Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Surfing Filey Bay!...Tuesday 29th December 2015.

A trip out today seen as how it was such a nice day,saw Trace and myself heading to Filey for a change,i thought this was a great idea with the continued presence of the young male Surf Scoter and views of this North American duck would certainly be on the cards.
 After enjoying some very good food at the Cobble Bar And Bistro we made our way along the beach and onto the Brigg itself.
 As we walked along the Brigg side a few small flocks of waders included a single Purple Sand,which are always great to see.
 A few scans of the bay eventually revealed the young male Surfie,but he was quite active in the choppy water and quite distant,but at least i had seen him.I knew he would probably come in closer at dusk to roost,so we carried on to look off the Brigg.
 Several scans of the sea saw a handfull of Guillemots passing by and some added interest was provided by a colour-ringed juvenile Shag loafing on the rocks.The Darvic ring was blue with DNS inscribed in black lettering on the left leg and a silver BTO style ring on the right.With a little investigating this bird may have originated from the Isle Of May,but I'm awaiting confirmation.
 Back to the star bird and he did exactly what i expected and had drifted into the bay corner as the tide was coming in also.With the bird much closer now i could study the ID features much easier,with the wedge shaped head profile now being seen along with the pale nape spot,pale eye and some slight colouration coming through on the bill.I really do enjoy educational birds and this was my first sighting of an immature of this species,all of my previous ones being adult males and the last here in the same spot in June 2013.
 As the sun set i took a few photos as we made our way back to the car after an enjoyable visit to this lovely seaside town and birding site.
Colour-ringed Shag.

Oystercatcher as the sun set.

Owl's,Wild Swans And Stunning Chat,Bonby Carrs,Sunday 27th December 2015.

Another chance for a full day out today,as i made the full use of my Christmas break from work,saw me heading out locally to Bonby and spending a full day to see what could be found.
 For a change it was wall to wall sunshine as i arrived beside the Soak Drain,something of which has been a bit of a rarity of late and the car temperature gauge read a sweltering 14 degrees,bizarre for late December,but a continuing theme through this incredibly mild winter we are experiencing.
 After getting all the gear together i began proceedings by scanning the surrounding area from where i had parked and to be fair it was very productive.Highlights included 6 Roe Deer and a lovely Fox going about there morning business,a single Short-eared Owl hunting in the usual area between Bonby and Worlaby and a Common Buzzard patently watching from his morning perch,what a great start.
 I carried on my walk towards the River Ancholme,seeing some decent numbers of wildfowl wheeling about over the flooded pasture fields,with at least 100+ Wigeon and 50+ Teal being logged,but it is very difficult to gauge numbers accurately as most of the pools are hidden and you only see the birds when they are disturbed by a passing raptor.
 There were still some decent numbers of Fieldfare about with at least 276 birds counted,but as on previous visits,little else in the way of passerines.
 I eventually arrived at the river and decided to walk in the direction of Saxby bridge for a while to see if there were any 'Wild' swans feeding in the usual place on the river bank and sure enough,in amongst the grazing Mute Swans were 2 adult Whooper's.I stopped and watched them for a while,but they soon got bored of their admirer and went back to sleep.
 Hunting the fields nearby was a juv/1st winter Marsh Harrier,which gave some nice views before heading towards Appleby village and in the distance a huge flock of Pink-footed Geese were seen landing in a field also in a similar direction towards Appleby.
 I retraced my footseps back to Bonby and then decided to walk along the river bank towards the railway bridge that goes over the Ancholme,when some movement caught my eye,i waited patiently and then up popped a lovely male Stonechat.I quietly watched this gorgeous little bird as he gave some stunning views through the scope,but just didn't come as close as i would have liked for the camera,but beggars can't be choosers and i just enjoyed watching this cracker.It seems a long time since i saw 16 birds in one day down here,so this sighting was a most welcome one.
 More prolonged watching from the river bank saw more welcome records entered into the notebook in the form of 4 Goldeneye,1 drake and 3 hen birds watched as the drake tried to impress his harem,4 Dabchicks,the regular Kingfisher and a Merlin dashing over the fields in typical 'Merlin' fashion scattering a flock of Goldfinches in the process,a great sight to see and my first down here for a while.All in all it was turning into a good visit.
 As time began to wear on,i decided to walk back towards the car with at least 2 Short-eared Owl showing on and off distantly in the same area as the earlier single and one was seen perched closer alongside one of the pastures at Bonby.While speaking to friends,Steve and Mike,a cracking adult male Marsh Harrier passed by and as i neared the car the ghostly sight of the local Barn owl making it's way across the pasture fields brought to an end another superb visit to this excellent local area.
Mute Swans in the morning sun.

Wigeon And Teal.

Great black-backed Gulls passing over.

Part of the local Greylag flock.

Distant Pink-footed Geese.

Male Stonechat.

Monday, 28 December 2015

The Moors.....Saturday 26th December 2015.

After looking on the Thorne Moors birding blog and after not visiting for several months,i decided to make this my destination for the day today.
 The forecast said showers to start and then drying up in the afternoon and for once that's exactly what it did.
 Today i started by walking from the new car park and along the straight path onto the Crowle side of the NNR first.
 Along the first section of path it was pretty productive with 2 flocks of Pinks heading west and a juv Marsh Harrier following in the same direction,with a few passerines including small numbers of Tree Sparrows,Blackbirds,11 Goldfinch and 2 Song Thrush to add to the note book.
 A good look around the suitable areas for any of the reported Hen Harriers drew a blank unfortunately,but a brief sighting of a Peregrine made up for it as it zoomed by overhead.I then made my way over onto the Thorne side of the NNR crossing the Warping Drain and small bailey bridge and into Yorkshire.
 As i carried on my walk,plenty of evidence of Red Deer was everywhere to be seen,with tracks all over the place,but again as on previous visits,seeing them was something else.
 Will Pitts scrape was a little bit more than a scrape today,being very full of water with all the recent rain and held some fairly decent numbers of wildfowl which included at least 276 Mallard,29 Gadwall,16 Shoveler and a single Drake Goosander,the latter glowing in the brief spell of sunshine against the dark water.
 And so onto the moor proper and the vast,open areas of this superb NNR.It is the only place i have visited in England where you cannot here the sound of traffic....bliss for sure.
 After an enjoyable chat to Thorne Moors warden Bryan Wainwright,i continued on my walk around this huge area seeing at least 5 different Marsh Harriers which were gratefully logged in the notebook and included a cracking adult male and also the very welcome sight of 2 pairs of Stonechat.It seemed like ages since i had seen them on autumn migration at Spurn back in October and they always brighten a days birding.
 As i reached the northern edge of the reserve i walked along the Warping Drain hearing that distinct,stuttering alarm call of a Cetti's Warbler as i no doubt approached too closely and i never did see it,probably in part,due to the windy conditions which didn't exactly help.Best bird here though was a cracking female Hen Harrier watched hunting the fields and chasing a Skylark for some time,before peeling off from it's prospective prey.The Lark being far too fast and agile for the bulky female Harrier.This is the first time i have seen a Hen Harrier try and pursue a prey target like this,usually they catch prey unawares,flushing them out of undergrowth etc,great to watch a different hunting strategy.
 After watching the stunning Hen Harrier,i slowly wandered back to the car seeing a Willow Tit in Will Pitts Wood and on the scrape there were now 4 drake Goosander.
 The only other notables seen included 2 Common Buzzard as i eventually arrived back at the car after another enjoyable visit to this superb birding and wildlife site.
 As i travelled home a lovely Barn Owl was watched hunting some fields alongside the motorway and was a great end to another cracking day out.
One of the most important plants on the NNR,Sphagnum Moss.

Will Pitts Scrape,Thorne Moors.

Bee Orchid,Thorne Moors.

One of the Marsh Harriers seen during the visit,Thorne Moors.

A stunningly wild place,Thorne Moors.

Passing Pink-footed Geese,Thorne Moors.

Red Deer crossing,Thorne Moors.

Female Hen Harrier,Crowle Moors.

Female Hen Harrier,Crowle Moors.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Potteric Carr.....Some Sun At Last!,Sunday 19th December 2015.

An all day's birding planned today as sleeping beauty was in bed after her nightshift,so i decided to head over to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Potteric Carr near to Doncaster just for a change of scenery if anything.
 After a trouble free journey along the M18,i arrived at the reserve car park just as it was opening,paid my four quid for my day permit and off i went.
 The first goodie encountered was a singing male Cetti's Warbler heard singing on the edge of Decoy Lake,no doubt thinking it was spring with the recent mild weather.Also seen here was the first of 3 Sparrowhawks observed during the day.
 I carried on my journey through this extensive reserve,seeing small numbers of Redwing,Blackbirds and Bullfinch before seeing a lovely doe Roe Deer near the Cottage Drain hide,before she bounded off after seeing the strange human looking at her.
 I eventually made it around to the famous Piper Marsh,where,unfortunately after much scanning it didn't reveal any Bitterns,but fine compensation was had from a showy adult Grey Heron as it was watched fishing.These birds are the masters of stealth and patience and it wasn't long before it paid dividends as the Heron caught a nice sized Perch for his breakfast.It was a pretty big catch and it took the bird a while to eventually swallow his or her catch and for the remainder of my time spent watching the bird,it just dozed contentedly.
 Continuing on my walk again a flash of electric blue revealed a Kingfisher flying along the Mother Drain and just before i reached the Roger Mitchell hide overlooking the superb Huxter Well Marsh a couple of snippets of that distinct,stuttering call of another Cetti's revealing it's presence in a small Reedmace covered pool,two for the day wasn't bad.
 A prolonged watch from the Roger Mitchell hide while i enjoyed my lunch saw some pretty decent numbers of wildfowl and gulls which included a single drake Goldeneye and a single adult Great black-backed Gull which was bathing amongst the commoner species.
 The best bird of the day was seen here,a single adult female Marsh Harrier which was watched on several occasions as it hunted this area,just great to see as always!.
 The remainder of the reserve saw more of the same species being seen and i eventually made it back to the car after another very enjoyable visit to this excellent urban reserve.
Willow Pool.

Doe Roe Deer.

Piper Marsh.

In coming Cormorant,Piper Marsh.

Grey Heron with breakfast,Piper Marsh.

Grey Heron dozing after breakfast,Piper Marsh.

Mute Swan,Piper Marsh.

Huxter Well Marsh.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Rare Fungi And Gulling,Tophill Low,Sunday 13th December 2015.

A full day to myself after yesterday's shopping spree saw me heading over to Watton in East Yorkshire and to the superb Tophill Low.
 After paying for my permit for the day and getting the kit together i made my way down the eastern side of 'D'Res and down to Hempholme Lock.
 Note book entries were few and far between,but included a hand full of Siskin,2 Great-spotted Woodies and the obligatory Kingfisher on North Marsh,which incidentally was frozen....yes frozen,the first frost of the winter so far!.
 As i neared Hempholme meadow a couple of female Roe Deer added some welcome interest to the days sightings.
 At the Lock itself and along the River Hull,a few notables included a lovely Grey Wag,2 female Goldeneye and at least 10 Little Grebe.The river here was very full after all the recent rain and several large clods of grass were floating by.
 After leaving the lock a juvenile Swan flew out of the adjacent pond,flew past me and looked to have landed on 'D'Res.In flight it looked to be a juvenile Whooper Swan and sure enough it was on 'D' with it's adopted Mute Swan family.This bird has no doubt got left behind from it's family when migrating and i always enjoy seeing these beautiful arctic Swans.
 I continued along the side of 'D' back towards the car park,when as on many occasions before a raptor caught my eye as it flew steadily south east,a cracking male Marsh Harrier.This bird was in 'First Adult' plumage and was in at least it's 3rd year,showing some signs of immaturity still.A very welcome sighting to the days notes.
 A quick refreshment stop at the car and chat to Richard the warden,then saw me heading for the southern areas of the reserve.
 On arrival at the hide overlooking Watton Nature Reserve,it soon became apparent there were fairly good numbers of wildfowl,but several scans through with the 'New' scope saw nothing of note being seen,although a Fox certainly put the frighteners up them for a short while.
 On to South Marsh next and the Juvenile Whooper had decided to fly down here now and was busily dining on water weed,when all hell broke loose as the resident male Mute Swan had taken a disliking to another visiting pair of Mute's and the poor Whooper nearly got entangled in the fight.After several bouts of calling from this lovely swan,he or she settled back down to more grazing and preening.
 Time was getting on now and pretty much on cue Mr Hodges arrived to give me a quick tour of Tophill's winter Fungi and to partake in his nightly watch of the gull roost in which i was joining him.
 As we walked through 'D'Woods we saw several winter species which included Candle Snuff Fungi,Scarlet-elf Cup and Crampball Fungi,but the cream of the crop was the Benzoin Bracket Martin showed me.This is a fairly rare species and certainly a new one for myself and the only example of the species on the reserve and had been found by the 'Master' Fungi finder Doug Fairweather.
 After the Fungi masterclass,it was back to the car to get the scopes for the 'Gull Roost'.
 Middle hide on 'D' Res,was Martin's second home and we settled down as the gull's began to filter in.First blood went to Martin as he managed to find 2 different 2nd winter Med Gull's and i then added a 1st winter,but no 'Mich's' or anything rarer were seen today unfortunately,but it is a great experience watching this spectacle.
 As it got too dark to see,we made our journey back to our cars and said our goodbyes,before heading home.A few final highlights along the approach road included a hunting Barn Owl and 3 Brown Hare,a nice end to another great visit to this brilliant reserve.
Hempholme Lock And The River Hull.

Sunlit Greylag Geese,'D' Reservoir.

Sunlit Greylag Geese,'D' Reservoir.

Misty Mute Swans,'D' reservoir.

Male Marsh Harrier,'D' Reservoir.

Juvenile Whooper Swan,South Marsh.

Benzoin Bracket,'D' woods.

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Carrs....A Good Afternoon...Sunday 7th December 2015.

After being away for the weekend with her indoors and the weather being fairly decent,i decided to pay Bonby a visit for the remaining hours of daylight today and this is what i saw.
 After arriving at my usual parking place beside the Soak Drain,i began my walk towards the Ancholme.
 It wasn't long before i saw my first nice bird,with a single Short-eared Owl hunting a wet,grass field between Bonby and Worlaby Carrs.Further scanning revealed another 6 individuals at least,all hunting the same area.Unfortunately none of the birds were again close as on my last visit,which in a lot of ways is a good thing.
 A few bits and bobs seen before i reached the river included 15 Skylark,4 Pink-footed Geese and 5 Common Snipe.
 Continuous scanning from the river bank here revealed several good sightings which included at least 400 Pink-footed Geese watched landing in a field in Appleby Carrs,single Common Buzzard and a cracking Barn Owl watched hunting close by.A welcome non bird sighting here saw 3 Roe Deer giving some lovely views in a strip of Pheasant cover.
 On the return leg back to the car,saw a 2nd calendar year male Marsh Harrier flying north along the valley to no doubt roost on the Humber,350+ Fieldfare and some distant Whooper Swan calls,which i just couldn't see unfortunately.
 As i neared the car,another gorgeous Barn Owl showed closely,hunting from the many fence posts along the pasture fields here and a Brown Hare munched on grass unconcernedly as i passed quietly by,a great way to end the visit.
 Another great visit,despite seeing 3 morons Hare coursing in Appleby Carrs.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Scarborough Seabirds,Dovekies And Black-necked Beauties,Sunday 22nd November 2015.

With an arctic blast the day before,today was looking good for some passage over the sea and the annual search for the most diminutive of Europe's Alcid family,Little Auk.
 So,with this in mind i headed over to my fave seaside town,Scarborough and with the added interest of the resident flock of Black-necked Grebes i was in for a good day.
 I arrived bright and early and parked at Marine Drive and after bumping into fellow birders Justin  Carr and local birders Micky Mcnaghten and Chris Bell,we began to watch the sea for the first few hours of the day.
 The wind was still blowing from the north,but a lot calmer than the previous day,but the day was going to be a wet one,with banks of wintry showers throughout the day.
 As hoped for it wasn't long before we logged our first of the days north bound Little Auks as several birds passed by,most of which were nice and close in,with one actually landing on rocks close by,briefly,before carrying on its journey.This cracking little bird is one of the commonest seabirds in the world and is always a privilege to see.
 Other north bound birds included a cracking Red-necked Grebe close in,probable Great-northern Diver,several Red-throated Diver,Red-breasted Merganser,Guillemots and Razorbill and a group of 4 Black-necked Grebe just off the Harbour.
 Other interest in between watching the seabirds was provided by 3 Harbour Porpoise and 2 Grey Seal,always great to see.
 After this great start i made my way down to the harbour and this is where i spent the remainder of the day.
 After arriving at the harbour side along with Chris,it wasn't long before i was enjoying my closest views of Black-necked Grebe ever,with some amazingly close views of 2 individuals,1 an adult and 1 a juv/1st winter.It was a tad worrying watching them diving in amongst all the rubbish and diesel polluted water.
 It wasn't long before we were joined by other hope full photographers and birders which included birding friends,Mike Robinson,Steve Race and Alex Meek and the first of at least 7 Little Auk in the harbour area.This,as the Black-necked Grebes,included some cracking close up views of this super little seabird and other species observed in around the harbour included 39 Purple Sandpiper,Rock Pipits,Turnstone,2 adult Med Gulls and a drake Eider.
 So what a great day today,despite the weather,with some excellent bird encounters and good banter along the way.
Early morning off Marine Drive.

North bound Little Auks off Marine Drive.

A slightly closer north bound Little Auk off the harbour.

Black-necked Grebe in the harbour.

Black-necked Grebe in the harbour.

Purple Sandpipers roosting off the east pier.

A brief spell of sunshine at the harbour.

Little Auk in the harbour.

Little Auk in the harbour.

Little Auk in the harbour.

Little Auk in the harbour.

Close up of one of the Little Auks in the harbour.

Some familiar faces watching one of the Little Auks in the harbour.