Sunday, 26 January 2014

Nothing ventured....

Nothing ventured , nothing gained, let's go birding in the rain!!
Football duties were curtailed today because of the weather, some brave under 12s tried to play a game this morning but the conditions beat them, but well done for trying. The afternoon's game was off due to a waterlogged pitch, so the rest of the day was mine.
Several texts later and Chris and I were off to make the best use of the darkness daylight. Blacktoft Sands was our first destination, in the hope of seeing a scaup. Chris had seen this before, but as usual he was keen for me to add the bird to my year list. A warm welcome from Mike in reception, where other birders were also sheltering. Mike soon pointed out the scaup to us, so off we went to First Hide. In front of us we had wigeon, snipe, as well as the scaup.
Please excuse the camera work, another "new venture" for today.

The scaup was a bit camera shy and so did not get very close to hide, and as the light was not brilliant, neither are my pictures!

A couple of magpies were also in front of the hide, one had a bath, whilst the other sat on a post and looked the other way!

The rain stopped about 2pm so we said goodbye to Blacktoft and set off for Wakefield, in the hope of seeing a male smew. Sadly the smew was not there, but we added goldeneye, gadwall, mute swan and Canada goose to our list. Thanks for another good afternoons birding Chris.



This is Sandal Castle
My last venture for the day was taking a picture with my new phone.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Scarborough birding

Domestic duties meant that I only had this morning for birding, and Chris very kindly organised a trip to the coast for us. We left York at 6.50am and arrived at Scarboro just as it was getting light. Our first stop was at the B&Q store where we hoped to see waxwings, but no birds at all. So off we set for Reighton Gap where common and velvet scoters had been seen. We found a good vantage point to scan the sea from and could see another birder further down the path Chris soon found a bird on the sea, a black throated diver, then a red throated diver could be seen, then we saw about 4 scoters flyinglow over the sea. Whilst watching these they flew over another small flock of scoters on the sea, and these were velvet scoters.

.Filey Brigg was our next stop, and here we had good views of fulmars, a distant gannet, a small flock of eiders, teal, another red throated diver and a guillemot.

We decided to head for Filey Dams to add to our day list. Once inside the hide nearest to the car park we soon added 16 birds to our list.

This included common gull, robin, redshank, coot and moorhen, grey heron, wigeon and goosander.

A pair of male pheasants squared up to each other but did not come to blows.

Several local birders arrived so we left so that they could have a better view of the goosander. Chris checked his pager and waxwings were reported from B&Q, so we returned to Scarborough. As we drove into the car park we could see other birders, one of whom Chris knew. They had just arrived and could not see the birds. Then one of them saw them in another part of the retail park and we found the six waxwings in a tree near Pets at Home!!
A brilliant way to end a half days birding. Thanks Chris.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

"My Patch" Hob Moor

I live "next door" to this part of York and so I suppose it qualifies as my patch. I have often thought about establishing a patch of my own, and one day finding a rare bird on it.As my life is changing slightly and my youngest grandaughter is occupying more of my time, my patch seems the ideal place to take her.

Progress is quite slow and we often have to resort to the "buggy", but we are out in the fresh air.
The moor is quite wet like most places and there are lots of pools of water about. Which means that I need to buy some wellies for her!!

There are views of the Minster from different parts of the path/cycleway.

The main railway line runs across one part of the moor, so I suppose that if birdwatching is quiet I can revert to trainspotting!!

There is a little tunnel under the railway which leads to Little Hob Moor.

There is a stone here, and when people brought food etc. to the people in the leper colony, money was left in a solution of vinegar to stop infection passing from person to person.
Todays bird list was not brilliant, wood pigeon, blackbird, fieldfare, blue tit, coal tit, robin and lots of gulls flying over, but at least I have made a start!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

A tale of two Meres!!

An 8am start to make the most of the daylight. Chris set the target number of birds for the day at 40 and we thought that we could probably add 3 birds to our 2014 year list.
The Mere at Scarborough was our first venue. A firecrest had been reported near the café, and neither Chris or I had seen one this year, so this was target number 1. We spent sometime near the cafe looking for the bird but only saw a blackbird. So we decided to walk around part of the mere and added quite a few birds to our list including goldcrest. Back at the café end we met another birder who told us where to look for the bird as he had seen it. We were joined by a lady birder, but still no luck. We ambled back towards the car when another birder appeared and within minutes he had found the bird in a holly bush, and we had been looking in conifer trees!!

Time to move on to the harbour in search of a great northern diver. Other birders were also looking for the bird and we were able to return the favour and tell them where in the harbour the bird was.
The bird kept diving looking for crabs and we were finding it difficult to get a close picture.
This photo has been cropped.

We saw a guillemot near the harbour wall

A few turnstones were also on the harbour. These two appeared to have missing toes!!

A house sparrow was looking for food in the lobster pots whilst a great black backed gull watched from a nearby chimneypot.
We also saw a shag in the harbour,
Time to move on to Hunmanby Gap in search of velvet scoters. it was a pleasant walk along the cliff top but we saw a red throated diver and no scoters.
RSPB Bempton was our next port of call, where very friendly staff not only told us what was about, but also showed us a juvenile stonechat through a telescope.
Hornsea mere was our last stop where we hoped to see a great white egret, but no luck. However we added enough birds to our list to end up with a total of 46. Thanks for another brilliant days birding Chris.