spent an hour or so scanning the sea with a single Slavonian Grebe being the most notable species, others species observed including Red-throated Divers, Great Crested Grebes, six Eiders and a single Gannet. We picked up a Dipper  diving busily on the stream and declared end of play. Not a bad day out. I'll have to nip back to the mast, I can always combine that with a Black Grouse jolly.....

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