Saturday, 29 June 2013

Trains, orchids and "windhover"

A busy weekend. Last night was year 11 prom, a very pleasant evening. This morning has been taken up with shopping and preparing cricket teas. So it was early evening before the granddaughter and I ventured out to Colton. She wanted to sit and watch trains go by and "chill". When we arrived we got a bit of a shock, there were lots of other people there.So I presumed that a steam engine was due, however it turned out to be a different "electric engine". A train in similar colours passed by later when most people had gone home.

Due to the other cars parking at the top of the hill, we had to park at the bottom of the hill. A kestrel was busy looking for its supper.

Once the first engine had gone past,most of the cars left and we were able to find a place to park at the top of the hill, between the rail tracks. It was starting to cloud over and the suns rays were just breaking out through the clouds.

We went down the bank to get closer to the trains, which came past at frightening speed.

Whilst we were down the bank we saw lots of flowers including orchids.

Busy day again tomorrow, helping at the RSPB stall at West Bank Park.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

A summer evening at North Cave Wetlands. June 26th

No domestic, academic or sporting duties last night, so I was able to go to North Cave Wetlands. Arrived at 6pm and got the first surprise of the evening, I had not put a coat or sweater on, and I was surprised how cold it was. I decided that I would walk all the way around the reserve, visiting the three hides. The path to the first hide had lots of flowers along  one side.

From the first hide the noise of the black headed gulls and their young was deafening. I carefuly checked the gulls and their young to see if any other birds were amongst them. I spotted a lapwing stood on the grass amonst the gulls, and there were several common terns sitting on nests I presumed.
I then moved on to the turret hide. As I got to the path that leading to the hide, I noticed that the crop in a fenced off field had gone and the field had a lot of black headed gulls and rooks in it. As I walked down the path to the hide, several adult black-headed gulls came close, similar to the way that the terns behave on the Farne Islands. Chris and I are hoping to visit the islands early next month. The noise from the black-headed gulls and their young was louder than in the first hide. The islands had been taken over by the black-headed gulls and other birds were struggling to find a space. A med.gull was pacing up and down on one island, trying to keep a space to itself. A pair of black-backed gulls were perchedon a rail over the water.

I left the turret hide and continued my walk around the reserve. As I passed the fenced off area, the field was empty, all the gulls and rooks had gone. As I walked along the path I passed a small pool and a coot and two young were swimming about. It can be confusing for newcomers to birdwatching, to see coots with a "white " face, with their young with "red" faces, as they think they are young moorhens.

The hedgerow was full of flowers of different kinds and it was a shame that the sun was no longer shining, as they would have looked more attractive. I was trying to take some pictures, when I realised that the batteries in my cameras were all running low, so apologies for the photos.

I sat on one of the benches and wathced a ringed plover run about on the mud. This when I had another surprise. I could hear a whitethroat singing and also a sedge warbler. However when I managed to locate the birds, the whitethroat was perched on top of some reeds and the sedge warblwer wasin the hedge!

I made my way round the reserve until I got to the new hide, which has a superb view over the new parts of the seserve.

On one of the small islands in front of the hide, a pair of common terns had 3 chicks. It was a delight to see them running round for food when the parent arrived back from fishing.One avocet was guarding 4 chicks as they ran around looking for food. Another pair of avocets were looking after their two chicks. Global warming, climate change, whatever you call it, has meant changes. Some birds might be having a bad time, but others like avocets and little egrets were not birds we used to see on our doorstep. Time to move on again to the last hide. More noisey black-headed gulls, but not as loud as the other two hides. Mutes swans were busy feeding in front of the hide, as at times you could see their necks under the water as they fed. A pair of great crested grebes were also busy diving under the water, and popping up all over the place. A pair of mallard were also grazing along the edge of the water. The  male was looking very drab in his eclipse plumage. A coot was also busy feeding and it was easy to see the lobes on its feet. A pleasant night out.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Musical birdwatching

At last a chance to go out birding with Chris again, As usual Chris has planned the day and we had a target of 55 birds.We left York at 7.30am bound for Nottinghamshire. The plan was to arrive at Tiln Wood, near Retford in the hope of seeing a melodious warbler. The journey time was about an hour and Chris hoped that we would arrive during a two hour "dry" window. We arrived at our destination at 8.30am and parked the car off the road, along wit several others. A birder gave us directions to where we wanted to go.
We walked along a track and met other birders who told us that the bird was singing and showing well.

We soon found where birders had left the track and were looking at a small clump of pine trees. We could hear the bird singing and Chris managed to see it before I did. The view was not brilliant as we had to look through the branches of another tree, but we could see the outline of the bird. The bird flew off and we moved a short distance in the hope of getting a better view. Chris moved to where others birders were stood and I remained in the same spot. I was able to get good views of the bird through my telescope, when it returned to the same tree on four occasions. Sadly Chris was unable to get a good enough view of the bird to get a photograph.
Our next destination was Blacktoft Sands, where we hoped to see some spotted redshanks. These birds were females which had returned from their arctic breeding ground. They have left their male partner to look after their young.
We visited the hide that you could see the birds from, but it was very noisey. A couple of birders were exchanging photos of their recent holiday in Scotland, and they were talking very loud. Despite them we could see 8 spotted redshanks at the far end of the scrape. From other hides we could see shovelers who were starting to go into eclipse plumage. From one hide we managed to see a bittern flying, and from another several grey herons were busy fishing, and a little egret showing its yellow feet.

on our way out of the reserve we saw a moorhen nest.

Our next and final destination was North Cave Wetlands where we hoped to see another 11 different birds to allow us to reach our target of 55 birds. We drove through several showers on our journey and it was still raining as Chris pulled up out the Crosslands Hide. From this hide we had good views over the newer part of the reserve and had soon added, common tern, oystercatcher, little ringed plover and pied wagtail to our list.
Another good days birding with Chris.