Sunday, 31 January 2016

Castle Howard walk

RSPB York Local Group walk today. We parked our cars in Coneysthorpe village and set off for our circular walk. It was very cloudy and it rained on and off during our walk. We saw redwing, fieldfare, blackbird, buzzard, great spotted woodpecker, robin, blue tit, great tit and chaffinch. A couple of skylarks flew up as we waked near a field of stubble. Pleasant company it was just a shame that the weather was not as pleasant.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Snowy Swillington Ings

Left home after lunch just as another wintery shower started. I decided to go to Swillington Ings as I could sit in the hide and shelter from the weather. When I arrived in the car park another shower was just starting, so I was pleased to find other birders in the hide which saved me from having to unlock the hide in the rain.
As I settled down in the hide the sun started to shine and one end of the faint rainbow was in the lake in front of us.
There were plenty of birds to be seen: shelduck, wigeon, goldeneye, teal mallard, curlew, lapwing and black headed gulls. A kingfisher flew down stream, then a short while later 2 flew back up stream. A male goosander landed in front of the hide.

The goosander was swimming towards the weir and we speculated as to what it would do when it reached the edge and we were all surprised to see it just swim over the edge.
Snow showers became more frequent  so bird watching was restricted to the sunny intervals. A buzzard was perched in a tree sheltering from the weather and a cormorant landed in front of the hide and started to fish.

More snow showers started to I left for home at the next fine interval in the weather.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Blue sky day at Blacktoft Sands

RSPB York Local Group had our "blue sky day" at Blacktoft Sands today. The site team kindly allowed us to use the volunteer room, so that we were free from any distractions. After we had finished our business for the day and eaten our lunch we went down to the reserve. The rain storm had blown through and although it was windy and a touch on the cold side, it was sunny.
After a quick word with Dave in reception and a warm near the wood burning stove we set off for the Ousefleet hide.

The colour and details of the birds plumage stood out well in the winter sunshine.

Some of the 150 plus black tailed godwits were feeding close to the hide as was a redshank.

We then walked down to the Townend hide to observe the harrier roost. The marsh harriers seem to enjoy windy days so we were hoping for a good roost, and we were not disappointed with at least 16 marsh harriers in the sky at the same time. They would spread out a little too far for me to capture them all in my camera lens.

 I tried to video them, please excuse the blank bits.
Our day was complete when at 3:45pm a male hen harrier flew into the roost.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

111 Nelson !

It was 9:30 before I left the house this morning. The forecast was for some sunshine this morning with rain spreading from the west, so I headed east. Bank Island was my first stop where I could see small flocks of wigeon and teal on the water. At North Duffield Carrs a man was walking his dog along the river bank and had disturbed all the birds. In the distance I could see lots of gulls and swans so drove to Aughton Church. Nothing to be seen from here except a great spotted woodpecker, The first number 1. Ellerton churchyard was my next stop. A couple had parked near a gate and were stood looking over the church wall. A flock of about 40 whooper swans were slowly swimming away. The second number 1.

Then the sound of gunfire from the other side of the river and the swans took to the air.
They did not fly far but out of my sight. I then headed for North Cave Wetlands where I arrived just before noon to find the car park full, so I drove along the lane and parked outside Crosslands hide. I then walked along the eastern edge  path  and at the corner saw the little owl. My third number 1.
As I walked back to the car I came across a couple looking at a goldcrest as it flew from bush to bush.

I then went into Crossland hide were I had some lunch whilst watching a marsh harrier hunting over some rough ground. After lunch I then drove back to the reserve entrance  and walked to the turret hide  where I saw a snipe and men erecting a new hide.
My last stop was t the feeders near the entrance where lots of small birds were on the feeders. However the birds were very cautious and did not spend much time on the feeders before  returning to the trees.

 A pleasant few hours out and 3 new birds for my year list bringing my total to 111.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Swillington Ings

Several jobs to do this morning so it was 11am when I set out. First stop was just outside Poppleton where I saw a line of gulls in a field. They were busy preening and kept moving about. I slowly worked through the line, stopping every now and again to have a closer look at a gull, Great black backed gull, herring gull, common gull and black headed gull, but no others that I could see. The farmer was cutting the hedge and was slowly working his way down the lane towards me so I put my telescope back in the car and left.
Swillington Ings was my next stop where I just managed to find a space in the car park, however there was no one in the hide. Lots of birds on view, mallard, teal, goldeneye, mute swan, pochard, shelduck, gadwall, wigeon, tufted duck and lots of black headed gulls. On the islands were lapwing, cormorants a single oystercatcher and a great black backed gull.
On the river I saw a kingfisher fly downstream and a male goldeneye was fishing and it was joined by two goosanders.


A female sparrowhawk flew past and disturbed the lapwings and over the hill a pair of buzzards were mobbed by the crows. A very pleasant couple of hours birding at the start of a busy two weeks.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Hen harrier at Blacktoft

I was on duty in reception today. Mike was already on the reserve helping get everything ready for the day. A few birders had turned up early in the hope of seeing the bewick swans which had been seen yesterday afternoon, sadly they were not there this morning. The following pictures were taken through the window of reception hide.

The marsh harriers were active for most of the day, and pink footed geese were flying over several times . Mike and I joined the other birders in Singleton hide about 4:15 to watch the marsh harrier roost. I managed to see six harriers in the sky at one time and just as it was getting dark a male hen harrier flew in. Just before we left a barn owl flew very low over the reeds. A perfect end to a good day.