Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Frosty morning at Blacktoft

Domestic duty took me to Whitgift this morning to pick up some logs for my daughter, however I could not collect the logs for a couple of hours so I popped down to Blacktoft Sands. As I walked from the car park towards the toilets I could hear fieldfares chattering as they searched for berries in the bushes.

Tree sparrows were busy at the feeders whilst moorhens and pheasants were busy picking up the bits of seed etc. that the sparrows had scattered about. A female reed bunting posed briefly by the side of the path.
I walked down to Ousefleet and saw the Konic ponies.
From the hide I could see several shelduck, a shoveler, a snipe and a lapwing on one of the islands.
A marsh harrier flew over
after it had flown past several teal flew from the direction of the grazing marsh. I then suddenly saw that a sparrow hawk had landed a few yards away in front of the hide. I think that it must have heard the noise from my camera as it suddenly flew away.

On my way to Marshland hide I saw a flock of about 400 lapwings and golden plover in the field next to the path.
 From the hide at Marshland  I could see a shelduck and a little egret.

There was a disturbance and the lapwings from the field flew over the lagoon
this spooked the egret which flew off.
There were no birds to be seen from either Xerox, First or Townend hides so I walked on to Singleton. Here I could see 7 shelducks and a young mute swan.
A robin perched on the reeds along the ditch.
A marsh harrier was perched in a bush on the opposite end of the lagoon.
A buzzard perched in a bush on the left hand side of the lagoon
The buzzard then flew across the lagoon and landed in another bush
The marsh harrier flew from its bush and chased the buzzard away. It was now time to go and collect the logs. On the way home I called in at North Duffield Carrs and I was surprised to see some water on the reserve and in the field next to the river. Like Blacktoft the water was frozen and there were not many birds about.
A pair of mute swans were in front of Garganey hide. As I walked back to the car park I saw them fly to the river where they landed next to a family of mute swans, but as you can see from the picture one of the swans was not happy that they landed close to their three young and started to chase the birds away.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Tawny owl, short eared owl, marsh harrier, hen harrier and Chris Packham

RSPB Blacktoft Sands this afternoon for the first of this winters harrier roost. I arrived mid-morning and joined Sara in reception. It was a fairly quiet day both people wise and bird wise despite the nice sunshine. There were lots of snipe in front of Xerox hide

Lots of fieldfares on the reserve feeding on the berries on the long hedge
While Sara and I carried a couple of benches down to Singleton hide. Anne , this weeks residential volunteer looked after reception. She had a visitor who had been to a Save the Hen Harrier event and had brought a "model" hen harrier for the reserve to have.
This had been signed by Chris Packham
But now for the real thing. Anne and I went down to Singleton hide and joined the other birders in the hide. Marsh harriers were active and before long we could see seven in the sky at the same time. The marsh harriers became less active and the only birds we could see were flocks of fieldfares as they flew into the reed bed to roost.
Then I saw a harrier flying low over the reeds and as it turned I could see the white rump. A couple of very distant shots.

The bird flew around long enough for everyone to be able to see it before it dropped into the reed bed. Another period of inactivity followed, broken only by more fieldfares coming into roost and then the marsh harriers starting flying again and six birds were fairly close together when the hen harrier joined them briefly. It was mobbed briefly by a marsh harrier and it flew towards the hedge where it disturbed a buzzard and a short eared owl. The owl flew over the hedge and out of view and then a few minutes later came back  into view as it again hunted over the reeds before disappearing into the gloom. A few lapwings flew over towards Ousefleet and we decided to call it a day.
    As we were getting into our cars a tawny owl called from the trees in the car park. An excellent end to a day and hopefully next Saturdays harrier roost event will be as good as this weeks.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Seals at Greatham Creek

Trip with school today to RSPB Saltholme. It was cold and misty as we made our way out of York and along the A19 and we wondered if we would be able to see anything when we arrived on Teesside. After joining the dual carriageway at Thirsk the cloud cover started to break up and we saw the sun! The weather improved as we travelled further north and by the time that we arrived at Greatham Creek the sun was shining.
From the screen we were able to watch seals arrive, have a play with each other and then haul themselves out onto the mud.

We then drove to RSPB Saltholme where we visited several hides and saw a total of 31 different birds. From the Phil Stead hide we saw a male pintail

 Wigeon were grazing round the edge.
A redshank came close to the hide

A snipe was in the shade on an island and teal and mallard were feeding in the winter sun.

A walk around the reserve was rewarded with close views of Canada geese
and a stonechat.
We left the reserve and called in at Greatham Creek on our way home. We could see 26 seals on the mud. In the creek fishing was a red breasted merganser.
On the way back we saw a kingfisher. This picture is from Blacktoft.
I am hoping for a nice sunny day tomorrow and a bit of wind for the harrier roost at dusk at Blacktoft.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

From a city wall

Took the car in for a service today and walked a "long way" home . The first diversion was to walk along the city walls towards the minster. As it was a dull day and early in the morning I was the only person walking along.

Near the minster there are gardens close to the wall.
 I could hear birds singing and saw a robin, great tit , blue tit, long tailed tit.

As I got further round the walls I could see that men were working on the minster.

As they were close to the area where the peregrines are I popped down to have a look but there were no birds to be seen, not even a pigeon!
I carried on with my long route.


The level of the  River Ouse was high enough to flood the lower footpaths and debris was starting to collect near one of the bridges.

 The railway station was my last detour.

 RSPB Saltholme on Saturday with a school trip and then on Sunday afternoon helping Sara at Blacktoft with the Harrier Roost.