Sunday, 22 February 2015

Lazy birding on a wet/cold afternoon.

My plan for today was to go to Nosterfield and watch the murmuration, as it was the last day of half term. However as usual plan did not work out and it was gone 1pm before I had done all the little jobs that had crept up. I decided that t was too late to go to Nosterfield and that the weather would probably be unsuitabale to stand outside and watch, so decided on a spot of lazy birding at North Cave Wetlands. I was able to park outside south hide and walk a few yards to the relative comfort of the hide. Luckily I could open the hide window as the wind was blowing in another direction. There were a small group of tufted ducks and pochard in front of the hide, enjoying the shelter that the bank and trees gave them.

Coot were feeding right in front of the hide.
Shelduck were sheltering on the far bank with a few oystercatchers.
A kingfisher flew by, but did not land on one of the perches in front of the hide. Several birds were showing signs of finding partners including these great crested grebes. They would swim close together, then one would dive and re-appear several yards away. They would then start to display, but sadly it only ever got as far as a few head shakes.

The grebes then moved to different parts of the lake so I decided to visit crosslands hide. Again I could open a window without the rain pouring in.
This group of gulls and coots were the only birds that I could see, however it was very pleasant to see so many common gulls. I think that there must have been over a 100 of them. I decided it was time to head for home via North Duffield Carrs. Not surprisingly the car park was empty, and not many birds on the reserve either.

I decided to walk to garganey hide as the rain had eased off a little bit.In front of the hide were some wigeon, pintail and shoveler.

The wigeon kept flying between the water and the nearby field
Lapwings and dunlin landed at the edge of the water.

The light was fading fast so I decided to leave the reserve and go home. Quite a pleasant afternoons birding on a nasty winter afternoon, with just a touch of spring in the air.

Broadhighway, Wheldrake. Saturday.

Tea, cake and birding at a friends yesterday. The birds in the garden kept us entertained as we drank our tea and ate delicious banana cake!
A sparrowhawk flew through the garden and landed in a tree, but perched on the other side! A kestrel kept returning to the telephone wire, but was a bit wary of us. Blue tits, great tits, dunnocks, robins and blackbirds were busy feeding, and appeared to have found partners, whilst in the next field 5 magpies were busy chasing each other about. Sorry for he lack of photos, but the birds were just too far away.

Friday, 20 February 2015

3 barn owls at North Duffield Carrs.

Domestic duties took up all morning so it was 3pm before I arrived at the reserve today. As usual I walked straight down to garganey hide and on the way met John Wolf, who was looking for a barn owl he had seen over half an hour earlier.
We both settled into the hide and were watching a few mute swans and about 30 shelducks in the distance. Closer to the hide were wigeon, teal, lapwing, golden plover and dunlin. No sign of whooper swans or pintail as on my last visit.
A buzzard was sat on a post as usual, and two other buzzards turned up later, but no sign of a barn owl. About 4.30pm I moved places in the hide to look over another part of the reserve, and lo and behold a barn owl appeared, so I had to return to my original seat.! the barn owl hunted, dropped into the grass, and then perched on top of a fence pole. It repeated this process several times, and once got close enough for me to get a photo.
The light was not brilliant and when a small herd of whooper swans and a black swan flew by, it was hard to see them.
The barn owls were more active near the other hide so I decided to go to the other hide but the light was not much better for photos as you can see.
From the hide I could see both the "lighter" coloured barn owl and the one with darker wings, as they were sat on fence posts quite a distance apart, when I noticed a third barn owl hunting in front of the other hide. I saw John a few minutes later and he confirmed that he too had seen all three barn owls. 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Another wild goose chase.

Chris and I, assisted by Sheila, decided that the best weather for birding today would be in the Hartlepool area. We encountered some rain on our journey north but it had stopped by the time we reached our first destination at Castle Eden. Just as we were about to set off on our walk, Chris looked at his pager and read news about some geese nearby, so we decided to go and find them It only took us about 15 minutes to find the spot and park on the grass verge. Within minutes we had located the birds in our telescopes, several pink feet and a tundra bean goose. Two excellent birds for my year list, and a good addition for our day list, for which Chris had set a target of 55. A wild goose chase with a positive ending.
This picture is a "record shot" of the flock of greylag, canada  pink feet and tundra geese.

Saltholme RSPB reserve was our next stop where we visited the wildlife watchpoint and Phil Stead hides. We saw greenfinch, goldfinch, reed buntings, robin and chaffinches on the feeders, which helped to boost our day list. From here we went to Dormans Pool, where from the viewing point we saw a green winged teal, pintail, gadwall and great black backed gulls.

Time to move on towards Hartlepool Headland, calling in at North Gare road, where we came across some wigeon by the side of the road,

Reed butings and skylarks in the car park, Pictures through the car windscreen!

Newburn Bridge was our next stop, where we added sanderling, oystercatcher, turnstone and med. gull to our list.
Hartlepool fish quay was our next stop where we hoped to see a black guillemot, but drew a blank, nice views of a male eider,
A walk around the headland allowed us to add pied wagtail and rock pipit to our list.

A group of cormorants were stood on some rocks
The birds then flew outside the harbour and began fishing in one area.
Ward Jackson Park was our next stop, where goosander, coot and moorhen helped us get closer to our target of 55 birds.

Three male tufted ducks were swimming in a row.
Greenabella was our next stop where  during a short walk we added shoveler, red breasted merganser and a spotted redshank.

Cowpen Bewley park was our last stop where we added bullfinch and yellowhammer. apologies for the photo, it was taken through the windscreen.
We now had 59 birds on our list, which by the time we got home had grown to 60 , as we saw a buzzard near Shipto by Beningbrough. A good days birding which  saw my year list grow to 125.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Waxwings for breakfast!

I got a text from Chris on Tuesday evening telling me that waxwings had been seen near his house. just after nine o'clock this morning I got another text from him to say that a waxwing was on Beckfield Lane . So I quickly jumped into my car and drove to the spot and managed a brief glimpse of a single bird on the top of a tree.

Back to domestic chores until after 1pm when Chris and I set off for an afternoons birding down the Lower Derwent Valley. Our first port of call was Bank Island, just south of Wheldrake. Here we saw greylag and Canada geese, pintail, wigeon and a buzzard.

The viewing platform at Thorganby was our next stop where we saw very few birds apart from a pair of mistle thrushes.
North Duffield Carrs was our final stop, where walked down to garganey hide. It was fairly quite to start with, not many birds to be seen. Slowly things started to happen.
43 whooper swans flew in.

Once they had landed they all started to have a drink and then start to preen. It was quite a busy scene, and thanks to the lovely sunshine we could watch them easily, at least 5 of them were young birds.
We could see 20 shelducks down the far end of the reserve along with a few mute swans. Then more swans joined the whoopers including a black swan. In the distance we saw a buzzard and later on there were 3 in the sky together.
Not a brilliant photo, but then one of the buzzards decided to have a low level flight over the reserve.
This caused quite a commotion as lapwing, dunlin, curlew and golden plover flew around. As they twisted and tuned in the sky, one moment you could see brown and then white.

Things settled down for a while, with the wigeon out on the grass grazing.

It was about 4pm by this time and almost on cue a barn owl made an appearance.

A pleasant end to an afternoons birding.