Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Juvenile Spotted Crake,North Cave Wetlands,Saturday 20th August 2016.

With the prospect of seeing this bird after hearing several reports that it had been showing well,it was an easy choice for a few hours out after completing my week of nights.
 A steady walk around to Reedbed Lake where the bird was residing,didn't reveal much in the way of birds except a few feeding flocks of Sand Martins overhead and some nice views of both Little and Great-crested Grebes.
 Eventually i arrived at the Reedbed Lake and settled down on one of the benches to scan for the Crake.The only hinderance was the blustery south westerly wind unfortunately.
 Several false alarms included a juvenile Water Rail and a Blackbird that thought it was a Crake feeding in amongst the reeds.
 After the umpteenth rain shower attempted to soak the small assembled group of visitors(Thank god for the nearby viewing shelter) the bird eventually showed very briefly at relatively close range.
 Another 20 minutes passed by and then at last prolonged and superb views were enjoyed of this reedbed skulker,as it fed unconcernedly along the reed edge,sometimes in the company of the afore mentioned juvvie Water Rail.
 It was great to see one so well and at pretty close range,particularly when feeding alongside the Water Rail and also a Common Snipe of which it looked certainly smaller.It was typically scatty,like all rails can be,jumping at the slightest sound and certainly having a dislike towards the local Greylag flock,disappearing on a couple of occasions....who can blame him or her!.
 After at least 40 minutes of watching this cracking bird i travelled back over the Humber to Lincolnshire contented with enjoying my best views of a Spotted Crake to date.
Juvenile Spotted Crake.

Juvenile Spotted Crake.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Swampy,Bee Wolves And Stunning Arachnids,Minsmere RSPB,Thursday 4th August 2016.

After a very kind offer and some persuasion,Tim and myself headed south to Suffolk to hopefully see the reported Western-purple Swamphen which had been found a few days earlier on this flagship RSPB reserve.
 I must admit,when i first heard about this bird,i was pretty sceptical about it's provenance after the species chequered history,but after reading an interesting piece on bird guides,my mind was changed,plus we always have a great day out where ever we go.
 As we finally arrived at the reserve and drove along the approach track,we were greeted by the fine sight of half a dozen Red Deer in a cereal field,a great start.
 After a quick drink and getting the gear together,Tim and myself made our way around to the birds chosen pool near to the South hide.As we were the first on site,it seemed a long 20 minutes before i spotted the bird at the back of the pool......and relax.It was watched as it fed along the reed edge,quietly feeding on reed stems which it expertly held in between its huge feet and scarlet red bill.What a beast of a bird and it almost looked as large as the Mallards it was seen along side.It disappeared for a short while and other bird highlights included 3 Green Sandpiper,2 Little Gull and a good passage of Swifts moving south.
 After a short while the bird reappeared and we watched as it slowly got a little nearer,but was never close enough for the camera unfortunately,but great views were gained through the scope all the same.The bird is of the Western race of Purple Gallinule and is thought to be a wild bird after a recent range spread through Europe.
 After watching this monster marshland bird we decided to explore the rest of the reserve.
 The next goodies to be seen were also a special species,Stone Curlew.We managed to find them on an area of sandy heathland after some help full direction and enjoyed some nice scope views as 2 adults fed there chick,fantastic and a real privilege to see the species with young.
 Close by,a couple of interesting members of the local Hymenoptera family were watched along a sandy path,the formerly rare Bee Wolf and Pantaloon Bees.
 Both species gave some fantastic views,the female Bee Wolves watched bringing bees in to line their burrows for their future broods and the Pantaloon Bees watched visiting their sandy burrows also.Other insect sightings included 2 Grayling,several Red Admiral and Painted Lady.The final highlight was a great way to end our visit,4 stunning female Wasp Spider.These were only my second sighting of this superb species,after seeing them several years ago at Lulworth Cove in Dorset.
 So what a cracking day out was enjoyed by us both and we travelled the long journey back north after another expertly driven twitch by Tim.
Western-purple Swamphen.

Western-purple Swamphen.

Little Egrets.

Highland Cow.

Pantaloon Bee.

Pantaloon Bee.

Pantaloon Bee.

Bee Wolf excavating her burrow.

Bee Wolf excavating her burrow.

Bee Wolf,excavating her burrow.

Bee Wolf With Prey.

Bee Wolves At Their Burrows.

Wasp Spider.

Wasp Spider.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Fantastic Frampton!,Sunday 31st July 2016.

After a very impressive run of recent rarities at this superb washland site and the added attraction of thousands of waders and many photo opportunities,i decided to head south through the Lincolnshire Wolds to the wonderful RSPB reserve that is Frampton Marsh.
 After arriving at the reserve car park,i had a quick scoff before heading over to the reserves 360 Hide first.Prolonged viewing from this superbly situated watch point had me enjoying fantastic point blank views of the locally bred Avocets and some beautiful Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits,both of which received plenty of attention from my camera.
 Notable species from this watch point included Common and Green Sandpipers,Ruff,Spotted Redshank,2 partially summer plumaged Curlew Sandpipers and a juvenile Little Stint.The latter two species showed beautifully through the scope,particularly the lovely Curlew Sands which were beginning to lose that striking brick red breeding plumage.
 After enjoying my fill of the superb species on offer and no sign unfortunately of the White-rumped Sandpiper from the previous days,i began to explore the remainder of the reserve,heading for East Hide.
 There was less birds from this watch point,but i enjoyed some superb views of 2 adult and 2 juvenile Little-ringed Plovers and a juvenile Common Sandpiper.After taking loads of images of the cracking Little-ringed's i moved on to explore more of the reserve.
 Walking along the sea bank,a certain surprise reminiscent of the previous weekend,came in the form of two summering Dark-bellied Brent Geese watched feeding on the saltmarsh.Prolonged scanning from here added a hunting juvenile Marsh Harrier to the days sightings and 3 more Ruff and a Spotted Redshank.
 Heading back to the car park,a fairly confiding Skylark allowed me to approach and take some images of it before it was flushed by an inconsiderate dog walker,bloody typical!.
 After a quick change of clothing and some food i decided to try and look for the reported Turtle Doves which unfortunately i could not find,but a Green Woodpecker was nice to see all the same.
 After a well timed message from birding buddy Tony Hood,i made my way back to the 360 Hide as the previous days White-rumped Sandpiper had just been relocated.After waiting my turn to sit down in the hide,i then spent the following hour or so watching this american vagrant,albeit at fairly long range.Thankfully i had seen one here the previous year which showed very well.
 So again this fantastic reserve impressed and i travelled home back to North Linc's a happy boy after another brilliant visit.

Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit.

Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit.

Juvenile Avocet.

Juvenile Lapwing.

Juvenile Common Sandpiper.

Juvenile Dunlin.

Female Little-ringed Plover.

Juvenile Little-ringed Plover.

Male Ruff.

Little Egret.

Little Egret.


Bonby Carrs,Saturday 30th July 2016.

After catching up on my sleep,after my last nightshift of the week on friday night,i decided to have a wander down the Carrs at Bonby.
 As i left the car,the first nicety of the visit came in the form of a supremely beautiful male Marsh Harrier watched hunting the nearby fields.What a cracking species these birds are and i never tire of seeing them.
 As i scanned the surrounding fields and sky,it soon became apparent that there were quite a decent number of Swifts feeding over the area and gradually moving north along the valley.I counted a total of 156 birds and they gave some superb views later at the river.It will be sad to see these masters of the air leave our country for the winter and my local birds have already departed on their long journeys south.
 There was still some water on a couple of the pasture fields still and one of these had a Little Egret patiently fishing on it alongside it's larger cousin,a Grey Heron,a further 2 Grey herons were seen along the river also.Disappointingly no passage waders were seen at all except for a couple of Snipe.
 Good conditions for the local thermal loving raptors today saw at least 5 different Common Buzzards on the wing as well as a couple of Kestrel and another Marsh Harrier,this time a juvenile over fields near to the river.
 Very little was seen passerine wise,except for a single Sedge Warbler and a couple of Whitethroats.
 Some welcome diversion from the birds saw a few butterflies being seen which included Large White,Green-veined White,Comma,Gatekeeper,Meadow Brown and Ringlet and a Doe and Buck Roe Deer in one of the pasture fields.
 A nice relaxing visit and a great start to my weeks hols.
Doe And Buck Roe Deer.

One Of The Local Calves.

Looking Along Carr Lane Towards The Village And Wolds.

Monday, 25 July 2016

WEBS Count,Saturday 23rd July 2016.

As i have recently taken over a section of the south bank of the Humber Estuary which i used to count in previous years,today was the day to carry out my survey and to be fair was pretty productive to say the least.
 I began proceedings by parking at Barrow haven to walk the first 2 sections which take in the adjacent clay pits as well as the estuary between here and New Holland bulk terminal.
 Sightings along this first section of Humber bank consisted of 3 Common Sandpipers and 54 Lapwing on the estuary and 2 singing male Cettis Warbler,a Kingfisher and the rarest of all,a singing male Willow Tit seen around the surrounding pits and scrub.The Common Sands obviously actively migrating to their wintering grounds in Africa an amazing journey for such small birds.
 After negotiating the terminal itself,it was on to section 3 of the survey and the usually most productive section of my WEBS count and today was certainly no exception.
 Although,not a species to have anything to do with my survey,the next species was highlight of the day for me.After a brief sighting of what looked like a raptor,maybe a Kestrel out the corner of my eye,the bird was quickly found and not a raptor at all,but a superb juvenile Cuckoo.Thankfully i had my camera ready and managed to get some nice images of the bird as it perched on a nearby fence,what a cracking species these are and another south bound summer visitor on its long journey to tropical Africa.
 I continued my walk and as i neared Goxhill Tilery,a small goose flew past me east,this was soon identified as a Dark-bellied Brent Goose,but in July!,certainly a first for me at this time of year.After talking to  fellow birder Simon Brebner who watches Paull on the north bank,it had been seen there the previous day.
 Carrying on,i eventually got to my destination at Goxhill Haven and along the way had added a further 6 Common Sands,2 lovely Whimbrel,a single Knot and 11 Golden Plover to add to the days tally,not too bad really and more than i had expected to see.
 The return leg back to Barrow Haven had one more surprise in store,after hearing that distinct 'Kirrick,Kirrick' call a party of 12 Sandwich Tern were watched steadily making there way east.This was a brilliant sighting for myself,as this was the largest flock i have ever seen on the Humber,so i was pretty chuffed to say the least.Simon later saw the same birds off Paul and finished on 15 birds for the day,so no doubt there was a bit of a movement of the species in the estuary on this big tide.
 The only notable highlight on the rest of the walk was another Kingfisher and i managed to see the Willow Tit again at New Holland.
 A cracking morning out and about and i look forward to my next WEBS count!.
2 Of The 9 Common Sandpipers Seen During The Visit,These 2 Where At Barrow Haven. 

Juvenile Cuckoo,New Holland.

Juvenile Cuckoo,New Holland.

Oystercatcher,New Holland.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose,Heading East At A Rapid Rate Of Knots.

Whimbrel,Goxhill Haven.

3 Of The 12 Sandwich Terns Seen Off Goxhill Haven.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Bempton Seabirds,Saturday July 2nd 2016.

With the prospect of an ideal days weather i headed for the seabird mecca that is Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve situated at the northern end of the great white cape that is Flamborough Headland.
 I try and visit this fantastic place at least once a year to see that sight,sound and unfortunately smell,of the the thousands of seabirds which call this place home.
 The conditions today were perfect,as it was pretty windy which seems to help with photographing,particularly,the Gannets as they seem to hang in the wind more.
 Not only is it a great place for birds,but the towering cliffs are a sight to behold also and make for a very impressive scene to enjoy.
 The following are some of my better efforts with the camera from my visit today.
Fulmar,what a stunning species.

Adult Gannet,supremely beautiful birds.

Adult Gannet.

Puffins,a visitors favourite.

Razorbill,my personal favourite of the Auk family.

Adult Gannet and large chick.

Adult Kittiwake.
Impressive Scenery.