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.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Swanning about taking it easy

First bird action of the day was a female Blackcap in the garden, only the second ever winter record here; the first being a a male last week; they seem to love the fatballs.

I set out birding and headed to Curlew Lane to look for two Patchwork Challenge targets species; Grey Partridge and Bewick's Swan.  The first birds I saw and heard were a group of Corn Buntings, Curlew Lane is an excellent, year round site for this local speciality. the next species heard was a group of rasping Grey Partridges, I stood still next to the car and sure enough a covey of twelve revealed themselves in a weedy carrot field across the road on Burscough Moss - lovely birds, another local speciality. As I watched the Partridges a flock of 65 Skylarks flew past and a large herd of a Whooper Swans was constantly growing up at the Rufford end of the lane. 

   Pair of Grey Partridges. Burscough Moss. 25/01/14. 

At the top end of the lane the Whooper Swan where in the usual place,  grazing on winter wheat. I scanned through and was delighted to pick up my second target bird, a smashing adult Bewick's Swan, presumably the same bird that has been visiting the local WWT for free wheat handouts and stinky potatoe meals. Nice to see it in the 'wild' though, along with 256 Whooper Swans and 16 Mute Swans. One of the  Whooper Swans was orange-legged, rarer than Bewick's Swan which it obligingly stood next to.

Bewick's Swan with Whooper Swans near Rufford. 25/01/14.

Orange-legged Whooper Swan and Bewick's Swan near Rufford. 25/01/14.

After enjoying watching the Swans I headed over to Mere Sands Wood for a walk.  Nothing rare or unusually there, the usual species in the usual places. I enjoyed watching the ducks, and it was fascinating to watch a young Grey Heron literally and metaphorically make a meal of a frog. 

 Grey Heron trying to eat a frog at Mere Sands Wood.

Drake Eurasian Teal at Mere Sands Wood. 

Female Goosander at Mere Sands Wood. 

After Mere Sands Wood I dodged the heavy downpours and took Marty out across the local stubble field (off Red Cat Lane) and we flushed a superb total of 67 Yellowhammers. 

The final birding of the day was a very brief visit to Martin Mere to look for Tawny Owls, I did see one,  albeit poor and briefly.  Beaten by the cold and wind I popped into Infocus to see Andy and compare Patchwork notes.......

I shall try again tomorrow! 

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