Sunday, 30 November 2014

An owl of an end at North Duffield Carrs,

Aughton church tower stood out in the winter afternoon sunshine. For over four hundred years this church has seen the River Derwent flood in winter and attract thousands of birds, what tales it could tell!
The main event of the last afternoon of November was the disturbance, and how few birds could be seen on the reserve. Firstly planes were circling overhead and disturbing the teal.

As soon as the birds settled on the water, the drone of the planes engines could be heard, and off they would fly again. Once or twice the beat of the engine missed, but sadly the plane neither crashed or flew away!

It did eventually fly off to annoy someone else, but then two dog walkers came out from the farm with their dogs.
The teal flew away and so I decided to leave garganey  hide and try my luck from the Geoff Smith hide. From here I could see wigeon, teal, mallard, tufted duck and gadwall on Bubwith Ings. Beyond the church three buzzards were flying close to each other, and four whooper swans were on the water. A wren was busy telling someone off in front of the hide, and a fox ran quickly across the reserve.

Then the plane came back again, and this times the flock of about 300 lapwings took to the air.

 The light was starting to fade now, so the plane left and peace returned again to the carrs. I was joined in the hide by a couple who had been to North Cave, but had been unable to locate the bean goose. About 4;30pm, when it was almost dark our attention was drawn to a flock of black headed gulls, who were flying about, showing lots of white as they twisted and turned, we then saw a barn owl quartering near the scrape. It landed on a metal gate for a few minutes before flying over the river where it began to hunt along the river bank. It dropped out of sight and we were not able to pick it up in the darkness. A nice end to an afternoons birding.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Late Sunday afternoon at North Duffield Carrs

For various reasons I only managed about 90 minutes birding this weekend, from 3pm till 4.30pm at North Duffield. The sun was shining as I headed south along the A19 and turned off in Escrick. Along the road to Skipwith the roadside trees still had their leaves, most of which were a golden yellow in the sunlight.
There was one car in the car park at North Duffield Carrs, and I met Tom and Bernard near the Geoff Smith hide, where they told me what they had seen. Across the river, Bubwith Ings had flooded and lots of birds were on the water.

It was pleasant in the late afternoon sunshine, but the temperature in the hide was much lower and I was glad that I was wearing my coat.
Too far for my camera to capture any detail but I hope that you can see the extent of the flooding. The level of the river is high, so perhaps a bit more rain this week might cause a bit of flooding on the reserve. From the hide I could see, Canada and greylag geese, pochard, wigeon, mallard and black headed gulls. The larger gulls did not stop but continued flying towards their roost near the Humber.
A lady walking hear dog on the near bank disturbed a few birds.

In the distance I could see small flocks of lapwing and golden plover take to air as they were disturbed by other walkers. Five whooper swans flew upstream and appeared to land somewhere near where I had seen the lapwings and golden plover flying. A female sparrowhawk flew close to hide, but she was gone before I could reach my camera.
The light was slowly starting to deteriorate
and it was time to be heading for home. A kestrel was hovering nearby, hunting for its supper.

I was happy with seeing 22 different birds in the 90 minutes that I had spent there, and things look good for the coming winter if the amount of floodwater increases.
Only another 25 days to the start of my "summer", when the daylight starts to increase each day, and birding after work becomes possible again.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Hayburn Wyke to Bempton

Recent reports of a Richards pipit in fields near Hayburn Wyke Inn, tempted Chris and I to make that our first venue for the day. It was misty as we left York at 8am, and as we drove across the North Yorkshire Moors, we could see the mist filling the valleys, and from the top of Blue Bank all we could see was mist not Whitby.
We walked through some woodland and looked over the coast. We managed to see a deer but no pipit.

Scalby Mills was our next stop where we added wigeon and great black backed gull to our day list.
Chris had set the target for the day at 50 and we were only just half way!

We briefly called in on the med. gulls in the south of Scarboro, on our way to Filey Brigg. Grey phalarope and little auks had been reported so we set off in anticipation of adding to our list.

One or two plants were still in flower, despite the chill wind. Visibility was not brilliant and the sun only managed a very hazy appearance. We walked along the path at the top of Carr Naze, and joined other birders looking through scopes.  A small group of cormorants did a few acrobatics as the landed on the sea, and a single fulmar flew low over the waves.

As the waves broke over the end of Filey Brigg, we saw eider, scoter and red throated divers. We also saw little auks flying past, guillemots on the sea , and pom. skuas flying past. A short visit to Filey Dams added three birds to our list.

Bempton Cliffs was our last call of the day, where we hoped to see short eared owls. The work on the new visitor centre is going on.

Down at the cliffs, it was very quiet. Hardly any birds to be seen apart from a few passing gulls and a peregrine hunting overhead.

One or two plants were still in flower and some insects could be seen.

We walked round the area that has been set aside for wildlife, with cover for voles and seeds for buntings etc. As we walked round we saw some fungi in a nearby field, but sadly no owls. However Chris had organised another good day for us and my year total is slowly increasing . I have seen 227 different birds this year and only need to find another four to beat last years total.

We came across this computer desk in the middle of the area!!