Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Crowle And Thorne Moors NNR,Monday 27th April 2015.

With some continued sunny weather Trace and myself travelled over to this superb NNR primarily to see if we could find and record any Odonata(See here http://www.LincolnshireOdes.blogspot.com ),but also to record any other interesting sightings as well.
 After a mini picnic it was onto the NNR and to be fair today birds took a back seat with a few summer migrants logged and a pair of Common Buzzard seen and it was insects that came to the fore.
 The first highlight was a new species of Ground Beetle for us both,Carabus granulatus and is a fairly large species with its distinctive ridged and pitted elytra and mettalic sheen...a cracker.Also noticeable today was the abundance of Green-tiger Beetles,with at least 100 individuals seen as they escaped us with that distinct short flight.They seemed to be on every open sandy part of the reserve we visited and are fantastic mini predators and those jaws!.
 There were quite a lot of butterflies on the wing today with Peacocks being the most common encountered species with at least 35 logged,but some nice variety also came in the form of Comma,Speckled Wood,Green-veined White,Small Tortoiseshell and a female Brimstone.
 Some nice species of Syrphidae were also recorded and included the very smart Sericomyia lappona and also a very brief Chrysotoxum sp. which i didn't see well enough to ID it properly.
 A very brief sighting of a female Red Deer added some variety to the days sightings logged and there were tracks all over the reserve where these large animals had walked,but no other mammals were observed on our visit today.
 A very productive visit today,with some interesting sightings logged,i'm sure it won't be long before we are back again.
Ground-beetle sp. - Carabus granulatus.

Hoverfly Sp. - Sericomyia lappona.

Tachinid Fly - Tachina ursina.

Harestail Cotton Grass.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Messingham Mixed Bag....Saturday 25th April 2015.

After finishing my final night shift of the week and starting my ten day break from work,i was determined not to go out today,but some decent sun saw me heading over to Messingham again.
 As i was slightly knackered from my week of nights i decided to just check the reserve itself,this is what i recorded.
 After arriving,a quick check of the horse paddocks revealed nothing out of the ordinary today,with the male Ring Ouzel from my last visit departing to northern climes.
 A prolonged scan of the Grebe lake saw some decent numbers of hirundines at last and feeding amongst the flock was my first Swift of the year.These birds are just amazing to watch scything their way through the air with the agility of a fighter pilot,just superb no doubt their aerial predators the Hobby won't be far behind now.This mixed flock contained a minimum of 87 Sand Martins with a really good count of 42 House Martins,but smaller numbers of Swallow with only half a dozen being seen.
 Eventually Dave arrived and we carried on walking through the pathways of the reserve adding another 'First' for the year in the form of a singing male Garden Warbler.These are my favourite warbler species with their lovely subtle plumage tones and super liquid song.
 Noticeably,today,there was a vast increase of insect numbers and far more species involved in the sunny spells with our 'First' Orange Tip butterflies being logged with 2 males and another good selection of 'Syrph's' included,with Eupeodes luniger,Eristalis pertinax,tenax,intricarius and arbustorum being added to the notes.
 A quick look around the small pond before you reach the heathy area revealed a huge count of 17 Common Frogs and the expected Slender and Common-ground Hoppers,the former a new species for Dave.These mini members of the Grasshopper and Cricket family are just superb to watch in their leaf litter home.
 A great bonus on the bird front today was the sight of 3 displaying male Snipe seen over the sheep fields to the north of the reserve,sadly a shadow of former numbers,but great to see all the same.
 An increase in flora today saw a few species beginning to burst into life and included our first Cuckoo Flowers and Greater Stichwort and the large areas of Cowslips and Marsh Marigold did their best at brightening the now dull light as the predicted rain arrived.
 Dave and myself both travelled our seperate ways as the rain began to come down much heavier,but another great visit was enjoyed.
Eristalis pertinax.

Green-veined White.

Speckled Wood.

Juvenile Pike.

Preening Mute Swan.

Female Sparrowhawk.

Eupeodes luniger.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Barnetby-Le-Wold Parish.....Sunday 19th April 2015.

After yesterdays Male Rouzel at Messingham,i decided to walk down to the quarries on the outskirts of the village this morning in the hope of finding another,or possibly more as there are some superb areas for them to feed in.
 I started by parking in my usual spot along Queens Road and began by heading along Marsh Lane,checking the first horse paddock which had nothing in it but the local Blackies...buggar.
 As i neared the first of the ponds,that familiar scratchy song of a Whitethroat had me enjoying some superb views of my 'First' of the year as he sang from his little patch of nettles....the old country name of 'Nettle Creeper' is very apt.A further two males were seen further along my walk.
 On the first pond a pair of Little Grebes chased each other and a Canada Goose sat on it's nest,when out of the corner of my eye a ghostly white shape...a stunning Barn Owl.I never got close enough to get a sharp shot of this beautiful bird,but it was great to see one down here and i couldn't recall seeing one before at the quarries,so a patch tick.
 As i arrived at the rear of the fishing ponds,it was apparent there was quite a bit of activity as always,with at least 10 Swallow,6 Sand Martin and another first for the year in the form of 3 House Martins.It was really great to watch them all wheeling around together hawking for insects,spring is definitely here now.Also on the pond,2 pairs of Great-crested Grebe were watched in that distinct,head shaking display and a Grey Heron passed over head.
 After looking over the fishing ponds i decided in usual fashion to walk down the edge of the quarry and back up the hillside.There was quite a lot of activity on the water filled quarry which included 25 Gadwall,6 Teal,2 pairs of Oystercatcher and a female Goldeneye.
 I carried on walking and all of a sudden i heard the call i had been wanting to hear all morning and quickly replicated the 'tack tack tack' as a Ring Ouzel shot from the hedge i was walking along...bingo!.It was watched as it seemed to fly for miles into the village to the original area of horse paddocks i had looked at earlier.It certainly wasn't an adult male as it had a subdued neck gorget and was fairly brown.This is the 'First' record of the species for myself of this lovely species down here,so i was well chuffed to say the least.
 A little further along the edge of a ploughed field,the distinct white rump of a Wheatear,saw a flighty female showing at distance and she obviously didn't want her picture taking,as she flew again into the middle of the field...woman eh!.
 As i got half way up the hillside a commotion of noise was heard in the nearby hedgerow,with a Robin,Blackbird and a Blackcap all mobbing something.
 The culprit was soon discovered as a lovely Little Owl flew from it's perch.I was pleased to see they are still in the area and are always great birds to see and have recorded them on quite a few occasions in the past.
 The final stretch of path towards St.Barnabas church resulted in not one,but two more Ring Ouzels added to the day list on the area i had hoped to see them,the first a female type flew from the hedge adjacent to the paddocks and flew into the churchyard,the second bird an adult male was watched feeding on the paddocks themselves at fairly long range,but i took a few record shots all the same.I was really pleased with these Rouzel sightings as it proved the area is certainly attractive to them in an influx situation like the current one.
 Spring certainly seems productive in this cracking little area as i have now found Male Black Redstart,Male Redstart,a singing Male Firecrest and now the Ring Ouzels,I'm certainly going to have to keep a close eye on it.
 A very productive 4 hours today and only five minutes from home. 
Distant record shot of the Male Ring Ouzel.

Distant record shot of the Male Ring Ouzel.


MSQ Migrant Explosion.......Saturday 18th April 2015.

After what seemed a very long week at work,i was ready to get out and look for any newly arrived migrants from distant shores and to see if i could find anything a bit rarer.
 I began my day by looking on the sheep fields to the north of Messingham Sand Quarries nature reserve and the new workings nearby.
 It was apparent as i got out of the car how cold it actually was,reading 4 degrees C on the car temperature gauge and evidence of a ground frost...typical spring weather i thought.
 As i walked,the first migrants were heard in song and consisted of that repetitive song of Chiffchaff,the lovely fluty sound of a male Blackcap and the best of all, the gorgeous,sweet song of Willow Warblers.
 The sheep fields were again,as on my last visit,alive with activity from the breeding waders,with singing and displaying Redshanks,Lapwings and Snipe.I searched intently trying to find a Wheatear or a Ring Ouzel on the short cropped grassy areas,but nothing apart from the locals.
 On the 'New Workings' a single Ringed Plover,2 Pied Wagtail and a small flock of 4 Sand Martins fed in the dull morning light and i retraced my footsteps back to the car.
 The short journey over to the reserve was soon completed and by this time it was wall to wall sunshine.
 Close to the car park my first Sedge Warbler of the year was belting out his song and putting on a great display,with a 2nd close by which was more subdued.A quick look in the plantation as i waited for Dave to arrive,saw a nice surprise in the form of a pair of Brambling,with the male singing briefly as well,a nice addition to the days sightings.Also here was a single male Siskin singing his scratchy,wheezy song.
 After i met up with Photographer buddies Matt Latham and Mark Johnson i wandered back to the car park and just as we were chatting,a cracking male Ring Ouzel just happened to hop into view,what a bonus!.I managed to get some record shots through the fence before he flew into a nearby Elder.This apparently,as i discovered later,is the first record of this species for the reserve,so a double whammy.This bird is no doubt part of the nationwide influx of this species,as birds are being deflected across the north sea with the easterly wind as they make their long journey from the wintering grounds in Africa.
 I said my goodbyes to Matt and Mark as Dave and myself had a look at the Rouzel again before continuing our visit to this gem of a reserve.
 Another 'First' for the year was added just past the first dipping platform,as last year,a singing male Reed Warbler in exactly the same spot,it would be amazing if it was the same bird.Further on and past the first bench another singing male Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler were both added to the notebook.
 There were some nice sheltered,warm spots around the reserve today out of the North Easterly wind and a good selection of Diptera were seen,in particular Syrphidae.With Eristalis Pertinax,Eristalis tenax and the Bumble-Bee mimic Eristalis intricarius being seen along with Tachinid flies Gymnochaeta viridis and Tachina ursina.
 Lepidoptera were at last putting in a decent appearance with my 'First' Brimstone(1 male),Green-veined White(1) and Speckled Woods(2) of the year,with other species consisting of Peacock(8) and Comma(2).
 Back to the birds and another new species for the year in the form of two Common Tern watched chasing and displaying over their breeding site on Grebe lake.This species are always a joy to watch and are superb parents chasing every bird and animal in sight away from the breeding raft including Mute Swans,Otters and myself.
 More of the same was observed around the remainder of the reserve,with some lovely areas of Marsh Marigold adding some welcome colour to the marshy areas and the Willows are now covered in flowers,a great sight to see.
 So what a brilliant visit to this superb little reserve again and i travelled the short journey home feeling accomplished after another notebook full of useful records.
Singing male Sedge Warbler.

Singing male Sedge Warbler.

Male Ring Ouzel.

Male Ring Ouzel.

Peacock Butterfly.

Monday, 13 April 2015

The Spurn Area....Saturday 11th April 2015.

A full day to myself today saw me heading into the homeland and my first of hopefully many visits this year to the Spurn area.
 On the journey over the bridge it looked a tad grey and there was light drizzle in the air.The drive was broken up by a stunning roadside Barn Owl sat on a fence in Skeffling which certainly brightened the journey.
 I eventually arrived at my usual parking spot near the Bluebell cafe and got the gear together and then began my walk heading along Beacon Lane.It was soon apparent that there was a steady passage of Linnets heading south and it wasn't long before i added two decent birds in the form of 2 'first's' for the year,with singles of Swallow and White Wagtail following the Linnets south.
 At the top of Beacon Lane i headed over towards Beacon Ponds and Kilnsea Wetlands with a party of 6 Roe Deer being encountered along the way,1 Buck and 5 Does.
 On Beacon Ponds a pair of Gadwall,26 Teal,3 Little Egret,4 Pied Wagtail and another Barn Owl hunting the bankside were all logged in the notebook,while a single Black-tailed Godwit,2 Ringed Plover,6 Grey Plover and 30 plus Dunlin fed and loafed on the Wetlands.As it began to rain more heavily i sheltered in the hide over looking  here as a 2nd calendar year male Marsh Harrier was watched to come in off and then journeying its way south as another Swallow followed in the same direction.
 The rain seemed to dump a few bits in,with a single female Wheatear being grounded on the bank around the pools and another White Wagtail appeared for a short while before disappearing again,the Whitearse being another welcome 'first' for the year.
 As the rain began to lighten i decided to make a move and try and find the Black Brant amongst the Dark-bellied Brent flock,but with the strengthening westerly breeze and my hands being frozen as it began to rain heavier again,i gave it up as a bad job.All was not lost though as two Pale-bellied birds showed nicely at relatively close range.
 I carried on my walk heading for Peter Lane and eventually as i headed in the direction of Sammy's the weather began to break and the sun shone at last!.
 Some lovely sun soon had me warming up and as i neared the first of the Paddock's a group of 5 Pied Wagtails had a lovely White Wag in with them.I managed some decent images of both the Pied and White Wags and it was interesting to note that both the birds i photographed were both 1st summers with moulted mantle feathers on both birds.
 Another first here for the year was a lovely Willow Warbler watched fly catching around the hawthorn bushes along with a single Chiffie giving me great comparison of both species.As i walked onto the bank top here another couple of stunning Wheatears were seen,a cracking male and another female,the male being a particularly bright individual and a proper beauty.
 After reaching the car and a quick change of clothing and footwear,i walked up to the warren and back along Kilnsea cliff to the car seeing nothing new for the day,but more south bound Mips and Linnets added to the day totals.
 As the weather was still good i decided to look for the Black Brant again on the way home and this time hit the jackpot,although it was quite distant and at the rear of the Brent flock,but it was a good end to another excellent visit to this top birding destination and i travelled home across the Humber back to Lincolnshire.
Roe Deer,near to Kilnsea Wetlands.

Dark-bellied and Pale-bellied Brent Geese,Holderness Field.

Pied Wagtail,Sammy's Point.

White Wagtail,Sammy's Point.

White Wagtail,Sammy's Point.

Male Wheatear,Sammy's Point.

Female Sparrowhawk,over Kew Villa.

Black Brant with Dark-bellied Brent Geese,Holderness Field.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The North Yorkshire Moors,Sunday 5th - Monday 6th April 2015.

A last spare of the moment idea had Trace and myself booking ourselves into a lovely B&B at the famous village of Goathland and we spent the next two days exploring some of the lovely local areas,this is what we saw.
 Day one....and after arriving at the B&B we decided to walk down to Mallayan Spout and then on to Beck Hole and back to Goathland.The walk down the side of the Mallayan Spout Hotel was a bit hairy in places due to the recent rain and subsequent mud,but when you reach the river it is well worth the effort,with some impressive upland river scenery.
 The Mallayan Spout Waterfall is the highest in the National Park,but still isn't the most impressive we have seen,but as i said the walk along here is stunning.
 Bird wise it wasn't too bad and we saw and heard 4 Chiffchaff,5 Grey Wagtail,4 Nuthatch and 2 singing male Marsh Tit,the latter being a personal fave.
 I also managed to see my first Butterflies of the year today and they included 2 Comma and a single Peacock and there was also plenty of wildflowers on show with Primroses and Lesser Celandines featuring.A drink at the very quaint Birch Hall Inn at Beck Hole before the return walk back to Goathland was a very welcome one.
 Day Two....After a huge breakfast we had pre-planned to walk from Ravenscar to Robin Hoods Bay,sadly the forecasted fog which had been promised was present in the outward leg of the walk up to Robin Hoods Bay,but on the return leg it thankfully began to lift and we could appreciate the beautiful coastline along here.The walk is a bit up and down in places but has some really nice views.It was interesting to see that this part of the Yorkshire coastline is also eroding at a pretty fast rate as well as the areas further south.
 Bird sightings along the walk included a steady northerly passage of both Meadow Pipits and Alba Wags,at least 7 Chiffchaff,4 Goldcrest,4 Grey Wagtail and the highlights at Ravenscar a 2nd cal yr. Peregrine and a Green Woodpecker.A few mammals were also seen with a Grey Seal just off the beach at Ravenscar and a Buck Roe Deer here as well.
 So after a lovely couple of days away again we travelled home with slightly sore legs,but happy we had visited this stunning part of Yorkshire again.
The River Esk,Goathland.

The River Esk Goathland.

The River Esk,Goathland.

The Murk Esk,Beck Hole.

A misty Ravenscar.

Ravenscar looking towards Robin Hoods Bay.

Ravenscar looking towards Robin Hoods Bay.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Manton Warren And MSQ.....

Up bright and early today for some local birding again and i decided to do things a little different while visiting MSQ.
 I decided to park on the roadside between Greetwell and MSQ and walk onto Manton Warren and down to the sheep fields at the back of MSQ first,before visiting the reserve proper later,this is what i managed to see.
 It was pretty dull to start and as i got the gear together a Great-spotted Woodie drummed in the adjacent woodland and a Mistle Thrush sang nearby.After walking for a short while a couple of Roe Deer were seen distantly along the edge of some nearby woodland and a ghostly Barn Owl was watched hunting along a rough grass field.The Barn Owl gave stunning views eventually,but the light was dire so i didn't even bother with any attempts at photographing it.
 Further on and towards the Sheep fields at the back of the reserve,2 Common Buzzard,6 Avocet and 220 Golden Plover were logged and plenty of displaying from the local waders was a great sight to see and included a singing male Snipe.
Female Yellowhammer in the early morning gloom,Manton Warren.

Doe Roe Deer,Manton Warren.

Male Willow Tit,MSQ.

A splash of colour at MSQ.

Drake Red-crested Pochard,MSQ.

Mute Swan flyby,MSQ.

Gadwall pair,MSQ.

Adult Black-headed Gull,MSQ.

Black-headed Gull R&R,MSQ.

 The return walk back to the car saw some closer views of the 2 Roe Deer from earlier and some nice views of a pair of Yellowhammer brightened the gloom.
 After the short journey to the reserve i began by looking at the pools along the approach track and on Grebe lake where the first of 12 Chiffchaff were seen in the waterside bushes,an increase on my last visit.
 A quick look on the main lake revealed a nice surprise in the form of a smart drake Red-crested Pochard with the local Tuftie flock and nearby the male Cettis gave away his presence with a couple of explosive bursts of song.
 A prospecting pair of Willow Tit were watched at a potential nest site which was a very welcome sight with another single male seen later in another area of the reserve.
 Non bird sightings around the reserve included some Muntjac tracks,a hand full of Common Toads and a single male Smooth Newt seen in the pond in the plantation.
 A few wildflowers are finally beginning to burst through and included several clumps of Marsh Marigold brightening the ditches and dykes around the reserve.
 Finally,before travelling home,a quick visit to one of our heathland sites,revealed two lovely male Woodlark which gave a nice sight and sound and a superb end to a good mornings birding.