Friday, 23 March 2018

Avocets at Blacktoft

On duty in reception today. Bright morning sunshinegave way to cloud and then sunny spells, but always a cold wind.
Ousefleet hide  was my first stop where I was able to add avocet to my year list.
Greylags were feeding next to each other one minute then arguing the next.
A single stock dove looked for a mate.
A little grebe on marshland
From reception I was able to watch a group of shelduck.
Some signs of display, then a female swims between two males
and then the fight starts.

The marsh harriers were displaying all day.

As I was talking to two "outlaws" from Nottingham we saw a weasel running about.
It soon ran off down the path

Monday, 19 March 2018

Barn owl puts on a show at Blacktoft.

Admin duty today and then down to the reserve mid afternoon. Stuart and I walked down to Ousefleet to check that the six konick ponies were ok. We stopped at the gate to the grazing marsh, no sign of the ponies but 50 plus curlews were feeding in the field. From the hide we could see wigeon, teal, mallard, shelduck and shovelers and the ponies were grazing in the reed bed.
We then walked back to the newly re-surfaced car park and discussed the parking arrangements for Sunday when we have two coach parties booked in.
Stuart then went back to the office and I stayed on the reserve.
The wind was quite strong and lots of birds were trying to shelter from it. Two pairs of marsh harriers were displaying.
The barn owl suddenly appeared over the main reed bed and slowly flew into the distance as it continued hunting. It then flew back in front of the hide and hovered as it hunted over the ditch. It was too close for me to get a picture. As I left the hide on my way back to lock up the barn owl was hunting next to the path.
After locking up I turned right out of the car park and another darker barn owl was hunting over the ditch next to the road. Thee excellent encounters with a brilliant bird.
As I passed the office I noticed that the lights were  still on and popped in for a chat with Mike.
He invited me to look inside a box that someone had just delivered to the office.
They had found this guillemot near Goole and had taken it to the office for Mike to look after.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Blacktoft Sands and North Duffield Carrs

Admin work at Blacktoft and then a short visit to the reserve in very poor weather conditions. The new car park surface makes a visit more pleasant in wet conditions.

 The herd of 27 whooper swans had moved from Singleton lagoon to the fields by the time that I arrived in the hide. I could hear them calling and was wondering if they were getting ready to fly north when I heard a dog barking and saw a chap walking along the top of the bank. The public footpath runs along the bottom of the bank, but like his dog he could not read the notice! The swans soon left!
Water levels are not a problem at the moment and with more rain/snow forecast for the weekend we will probably end up with more water than we need.
A few shelduck and greylag geese were on the lagoon and a marsh harrier was flying back and forth over one patch of reedbed.
I went to Townend hide and saw a pair of marsh harriers flying over the reedbed.
No birds to be seen in front of first or Xerox hide. Marshland had a shelduck close to the hide
a little grebe, or as some people call them dabchick had caught a fish
The teal were sheltering at the edge of Marshland where the wind was not blowing directly at them.
I then walked down to Ousefleet hide. The six ponies were sheltering from the wind and rain by standing close to the trees at the edge of the grazing marsh.
I counted 48 shelduck, 24 shoveler on the lagoon. Too many wigeon and teal to count and one lapwing.
As at Marshland the teal were sheltering from the wind and rain by gathering at the edge of the water.

Their rest was disturbed when a marsh harrier flew over.

Time to head for home. My usual route to Goole was closed this morning so I decided to go home via North Duffield Carrs, What a lot of water there is on the reserve.
I had a look at the carrs from the Geoff Smith hide and saw that the bottom hide was not under water so decided to walk down there. What I had not noticed was the hole in the roof!
Not many birds close to the hide. A s at Blacktoft the duck were sheltering close to the waters edge and only moved when a marsh harrier flew over, There were about a dozen pintail in the distance along with teal, mallard, wigeon, a pair of tufted ducks and a male pochard.
I went into the Geoff Smith hide on my way back to the car park and was talking to a chap from Holme on Spalding Moor. He pointed out to me another large group of pintail on the reserve and he told me that he had had counts of over 100 birds. A pair of oystercatchers were flying round trying to find some where to land. In the field behind the hide a pair of curlew were calling another sign that spring is on its way. Perhaps after this weekend we can look forward to springlike weather.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Clapham Beck

I have been invigilating PP exams for the past two weeks, hence the lack of posts on my blog.
Today I was on a year 11 geography field trip to Clapham Beck. I have passed the village on many occasions when I have been to work in the RSPB office in Lancaster, but today was the first time that I had actually visited the village.
This is us in the car park.
Once we had all got our wellingtons etc. we followed the members of staff from Malham Tarn Field Centre. We walked through the village to the the trail that leads to Ingleborough Cave.

This a three and a half mile round walk and it is mostly uphill!
Once at the cave the students did the first of three studies on the flow etc. of the river.

 Some icicles from the recent snow.

After lunch we moved down to another strech of the beck where they took another lot of measurements.
We then walked back down to the village. On the way we passed this lake, which had been created when the beck was dammed to poer a hydro electric plant.

Back in the village the students took their third and last measurements.

We were lucky with the weather, cloudy with just one light rain shower. Back to invigilating tomorrow and another field trip on Wednesday.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Vikings in town!

I had to go into York this morning so I called in at York Minster.
However instead of standing in Deans Park quietly watching the peregrines I was with a large crowd who were looking at the Viking warriors. No sign of pigeons never mind peregrines.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Valentines Day at Blacktoft

A pleasant sunny morning as I drove from York to Blacktoft this morning. The paths were still frozen and the only lagoon with any birds was Singleton. A grey heron was fishing.
The stars of the morning were the marsh harriers. At one time I could see six in the sky at the same time. They seemed to like the reedbed between the two channels. One bird would hover over the reedbed before dropping into the reeds and then another bird would hover over the area.

 I spent over an hour watching them and then it was time to go to the office and do some paperwork.
I came back to the reserve at lunchtime and walked down to Ousefleet hide to have lunch . Karl Dutton and two of his friends were in the hide, hoping to see a water pipit.
The six konik ponies were to the left of the hide sheltering from the wind and the rain.
They moved towards the reed bed and started to graze. A grey heron landed near the reed bed and sheltered from the wind.
The ponies stopped grazing and were staring towards the reed bed and we could only assume that they were looking at the heron. The heron was hunched up like a person and it moved towards the ponies, which made all six of them jump and move backwards!
Karl then spotted a pair of stonechats feeding near where the ponies had been standing. They would feed on the ground and then either perch on a taller piece of vegetation or on the fence wire or fence posts.

The wind strength was increasing and the rain getting heavier so I decided to head for home.