Monday, 22 June 2015

Fathers Day at Blacktoft Sands.

Domestic duties took up the morning, so it was 13:30 when I arrived at the reserve. The car park was full, which was not a surprise. After visiting reception, I went to Xerox hide, to look for the ring-necked duck, and again no surprise to find that the hide was full. I could see the duck as it sat on a piece of mud sleeping.
It moved once or twice, allowing us a brief view of its head and bill.

Not a brilliant picture as the bird was a long way away and the light was not brilliant.
After a few minutes I left, intending to return later, when most people had gone home. I walked down to the Ousefleet hide to find very little water, and fewer birds, but 4 ponies.

Marshland hide was my next stop, but all I could see was black headed gulls, no wonder this hide was empty.

Xerox hide was still full so I moved on to First hide. Not a lot of birds to see on the scrape, but good views of marsh and montagu's harriers flying over the distant reedbed.
From Townend hide I could see two spotted redshanks and a greenshank. Sorry about the pictures, but the birds were a fair distance away.

From Singleton hide I was able to watch a family of mute swans swim by. Pictures were difficult as the vegetation is quite tall and the camera would focus on that, not the birds.

 It was now 5pm, so I decided to return to Xerox hide, where I hoped to eat my tea, whilst watching the ring necked duck. The hide was now empty as I had hoped it would be, and I was able to sit down and watch the duck. I was joined by Karl, a Blacktoft guide. No sooner had Karl sat down and got his camera out of his bag, and the bird started to swim around and then flew off!
We watched the bird fly around and it appeared to land in front of Singleton hide. Karl set off in the hope of seeing the bird and I followed after having eaten my tea.
The duck had not landed in front of the hide, so we did not know where it had flown to.
However it was a pleasant afternoon out.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Driving me " quackers"

I was busy cutting the hedge using a pair of hand shears, and I  heard a duck call. I thought that it was some children who were playing near by. The noise continued, and when I looked over the top of the hedge I could see a female mallard with her ducklings. They where near the road, and magpies were sat on television aerials keeping an eye on their progress. Neighbours from across the road managed to round the family up and transport them to the local beck.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Wet Sunday afternoons birding

The weather this weekend was not what I expected having seen the weather forecast on Friday. Saturday's weather was not as bad as I expected and todays was much worse. I met Chris at Blacktoft Sands just after noon. It was raining as I made my way to Marshland Hide.

There were a few black headed gulls on one island and mallards on another. Swifts and swallows were flying low over the water, hunting for insects. It had stopped raining and visibility had improved
so we moved on to the next hide. From here we watched a pair of avocets chasing off any marsh harrier that came anywhere near the scrape.

A pair of little egrets took to the air and flew towards Ousefleet.  A pair of marsh harriers did a food pass,

On our way to the next hide we saw this spiders web.
 Singleton hide was very busy as people were in the hide hoping to see the Montagu's Harriers. Lots of swifts and house martins were flying low over the scrape, and we added wigeon, mute swan and great crested grebe to our day list.
We decided to move on to North Cave and this was the view from the South hide. We had visited Crosslands hide first and had seen a male garganey and this coot family

A couple of mallard ducklings were busy feeding along the edge of the water in front of the South hide.
The black headed gulls were dominating the raft in the middle of the scrape.
 Chris left for home and I took a detour via North Duffield Carrs. The field next to the footpath is full of buttercups and clover.
From the hide I could see a marsh harrier hunting over the reserve.
A pair of curlew flew round calling and a peregrine falcon was sat on a distant fence post.
A pleasant end to an afternoons birding in unpleasant conditions.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Wednesday evening at Strensall Common

It was a lovely summer evening and I had to go to Srensall to pick up some tables for the RSPB stand at West Bank Park on June 28th. The traffic was horrendous and it took me an hour to get from Burton Stone Lane to the village.

As I was near the reserve I had planned to go for a walk, but due to arriving a good hour later than expected I was not able to walk as far as I had planned, and the midges were out in force.

I could hear a cuckoo in the distance, and in the woodland I could hear chiff chaff, willow warbler, robin and a song thrush singing.

 Sherriff  Hutton Castle

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Bittern at Blacktoft Sands

I managed to squeeze three hours birding at Blacktoft in between domestic jobs today.
There was the usual warm and friendly greeting from the team in reception, with an update on the birds on the reserve.
I decided to go the first hide where I met a chap who was hoping to see the Montagu' s harriers. The marsh harriers were showing well but no sign of the montys.  A bittern flew low across the reedbed.

Not brilliant pictures as the bird was a long way away, but it was the first bittern that I had seen this year. I then moved on to the next hide where marsh harriers were taking a keen interest in the island that some black headed gulls were on.

From the end hide I had a good view of the reed bed and could see marsh harriers flying to and fro and a pair doing a food pass.
On one island a pair of herons were stood, basking in the sunshine.
They soon disturbed the other birds and the shelduck flew off. I went to Xerox hide wfhere I saw shovelers having a preen and a single avocet flitted about.
From Marshland hide a few mallards were having a preen in the evening sunshine and a little grebe was diving for food near the hide.
In the hide I saw this moth.

Outside the hide a wren was loudly ticking away at something.
In the car park I saw the first butterfly I have seen for weeks.