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.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Hawfinch at last!

A day out with Chris and I drove for a change. It was quite a simple plan, Broomhill Flash in the hope of seeing hawfinch, then Old Moor and finally Fairburn Ings. The weather was not brilliant, rain low cloud and the journey down the A1 was not pleasant with the spray.
We arrived at Broomhill Flash and there was no sign of the hawfinch in the trees in the car park so we went into the hide.
Despite the poor weather conditions we soon compiled a list of 29 birds for our day list, not far off the target of 36 that Chris set us. In front of the hide were three common gulls.
We kept checking the trees in the car park for the hawfinch but no luck so we went to Old Moor.
It was still drizzling as we left reception for the bird garden. On the feeders were great tit, blue tit, bullfinch and goldfinch. At tree sparrowless farm we saw more bullfinches, both male and female.
 A goldfinch was on the feeder closest to the hide.

From the family hide we could see a peregrine perched on the number 5. on island 5.
I walked to the next hide and the peregrine had moved, it was perched on a post in the water.

 A male shoveler was feeding close to  the hide.

It was now half past one and it was still raining. We decided to return to Broomhill Flash as the hawfinch is often seen about 2pm. We parked the car and walked to join two other birders hoping for a matinee performance. A couple of minutes later Chris spotted the bird. More poor photos in grotty weather.

It was raining very heavily so we decided to leave and go to Fairburn Ings on the way home.
We had a walk around the board walk but there were few birds on the feeders and no kingfisher at the screen.
We then walked down to the swan and duck feeding station where we added goosander and great crested grebe to our list to bring the total to 48.
There were lots of shovelers busily feeding.
Not a great day weather wise but I added two birds to my year list. Admin at Blacktoft tomorrow, then out birding on Thursday. Jobs on Friday, then a wedding at the weekend, I hope the weather improves. Now for Shetland on tv, I wonder how many places I have been to?

Sunday, 11 February 2018

East Coast Birding

A day out with Chris and the East Coast was our destination. On our way to Bempton we saw a pair of grey partridges, my first tick of the day. We were the first visitors at Bempton Cliffs and they had to open the door to let us out!

Plenty of gannets flying about and a few had sorted out their nest spot on the cliffs.

Fulmars were also flying round the cliffs and a few pairs had settled on a ledge. I saw and heard a skylark, another first for this year.
It was too cold to linger at the cliff top so we had a warm drink in the café before setting of for Scarboro.

We called in at the local spot for med. gull but there were too many people walking dogs on the grass area they come down to get food from. Chris drove us down to the harbour where we parked so that we could look for a velvet scoter. As we were looking for the bird, several turnstones flew in and landed near us.

One was having a bath
We saw the velvet scoter, but it was a long way away so Chris drove us round to the Spa in the hope that we could get a better view.
There were lots of sailing boats in the bay and people surfing.

No sign of the bird so we set off for the next part of the plan that Chris had made for the day. Troutsdale was our destination. Chris stopped at a bridge over a stream,
A birder who we both new and who sadly died last year, used to visit this area and he called the bridge dipper bridge. However due to the amount of rain that had fallen recently there was a lot of water in the stream so we did not see a dipper.
Chris slowly drove through the area and we kept an eye out for birds of prey as we were not far from a raptor viewpoint, but sadly no birds. Chris then drove us to Brompton by Sawdon where we hoped to see a ring ouzel and some hawfinches.

We joined other birders looking for the bird and we met some people that we knew. The ring ouzel had been seen a few minutes before we arrived but we did not get a glimpse of it. We ventured into the churchyard and met more birders we knew.

Winter aconites in the grounds of the school next to the church but no sign of the hawfinches that people had seen earlier.
We then headed for home via the arboretum at Castle Howard where hawfinches have been seen in the past, but again no sign of the birds.
Thanks to Chris for the planning and driving. My total for 2018 is now 101 birds.  

Thursday, 8 February 2018

An afternoon Yaffle

Started at Blacktoft Sands just after 0830. A catch up chat with Pete and Sara and then a short visit to two hides. Lots of wigeon and teal on the lagoons and the birds were making lots of noise, spring is on its way despite the minus temperature.
After doing some paperwork I returned to the reserve. I cannot get a phone signal in the office and I had missed a message from Chris, who was attempting to go south on the journey we aborted on Monday. I decided to go to Alkboro, which is just across the Trent from Blacktoft. It took me just over half an hour to drive south to the nearest bridge across the Trent and then drive north again. On my journey I saw three red legged partridges in a field.
I was the only person on the reserve so I had the hide to myself.On Tuesday a work party had been on the reserve and had cut down reeds in front of the hide.
There were few birds about, a few lapwings on some mud in the distance.

one came a bit closer along with some redshanks  and dunlin.
 harriers were very active. Not only were they flying but they were calling as well.

At one time I could see six birds in the air close to each other.
A shelduck came close

I decided to move on and head for North Cave.The road to Market Weighton had been undergoing repairs for several  weeks and so the journey home should be easier.
I may have been the only person at Alkboro but the car park at North Cave was full, even though the mobile snack  bar was not there.I drove down the road and parked near Crossland hide. As I walked down the path I saw a green woodpecker fly into a tree. I managed one photo before it flew away.
Lots of ducks were swimming round, calling and some were bobbing their heads, more signs of the coming season. The road from the reserve to Market Weighton is open and is much nicer to drive on.