Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Spoonbills, cuckoo, egyptian geese, common tern , willow warbler and swift at Fairburn Ings

A "free" day, where to go what to do?
Nothing on bird alert to entice me to travel far, although if the purple heron had been reported earlier I would have gone to Top Hill Low. So I went to the post office and posted all the RSPB York Local Group newsletters.
I came home and made myself a lunch and decided to go to Fairburn Ings. The road near Lindyke is still partly flooded. As I walked down the path from the car park towards the hide I could hear willow warblers and chiffchaff singing but did not manage to see one.
I joined three birders in the hide, who were busy eating their lunch so I decided to eat mine. The birders said that it was quiet and not much to see. However they thought that the black headed gulls were terns!
In one of the fields were three egyptian geese, which they thought were greylags. The birds were a fair distance away so this picture is pretty poor.
A pair of mute swans were displaying

There was a constant stream of cormorants flying towards the hide as they went fishing
Apair of coots were having a fight
The birders left and a great crested grebe came close looking for fish.

Another birder arrived and failed to close the door and shortly afterwards a gust of wind caught it and blew it shut and there was a loud bang which caused the grebe to swim away. I decided to go for a walk and as I left the hide I could hear a cuckoo and could see it some on some wires.

I walked under the old railway bridge and round to the reed beds and willows growing near the railway line. I could hear 4 willow warblers but was unable to see 1! However after standing still for a bout 5 minutes one bird came reasonably close.

I then returned to my car and drove into Fairburn village where I parked my car and walked down the "cut". Lots of great crested grebes on the main lake and on my left I could see a mute swan and a pair of gadwall.

From the hide I could see lots of sand martins flying low over the water and as I looked a bit higher I could see swallows, house martins and a single swift. A common tern was flying from one end of the lake to the other looking for food.
A good afternnons birding with 6 new birds to bring my year list to 136.
Early morning bird walks on Saturday and Sunday morning and then back to invigorating invigilating until the end of June, so probably not many new posts on the blog.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Male garganey plays hide and seek.

My last spell of duty at Blacktoft until mid May. The first visitors all commented on the weather and how cold they felt compared to the weekend.
Problems with one of the loos kept me busy to start with so I did not have time to go to Ousefleet before opening reception. As I walked to Marshland I could hear sedge and cetti's warblers singing and some of the sedge warblers were starting to show themselves. Avocets were on Marshland sharing some of the islands with the black headed gulls. Not a lot of birds on the other lagoons so I walked back to reception and got ready to open,
Lots of swallows, sand and house martins flying low over the water chasing the insects that had been brought down by the low temperature.Reports of a male garganey came in  but its location kept changing, so visitors would trudge up to Ousefleet to find that it had flown to Marshland and then discovered it was on Xerox. This continued on and off for most of the day and the latest reported sighting was from Ousefleet. I managed to see it on one of its visit to Marshland.
Marsh harriers were busy and visitors saw lots of food passes.

One of the male hen harriers has very pale plumage.
The water vole was also busy feeding

a sedge warbler made its way along the opposite side of the ditch.

High tide was about 1330 and as usual a few waders came off the river, the first to arrive were 11 spotted redshanks, some of whom had very dark plumage. 43 blacktailed godwits were the next to arrive
Things settled down in the afternoon and the only reports were about a single great crested grebe on Singleton lagoon attacking greylag goslings. Just before home time Stu, one of the assistant wardens saw this med. gull on Marshland with the black headed gulls.

It will be interesting to see the changes when I return in just over 3 weeks. Will a montys harrier return?

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Crane gives a lift to visitors.

On duty on Saturday at Blacktoft on what promised to be a day with good weather. I arrived nice and early so that I had time to walk to each hide to see which birds were about. Xerox had a few tea, gadwall and mallard. Marshland had lots of black headed gulls on one island and 12 avocets on another.
As I headed towards Ousefleet I saw my first sedge warbler of the year, I had heard them before but never seen them. On the way to the hide I heard 2 cetti's warbler. I looked over thegrazing marsh from the 5 bar gate. Shelducks, greylag geese and 3 konick ponies but no sign of the coomon crane that had been seen on the 2 previous days.
From Ousefleet screen I could see a few adult greylags and one of thm had severalgoslings.
These goslings were getting plenty of attention from the marsh harriers. From the hide at Ousefleet I saw 38 shovelers, about a dozen shelduck. First hide had only littlr grebe to offer visitors and Townend had a few greylags. From Singleton hide I could see a single mute swan more greylags, a single great crested grebe and a pochard. As I left Singleton hide I was looking to my left in the hope of seeing a grasshopper warbler. I then heard a cetti's warbler to my right and about 2 feet away I saw it perched in the open. By the time I had lifted my camera it had flown across the path and into the reeds. However it kept moving and I managed to get several reasonable shots.

Back at reception several visitors had come in the hope of seeing the crane, however they had to settle for good views of cett's and sedge warblers.. About 11:20 at high tide boats starting going up and down the river

and at the same time a couple of visitors came into reception to report that the crane had just flown on to the grazing marsh. I popped down to see it and it was walking about in the distance.
with a magnifying glass you might just be able to make it out underneath the light green tree.!
I popped into Ousefllet hide and added black tailed gowdit, redshank and lapwing to my list.
 Back at reception lots of visitors came into to report that they had seen the crane and let happier than earlier visitors. The water vole kept putting in appearances outside the hide but was very shy compared to previous days.

The marsh harriers were very busy and on one occasions a buzzard and a marsh harrier had  a bit of an encounter.

The rest of the day passed off quite peacefully.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Water, water everywhere.

Lots of jobs to do at home this week. Whilst in the garden today I heard crows calling and when I looked up they were attacking a red kite, the first time I had seen one over the house. After a trip to the skip with the packaging from the new dining table and chairs  I decided to go to North Duffield Carrs and make the most of the sunshine.
It was 5pm when I arrived at the car park and as I walked towards the first hide I was surprised at how much water there was. It was nearly a fortnight since I was last there and the water level must have gone up by a couple of feet. Instead of a water meadow with lapwings, curlew, snipe etc. nesting in the long grass, there were few birds present.
 The white on the bank is a group of black backed gulls. In the same area were greylag and canada geese, oystercatchers and curlews. What was attarcting them to same area I could not work out.
A pair og great crested grebes were on the water in front of the hide but soon swam off to the main body of water.
To the left of the hide there is a nest box and this blue tit was inspecting it.

 To the right of the hide there is a fence post and a great tit and wren took it in turns to stand on it .

i decided to go home at 1815 as there was little activity. This dunnock was singing from a tree top in the car park
A sparrowhawk flew over

A day at school tomorrow and then 3 days at Blacktoft, will my luck change and the spoonbill and garganey be present?