Sunday, 30 October 2016

Kingfisher steals the show at Blacktoft.

I was on duty today in the reception hide. I usually do some bird watching after  my shift but now that the clocks have changed that is not possible. I therefore arrived early so that I could bird watch before my shift. As I unlocked the gates at 0730 I met a chap from Cornwall  who had been staying nearby overnight and had forgotten about the clocks changing so he was pleased to be able to get onto the reserve and thoroughly enjoyed himself. He had some wonderful views of marsh harriers, some of the closest he has had.
I had a walk down to Ousefleet and in the distance I could see a roe deer on the path.

From the hide at Ousefleet I could see a family of whooper swans, 2 adults and three young
 A greenshank was on Townend lagoon
 A marsh harrier was hunting over the reed bed in front of Singleton hide.
On the way back to the reception hide I saw a young toad on the path
 A party of whooper swans flew south

 A wren was busily feeding outside the hide..
Although the number of visitors was on the low side most of the visitors came into reception hide to report their sighting of a kingfisher on Marshland lagoon. The bird would be sat on one of the mud islands and then fly up and hover before plunging into the water and catching a fish. It then returned to the island and banged the fish on the mud before eating it. It repeated this several times allowing people to take lots of photographs. Sadly not me, by the time I arrived it had left!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Male hen harrier wakes up Blacktoft!

I had a few hours spare in between taxi jobs today so decided to pop along to Blacktoft Sands. As I went over Boothferry Bridge I could see that the Ouse was at  a low level so I expected things to be quiet on the reserve. There was only one car in the car park when I arrived it was that quiet.
Eddie had been in Xeron hide and had seen a large number of black tailed godwits and a possible bar tailed. Bill was on duty in reception hide and I had a few words with him before going to the Ousefleet hide. The ponies were in a playful mood.
Goldcrests and long tailed tits were singing as I walked under the trees to the hide. From the screen I could not see any birds but I could hear a cetti's warbler in the reedbed.
From the hide I could see several wigeon, lots of teal and a few shoveler. On one of the islands a few lapwings were stood with a single ruff. Six snipe were asleep at the edge of the water and 4 shelduck were also feeding.  A nice quiet morning with a pair of stonechats singing in the reedbed and the odd pied wagtail bobbing about. I decided to have a cup of coffee and had just filled the cup when the wigeon flew off. I looked up to see if a marsh harrier was disturbing them but it was a male hen harrier flying quite low over the water. It then flew over the reedbed and I managed a couple of record shots.

 Birdlife returned to quiet mode after the bird flew further down the reserve.

Illuminating York

It is the time of year when York is "illuminated" on an evening and last night I visited some of the attractions. I started off at the National Railway Museum, which I found disappointing compared to previous years. Not many locomotives were illuminated and the footbridge was closed.

I then walked into the city and discovered only a few buildings were illuminated. The Minster had a light show inside but it was £8 to enter so I walked on by. St. Michael le Belfry was light on the outside but a vendor had her stall of light wands very close in front of the building, which made getting a photo of the whole effect difficult.
The Shambles had a light show consisting of white lights going round in circles. Cliffords Tower was also illuminated but some people were walking around the edge of the walls making it difficult to get a clear shot.
In my opinion the star of the evening was the display in Holy Trinity church off Goodramgate.
Remember overhead projectors? Objects like flowers were placed on them and projected on to parts of the church.

It was well worth waiting in the queue. I then walked back through town towards the railway station. This church tower was illuminated.
The reason I went to the railway station was to see the steam train as the Scarborough Spa Express had been running this week.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Birding round Hartlepool

At long last I have managed to make some time to go out birding with Chris. He picked me up at0745 and we headed for RSPB Saltholme. We drove through some rain on our way to the reserve which was probably reflected in our list of birds. Chris set the target at 50 birds for the day and we only had 9 on our list. We started looking for a long tailed duck but could not see it. We went to the Phil Stead hide as we waited for Saltholme to open. We could see wigeon, teal, moorhen and a black tailed godwit. These starlings were perched in a tree near the entrance.

Once the reserve had opened we walked to the Allotment pool in the hope of seeing a red necked grebe but we had no joy. It might have helped had we taken a telescope with us! A black necked grebe was our next target bird and we were in luck this time. A record shot of the bird.
 On our way to see the grebe lots of greylags flew over us.

High tide was at 1135 so we drove to Newburn Bridge where we added a few waders to our list and Chris found a med.gull.

Hartlepool Headland looked good in the sun so we decided to drive round and look for more birds for
our list. It was fairly quiet plus clouds ha drifted in, Before long Chris found more birds for our list and we had exceeded our target of 50. We added eider, rock pipit, house sparrow and purple sandpiper. Turnstones and starlings were busy looking for food in the seaweed.
 As we approached the car Chris spotted some goldcrests in the trees. Ward Jackson park was our next stop where we soon spotted red neck parakeets, but they were perched in the top of the trees and my photos were no good.
North Gare road was a stop on the way home but we had no look with any owls. Dormans Pool was our last stop but we did not find any birds to add to our list which now stood at 62. Thanks for doing the driving Chris.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

A quiet day at Spurn

Today I went with RSPB York Local Group to Spurn. The trip was our monthly outing and Spurn had been chosen a year ago, As far as the weather went a better date could not have been chosen as we had sunshine all the way.
We stopped at Easington in the hope of seeing a wheatear but no luck however I got a quick glimpse of this goldcrest.
Sammys point was our next stop where we added blackcap and ring ouzel to our list. The ring ouzel was difficult to photograph as it insisted in standing behind bits of grass.

As it was now nearly lunchtime we headed to Canal scrape and ate lunch sat in the hide. Redwing were also having lunch in the bushes nearby.
After lunch we walked along the bank back to the Crown and Anchor car park. We saw lots of redwings and robins but were unable to add to our day list. However we managed to find a snow bunting at the caravan park, but the bird insisted on staying in the shadow.
Kilnsea wetlands and Beacon Ponds were our last stop where we added woodcock and scaup to our list to bring our total to 57.
Lots of brent geese came flying in as we were making our way home.