Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Birding in the "murk"

Plan for today was to leave York at 0815 and head up to Saltholme. My help was required to unlock and set up a training venue, the job sheet said that the trainer will arricve at 0815. 0905 when they arrived due to traffic, which I got stuck in as well so it was 10pm before I got back home. Too late to go any distance and the weather was not brilliant.
News of a male hen harrier at St.Aidans so I left about 1030. When I arrived the staff told me that it had not been seen for over 40 minutes. I hung around for a while in the mist and the rain and then headed for Fairburn Ings. The hen harrier turned up about 40 minutes after I left!
Fairburn has some patches of open water and on these I could see goldeneye, shelduck, coot, teal etc. 7 curlew were flying around and the great white egret kept poking its neck up from the vegetation.
Black headed gulls were the only birds to venture on to the ice near the hide.
I went to the visitor centre to report the sighting of the great white egretm but they were very busy with a school party so I left.I had a walk around the boardwalk

Usual suspects at the feeding stations. At the swan and duck feeding station there was more ice. Mute swans and mallards were waiting for food and 2 male tufted ducks came a bit closer.
There were some male shovelers about but they did not come anywhere near the feeding area.
Two ticks for the day, but the gloomy weather was getting worse so I decided to head for home.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Askham Bog

My plans for today changed countless times so the best I could manage birding wise was a walk around Askham Bog this afternoon. The morning sunshine had given way to cloud and it was slightly warmer. The usual mix of birds greeted me as I entered the reserve; blue, great, marsh and coal tits. Robins were too busy chasing each other away to come and get some of the food that I had put on the fence posts. Dunnocks, wren and blackbird were happy to feed on the food on the ground.

Carrion crows, magpies and wood pigeon were also interested in the food but only a wood pigeon was brave enough to land on a fence post.

The rest of my walk only produced a buzzard and a bullfinch, but as I was leaving the reserve I heard then saw a small flock of siskins feeding in the tree tops.
Only a quick visit but I was rewarded with three birds for my year list. Hope to go to Hartlepool tomorrow where I should get enough ticks to beat my January best of 76 birds for the month.Lets hope for less problems tomorrow!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Sunny winters day at Blacktoft.

On duty at Blacktoft today with Stu. Cold but sunny with a little breeze..
Not many birds about as the lagoons are frozen. Marshland had some shelduck.
a pheasant was sunning itself
Once I had managed to get the fire going and the ice had cleared from the windows I was able to watch tree sparrows and reed buntings feeding on the willow herb.

Stu was checking the fencing near the grazing marsh  when he saw a guiilemot on the river. He rang me, but by the time that I had got there it had moved out of sight. A good record for the reserve but sadly I missed a year tick.
Back in reception people were turning up in the hope of seeing a hen harrier and then a coach party turned up. It was a group from RSPB Leicester Local Group.
They left at 4pm having seen lots of marsh harriers come into roost, but sadly no hen harriers or barn owl.
The light was quickly fading so it was time to lock up and go home.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

5 whoopers, 4 buzzards and 2 marsh harriers at NDC.

My original plan for today was to go to the coast. However I slept in this morning, a very rare event. I did not think that it would be worth driving to the coast for the few hours of daylight left, so opted to go down the Lower Derwent Valley.
Bank Island was my first stop. The River Derwent had burst it banks and the area was flooded. A birder I met in the car park was busy pulling on waders in the hope of getting onto Wheldrake Ings.

Thorganby village was my next stop, where again the river had overflowed its banks and there was water everywhere. As usual when this happens there few birds to be seen as they have a vast choice of where to be.
North Duffield Carrs was my last stop. Lots of water on the reserve so I made my way to the last hide. On the way there I met another birder who said that it was very quiet with nothing to see. He was hoping to go to Wheldrake and was hoping that his wellingtons would be high enough.

In the distance were some mute swans. The adults were feeding in a separate area, which made me think that the adults were no longer tolerating their presence. A few yards away from the mutes, a family group of whooper swans were busiy preening.
A few teal were sheltering from the cold wind by staying close to the exposed bits of vegetation.
I heard the sound of buzzards calling and looking at the mature trees at the end of the reserve I could see two buzzards circling. Then as I scanned the area with my scope I could see 2 more sat on fence posts. Then I noticed that the flock of black headed gulls had taken to the air, they had been disturbed by a marsh harrier. As I watched it hunting over the reeds I noticed another marsh harrier a few yards to its right. Then they had a bit of a fight with 3 carrion crows, who then turned their attention to the buzzards.
The light was now beginning to fade so I decided to go home.
Two adult mutes flew past as I wal;ked towards the car park and I also disturbed a small flock of redwing and fieldfares.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Willow tit, great white egret and peregrine

Not a very pleasant day weatherwise. I planned to go to three local RSPB reserves with the programme of events for RSPB York Local Group.
Fairburn was my first stop, and the rain had nearly stopped when I walked to the visitor centre. The staff on duty had not had any reports of birds on the reserve so I just had a stroll around the boardwalk.
Not many birds on the feeders

i added willow tit to my year list. St. Aidans was my next stop where I dropped off more leaflets and looking through a scope in the visitor centre I could see a graet white egret, another tick. Broomhill Flash was my next stop. No programmes to deliver and no hawfinch to be seen either. But by now the sun had come out.
Lots of canada geese
Old Moor was my last stop of the day and my last programme drop off. The weather had now changed to more cloudy with the odd shower of rain and the wind was getting stronger.

From the family hide I watched a peregrine chase a few teal before landing on one of the islands. A very distant shot.
 A cormorant landed on the posts in front of the hide to dry its wings.
From the next hide I could see a redshank and a green sandpiper.
I also added goosander and goldeneye to my year list to bring the total to 57. The rain then started so I came home.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Vision technician

Out last night celebrating New Year so it was nearly 2am when I got to bed this morning. After a lazy start I made my way to Blacktoft. On the way I went to look at the place where I had seen Bewick swans but only 8 whoopers remained, a good tick for my year list.
At Blacktoft I took over from Sara in reception as she had various jobs to do. There was a steady trickle of visitors most of whom were looking for birds for their 2018 year list. Sara had started a list on a piece of A1 paper and visitors were invited to add birds to the list. By about lpm we had managed to get 24 birds on the list.
Sara had put  the wood burning stove on and I kept adding logs, however we soon ended up with condensation on the windows, hence the title vision technician as I spent a lot of time "cleaning the windows".
Not a lot of bird activity. About 3000 pink feet across the river near Blacktoft village, and a couple of mute swans on Xerox lagoon.
Shelduck and little egret were also on the lagoon.

they kept flying away when disturbed by either the swans ot hunting marsh harriers.
One marsh harrier kept returning close to reception and I managed a few shots. Apologies for the quality but they were taken through the glass I had to keep cleaning.

Lots of magpies about feeding on the freshly thawed mud.

There were six in this bush. Sadly the light started to fade

and it started to rain. I dont know if this affected the marsh harriers but there was no repeat of the spectacle I saw on Saturday evening.