Prior to returning home from university on Saturday, I arranged to spend Sunday with Scott, birding around Cheshire and North Wales in order to clean up on a few year ticks. The day started at the ungodly time of 05.00 however the early start proved worth it when, an hour later, we were watching at least 11 male Black Grouse lekking at point blank range at a traditional site. As ever I was captivated by these charming birds, their haunting calls carried through the moisture-laden air providing a fitting soundtrack for the ethereal dawn landscape. After getting our annual Black Grouse fix, we headed to Pensarn where we caught up with the juvenile Iceland Gull showing distantly at the eastern end of the beach. A confirmation message on Birdguides then had us shooting across Angelsey to Cemlyn Bay where Scott finally connected with Lapland Bunting. The female bird showed incredibly well feeding on a seeded path to the north of the western car park allowing me to capture some great phone-scoped shots.
On the way home we made the short detour to Burton Mere Wetlands where I finally saw the wintering :Long-eared Owl which gave good views as it roosted in a shrub on the path to the IMF hide. This was only my third Long-eared Owl and constitutes a great record of what can be a very difficult bird to see in Cheshire. The returning Avocets and a singing Chiffchaff also reinforced the feeling that spring is on its way.