With ever growing conservation issues, queries and concern in the county I am very pleased to announce the appointment of a Conservation Officer to assist with such matters and welcome Craig Higson to his post within the group.
Craig has had an interest in wildlife for as long as he can remember but his interest in birds came to the fore from the age of about 10 years old, with his first visit to Pennington Flash as early as 1984 during an organised school visit. Whilst he enjoys birding around the north-west and often further afield, not least spending a couple of weeks each year at his favourite UK birding location of Spurn, most of his birding is done in the county, usually around Wigan or the Horwich Moors. He has been lucky enough to spend most of his working life working in the conservation and environmental sector and even lived the dream working as a Ranger at Pennington Flash for a number of years!
Craig’s contact details can be found on the Who’s Who page.
Greater Manchester's rare gull records are brought up to date with the latest round of County Rarities Committee, Gulls Sub-committee assessment results.
The latest round of a submitted county rarity decision which have been assessed by the County rarities Committee have now been published to the 'record submission' page. These include all the Hawfinches from the autumn 2017 'invasion' we have received so far, so please, if you haven't submitted one you saw yet, send it in to us; that goes for any other county rarities you may have seen in the past few years too as we warmly welcome them all.
The rarities committee is now up to date with all but gulls which are undergoing a process of mass assessment (there are a lot of them!) and decisions are expected within the next couple of weeks. Once these are published, all new decisions will be notified with a red 'added date' after them (which will remain for a month or so before deletion) to make new decisions easier to identify.
Tired of the cold and rain at the moment? Fancy some sun in an exotic location with some equally exotic birds thrown in? Well, get away from it all if only for 20 minutes, by diving into John Rayner's new two part trip report to Sri Lanka in January 2018.
Grab yourself a nice cup of tea, stick one of those little pink umbrellas into it, kick back and take yourself to the Asia section of the Trip Reports page and imagine you were there!
Some of the more eagle eyed visitors to this website may have already noticed that county rarities submitted to the County Rarity Committee now have the outcome of their assessment published within its pages. It has been something I've been working (quietly) on for a while now but the submitted rarity decisions are now up to date. There are many records still currently in circulation thought and so if your record isn't on there then that's probably where it will be but please do feel free to contact me just to check if needs be. The page will be regularly updated as soon as decisions are made so make sure you check them frequently.
The page can be found under 'Record Submission' page and then the 'Submitted Rarity Decisions' tab and also attempts to give an explanation to why any submissions may have been found not proven but I will always endeavour to discuss it further with any observer should they contact me for additional clarification. The committee always warmly welcomes submissions of county rarities, not least as if they are not officially ratified by it they can form no part of the official county bird record database (and so are not published in the county bird report or form part of any historical record), are not used in important national surveys and reports and cannot be used in conservation work or planning objections within the county.
Firstly, my apologies for the absence in news from the Greater Manchester Bird Recording Group (GMBRG) to its members and interested parties and for the lack of recent County Bird Reports, the reasons for which are complex and now largely behind us and so I seek to look forwards, onwards and very much upwards.
Needless to say, we haven’t just been doing nothing, in fact very far from it! Whilst the county bird reports are of course important to us all, it is the work those individual bird records submitted by county birdwatchers do working tirelessly in the ever-increasing planning proposals and conservation issues which remain the priority of the group and which takes up so much of our time. That and the fact that Steve and I have very full and busy lives outside of birding and the GMBRG!
Anyway, things are back on track and so, here’s a few items of important news:
Let me put to bed rumours that the county bird report will not be produced and is over (wherever they came from!). The county bird report remains one of the priorities of the group and with the 2012 report soon to go to the printers plans have been formulated to bring the remaining years up to date in as short a time scale as possible with an pretty exciting idea.
A GMBRG members only section of the Manchester Birding Forum now exists, for its members to discuss all aspects of the group openly (including the report) and hopefully to further the group’s purpose within the county. To this end, those who have previously applied for membership to the group with be required to apply again to gain access to the private forum, merely due to the fact that as the group’s primary purpose is to collate bird records from within the county, it is a stipulation of the group and always has been, that its members contribute to that primary purpose in some way. Fact is though that whilst many do and will gain membership, many others don’t currently, but I invite all county birders to get involved, make your bird records work positively within the county and to join the group. Please just get in touch by any means to discuss it with me (including how to submit your sightings to us and becoming a member). Full details of the group can be found on the Manchester Birding website here (click the GMBRG page)
The 2010 and 2011 Annual County Bird Reports are now available to download for free here for all (click the GMBRG page and scroll to the bottom).
We do need more people to get actively involved with the group, initially to assist with writing and editing the county bird report (particularly the catch-up proposal). I know there are several birders out there who have already offered their assistance and I would very like to take you up on that, plus anyone else interested needs only to get in touch to discuss. A separate private report writer’s section of the forum also now exists, so those involved can easily discuss problems, ideas or anything else to do with the report’s production between each other. There may also be positions available with the running of the group if suitable people exists, those with conservation or ecological backgrounds in particular.
My contact info can be found here
Inane rambling and musings from Ian McKerchar, sometimes hopefully not so inane...
The 'Gone Birding' section on this website finally has its first piece. I say piece but what I really mean is gibberish, babbling on about waterproof jackets of all things! But that's the point of it really, the section is genuinely my inane ramblings and musings on all things birds and birding. It'm not expecting it to be a regular feature, just when I have the time or more importantly something to ramble on about, but ramble I will and it goes without saying that anything within the section is my opinion alone and does not represent that of the Greater Manchester Bird Recording Group or its rarities Committee in any way shape or form (unless otherwise stated). Enjoy (or not as the case may be!).
Now, I don't know about you, but for me Red-flanked Bluetails still maintain their almost mythical status in the UK and never cease to be a heart-stopper whenever I'm fortunate enough to see one but in the eyes of the British Birds Rarities Committee, they're no longer rare enough to warrant their assessment and so have been dropped from their rarities list, effective for records from 1st January 2017. And bluetails aren't alone either, with the following changes:
Removed from the BBRC list- Black-winged Stilt, Red-flanked Bluetail
Reinstated to the BBRC list- Ferruginous Duck
Ferruginous Duck is in decline internationally and BBRC needs to ensure provenance of birds with regards to their increasing conservation concern. As for the stilt and bluetail, their increasing numbers in recent years has been plain to see and I can now look forward to the County Rarities Committee's first submission of either of them and hope that it is bird which is enjoyed my many observers!
With immediate effect Tim Wilcox becomes the new WeBS Organiser for Greater Manchester.
Tim's details can be found on the 'Who's Who' page of this website and I'd like to wish him all the very best in his new role and hope we all support him in his quest to get more coverage for the WeBS in GM.
Tim is a well respected and long time county birder and anyone wishing to know more about him should have a read of the 'Meet and Greet the Manky Birders' article within the miscellaneous section of the Articles page of this website.
A number of bird flu cases has now been confirmed in the UK, including within Lancashire and as such birders should be highly vigilant when out and about to any suspected cases they may come across. It goes without saying that dead birds should ideally not be handled by untrained persons as some strains of avian influenza can pass to humans, but this is very rare. It usually requires very close contact between the human and infected birds. Based on what is currently known about the H5N8 strain, the risk to public health is considered very low. There have never been any recorded cases of H5N8 in humans.
Members of the public should report dead wild birds - such as swans, geese, ducks, gulls or birds of prey - to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. Defra will then collect some of these birds and test them to help understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird.