Friday, 28 April 2017

Ravenscar To Robin Hoods Bay....A Lovely Walk,Sunday 23rd April 2017.

With us both being off work today and also the added bonus of a good forecast Trace and myself decided to do a fave walk which we had done a few times before along the Cleveland Way between stunning Ravenscar and the Lovely Robin Hoods Bay in coastal North Yorkshire.
 This is a short summary of the walk,scenery and the birds which we saw along this superb stretch of coastline.
 We started by parking along the roadside near to the National Trust shop and regal looking Raven Hall Hotel at Ravenscar and after getting our rucksack packed we were off on our journey.
 There is some very impressive scenery along here,coupled with some excellent birding habitat and it wasn't long before i managed to find the first goodie of the walk....a male Ring Ouzel.
 I sort of expected i may come across one of these today,as there are some brilliant paddocks and sheep fields which are ideal habitat for this mountain Thrush and there had been a flush of sightings all along the country.
 The views were only distant,but nice all the same and we carried on hopefull for some more nice sightings to add to the day.
 By the time we had reached Stoupe Brow,we had seen several Blackcap,Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff and a small group of 10 Sand Martin prospecting along the cliffs and we took the steps down to the beach and completed the final section to Robin Hoods Bay along the beach.
 Just off this lovely seaside smugglers paradise,a flock of 18 Sandwich Terns were loafing on the rocks here,a great sight and sound to witness and i thought to myself it won't be long before we are seeing them on their breeding grounds in Northumberland.
 After some lovely food and a rest at the very nice Victoria Park Hotel we were off again on the return leg taking in the breathtaking scenery along this fantastic coastline.
 The only different bird sightings from the first leg of our walk included a single Wheatear and a singing male Lesser Whitethroat near Stoupe Brow and as we neared Ravenscar,the male Ring Ouzel was still on the same Sheep Field,with a lovely male White Wagtail on the golf course below Raven Hall Hotel.
 Some added interest apart from the afore mentioned bird sightings included a few insects,with Speckled Wood,Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies,a Dark-edged Bee Fly and the best of the bunch 3 lovely Gorse-Shield Bugs.
 So what a great walk today,with some cracking weather and brilliant scenery,coupled with some nice birds to boot,we travelled home slightly worse for wear with the muscles a tad sore,but what a grand day out.
Ravenscar Looking Towards Robin Hoods Bay.

A Distant Male Ring Ouzel On An Adjacent Sheep Pasture.

Looking Towards Robin Hoods Bay From Boggle Hole.

Looking Along The Beach Towards Ravenscar From Boggle Hole.

Stunning Scenery From The Cliffs At Ravenscar.

White And Pied Wagtails At Ravenscar.

White Wagtail,Ravenscar.

The Spurn Area....Saturday 22nd April 2017.

With a full day to myself today,i again decided to head to Spurn and today meet up with birding buddy Tim.
 Today's forecast wasn't really great for migration,with the continuing northerly air flow,but we thought we would give it a go and see what we could see.
 After meeting up at the Bluebell car park,we got the kit together and decided to head down the point first,bumping into local birder Arash Marashi who joined us for the long walk.
 A few Whimbrel were encountered along the first part of the walk towards the breach,which are always great to see,but very little else until we encountered a Wheatear sat on the Heligoland trap at Chalkbank.
 A little way along and another 4 Wheatear were seen around the lifeboat jetty,some migrant activity at last we thought and a very smart Peregrine was seen perched at relatively close range before it flew off towards the Humber.
 On the edge of the Parade ground a Lesser Whitethroat sang and around the hollow at the VTS tower,the familiar,scratchy song of our first Whitethroats of the year,as two males danced about in their display flights establishing their breeding territories.I really love these little Sylvia Warblers,lots of character.
 A rest and refreshment stop at the Green Beacon saw us adding another first for the year in the form of a single Sandwich Tern feeding in the tide race,another welcome sighting to add to this tough day.
 The return walk back up the peninsula included similar fare,with some nice sightings of Whimbrel again and Arash went his own way for some lunch while Tim and myself headed for a cuppa at the Bluebell.
 After a  good chat with Andy in the Bluebell,we were off again and had a quick look at Lesser Whitethroat,which was singing an atypical song near Rose Cottage.The bird looked pretty normal on the views i gained of it and every body drifted away,interesting all the same.
 We then decided to head up Beacon Lane and covered the ponds,Kilnsea Wetlands and then back up to Kilnsea,with again very little to show for our efforts apart from 16 Wigeon and a smart male Yellow Wag on the Wetlands and 4 more Wheatear in the Long Bank area.
 We finished the visit by walking along Canal Bank and back up to our cars completing a knackering 14 miles walked during the day,but where else can you get the feeling of being in the wild and watching wildlife and birds like you can here,what a brilliant place!.

Yearling Grey Seal At The Breach.

A Confiding Dark-bellied Brent Goose On Kilnsea Wetlands.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose,Kilnsea Wetlands.

Whimbrel In The Triangle.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Spurn......Easter Visits,Saturday 15th & Monday 17th April 2017.

I hadn't planned to make two visits to this birding mecca over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend,but as so often happens,this fantastic site supplied some excellent birding and rarities to boot,so how could i resist.
 The following is a summary of what i saw over the two days visits.

Saturday 15th April.

Today i walked a large portion of the recording area covering Beacon Lane,Beacon Ponds,Easington straight,Peter Lane,Sammy's Point and back to Numpties for the remainder of my visit.
 I managed to see some great birds and added Grasshopper Warbler and Whimbrel to the ever growing year list.The former was singing in a Oil Seed Rape field along Easington straight and the latter in a roosting flock of Curlew over the high tide off the Warren gate.The Grasshopper Warbler,was apparently,the first record of the year for the recording area.
 Other highlights included 4 Wheatear,a female Stonechat and a U turning Red Kite from Numpties Watchpoint,as well as an escapee Harris Hawk which put on a great show and all three races of Brent Geese on the Humber nearby.The singles of Black Brant and Pale-bellied Brent showed nicely and gave a great comparison amongst their commoner Dark-bellied cousins.
 Non bird sightings included a very confiding Buck Roe Deer and several Brown Hares.
 On the way home i popped in to pick up my 2016 Spurn Bird Report from Kew,words cannot describe how fantastic this report is and it just goes from strength to strength.A big well done to all involved in the production and design of this bumper addition.

Monday 17th April.

After the unbelievable events on Easter Sunday when another! Iberian Chiffchaff was expertly found by Tim Jones and the male Western Subalpine Warbler from earlier in the week was refound,i made the decision to travel over again in the hope that both were still present.
 Unfortunately the Ibe Chiff was nowhere to be found after a good search by a few of us,but thankfully the male Subalp put on a great show,despite being a bit flighty.
 This lovely little Sylvia with his salmon pink underparts,red throat,white moustachials and pastel blue mantle gave some great views and sang his little head off on occasion,with much calling also.What a great little bird and a real privilege to see.
 Other sightings today included the Pale-bellied Brent from Saturday,a female Red-breasted Merganser on the Humber and 5 Whimbrel off the Warren. 

So another couple of great visits to this brilliant site and i look forward to many more in the near future.
Buck Roe Deer,Near To Beacon Ponds.

Buck Roe Deer,Near To Beacon Ponds.

Kilnsea Wetlands.

Big Skies Along Easington Straight.

Black Brant,Off The Warren.

Escapee Harris Hawk,The Warren.

The Best Bird Report Money Can Buy!.

Male Western Subalpine Warbler,Canal Bushes.

Male Western Subalpine Warbler,Canal Bushes.

A Trio Of Whimbrel Off The Warren.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Barrow Haven - Dawson City LWTR...WEBS,Friday 14th April 2017.

I decided to carry out my WEBS count over the high tide today,covering my 3 survey sections between Barrow Haven and Goxhill Haven along the banks of the Humber Estuary.The forecast wasn't too bad,apart from the odd shower,so i made my way to my parking spot at Barrow Haven and arrived just after dawn.
 As i began my walk,it was great to hear Willow Warbler,Chiffchaff and Blackcap now as part of the day's dawn chorus and as i passed by Foster's Wharf a gorgeous Barn Owl ghosted past me and over the Haven heading towards Barton,a nice start.
 As i walked towards New Holland,it was apparent that there was quite a movement of Common Gulls heading west up the Estuary,this primarily involved 2nd calendar year birds and was a feature of today's visit,with 100+ individuals involved.
 As i reached Fairfield Pit,i met up with Charlie,my usual company for my walks up to Goxhill and we both chatted about what we were going to find....hopefully a Wheatear or two.
 After negotiating the Bulk Terminal,it wasn't too long before we were watching our hoped for target,as we watched a lovely male Wheatear along the bank top,this particular bird didn't want his photo taking and decided to promptly fly past us heading west.
 Further on and near Goxhill Tilery,another two males were thankfully located and showed much better,allowing us both to gain some images at last.
 These two latter birds also flew around us as the first bird had and seemed to head west towards New Holland also,so three birds was pretty good we thought as we carried on our journey.
 The Wheatear sightings seemed to kick off a little period of further good sightings which included a Yellow Wagtail flying overhead and a singing male Lesser Whitethroat,'First's' for the year for both of us,the latter being seen in the scrub where the old tilery buildings used to be situated,it was turning out to be a good morning after all.
 An interesting sighting was a couple of larval webs on Hawthorn bushes of Brown-tail Moth,a species which must be penetrating inland from the coast.
 A light shower passed overhead as we reached Dawson City and we decided to have a quick food stop before beginning the return leg back towards Barrow Haven.
 As we experienced a period of sun,the bank side came alive with insects as we walked back towards Goxhill Haven and i managed to find a single Small White in amongst some Green-veined Whites which were taking advantage of the profusion of Dandelions in flower along here,my 8th species so far this year.
 A steady westerly passage of passerines in relatively small numbers had been taking place all morning and included Linnets,Goldfinches,half a dozen Swallows and singles of both Siskin and Sand Martin,which added a little diversity to sightings.
 Another couple of male Wheatear were encountered at Goxhill Haven and as we neared the Old Boatyard the second of the days male Lesser Whitethroats was still singing away his rattling song and nearby a Sedge Warbler sang away in an adjacent dyke.
 Little else was noted as we passed by New Holland Bulk Terminal and as we made our way towards Barrow Haven a singing male Willow Tit was heard singing in his usual place,great to hear.
 Well what a great morning today,with 11.5 miles walked and some nice sightings to boot,with some great company,what else can you ask for.
Wheatear's Near To Goxhill Tilery.

Brown Tail Moth Caterpillar's Near Goxhill Haven.

Small White,Goxhill Haven.

An Incredibly Tame Carrion Crow,Near Goxhill Tilery.

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Moors.....Crowle & Thorne,Sunday 9th April 2017.

Today's visit,as most of my visits to this fantastic area for wildlife,was primarily to look for Odonata,but as usual,a great mix of both birds and insects were observed,this is what i saw through the day.
 I began by parking at the usual place,the relatively new car park in between the north and south sections of Crowle Moors and began my walk onto the first section of this superb NNR.
 The first pathway held the usual suspects which included singing Willow Warbler's,Chiffchaff's,Blackcap's and a couple of drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker's,a great start i thought.
 To begin with the air temperature was about 13 degrees C,with a light westerly breeze,so most of the insects i was encountering were sheltering on tree trunks to soak up the morning sun.These included several Eristalis intricarius which are superb Bumble-bee mimics and are always great to encounter.
 I eventually reached the small bailey bridge across the Linc's/York's border and crossed over,onto Thorne Moors.
 The air temp was beginning to rise now and i was eventually down to just a t- shirt,the insects were certainly responding to the warmer air with several highlights being recorded.
 This included my first records of the year of both Speckled Wood and Green-veined White and i also enjoyed some lovely views of the stunning hoverfly sp. Sericomyia lappona which i always encounter here in Spring.
 Will Pitts scrape didn't reveal very much in the way of birds,so i retraced my footsteps back onto Crowle to go and search a favoured area for Adder's
 It wasn't long before i had managed to find a single male basking in the warm sun,giving some fantastic views and also along this same stretch at least 30 Green-tiger Beetles.These diminutive little metallic beasts,really are like lightning and are always a challenge to photograph.
 Further along the pathway's another 3 Adder,included a grumpy male which decided to hiss at me,no doubt disgusted at him being disturbed from his afternoon sunbathing session and decent numbers of Butterflies included several Peacock & Brimstone and a hand full of Small Torts.
 Other sightings of note before i reached the car,were my first Common Lizards of the year and some decent totals of Warblers included 14 Chiffie,7 Blackcap and 9 Willow Warbler.
 So all in all,what a fantastic visit as alway's,with unfortunately,the best bird sightings going to species i cannot mention here and also a great day's insect watching and i'm certainly looking forward to my next visit.
Some Fantastic Habitat For Both Birds As Well As Insects.

Dark-edged Bee-Fly,Crowle Moors NNR.

Hoverfly sp.Eristalis intricaria,Crowle Moors NNR.

The Welcome Sign To Thorne Moors,Once You Cross The Bailey Bridge From Crowle Moors.

Hoverfly sp.Sericomyia lappona,Thorne Moors NNR.

Odonata Heaven,Crowle Moors NNR.

Basking Male Adder,Crowle Moors NNR.

Speckled Wood,Thorne Moors NNR.

Green-veined White,Thorne Moors NNR.

Red Deer Crossing,Crowle Moors NNR.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Messingham Sand Quarries.....Another Great Visit,Sunday 02.04.2017.

I had promised to take my brother-in-law Lee out to MSQ and so with a free morning we both travelled over to the reserve to see what we could find and photograph.
 After arriving at the car park,we got our equipment together and started by looking on the pools along the approach track and then scanning the Grebe Lake.Nothing much was seen out of the ordinary,but the first of 20 singing male Chiffchaff were entered in the notebook.
 More migrants began to be seen and heard as we made our way past the first dipping platform and included the first of 4 singing male Blackcap seen during our visit and more of the afore-mentioned Chiffies.
 Into the second meadow and i could have sworn i heard a little snippet of Willow Warbler song.My suspicions were confirmed as we watched very briefly, the first local Willow Warbler of the new season,just magic.
 A quick check of some Oaks along one of my regular paths i follow,revealed a single male Diurnia fagella,a relatively common,early occurring species of micro moth.
 The Heathy Meadow didn't really reveal any hoped for insects,due to the cool,overcast weather,but 4 northbound Redwing overhead were nice to see all the same.
 A quick look from the Duck hide,saw most of the activity on the Main Lake around the bottom islands,so that is where we headed next.
 2 More Willow Warbler were added to the day's tally,both showing about as well as the earlier bird had and a singing male Willow Tit was certainly a welcome addition to the mornings sightings.
 A small flock of Sand Martins overhead as we made it to the Wader Hide included 6 birds only.
 Lots of activity was taking place in front of the Wader Hide as observed from the higher watch point with the Black-headed Gulls busy nest building and carrying out their courtship displays.
 A lone Little Egret supplied some variation to my last visit as it fished along the edge of the lake and some great action from a grumpy Mute Swan which had taken a dislike to one of the other adults present,provided some great action photo opportunities.
 After leaving the hide,the familiar sound of a singing male Sedge Warbler was great to hear,not only because it was my first record for the year,but also as it was my earliest personal record in 30 years birding!.Unfortunately we didn't see the Sedgie,but it was great to hear him belting out his song.
 The remainder of the reserve saw us logging more Chiffies and a couple more Blackcap,a Common Buzzard and a couple of Smooth Newts were seen in the little pond in the plantation adding some welcome diversity to the days sightings.
 Eventually we arrived back at the car and we both travelled home contented with our visit,particularly the early Sedge Warbler record,making for another great visit to this cracking little reserve.
Micro Moth sp. Diurnia fagella.


Mute Swan Aggro On The Main Lake.

Another Shot Of The Mute Swan Unrest.

Cormorants And Black-headed Gulls Around The Bottom Islands.

East Halton/Goxhill Marsh,Saturday 1st April 2017.

After yesterday's intense shopping spree in Lincoln,it was time to get out again and do some birding,albeit still without my Swaro's.
 I decided to visit the old patch today and chose to park at East Halton Skitter and to start with walk up to Winter's Pond and back first and then walk up to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserve at Dawson City and also walk back,this is what i recorded during my visit.
 As i arrived at the Skitter and parked up 3 Little Egret were seen straight away sat on the field next to the beck side,a nice start.
 I then set off along the sea wall towards Winter's Pond and sort of hoped a Wheatear may pop up at anytime,but sadly not,i had to do with the local Skylark's instead which were busy displaying and sparring,with that lovely,familiar song.
 As i neared the ponds,i could hear the song of a Chiffchaff and as i walked further,another was quickly added as well as a singing male Blackcap,good stuff i thought,but i could also see a couple of Sand Martin hawking insects over the pit and then a Swallow,yes!.
 I got myself into a better viewing position along the side of the pit and enjoyed views of not 1,but 4 Swallows and 7 Sand Martin as they caught their flying breakfasts.It was really nice to see some Swallows at last after several reports around the country,they just seem to get earlier and earlier every year.
 Other sightings here saw 2 hen Goldeneye plopping onto the pit and in the distance 2 Avocet were seen flying in at Killingholme Haven,the latter being my first local ones of the year.
 The return leg back to the car revealed very little and after a quick scoff and a drink i was off again,this time towards Dawson City.
 As i walked past the Skitter pools,a couple of Pipits flew up and as i suspected,at least one was a Water Pipit as i managed to grab a couple of grainy record shots of them in flight.There are Water Pipits here most winters,but they are really hard to view on this site,apart from in flight.
 Carrying on my walk and more Chiffchaff's were logged in the notebook along the final stretch of hedgerow towards Dawson with 4 being seen/heard.
 On arrival at Dawson itself another Chiffie and a singing male Blackcap were entered in the notebook,but little else was seen apart from an adult Grey Heron and the resident pair of Mute Swans.
 Walking back towards the Skitter saw very few bird sightings apart from the birds from earlier and a nice flock of 53 Golden Plover.
 Non bird sightings today saw a single Small Tortoiseshell being seen along the floodbank at East Halton Skitter.
 A nice morning out on the old patch.
East Halton Skitter.

Water Pipit,East Halton Skitter.

Goxhill Marsh.

Adult Grey Heron,Dawson City LWTR.

Dawson City LWTR.