Sunday, 13 January 2013

Bird project 5 - Long-eared owl

I went down to the mere, hoping to see the pintails sighted there yesterday. I started at the feeder hide, where all the common birds were having a riot. The only unusual thing was a sparrowhawk swooping in, but it was so fast I barely saw it. I met a friendly guy with a camera and scope, and it turned out he was the local council wildlife officer, whom I've been in contact with for nearly a year. He's been very helpful, but we'd never met, so it was nice to put a face to a name. It started to snow. He accompanied me round to another hide, but sadly neither the pintails nor an Iceland gull that had been seen the day before were present. Lots of teal, wigeon, mallards, coots, black-headed and herring gulls, cormorants - even a little egret flew in to roost. But then he offered to take me to the long-eared owls. A pair winter in the scrubland north of the lake each winter, and draw quite a large number of curious enthusiasts. Despite looking each time I've been in the past few months, I had failed to spot them.

I was grateful both for the expert advice, and a lift in a car the mile or so round to the opposite shore. Several other bird watchers were there, with scopes and binoculars, and he showed us where to look. As I suspected, there was no chance of seeing them without expert advice - even having them pointed out, the rest of us struggled to see.

Asio otus Long-eared owl
Location: Hawthorn scrub, north of Marton Mere, Blackpool.
Conditions: Very poor light - thick cloud, late afternoon. Cold, snow turning to sleet.
Photograph quality: 2-3.
Comments: These birds are masters of camouflage, as you can see from the picture. If I hadn't had expert advice, and confirmation after I took some photos, I would never have known I'd seen one. The second bird was not visible from where I stood. As it is, the face of this one is obscured, as is much of the body, but you can make out some feather markings and its general shape.

I started with a 1.4x extender on my 500mm lens, although autofocus tends to fail when there are lots of fine branches in the way of a bird. I added a 2x extender as the subject was, thankfully, stationary. This meant I could mostly fill the frame, but sadly none of the shots were perfectly focused - conditions were hard, with the viewfinder and screen foggy and splattered with sleet, and the twigs fooling my eye as well as the autofocus. Still, it's quite clearly an owl in the photograph, and a little contrast and white balance adjustment have helped a lot. Just a very few thousand of these winter in the UK each year.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Bird project 4 - Treecreeper and nuthatch

A bit of sunshine was forecast today, so I planned a longish walk, taking in several locations. I wasn't actually expecting any new species, but there are a few that I might still encounter locally, and I got lucky - twice. I was actually seeing where I might pitch a portable bird hide - I'm hoping to get one in a month or so, and wanted to find nearby locations where I could site it. I'm hoping this will allow much better close shots of familiar birds that don't frequent feeders, and maybe help me find less common species too. I found a handful of places - far enough off the path to not attract the attention of passing dogs, in or next to undergrowth or low trees, so it will blend in, and with a long enough view to give me a good chance of seeing a range of birds.

Cutting through the park first, I almost immediately stumbled on a new species. On a tree by a busy path, with families and dogs all around, a treecreeper. I followed it for a while, and watched a second nearby. A little later on, in a slightly wilder area of woodland (though still busy), high up on a tree a nuthatch. I had just enough time to get a few ID shots, before noisy dogs disrupted my work, and the bird flew off. A good day!

Certhia familiaris Treecreeper
Location: Stanley Park, Blackpool.
Conditions: Light cloud, low sun in the southwest, cool.
Photograph quality: 1-2.

Comments: Amazing to see such a relatively unusual species in such a familiar location. Actually, these are common enough in the park for an information board to feature them - yet in all my years of visiting, I've never seen them before. I hope this means I'm getting better at noticing birds - I certainly feel I am.

Sadly, I had my ISO a stop too low, so most shots were blurred due to having too long an exposure time - these birds move quickly. But I was able to approach to within a few metres, and they seemed oblivious. Beautiful birds, fascinating behaviour. In one shot, it appears to have found a hibernating ladybird to snack on.

Sitta europaea Nuthatch
Location: Salisbury Woodland Garden, Blackpool.
Conditions: Deep shade of woodland, clear sky, near sunset.
Photograph quality: 2.

Comments: The species I thought I might see in the park was the nuthatch. They are used to people, and will come down and eat bird seed left in a specific location. However, I had no food, and wasn't inclined to linger. But a few minutes later, a couple of hundred metres away, I saw one, high up on a tree. I had just enough time to swap from my macro lens to the telephoto, and get half a dozen shots, before misbehaving dogs came along and disturbed me. I will try to get better photographs at some point, but for the purposes of this project, these are good enough.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Bird project 3 - Long-tailed duck

Clangula hyemalis Long-tailed duck

Location: Fairhaven Lake, Lytham-St. Annes, Lancs.
Conditions: Good. Light cloud, some warm-toned sunlight, fairly low in the southwest (early afternoon). Mild.
Photograph quality: 2.
Comments: A lone female that had already spent several days on the lake. Stayed far out, diving constantly, so manual focusing with extenders (up to 2800mm) was very tricky, as was relocating the bird each time it resurfaced.

Another uncommon species. This location gets a lot of interesting birds, being a locally rare (artificial) freshwater lake by sand dunes and an important estuary (the Ribble), whose tidal mudflats attract large numbers of migrants in the winter. I was fortunate that there were several other bird photographers there, who pointed out the duck, as I couldn't see it at first. Unexpectedly small - much smaller than black-headed gulls that were dotted across the open water - and quite elusive. I rather used a sledgehammer to crack a nut, putting all three extenders onto my lens, so I could get a reasonably close-up shot, rather than running round to the other side of the lake. The quality was therefore impaired, but the light was good enough to raise the photographs to level 2 quality, after considerable cleaning up.

The RSPB reports a wintering population of 11,000, but they aren't usually found in this area, so this was a bonus.

Bird project 2 - Little egret

Egretta garzetta Little egret

Location: fields >750m southeast of Marton Mere, Blackpool.
Conditions: really difficult for photography: thick cloud, very dull, towards dusk. Unseasonably mild.
Photograph quality: 3.
Comments: 2 individuals feeding in shallow water, in flooded fields. Appeared as white dots to naked eye. Tripod, two-three extenders and very high ISO required to obtain useful shots. Considerable postproduction necessary.

My first success came earlier than I was expecting. While I was away over Christmas I saw repeated reports of one or two little egrets at Marton Mere, so I wanted to head down as soon as I returned. There's something really exciting about seeing a species that seems so exotic in a familiar environment. They were elegant and very striking. One individual pure white, the other tinged with pale brown.

Great to start with such a rare bird. A handful have been reported throughout the year around the Fylde, but they seem unpredictable. Increasing in range, but still quite unusual - the RSPB reports a wintering population of 4500.

Bird project 1 - 2013 target list

Having finally worked out what I saw last year, I can now outline what species I'm aiming for this time round. Some are much more likely than others. Some sightings will rely on chance, others patience, and quite a few will require travelling some distance, as I start to exhaust the local area.

Interestingly, many fall into just a few natural groupings - raptors, owls, game birds, auks - which are either not common where I live, or harder to spot (being nocturnal, or skulking in woodland for instance).

This list is subject to revision (probably upwards). I've based it largely on the RSPB's species guides. The master list I hope to get all of, as they are common and widespread enough not to pose too many difficulties, if I make enough effort. The following two lists are birds I might see, but are either few in number, unpredictable visitors, or in situations which are difficult to photograph (such as far offshore).

As I photograph species, I'll cross them off here.

Master list - 101 species (37 as of 19/09/15)

Accipiter gentilis Goshawk
Acrocephalus schoenobaenus Sedge warbler
Alauda arvensis Skylark
Alca torda Razorbill
Alcedo atthis Kingfisher (2014)
Anas acuta Pintail
Anser albifrons White-fronted goose
Anser fabalis Bean goose
Anthus petrosus Rock pipit
Anthus trivialis Tree pipit
Aquila chrysaetos Golden eagle
Asio flammeus Short-eared owl
Asio otus Long-eared owl
Aythya marila Scaup (2014)
Bombycilla garrulus Waxwing
Botaurus stellaris Bittern
Branta bernicla Brent goose
Branta leucopsis Barnacle goose (2015)

Calidris alpina Dunlin
Calidris canutus Knot
Caprimulgus europaeus Nightjar
Carduelis cabaret Lesser redpoll
Carduelis flavirostris Twite (2014)
Catharacta skua Great skua
Cepphus grylle Black guillemot
Certhia familiaris Treecreeper
Charadrius dubius Little ringed plover (2014)
Cinclus cinclus Dipper
Clangula hyemalis Long-tailed duck
Coccothraustes coccothraustes Hawfinch
Columba oenas Stock dove
Corvus corax Raven (2015)
Corvus cornix Hooded crow
Crex crex Corncrake
Cuculus canorus Cuckoo (2014)
Dendrocopos minor Lesser-spotted woodpecker
Egretta garzetta Little egret
Emberiza calandra Corn bunting (2015)
Emberiza citrinella Yellowhammer
Falco peregrinus Peregrine (2014)
Falco subbuteo Hobby (2014)
Ficedula hypoleuca Pied flycatcher (2015)
Fratercula arctica Puffin
Fringilla montifringilla Brambling (2014)
Fulmarus glacialis Fulmar (2015)
Garrulus glandarius Jay
Gavia stellata Red-throated diver (2015)
Hydrobates pelagicus Storm petrel
Lagopus lagopus Red grouse
Lagopus mutus Ptarmigan
Limnocryptes minimus Jack snipe (2015)
Locustella naevia Grasshopper warbler *seen but not photographed 2015
Lophophanes cristatus Crested tit
Loxia curvirostra Crossbill
Loxia scotica Scottish crossbill 
Luscinia megarhynchos Nightingale
Melanitta nigra Common scoter (2014)
Mergus merganser Goosander
Milvus milvus Red kite (2014)
Morus bassanus Gannet (2015)
Motacilla flava Yellow wagtail (2015)
Muscicapa striata Spotted flycatcher
Numenius phaeopus Whimbrel
Oenanthe oenanthe Wheatear
Pandion haliaetus Osprey
Panurus biarmicus Bearded tit (2014)
Passer montanus Tree sparrow
Perdix perdix Grey partridge *seen but not photographed 2014

Phalacrocorax aristotelis Shag (2015)
Philomachus pugnax Ruff
Phoenicurus phoenicurus Redstart (2015)
Phylloscopus collybita Chiffchaff
Phylloscopus sibilatrix Wood warbler (2015)
Picus viridis Green woodpecker *heard but not photographed 2014-15
Plectrophenax nivalis Snow bunting
Podiceps auritus Slavonian grebe (2015)
Poecile montanus Willow tit
Puffinus puffinus Manx shearwater
Pyrrhula pyrrhula Bullfinch
Rallus aquaticus Water rail (2014)
Recurvirostra avosetta Avocet (2015)
Regulus regulus Goldcrest
Rissa tridactyla Kittiwake (2015)
Saxicola rubetra Whinchat (2015)
Saxicola torquata Stonechat (2014)
Scolopax rusticola Woodcock *seen but not photographed 2015
Sitta europaea Nuthatch
Somateria mollissima Eider (2014)
Sterna albifrons Little tern
Sterna sandvicensis Sandwich tern
Streptopelia turtur Turtle dove
Strix aluco Tawny owl (2015)
Sylvia borin Garden warbler (2015)
Sylvia curruca Lesser whitethroat (2014)
Sylvia undata Dartford warbler
Tachybaptus ruficollis Little grebe
Tetrao tetrix Black grouse
Tetrao urogallus Capercaillie
Turdus torquatus Ring ouzel
Tyto alba Barn owl
Uria aalge Guillemot
▶ indicates birds I have a reasonable chance of photographing in my local area, depending on the time of year.

Extended list - see explanations below for inclusion here: 42 species (33 as of 18/09/2015)

Acrocephalus paludicola Aquatic warbler*
Anas querquedula Garganey*
Anthus spinoletta Water pipit**
Burhinus oedicnemus Stone-curlew*
Calcarius lapponicus Lapland bunting*
Calidris ferruginea Curlew sandpiper*§ (2014)
Calidris minuta Little stint* (2014)
Carduelis flammea Mealy redpoll§
▶Cettia cetti Cetti's warbler* (seen but not photographed 2015)
Charadrius morinellus Dotterel*†
Chlidonias niger Black tern§
Circus aeruginosus Marsh harrier* (2014)
Circus cyaneus Hen harrier*
Circus pygargus Montagu's harrier**1
Coturnix coturnix Quail* (heard but not photographed 2015)
Emberiza cirlus Cirl bunting*†
Gavia arctica Black-throated diver*
Gavia immer Great northern diver‡
Grus grus Crane*†
Jynx torquilla Wryneck** (2015)
Lanius collurio Red-backed shrike*
Larus glaucoides Iceland gull*(2015)
Larus hyperboreus Glaucous gull*
Larus michahellis Yellow-legged gull*2
Larus minutus Little gull*
Locustella luscinioides Savi's warbler**†
Loxia pytyopsittacus Parrot crossbill**†
Melanitta fusca Velvet scoter‡ (2015)
Mergus albellus Smew*
Oceanodroma leucorhoa Leach's petrel†
Oriolus oriolus Golden oriole*
Pernis apivorus Honey buzzard*
Phalaropus lobatus Red-necked phalarope**†
Pheonicurus ochruros Black redstart*
Podiceps nigricollis Black-necked grebe*
Porzana porzana Spotted crake**
Pyhrrocorax pyrrhocorax Chough*
Regulus ignicapillus Firecrest* (2015)
Stercorarius parasiticus Arctic skua†
Sterna dougallii Roseate tern**†
Tringa ochropus Green sandpiper* (2015)
Upupa epops Hoopoe§

* Very small population, several hundred.
** Tiny population, no more than a couple of hundred.
§ Passage - usually only seen passing through Britain on the way to somewhere else.
Restricted to remote locations, such as the Western Isles of Scotland, or has a very limited distribution, no more than a handful of sites.
Usually only found offshore.
1 locations kept secret.
2 hard to distinguish from another species.

Highly unlikely list - rarer vagrants found in awkward locations, such as offshore, tiny populations of less than 10 per year, etc.: 18 species (15 as of 18/08/2015)
Acrocephalus palustris Marsh warbler
Alle alle Little auk
Ardea alba Great white egret (2014)
Bubulcus ibis Cattle egret
Calidris melanotos Pectoral sandpiper (2014)
Calidris temminckii Temminck's stint (2015)
Carpodacus erythrinus Scarlet rosefinch
Haliaeetus albicilla White-tailed sea eagle
Luscinia svecica Bluethroat
Phalaropus fulicarius Grey phalarope
Platalea leucorodia Spoonbill
Puffinus gravis Great shearwater
Puffinus griseus Sooty shearwater
Puffinus mauretanicus Balearic shearwater
Serinus serinus Serin
Stercorarius longicaudus Long-tailed skua
Stercorarius pomarinus Pomarine skua
Tringa glareola Wood sandpiper

Monday, 7 January 2013

Bird project 0 - 2012 species list

Not all of the birds I photographed up to the end of last year were UK natives (even loosely defined), nor did I get good shots of them all, so this list will differ from the one on my Flickr set.

I'll keep it visually interesting by interspersing the list with photographs (larger version of all these are available on Flickr via the link above). Species are listed alphabetically by scientific name, photographs come immediately below the species depicted. I've included the common name, rough location photographed, the quality level of the best photograph (1, 2, or 3, as per the previous entry), whether I saw male (m.), female (f.), or juvenile (juv.)* birds, the date seen if only once or twice, and national status** (resident, summer/winter migrant, vagrant - taken from the RSPB website).

*Mostly species that are not sexually dimorphic will be marked 'unknown sex'. If they were seen in large numbers, it's probably safe to assume both sexes are present; otherwise, it's beyond my current skills of identification, and not strictly relevant.
**Some nationally resident species may be locally migratory, especially as I live near the coast (like curlews, which breed inland during the summer). Some seasonal migrants may occasionally be seen throughout the year as vagrants, and many resident populations are swollen by migrants, especially in the winter. Therefore, these terms are very approximate.

86 species:
Accipiter nisus Sparrowhawk: Marton Mere nature reserve, Blackpool; 1; f.; 15 Sept 2012; resident.
Acrocephalus scirpaceus Reed warbler: Marton Mere; 2; unknown sex; 28 Jun 2012; summer migrant.
Actitis hypoleucos Common sandpiper: Skippool Creek, Poulton, Lancs; 3; unknown sex; 07 Jul 2012; resident.
Aegithalos caudatus Long-tailed tit: numerous locations; 1; m/f/juv., numerous occasions; resident.
Anas clypeata Shoveler: numerous locations; 1-2; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.
Anas crecca Teal: Marton Mere & east of Staining, Lancs; 1; m/f/juv.; numerous occasions; resident.
Anas penelope Wigeon: Marton Mere; 3; m/f.; several occasions; resident.
Anas platyrhynchos Mallard: numerous locations; 1; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.
Anas strepera Gadwall: Marton Mere; 1; m/f.; several occasions; resident.
Anser anser Greylag goose: around Blackpool; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Anser brachyrhynchus Pink-footed goose: around Blackpool; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; winter migrant.
Anthus pratensis Meadow pipit: Blawhorn Moss reserve, Scotland & Fleetwood, Lancs; 1-2; unknown sex; 26 Oct & 15 Nov 2012; resident.
Apus apus Swift: numerous locations; 3; unknown sex; summer migrant.
Ardea cinerea Grey heron: around Blackpool; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Arenaria interpres Turnstone: Fylde coastline, Lancs; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; winter migrant.
Aythya ferina Pochard: around Blackpool; 2; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.
Aythya fuligula Tufted duck: around Blackpool; 1; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.
Bucephala clangula Goldeneye: Fleetwood Marine Lakes; 2; m/f/juv.; 4 Nov 2012; resident/winter migrant.
Buteo buteo Buzzard: east of Staining, Lancs; 3; unknown sex; 12 Jul & 23 Aug 2012; resident. 
Calidris alba Sanderling: Fylde coastline; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; winter migrant.
Calidris maritima Purple sandpiper: Blackpool North Shore; 1; unknown sex; 14 and 18 Nov 2012; winter migrant.
Carduelis cannabina Linnet: around Blackpool; 1; m/f.; several occasions; resident.
Carduelis carduelis Goldfinch: numerous locations; 2; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Carduelis chloris Greenfinch: around Blackpool; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Carduelis spinus Siskin: Marton Mere; 3; f.; 29th Feb 2012; resident.
Charadrius hiaticula Ringed plover: Rossall Point, Fleetwood; 2; 17 Sept 2012; resident.
Chroicocephalus ridibundus Black-headed gull: numerous locations; 1; adult/juvenile; numerous occasions; resident.
Columba livia Rock/feral pigeon: numerous locations; 1; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.
Columba palumbus Woodpigeon: numerous locations; 2-3; unknown sex;  numerous occasions; resident.
Corvus corone Carrion crow: numerous locations; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Corvus frugilegus Rook: Fairhaven Lake, Lancs; 1; 24 Oct 2012; resident.
Corvus monedula Jackdaw: Fairhaven Lake & Lytham Moss, Lancs; 1; 24 Oct & 13 Dec 2012; resident.
Cyanistes caeruleus Bluetit: numerous locations; 1; adults + juv.; numerous occasions; resident.
Cygnus (columbianus) bewickii Bewick's swan: Lytham Moss; 2; unknown sex; 13 Dec 2012; winter migrant.
Cygnus cygnus Whooper swan: Lytham Moss; 2; adults + juv.; 13 Dec 2012; winter migrant.
Cygnus olor Mute swan: numerous locations; 1; adults + juv.; numerous occasions; resident.
Delichon urbica House martin: Staining, Lancs; 3; unknown sex (+ nest); 28 Aug 2012; summer migrant. 
Dendrocopos major Great spotted woodpecker: Marton Mere; 2; unknown sex; 07 & 10 Nov 2012; resident.
Emberiza schoeniclus Reed bunting: around Blackpool; 2; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.
Erithacus rubecula European robin: numerous locations; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Falco tinnunculus Kestrel: Marton Mere; 3; m.; 03 Sept 2012; resident.
Fringilla coeleb Chaffinch: around Blackpool; 1; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.
Fulica atra Coot: around Blackpool; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Gallinago gallinago Snipe: Marton Mere & east of Staining; 3; unknown sex; 28 Aug & 01 Dec 2012; resident.
Gallinula chloropus Moorhen: numerous locations; 1; adult + juv.; numerous occasions; resident.
Haematopus ostralegus Oystercatcher: around Blackpool; 1-2; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Hirundo rustica Swallow: numerous locations; 1; unknown sex; summer migrant.
Larus argentatus Herring gull: numerous locations; 1; adult + juv.; numerous occasions; resident.
Larus canus Common gull: Lytham Moss; 2; unknown sex; 13 Dec 2012; resident.
Larus fuscus Lesser black-backed gull: Stanley Park, Blackpool; 2; unknown sex; 07 Apr 2012; resident.
Larus marinus Great black-backed gull: Blackpool central beach; 2; unknown sex; 05 Feb 2012; resident.
Limosa lapponica Bar-tailed godwit: Blackpool central beach; 2; unknown sex; 05 Feb 2012; resident.
Limosa limosa Black-tailed godwit: east of Staining; 3; m/f.; 28 Aug 2012; resident.
Mergus serrator Red-breasted merganser: Fleetwood Marine Lakes; 2-3; m/f.; 04 Nov 2012; resident.
Motacilla alba Pied wagtail: numerous locations; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Motacilla cinerea Grey wagtail: Stanley Park; 3; unknown sex; summer 2012; resident.
Numenius arquata Curlew: Rossall Point & Poulton, Lancs; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Parus major Great tit: around Blackpool; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Passer domesticus House sparrow: numerous locations; 1; m/f/juv.; numerous occasions; resident.
Periparus ater Coal tit: around Blackpool; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Phalacrocorax carbo Cormorant: around Blackpool; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Phylloscopus trochilus Willow warbler: Stanley Park, Blackpool; 2; unknown sex; 14 Apr 2012; summer migrant.
Pica pica Magpie: numerous locations; 1-2; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Pluvialis apricaria Golden plover: Poulton; 3; unknown sex; 11 Dec 2012; resident.
Pluvialis squatarola Grey plover: Fleetwood; 1;unknown sex; 15 Nov 2012; winter migrant.
Podiceps cristatus Great crested grebe: around Blackpool; 1-2; m/f/juv.; numerous occasions; resident.
Poecile palustris Marsh tit: Leighton Moss; 3; unknown sex; 11 Sept 2012; resident
Prunella modularis Dunnock: around Blackpool; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Riparia riparia Sand martin: Leighton Moss; 3; unknown sex; 11 Sept 2012; summer migrant.
Sterna hirundo Common tern: Blackpool South Shore; 3; unknown sex; 26 Jun 2012; summer migrant.
Sterna paradisaea Arctic tern: Blackpool South Shore; 3; unknown sex; 26 Jun 2012; summer migrant.
Sternus vulgaris Starling: numerous locations; 1; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.
Streptopelia decaocto Collared dove: numerous locations; 1; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Sylvia atricapilla Blackcap: nr. Marton Mere; 1; m/juv.; 12 Jul 2012; resident.
Sylvia communis Whitethroat: around Blackpool; 2; unknown sex; several occasions; summer migrant.
Tadorna tadorna Shelduck: Wyre & Ribble estuaries, Lancs; 2; unknown sex; several occasions; resident.
Tringa erythropus Spotted redshank: Leighton Moss; 2-3; unknown sex; 11 Sept 2012; winter migrant.
Tringa nebularia Greenshank: Leighton Moss; 2-3; unknown sex; 11 Sept 2012; resident.
Tringa totanus Redshank: numerous locations; 1; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.
Troglodytes troglodytes Wren: numerous locations; 1; adult + juv.; numerous occasions; resident.
Turdus iliacus Redwing: Poulton; 2; unknown sex; 11 Dec 2012; winter migrant.
Turdus merula Blackbird: numerous locations; 1-2; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.
Turdus philomelos Song thrush: nr. Marton Mere; 2-3; unknown sex; 18 May 2012; resident.
Turdus pilaris Fieldfare: Marton Mere & Poulton; 1-2; m/f.; 01 & 11 Dec 2012; winter migrant.
Turdus viscivorus Mistle thrush: numerous locations; 2; unknown sex; numerous occasions; resident.
Vanellus vanellus Lapwing: around Blackpool; 2; m/f.; numerous occasions; resident.

Bird project 2013

This year I have a few goals. Inasmuch as, there are things I want to have achieved by the end of it, not because it's January, but as part of an ongoing process of moving my life in the direction I want.

Last year, I started taking photography much more seriously, practising a lot and upgrading my equipment. By around September, I had an informal target of 70 bird species photographs on Flickr. I only upload photographs that meet a fairly high standard on there, of quality or interest, preferably both. So I saw more than that, but I made it to my target anyway. This year, I want to push myself much further.

So, I want to have photographed every native species in the UK by the end of the year. Resident birds, summer and winter migrants, and hopefully common vagrants. It's not a strictly-defined list, and some species (crested tits, cranes) are very restricted in range, so may not be possible. But it's a good target to aim for.

I'll post an entry for each successful outing, with the best pics of each new species I see. I'll include location, photographic conditions (light, weather), and any relevant comments. It's mainly for my own records, but it might offer insights to others trying to take photographs of birds. I've learned most of what I know (still nowhere near enough) from blogs, Twitter, and practice, so it's not impossible people may want to know this.

Also, I have informal, personal levels of quality. I only post the best on Flickr. Less good photos go on Twitpic sometimes. To show what I mean, and so this entry isn't all text, here are a few examples:

Level 1 - a photograph I am entirely, or almost entirely, happy with - good enough to be viewed large (a tufted duck, Aythya fuligula; I've shrunk it for this blog), uploaded to Flickr (in this case, I already had an even better photograph of this species, so I didn't bother).

Level 2 - a photograph of moderate quality, especially given the conditions, that shows a species of particular interest - in this case, greenshanks (Tringa nebularia) and a spotted redshank (T. erythropus).

Level 3 - a photograph that allows identification (in this case, of a kestrel, Falco tinnunculus), but which is of very poor quality indeed (I did post this to Flickr, but as part of a montage showing its flight and landing).

For the purposes of this project, however, any quality level that allows unambiguous identification will be acceptable.

I'll include a list and some highlights of the species I photographed last year in the next entry.