Friday, 31 March 2017

Brighton RSPB visit to Yorkshire.

I was invited to join the Brighton RSPB Local Group visit to Yorkshire. Hazel and Roger had spent a lot of time planning this trip and organising accommodation etc.
The group were staying at Burn Hall just outside York and I joined for dinner on Monday evening. After the meal I did a short presentation about the places that Hazel and Roger had planned for us to visit.
Tuesday morning dawned a bit misty and sadly it hung around for most of the day. As we left Harrogate and crossed Blubberhouses Moor we could hardly see a thing, so my hope of seeing red grouse were dashed. We arrived at Bolton Abbey and walked from the coach park in the village past the Abbey and towards the river.As you can see from the picture the visibility was not great.

Three of us tried to cross the river by the stepping stones and having managed to get more than three quarters of the way across we had to turn back as some of the stones were missing. In my talk I said that I hoped that we would see mandarin duck and we did not have to wait long to see a pair.

We saw several pairs during our visit and we were very close to them at times.We could hear chiffchaffs singing and in the background we could hear curlews making their bubbling call.
Most of the group wanted to see a dipper and just after we passed the café we saw one. It was busy flying on to a tree branch that was overhanging the water and getting moss, which we presumed was going to be used for lining its nest. We then saw a pair of nuthatches in the trees above our heads.
Goosander were also on the river.
Jackdaws were on the chimneypots near the café
We then travelled via Grassington to Nosterfield Nature Reserve. The weather had improved so that we could enjoy the views from the coach and lots of members of the group marvelled at the skill and effort that had gone in to building all the dry stone walls. We were met at the reserve by Simon Warwick  and given a short potted history about the place. We were able to see ringed and little ringed plover and some people saw a water pipit. It was soon time to head for the hotel where after our evening meal we had an excellent quiz, organised by Sylvia who I met when she was a residential volunteer at Blacktoft.
Wednesday morning it was time to head for the East Coast and RSPB Bempton. The members of the group were amazed to see gannets so close

Tree sparrows were around the visitor centre
We could hear skylarks as we walked along the cliff top path

We looked for corn bunting without success but had good views of a peregrine.
Gannets were gathering grass to line their nests.
Others were indulging in some mutual preening

Lots of guillemots and razorbills but not many puffins. Kittiwakes were nesting on the small cliff ledges.

We then went to Filey Dams and Filey Brigg before heading back to the hotel. I had a talk to do that night so was not able to join the group for dinner.
Thursday morning we set off for North Cave wetlands where Tony Martin met us and gave us a short talk before we had a quick walk around the reserve. Sadly there were no birds at the feeders let alone the brambling and siskin we were hoping to see.The group enjoyed a bacon butty from the Wild Bird Café before we set off for Potteric Carr. We added marsh harrier, red kite and buzzard to our trip list and some of us enjoyed distant views of black necked grebes, but sadly no bittern.
Time to head back to the hotel and my last evening meal with the group.
The last three days have gone by so quickly and it was a pleasure to meet so many people and I hope to meet them again one day. Thank you for your warm welcome to the group and your gift and I hope that they all had a pleasant memory of Yorkshire to take home.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

RSPB Fairburn Ings

RSPB York Local Group Trip to Fairburn Ings today. We met at the visitor centre and after checking the sightings book and talking to an "old pupil" we had a walk around the boardwalk. At the screen we saw little grebe, buzzard, roe deer and I managed to take this picture of a reed bunting.
There was no sign of a kingfisher at the next screen and only tufted ducks on the "big hole". From the first hide along the river bank trail we added great crested grebe to our list.
The birds were a fair distance away and would start to display for a few seconds then stopped. Walking further along the river bank we saw goldcrest willow warbler, , long tailed tit and a great spotted woodpecker. After lunch we drove down to the Lin Dyke end of the reserve and from the entrance gate we could see a great white egret. A chiffchaff was singing as we walked down the path towards the hide. From the hide we could see a pair of gadwall.

We walked under the old railway bridge and saw a grey heron perched at thewaters edge.
An enjoyable day out with a total of 44 different species of birds.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Afternoon in the Dearne Valley.

Chris picked me up at 1330 and we travelled south to the reserves around Old Moor. Wombwell Ings was our first stop.
Just before we got to the hide we saw a skylark just at the top of the flood bank.

Chris was first in the hide and when I arrived he showed me two new birds for out 2017 list, little ringed plover. These photos are heavily cropped.

A green plover was in front of the hide.
In the distance Chris spotted 6 goosanders.
Broomhill Flash was our next stop.
Here we added another 8 birds to our day list bringing the total to 33.
Old Moor was our last stop.

 At tree sparrow farm we saw bullfinches
From the family hide we could see two mute swans in the distance and they were displaying.
Closer to the hide black headed gulls were very active.

I don't know if it was a fight or courtship!
Two birds on the bank were also displaying.

Wath Ings hide was our next stop where it seemed to be preening time for gadwall

This mute swan was also tidying up its feathers.
Thanks to Chris for doing the driving and planning a good afternoons birding.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Askham Bog and North Duffield Carrs

It is now ten o clock at night and I am just writing the blog for today. At 0810 I was on plan c, I think that I am now on plan n! However all of the changes to my day meant that I had a spare hour this morning and a couple of spare hours this afternoon. So this morning I went for a walk around Askham Bog as the sun was shining.

I heard two chiffchaffs but did not see many birds. A treecreeper at a distance
Gulls were slowly flying towards the landfill site.
After my next lot of jobs I set off for North Duffield Carrs for a couple of hours. Lots of wigeon, tufted ducks, teal, mallard, shoveler. A little egret was chased by a juvenile black backed gull
It flew past the hide and landed in the grass near the hide and the wind was ruffling its feathers.

Curlews were flying about making their bubbling noise.
Coltsfoot was in flower
as was blackthorn
Time to head for home and leave the birds to themselves.
I had a pleasant surprise on the way back to the car I bumped into my friend Chris who had been in the top hide looking at the birds.