Drake Garganey at Elton

At about 130pm, I went down to Elton approaching it from the Bury Road, Radcliffe side of the reservoir.

Along the canal towpath about 200 meters, were a couple of flooded fields, either side of the canal.

The bird showed very well, extremely close up: This is the bird below


Lowercroft Reservoir

approx 21st March 2017

Reports indicated the Mediterranean Gull had  been frequenting an area nearby the middle reservoir.

So along to this place I went. It was beginning to go dark

Not a gull was in sight – not even a black-headed

A consolation sighting -something  I hadnt previously seen – a smallish bird of prey in mid air over the upper reservoir trying to catch a bat.

The bat got away, and the bird dropped down out of sight

Soon, however, it flew up so I saw it fly off and land on a fence post. As it flew to the fence post I could see it was a bulkier bird than a kestrel. Also, the back was a plain bluish-grey

I was pleased to be able to get it in view with my binoculars as it was on the post.

Though the light was fading, one could see it was a sparrowhawk, with red horizontal barring along with the aforementioned blue-grey back; a male just like the one in the photograph below.



Bittern seen at Doffcocker 620pm

I have long wanted to see a bittern in the wild.This species has always eluded me until now. Several visits to Leighton Moss over the years to see such birds as the bearded tit and the bittern failed.

Reports had been  made of a bittern at Doffcocker Lodge in my local town of Bolton. It was, apparently overwintering here.  In fact it was reported to have been seen several times over the last few days.

In fact, I had made brief visits myself over the last couple of days, but once again, the bittern had been frustratingly elusive for me. 

Today however, frustration was about to turn into satisfaction.

Today, I would make a third attempt to see the bird at Doffcocker. It was reported to be regularly showing well around dusk, at the northern  end of the small water body, and as the light failed it would habitually, clamber onto the reeds prior to roost, and show itself well. 

The bird had reportedly been showing for the last few nights at dusk so a handful of birders were there on he causeway in readiness and eager expectation, looking towards the reeds at the northern end of the small water body.

No one had seen the bird. It wasn’t showing  I wondered whether this was going to be another disappointment.

However this was not to be the case tonight.  Soon one of the birders  spotted it low down at it’s usual spot.I got the chance to see it through a  ‘scope.Hurrah

 To be honest, though, even though one could just about make out the bird, and consider it to be a “tick”, with the views of the bird bird being largely obscured by the reeds, one felt it was a little unsatisfactory at that point. 

Someone said not to worry and confidently assured me that it would soon show itself more clearly. They said that just before it roosts for the night it will perch on the reeds and we will see it well.

Not long after this  (about 620pm) his words proved true. The light was fading fast. Large numbers of jackdaws were flying in to roost in some trees nearby.  Someone heard a water rail calling, and a wren hopped along the bushes right by us. 

 At this point, as if right on schedule, the bittern started  clambering about up some reeds, as it reportedly had done at this hour on previous evenings. 

Thanks to a kind birder among the eight or so  present, who let me look at it through his telescope, I had the opportunity  to get a nice clear  view of it as it moved about.

Soon I left: not before another birder arrived, and he was also put onto it. He later reported that he saw it fly over to the reeds at the southern part of the pond. By that time though,  I had departed for the day.  

Maybe one day I will also see a bearded tit.

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Three Drake Great Scaup seen at Elton Reservoir

This evening, I was checking the http://www.manchesterbirding.com forum. It was about 645pm. When I clicked on Elton Reservoir, I noted immediately that during the day three drake scaup had been showing.  (Great Scaup)

Immediately I went off to Elton, and arrived there within about fifteen  minutes. The level of the water was unusually low due to some repair work going on.

Very quickly I sighted the three birds. On the first sighting I saw the three drakes diving in unison. A minute or two later I saw exactly the same thing happen. They dove down together

Some ten or fifteen minutes later another birder appeared, and we had a conversation whilst observing the three birds in question.

The “white body with black at each end” was clearly noted on all three birds. Also that the three scaup were a little larger or more sturdy birds than nearby tufted ducks.

After a few minutes the birder and I (he was a long-time Elton regular birder) parted our ways and we both went home.  I was back home within about 75 minutes of when I set off from home.


This photo is not of one of the birds I saw but this is what they looked like.

The sighting of these three Great Scaup means there have been two lifers this year 2016 so far: Little Tern and Great Scaup


This is a photograph of the exact same three birds on Elton Reservoir on the day I saw them.