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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Rain half stops play

The plan was to be out with some of the other guys today but with a forecast of heavy rain and there being nothing worth getting wet for it was decided not to bother however with the forecast also saying it may fare up this afternoon I decided to chance a trip to Blacktoft Sands after lunch, if it was wrong at least there were hides. The rain stopped even as I was driving there and it turned into a fairly pleasant afternoon with just one threat of a squall but that passed by, the reserve was quiet, I had been expecting more Ducks than there were to be honest but amongst the handful that were there, at least one of them was the 1st winter drake Scaup thats been around for several days, I stayed on for the Raptor roost which included up to ten Marsh and four Hen Harriers, two males, plus two Peregrines also flew over probably looking for their last meal of the day.
not the best looking Scaup I've ever seen

a few Lapwing and Dunlin flying around otherwise just
a handful of Snipe on the Wader front

the two males as usual kept their distance

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Up t' North

Out with Pete and Paz today and we headed north up to Boldon Flats near South Shields first thing where a couple of Glossy Ibis have been kicking around for a few days now, a couple of locals soon put us on the birds which were actually in a field down a nearby lane although it was not the best of views in the murky conditions, it was a dreadful rainy morning and we hoped heading back south would bring us out of it but the forecast was a bit out and it would be early afternoon before it eventually fared up. We linked over to the A1 next then came back off at Sedgefield dropping straight into Bradbury where a Great Grey Shrike is wintering, we had minimalist information on this bird but I’d noted a railway bridge mentioned a few times, we found the bridge no problem and as luck would have it as we were stood there the Shrike flew along the railway and into a nearby bush giving really good views, I rushed back for the camera but unfortunately by the time I got back it had moved further down. It wasn’t far to the next site, Sadberge on the outskirts of Darlington and we soon located the little group of three Whoopers and one Bewick’s Swan that are residing just north of there then it was on to Teesside, Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool was first up where we found up to 15 Ring Necked Parakeets doing their stuff, there had been nothing reported from the Headland so we went to Jackson’s Landing next, it was rather quiet but we managed a single Red Breasted Merganser there, a quick stop at Newburn Bridge and then it was on to Seaton Snook where we found a small flock of Snow Buntings but no Twite today. With the light fading fast we ended the day with a scan over Saltholme pools from the lay-by adding many common species of Ducks and Waders etc with the bonus of a female Long Tailed Duck on East Pool and an Iceland Gull on Back Saltholme, apart from the weather it had been a really good day.
Glossy Ibis through the murk

Sadberge Swans


female Goosander showing well on the Park pond

Snow Buntings at Seaton Snook

Friday 17th
I nipped up to the Red Kite roost at Nunburnholme after work and had up to 20 over the wood on and off but distant, a couple of Buzzards came closer, then in the last 10-15 mins of light they all got up for one last fly around and I counted at least 47, probably more, a very impressive sight indeed.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


Seemed like a good day for Crossbills today so I headed South, I started at Rufford CP arriving just after first light and had a couple of brief sightings of Hawfinch in the first half hour however as the sun began to rise two birds started showing fairly well and although remaining at the top of the trees they looked really good in the morning sun. Happy with that I then headed off to nearby Budby Common for the first of my main target species, Parrot Crossbills and as luck would have it they were feeding in a conifer close to the first crosstracks this morning, bumped into Chris and Ollie a couple of other York birders who were also having a Crossbill day, one or two birds had been dropping down to the frozen puddles as I arrived but were back in the tree before I got into position, I spent some time with them and eventually several birds showed really well perched right up on top, there were a few common Crossbills nearby as well, plus a Green Woodpecker flew over and afterwards I had a little wander around searching for the Great Grey Shrike but to no avail. After lunch it was a trek back up to Broomhead Reservoir north of Sheffield for my next target and third species of Crossbill, the Two Barred which have been present since last August, again luck was with me as the birds were in view as I arrived in fact two or three had dropped down to the edge of the Reservoir to drink and had I been a bit earlier I would have got a better photo opportunity however they showed very well in the Larches opposite for half an hour or more and I saw at least four males and two females, I ended the day at Pugney’s CP hoping for a Smew but it had disappeared however the local Gull watchers got me onto a Yellow Legged Gull for a bit of recompense.
Hawfinch in the morning sun

Parrots at Budby

a couple of lucky flight shots

Two Barred at Broomhead

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Local New Year update

Rawcliffe Lake is still pretty quiet at the moment although one of the female Goosanders from last year remains, a Great Crested Grebe returned this week but during a brief cold snap when the Lake froze overnight the second Coot departed, fingers crossed it returns before Spring, no Winter Finches as yet just Goldfinches.
star bird, female Goosander

returning GC Grebe

selection of Gulls


I managed to get out for a couple of hours this afternoon so nipped over to Askham Bogs to see what was about, fairly quiet really although a pair of Buzzards put on a good show, a single Willow Tit paused briefly then was gone and there was a good selection of stuff where seed had been put out.

Siskin going for a drink

Marsh Tit enjoying the seed