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.