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.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

New Year, New Lists

We're well into 2014 and I'm breaking with tradition and going to keep two lists, just for fun mind, nothing serious, this year. Although I pretty much know what birds I've seen in the Western Palearctic, Britain and Ireland, Lancashire, Marshside, Martin Mere etc I'm not particularly religious keeper of lists and am sometimes a little bemused by the obsessive nature of some listers.

The lists I'm going to keep and actually put some effort into are a Patchwork Challenge list covering Burscough/Tarlscough Moss and Mere Sand Wood. Originally I was going to do just the mosses but then thought the lack of habitat diversity would be a pretty large hindrance....The patch as described contains some peaty West Lancashire 'mossland', low-lying, damp and criss-crossed with drainage ditches, excellent arable land and good year round for Barn Owl, Grey Partridge, Corn Bunting, Lapwing, Skylark, in winter for Pink-footed Geese, Whooper Swans, Merlin, Peregrine, in spring Wheatears, Whimbrel and White Wagtails pass through, with Yellow Wagtails breeding. Goodies I've seen in recent years on this patch of mossland include Common Crane, Hen Harrier, Hobby, Osprey, Ross's Goose, Tundra Bean Goose, European White-fronted Goose and Blue-headed Wagtail. The beauty of the moss is that it's ten minutes walk from my front door in Burscough and Curlew Lane cuts right through and is my preferred route to Mere Sands Wood. Mere Sands Wood is a well known Lancashire Wildlife Trust reserve and an interesting mixture of deep ponds, reedbed, mixed woodland and small patches of heath. It's a good place for wintering Goosander, Teal, Shoveler,Water Rail, Lesser Redpoll with occasional Bittern and Willow Tit (a former breeder). Breeders include common woodland and wetland birds including a range of warblers and a Tree Sparrow colony. It's the last place I saw local (West Lancs) Turtle Dove (1997) and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (1998), over the years I've seen an interesting range of scarce species on the reserve; Smew, Black-necked Grebe, Pectoral Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint and the most bizarre record, a drake Surf Scoter.

If you fancy a go have a look at the Patchwork Challenge blog for details http://patchworkchallenge.blogspot.co.uk/http, it's only a bit of fun, but should get you out and about covering a local patch - who knows what you'll find?

Mute and Whooper Swans along Curlew Lane bear Rufford, bang in the middle of my Patchwork Challenge patch. 05/01/14. 

Female Goosander at Mere Sands Wood, part of the patch. 05/01/14. 

The second list I'm keeping is a little more odd. I've always loved dogs and had an interest in them, having kept several breeds over the years; German Shepherd, English Springer, Labrador and Patterdale Terrier. My cousin Nichola and I were having an online chat and a challenge to record as many dog breeds as possible in 2014 was set down and Nichola created a facebook group. You're very welcome to join the dog recording challenge and use the Big (Dog) Year 2014 facebook group; 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/542204239208073/. Again, it's just a bit of fun and seems to me to be compatible with birding, dog walking and mooching about in the park with the kids.

Having said that I don't avidly list I've been an keen contributor to BirdTrack for the past two years (this'll be my third full year of contributing records) and I've added records from as far back as 1979 to this incredibly useful rescourse  - if you're a birder I urge you to use it; it's fantastic and the data contributes directly to nature conservation and also goes directly to your county recorder. On a more selfish level it's a great way to see and analyse your own records http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdtrack/about/introducing-birdtrack-home

Grey Heron at Mere Sands Wood. BirdTrack a keen for all birders to record all birds on the database - I'm doing it; can you? 05/01/14

Mere Sands Wood as the sun drops. 05/01/14. 

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