Thursday, 23 March 2017

Eastern-black Redstart.....What A Bird!..,Sunday 19th March 2017.

I had been contemplating on making the effort to travel up to see this gorgeous bird for several weeks and along with Trace,we made the journey up through the Yorkshire Moors seeing a Red Kite and a hand full of Red Grouse along the way and onto the stunning coastline at Skinningrove.
 The weather was brilliant,with a stunning blue sky and a breezy westerly wind,the wind was a bit of a pain at times,but who can complain when it's sunny.
 On arrival at Skinningrove it was apparent the place was alive with day trippers and dog walkers,but i knew from previous experience that this doesn't affect the area where the bird spends his time.
 After reaching the birds wintering area,the huge breakwater adjacent to the pier,it wasn't long before i could hear him singing and there he was.Every time i see this beautiful bird,he just takes my breath away,what a cracker!.
 At first he was a bit elusive,mainly due to the unwanted attentions of a Robin as on my last visit in October,but also the wind was obviously annoying him as well,as we were both getting sand blasted on occasion.
 After a while though,he began to show at incredibly close range,too close for my camera at times,what a beautiful little bird.
 It was interesting to watch his behaviour when he disappeared,as there was one particular area of rocks which i could see into,where he would just sit out of the wind singing away,a great privilege to watch.
 When he disappeared for a short period,i went for a short walk and chanced upon a superb male Wheatear along the pier.Another stunning species and one that always brightens any birding day in spring.This was my first of the year and a very welcome one at that.
 Back to the resident stunner and i spent at least another hour taking photos and just watching this brilliant bird as he fed and sang in amongst his rocky home and i wondered if he will eventually migrate back east where he hatched as a chick the previous summer.
 After enjoying this lovely bird and taking my fill of images,it was time to leave and go and get some lunch,but what a great experience seeing this little beauty again,one of which will last in my memory for years to come.

Male Wheatear,My First Of The Year,

One Of The Resident Male Stonechat's.

Monday, 20 March 2017

WEBS Count,Monday 13th March 2017.

As i was busy on WEBS count Sunday and i had a free morning today,i decided to get out and complete my survey sections for the month.
 The weather was excellent with a bright blue sky and a moderate westerly breeze,perhaps there might be some visible passage west up river i thought.
 I started in usual fashion,by parking at Barrow Haven train station and then began to walk the first two sections up to New Holland Bulk Terminal.
 As i left the car,the first of 4 Chiffies were heard singing near to the train station,with others being seen and heard at New Holland,a welcome sight and sound to the mornings proceedings.
 On the pits the usual suspects included Tufties,Mallard,Canada and Greylag Geese and the first pairs of Great-crested Grebes arriving to establish their breeding territories.
 A scattering of Curlew were present on both the fields and on the Humber and as i reached the outflow near Fairfield Pit a superb count of roosting Redshank totalled a whopping 231 birds.
 On Fairfield itself a single female Goldeneye and 12 Pochard dived for food in the brackish water.
 After negotiating a very busy Bulk Terminal,i walked along the sheltered public footpath that takes you back onto the Humber floodbank and it was pretty productive for insects along here to be fair,with me logging my first species of butterfly for the year.This included 2 Small Tortoiseshell,2 Brimstone and a single Comma,the Brimstones positively glowing in the warm sunshine,a most welcome sight to see.
 Very little was seen between New Holland and Goxhill Haven apart from some decent numbers of Curlew and Turnstone and only 2 drake Goldeneye remained on the Humber.
 A light visible passage west up river included small numbers of Siskin,Goldfinch,Linnets,Mips and a few alba Wags,but nothing unexpected.
 The return leg back towards Barrow Haven revealed no new surprises,but i did manage to gain some nice views of one of the Chiffies from earlier in the morning around Fairfield Pit and as i reached Barrow Haven a Cetti's Warbler blasted out it's song and near the car a few insects included 3 Buff-tailed Bumblebees and a Harlequin Ladybird.
 A nice morning out today,with some very welcome diversions away from the birds now we are beginning to see some insects and wildflowers.
Barrow Haven.

Barrow Haven,Looking Towards New Holland And Hull In The Background.

Coltsfoot At Barrow Haven.

New Holland Bulk Terminal,A Surprisingly Rich Area For Birds.

Part Of The 'Shank' Flock At New Holland.

Comma At New Holland.

Looking Towards New Holland Bulk Terminal From The Eastern Side.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

North Linc's....Saturday 11th March 2017.

With the prospect of a dry,albeit cloudy forecast today and another mild one,i decided to cover a few of the local sites to see what was about.
 I started by looking at one of the local sites for Woodlark and hit the jackpot with a single singing male,i just love that melancholy song as they display over their breeding sites.Other sightings here included 3 Siskin and a Jay.
 On to site number two and i always try to visit Manton Warren in spring and like to walk down to the sheep fields at the back of Messingham Nature Reserve as part of my walk.
 So after getting the walking boots on i was off.
 The mild weather was obviously having an effect on the locals,with singing male Yellowhammer's,Reed Bunting and Linnets as i neared the ruins of the old farmhouse.
 Further on and as i walked along a stubble field towards the sheep fields a flurry of activity saw some nice sightings close together and included unbelievably another Woodlark and a pair of Stonechat.
 The Woodlark was watched at close range and gave some cracking views through the scope and i even managed some record shots with the camera,the Stonies performed pretty well also,particularly the male and i managed some half decent shots of him,but his partner had other ideas being typically flighty.
 On arrival at the sheep fields there was a hive of activity as always in spring,with displaying Lapwings and even more Black-headed Gulls than on my last visit to MSQ.
 An interesting sighting,saw a leucistic Starling being seen in amongst the local flock feeding in the fields and it reminded me of a similar bird i had seen here many years ago in the early 2000's,surely it can't be the same bird,but you never know.It had a normal plumaged head and most of it's body,but creamy-white wings and part of it's tail.
 A diversion away from the birds saw several Common Toads spawning in an adjacent drainage dyke and also a hand full of Whirlgig Beetles,both welcome sightings and harbingers of the forthcoming spring.
 The return leg back to the car saw 4 Common Buzzard over the nearby woodland and 2 Redwing,one of which was singing.
 After reaching the car,i drove the short journey over to Messingham Sand Quarries to see what i could find at this superb little reserve.
 A half hearted look for Otters on Grebe Lake saw plenty of the locals pairing up and displaying and this included a flock of 18 Tufted Duck with a couple of Water Rail calling nearby.
 The small woodland pond held at least 1 male Smooth Newt and as i neared the Wader Hide,the familiar sound of croaking male Frog's was another great sound to hear.
 On the Main Lake,100 Wigeon,2 Kingfisher and a pair of Goldeneye were all added in the notebook,then two species of Warbler in quick succession,one of the Cetti's from my last visit and my first migrant species at last,a Chiffchaff.
 I never did see the Cetti's,but got some half decent views of the Chiffie,but unfortunately no pics.The latter was a species that i thought would be on the cards for today's visit,as there had been a substantial arrival around the country.
 A few more non bird sightings to add to the notebook included a couple of Buff-tailed Bumble Bee's and the Marsh Marigolds were beginning to flower now,with those lovely,intense,golden flowers.
 So today was a pretty good day out considering the overcast conditions and it was great to see some more spring sightings,particularly the Woodlark.
Woodlark,Between Manton Warren And Messingham sand quarries LWTR.

Male Stonechat,Manton Warren.

Female Stonechat,Manton Warren.

Male Smooth Newt,Messingham Sand Quarries LWTR.

Muntjac Prints,Messingham Sand Quarries LWTR.

Marsh Marigolds,Messingham Sand Quarries LWTR.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Northumberland.....The Big Twitch,Saturday 4th March - Sunday 5th March 2017.

I had been contemplating about making the trip up north for the duo of Megas on offer,namely the Black Scoter at Goswick and the Pacific Diver at East Chevington since just after the news broke on the Diver and as Mrs R had the weekend off,we booked a hotel at lovely Alnwick for the Saturday night and off we went on another adventure.

Saturday 4th.

 We set off up the A1 making a quick brekkie stop near Durham before eventually making it all the way to Goswick,a small hamlet on the stunning Northumberland coast.....except today the weather wasn't conducive for looking far out to sea for a Common Scoter with extra yellow on it's bill.
 As i mentioned above,on arrival at Goswick golf club,the weather wasn't particularly great,with light drizzle on and off and slight mist,but i thought buggar it,i'll give it a go anyway.
 I made my way down to the beach,with not a soul in sight and began to scan the sea.I located the Scoter flock,about half a mile offshore,so quickly realised without the hubble telescope at hand,i certainly wasn't going to be seeing any Black Scoters today!.
 I stuck at it though and was kept entertained by the lovely wintering locals, which included singles of Great-northern Diver and Slavonian Grebe,a duo of Velvet Scoter,20+ Long-tailed Duck and a pair of Red-breasted Merg's.
 To be fair,it was a disappointment that i had no chance of seeing the Black Scoter,at the range of the flock or in the current conditions,but the birds on offer otherwise would have made for an impressive tally back home and certainly made up for it.
 After talking to some of the local birders next day,they laughed that i had tried to see the Black Scoter,as it is a proper nightmare to see,this certainly made me feel a bit better.

Sunday 5th.

After a good nights sleep and a mega brekkie,we left the hotel in bright sunshine,a welcome change to the day previous and headed over to Druiridge Bay Country Park.The drive was a very enjoyable one seeing some lovely coastal towns which included the stunning Warkworth.
 After arriving at East Chevington TDR decided to chill in the car,while i went off in search of target number two,the Pacific Diver.
 After a quick look around Ladyburn Lake and some cracking views of Scaup and more Mergs it was onto East Chevington north pool.A quick scan and there it was,the Pacific Diver.
 The first thing that struck me about this bird,was it's smaller,compact size than Black-throated Diver,something that was highlighted perfectly when it swam alongside a Coot,being not that much larger to be fair.The more rounded dusky head,shorter looking bill and lack of rear flank patch were all use full ID pointers,particularly the latter feature which was particularly help full when the bird was sleeping,making it really easy to pick out.It is incredible to think were this bird has travelled from to arrive here,as the bird will have hatched as a chick the previous summer in the high arctic of North America and should be wintering somewhere off the Pacific coast of North America right now,amazing!.
 I continued to just watch the bird at my leisure,taking in all the features and some field notes,being truly relieved that i had added my second 'New' species of the year to the notebook after not seeing the Scooter.
 A few other niceties were also seen while watching the Diver and included another Slav Grebe,more 'Punky Crested' Mergs and at least 7 Scaup.
 After enjoying this cracking bird,the local goodies and great scenery,i wandered back to the car seeing 3 lovely Stonechat along the way.
 Unfortunately it was lunch time by now and we had to head back home along the A1 back to Linc's,but it won't be too long before we are back up here again in May.
 Another great couple of days away in this beautiful part of the world and we both look forward to coming back.
Some Of The Noisy Locals At Druiridge Bay.

Posing Cormorant,Ladyburn Lake,Druiridge Pools CP.

Cormorant,Druiridge Pools CP.

Cormorant,Druiridge Pools CP.

East Chevington North Pool.

East Chevington North Pool.

Believe It Or Not,The Grey And White Blob In The Middle Of The Pic Is A Pacific Diver.

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Scarborough Area,Sunday 26th February 2017.

The chance of a full day out today and a half decent forecast saw me heading out to one of my favourite birding areas in this fine country.
 An early start saw me heading through the Wolds and eventually arriving at the Forge Valley feeding station as it was just getting light properly.
 A quick scatter of sunflower hearts on the feeding posts had the desired effect,with several species visiting the feeding station which included my targets,Marsh Tit and Nuthatch.
 At least 2 of the former and only a single Nuthatch visited while i was there amongst the commoner species which included Coal,Blue and Great Tits,Chaffinches and Blackbird,but were great to see all the same.It is a treat to see these two species as i don't very often encounter them locally.
 On to site number two,Hilla Green in the lovely Troutsdale valley and it was beginning to brighten up as i drove through Hackness towards my destination.
 After parking up at the little bridge over the Derwent,a quick look on the river, revealed the resident pair of Dipper and they gave some lovely views as always,one of the birds had a silver BTO ring,something i hadn't noticed on this pair before.
 A little wander up the road to look on the small ox-bow lake saw another target for the day being seen,Mandarin Duck.Today there were only 2 birds,a pair and they didn't seem to want a strange man looking at them and promptly flew off onto the river.
 Back in the car again and around to Wykeham village and up into the forest,with a brief stop at North Moor,as a Roe Deer decided it was a good idea to stand in the middle of the road,before she disappeared into the forest,a lovely sighting all the same and one i always enjoy.
 After arriving at the raptor viewpoint car park and getting the gear together i made my way down to the viewpoint.
 Thankfully someone has done some pruning at the viewpoint,as there were several saplings beginning to grow up and obscure the view,but now it is great.
 Anyway onto the birding,it was particularly windy and with great visibility today allowing fantastic views towards Broxa and the distant Moorland and it wasn't long before i was watching my first Goshawk as an immature bird soared around over the opposite side of the valley.This was followed by at least 7 more birds,which included 2 pairs displaying,giving fantastic views of this beautiful raptor and one was even watched hunting,chasing a Jackdaw.I never did see it catch it's target,but both birds disappeared into the forest.
 Other species seen in the air over the valley included 5 Common Buzzard,which included 1 bird displaying,a displaying male Sparrowhawk.Kestrel and a Grey Heron.
 A few notable passerines around the viewpoint included at least 15 lovely Common Crossbills,with their distinctive 'Chip chip' calls and at least 5 Siskin.
 After enjoying my fill of the woodland birds,i travelled the short journey over to Scarborough to spend the rest of the day here.
 Before parking up along Marine Drive i had a quick look on the sea defences in front of Albert Drive cafe to see if any of the wintering Black Redstarts were still present and sure enough after a couple of scans one popped up.
 It was actively feeding and a buggar to get near,but i managed a few record shots of this little beauty before moving on.
 I parked at post 54 in the hope of seeing the resident pair of Peregrines and sure enough both adult birds were perched on the cliff,no doubt sheltering from the blustery south westerly wind along with several pairs of Fulmar already on their nesting ledges,a great sight and sound to see.
 I then walked up to the harbour to see if the other wintering goodies were around and it wasn't too long before i was watching a Great-northern Diver,but only one Black-necked Grebe,perhaps the other was fishing in amongst the boats in the marina area.
 It was interesting to see the progress of moult on the Great-northern,with more black feathering beginning to come through on the upperparts and it losing it's scaly juvenile patterning.It gave the usual great views,catching several crabs while i watched it,but the Black-necked Grebe wasn't showy at all and disappeared again,no doubt keeping out of the way of the Great black-backed Gulls that were present.
 After enjoying my fill of the birds around the harbour,i decided to end the day at Holbeck with the wintering Med Gulls.
 Ten minutes later i was parked up and watching 7 Med Gulls walking around on the grass just feet away,a bit of encouragement with some pack up,brought in another 3 birds making for an impressive 10 birds present.These comprised of 2 2nd calendar year's,2 3rd calendar year's and 6 adults and they gave some fantastic point blank views and the expected photo opportunities as always.
 I spent ages just sat on the grass a few feet away from these superb gulls as one of the males continually chased away the Black-headed Gulls present with his puffed out chest display,brilliant to watch.
 Sadly it was time to leave,but i couldn't complain after adding 9 species to my year list and enjoying another brilliant visit to this bird blessed part of the world.
Wykeham Forest Raptor Viewpoint Overlooking Troutsdale Valley.

Gos Speck,But You Get The Picture,Wykeham Forest.

Crossbill's,Wykeham Forest.

Black Redstart,Albert Drive,Scarborough.

2nd Calendar Year Great-northern Diver,Expert Crab Catcher,Scarborough Harbour.

Black-necked Grebe,Scarborough Harbour.

Turnstone With Crab Lunch,Scarborough Harbour.

Displaying Adult Mediterranean Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

2nd Calendar Year Mediterranean Gulls,Holbeck Scarborough.

3rd Calendar Year Mediterranean Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

CR Adult Mediterranean Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

Adult Mediterranean Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

2nd Calendar Year Mediterranean Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

2nd Calendar Year Mediterranean Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

Adult Mediterranean Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

Adult Black-headed Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

Adult Black-headed Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Messingham Sand Quarries....It Feels Like Spring,Monday 20th February 2017.

A morning to myself today as her indoors was catching up on her sleep after her nightshift,saw me heading out locally to see what i could find around one of my fave reserves at nearby Messingham Sand Quarries.
 It was mild to say the least,with the car temperature gauge reading a balmy 10 degrees and for a change i didn't need umpteen layers of clothing on.
 As i left the car i could hear the welcome sound of a singing male Reed Bunting,not the greatest songster i know,but a true sign spring is on it's way.
 As i walked along the approach track a flock of 32 Redwing flew over the tall poplars near to the entrance gate and a Woodcock flew over the horse paddocks and into the plantation,no doubt flushed from it's daytime roosting site.
 Further on along my walk and just as i passed the first dipping platform,the familiar sound of a male Cetti's Warbler sub singing very close to the path had me stopping in my tracks to try and catch a sighting of this often skulking species.With some perseverance i eventually saw him through the reed stems, feeding typically low down at the bases as they often do,what a lovely species these birds are and i was certainly pleased i had seen the little skulker.
 As i carried on through the reserve,a few sightings kept things interesting and included 2 precious Willow Tit associating with a mixed tit flock and also in the same flock a lovely Treecreeper also.
 A few Siskins and 3 Lesser Redpoll were entered into the notebook as i eventually arrived at the Duck Hide.
 Some decent numbers of wildfowl were observed from here,from the high vantage point overlooking the main lake and included 93 Wigeon,24 Shoveler,38 Tufted Duck and a pair of lovely Goldeneye.
 The second male Cetti's Warbler of the morning was then found along the path side as you walk from the duck hide and down the slope before the turning to the wader hide,so 2 for the site was excellent and it would be great if one of the males manages to attract a mate.
 More signs of spring around the reserve included a pair of Oystercatcher,as i entered the wader hide and a group of noisy Cormorants made for some entertaining watching,as a couple of the immature birds squabbled over some branches which they were playing with.No doubt half thinking about nest building at some point in the future.
 Also from the hide here were some good numbers of Black-headed Gulls beginning to gather for the forthcoming breeding season and also the first Shelduck too.
 Further on around the reserve and some more harbingers of the coming months included a profusion of Marsh Marigold plants coming through and in the small woodland pond a Common Frog and at least 6 Smooth Newt provided some more interest to the visit.
 What a great few hours out this morning to this superb gem of a reserve.
Robin,Near The First Dipping Platform.

Cormorants,Black-headed Gulls And Lapwings Along The Bottom Island.

Adult Black-headed Gull,Taken From the Wader Hide.

Marsh Marigold Plants Growing Through In One Of The Ditches.

Record Shot Of A Male Smooth Newt From The Woodland Pond.