Sunday, 23 February 2014

Sunday am at North Duffield.

A late night at my sons 21st, and football duties this pm. just left me enough time to squeeze in a couple of hours at North Duffield Carrs.
I spent an hour in each hide and there were signs of spring visible from both. from the top hide I could hear a skylark singing but I was unable to locate it. in front of the hide a wren was singing loudly as it very quickly flew about.

A pair of gadwall were displaying to each other.

Pochard and coot were swimming around.
Time to go to the second hide and on the way there I saw a grey partridge flying in the field on my left.
From Garganey hide it was possible to see a few birds on the edge of the water. in the group were, lapwing, redshank, oystercatcher, teal wigeon, mallard, shoveler, starling and golden plover.

I could also hear curlew as they flew around. A very pleasant couple of hours to round off half term week. A busy week ahead so probably no more blogs until the weekend. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

We,re ole right Jack!!

My sons 21st birthday party tonight, so today has been spent doing lots of jobs. Last job done  by 3pm so just time for a quick hours birding.
Went to the place Chris showed me yesterday, and after waiting a while for another chap to move from the parking space, I was in position to look for the barn owls. No sign of them, then about 3.30pm a white face appeared in the hole entrance. Then shortly afterwards another face appeared. One owl left the hole and had a fly round, landing on a fence post not far from the tree.

This photo and the next two have been heavily cropped.

After some mutual preening the pair continued to look out, then 3 jackdaws landed in the tree shouting "jack,jack,jack,jack" very loudly. The owls were no where to be seen!. The jackdaws hopped from branch to branch and then left. Shortly afterwards the owls were visible again.
A treecreeper landed in a nearby tree, pictures again have ben cropped.

A very pleasant interlude in a busy day.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Fairburns Redhead and Poppletons Barn Owl

Showers and rainbows today. For a change I was driving today and Chris and I set off for Fairburn Ings about 1.15pm. we were hoping to see a black necked grebe and a redhead smew. We parked where other birders had gathered and they told us that the grebe had not been seen for a while, but that the smew was a few yards away.
We walked up the road and joined others looking for the bird. We could see goldeneye and shovelers, coots and tufted ducks but no smew or grebe.

The rain started to come down so we retreated to the car, then a chap on a bike came by and told us that the smew could be seen back where we had been looking. A few minutes later I saw the redhead smew, as it kept diving for food.
We decided to go Lin Dyke Hide to see if the grebe had swum to that part of the world. As we walked down the path we saw the highland cows having a graze in the shallow water.

  From this hide we could see various birds including a redhead smew, which did not dive as much as the one I had seen earlier. No sign of the grebe so we decided to call in at the visitor centre. Here we added lots of birds to our day list including willow tit.

Time for us to move closer home for our last stop of the day. Chris discovered a barn owl near Poppleton and se we went back to the same place. In the same area we saw two buzzards and a field with fieldfares in it. Chris soon located the barn owls roost, but we looked away for a second and when we looked back the bird had gone. Two birds to add to my year list. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Signs of spring

Had an hour to fill this morning so used the time to have a walk around Heslington East. This part of York University has been good for various birds in the past couple of years so there was the possibility of a surprise. Rooks were busy feeding on the grass but did not like me getting too close.

There is a regular bus service along the route and one driver asked me what they called the black and white birds with orange beaks. Oystercatchers were stood nearby so I was able to answer his question easily.
More domestic jobs to do over lunch and early afternoon, but managed to sneak the last bit of daylight at North Duffield Carrs. The water level has risen since my last visit as can be seen in the picture of the gulls, they don't have much fence post to perch on. Pictures are a bit funny as I used my new telescope, I need more practice at digiscoping. 

As I left Garganey hide I noticed this little blue flower.
The first sign of spring perhaps?
As the light was fading I drove home via Thorganby and paid a short visit to the viewing platform.

Lots of water and plenty of wildfowl to see, and as I looked downstream I could see hundreds of lapwings on the little bits of the valley that were not flooded. Sons 21st birthday celebration this coming weekend, so I may not manage any more birding this week.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Fooled by a bittern!!!

An eight am start as Chris was taking us to the Saltholme area. As usual he had a plan, which he hoped would provide me with some birds to add to my year list, and give us both a chance for some photos. We made good progress as there was not much traffic. Chris parked the car and we spent a minute or two looking over the area as short eared owls had been reported, but we could not see them.
We walked along the road and saw a few seals that were lying on the mud. We could hear skylarks singing, but were unable to see them. A pair of mergansers were on the river, and several redshanks were flying up and down, landing on the mud at the bottom of the river bank.Several carline thistles were along the bank, adding a dash of colour.
In the corner of Seal Sands we saw red and black throated diver, velvet scoter, turnstone, redshank, black headed gulls and a whimbrel. We strolled back to the car in pleasant sunshine and managed to find a snipe sheltering along the edge of a pool.
At Saltholme we added lots of birds to our list at the Phil Stead hide, where a redpoll was happy on the feeders. A shoveler was busy preening at the waters edge.

We had now managed to get 50 birds on the days list and Chris told me that our next stop was to see a bittern that had been "showing well" all morning.Chris had set the sat nav for Thickley Wood so as to hide our destination. As we got closer I saw signs for the Railway Museum and the current display. Yesterday on our trip to Fairburn Ings I had mentioned to Chris about the museum. I was as thick as Thickley Wood, because I did not realise until we joined the queue for the car park that the bittern we were going to see was a steam engine. Chris as usual had planned the journey, and knowing that I enjoyed watching steam trains had included the museum on our trip, thanks Chris.
We joined the queue and spent about 20 minutes slowly moving towards the museum and been forced to listen to the bloke in front describing every step on his mobile phone, as he talked to someone. The following photos contain lots of people, as everyone was trying to take pictures, and some ripe language was aimed at people who got in other peoples shots. It was difficult not to get a person in the shot.

The last shot was taken using a fish eye option on my point and shoot camera.

Chris and I spent a happy hour or so taking photos of the engines. It then started to rain so we decided to head for Nosterfield on our way home. here we managed to add seven birds to our day list taking us to 58, just two short of the target Chris set us at 8am. However if you include Bittern and Mallard at Shildon then we made it!!!!