Sunday, 31 December 2017

Blacktoft Marsh Harrier Roost

Yesterday was a mixture of doing jobs and then going out birding. There were no reliable reports of any new birds to add to my year list so I decided to go to Blacktoft.
Stuart was on duty amd I volunteered to lock up at 1615.
I ate my lunch in Marshland hide. Not many birds as the water was frozen, however it soon started to thaw.
A grey heron was sheltering at the edge of the reedbed.
 A redshank was at the waters edge.
There were no birds on any of the other lagoons so I decided to stay in Singleton hide and wait for the marsh harriers to come into roost. A few other birders came into the hide but they did  not stay long. There was a steady stream of harriers coming into roost. Some of them flew around for a while before dropping onto the reed bed. It was quiet otherwise with no other bird activity. It remained quiet for a while then just before the light faded a few harriers started to fly around, I counted 7 birds in the air at the same time and then they joined the others in the reedbed.
The moon was now visible so I tried taking some pictures.
This was my best effort. I was thinking about leaving the hide as it was nearly 4pm and there were no other birders in the hide. I then noticed a lot of harrier activity and these are my attempts to capture it. I need to learn how to obtain better results.

All of the black dots are harriers. I did not see any hen harriers but could not say for cetain that none were present. I managed to count 32 harriers in the sky at one time. Due to the wind they were moving about a lot. This was by far the best roost that I had seen in 2017 and I suppose it just shows that if you wait till nearly dark the birds may perform.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs this year and I wish you akk a very happy and healthy 2018.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Bewick swans near Blacktoft

Woke up to find a fine layer of snow on the ground. This put the eldest granddaughter off the idea of going out. So after I had done a few jobs I set off for Blacktoft in the hope of seeing some Bewick's swans. They had been reported at Adlingfleet which is not far from Blacktoft. I called in at Blacktoft first.A few people had braved the cold weather and were in the hides. Marshland had shelduck, grey heron and a hunting marsh harrier. Xerox had teal, wigeon, snipe and dunlin. Townend had a single little egret and Singleton had a grey heron, snipe and several marsh harriers.

Just as I was leaving Stuart, one of the assistant wardns arrived. We had a chat about various things including the rota for reception duty next month. We also talked about the lack of hen harriers at the evening roost, something that has not happened for years
I left the reserve and travelled to Pasture farm where I was able to park and watch the swans from the car. There was a small group of whoopers and two adult Bewick's, tick number 207 for the year.
A very distant photo.

Monday, 25 December 2017

xmas day birding

While the rest of the family visited the pub to top up their alchohol level I had a drive round looking for birds. Our refuse used to go to landfill and the gulls that visited the site could often be seen in the fields near the tip. The refuse now goes to an incinerator so no gulls to be seen.
Blackbirds and robins flying in and out of the hedges and a buzzard and that was all I saw during my little trip.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Lapland bunting at Seaton Carew

A day out with Chris. He kindly offered to take me to the Hartleppol area to see if we could find some new birds to add to my 2017 list. Chris set us a target of 55 birds for the day.
The first stop that he had planned was for us to try to find the lapland bunting that was with a flock of linnets which were feeding by the roadside near Seaton Carew. This area had until recently been a wild flower meadow and it had looked superb when the flowers were in bloom. The flowers have now been cut and lots of seeds were on the ground and the birds were feeding on them. Chris had been here a few days ago and knew where to look. Within a few minutes he had found the linnets and then he found the lapland bunting.
Ward Jackson park was our next stop and we added more birds to our day list including gadwall, and one for my year list ring necked parakeet.

Our third stop was a new venue for me.
After a short walk towards the edge of the cliff, Chris soon found our target bird a red throated diver.

Hartlepool Headland was our next stop.

It was low tide so there were not many birds about but we added cormorant and redshank to the list. Newburn Bridge stop gave us common gull, great crested grebe, and along the road to North Gare we added wigeon, teal, and shoveler.Cowpen Bewley Country Park was our next stop where added 6 more birds to our list taking our total to 45.
Dormans Pool was where we ate our lunch while watching 15 pintail and 5 black tailed godwits along with lots of gulls.
A pair of stonechats were on one of the fence posts along the side of the path.
RSPB Saltholme was our last stop for the day where we added a further 8 birds to our list to bring the total to 60. We celebrated with a hot drink in the cafe where Chris had a chat with Maurice. The light was now fading so we decided to head for home.
My thanks to Chris for doing the driving and the planning. I added two birds to my year list and had a very enjoyable day out on what for me was the second day of summer.

Monday, 11 December 2017

North Cave Wetlands

My first "free" Monday since August as I have been working since the start of term. A few jobs to do and then I went to North Cave Wetlands.
Only 1 car in the car park as I drove in. I decided to buy a cup of tea from the Wild Bird Cafe. The lady serving me told me that the road will not now open until January 19th as they have had to repair some drains. Then hopefully we cab drive there without having to make a long detour.
The scene at the wetlands was certainly wintery as my photos show.

 Not much to see from any of the hides. A pair of marsh harriers were hunting near the turret hide.

A ribin was posing along the northn hedge and this female blackbird was enjoying the afternoon sun.

A pheasant was picking up some seed near one of the feeders.
Some coots were feeding in an ice free patch of water.
From the south hide I could see a group of wigeon by the far bank on my left
 a group of teal were on the right hand sude of the lagoon

this male briefly came close to the hide and a male goosander did a fly past.
Along the lane back to the car I noticed lots of bird sound coming from the hedges on both sides of the road. Birds kept flying from bush to bush and sometimes they would fly across the road. I was able to add greenfinch, goldfinch, dunnock, blackbird, sing thrush, redwing, fieldfare and starling to my day list.
This female chaffinch was keeping a watrchful eye on me. I discovered the reason for the small bird activity, the feeders have been moved from near the sacrificial crop field and the cafe seating area and out near the gate. The reason for the move was due to having large numbers of rats at the other sites.