Monday, 26 September 2016

Falco Subbuteo etc.....Sunday 25th September 2016.

As Trace was going to catch up on her sleep this morning and the overnight rain had eventually cleared,i decided to head over to Bonby Carrs for a change,it didn't disappoint.
 I parked in usual style by the Soak Drain and before i set off towards the Ancholme i had ten minutes of scanning the nearby hilllside and fields.This proved fruitfull,with 3 Common Buzzard over the wold top and a lovely doe Roe Deer in an adjacent field nearby.
 It was fairly breezy as i headed off,providing excellent conditions for raptors and the local corvids were all over the place,with a noisy flock of Rooks and Jackdaws feeding in one of the pasture fields.
 As i neared the first of the mature hedgerows,it was noticeable that there were quite a good number of Reed Buntings present,with at least 42 birds being counted along with smaller numbers of Yellowhammer and the best of the bunch,6 Corn Bunting.They were all seen flying into the adjacent stubble to no doubt feed on spilt grain,what a great sight to see,all three species together.
 Along the pasture fields a few flocks of both Meadow Pipits and Skylark were seen,with a couple of Pied Wagtail also.
 A few ducks were also seen in the wetter areas in the pasture fields and this included a lovely Pintail which was seen flying west towards Rowland Plantation.
 At the river,very little was seen apart from a couple of hunting Kestrel over the surrounding fields,but a lovely Kingfisher brightened things up,showing occasionally along the river and being very vocal also.
 The return leg back towards the car saw more of the same species with a further 3 Common Buzzards over the nearby woods and a decent passage of south band House Martins totalled a minimum of 78 birds.
 As i neared one of the hedegrows,i could see a pale looking falcon sat in the top and sure enough my suspicions were soon confirmed as i watched a lovely juvenile Hobby sat looking back at me.It then flew and put on an aerial performance over the pasture fields and nearby wood and i managed a few record shots,but it was too far for my lens unfortunately.What a fantastic little bird these are and it will soon be making its long,solo journey to Africa,following yesterdays adult bird at Goxhill,superb stuff.
 As i arrived back at the car more scanning revealed another distant Hobby and it was seen harassing a corvid over Worlaby Carrs and a stunning male Marsh Harrier hunted the fields in the same direction.
 So this morning provided me with an excellent few hours out and one i will be enjoying again in the near future.

Juvenile Hobby.

Juvenile Hobby.

Barrow Haven - Dawson City,Saturday 24th September 2016.

With the chance of a full days birding today and the forecast looking good,i decided to cover the Humber bank and estuary today,planning to walk from Barrow Haven up to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserve,Dawson City,to the east of Goxhill Haven.The following sightings are what i recorded during the day.
 After parking near to the train station at Barrow Haven,i packed my gear into my ruck sack and began by looking around the haven mouth first.
 It was just beginning to get light properly and streams of gulls flew east down the estuary and inland to their daytime feeding areas.
 At the haven,highlights included a small party of 5 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Cetti's Warbler blasted it's explosive song from the nearby clay pits.
 I began heading towards New Holland bulk terminal with a few more scattered parties of feeding Curlew on both the Humber and on the pasture fields.
 As i neared the outfall at New Holland a quick look on Fairfield Pit saw a single Little Egret fishing along the drain here and at least 8 Little Grebe on the pit itself.
 On the Humber beyond the outfall,a single Avocet was seen,a nice surprise and overhead a juvenile Marsh Harrier flew west towards Barrow Haven.
 After negotiating the bulk terminal i was back along the bank top and scanning the fields towards Goxhill Tilery,when i could see a distant falcon sat on the ground.At first i thought it must be a Peregrine or a Merlin,but later and as i got nearer,it wasn't either species,but an adult Hobby.It was just sitting on the field,no doubt catching insects,as i have seen them in the past feeding on craneflies or one of their favourite food,dragonflies.This was a very nice surprise and it is always a privilege to see these lovely falcons,this bird no doubt stopping off on it's long migration south to Africa for a refuel and rest.
 Back to waders and along the estuary up to the Old Boatyard and past the Tilery Pond where i started my birding career,species and numbers included 13 Black-tailed and 12 Bar-tailed Godwit and it was great to compare both species feeding alongside each other.There was also a lot of commotion on the pond itself as an adult Common Buzzard flushed the wildfowl feeding on the pit and this included 6 Wigeon,15 Gadwall,Teal and 2 Tufted Duck which all flew and settled on the Humber.
 I stopped at the Old Boatyard and sat and watched for a while as a few birds passed west and this included 6 Sand Martin,21 Swallow and a lovely Grey Wagtail.
 It was here at the Old Boatyard,where on March 3rd 1988 i had found a female/imm male Black Redstart and so began my bird finding,not a big rarity,but it fired something in me and it has stayed with me until this day.Incidentally,also that same day i found the biggest flock of Bewick's Swans i have ever seen to this day,19 birds,a big deal then and even more so now with the species declining as a wintering species.
 Anyway back to current birding,i carried on walking along towards Goxhill Haven,doing a double take,as i flushed a Common Buzzard from the bankside,this one being a juvenile and not the scruffy adult seen earlier.It flew slightly inland and settled in a Willow,so 2 for the day,pretty good stuff.
 At the haven itself,more waders included 49 Dunlin,66 Turnstone,16 Black-tailed and a single Bar-tailed Godwit,Ringed Plover and a gorgeous juvenile Grey Plover.The latter species,really are smart birds and i always like to see them,whether in summer plumage or not,just lovely.
 By now it was full sunshine and the bankside just glowed with colour with masses of Sow Thistle and intermittent patches of the beautifully blue wild Chicory.Several butterfly species along here included Painted Lady,Large and Small White,Speckled Wood,Small Copper and Small Tortoiseshell.
 A look around Dawson City revealed only 2 Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff,but another different Common Buzzard,made three for the day.
 After a rest and something to eat at Dawson,i made the return leg back towards Goxhill Haven and beyond,when i flushed a small bird along the bankside on two successive occasions,eventually seeing it perched,it revealed itself as a lovely immature Stonechat,but getting near it for photos was another matter as it was flushed off the bankside and along the inland hedgerows by two youths on motorbikes,typical!.
 It was a proper high tide now and i headed past the bulk terminal again and along the bank towards Barrow Haven,eventually arriving back at the car after 7 hours walking and 12.5 miles later.What a great day it had been and i look forward to my next visit to my old stomping ground,which holds many great memories from my birding youth.
Sunrise at Barrow Haven.

Looking Towards New Holland.

Goxhill Haven.

The Humber Bank Near To Dawson City,With The P&O Ferry Terminal At Hull In The Background.

Dawson City LWTR.

The Humber Bank Towards Goxhill Haven.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Spurn Seawatch,Saturday 17th September 2016.

At last a week of 2-10 shifts were finally over and it was time to get over to Spurn,particularly after the previous days 'Mega' Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler,proving once again what an amazing birding area it is.
 I got up bright and early,loaded the car up and headed over the Humber and into the home county.
 As it started to get light,it looked pretty grey and overcast with drizzle in the air and with a substantial northerly wind,i thought seawatching first and see what the weather does.
 After parking at the Warren gate i made my way over to the seawatching hide and it was already full with expectant observers,so i decided to stay outside joining Adam Hutt and after a short while Tim Jones.
 Birds were on the move right away as soon as it got light,with our first Sooty and Manx Shearwaters moving north,sometimes in mixed groups which gave us all a great chance to compare flight action and build.The Sooties are just pure masters of the air and for me are such impressive,powerful birds.It always amazes me how far these birds have come to grace our coastline....all the way from the South Atlantic Ocean,just fantastic.
 After watching for a while more highlights included a flock of 30 Bonxies moving south high up and the first of several Juvenile Long-tailed Skuas.
 The latter species,almost on show for the whole seawatch,gave some great views and it was really nice to watch them with their more tern like habits,dropping to the surface to pick off food items,rather than the bullying antics of the other skua species.On a couple of occasions we had three birds together,just superb stuff!.All the birds were juveniles apart from one sub adult bird.A feature of the watch also included masses of Meadow Pipits coming in off the sea and heading south and involved at least 800 birds!,impressive stuff to see these tough little birds making landfall and actively migrating.
 At times the visibility was really poor and it made us wonder what we were missing,as at one particular time there was a stream of Sooties and Manxies relatively close in,but you just could not see any further out.
 This was further highlighted when a news report came in that 2 Great Shearwaters had been seen from Flamborough,no doubt they had passed us by.
 A nice diversion from the seawatching saw Adam and Tim driving the Warren Heligoland trap and trapping and ringing a Garden Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher which were really nice to see at close quarters.
 Back to the scopes and more superb seabirds,included bird of the seawatch after Adam called a Leach's Petrel.It was watched as it flew south and then it reached the breach and doubled back north,before heading further out.What a privilege it was to see this proper oceanic species and my first for several years.Sample totals from the seawatch included an impressive 361 Sooty Shearwater North,157 Manx Shearwater North,9 Long-tailed Skua,the afore mentioned Leach's Ptrel,47 Bonxie and 127 Red-throated Divers south.
 As things quietened down,it had been agreed by a landowner near to the Crown and Anchor to walk the field were the earlier reported Great Snipe had been seen to fly into and a group of hopefull birders gathered to walk the field,but sadly it was to no avail.It would have been a great way to end the day,but for most of the birders present,we had all seen the ultra tame bird from 2013.
 So what a cracking day was enjoyed today,albeit a wet and windswept one,but it was great to see some cracking seabirds and re-aquaint myself with those beautiful Long-tailed Skuas,top class!.
Pied Flycatcher And Garden Warbler,trapped in the Warren Heligoland Trap.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Baird's Sandpiper,Hatfield Moor NNR,Saturday 10th September 2016.

After continual reports of the juvenile Baird's Sand all week,which had been expertly found at Hatfield Moor during a purple patch for wading birds on the NNR,which included 2 Pec's and a Buff-breasted Sand,this is where i headed this afternoon.
 I had just finished a long week of 12 hour night shifts,so had been catching up on some sleep in the morning and thanks to some helpfull updates that the bird was still present,i headed over to the reserve this afternoon.
 After negotiating the bumpy Sand Lane in Wroot,i parked up,got the gear together and headed over the little bridge towards the NNR.
 A quick scan along the river bank as i was crossing,revealed a smart juvenile Whinchat sallying after insects from the bankside vegetation,a nice start to the visit i thought.
 I followed the excellent instructions to where the bird had been seen,supplied by the Hatfield Moors Birding Blog lads and as i walked along the final stretch towards the area known as Ethelmoor,i could see a few birders watching something and hoped it was the Baird's.
 As i arrived at the group,sure enough they were watching the Baird's,albeit distantly at the other side of the pool.At this range and with a 30x eyepiece,the bird was subtly different than the accompanying Dunlin,being obviously long winged,giving an attenuated rear end to it's profile,shorter,straighter bill,distinct breast band and more methodical feeding action,picking food items from the surface of the mud.
 As we watched the flock,they eventually came closer and at one point they were as close as 25 metres away,giving fantastic scope views.At closer range all the features of this cracking little yank could now be appreciated much more clearly,the scalloped patterning to the coverts really standing out now,what a little beauty!.
 I attempted to get some photos of the bird,when it was close,but only achieved a series of record shots due to the garbage light conditions,but managed a few with it feeding with a Dunlin for comparison.
 After enjoying a good hour or so of views of the bird,the flock worked it's way further again to the other side of the pool and i decided to make my way back to the car.
 The only other bird of note i saw on my visit was a smart juvenile Marsh harrier hunting the pools and moor.
 A great few hours out watching this superb little wader.
Juvenile Baird's Sandpiper,with Juvenile Dunlin.

Juvenile Baird's Sandpiper With Juvenile Dunlin.

Juvenile Common Buzzard,Hatfield Village.

Juvenile Common Buzzard,Hatfield Village.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Spotted Crake Again And North Cave Bits,Saturday 3rd September 2016.

With the prospect of getting out and about again today,albeit half a day due to the rain forecast for mid day,i decided to visit North Cave which is only 25 miles from home.
 I arrived just as it was beginning to get light and decided to try and see the resident star bird first.
 After getting all the gear together i walked down the side of village lake to the sight and sound of hundreds of Greylag Geese leaving their roost and a lovely Common Buzzard mewed from a nearby tree line.
 A look on the fields on the northern border of the reserve revealed 12 Corn Buntings,35 plus Goldfinch and a lovely juvenile Lesser Whitethroat in the bordering hedgerow.
 I eventually arrived at the Spotted Crake's favoured home in the north west corner of reedbed lake.Plenty of scanning from here revealed an adult Water Rail,Common Sandpiper and some lovely views of Teal,Shoveler,Gadwall and Snipe in the bright early morning sunshine,bliss.
 Eventually after much waiting the bird was seen,but at the opposite end of the reedbed to where we had been standing,no wonder we didn't see it!.
 For the next 30 or so minutes the bird gave prolonged,super views,the best i have ever had of this normally skulking species,even better than on my last visit,just superb.I even managed to get some half decent images of this diminutive reedbed dwelling beauty.
 The bird then disappeared,only to be seen again about twenty minutes later at the far side of the lake,but showing constantly albeit further away.After enjoying my fill of this cracking bird i decided to explore the remainder of the reserve.
 Highlights included 3 Greenshank on Far Lake and 2 Common Sand,Greenshank and the resident escapee Bar-headed Goose on Dryham Ings.
 As i neared the car it began to spot with rain and that was it for the day,as the rain began to get heavier.
 Another great visit to this great little reserve was enjoyed this morning and i travelled home after a very nice mornings birding.
Impressive Dawn Colours.

Juvenile Spotted Crake.

Juvenile Spotted Crake.

Juvenile Spotted Crake.

Juvenile Spotted Crake.

Swampy,Take Two!.....Tuesday 30th August.

Imagine the disbelief while at work,a message arrives from birding buddy Tim,that a Western-purple Swamphen has just been found at Alkborough Flats 25 miles from home!!!.
 At first i thought,do i go or not and i decided on the latter,but first i did the sensible thing and went and scoffed my steak pie and chips at home and took Trace along to her first twitch.
 After a relaxed drive over(Remember i had recently seen the Minsmere bird),we arrived at the reserve car park at the northern end of the site,to it all to ourselves.
 After getting the kit together we made our way down to the southern end of the site and the 'First' hide from which the bird had been seen.
 On arrival,several familiar faces proved the bird was still on show and it wasn't too long before we watching Swampy again,albeit a lot more distant than at Minsmere.
 As we watched the bird,it fed in typical fashion,in and out of the reed edge as it had at Minsmere,occasionally breaking cover,what a beast of a bird!.
 After a while Trace and myself decided to go and look from the hillside to see if we could locate any Spoonbills and managed to find just 3 and we wondered where were the others.
 A quick phone call from Tim and he was on his way,so we waited until he arrived and then walked back down the hill to the hide for a second look.
 Back in the hide again and some much better views of the Swamphen this time, albeit at the same distance and more friendly faces included birding buddy's Charlie and Mags.It was great that everyone locally had connected with the bird.A nice bonus while watching the myriad of Avocets,was the remainder of the flock of Spoonies flying in,boosting the 3 to 12,a lovely sight to see.
 After a while the bird flew and one of the guys twitching the bird managed some flight shots of the bird.He kindly showed them to me and there it was,either a missing inner primary or outer secondary feather,just like the Minsmere bird.This may just be coincidence,but it was on the left wing as the Minsmere bird,so may well be the same individual,particularly due to the rarity of the species and it also being an adult.
 After our fill of this monster purple reed muncher,we said our goodbyes to Charlie,Mags and Tim and made our way home after a very enjoyable few hours out seeing this mega bird.
Part Of The Spoonbill Flock In Amongst The Avocets Etc.

One Of The Many Views Across This Extensive Site.

Western-purple Swamphen From Minsmere,Showing The Missing Wing Feather.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Super Spurn,Sunday 28th August 2016.

With the possibility of a migrant arrival after the heavy rain and easterly element in the wind overnight on Saturday i decided to head for that fantastic spit of land at the mouth of the Humber Estuary.
 The travel over was fairly quiet apart from a Tawny Owl flying across the road infront of me at Thorngumbald.
 I eventually arrived at the Bluebell car park and had a drink and something to eat before heading off.
 I decided to walk the Triangle first,looking in Corner Field to begin with,but nothing apart from a small flock of juvvie Goldfinches and a couple of Whitethroats.Overhead very little looked to be moving,apart from a local flock of Swallows and House Martins and an adult Med Gull passed over towards the sea.
 The road up to Cliff Farm and Kilnsea Churchyard was very quiet and i thought to myself today is going to be hard going migrant wise.
 The walk along Canal Bank was equally quiet,with highlights only including singles of Redstart and Whinchat and a Greenshank 'Tu Tu Tu'd' along the Humber shore.
 A look from Canal Scrape hide revealed a single Pied Flycatcher in the hawthorns at the back of the scrape and single eclipse drake Wigeon and a juv Little Grebe quietly went about their business of getting some breakfast on the scrape itself.
 A message came over the radio that a Barred Warbler had been seen from Canal Bank were i had walked,so i gave it a half hearted attempt at trying to see it,but just couldn't be bothered to be honest.
 I walked up to the Warren and then continued along the shore back to the Blue Bell.
 By this time i was ready for something else to scoff,so had the rest of my pack up and shed some clothing as it was fairly pleasant now after the cool start and decided to head up Beacon Lane and cover the Wetlands area.To be fair this was the best move of the day and was pretty productive.
 Highlights included a Juv Little Stint on Holderness Field which commuted between here and the Wetlands,briefly being joined by another on the Wetlands later,which then flew onto the Humber,a Juv Curlew Sandpiper which commuted also between the Wetlands and Holderness Field,the resident Juv Wood Sandpiper on the Wetlands,2 Juv Little-ringed Plover on the Wetlands,2 Greenshank and a handfull of Med Gulls also on the Wetlands.
 The Juvenile Wood Sandpiper showed impeccably and i managed to obtain some nice shots of it as it fed at fairly close range infront of the hide.
 After enjoying the waders and gulls etc on the Wetlands a message came over the radio that a Wood Warbler had been found in Easington Churchyard,so off i went for a look.A small crowd had gathered and it wasn't long before i saw this silky plumaged Phyllosc shoot between the trees it was feeding in and this is how it continued with the little buggar not showing at all well,but at least i had seen it.
 After all this excitement i decided to end the day on a more relaxed note, looking at the gulls along Easington Straight.After a botched attempt at making a juvenile Lesser black-Back into the earlier reported juv Caspian Gull,i decided to look at the much prettier Med Gulls on show,which included at least 28 individuals while i was present.I know these days people take this species for granted,but i really like them and there are a few sites around the country were they seem to gather in good numbers,this being one of them.
 So after 10 hours in the field i decided to call it a day and head home back to North Linc's after another visit to this superb birding area.
Juvenile Little Grebe,Canal Scrape.

Wood Pigeon,Beacon Lane.

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper,Kilnsea Wetlands.

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper,Kilnsea Wetlands.

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper,Kilnsea Wetlands.

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper,Kilnsea Wetlands.

Loafing Gulls And Terns On Kilnsea Wetlands.