Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A to F, F to N, N to B, B to Y.

A day out with my very good friend Chris (chrisdownes birds.com). He picked me up at 8am and off we set for Lincolnshire. Our target bird was a lesser yellowlegs, and our destination Alkborough. A trip over the Humber Bridge and down the hill to the reserve. There were lots of birders already there, and our target bird had been seen at 8am. There was no sign of the bird, but we had good views of teal, shelduck, shoveler and a marsh harrier. There were also large numbers of waders including dunlin, redshank, lapwing, golden plover and a single ruff. Chris had spotted the ruff, and seeing it sparked of some excitement amongst the other birders in the hide, as the yellow legs was seen with a ruff. We waited and watched as a marsh harrier hunted over the reedbed, putting up large numbers of birds. It was quite a sight to see a flock of several thousand golden plover wheeling round in the sky. They slowly came back into land, and we started to check each bird to see if it was a yellowlegs. Before we had worked our way through the large number of birds they took off again. This pattern of events happened time after time and so Chris and I left at 11am. The bird was reported at the same site at 14.30!
So now from A to F. Far Ings is not far away and a feriginous duck had been seen recently. We had a quick look round but there was no sign of the bird, but a good view of the Humber Bridge. So from F to N. Back over the Humber Bridge, cheaper now the toll is only £1.50. In next to no time we were at North Cave Wetlands, our third port of call in the hope of seeing jack snipe.
Chris parked outside the hide and we joined the other birders inside. Chris recognised one of them from a previous twitch for a red necked grebe at Scarboro. The chap lined up the bird for Chris in his scope and then I had a look at the bird. We did not get a clear view of the bird, but we could see enough to identify it as a jack snipe, and Chris saw it "bobbing" which confirmed the identification. Tick number 214 for me this year, my best bird watching year to date, thanks to Chris.
Time to move from N to B so off we set in the car along the M62 towards Goole, and on our way to Blacktoft Sands.Our visit today was not to see a specific bird, but just a visit to keep me within reasonable distance of home, just in case my daughter gives birth to her second child.
The first hide we visited had a few teal in front of it and a single snipe. We walked onto the next one where Chris took some photos of the teal dabbling in the shallow water at the edge of the scrape.
Our next hide was the one farthest away from the entrance to the reserve and again we could only see teal. However as a bonus we could see four of the Konic ponies that are on the reserve to help keep the vegetation in check.
We then walked back towards the hides at the other end of the reserve, and as we approached the reception hide, a sparrowhawk flew in front of us. One hide was closed for maintenance, so we walked down to the far hide. The only birds on view were a pair of mute swans and a little grebe. A marsh harrier came into view as it hunted over the reed beds. We waited a while to see if more harriers came in at dusk and a couple more came in, but there were no signs of a hen harrier or more marsh harriers, so we left for home. A good days birding with a total of 53 species.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

clocks change-dusk birding

First day after the clocks change. Busy with two football matches today, but luckily the last one did not go to extra time so was able to go out before dark.
I managed to get to North Duffield Carrs by 4pm. One chap in the hide, who was just getting back into birding. There were not many birds on the water and not many flying about either. I saw a female marsh harrier hunting over the reeds and lent the chap my telescope so that he could see it.
A few seagulls started to drift across the Carrs on their way to roost on the Humber, and small flocks of redwings and fieldfares were going in the opposite direction. Starlings were flying around in small groups and as the groups joined together the flock became a reasonable size. They circled round and round, one minute flying low over the reedbed, the next minute flying higher, a minuture copy of larger flocks elsewhere in the country.
Another marsh harrrier appeared over the Carrs and the pair of them gently floated around over the reeds as darness fell. A robin came and perched on the hide just in front of the window, unaware of my presence on the other side of the glass. A nice end to a pleasant hours birdwatching.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Hide and seek down the Lower Derwent Valley

Today is the first day of half term, so I had planned to spend sometime birdwatching. My friend Chris is coming back from Wales today so I would be on my own. I decided that it would be best if I did not go far just in case my daughter decided to give birth today. Her second baby is due on the 30th, but she is hoping it is sooner.
Paul Hudson, the BBC weatherman had promised us a colder day and he was right. The light was a bit better with some sunny spells, so I decided to stay local and go down the Lower Derwent Valley. This is an area to the south of York, through which the River Derwent flows. In winter the river floods and the surrounding fields are under water most of the winter. This provides a home for thousands of  birds,including geese and swans from other countries.
The first place I called was Bank Island, just outside the village of Wheldrake. I sat on the viewing platform and used my telescope to scan the flooded fields. I saw a jay flying past and watched it as it landed in the field in front of me, sadly it was too far away to photograph. It pushed an acorn into the ground and then flew back towards the nearby wood. A few minutes later a grey squirrel runs across the field and digs up the acorn and runs back to a tree! A few minutes later a jay flew back into the and buried an acorn, I could not tell if it was the same bird.
My next stop was at the viewing screen at Thorganby Village. In the next field were lots of greylag geese and at the flood waters edge were flocks of lapwings and golden plovers.

My next destination was Skipwith Common. The sun was shining a bit more and I was hoping for some nice autumnal photos. There were also some nice fungi just off the path.


My final port of call North Duffiled Carrs. Here there are two hides from which to watch the birds. There were lots of birds about but they were too far away to photograph.



A grey heron was on a nearby bank near some mallards. All was quite peaceful, and then the ducks started to fly and when I looked up I could see a common buzzard flying over been mobbed by some crows.Peace and quiet soon retuned and a pair of wigeon swam past the hide, only just in range of my camera.


Around York

Had a few jobs to do around town yesterday so took the opportunity to take some pictures.The light was not very good so although the trees provided a good subject, the pictures are not brilliant.As I passed the Minster I noticed that they are doing some major works to one of the entrances. It is going to be a while before the entrance is going to be open again. The clock down Coney Street looks good after some recent works.





I had a walk around the Minster and the trees looked good. I went into town later and tried some night shots, without much success.I saw some adverts for next weeks "light show", when they will be illuminating various buildings in town. The show last year was very good and I got some good pictures. This year however there will be a charge for the shows. Shame, but I suppose it is a sign of the times.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

North Duffield Carrs.

I went down the "Lower Derwent Valley" this afternoon to do a spot of birdwatching. I decided to go to North Duffield Carrs near Bubwith.
The River Derwent was very high, and the fields next to the river were flooded.
I walked down to the far hide and joined a couple who were looking for birds on the flooded land in front of the hide. There were lots of ducks busily feeding, and I could hear the whistling call of wigeon. There were lots of gadwall swimming around, and male shovelers were busy flying around. The calm was suddenly broken when a female marsh harrier started hunting over the reed beds and the ducks starting flying for cover.


Lapwings started to come into roost and just tumbled out of the sky to land on some exposed mud. They were joined by a small flock of golden plover.Just as they had settled down on the mud, the marsh harrier retuned and all of the birds flew into air, twisting and turning to confuse the harrier.
Things settled down again and a pair of barn owls starting hunting for supper at the far end of the reserve.
A very pleasant couple of hours birdwatching.

York pics, cleaner pics!

I had to go into York today, so took the opportunity to take a few pictures with my camera. I had it cleaned the other week so I was keen to see how clean the pictures were.

As I walked over Scarboro' bridge one of the boats that take tourists on a trip was approaching the bridge. The river level was high, due to all the rain and they were trying to see if the boat would be able to sail under the bridge.
I then went into the Museum Gardens and took some more picrures, trying to capture the effect of the sun on the leaves.





I am pleased with the pictures, at last I don't have to spend ages cleaning them.