Monday, 20 December 2010


Long-eared Owl. Worth a snowy Sunday trek? Oh yeah!

Long-eared Owl

Especially when there were FIVE of them! Also Bramling, Siskin, Waxwings, Fieldfares and Woodcocks as supporting cast.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Heronistic Northumberland

A morning well spent with Morpeth's finest on the River Wansbeck: Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

... and the afternoon getting boggy in Alnwick with a Great White Egret:

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Who needs Cornwall with Green Heron and American Bittern, eh? Good to bump into PC wanderings and Foghorn who was back for seconds. Also Stef McElwee and Shaun . Good banter all day made up for the somewhat wet feet!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Wax on Wax off

I got a little impatient waiting for some local Waxwings the other weekend so after a productive trip up to Sleddale with my daughter, we took a circular route back to Thirsk via Kirkbymoorside where some waxwings had been reported on Birdguides. Add a little sunshine into the mix and here are the results:




15 Waxwings

More seem to be appearing closer now with reports in Middlesbrough and Strensall today.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Friday Warblers

Friday 22 June 2010

I had a little outing down to Derbyshire to see and hear the Great Reed Warbler that has been a long-stayer at Straw's Bridge NR near Ilkeston. A bit further afield than I would normally go, but I decided it would be worth the trip after seeing some footage online. What a loud call! Despite showing "like a porn star" according to one blogger a week or so ago, I had to make do with the occasional reed top perch and sway or the odd few seconds zipping in and out of the lower, greener reeds. No worthwhile photos and a rainy walk back to the car, but worth it.

I called in at Edderthorpe Flash on my way home and after working out the position of a report on Birdguides, I managed to come across four local Barnsley birders and see another lifer, again a warbler in the form of a Marsh Warbler, doing a cracking Song Thrush impression and again playing hide and seek GRW style! Good to hear a pair of Cuckoo here too and a drake Garganey by the roadside of the flash was the day's bonus bird. Always nice to see.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Bank Holiday round-up

I spent Friday mainly in traffic, as I'd decided to try to find the Black stork reported across in Deepdale, to the west of Barnard Castle. I knew that there would be road works on the A1, but I didn't know that the A66 west would be packed solid. the reason: Appleby horse fair this week. Endless queues as vehicles wait to overtake horse-drawn caravans... A scenic diversion up to the A67 and a trail through BC town centre and finally at Lartington. Hours later after a good bit of chat with some DBC members, no Black Stork. Highlights were Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Curlew, with several House Martins and Swallows passing overhead. There seemed to be constant shooting in the woodland, so who knows when the Stork departed - it wasn't seen after 0950 that morning.

A quick look in at Back Saltholme and Port Clarence to check for Stints and no joy there either.

Better luck on Saturday though with Little Stint being located on the A178 side of PC flood in the grassland. Quite a rufous back to it and quite flighty too. I'd just missed the Curlew Sandpiper though - this had flown north, possibly onto Back Saltholme. So that's where I headed next. Plenty of Yellow Wagtails still around on the path from the Visitor Centre to Back Saltholme hide and a Fox spotted on Wet Grassland too. The Curlew Sandpiper, in non-breeding plumage was swiftly picked up on a spit near the Clarence end on the pool and with a few Dunlin for comparison. Nice! Different to the sum-plum one I saw last year.

On Sunday we had a family trip up along the escarpmaent from Sutton Bank to White Horse Bank, which was full of walkers and dogs... until a heavy hail shower! English weather, eh? Highlights were 1 Peregrine hanging in the wind towards Hood Hill, 2 Kestrels and a Common Buzzard (unfortunately not a Honey Buzzard). Plenty of Siskin visiting the feeders outside the gift shop in the two minutes I was there.

I had a trip to Lingham water and Nosterfield NR on Monday. Very few waders except Oycs, Redshank and Ringed Plover. Avocet on each too, but nothing to match the Black Winged Stilt. Will there ever be? A pair of Goldeneye seemed to be a late departure, in amongst the Tufties, Pochard and Shelduck (with little humbug shelducklings).

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Notterel (No dotterel)

I had a trip to Danby Beacon yesterday, one of the key migration stop offs at this time of year for Dotterel. A sharp NE wind was blowing and it felt freezing! May? Maybe not! No sign of any Dotterel although sightings have been coming in from the Yorkshire Dales, Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire. However, I did see some striking sumplum Golden Plover, with their mournful cries and Lapwing, Curlew, Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Red Grouse of course. Several Wheatear around the rockier area to the east of the beacon itself too.

Red Grouse female

Red Grouse female

On the way up/across I took time to check Sleddale. Again, plenty of Wheatear on the Commondale side of the cattle grid uphill from Percy Rigg. Also Pied Wagtail, Lapwing, Curlew, Meadow Pipit and not a single raptor...

Finally, on my way home, I took an excursion via Swainby, Osmotherly and Hawnby, stopping off in the Arden/Hawnby estate following a tip-off from Lapland for Pied Flycatcher, which was exactly where I'd been told. No Redstart though, so perhaps I'll try Ashberry YWT again this year or Garbutt Wood YWT soon.

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher

Sunday, 2 May 2010

In Beds again

Saturday 1 May 2010

Kept things a little more local with a trip around Flitton Moor, which runs into Flitwick Moor BNCPWT reserve. As I passed Flitton Church, I noticed a Kestrel perching on the De Grey Mausoleum. There were plenty of warblers along the river and around the pond with Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff all noted. A Grey Heron was taking a break from nest building on the moor itself. Two Grey Partridges were accidently flushed and seen in flight. The main highlight was a Cuckoo calling and with a little patience, seen in flight then perching in trees and on wires nearby, always a little too distant for a decent photo frustratingly!

Sunday 2 May 2010

A return to Rookery Pit, in the hope of seeing more Hobbies and perhaps catching up with a long staying RC Pochard. I was unlucky on both counts... Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler and GC Grebe all seen as well as Coot, Moorhen and several gull species: GBB, BH etc. A couple of Common and Arctic Terns, but no Black today. Again a Cuckoo heard towards Stewartby chimneys.

No sign of the Turtle Doves along Green Lane between the station and Scrapyard Corner, but I did see a Weasel crossing the road in the cul-de-sac by the yard.

A quick check around the Millbrook side of MVCP for Whinchat or any other seasonal arrivals and empty handed again... All in all though, some very enjoyable birding and great to meet a few Beds birders including Lee Evans, Martin Palmer and Neil Wright.

Back soon!

Friday, 30 April 2010

More Mid-Beds Birding

I had a trip to Marston Vale CP and Stewartby Lake this morning with the family, in-laws included. No sign of the reported Cuckoo today at MVCP, nor the two Turtle Doves at Scrapyard Corner off Stewartby Lake.

GC Grebe, Common Tern, BH Gull etc. on the water and a good showing from the warblers in the trees around the lake. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and a year tick in the form of Garden Warbler. Always a pleasure to hear. Three Hobbies were seen from MVCP towards Rookery Pit. Nice!!

Reports came in of three Black Terns, first at Broom GP, then at Bedford CP. After returning to Stewartby in the afternoon for another shot at the elusive Turtle Doves, I headed to Brogborough Lake for a quick scout about and caught up with the Black Terns, fishing at the Sailing Club end and pausing for breath on the buoys. GND still surviving and GC Grebes aplenty.

Next stop, Willington after a tip off for Nightingale, which was found in due course, competing with Chaffinch, Blackcap and Blackbird in the singing stakes. A Mistle Thrush and a Muntjac Deer rounded things off as I headed past the Dovecote and back to the in-laws. A good day all

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Birding in Bedfordshire

I had a productive few hours touring mid-Beds today. My first stop was
Rookery Pit North to check for the 11 Hobbies reported on Birdguides.
I was lucky enough to spot one gliding overhead towards Stewartby
Brickworks chimneys as I walked down from where I parked near the
station. That was to be it as far as Hobbies were concerned though.
Careful checking of the reedbeds revealed no more hawking for insects.
Only a few Cormorants and Coots for company and a few common species
like Goldfinch, Collared Dove, Jackdaw etc. otherwise.

Next stop, Stewartby Lake. Plenty of common passerines for a
soundtrack, with the highlight of another year tick in the form of
Common Tern. Perhaps five or six present, with some fishing and some
loafing on the Sailing Club jetty. One Arctic Tern alongside them for
comparison, which I didn't have the benefit of at Nosterfield on Sunday.

Finally, a couple of stops at Brogborough Lake after the A421
roadworks and the final year tick of the day, Great Northern Diver.
For how much longer this individual will be around is hard to say as
it had fishing lind wrapped around its bill. Help may be on the way as
a local birder made a few calls. Again, some Common Terns for company
as well as 21 Great Crested Grebes and several Tufted Ducks and
Cormorants. A few Blackcap, Common and Lesser Whitethroat in the scrub
and a male Cuckoo calling from the SW corner, but unseen.

A chance encounter with Lee Evans, who used to live a mere 2 miles
from the in-laws and another local birder, Neil, made for good company.

Hopefully, I will be picking up Whinchat and Common Redstart this
week. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Wheatear-pix and Stilt-on

My wife and I had a trip to Bempton and Flamborough today. We saw the usual suspects: Guilemot, Razorbill, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Shag and Herring Gull, but not a single Puffin. A bit strange after connecting with half a dozen or so a week past Friday!

At Flamborough we had a walk from the Lighthouse to North Landing, past the Golf Club and checked all the bramble and gorse bushes along the way. A good fall of ten Yellow Wagtails and more Wheatears, with plenty of males - a nice change after connecting only with females at Saltholme on Friday and juveniles in Northumberland in September. Plenty of Tree Sparrow and Linnet around with the odd Kestrel and a constant Skylark soundtrack. We were literally tripping over Meadow Pipits today too.

The grass by the overspill at the Lighthouse held a pair of greyish Yellow Wagtails, one Pied and one White. I was a little disappointed to run out of time, meaning we missed the Pied Flycatcher at Old Fall, found this morning...

So, the Wheatears were my highlight of the day... at least until the Black-winged Stilt returned to Nosterfield! This time to Lingham Lake at the Quarry, rather than the LUCT reserve. I managed to dodgyscope it too.

1 Ruff, 1 Greenshank and 2 Avocet also present at Lingham.


Wheatear (photo from Craster, September 2009)

Black-winged Stilt

Black-winged Stilt

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Nosterfield LUCT

I had a trip across to Nosterfield (check out their great new site: this morning after seeing a report of Black-winged Stilt (found by Steve Worwood, Nosterfield NR Warden and VC65 Recorder and friends) come through on Birdguides this morning. The bird had appeared at 09 00 and disappeared 15 minutes later. Never mind though, I've had a great week's birding!

I gained a few year ticks in the form of Common Swift (over Lingham and Nosterfield) and Arctic Tern (Nosterfield). No sign of the Cuckoo, a species which is proving to be elusive for me this year, missing birds at Edderthorpe Flash, Strensall Common and today.

I did catch up with a Med Gull in sum-plum and a variety of warblers (Willow, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat).

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Wader-wise, 1 Greenshank, 2 Avocet, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, several Redshank, Oycs, Curlew, and Lapwing.
GC and Little Grebe about, with Coot, Moorhen, Tufties, Teal, Shoveler, Greylag and Canada Geese.

Plenty of rabbits and a single weasel.



Tuesday, 20 April 2010

One that was big, one that was small, one that was tiny and that was all

Monday 19 April 2010

A productive reccie of Crookfoot Reservoir turned up two elusive Common Crane in the arable land to the west of the water, of which I got a brief sighting before they flew south and were lost by the plantation.

A few things to sort in Newcastle and then a late afternoon visit to Teesside to pick out the American Wigeon drake on Saltholme. No sign on Paddy's Pool or West Saltholme where it had been seen on and off for most of the day, but a noteworthy sighting on the wet grassland from Paddy's were 8 Brown Hares!

A tip off about a Lesser Whitethroat singing opposite Dorman's Pool bottom car park, which was seen too briefly and a final trip back to west Saltholme and finally the American... just by the entrance drive to the reserve I got cracking views as it decided to take flight. Thanks to Gary Sharples for the view from his 'scope. I would have missed it otherwise!

Friday, 16 April 2010

East Coast Wild Goose Chase

Well it looks like that Harlequin Duck that travelled down from Iceland on a magic carpet of volcanic ash was actually a female Common or Velvet Scoter...

Anyway, still had a great sunny day at Flamborough and Bempton and a few year ticks in the form of Kittiwake, Gannet, Puffin, Razorbill and Guillemot.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Strensall Common YWT

Monday 12 April 2010

I had a brief flit around the Common yesterday lunchtime and I was going to have a walk around the Flaxton end of the reserve to see which butterflies were around. So far this year I have only seen Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma. However, both the layby areas were full of caravans, horses and their owners etc. so no stopping for me. I turned the car around a little further up the road and stopped to view three Greenland White-fronted Geese in the wet grassland by Wilks Plantation. An unexpected find! I have seen Common Buzzard circling above the plantation on a number of occasions here and a good variety of passerines at this end of the reserve plus Curlew and Kestrel, but this was a little more out of the ordinary.

Back to the main woodland end of things, the summer migrants are becoming more apparent, with Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler noted, in addition to the usual tit and finch population. No Treecreeper or Nuthatch today though.

Still no joy with Woodlark here this year. Patience...

Sunday 11 April 2010

A quick march about Ashberry YWT and the neighbouring woodland revealed good numbers of tits as well as Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, but no Common Redstart yet.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Saltholme and Seal Sands

Friday 9 April 2010

I had a trip up the A19 to try to connect with the Blue-winged Teal drake which had been reported on Thursday from Port Clarence flash behind Back Saltholme, but to no avail. The drake that stayed through eclipse last autumn repeatedly gave me the run around... Having seen Garganey at Newburgh this year I didn't look for those on Haverton Pools, but did see Grey Heron and Little Egret together, Kingfisher and the usual waterfowl, with plenty of Mipits, Skylarks and Reed Buntings on the walk across. The Hooded Merganser was across at Allotment Pool.

Although there seemed to have been an influx of both White and Yellow Wagtails during the week, I didn't connect. There were 2 Pintail on Back Saltholme though, although elusive.

Bottom Tank held 23 Black-tailed Godwits which were put up by a Sparrowhawk, with little else of note.

23 Black-tailed Godwits (pursued by a Sparrowhawk)

Other Little Egrets were on Wildlife Watchpoint and West Saltholme, which also held a Pink-footed Goose along with Canada and Greylag.

Caught up with two Little ringed Plovers on the cockleshell island on Saline Lagoon after missing them on Back saltholme a few weeks ago. 10 Avocets counted around the Lagoons north and south of the creek. Good numbers of Shelduck, Redshank, Teal, a few Gadwall and a few Pied Wagtails.

Little Ringed Plover

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Easy to swallow

Sunday 4 April 2010

Nice little outing to Nosterfield via the A1 and up past Newby and Ripon, picking up Yellowhammer at Dishforth, feeding on the road, RL Partridge, Oycs and Lapwing in the fields.

Highlights at Nosterfield were 'northern' Golden Plover and my first Swallows of the year. Also spotted a single Common Gull.

A good showing of Goldeneye and Shoveler in particular on the waterfowl front and front row seats to the Pied Wagtail and Redshank show from the new hide. Ringed Plover and Curlew also noted as well as the usual stuff like Tufties, Mallard etc.

My daughter seemd most excited by the "Ohh, woodpiggun!!!". Bless! (It was as well). Never mind the Eshott Crane she saw on Good Friday, nooo...

Wheldrake Egyptian

Wednesday 7 April 2010

I had a productive 30-40 minutes at lunchtime at the Ings today. Pity there was no Osprey today!

Species seen from the Bank island (Natural England) site:
Egyptian Goose (a very distant year tick), Canada Goose, Grey Heron, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, Mallard, BH Gull, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Dunnock.

From YWT bridge only:
Waterfowl as above plus Curlew, Lapwing, Greylag Goose, Goldfinch; Chiffchaff and GSW (heard only). Also spotted a Roe Deer today.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Eshott Crane

Common Crane
Friday 2 April 2010
We had a family outing to Northumberland to see family on Good Friday. My first stop was Prestwick Carr to check for the White-tailed Eagle and as suspected I left disappointed. There were Skylark, Lapwing, BH and Herring Gulls and Oycs in the surrounding fields and a Common Buzzard perched in the plantation at a distance that was visible only at 60x through my scope...
So, onwards to Eshott to catch up with the Crane. We had better luck here! Also brief views of a stoat in summer pelage. The crane took a good bit of finding, but resulted in stunning views in both flight and feeding. Also a bit of mischief from a Merlin which scattered a flock of lapwing and put the Crane up again after an all too brief stay on the ground.
We were pressed for time so didn't pick up the Marsh Harrier nearer to the coast and regrettably missed Great White Egret... again, albeit unknowingly this time.

Garganey Priory-tised

Saturday 3 April 2010

A wet morning in Thirsk and Newburgh Priory, Coxwold was no different. The sight of a pair of Garganey after about 20 minutes ensured that only the ground was damp and not my spirits. As at Nosterfield last year, these ducks could not have been more distant, sticking in this case to the trees and reeds at the far bank and spending good spells sleeping. in fact, I only got to see the drake swimming.

Garganey drake

The grass lawns held two Oycs, a Shelduck, Pheasants including a very black looking male, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, a party of Woodpigeon, 2 Pied Wagtails and a few Greylag geese. The lake held about half a dozen Tufties, same number of Teal, Mallard, Coot, 9 Shelduck, 4 Greylag, a few Mallard-type hybrids and a number of Mute Swan. A few Moorhen were about in the vegetation and a single Grey Wagtail on the roadside wall, up near the Daffodils to the right.

Mallard hybrids


Lots of Blackbirds and Jackdaws about on the verges and Robin, Wren, Chaffinch and Great Tit in the trees. Several R-L Partridges in the arable fields on the opposite side of the road.

A single Grey Heron flew over.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Dipping at Dormans

Sunday 28 March 2010

After having house guests over the weekend, I decided to make a quick dash to Teesside for a shot at the Great White Egret, but alas too late to connect. I had a good scout around Dormans Pool and had a good crack on with Tim Dredge, who also missed the GWE. We did however get Peregrine and Kestrel and a Little Egret towards the fire station. Plenty of Tufties, Pochard and Coot about as usual. A good number of GC Grebes as well. Curlew in the field towards the railway line and a few overflying Shelduck.


I couldn't locate the BN Grebe on Rec Pond but did find two redhead Smew that seem to be enjoying their residency here.

Recorded my first Avocets of the year, with one on the newly refurbished island on the Saline Lagoon and a further nine on the pools to the north of Greatham Creek. Plenty of Redshank and Shoveler around but no sign of the LRP, well not for me anyway. There had been three sighted at Back Saltholme, but they were invisible to my eyes at distance in fading light. I always enjoy seeing the parties of grey and Common Seals around the Creek, hauled out to the west of the bridge on this occasion. The odd Oystercatcher and teal on the Creek itself and a few Canada Geese and Redshank, plus the occasional BH Gull.


A return to Dormans did reward me with a singing Cetti's Warbler, visible for a few moments at the top of the path to the north of the top car park. Not quite the same scale as GWE, but a pleasure none the less.

I could do with some better birding luck over Easter!

Wet Wheldrake

Monday 29 March 2010

Well, the flooding may have subsided and the Derwent is back in its banks, but there seemed to be no respite from the rain over a lunchtime visit. The Natural England end of the reserve still limited to the viewing platform only as the disturbance from the construction work continues. A scan from here revealed a single Stock Dove on its own, not associating with the sparse number of Woodpigeons around and a Little Gull in winter plumage, dwarfed by the LBB and BH around it. Plenty of Wigeon, Shoveler and Tufties, the odd Teal and Mute Swan to finish things off here. Some singing from the Dunnocks and some menace from the Magpies.


At the YWT site, I could finally drive into he car park after what must have been three months of flooding. Good to see a variety of birds on the newly drained grassland including Curlew, Lapwing, Carrion Crow and Pheasant. A scout about from the first hide revealed more Shoveler, a really good number in fact, probably more than 20. A few Tufties, several pairs of Teal, more Wigeon and a few pairs of Canada and Greylag, although no Egyptian today. Plenty of Coot and a few Mute Swans sleeping in the vegetation and that was about it on the water.

The riverside path and surrounding trees held Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Robin and that sure sign of spring, Chiffchaff! Get the sunscreen ready...

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Scarborough and the Forests of the NYM

Friday 21 March 2010

Well, as I haven't been out this week, there's a little time to catch up on last week's outings. I had a bit of a trip out to Scarborough, Wykeham Forest and Langdale Forest.

First stop, Wykeham Forest for the raptor viewpoint, hopeful of a Goshawk, Buzzard or Hen Harrier, anything really! After an hour or so, zip zero. Well, excluding the usual suspects like Greenfinch, Siskin, Coal Tit and so on.

Then I called in at Hackness to check for Mandarins. I was in luck hear with a single pair although distant, with the added excitement of viewing from a narrow, soft roadside verge, through established, dense trees. A few Canada Geese, Mallards and the odd Moorhen and Pheasant were present. A good range of Tits too, with Coal, LT, Blue and Great seen. A pretty little village and far easier access than Wykeham Lakes (fishing) with their welcoming "Absolutely no birdwatching!" sign. At least it's not as pretentious as the one at Ripon Fishing Club, sorry, Piscatorial Association...

After battling through the convoy/roadworks of West Ayton to get to Hackness, plodded on to Scalby at the coast. Good numbers of Oystercatcher, Redshank, Ringed Plover and a Curlew on the beach of Jackson's Bay. BH, Herring, LBB, Common and a single Little Gull seen along the shoreline too. A good number of RB Mergansers in North Bay. A pair of Stonechat and a good sizeable flock of Woodpigeon along Scalby Beck kept me entertained heading back to the car.

So on to Maw Rigg, up past Langdale End in Langdale Forest, hoping for the highlight of the day... a Great Grey Shrike, which had been reported on Birdguides, Scarborough Birding and by Steve Race.... After a good walk along Forestry Commission tracks, I finally arrived up at Maw Rigg, in the clear-felled areas, with their strategically left perches for Nightjar etc. and after a good scan around, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just as I was about to head home, a car approached at slow pace (bearing in mind the gates were locked) and I was greeted by the customary birders greeting, "Any joy yet?". It was Andy Malley, recently appointed chairman of Flamborough Bird Observatory. He was kind enough to give me a little tour of Maw Rigg, but after perhaps another hour, still no GGS. WEll, you win some, you lose some. A good number of Common Crossbills were passing through at this point and occasionally dropping down to drink from the puddles in the tracks.

Common crossbill male

Common crossbill male

Common crossbill female

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Pinchinthorpe and Mount Grace Priory

We had a family day out on Sunday visiting Pinchinthorpe for the branch walkway which cuts through the woodland and has some adjoining pools. We saw and heard several common species such as Robin, Long-tailed, Blue, Great and Coal Tits. Plenty of corvid action too, with Rooks, Carrion Crows, Magpies and a single Jay around. Finches were limited to Chaffinch and Greenfinch though. Several Moorhens and Coots about on the ponds and a few Canada Geese, Mute Swans and Mallards as well. Sizable flocks of Woodpigeons about in the neighbouring fields held no Stock Doves. A great number of Common Frogs, along with a load of frogspawn, could be found in the more sheltered pond margins.

No owls or woodpeckers seen or heard, probably due to the high level of disturbance - the place gets very busy with dogs, horses, bikes and children...

I had better luck at Mount Grace, but not with the usual mammals - I have had encounters with stoats, hares, roe deer and rabbits there in the past - but with a Marsh Tit on the feeding table. A nice surprise! I found a couple of Nuthatches in the trees between the Priory and the pond which had the usual resident hybrid duck, alongside the Mallards and Moorhens. No sign of the otter, despite a good scout about. Two motions capture cameras are currently set up to keep tabs on its comings and goings though.

Marsh Tit

A few Fieldfares were clicking away in the trees along with the odd Song Thrush and Blackbird for company. No Goldcrest seen this time. Plenty of LT and Blue Tits about and a solitary Pied Wagtail.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Seal Sands and Short-eared Owls

I had a bit of a mooch around Teesside yesterday staring with Saltholme RSPB in the late morning. A few waders around, mainly Curlew and Redshank although I did see 6 Black-tailed Godwits on one of the islands in the Wildlife Watchpoint pool. A weasel in front of the hide at Paddy's Pool was the only thing of note, apart from the BH Gull numbers building up. Good views of a hovering Kestrel and a statuesque Grey Heron in the wet grassland. Back Saltholme providing a sub-adult Hooded Merganser, visible on the rocks right outside of the hide and later being more secretive in the channel. I was speaking to Toby Collett about this bird earlier in the WW hide and apparently there's a good chance that it is a male. Always nice to see a drake Pintail and yesterday was no exception.

A quick drop in at Dorman's Pool and Rec Pond, with Smew noted on the latter.

Next stop Seal Sands, although no Avocets or LRP just yet, although the odd Avocet has been seen this week. Quite quiet from the hide with the high tide. GC Grebe, no BN Grebe here. The hide was shared with the Laplanders, Mick and Sylvia Brennan and together we enjoyed three Short-eared Owls and a weasel. You can see some great photos of the owls by visiting their blog here:

Or my poor efforts here:

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

A quick second visit to Rec Pond allowed me to connect with the BN Grebe and also get more close views of a hunting Kestrel, albeit with the sun in my eyes. Oh, and another SEO!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Buggy birding

A short stroll along Cod Beck in Thirsk today, with my daughter in the pushchair, gave me two brief glimpses of Kingfisher in flight and my first Dipper of the year. First saw today's Dipper in flight, alerted by its white chest, but relocated it nearer to the wear, where it did what Dippers do best.

No shots today, so the pictures below are from the archives.

Fountain's Abbey, Ripon:


Waren Mill, Budle Bay:


Dipper takes my Britain yearlist total up to 112.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Wellied up at Wheldrake Ings

Had a nice little run out to Wheldrake Ings after an early finish from work on Friday. Chanced across a flock of around 150 Golden Plover in a field opposite Raker Lakes. A scan of the flock revealed a few Fieldfares, Jackdaws and Starlings. A few of the Plover just coming into summer plumage and beginning to look spangly backed in the sunshine. Picked out a solitary Stock Dove in a flock of Wood Pigeons as they came in to settle a few hundred yards away from the Plover flock. Good to see a number of Brown Hares in the neighbouring field. some spirited chasing, but no boxing, unlike those on the commute around Beningborough or Thirkleby on the A19.

There is a lot of work to control water management of the reserves at present, so the Natural England section of the reserve, which normally has two hides accessible and a viewing platform, only had the platform accessible. This section has been flooded for months, with the hides inaccessible. Wigeon, Tufted Duck, BH Gull, Common Gull and several crow species on show. Mixed tit and finch flocks passing through the trees around the car park. Relatively quite though compared to the 300+ gulls seen on Tuesday last week there.

The main Yorkshire Wildlife Trust site held Water Rail, heard sharming by the bridge, but not seen and a brief view of a Barn Owl passing through. Waterfowl-wise: 2 Pintail drakes, a pair of Goosander, a pair of Gadwall, a pair of Goldeneye and several Wigeon and Tufties. Only a few Canada and 2 Greylag Geese counted plus a pair of Shelducks. A Grey Heron remained motionless for a good hour, before flying off over the convent and a few Curlew mingled amongst 6 Black-tailed Godwits.

I managed to access the first two hides and walk as far as the windpump, hence the wellies. Got a cracking rash for my troubles, thanks to my latex allergy!

A mixed tit and finch flock visited the feeding table in the woodland by the access road. Not a single wintering swan on the day, just a pair of Mutes.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Whoop Whoop! Half Century at the Headland

A Sunday morning TBC trip to Hartlepool Headland started well on a sunny day with a biting cold wind. Early arrivals had joy with a Red-necked Grebe at the northern end of the Headland (missed by me!). A single GC Grebe the best I managed, further out than the Eiders and Common Scoters.

A good show for the waders around Parton Rocks with Redshank, Oystercatcher, Purple Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and Turnstone all abundant. A few Curlew, 2 Sanderling and a Knot finishing things off.

The usual gulls on show: BH, Herring, LBB, GBB and a single Med Gull on the rocks inside the pier.

As one of the last to get off, I was lucky enough to get a herd of 50 Whooper Swans flying north at 1145. The same flock spotted over Saltholme, Cleveland and Terrington., N Yorks earlier I would guess. A cracking end to a good morning.

A quick stop at Newburn Bridge revealed plenty of Redshank and a few Oystercatchers in the bay; 3 Rock Pipits and two Pied Wagtails on the rock armour. The Med Gull flitting around and favouring its regular lamp post. Otherwise mainly Herring Gulls. A surprising absence of grebes and ducks on the sea.

Med Gull, Newburn Bridge

Mediterranean Gull

50 Whooper swans, Hartlepool Headland

50 Whooper Swans at Hartlepool Headland