Sunday, 28 September 2014

Two shrikes a day keeps the twitchers ok!

After sending texts to the wrong phone, Chris and I eventually contacted each other late morning. Chris was going to Bempton and kindly allowed me to tag along.
Bempton Cliffs visitor centre is closed for a while.

We had gone to Bempton in the hope of seeing a red backed shrike. We joined a small group of birders who were looking through their scopes at a some bushes, and we were soon able to see the bird. I took a picture but the bird was too far away.
I  took this photo using Chris's  telescope, but I need a lot more practise!!!!
We had a look in some bushes in the "dell" and added a few more birds to our list. A merlin landed on a post near the shrike, which caused the shrike to drop down into a bush. I managed a quick shot before it flew off.
 
 
Our next port of call was Hornsea Mere where we hoped to top up our bird list for the day. By the time we had left we had seen 30 birds, only 10 short of the target set by Chris.


Spurn was our next stop. Chris had been last weekend to see a masked shrike, and as usual he was very kindly taking me so that I might see it.
The tide was out but we were able to see a few waders to add to our list. Chris parked his car near some others and we looked to see what a group of birders wee watching. They were looking towards the hedge opposite and we could see a bird perched on the edge of a bush. Chris got his scope out and we could see that it was the masked shrike.
The white dot in the centre is the shrike!!
We had a sort walk near the Crown and Anchor car park and saw a redstart.
Church field was our last stop where we managed to see a common rosefinch near the feeders.
Six new birds for my year list and two birds for my life list, another great days birding thanks to Chris.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

North Duffield Carrs

A  pleasant morning in our back garden, it felt quite warm in the sun. I decided to venture out to North Cave Wetlands as it is one the nearest reserves. When I arrived the car park was nearly full as a coach party was visiting. I was not feeling 100% so decided to go to Blacktoft Sands. Although the weather was fine, as I got closer to Blacktoft, the worse the light got.
Not many people at Blacktoft and I was the only person in some of the hides. I started at Xerox where I could see a single cormorant, several shovelers, wigeon, teal and mallards.
In the distance a kestrel was hovering over the reedbed.

The scrape in front of Singleton hide is undergoing some major work to make it more interesting to waders.
 A visit to Ousefleet hide added snipe, herring gull, black headed gull to my list. On my way back to the rest of the reserve a few pink feet flew over.
 I decided to move on and went home via North Duffield Carrs.
Very little water in front of the Geoff Smith hide and I could not see any birds. As I walked towards the second hide, I noticed that there were lots of berries etc. in the hedgerow,

No water to be seen from Garganey hide, just a digger next to one of the drainage ditches.

 In the coming months the birdlife will hopefully increase once the water level has increased.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Friend of Spurn at last!

Chris and I decided to try our luck at Spurn today. Various autumn migrants had been seen recently so we were hoping for some good birds today.
We arrived at the Crown and Anchor car park just after 8am and joined other birders looking for birds. We could see several swallows flying overhead and a robin in a tree, but not much else. We followed other birders along the canal footpath as they searched for warblers. The tide was in and we could see lots of shelduck just offshore and a wheatear hopping about on the rocks.
We spent a bit of time walking up and down, and although our bird list for the day was quickly growing and we had reached 30,we had not seen some of the birds we had hoped for. So we went to Kilnsea Wetlands where we met some birders we knew and who pointed out a merlin to us. From the path we could see some waders, when we looked through our scopes we saw that they were dunlin and little stints.. The birds were quite a distance away, so the photos are not brilliant.



The little hide was full, so we walked along the path, and in the ploughed field  we could see linnets, meadow pipits and yellow wagtails. The yellow wagtails were difficult to photograph, but I hope that you get the general idea.

At last we managed to get into the hide, from where we could see a cormorant, redshank, black headed and Mediterranean gulls.

Beacon ponds was  our next stop, where we added knot, grey plover, whinchat, mute swan , brent geese and sandwich tern to our list. Still no "migrants" and we had exceeded our target of 55 birds by 4! Back to the Crown and Anchor car park to see if we could see a yellow browed warbler, a wood warbler or a red breasted flycatcher. Lots of birders in the car park who had seen the birds but not us, however we did manage to see a  pied flycatcher and a lesser whitethroat.  A great grey shrike was reported so off we went and managed some good views of the bird. Where to go next. On to Spurn itself and do a sea watch from the hide. We just got sat down when news came over the radio that a red breasted flycatcher had been trapped, ringed and would soon be released. So back up to churchfield, sign up to be a friend of Spurn. A ringer walked round and showed us the bird before he released it.
Now where do we go, back down to the caravan park to look for the wryneck. It was on a roof, so we walked into the park, by which time the bird had flown to a flower bed.
While we where near the sea we decided to spend some time looking for passing birds, but not a single bird could we see. So back to the Crown and Anchor car park. A yellow browed warbler and a wood warbler had been seen while we were away. We got brief glimpses of both birds but then another message regarding trapped birds. This time a wood warbler and a marsh warbler were to be released. Well, now we are friends of Spurn we can get into Kew for nothing so off we went. These two birds took our total for the day to an impressive 66, including eight migrants.
   

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Unlucky 13!!

All jobs including cutting grass done by 3pm, so time for a quick trip to North Cave. While I was in the garden I came across lots of spider webs and this caterpillar.

 
When I got out of the car at about 4pm at North Cave, instead of bird song filling the air, church bells were ringing, a pleasant surprise.
From the first hide I could see lots of greylag geese, lapwings, coots. mallard, little and great crested grebe.

It was pleasantly warm in the early evening sunshine, and one or two flowers were still in bloom.
Berries were also in the hedge and I saw this insect flying around.


 
Just past the turning for the turret hide I saw a blackbird trying to keeps its balance whilst it plucked berries of a lower branch.


 
Then I saw a movement on the ground to my left, a green woodpecker was busy looking for ants. A quick shot and then a more serious attempt at a photo.
 
The camera had not been performing as I expected at home, but I thought it was just me. The battery was dead so no more pictures of the woodpecker, just this cropped image. I should have checked the camera at home and then I might have got a better shot of the woodpecker. At least it was not a major disaster for the 13th.
I went into the turret hide from where I added curlew and shoveler to my list. On reed beck lake were a pair of mute swans and a black swan. Lots of rooks were in the new works on my left as I walked along the far edge of the reserve.
As I turned right at the end of the path I noticed some fungi.


Crossland hide was a bird free zone
From the south hide I was able to add pochard and cormorant to my list and take a few more pictures with my point and shoot camera.

Camera battery on charge so that it is ready for a day out at Spurn with Chris tomorrow.