Sunday, 14 May 2017

Nightingale, common tern, hobby and orchids at Whisby.

RSPB York Local Group trip to Whisby today. It was our first coach trip of the year, in fact it is a couple of years or more since we last had enough people to fill a coach. We left York in glorious sunshine and about 90 minutes later we were getting out of the coach at Whisby.
As is usual the first bird we saw and heard on the reserve was a black headed gull,lots of them were nesting on the island and a brave med.gull and an oystercatcher were also nesting on the island.
After a cup of coffee we set of for the part of the reserve where nightingales had been seen.
 We stood at a crossroads with other birders waiting for a female to pop down onto the path and pick up some nesting material. She made regular appearances but her visits to the path were quick flicks so my pictures are far from good.

After a while we slowly walked around other parts of the reserve. From one hide we saw common terns,
great crested grebes
We also saw swifts, a hobby, heard two cuckoos, lots of blackcaps, chiffchaffs and willow warblers.
Brimstone butterflies, red admirals and orange tips butterflies were on the wing but difficult to photograph.

We also saw this caterpillar.

Lots of cowslips, orchids and yellow rattle.

Nice broom bushes.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Black grouse Lek

It's four in the morning and the day is just dawning, and there is a strong cold wind from the north blowing in the Northern Pennines. Daffodils and cowslips are still in full flower and May blossom is in full bloom.
I was there to watch a black grouse lek along with members of RSPB Harrogate Local Group.

We met people from Natural England and drove a short distance from the hotel where we had been staying. We parked at the side of the road and watched as 22 male black grouse displayed in front of three females. whenever the females left the males would stop displaying and just become black dots on the open moorland, however as soon as a female appeared the males white feathers would be displayed as they tried to attract her attention, but she only had eyes for the male in the middle of the lek. We saw the birds mating three times.
We were a fair distance from the birds to my photo is not brilliant.
After an hour had passed by and there were no more hens at the site we then drove round the local area.

Lambs were playing in the road
The area is well known for not only the black grouse but also as an excellent place to see wading birds and as we drove round we had excellent views of black and red grouse, woodcock, redshank, lapwing, oystercatcher, golden plover and common sandpiper. Meadow pipits and mistle thrushes were everywhere and we saw lots of fieldfares. The following photos are a selection of what we saw.

Lots of lapwings had chicks.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Fairburn Ings and St. Aidans

Spent a couple of hours at St.Aidans over lunchtime. The sun was shining but the wind was strong and cold. As I walked down the path a tern flew past

A mute swan was chasing other swans out of its territory

All the small birds were singing from the shelter of the bushes.
At Fairburn Ings it was more sheltered down the "cut", the path that runs between the two lagoons.
Lots of great crested grebes and cormorants on the main bay. From the hide I could see a grey heron

After the heron flew off, 3 little egrets flew in and this one was busy preening.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Female Montagu's harrier displays for the visitors.

Birdwatchers often visit a nature reserve like Blacktoft Sands in the hope of seeing a specific bird, and sometimes they are disappointed when they don't see the bird.
I was on duty in the reception hide at Blacktoft today and all of the visitors who came into reception and asked about the montagu's harrier came back and told me that they had seen it. The bird was flying over the reedbed several times during the day which gave everyone a good view.
My day started at 8am when I arrived at the reserve in glorious spring sunshine. The air was full of birdsong,


sedge warbler
A grey heron and a little egret were fishing close together.
the heron decided to try elsewhere.

A male marsh harrier was busy hunting at the edge of the reedbed.
Lots of peacock butterflies were on the wing while the sun was shining.