Monday, 29 February 2016

North York's Yanks etc,Saturday 27th February 2016.

With the prospect of a dry day,albeit a cold one,i decided to head north over the Humber and into the home county in the hope to see a couple of visitors from over the pond,this is how my day unfolded and the birds i encountered.
 I set off bright and early from Barnetby,as most people were still snuggled up in bed and headed into the home county.Thankfully the roads were frost free and the journey up to Scarborough a good one,with a couple of hunting Barn Owls brightening the journey,1 near to Hutton Cranswick and the other near to Driffield.
 As i arrived at the Sea Life centre at Scalby Mills,it was just beginning to become light properly and i got the gear together,Scope check,Camera check,Binos check and plenty of layers as it was bloody cold.Thankfully it wasn't long before target number one was in the bag,so to speak.
 The long staying Drake American Wigeon was seen,as he swam around with his Eurasian cousins giving some good views to start with,but eventually he came really close,showing just on the weir where Scalby Beck flows out into the sea.I could have had some cracking photos,but the light was dire,a feature which continued through most of the day unfortunately,but the scope views were excellent.It appears that this male is paired to a female Eurasian bird and it made me wonder if it is the same bird that was around last spring in East Yorks.This is my first American Wigeon since seeing the returning Drake at Angler's Country Park in December 2012.
 After meeting up with Chris we decided to head over to Holbeck and see if the Med's were performing and sure enough after a little encouragement with Chris's super,stale bread they were just feet away.We managed some amazing views as always and today recorded a total of 7 individuals,which comprised of 5 adults,a 2nd winter and a 1st winter bird.One of the adults had a colour ring(3 LAN) on a white darvic ring in black lettering and had been ringed in Belgium,so just goes to show were some of our birds originate.
 After enjoying my fill of the stunning Med's i said my goodbyes to Chris and made the short journey over to Filey for target number 2 for the day.
 After some very welcome lunch and a good chat with John,i wandered down to the Brigg.Along the Brigg side there was a mixed flock of waders feeding on the falling tide and included 10 Oystercatcher's,Curlew,9 Knot and the stars of the Brigg,7 Purple Sandpiper.I spent a good hour or so watching this flock and managed some decent images,oh for some proper light one day though!.
 After enjoying the lovely wader flock,it wasn't long before i was adding target number 2 to the day's sightings,the wintering immature Drake Surf Scoter.
 Today he was more distant than on my last visit,but i still managed some decent views through the scope as he dived for shellfish in the company of a drake Common Scoter,which made for a nice comparison.This was the second species of North American wildfowl for the day,something i can't remember doing before,so was well chuffed to say the least.
 Elsewhere on the sea,good numbers of Guillemot were seen along with a few Shags dotted about over the bay,but nothing else of note was observed.
 Back to the car again and up into the forest for the final destination for the day,the Wykeham Forest raptor viewpoint.
 Thankfully on arrival at Wykeham,the weather began to break and i enjoyed some welcome spells of sunshine at last.This seemed to have the desired effect,with a party of 4 Common Buzzard lifting into the air and thermalling.A few minutes later,one of the birds was displaying,with that distinct,tumbling display,great to watch and a certain sign spring is on it's way.
 It wasn't long before i saw one of the hoped for birds,a Goshawk soaring over the opposite hillside giving decent scope views,they are such impressive birds and always give the impression of power.
 Not long afterwards a Peregrine flew east distantly and a Kestrel became the fourth species of raptor for the day.A few Siskin flocks passed overhead while i scanned the valley,but no Crossbill's today unfortunately.
 The best was left to last,as another Gos,probably the one from earlier,began to display with that distinct slow flapping,tumbling display flight,the flight action being reminiscent of a Harrier sp,just brilliant to watch and a certain highlight to any birders day out.
 So what a great day out today in the best county for birding and i travelled home a happy boy after another great day out.
Drake American Wigeon and Eurasian Wigeon,Scalby Mills,Scarborough.

Drake American Wigeon,Scalby Mills,Scarborough.

1st winter Mediterranean Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

2nd winter Mediterranean Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

Adult Mediterranean Gull ringed in Belgium,Holbeck,Scarborough.

Adult Male Mediterranean Gull,Holbeck,Scarborough.

Knot,Filey Brigg.

Oystercatcher,Filey Brigg.

Purple Sandpiper,Filey Brigg.

Purple Sandpiper,Filey Brigg.

Monday, 22 February 2016

2015 Highlights In Photos.

A bit later posting this than i would have liked,but i have been busy sorting and deleting pics.These are some of the photos i managed to take and some of the cracking places i visited during another busy year enjoying this fine hobby.
Male Dipper,Troutsdale,North Yorkshire,March.

Whooper Swans,Messingham Sand Quarries,Lincolnshire,March.


Sedge Warbler,Messingham Sand Quarries,Lincolnshire,April.

Carneddau Mountain Range,Snowdonia National Park,Gwynedd,Wales.

Adult Gannet,Bempton RSPB,East Yorkshire,May.

Painted Lady,Kilnsea,East Yorkshire,August.

Brimstone,Messingham Sand Quarries,Lincolnshire,August.

Malham Cove,Yorkshire Dales National Park,September.

Male Redstart,Kilnsea,East Yorkshire,September.

Edale Valley,Peak District National Park,Derbyshire.

Sunrise,Kilnsea,East Yorkshire,October.

Yellow-browed Warbler,Sammy's Point,Easington,East Yorkshire.

Staithes,North Yorkshire,October.

Stridd Woods SSSI,Yorkshire Dales National Park,October.

Female Vagrant Emperor,Hessle,East Yorkshire,October.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Barton Wander.....Sunday 14th February 2016.

Another morning to myself today as the other half was catching up on her sleep after another nightshift and today saw me travelling the short distance over to Barton.
 I started by parking at the new visitor centre and got plenty of warm layers on as it was pretty cold today,a feature of the last couple of weeks,with us experiencing some proper winter weather at last.
 I began my visit by walking along the approach track to the visitor centre,along Far-Ings road and up to Chowder Ness,taking in the 'New' pits.
 Western Approach Pit held a small flock of 5 Goldeneye which showed really well,with the males displaying to the females and positively glowed in the morning sun,what a cracking bird they are!
 Further on and on the pasture field adjacent to the tip a flock of 98 Greylag grazed and rested while a flock of 10 Curlew probed the wet grass for worms.
 As i reached the 'New' pits the best bird so far this morning flew steadily west,a Little Egret.From a personal point of view,i haven't seen that many here and for me are always a highlight of any visit to any site.
 The usual suspects were present on the 'New' pits and included Tufties,Gadwall,Wigeon,Teal and Mute Swans and a handfull of Black-headed and Common Gulls bathing on the pit and loafing on the tern raft.
 After reaching Chowder Ness i decided to walk up to Leggots Quarry and back past Barton Cliff and down to Ness Lake.
 As i walked along the humber bankside towards Leggot's it brought back memories from the 1st of May 1994 when i fortunately found a cracking 1st summer male Woodchat Shrike along here and 30 days later a singing male Golden Oriole in Leggot's Quarry itself,great memories and very special birds from a local perspective.
 A lovely Common Buzzard was seen in Barton Cliff Quarry as i passed by coupled with some welcome early spring birdsong from the local Chaffinches and Great Tits.
 A half an hour stop at Ness hide to chat to Kev and others as they attempted to capture some images of the wintering Bittern was a welcome diversion from the cold,but i soon said my goodbyes as i carried on back towards the car.
 A look on Hotel Pit didn't reveal the Slavonian Grebe,so looks like he or she had moved on.
 As i neared the new visitor centre it began to snow and i rushed back to the car to shelter after an enjoyable visit to the old patch,it's not always about seeing the rare birds....
Mute Swan,on the 'New' pits.

Western Approach Pit.

Looking towards Chowder Ness,Far-ings and the Humber Bridge,taken from Leggots Quarry.

Barton Cliff Quarry.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Green-winger etc....North Cave Wetlands,Saturday 13th February 2016.

After completing my last night shift of the week and managing to get at least 4 hours sleep,the above destination is where i headed for today.
 A pre organised meet up with Mike again,saw us having a very welcome cuppa and bacon sarnie before we began our walk(Thanks Mike)and some nice Siskins entertaining us near the car park,it was a very relaxed start to proceedings.
 The previous few days had seen a Red head Smew and a drake Green-winged Teal being the star birds here,so that is what we concentrated our efforts in looking for.
 The Teal were in very good numbers,but unfortunately were well spread all around the reserve,so to start the GW Teal was difficult to find.
 We began our walk scanning all the water bodies looking for the star birds,with no luck,but gaining some nice views of the local wildfowl,with excellent numbers of Teal and smaller numbers of Gadwall,Wigeon and Tufties.
 A party of 3 Oystercatcher were signs of the coming spring months and were great to see as they noisily called to each other.
 We came across one of the feeding stations which had some good numbers visiting it,which included at least 10 Tree Sparrow and a cracking male Brambling.The latter was a proper beauty and was the first i had seen since the autumn at Spurn.Other visitors to the feeders included a huge Brown Rat which kept flushing all the birds every time he appeared,but was great to see all the same and added something different to the visit.
 Eventually we got a message that the Drake Green-winged Teal had been seen on the main lake,so that is where we headed.
 After arriving in the hide there he was dozing,like all wildfowl like to do for 80% of the time,but the diagnostic,white vertical line on the sides of the breast could be seen well.He did turn his body so the less visible,white scapular line could be seen and we did manage to see his head on a couple of occasions also when he briefly woke up,showing the less well defined gold edges to the green facial area.
 Also seen while watching this diminutive american duck,was a distant Red Kite along an adjacent hillside,which was nice to see also and unfortunately we never did see the Smew.
 So after a very welcome visit and great few hours out and about with Mike at this excellent little reserve i headed back to North Linc's to catch up on some sleep,seeing another Red Kite over South Cave.
Male Siskin near the car park.

Male House Sparrow.

Brown Rat at the feeding station.

Male Brambling at the feeding station.

Distant record shot of the sleeping Green-winged Teal.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Barton Slav.....Sunday 7th February 2016.

After hearing the Slavonian Grebe that had been present for a short while on Hotel Pit adjacent to Far-Ings,this is where i headed today.
 An organised meet with fellow birder Mike Bingham,saw us having a steady walk up to the reserve from the new visitor centre.
 Along the river bank very little was noted apart from some west bound Geeb's and Herring Gull's.
 Our first efforts at looking for the star bird,had me only seeing it very briefly at the far end of the Hotel Pit,as it fed in a sheltered bay out of the wind,so we continued onto Ness Lake hearing a nearby male Cetti's Warbler quietly sub singing,before blasting out it's song properly.
 Ness Lake was fairly quiet with another male Cetti's singing to the right of the hide with the continuing theme of little else being seen apart from a brief sighting of a young male Marsh Harrier.
 We continued on our walk around to the new pits and here at last,some decent numbers of birds.The largest of the pits had a good mix of Gadwall,Teal,Wigeon and Coot,with a hand full of 'Sinensis' Cormorants resting on the Tern raft.
 It was great to see the Coots diving for food and bringing up good beak fulls of weed,with the Gadwall and Wigeon taking full advantage of any tit bits,a great feeding partnership.
 As we neared the old visitor centre,another loud blast of Cetti's song had us recording our third bird of the morning,but we still didn't see one!.
 Our second effort on Hotel Pit eventually revealed our target,as the stunning Slav was eventually seen properly and was a very welcome 'New' bird for Mike.With some patience we eventually got some cracking close views,but all my photos were into the sun,so were pretty crap to be fair,but it was just nice to see one so well.
 This bird has been part of an influx of the species,with others being seen at Cleethorpes(2),Toft Newton Res,Hornsea Mere,Beacon Ponds and the Witham Mouth to name but a few.
 Also seen on Hotel Pit was a partially leucistic male Gadwall,which provided some interest.With the bird having pale primary and secondary feathers,quite smart looking to be fair.
 After a bit of a windswept morning we made it back to our cars and said our goodbyes and both headed back to the warm after a decent morning out enjoying the lovely star grebe.