Monday, 30 December 2013

Last birding session of 2013

Daughters wedding tomorrow so doubt if I will be able to get out!!
Lots of domestic chores to do today, but managed to get the last couple of hours down at North Duffield Carrs with Chris.
There were 3 cars in the car park, but only saw 2 birdwatchers in the Geoff Smith hide. They said it was very quiet, and we could only see some birds in front of the Garganey hide.
We decided to walk down there to get a closer look at the birds.
There was a mixed flock of wigeon, mallard, teal, one male shoveler and a single greylag goose.
A small flock of about 10 Canada geese were as grazing a little bit away from the water
A pair of mute swans swam up towards us, which made the Canada geese nervous, and they watched the swan swim all the way past them.

The female swan stated to feed a distance away from the male so he made a big display flying back to her.

Another pair of mute swans flew over the reserve but did not land near us.
Chris and I were watching some fieldfares feeding in a distant part of the reserve, when they suddenly flew into a field near us. Chris looked at them through his scope and identified about 5 redwings amongst the hundred or so mixed flock.

Something disturbed the flock of ducks and about half of them flew around and landed near to where they had taken off from.

We left the hide and walked back to top hide as the light was starting to fade. We were watching a flock of birds flying around at the far end of the reserve when Chris saw a flock of swans flying behind them. The swans flew onto the reserve and landed in a field. They were whooper swans but due to the light conditions we could not see them very well so decided to go home.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

An excellent end to 2013

It was just starting to get light as we joined the other birders at Burton Marsh, Cheshire. There were lots of small birds feeding along the line vegetation that had been washed up by the tide and we were all hoping to see an American Buff Bellied Pipit, but trying to identify it from the meadow pipits was a difficult job, as the birds kept flying from place to place. Whilst this process was going on we were able to watch a couple of chiffchaffs hopping about in the vegetation looking for insects., one of them was a Siberian chiffchaff.

A couple of birders spotted the pipit we wanted to see and started to walk down the footpath. We all followed but it was not an easy process, as were blocking the pathway and cyclists kept wanting to get by. I had just seen the bird through another birders telescope when we had to move to let a cyclist through, and as  he rode off he disturbed the birds. This time we had to return to where we first started and the bird was not far away from the path, and we were able to spread out along the edge of the path, without blocking the way. On the way back we saw a couple of stonechats. The pipits flew off again and so Chris and I decided to leave at this point. We had both seen the bird and for Chris it was a significant sighting, it was the 400th bird he seen, for me, a more modest 299.

We returned to the car and Chris drove us to our second stop for the day, the nearby RSPB reserve. Chris had planned a very busy day for us, and the weather had obliged by being sunny. Chris had set us a target of 40 birds for the day, and we were able to add a few species here.
Our next destination was along the North Wales coastline, where a hoopoe had been seen a few days earlier, but sadly for us there was no sign of the bird. Chris had planned our next stop further along the coast, near Rainbow Bridge. Here Chris used his scope to scan for surf scoters, but sadly I was unable to find them.

Chris knows this part of the world very well and soon we were driving along the coast towards Anglesey. Chris had planned the stops so that I could add to my year list. Holyhead fish dock was or first stop where Chris soon found a black guillemot in winter plumage.

Southstack RSPB reserve was our furthest stop from home and here Chris hoped to be able to show me some choughs, another bird I needed for my year list. We had no sooner arrived, than Chris saw two choughs on the wall of a nearby house. We both took some pictures and had a short stroll around.

Back in the car and homeward bound, but one more stop in the excellent plan that Chris had made for our last days birding of 2013. RSPB Conwy was our 3rd reserve for the day and here we added a male pintail to our day list which brought the total to 48.

Around trip of over 400 miles but well worth it. Chris was able to add another bird to his life list and I added 4 birds to my year list and two to my life list, so I am now only 100 behind Chris.

Our next trip is planned for New Years Days when we hope to beat last years total of 75.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Boxing Day at North Duffield Carrs

The plan was to go out bird watching early. I got up early and watched a bit of cricket from down under, but when I looked out of the window it was foggy!!
When it cleared I set off for North Duffield Carrs. It was still a bit hazy when I got there, but the views were pleasant in the morning sunshine. There is a little water on the reserve but not enough to attract large umbers of wildfowl. There were 3 pairs of mute swans and several carrion crows on the reserve and wigeon and teal on the river, which was higher than normal. With a bit of luck the next storm could bring enough water to allow the river to overflow and put more water on the reserve.

 I walked down to the second hide where I was able to get a better view of the mute swans.

A small group of whooper swans flew across the reserve and landed on the river, so I walked back to the first hide to get a closer look at them. There were about 10 of them, including several young ones.

you can just see a white speck on the bottom picture , as they were close to the river bank.
I returned to the reserve just after lunch, by which time the whoopers had settled in a field at the far end of the reserve. The afternoon was nice and sunny and lots of people were walking their dogs along the banks of the Derwent. This disturbed the birds on the river and for most of the afternoon various groups of birds took to the air.

Several groups of whooper swans and a black swan joined the first group and by the time that I left at 4pm there were about 45 whoopers on the reserve. On the other side of the river a wildfowler was putting out his decoys to attract the wild ducks.
A very pleasant day and the evenings are getting lighter!!!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Xmas

A very Merry Christmas to you all and thanks for reading my blog. Today I have passed the 6000 visits.

No bills at The Dukeries.

Christmas eve birding with Chris. 7.30am start as Chris had planned 3 stops for our day, and the first one was in Notts.
On the way we called in on a local tourist hotspot, a special post box.
Sherwood Forest was our next stop, where we hoped to see some parrot crossbills. However despite our best efforts and that of other birders, the birds did not show until we left.
We passed several oak trees including The Major Oak

 The directions included go past the cows, which we photographed as we past.

Out onto a bit of open common, where we joined the other birders looking for the birds.

After a couple of hours we decided to call it a day and move on to Rufford in the hope of seeing lesser spotted woodpecker and hawfinches. Back in the car park we saw several little birds


 However the park was a bird free zone and so we moved on to Mirfield.  As soon as we arrived at the site in Mirfield a friendly birder pointed out our target to us. In the middle of the lake was a great northern diver. The light was not good and the bird was a bit too far away. A great crested grebe came close

some geese came into land.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Oxen Lane, Cliffe.

Football duties took me to Cliffe today, and I had time for a short walk along a public footpath.

A small flock of yellowhammers flew between the stubble in the fields and nearby tree tops. A pied wagtail was also flitting about in the stubble looking for insects.
In one direction I could see a few houses and an old windmill, whilst nearby a wind turbine was briskly turning in the strong wind. In the opposite direction I could see a power station, and wondered if it was Drax, which according to the news could soon close.

In one field a large number of rooks and jackdaws were feeding along with lots of black headed gulls. Towards the end of the football match, large numbers of herring and black backed gulls fought against the wind as they flew towards the Ouse to roost.