Friday, 24 February 2017

Messingham Sand Quarries....It Feels Like Spring,Monday 20th February 2017.

A morning to myself today as her indoors was catching up on her sleep after her nightshift,saw me heading out locally to see what i could find around one of my fave reserves at nearby Messingham Sand Quarries.
 It was mild to say the least,with the car temperature gauge reading a balmy 10 degrees and for a change i didn't need umpteen layers of clothing on.
 As i left the car i could hear the welcome sound of a singing male Reed Bunting,not the greatest songster i know,but a true sign spring is on it's way.
 As i walked along the approach track a flock of 32 Redwing flew over the tall poplars near to the entrance gate and a Woodcock flew over the horse paddocks and into the plantation,no doubt flushed from it's daytime roosting site.
 Further on along my walk and just as i passed the first dipping platform,the familiar sound of a male Cetti's Warbler sub singing very close to the path had me stopping in my tracks to try and catch a sighting of this often skulking species.With some perseverance i eventually saw him through the reed stems, feeding typically low down at the bases as they often do,what a lovely species these birds are and i was certainly pleased i had seen the little skulker.
 As i carried on through the reserve,a few sightings kept things interesting and included 2 precious Willow Tit associating with a mixed tit flock and also in the same flock a lovely Treecreeper also.
 A few Siskins and 3 Lesser Redpoll were entered into the notebook as i eventually arrived at the Duck Hide.
 Some decent numbers of wildfowl were observed from here,from the high vantage point overlooking the main lake and included 93 Wigeon,24 Shoveler,38 Tufted Duck and a pair of lovely Goldeneye.
 The second male Cetti's Warbler of the morning was then found along the path side as you walk from the duck hide and down the slope before the turning to the wader hide,so 2 for the site was excellent and it would be great if one of the males manages to attract a mate.
 More signs of spring around the reserve included a pair of Oystercatcher,as i entered the wader hide and a group of noisy Cormorants made for some entertaining watching,as a couple of the immature birds squabbled over some branches which they were playing with.No doubt half thinking about nest building at some point in the future.
 Also from the hide here were some good numbers of Black-headed Gulls beginning to gather for the forthcoming breeding season and also the first Shelduck too.
 Further on around the reserve and some more harbingers of the coming months included a profusion of Marsh Marigold plants coming through and in the small woodland pond a Common Frog and at least 6 Smooth Newt provided some more interest to the visit.
 What a great few hours out this morning to this superb gem of a reserve.
Robin,Near The First Dipping Platform.

Cormorants,Black-headed Gulls And Lapwings Along The Bottom Island.

Adult Black-headed Gull,Taken From the Wader Hide.

Marsh Marigold Plants Growing Through In One Of The Ditches.

Record Shot Of A Male Smooth Newt From The Woodland Pond.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Beautiful Dales,Saturday 18th - Sunday 19th February 2017.

Day One,Saturday.

A spare of the moment decision to visit this stunning area over this weekend saw Trace and myself heading up the A1 and into the Yorkshire Dales National Park for the weekend,this is where we visited and what we saw on our travels.
 The journey up to the Dales was fairly good and the weather pretty decent,a few nice sightings along the way included 6 Roe Deer along the M180 and a north bound flock of Pink-footed Geese near Bedale.
 We had booked to stay at a lovely B&B in Widdale,which is along the road between Hawes and Ingleton and as we had plenty of time before we had to check in,we decided to go over to Ingleton and do the waterfalls walk.
 The weather was a bit overcast,but at least it was dry and as always the scenery was just fantastic as we passed the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct.
 After arriving at the waterfalls car park,we got our water proofs on just in case and began this fantastic walk.The river was pretty full and as we came to the stunning Pecca Falls it was an amazing sight and sound as always.
 As always when we are away,i carry my binos and a couple of nice birds included the expected sightings of a Dipper and Grey Wagtail and i loved the mettalic 'zinc zinc' call as the Dipper zoomed past along the river.
 We managed to complete the walk in just over 2 hours,which i was pretty amazed at,but my legs and knees were telling a different story.

Day Two,Sunday.

 As yesterday had not been really looking for birds,i made up for it today as we headed over to Reeth and the brilliant Arkengarthdale.My quarry was mainly Black Grouse,but other species in the area including their commoner cousins would be most welcome also.
 As we headed through part of Swaledale towards Reeth from Askrigg,some point blank views of roadside Red Grouse gave me some fantastic photo opportunities and Trace just loved their little red eyebrows,it does make them look comical i suppose.
 We headed through Reeth and then up along the dale to Tan Hill for a quick cuppa before retracing our footsteps and stopping at Whaw,an area i had seen Black Grouse in before.
 It wasn't too long before i was watching 6 Black Grouse,albeit at a distance as they were on a hillside pasture above the small hamlet.Other birds nearby included a north bound flock of 42 Fieldfare with a couple of Redwing with them and a couple of Raven flying along an adjacent hillside,but despite the good birds,i just could not stop admiring the fantastic scenery around here,it just is a beautiful landscape.
 Sadly it wasn't long before we had to head back to Linc's as we were both at work on Sunday night and we reluctantly travelled home along the A1.
 A couple of distractions along the journey included 2 Red Kite near Wetherby and a couple of Common Buzzard.
 What a great couple of days away to this area again and i can't wait until we are back.
Thornton Force,Ingleton Water Falls Trail.

The River Twiss,Ingleton Water falls Trail.

Rival Falls,Ingleton Water Falls Trail.

Great Scenery,Ingleton Water Falls Trail.

Stunning Swaledale.

The iconic Tan Hill Inn,The United Kingdoms Highest Pub.

Red Grouse,Arkengarthdale.

Red Grouse,Arkengarthdale.

Red Grouse,Arkengarthdale.

Red Grouse,Arkengarthdale.

Dales Scenery Near Whaw.


Dales Scenery Near Reeth.

The Road Into Reeth.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Blast From The Past.......Pacific-golden Plover,South Ferriby,18th July 1993.

After Graham Catley had found an adult Pacific-golden Plover on the banks of the Humber Estuary at Read's Island near to South Ferriby and with myself missing it,i drove over to South Ferriby on this morning with this bird half in my mind.
 I had been walking along the Humber Bankside from the sluice at South Ferriby lock,scanning the estuary mud for any waders,when i noticed a Golden Plover flock infront of Ferriby Hall and i thought to myself,this lot will be worth grilling just incase.
 As i got nearer,i set the scope up and began to scan through the flock.....and then @'$* me,a small looking summer plumaged Plover in amongst the goldies,it had to be and it heart raced as i began to watch this beautiful adult Pacific-golden Plover.
 At first i watched it from a distance,but eventually walked nearer steadily as to not spook the flock and eventually i was opposite this stunning bird...i still hadn't stopped shaking.
 I then settled down to watch this cracking bird as i studied it from as close as 70 metres away and took in all it's features including the longer bill,long gangly legs and very short primary projection,extending only slightly beyond the tail and tertial tips.It fed with a slightly more energetic feeding action than the goldies and really stood out from the crowd,with its black face,extending down onto its belly,with its striking white forehead extending over its eye and down its neck sides and along the flanks...what a bird! and i had found it.
 I carried on watching it,seeing the grey underwing as another clinching feature,when i could hear a tractor approaching.The tractor was heading straight for me and the goldie flock and as it neared,that was it and they were off.
 I was peed off that they had been flushed,but really glad i had nailed all the features to get it accepted,if only i could have shared my find.
 I travelled home back to Barton on a high and later found it had been seen on the front of Read's Island the next day.
 Some discussion ensued about the bird being the same as Graham's from two weeks earlier,as this bird seemed in brighter plumage and may well have been a different individual.
 It was accepted as the second record of Pacific-golden Plover for Lincolnshire and my rarest personal find to date.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Blue Throated Beauty And Fenland Surprises.......Sunday 12th February 2017.

With a full day free today and despite the crap forecast,i decided to head south into the Fens and hopefully see the reported Bluethroat,this is how the day unfolded.
 I was up early,got the car packed and headed off south,in what some would still regard as night time in the hope of seeing the afore mentioned Bluethroat.This is an incredible record for the time of year and is the first time i have ever heard of one wintering here in the UK.
 After the sat nav took me first to the wrong area,down a horrible,rough,farm track i eventually managed to find the car park to Willow Tree Fen.
 Unfortunately it was still peeing down,as it had for most of the past 24 hours,so full waterproofs and wellies were the order of the day.
 As i walked down the entrance track,i could see 3 or 4 people watching an area and i hoped the bird was still on show.After a quick chat,no pun intended.....the people who had been watching the Bluethroat told me it had just flown into the adjacent ditch.
 After a few minutes,he was back out again and what a little beauty!.I watched as he hopped about along the grass verge,continuously cocking his rufous based tail.He was looking a bit worse for wear due to the heavy rain,but his plumage detail was much brighter than i had imagined it would look,with quite a good amount of blue and smaller amounts of red.He looked quite at home,catching plenty of insects and at one point a huge earth worm which took some swallowing,with him just sitting with his mouth open for a few moments before eventually swallowing it all.
 What a confiding little bird he was and he showed incredibly well,as this species sometimes does,what a great privilege to see such a smart bird and in winter.
 It wasn't long before i was joined by birding friend Jim who had also travelled to see this little cracker and thankfully the rain was starting to subside a bit also.We took a few more photos before Jim offered to show me the locations of a few more good birds in the area.
 The first place we visited was Four Mile Bridge along the banks of the River Welland,in an area known as Deeping High Bank and within ten minutes of being on site we were both watching a stonking Great-grey Shrike.
 The bird is wintering along a small area of hawthorn scrub adjacent to the river and he put on a great show,giving lovely views through the scope and at one point flew vertically upwards and chased a Meadow Pipit into a nearby wood.We didn't see it again afterwards,so we presumed he or she must have caught it.
 As we drove off,another nice bonus in the form of 2 Short-eared Owls along the river bank made for another nice sighting to add to the days haul.
 Further still along the river and another duo of goodies for the day came in the form of a female Long-tailed Duck and a cracking Great-white Egret.The LTD was hanging about with the local Tuftie flock and gave some nice views,unlike the solitary Egret which just did a close flypast and was later seen patiently hunting along the shallows of a dyke which ran into the river looking for its next meal.
 Deeping Lakes was the next site we visited and after a short walk we were watching 4 gorgeous Long-eared Owls.The birds were roosting on an island in the middle of one of the lakes,thankfully out of the way of the public so they can enjoy their winter roost without disturbances.These are the first birds i have seen for a good while and are always a highlight of any day out in my opinion.
 After enjoying the beautiful Asios,we retraced our footsteps along Deeping High Bank adding 2 female Scaup on the river to the days already bulging notebook full of sightings to head over to Frampton Marsh RSPB.
 As we neared the entrance we could see the wintering wild swan flock and i could see at least 57 Whooper Swans and 2 Bewick's Swans.I'm not sure what they were feeding on in the field,presumably Sugar Beet heads,but they were all caked in mud and it wasn't easy to separate the two species at first.
 Jim and myself said our good byes as he went to walk his 2 dogs and i then had a leisurely walk around to the 360 hide.
 It was still blowing an ice cold gale,but at least it had stopped raining and i enjoyed some cracking views of the local Wigeon,Brent Geese,Pintail,Lapwings and a huge cloud of Goldies,what a fantastic way to end my days birding at this superb Washland reserve.
 I made my way back to the car,cold and wet,but what a brilliant days birding i had just had enjoyed,roll on the next day out.
This Photo Shows Just How Close The Lovely Bluethroat Showed At Times To His Human Admirers,Willow Tree Fen.

1st Winter Male Bluethroat,Willow Tree Fen.

1st winter male Bluethroat,Willow Tree Fen.

First Winter male Bluethroat,Willow Tree Fen.

1st winter male Bluethroat,Willow Tree Fen.

1st winter male Bluethroat,Willow Tree Fen.

1st winter male Bluethroat,Willow Tree Fen.

Record Shot Of The Female Long-tailed Duck,Deeping High Bank.

Great-white Egret flyby,Deeping High Bank.

Dozing Drake Pintail In Amongst The Teal,Frampton Marsh RSPB.

Wigeon,Frampton Marsh RSPB.

Curlew,Frampton Marsh RSPB.

Lapwing,Frampton Marsh RSPB.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Banana Billed River Monster......Monday 30th January 2017.

Due to being at work and not being able to get over,today i was going to travel down to Kirkstead Bridge near Woodhall Spa and visit the superb White-billed Diver that has amazingly been residing on the River Witham there.
 When i set off from home,it was pretty misty and i thought i will be lucky to see the river,never mind the Diver and my memory drifted back to the 1996 bird which was taken into care before i arrived after swallowing a Pike lure.
 It is absolutely incredible that another White-billed Diver should turn up on the same stretch of an inland Lincolnshire river and is only the fourth inland record for the UK.
 Anyway back to the birding,i arrived at Kirkstead Bridge in overcast conditions,but at least it wasn't foggy.
 I got the kit together and headed onto the river bank,but the bird was nowhere to be seen unfortunately and i tried to remain optimistic that the bird was still present.
 As i walked i could see some guys with cameras distantly and i thought to myself it must be still here.As i neared where they where stood,there it was,the Banana billed beast!.
 I just stood and admired it through the scope to begin with,what a cracking bird,taking in all the ID features,particularly the monster bill,striking pale neck sides and face and the lovely scalloped patterning to the wing coverts.
 The bird was very actively feeding,but unfortunately as more people arrived the bird became much more wary and was constantly being pushed along the river particularly by those stood on the bank top.I tried to explain to a few of the visitors that if you are lower down and patiently wait,the bird will come to us,but no one listened and there was one particular photographer who was just chasing it up and down,disgusting behaviour and not at all thinking about the birds welfare or the other visitors.The complete lack of fieldcraft and knowledge of birds these days is incredible.....rant over!.
 Anyway back to the bird,i managed amazingly to get some half decent images of the bird myself by standing and waiting and obviously got some fantastic chances to study it through the scope,so not all was bad about the visit.
 A few days later the bird was seen to fly south past Kirkstead Bridge and was seen roughly 7km's south of there and then was flushed by a barge and wasn't seen again,no doubt heading out into the Wash.Personally i was just relieved it hadn't ended up in the same sad way the 1996 bird had and had stayed healthy for all it's time on the river.
 After seeing this stonker of a bird i dropped into the nearby Kirkby Pits,near to the little village of Kirkby-On-Bain.
 There were a few good birds that had been reported here and it wasn't long before i was watching two of them on Riverslea Pit...a Drake Ring-necked Duck and a female Scaup.
 The RND was typically sleeping,as they always are,but i did get a glimpse of they piercing yellow eye and white border to the bill base,before he went back to sleep.This is the first sighting of RND for myself since the 2nd calendar year Drake at Tophill Low,on February 8th 2013.The Scaup was more active and seen at the far end of the pit,my second sighting of the species for the year after the birds at New Holland a couple of weekends ago.
 Unfortunately there was no sign of the Great-white Egret or Juvenile Glaucous Gull that have been around,but i was very happy at what i had seen today.
 I travelled home back through the Wolds very happy that i had finally put the ghost of 21 years ago finally to sleep.
What A Bird!,Note The Bluish Tones To The Bill Base.

Showing The Strikingly Patterned Coverts And Paleness Of the Face,Neck Sides And Throat.

Distant Record Shot Of The Drake Ring-necked Duck At Kirkby Pits.