Monday, 30 March 2015

Sunday afternoon at Blacktoft Sands

The RSPB Members weekend was over , how quickly the weekend goes! Time for some birding so I decided to go to Blacktoft to see the avocets. In the car park a robin and chaffinch were waiting to greet me!
My first stop was at Ousefleet hide from where I could see, shelduck, teal, gadwall and greylag geese.
I had read the sightings book in reception and an entry said that avocets were here, but the only black and white birds that I could see were black headed gulls. About 20 minutes later I could hear avocets but still could not see them. A very strong wind was blowing and they had been sheltering behind one of the islands, and gradually about 18 birds appeared. They were too far away to get anything like a decent photo, but this might give you some ide as to where they were.
I spent about 20 minutes watching them as they fed and had a little fly around and then went to Marshlands hide. Here I added goldeneye to my list and little grebe.
From Xerox hide I added shoveler and wigeon to my list.
Snipe could be seen at the waters edge as they either fed or slept in the long grass, keeping out of the strong wind.
From the end hide there was a lot of activity as greylag geese kept flying off and then returning. Several pairs of little grebes were dashing about, chattering whenever they surfaced.
A pheasant came strutting by

At one point during the early evening I saw 5 marsh harriers in the sky at once. Two flew around together for a while, whilst a singleton soared high on the wind. As the harriers flew to my left, the force of the wind sometimes caused them to hover, when they flew to my right, the strong wind pushed them passed me very quickly.


One marsh harrier flew very high and the sun caught the colours and it was a good contrast against the dark clouds. It was however a long way from me so my photo does not do it justice.
A pleasant way to end a very hectic weekend.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Saturday afternoon at Castle Howard.

RSPB Members Weekend at York University, A pair of great crested grebes had a nest near the central hall, I wonder if it is the same pair as last year?

Saturday afternoon I took a coach party to Castle Howard.

A walk down to the lake provided me with several birds for the day list, gadwall, mandarin, tufted duck and cormorants.
I then had a walk through Ray Wood, where I added nuthatch, willow tit to the list. Various plants were in flower.

As I walked towards the coach park I came across a jackdaw which was exploring a hole in a nearby tree.

A pleasant afternoons birding with a list of 38 birds. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Blacktoft Sands: a touch of spring,a touch of winter.

It is RSPB Members weekend at York University next weekend, so I had lots of jobs to do at home, which took me all of Saturday and this morning. I arrived just after half past one, and although the sun was shining, there was a cold touch in the wind.
After booking in at reception, I went to the Xerox hide where I came across the first touch of winter in the form of two whooper swans, who had flown in from the direction of the river.

The birds looked very nervous and spent a lot of time behind one of the islands.
 Shortly after I took these pictures, the birds took off and flew North, slowly gaining height. Where would their next stop be, Scotland, Iceland?
On one of the other islands where some black tailed godwits, but these flew off. My next stop was Marshland hide. I chose this because later on in the afternoon the sun would be shining directly into the hide, making the birds silhouettes. However with only a black headed gull, a goldeneye, a pochard and a tufted duck on view, it was a pointless trip.
Off I walked to Ousefleet hide, where I decided to eat my lunch. The ponies were near the hide.

I am not sure what he was telling me!!
The black tailed godwits that I had seen at Xerox hide were busily feeding at the far edge of the water. Then a buzzard flew over and the birds had a fly round.

After lunch I walked down to the first hide where pheasants were close to the hide.
From the next hide shovelers were busy swimming in circles.

From the last hide there was a lot of activity. Greylag geese were very vocal, and pairs kept flying off.
A marsh harrier flew close to the birds and disturbed them as it landed in the reedbed.
The marsh harriers then did a food pass.
Snipe were feeding at the edge of the water, in front of the hide, but were difficult to see.

I left at half past five as the light was starting to go, but on the way home I managed to get some photos of the sunset. First from Goole, and then from Boothferry Bridge.