11th January 2016 – Snow Goose on my dog walk…

I think I said in a previous post that I’d tried for the Snow Goose that’s wintering on the Solway a couple of times so far and both times I’d dipped it. Such is the fickle nature of these things. Trying to find a rare goose on the Solway – even a great big chuffin white one, can often be – well, a bit of a wild goose chase. They move around the area all the time and are regularly flushed and spooked and just as they seem to settle into a routine of being seen in the same area for a few days they bugger off, sometimes disappearing for days or even weeks. Anyway, I’d joked with the missus that we had just as much chance of seeing this Snow Goose on one of our dog walks. To be honest it was half joke, half hope, we’re always seeing barnies on our walks on the marshes so I knew that it was always an outside possibility….

For once this morning it was a beautiful and sunny start to the day, and after the boy was seen off on the school bus the missus and I drove the few minutes to Easton to begin our walk with the pooch on the marsh. As we were walking back towards the car a small group of barnies flew close past us heading low west, and right amongst them was the flippin’ Snow Goose! I’m used to seeing the leucistic barnies in with the geese on the Solway but this bird was so close that the black primaries and structure was obvious even with the naked eye. I watched them until they disappeared out of sight in the direction of Drumburgh and Glasson. We’ve seen some half decent bits n bobs on our dog walks now, nowt too special but things like Kingfisher, Green Sand, Short-eared Owl, Twite etc, but this was without doubt our best ‘dog-walking tick’ so far!

However I cursed the fact that I didn’t have my camera with me, the light was superb and they were so close that it would’ve been a wonderful opportunity to photograph it. I had an idea where it might land, but equally it might just have continued flying west towards the Campfield/Cardurnock area. I remember a few years back when a Red-breasted Goose was watched at Drumburgh before flying off west. Minutes later it was seen by another birder heading west over Campfield Marsh, before eventually being located grazing in a field at Cardurnock. I headed home and quickly grabbed my camera before heading back to Drumburgh. The area I suspected it might have landed in can’t be seen from any roads so a bit of local knowledge and experience certainly helped here. Walking around the corner towards Glasson Point I noticed some barnies on the marsh and bugger me there it was! Get in! The last thing I wanted to do now was flush them so I kept right in amongst the gorse and hedge to keep out of sight, if anyone had seen me lurking amongst the bushes they must’ve wondered what on earth I was up to!….

IMG_9884-copyBut it paid dividends and the birds continued to graze undisturbed…

IMG_9801-copyIMG_9765-copyIMG_9855-copyIMG_9900-copyIMG_9894-copyIMG_9885-copyIMG_9822-copyIMG_9886-copyIMG_9753-copyIMG_9876-copyIMG_9792-copyThey did however seem to be quite uncertain about a light aircraft that was flying around over the Solway – many a time I’ve been watching something good and either a microlight or low flying plane has spoiled the fun. This particular plane circled overhead but I think it was too high to cause them to fly off, even so they kept a very close eye on it…

IMG_9780-copyIMG_9882-copyIMG_9735-copyHappy with my encounter I decided to leave the bird in peace to feed, I certainly didn’t feel the need to purposefully flush it to get the flight shot…

As I wandered back to my car the plane reappeared but a bit lower than before and I wondered if this might cause them to fly off. I could soon hear flying barnies and just as I was nearing my car they came into view flying east along the edge of the marsh. I watched them until they were lost to view flying over the Solway towards the edge of Burgh Marsh/Rockcliffe Marsh.

IMG_9912-copyIMG_9915-copyIMG_9918-copyBirding always throws up surprises. Having specifically travelled to see this bird twice and failed it’s somewhat ironic that it flew over us on my local patch when I was least expecting it. I suppose I’ve gotta thank our mutley for this one, I’m certain I wouldn’t have seen it had we not been out taking him for a walk. Cheers Alfie.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

31st December 2015 & 1st January 2016 – New Year Aurora…

The family headed off to find some dark skies last night to watch the spectacular Northern lights…

IMG_3660-copy IMG_3682-copyWhat a display….more pics here

All the best for 2016…


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

20th December 2015 – No birds but here’s some more Aurora…

I’ve kinda given up birding at the moment. I’ve been out a few times this year but most of my trips haven’t been very productive. I think the final straw was dipping the Desert Wheatear by 10 minutes at Eskmeals a few weeks back. It had been there for 4 days and buggered off just as I parked up my car, 4 hours travel and a 130 mile round trip for bugger all. I used to take all that stuff in my stride years ago, it’s all part of the ‘game’, but these days I’ve got better things to do with my time and money. I’m sure I’ll still pop out locally from time to time – I’ve already tried for the wintering Snow Goose twice and dipped it, so there will no doubt be the occasional post on here, but not as many as in previous years. Maybe I’ll refind my birding mojo again sometime, who knows?

Anyway, here’s a pic from last nights Aurora display over the Solway, which to be honest was far more exciting than any Snow Goose…


More pics here:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

7th October 2015 – AURORA!!!

IMG_2636-copy IMG_2627-copy

More pics here:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

31st July 2015 – BEE-EATERS!!!!

Amazingly two pairs of Bee-eaters have chosen to nest in a working quarry near Brampton.

Full story here:







Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sad news…

I was saddened to learn that Cumbrian birder Ian Kinley had recently passed away.

When I first moved to the county 14 years ago Ian was the first Cumbrian birder that I made contact with through the Bird Club, and I am indebted to him for introducing me to the Cumbrian birding scene.

Being a bit younger back then I was hugely enthusiastic about the prospect of birding in this wonderful county and Ian always gave me lots of encouragement, invaluable information and tips. In fact our communications became a regular thing and I knew that I could always rely on him to be totally trustworthy and give me words of advice. This came as recently as a few weeks ago when I contacted him regarding the Ambleside Rosefinch, and as ever he replied with helpful information.

He was of course a hugely passionate and active county lister, and there wasn’t many species on the county list that weren’t also on his. I feel privileged to have been able to add a few for him in the shape of Broad-billed Sand and Semi-P, but conversely I was gutted when he was abroad for the duration of the Stilt Sandpiper’s stay back in 2008.

The Cumbria Bird Club and the County Bird Report will never be the same – in my opinion Ian’s ‘Review of the Year’ was about the only interesting and readable part in the report! He also wrote the ‘monthly highlights’ section for the current website and bird magazines, and was also a key member of the records panel. I was never very efficient at submitting my records, and he would often phone or text me encouraging me to get my finger out and get my descriptions to him!

I have many fond memories of my times with Ian, and I often bumped into him when he was up on the Solway with Ronnie Irving. Such was his enthusiasm for birding he probably visited my patch more regularly than me, even though he lived in Kendal! I always made time to stop and have a chat with him and we sometimes met up to watch skuas or the occasional rarity. We would always have great crack together and many, many laughs – I shall certainly miss our lively discussions about birding in Cumbria!

The Bird Club and Cumbria birders have lost an excellent birder and true character and it will be a far poorer place for his passing.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

12th May 2015 – Poms and Peregrines…

It’s that time of the year again and this morning I had my first opportunity to see if I could catch up with any skuas. I didn’t do too bad considering the tide was already dropping when I arrived – 20 Poms in less than a couple of hours. Happy days.




Whilst searching for skuas I suddenly became distracted by a commotion on the shore, a Peregrine was chasing down a Collared Dove…





Inevitably though it was all over for the Dove, and after 3 huge whacks it was game over….



Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment