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, 26 December 2013

Baikal Beauty

Although I try not to twitch I have to admit I was gutted to be away on family duty in Herefordshire on Saturday 30th Nov when news of a possible drake Baikal Teal on part of the local patch broke. But at least Everton won! I just couldn't get back home so consoled myself with a day birding in the Forest of Dean on1st Dec. It was well worth it with Great Grey Shrike seen at Crabtree Hill, quickly followed by between six and nine Two-barred Crossbills in the Kensley Lodge area. Several Hawfinches, c.20 Common Crossbills and 125 Lesser Redpolls provided a superb supporting cast to a decent morning in "The Forest".

My Baikal angst continued as I flew to Belfast to spend a couple of days working at WWT Castle Espie on 2nd Dec. Castle Espie is always a great place to work and brief moments spent birding looking over Strangford Lough were rewarded with Spoonbill (still very rare in Northern Ireland), Little Egrets, c.2500 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Peregrine, Greenshanks, Little Egrets, clouds of Dunlins, Golden Plovers and Lapwings, with rafts of Shelducks, Eiders, Wigeons and a few Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Hooded Crows (a very rare visitor at home in Lancashire) are always a treat to see and a herd of Whooper Swans in the shadow of Scrabo tower was great to watch from across the lough. In a year living in County Down in 1991 I didn't see a local Barn Owl, so I was delighted to see one drift across the road near Killinchy - two Irish ticks in a day.....

Back home on Wednesday 4th and I  managed to get to see the Baikal Teal feeding amongst thousands of Wigeon along the Crossens channel, a cracking bird - well worth the angst to see one locally! I managed to see him twice more over the next few days and was also pleased that so many of the other local birders enjoyed seeing him. He had a decent supporting cast too; two Great White Egrets, a juv Ross's Goose, a juv Long-tailed Duck, Merlins, Peregrines, Marsh Harriers, Twites and the Ribble water bird spectacle. I recently delivered a talk 'Birding the Ribble Coast and Wetlands' to West Lancashire Wildlife and suggested that rare and scarce birds are ambassadors for sites and habitats; comrade Baikal really did prove that....

Record shot of first winter Drake Baikal Teal on Sutton's Marsh, Marshside 08/12/13

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