Sunday, 30 April 2017

Survey along the Ouse

I have volunteered to take part in the BTO Waterways Breeding Bird Survey and I have a stretch from the old railway bridge at Naburn to opposite Moreby Hall.
This is the path that leads to the river.
Lots of boating activity
Under the railway bridge there are lots of feral pigeons and I could hear blackcap and wren singing and a sparrowhawk was gliding over the field.
As I walked towards Acaster Malbis I did not see any birds on the water but there were plenty of birds in the fields including greylag geese, jackdaws, carrion crows and a curlew. Closer to the village I heard and saw a whitethroat.
Past the village I was back in open countryside and there were fewer birds about then when I was walking past the boats!
Naburn Lock.

I heard and saw skylark, carrion crows and 2 curlews and at the end of my last stretch a male reed bunting was singing.
On the way back I took some pictures of some of the flowers and butterflies I saw.

Back in the village this male chaffinch was singing near one of the moored boats.

12 different waders at Ousefleet.

I went to Blacktoft on Saturday afternoon to sort out some dates with Alex for some evening walks.
As I walked into the reception hide the people in there were watching the female montagu's harrier. After my conversation with Alex I decided to visit Ousefleet hide as this is one part of the reserve I rarely get to when I am on duty in the reception hide.
Mute swans and greylag geese were feeding in the field on my left as I walked towards the grazing meadow and a cetti's warbler was singing on the right in the long hedgerow.
In front of the hide avocets were having a snooze.
Further out in the lagoon were several different waders, they did not come too close to the hide but hopefully you can get a flavour of the mixture from these pictures.

64 black tailed godwits were feeding and making a lot of noise. Most of them were in full summer plumage and Pete and I wondered if they were getting ready to fly to Iceland. Four ruff and six dunlin were feeding at the edge of the lagoon and in the distance two spotted redshanks would make brief appearances as they were feeding. A greenshank was feeding along the edge of a channel but kept disappearing from view behind the reeds, in the same area snipe and common sandpiper could be seen.
Two oystercatchers dropped in briefly making a lot of noise which upset some of the lapwings. A visit from a sparrowhawk  caused some disturbance and the oystercatchers, greenshank and spotted redshanks were not seen again.
A redshank was feeding on a mudbank near the hide and was joined briefly by a little ringed plover.
What next would some curlews or green sandpipers drop in to make it 14 waders? Sadly not.
A stock dove dropped in for a drink.
A male gadwall was feeding in the same area
Yellow wagtails were also flying about but only a pied wagtail came close enough for a photo.
A cetti's warbler was singing to the left of the hide and came so close that I could not get a photo!
The konic ponies were in front of Xerox hide.
I left Pete in the hide as I been awake for over 16 hours and did not want to fall asleep whist driving home.
I am back at Blacktoft on Tuesday.

Early morning walk on Hob Moor

Saturday morning at 6am I met a group of people from the Friends of Hob Moor and we spent a couple of hours strolling round the area, listening to the birds.
The first bird we heard and saw was a male blackcap singing from a tree next to the railway line.
Blackbirds, and great tits were also heard with the sound of wood pigeons in the background.
Carrion crows, jackdaws and starlings were feeding on the ground on the open part of the moor and in a nearby hedge we heard and saw our first chiffchaff.
On the other side of the railway line we were treated to the song of a song thrush that filled the air and was so loud that we could not hear wood pigeons Goldcrests were busily feeding in the conifer trees and in a hedge we heard and saw a willow warbler.
A pleasant morning despite the chill wind.
5am this coming Friday for a walk in Rowntree Park.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

April showers

I spent Wednesday on duty in the reception hide at Blacktoft Sands. Visitor wise it was very quiet, which gave me time to get the fire going. The birds were very active, especially the marsh harriers.
I think that one male marsh harrier has two females and they have their territories next to each other. The female whose area is at the rear of Xerox lagoon was still nest building as I saw her taking nesting material several times. The female behind First lagoon appears to be raising young as the male did several food drops. These birds often fly close to the hides and in between the hail and rain showers I tried to take some pictures.

Some of the greylag geese have goslings and it would appear that the harriers are trying to find them in the reed bed.
Cetti's warblers are very vocal and are also very visible at the moment and most visitors are able to see them. Chiffchaffs and sedge warblers are also singing and are easy to see as you walk along the paths between the hides. Avocets were busy chasing harriers, gulls and herons away from Townend lagoon.

I heard the bittern boom several times, and along with lots of visitors saw it fly on three occasions. This is one poor picture of it flying.
 Black tailed godwits were also on the move as were yellow wagtails. Due to the cold wind and showers the insects were not flying very high and as a result swifts, swallows, sand and house martins had to resort to flying low over the lagoons looking for food.
The pair of garganey spent a lot of time asleep on Xerox lagoon and then they went to feed in front of Townend hide. The light was poor for pictures but here goes..
I did not see the female montagu's harrier as she made a brief appearance at 1030, but lots of visitors did and as I left the reserve at 1800 there were still plenty of people in the hides hoping to see her come into roost.
So despite the frequent showers it was a pleasant day as lots of people saw well over 40 different species of birds and if the temperature does improve this bank holiday weekend then the number of birds on view should improve.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Helping swifts

At my local Tesco store on Tadcaster Road, York , you get rewarded for using your own bags with a blue token.
This can be used to vote for local projects. One of them is to provide boxes for swifts at Wheldrake,south of York. Please vote for this project.
There is also an article about the birds in the latest edition of Natures Home.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Iceland;day four

I went for a walk before breakfast as our hotel was in the countryside.

The sun was just rising over the hills to my left.
Oystercatchers were making a lot of noise and I could hear ptarmigan calling.
 and then it started to snow so visibility was greatly reduced and I went inside for breakfast.
Our last full day on the island was as jam packed as ever. After breakfast we had to pack our bags and put the on the coach as we would be in a different hotel for our last night.
A waterfall was our first stop.
On the way to our next stop we passed some Icelandic horses.

Another waterfall was next on our agenda
A geyser was our next stop where we joined the crowds waiting for the next show.

A dairy farm for an ice cream was next.
We watched the cows feeding whilst we ate our ice cream and then onto our last stop for the day.

Redwings were everywhere as we walked back to the coach. A place where the tectonic plates of America and Eurasia meet was our last stop.

It was a long drive back to our hotel as we had to stay near the airport. We had to get up at 4am on Saturday to have breakfast and then load our bags on to coaches for the trip to the airport. Although we were staying at the edge of the airport it was a 14 mile trip to reach the terminal. Once checked in we were soon on board and heading for home. Not as much cloud on the return journey and although we could see some islands we were unable to identify them.

 We had to circle Manchester airport for about 30 minutes before they would let us land and then another bus journey back to York. A memorable trip and a place well worth returning to, but perhaps not with 89 kids!!