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.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

New year, new group, same great birds

Alan Bedford and I met up with the Edge Hill Birdwatching & Beyond group at Martin Mere in time for opening this morning. Great to start up this group again after having a year off, and great to have so many eager participants; many of whom are returning. Alan and I decided to spilt into two groups, Alan taking the returners and me the newbies.
The newbie group started off in swanlink hide and we quickly went through the large flocks on the mere, dominated by the huge Whooper Swan flock. An adult and juvenile Peregrine and two Buzzards were enjoyed in the distance and 73 Ruff put on a show right in front of the hide. We hung around until after the feed and then headed to Harrier hide to check the gull and duck flocks.

Male Ruff in non-breeding plumage. Martin Mere 19/01/13
At Harrier hide close inspection of the Teal flocks failed to reveal the drake Green-winged Teal that's recently been in residence, but inspection of the gull flocks revealed a second winter Mediterranean Gull that the group were pleased to see. All of the seasonally common dabbling ducks were in evidence along with big groups of Shelducks and small groups of Pochards and Tufted Ducks.
Second winter Mediterranean Gull with Black-headed Gulls from Harrier hide at
Martin Mere 19/01/13
Janet Kear hide beckoned and so we headed there, immediately seeing a fine male Brambling on the feeders, which as expected, hosted flocks of Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Reed Buntings. Within a couple of minutes one of the Martin Mere regulars had spotted a Woodcock feeding and alterted the group, we all managed decent views and were delighted.
Woodcock from Janet Kear hide Martin Mere 19/01/13
Outside of the hide a trio of Great Spotted Woodpeckers pursued each other along the catty bank willows and we headed to the Mereside cafe for lunch. After lunch the thought of Barn Owls and Hen Harrier appealed, to be honest it was hard work up there with Teals and Wigeons on show but little else. An adult Peregrine sat on its usual fence post and as we were about to leave the hide a distant Barn Owl ghosted along a distant hedge line. As we headed back toward the visitor centre Goldcrests, Tree Sparrows, a Redwing and a Fieldfare were all seen.
We met up with Alan's group at the Sir Peter Scott bust and were happy to hear the news that the Green-winged Teal was on show at Harrier hide, so we headed back up there and were immediately rewarded with decent, if distant views.

Drake Green-winged Teal with Eurasian Teal from Harrier hide, Martin Mere 19/01/13
As we continued to scan from the hide a Barn Owl drifted past giving great views, much to the delight of all present.
Barn Owl from Harrier hide, Martin Mere 19/01/13
Another brief stop in Janet Kear hide was cut short due to freezing fingers and toes and some of us headed to to the Raines observatory to enjoy the swan feed commentary, another look at a Redwing was taken in too. The commentary was well delivered by WWT warden Alex Sawyer (good work Alex!) and the bird spectacle very enjoyable. Great to have a new group formed and I'm looking forward to their company over the next year; it should be fun.

Alex Sawyer throwing out some facts and figures in front of Raines observatory at
Martin Mere 19/01/13
Some of the 2013 Birdwatching and Beyond participants in Raines observatory


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