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.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Mersey paradise

This morning I headed out towards Warrington with Frank Whitney. First stop was Moore nature reserve where we searched for the resident male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. We didn't wait long as he was feeding in the trees adjacent to the car park (we got there 07.45, LSW on show from 08.10). I managed a couple of distant record shots (see below), but more inportantly I enjoyed watching him go about his business. He flew off towards the bigger wood along Lapwing Lane and could be heard drumming. We had a quick look for Willow Tits at the feeding station but none showed so we headed off over to the northern bank of the Mersey to view the gull roost on Richmond Bank.

Male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Moore nature reserve, Warrington. 22/02/13.

Frank admits to never really having paid  much attention to gulls so I was a little worried about taking him along for some dedicated gull watching. Things looked good within five minutes of settling down though as I picked up a fine first winter Glacous Gull, a really big, heavy looking beast, I understand it's been on show most days recently.

First winter Glaucous Gull at Richmond Bank, River Mersey. 22/02/13.
Earlier in the week Pete Kinsella had mentioned that he might be at Richmond Bank today, so it was no suprise when he text to let me know he was there, Frank and I met up with him and it was worth having Pete's sharp eyes as he picked up three adult Yellow-legged Gulls (other observers claimed up to eight Yellow-legged Gulls) anongst the enormous flocks of Herring Gulls. A strange first winter beast was picked up by Pete, a giant of a bird with pale primaries, almost certainly a Glaucous Gull x Herring Gull. It has to be said that I'm getting softer as I get older and I really felt the cold today and was seriously considering jacking it in until Pete picked up an Iceland Gull - a nice second winter bird, a lovely looking specimen. A second Iceland Gull quickly followed (a first winter) and a third, another second winter bird, soon after that. The birds all flushed and I took the decision to head home to try and get warm (Frank came back to Burscough, we left Pete there....). A fantastic three and half hours at Richmond Bank, well worth the effort and getting cold for.
Second winter Iceland Gull (above and below) at Richmond Bank, River Mersey. 22/02/13.

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