Sunday, 23 July 2017

A little stint of birding

Chris picked me up at 0730 and we set off for Kilnsea Wetlands, near Spurn. We were hoping to see a white rumped sandpiper, but it had flown in the direction of the Humber and had not been seem for an hour. However a little stint was near the hide with a dunlin.

At the screen we saw 2 wood sandpipers

We then walked on to Beacon Ponds where we added sandwich, common and little tern to our day list. A wren was singing in the hedge.

On our way back to the car we saw sparrows and reed buntings feeding on the stalks of corn.

Near the hide a snipe was feeding.
 Sammys Point was our next stop where we added redshank, golden plover, curlew and whimbrel to our day list.
As there was no news about the white rumped sandpiper we decided to head for North Cave Wetlands.  We had our lunch in Crosslands hide watching common sandpipers feeding. From just outside the hide we could see a peregrine perched in a tree and a barn owl looking out of its box.
We visited three other hides, just timing arrival to  avoid the rain showers.  We added tufted duck, great crested grebe and pochard to our day list bringing the total to 64, 19 more than the total Chris set for us at 0730.
As the rain showers were getting more frequent we decided to head for home and on the way added 3 more birds to our list.
Another great days birding thanks to  Chris who did the planning and driving.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Caspian Tern and 12 spoonbills!

A day out with Chris. Our first stop was Astley Lake, West Yorkshire where we joined other birders watching a Caspian tern. What a big bird it is and as it flew round and dived into the water we were treated to some big splashes. We made way for other birders and travelled along the motorways through 4 counties to reach our next destination, Alkborough in North Lincolnshire.
A short distance from the lower car we were watching some bearded tits flying about in the reed bed on our left.
From the hide we had a great view of a mixed flock of avocets and black tailed godwits.
Perched on a dead tree were several spoonbills.
At the waters edge in front of the hider were redshank, curlew lapwing dunlin and greenshank. Light conditions were not brilliant and the vegetation was in the way!

After a while the spoonbills appeared in front of the hide and started to preen. Cameras clicked at an alarming rate.

There were 12 spoonbills in total and we had about 7 in front of us. They slowly walked along, stopped and had a preen before flying off one by one, almost posing for the cameras. This one  has coloured rings on its legs but I cannot see any numbers on the rings.
Bearded tits kept flying from one side of the reed bed to the other giving us tantalising glimpses of the orange plumage.
This was the best shot I managed to get.
Time to leave and head for another county and our last stop for the day, North Cave Wetlands. I was intrigued as to how Chris was going to get us there as our usual route is closed for repairs for 20 weeks!! We drove through North Cave Village and approached the reserve from that direction. The lady who runs the Wild Bird Café was just packing up for the day.
We walked towards the east hide from where we hoped to see a bittern. As with our previous visit we did not see the bird, but on this trip neither did anyone else.
It was very quiet in the turret hide as most of the nesting black headed gulls and their young had left.
The dragonfly ponds kept us entertained as we took photos of the flying insects.

The weather had been kind to us so far and we had avoided any rain but dark clouds were looming so we headed back to the car and Crosslands hide.
From the hide we could see lots of gulls on one of the lagoons.

Time to go home. We had exceeded the target of 50 birds that Chris set for us at the start of the day.
Thanks for doing the driving Chris.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Cattle: with and without egret!

Chris sent me a text message last night informing me that a cattle egret was at Fairburn Ings. I could not join him as I was out shopping with daughter and grand daughter. So after doing a few jobs I drove to Fairbirn Ings. The car park at the Lin Dike end was full, but a chap was leaving so I was able to park in the space he vacated. He told me where he had seen the bird, so I set off down the path towards the screens and hide. When I am walking towards a bird hide it is a positive things to see people walking away as it means there will be room in the hide. I passed 1, then 2, then 4 then a long single file of birders, some with cameras and telescopes. Did this mean that the bird had flown? As they all belonged to the trappist monk section of birding I was no wiser.
However there were three chaps in the hide who were able to tell me that bird had flown towards the flash near the road. Perhaps it would return.
A pair of little egrets flew towards the hide and landed, but they did not seem very friendly

 They then flew off to the other end of the water.
Cattle but no egret
Cattle with egret. A chap came into the hide and told us that the cattle egret was showing well and could be seen best from the road. I thanked him for the information and left him looking for a Caspian tern.
Along the path back to the car park I saw this kestrel sat on a wire,

I walked along the road and joined the group of about 20 birders looking at the bird. It was at the edge of the flash, quite a long way away, but unmistakable. As they say a record shot!
A cattle egret at last!
 As I walked back to the car I saw this brimstone butterfly
I decided to call in at the visitor centre and have a walk around. No birds to be seen at any of the feeders as they were being filled by a member of staff. A comma butterfly was on the side of one of the pond dipping areas, hence the yellow band

A dragonfly was on a plant near to the path
A damsel fly was near the second pond dipping area

A young robin was sheltering from the heat in a tree.
I then left the centre and headed for home. As I drove through the village I saw that there was a parking space near the water pump so I pulled in and went for a walk down the cut.
A common tern had caught a fish and was perched on a post in the centre of main lake.
 A great crested grebe was adding to its nest and I presume had laid one egg!

A mute swan was holding one foot out as it was eating weed, there is a lot to eat!

A grey heron was hiding on a small islet in the centre of the water.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Feeding time for York Minster Peregrines

RSPB York Local Group were in Dean's Park, York Minster today. Jan Elsworth from the membership team turned up and put up her gazebo, which was very welcome due to the heavy rain.
Doug Crawford was also there. Doug is one of the main contributors to the twitter site for the peregrines and has put some excellent photos on the site. Doug told myself and Jan about the peregrine chicks and he showed Jan one of the chicks on the balcony.
Colin Rafton and Peter Reed, members of the RSPB York Local Group arrived at one pm to help for the afternoon. During the morning we had seen the male bird several times, but for most of the morning he had been sat on top of one of the gargoyles, and it took a bit of time for visitors to spot him. Plus the rain and poor light, so the morning was a fairly quiet affair.
Doug showed Colin and Peter where the male was and the spot on the balcony to look for the chicks, so I decided to leave. Colin  remarked that the action would probably start if I left and how right he was.
I had just packed my camera away when the male bird returned.
  He landed on the balcony with a pigeon and started to pluck it, you might be able to see some feathers in his beak.
He then took off again.
carrying the pigeon. He flew around a couple of times

and then returned to the balcony, this time landing on the ledge
I could just see his wings. He then flew to a nearby perch, from where he could probably see the chicks feeding.

I then left. We will be back on Saturday August 26th. Will the chicks have flown by then?
I must go back a bit more often to see how they are progressing.
Reception duty at Blacktoft tomorrow.