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'm lucky as I've worked at both sites and have a unique insight into how the sites are managed for birds. I've lived & worked in Abu Dhabi, Northern Ireland & Gloucestershire & I've spent time working in Kazakhstan & Madagascar. I enjoy birding my various West Lancashire patches, making frequent visits to the Ribble coastline & other sites in the north-west of England. I stray elsewhere in the UK & enjoy birding abroad from time to time. I'm particularly interested in wildfowl, with an interest in waders & raptors, bird counts & surveys & in habitat & species conservation. I'm trying to get the hang of photography & digiscoping - I'll get there eventually. My degree is in conservation biology & I work for a conservation charity and volunteer for others. 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 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 a keen season ticket holding Evertonian & also keep up with what's happening at Southport, PNE & Bristol Rovers. 2014 may bring a second dog & some chickens - watch this space! I hope you find the blog interesting - please feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, 4 January 2013

50 shades of larid grey

Pete Kinsella and I spent several hours today scoping bathing and roosting gulls on Richmond Bank in the river Mersey off Penketh near Warrington. The gulls using the river feed on the landfill site at Moore  just across the river. Pete is a dedicated larophile and a Richmond regular, over the past few years he has racked up an impressive species list and contributes very positively to gull ID knowledge and debates in the North-west. It was a real pleasure for me to tap into his site knowledge and enthusiasm, and it was handy having his pal Mark Garner there too. Thousands of gulls were present, Pete and I counted 24,000 during one mid afternoon flush (a Peregrine with an attached transmitter seemed to be the culprit), but they were reluctant to settle making prolonged scrutiny difficult, however we did pick up a couple of adult Yellow-legged Gulls amongst the ranked masses of Herring Gulls. The Herring Gulls made up c.95% of the birds present and were a useful reminder of the variability of this species; all shades of grey, big, medium and small, angry and soft looking and all age classes! After a few hours we headed back towards the car park and Pete checked small groups of gulls as we went and picked up a first winter Caspian Gull bathing on the river bank (see Northwest Birding facebook group page for Pete's photo); so a decent climax to the tense larid teasing.

Part of the huge gull flock at Richmond Bank
Adult Yellow-legged Gull with Herring Gulls at Richmond Bank 04/01/13
As the tide rose the gulls began to disperse so we headed over to the south side of the Mersey to Moore Nature Reserve. Apparently a Glaucous Gull had been seen a couple of times today, but we failed to find it and I also didn't find the Waxwings that had been feeding on the reserve earlier today, despite staking out the berry laden tree they'd been using. A redhead Smew was a nice bonus amongst the numerous Shoveler and Gadwall on the Birchwood pool. As dusk approached thousands of Jackdaws were heading to roost, as Pete suggested; a Hitchcock moment.
Redhead Smew at Moore Nature reserve 04/01/13

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