Quality time with my wife and kids. Not much wildlife around, just great views and some much needed exercise.
A day to oneself during the Christmas "holidays" is a rarity indeed. Better to leave the house early in case you get roped into yet more family nonsense. With recent storms bringing sea birds to reservoirs up and down the country, I couldn't possibly ignore the Black-throated Diver at Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester. My mate Eddie joined me on this one.
Not the best shot in the world I know, but I could only just see this bird through my scope.
Job done at 13.00, was it worth zooming down the M56 to see if the Buff-bellied Pipit would finally play ball...?
We arrived at Burton Marsh an hour later, parked the car and immediately found the Siberian Chiffchaff, almost certainly the same individual from a few days previous. As I took a few more shots of the obliging bird, I could see a group of birders focusing on something else...
Bingo! In less than 5 minutes we had perfect views of two completely different rarities, right next to the car too. You take the rough with the smooth in this game, but today was one of the smoothest days ever. Real ale and chips at Parkgate promenade rounded it all off.
At this festive time of year its important to visit relatives and make them feel special. Living in Bebington on the Wirral, my sister was delighted to see me and my family yesterday, having made the one-hour journey all the way from Penwortham just to see her. The warm, loving atmosphere was soon shattered, however, when my wife revealed, "He's only really down here to see a rare bird".
"Oh no, not again!" came the reply.
Anyway, the Buff-bellied pipit at Burton Marsh never showed up for me, but a Hen Harrier and a Siberian Chiffchaff made the journey worthwhile.
All shots taken from inside the car, firstly a Siberian Chiffchaff, flitting about in low scrub next to the road.