Sunday, 26 April 2015

Sunday afternoon at Blacktoft Sands.

I met Chris at Blacktoft Sands at 2pm. He had been to Ousefleet hide in the hope of seeing a curlew sandpiper and a red necked phalarope, neither of which could be seen. We then visited the rest of the hides, and saw marsh harriers from each one. And it appeared to us that the harriers were always giving a better display in front of the next hide!

However we were wrong!

A walk around St.Aidans.

When I joined Swillington  Bird Group, I was invited to join a walk around part of their "site" starting at 8.30am this morning. There was a slight chill in the air as we set off from the car park. One of the first birds we saw and heard was a whitethroat, the first one that I had seen this year.  Willow warbler and blackcap were also seen and heard before we crossed the river. As we walked across the bridge we saw a about half  dozen goosanders. We walked across the causeway and came to the lake where we saw black necked grebes.
I could sit and watch these colourful birds all day. However we had to walk on and we turned right. On our left we watched two whinchats as they flew between the wire, the fence posts and the ground as they hunted for food. A few yards further on we stopped to listen to and then watch first a sedge warbler and then a grasshopper warbler.
The grasshopper warbler was a long way away, but perhaps this heavily cropped photo gives you an idea of how it sings from an exposed area. A few yards further along we cam to where the paths cross and we came across my first wheatear of the year. Again not a very good photo.
Reed buntings were busy flying about in the reeds.
As we reached the perimeter path and turned right to start our way back to the start we heard then saw a lesser whitethroat, the sixth bird for my year list.

From this path you get a good view over the reserve and get some impression of its size. On our way back to the car park we heard then saw a garden warbler, the seventh new bird for my list.

We arrived back at the car park just before 1pm. A brilliant walk, with 2 excellent guides, and a bird list of 42.

Montagu's Harrier

A pair bred along the Humber Estuary last year and it looks as if they might have returned. It was a thrill to spend a couple of hours this weekend watching the pair displaying. I look forward to hearing more positive news of the birds.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Swift, house martin, black necked grebe at St,Aidans

Chris and I were free for a couple of hours this afternoon so we went to West Yorkshire to look for summer visitors. Our first stop was the hide at Astley Lake. Luckily I  joined Swillington  Bird Group so we were able to access the hide. From the hide we looked across Astley Lake and with the black headed gulls we saw a couple of arctic terns.

 There were a lot of large gulls flying around and one had a plastic bag attached to it somehow.

Our next stop was at St,Aidans. As we crossed the railway line we saw a single swift in the sky. There were a few sand martins as well. We could hear blackcap, chiffchaff and willow warbler.As we walked across the river we saw a jay perched on a post.

We walked across the causeway, but could not any terns flying around. Chris used his telescope to find a black necked grebe at the far end of the piece of water we were stood next to. A couple of birders walked past and asked us if we had seen anything special. When we mention the grebe, they said that they had seen them near where we were stood, and almost immediately one appeared!

 The light was not very good and I need to spend a bit more time "improving" the pictures.
As we left the reserve we passed a pied wagtail.

We also saw birds flying round above the causeway and when we looked through our binoculars we could see sand martins, swallows and house martins.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Looking for blackcap found brambling!!

I have mentioned in other blogs about seeing spring and winter birds together and today was another example. Chris and I met at North Cave Wetlands this afternoon. We were both hoping to see summer visitors during our visit, and I had seen my first swallow near Pocklington, on my way to the reserve.
Chris was in the South Hide when I arrived, and was able to do his party piece by finding the pair of med. gulls amongst all the black headed gulls. We were unable to find any summer visitors so moved to the Crosslands hide. The car park at North Cave was quite full and for a change most of the cars belonged to birders, not people having a walk round or customers at the cafĂ©. The hide was quite full, so we were not able to sit next to each other. Avocets were present, as were redshank, ruff, bar tailed godwit, dunlin, ringed and little ringed plover. In the far a corner a common sandpiper was busily feeding along the edge of the water. It slowly made its way to the hide.

 We decided then to have a walk along "warbler way" in the hope of seeing a blackcap. We heard and eventually saw a willow warbler, but could not locate any of the three blackcaps we could hear singing. As we scanning the trees for the blackcap we saw a brambling, then another and another. They were very mobile and I did not manage to get a decent photo.
We did manage to locate a male blackcap. Chris had been trying to locate woodlarks at Skipwith Common without any success, so we decided to call there on the way home. I went the country way and got four tractor numbers, whilst Chris "flew" along the motorway. The car park at Skipwith was full, but luckily we did not meet too many people. We heard and saw lots of willow warblers.
 We carried on along the track until we came to where I had seen the woodlarks on a previous visit.

 However we were unable to either hear or see a woodlark. But on the way back to the car we came across some eggs that had been predated.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Woodlarks at Skipwith Common

I had intended going to Blacktoft Sands after football, but I was too wet. So I had some home made Yorkshire puddings and onion gravy whilst my clothes dried. I then set off for Skipwith Common arriving just after 6pm. The wind had eased a little and the clouds had blown away and it looked as if the day would finish with some sunshine.

As I walked down the track I noticed a new structure on my right.
Which I presume is going to be a new viewing platform, perhaps to get a better view of the longhorn cattle.
I heard and saw a green woodpecker, but it flew off before I could get anywhere near enough to take a photo. A buzzard drifted over, mewing as it went.

 As I was watching the buzzard I noticed a woodlark in the air, singing its distinctive song, before it descended onto the path. There were some long pieces of grass between me and it and the camera kept trying to focus on them, so apologies for the pictures.

I continued my walk along another path, from where I could hear and see willow warblers. A pleasant way to end my walk.

Just enough time to pop down to North Duffield Carrs for possibly the last time until autumn.
As I expected there was no water on the reserve apart from in the scrape, where a pair of mallards were asleep. A couple of grey herons flew over the reserve.
It was now 8 pm and the light was starting to fade, just before I left, a curlew flew round.
A nice end not only to the day but also to my Easter holiday, as it is back to school tomorrow.