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.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Mates, birds and dancing

I spent Sunday evening and most of Bank Holiday Monday in the company of my mate Martin McGill. Martin is still on crutches and is making a good recovery from his accident. He can't drive at the moment and so collected him and we spent Sunday evening birding in the Forest of Dean. Cannop produced three Wood Warblers, two of the showing well and singing. Near to Ruardean we heard a Turtle Dove singing and managed decent views of him busily trying to attract a mate. The decline of Turtle Doves is areal tragedy, I haven't seen one near home in Lancashire since the last breeding pair at Mere Sands Wood in the mid 90s. Despite the valiant efforts of the various conservation NGOs I'm not overly optimistic of a recovery any time soon so I'm always delighted to see one and of course make sure the record gets put on BirdTrack so that it's captured by BTO and RSPB. Wood Warblers seem to be going the sane way although their decline isn't as catastrophic as Turtle Doves. 

Martin is keen on his Odonata and was pleased to see a couple of Broad-bodied Chasers (see below) while we were out. 

We popped into Nagshead where I managed to see my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year, nocturnal searches for Nightjars proved fruitless at three sites - I'll be back in June, when its hopefully warmed up a little for those. 

On Sunday we resisted several twitching opportunities and headed over to the Cotswolds searching for various raptors, we managed several Red Kites (record shot below) and Hobby but failed with a couple of target species despite thoroughly searching. 

Martin knows the Cotswolds well and keeps an eye out for scarce breeding species and we ended up searching for Corn Buntings finding groups of 30 and nine. Not a bad bit of birding in the company of a top mate. 

We even we managed a tea and cake stop in Sherborne and watched a gang of Morris dancers doing there thing - very enjoyable! 

Friday, 10 May 2013


Headed down the M6 with Nick, Playful & Sinesy this morning to have a look around Cannock Chase, with Dartford Warbler in mind. We gave it a good go, but with rain and strong winds we failed to find any - not the end of the world as plenty of other nice stuff to see and hear. Highlights included a singing Wood Lark, five male and two female Redstarts, two singing male Pied Flycatchers, six singing Tree Pipits, Garden Warbler, Cuckoo and several Green Woodpeckers. A nice patch of heath with some nice mature woodland too. 

Male Pied Flycatcher, Cannock Chase. 10/05/13. 

Singing Tree Pipit, Cannock Chase. 10/05/13. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dotteral - Pride of Pendle

I got up early on bank holiday Monday morning and picked up Pete Allen in Standish at 6.15. We headed up the M6 and A59 to Pendle Hill. Pendle is one of those places that is great to look at and a complete nightmare for the legs and lungs to walk up. But walk up it we did and quickly saw the four migrant Dotterals there. Cracking birds, a real delight to see in such a wonderful setting. It was great to meet the folks from wader quest up there - they're doing a top job raising money for Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation. 

Black Grouse

In April I accompanied the Birdwatching & Beyond group on a trip to North Wales with the primary objective of seeing lekking Black Grouse. We achieved our objective seeing six at a lek next to the road and lots more scattered across the moors. The sound of the hissing, coughing & bubbling the lekking males make as they square up and dance is truly wonderful. We also heard a few Red Grouse and were lucky to see a wonderful male Hen Harrier ghosting across the moor.