Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Humber Wander,Saturday 27th August 2016.

A half a day to myself today,saw me heading for the Humber Estuary in the search of some hoped for passage waders,the following is what i recorded on my visit.
 I started by parking at Barrow Haven,getting the camera and bins together and began my walk towards Goxhill Haven.
 On the Humber at Barrow Haven,a single Black-tailed Godwit and a handfull of Curlew probed the estuarine mud for worms and a Little Egret and Grey Heron patiently fished.On the pond adjacent to the haven,a Kingfisher zoomed around the edges and the explosive song of a male Cetti's Warbler was heard nearby.
 Along the bankside towards New Holland bulk terminal,several Large White butterflies were seen nectaring on the profusion of flowers.
 As i neared Fairfield Pit,a single juv Willow Tit was seen in a mixed tit flock,a great sight to see after the sharp decline in this lovely little bird.
 On the shore just before the terminal,3 more Black-tailed Godwit fed and a flock of 6 Turnstone flew west towards Barrow Haven.
 After negotiating the terminal itself i carried along the Humber bankside towards Goxhill Haven.Highlights along here included 3 Greenshank,1 Common Sandpiper and the highlight,a lovely juvenile Little Stint associating with a mixed flock of Dunlin and Ringed Plover.These diminutive waders are real long distance travellers,breeding in the high arctic tundra travelling to their wintering grounds in Africa and are a real joy to watch,like little clock work toys.
 Other notables seen along here included 3 juvenile Peregrines,which harassed the local corvid flock and gulls and put on a great aerial show,practising stooping at them and chasing each other,just brilliant to watch.Also along here was a single Juvenile Knot.
 The return walk back towards Barrow Haven was a bit more of a hurried affair due to the arrival of a bank of rain and included sheltering under some very welcome large Field Maples.The only other sighting i could add to the earlier sightings were a flock of 4 Ruff which flew onto the Humber from Fairfield Pit.
 A nice wander in some fairly decent weather today.
Barrow Haven Pits.

Barrow Haven Pits.

Long-tailed Tit,New Holland.

New Holland Seen From The Humber Bank Towards Goxhill Tilery.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Birds Of Spurn......

After hearing that birding legend and 'Mr Spurn' Andy Roadhouse had completed 8 years of hard work on his complete avifauna of the Birds Of Spurn,myself along with the rest of the birding community couldn't wait to get our hands on it.
 So a visit to the book launch was a must and myself,along with birding buddy Tim Cowley and the rest of all the Spurn regulars went along on the 14th August  to collect our copies.
 It was really great to see Andy in such great spirits after his long term struggle with his illness and finally get his hands on the finished article.
 Words cannot describe what a fantastic book this is and the meticulous detail of which Andy has added with every species which has been recorded at Spurn,some 388 species.It covers the whole 70 year history of this superb birding and wildlife site and the amazing art work and photos throughout perfectly illustrate it.
 So if you havn't got a copy of the book already,please visit the Spurn Bird Obs website here @ and use the link on the welcome page,enjoy!.
 The following are a selection of photos of the book and some of it's excellent pages.
Andy Signing Copies At Westmere Farm.

The Fantastic Cover Illustration By Ray Scally.

Superb Artwork By Darren Woodhead.

Superb Artwork By Tim Wooton.

A Double Page Spread On The Masked Shrike,Spurn's 388th Species And A Fave For Obvious Reasons.

What A Cracking Little Bird!.

My Finder's Account Of The Masked Shrike.

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.