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.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Surf's up

Headed out birding  this morning with Big Steve, Taffy Bowen and Scotch Frank. First port of call was the area of saltmarsh off Denhall Lane on the Dee estuary. The main objective was to see the recent Buff-bellied Pipit that's been there for a few days. It'd been seen when we got there at 9 a.m.but heavy showers made hard work of the first few minutes. We eventually picked the Buff-belly up, feeding with numerous Meadow Pipits along the thick line of tidal debris. It played  hide and seek and cos I seemed to spend lots of time getting others onto it I didn't make a decent photo of it. Plenty of other little tweety wufflers fed along the tide line and adjacent scrub including; 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 2 nominate Chiffchaff,  1 Goldcrest, 6 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Redwing, 6 Blackbirds, 3 Stonechat, 1 unseasonal Wheatear, 65 Linnets, 4 Pied Wagtails, 2 Robins, 2 Wrens and 4 Dunnocks. A nice mix and a flushed at one point by a female Sparrowhawk. It was interesting to watch a Weasel collecting vole corpses and bring them back to cache in the same place; it flushed a Jack Snipe and was mobbed by many of the tweety wufflers.

Out on the salt marsh a distant ringtail Hen Harrier was nice and a few Little Egrets drifted about. Flocks of wildfowl and waders included Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Curlews, Wigeon, Teal and Pink-footed Geese. We make a decision to look for lunch, fuel and Surf Scoters. So, off to Llandulas we headed.

The Llandulas 'service station' just off the A55 is well known to birders and we headed there for some garage gack when Taff noticed a sign for a cafe - Oinky's cafe. Epic. We settled down for our dinner at Oinky's and it's fair to say we were all pleasantly surprised. I tackled an Oinky's breakfast (in spite of the dire pile of baked beans), Scotch Frank and Steve went for burgers and Taff absolutely hammered a chilli dog. Good work boys - proud of you all. It seems Oinky's have some eating challenges on occasionally, check their Facebook group for details. A handy North Wales food stop.

After Oinky's we set about the seriou business of helping Taffy Bowen to his first ever Surf Scoter. We headed up to the top of the cycle track off the Station Road beach car park and scoped out to sea in earnest. The warm sunshine and relatively flat sea made scanning relatively pleasant. A long black slick of Common Scoters were very much in evidence and after 5 minutes or so I jammed into 2 drake Surfies, much to Taff's delight. We enjoyed there for a while and while scanning for Velvet Scoters I jammed into a third drake Surfie, who eventually joined the other two. Persistence paid off and I picked out at least three Velvet Scoters. Not great views, but good enough. Others species of interest seen off Llandulas were Red-breasted Mergansers, Guillemots, Red-throated Divers, a single Great Northern Diver, two Fulmars and thousands of Herring Gulls, which came to roost on the beach. A falconer, who works at the local tip, turned up and asked us if we'd seen any falcons, turned our he'd lost a black female Saker x Gyr earlier, oops......

Loads of scoters out there. Honest 

Taffy Bowen connecting with new birds in the land of his father's and all that malarkey

Sunny Rhyl in the distance

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