Monday, 31 March 2014

Snipe 3 Sparrowhawk 0

First day at work since the clocks changed, so chance to go birding.Not time enough to go to Blacktoft Sands, perhaps another couple of weeks when it is still light at 8pm. So down to North Duffield Carrs. Water level about same as yesterday and the visibility about the same, misty and not much sunshine. A few pairs of pintail still about and the single pink foot. A lapwing came fairly close to the hide as did a curlew.

At half past six I walked back from garganey hide to the Geoff Smith hide. The visibility was a bit worse and there were fewer birds to be seen at close quarters.  A few teal were on the scrape in front of the hide. A snipe was calling when I noticed a sudden movement, as a snipe dropped into the reeds. Then I noticed another bird, and there hidden in the reeds was a sparrowhawk. It sat and waited for a while then flew after a snipe. A few minutes passed by and then the bird returned again, flushing out another snipe, which got away. A third attempt to catch a snipe also failed and the bird sat in a bush looking for another bird to chase. A few photos of the bird, which was too far away for me to get a decent shot.

I waited for another 20 minutes to see if the bird moved, but it just sat in the bush, so three snipe had managed to evade would another?

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mothers Day

Football duties took me to Stamford Bridge this morning. As I was only required to drive I was able to complete a circular walk. A few minutes after setting off I passed a chap who was walking with his grandson and dog. He said how nice it was to hear the chiffchaffs again, and he remembered me from when I lived in the village over 21 years ago. A work colleague then pulled up in his car to speak to me. His son was playing in the match that my son was refereeing, a small world!!
Chiffchaff song did fill the air as I walked towards Low Catton. I then walked along a very muddy path that took me towards the River Derwent.. Birdsong was not the only sign of spring, blossom was starting to come out in the hedgerows and flowers were in bloom.

Down by the river I saw a brimstone butterfly, but it would not settle, it just kept flying up and down along the river bank.

After lunch and I had taken the family back home, I managed a couple of hours down at North Duffield Carrs. The water level is dropping very quickly and I don't think that it will be long before most of the birds have left. Today I saw lots of wigeon, teal , mallard, shoveler, shelduck, gadwall and pintail. I could not see any tufted ducks or pochard, so perhaps the water level is too shallow. One pink footed goose remains with the greylags and the black swan is still with the mute swans.Curlews, redshank and lapwings were around, until a sparrowhawk flew over and disturbed everything.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Raining gulls at North Cave

Chris and I were able to spend the afternoon birding. The first part of the afternoon was spent covering our square for the peregrine survey. We saw buzzard, kestrel, red-legged partridge, pheasant, goldfinch, rook, carrion crows but no peregrine. Chris then drove us to North Cave where I hoped to pick up a bird for my year list.
On Dryham Ings we saw  little and ringed plover,greylag geese, tufted duck, wood pigeon, shelduck and redshank.
We moved on to the South hide from where we could see lots of gulls, two pairs of great crested grebe, one of whom looked as if they may start to do their courtship dance, but after a couple of head shakes they started to swim away.
Black headed gulls had taken over the raft in the middle of the lake, would the common terns be able to find a space when they return?

We then moved on to the east hide but did not add any birds to our list. We moved on to the turret hide from where we could see and hear lots of gulls. Then suddenly it went quiet, and all the gulls took to the air. They settled down again but once again the noise stopped and the gulls took to the air, where thy stayed.

While the gulls were flying around the shelduck took advantage and took their place on the island. However they were not happy with other pairs in the same area.

We then noticed a red kite flying over the reserve, which was presumably disturbing the gulls. House sparrows were enjoying the late afternoon sunshine.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

East Coast Birding

An early start for todays birding trip to the east coast. Chris picked me up at 7am and before we had got very far we saw a white headed blackbird.
Bempton Cliffs was our first destination having stopped off along the way to see a hooded crow. A redwing was busy feeding by the side of the road.

It was sunny but cold at Bempton and a lot of the birds were flying close to the cliffs as they used the wind as a lift.

We walked on to see a mixed flock of yellowhammers, reed buntings and corn buntings.
As we walked back along the cliff tops the skylarks were still singing and meadow pipits were flying about in the long grass. Chris spotted a pair of peregrines flying overhead. From Bempton we went north to Sandsend where our target bird was an Iceland gull. On the way we called in at Scalby Mills.

 As we arrived we found it difficult to see any birds and were on the point of giving up when Chris spotted the bird flying It flew around for a while then landed on the beach. When we arrived at Sandsend we were unable to see any birds at  all, and were on the point of giving up when Chris spotted the bird flying over the beach.

For better pictures of todays birds please see Chrisdownesbirds.
We left the Iceland gull busy feeding and set off for Scaling Dam. ere we had a pleasant hour and added lots of birds to our day list.

Amongst the birds we added to our list were, wheatear, pink footed geese and long tailed duck.
Skinningrove was our next stop where another wheatear was waiting for us and Chris found a new friend.

Saltholme was or last stop, although we were unable to get into the reserve as it only opens 10 till 4, surely reserves should be open longer now it is getting lighter, nature does not clock off at 4pm!!
Many thanks to Chris for another good day out and a massive 72 birds on our list.

Friday, 21 March 2014

A touch of spring and a reminder of winter.

At lunchtime today it was hailstones on one part of the school grounds and sunshine on another!
Took the eldest grand daughter to North Duffield Carrs tonight in the hope of seeing a barn owl, but no luck. However we did manage a list of 21 birds in a couple of hours.  No sign of the whoopers who were there on Wednesday, nor the pintail. Along with the local greylags we saw a single pink footed goose, too far away for me to get a decent photo.
The greylags came a bit closer as did a lapwing.

 A small flock of waders kept flying back and forth, never getting very close or landing in a place where we could see them very well, lapwings and ruff were in the flock and some of the ruff looked very dark. Not able to get a decent shot, but I hope that you can get some idea from the picture.
No birding on Saturday just shopping, but hoping for a day out with Chris on Sunday.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Barn Owl at North Duffield

Managed a couple of hours at North Duffield after school today. The water level is slowly dropping and the birds are looking for a nesting site. The shelduck were quite active, swimming towards each other and then flying around.
Teal were busy feeding close to the hide.

I decided to look out of the other side of the hide, and near to the other hide was a barn owl. I watched it for a while and it whilst it hunted and saw it land on a fence post. It then flew out of sight and I did not see it for quite a while. Would it fly nearer to the hide? I knew that I would have to walk past where it could be hunting and I did not want to disturb it, but would it fly nearer to the hide? After waiting for 20 minutes and it not flown back into view, I decided to slowly walk back to the car park. As I got to the place where I thought the barn owl might be, I got a quick glimpse of it. It had seen me and started to fly away and all I managed was a couple of blurred shots.