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