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Thursday, 27 February 2014

After work Ramblings

I was out after work this afternoon and taking some inspiration from Paz’s sightings from yesterday of a flock of 50 Brambling in a Beech Wood near Kilnwick Percy I thought I would start there, nice wood but unfortunately the only bird of note this afternoon was a Marsh Tit, I headed round to the nearby Red Kite roost at Nunburnholme next and was pleased to find several birds flying around fairly close in the afternoon sunshine so I spent some time photographing them allowing time to drop down to Skipwith Common, I arrived just as it was getting dark and was rewarded straight away with views of the recently discovered Barn Owl hunting around the eastern end of Sands Lane, there has been a dearth of sightings so far this winter so this one was my first for the year, there was also Tawny Owl calling nearby.

a really "Red" Kite in the late afternoon sun

High Spirits

Monday, 24 February 2014

Hawks down the Dale

Out with Mark and Paz today and we decided we'd do the Goshawks down Troutsdale this morning then maybe potter along the East Coast this afternoon, we called in at Wykeham Lakes on the way up where a Black Throated Diver had been seen over the last few days, this is a private site really but we had just found out there is a public viewing platform accessed from West Ayton, we found it and had a scan around, the last report from yesterday was that it had flown off but we were hoping it had just been for a fly around and come back, we weren't disappointed Paz eventually picked out the bird on the far side of the lake and we got some decent scope views, there was also a good selection of other wildfowl on the lake and the bonus of a couple of Egyptian Geese in a nearby field plus a Red Kite went over, another stop at Hackness Lake found an impressive 18 Mandarins present. Down Troutsdale we had a quick look at Hilla Green where we year ticked Grey Wagtail and Dipper before moving on to our usual stake out point a bit further along the valley, superb stuff, up to five Goshawks and a couple of Buzzards were showing very well right from us getting there and a large female Sparrowhawk came over for a nice bit of comparison, we spent an hour or so with them before dropping down into Scarborough, down Marine Drive we had hoped to add Peregrine to our days Raptor tally but in the increasingly windy conditions there was no sign of them or anything else on the cliffs, a Rock Pipit was another year tick though. There was nothing much at the Mere so we soon headed up to Holbeck and had lunch with the Med Gulls, one or two are now attaining their black hoods. After lunch we headed further up the coast to Hunmanby Gap where half a dozen Little Gulls entertained as they fed along the tideline, a few Ducks and Grebes were on the sea as well as handful of Gannets flying around, a scan of the nearby Flamborough Cliffs found them covered in white dots, we carried on to Barmston to see if we could find the Kumleins Gull but there was no sign of it this afternoon, we then took a steady drive back over the Wolds to see what we could find taking in Millington Pastures and ending up at Nunburnholme, a few Red Kites at the latter site but it was a bitter wind and almost dark so we didn’t stay long, no hoped for Grey Partridge or Barn Owl.

there was a pair, this one looks to be carrying nesting material

getting their black hoods

almost there on this one

Monday, 17 February 2014

Yellow-rumped, second helpings

I was out with Mike Williams today and as it was going to be a nice day and not much else around we decided to give the Yellow-rumped Warbler another go, maybe get some better photos. We spent the morning there but the bird is still proving rather popular and there was a much bigger crowd than I had anticipated, we were looking into the sun early on although that improved as the morning wore on, the Warbler was performing well though and showing frequently, often getting into the higher branches and giving less obscured views although you still needed to be quick, I got some slightly better shots in the end but still only record shots really. We then went across to Teesside in the afternoon where we just basically visited Saltholme with a quick look over Cowpen Marsh, highlights were several Little Egrets on the marsh but no sign of the Short Eared Owl, a skein of Pink Footed Geese over the car park, an in flight Bittern from the Haverton Watchpoint, a couple of Red Breasted Mergansers and the small flock of Barnacle Geese from the main hide plus a Water Rail in front of the visitor centre and a couple of Long Tailed Ducks on Saltholme East Pool. 

a few odds and sods from Saltholme

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Rawcliffe Lake, local update

Well not a lot happening at the Lake over the last two or three weeks to be honest just the comings and goings of the feral Geese and the occasional visit of a Mute Swan, the Great Crested Grebe has now come into breeding plumage and is often heard calling for a mate but the most notable thing has been the Goosanders, the lone female was joined by half a dozen more over three weeks ago including a couple of drakes then numbers steadily increased with over 20 present this last week or two although they had all gone today.
a couple of the Greylags feeding on the grass

20 Goosanders plus there were a couple out of shot

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Mega Yank in Durham

Mid-week it had come to light that a Yellow Rumped Warbler had been found in a garden somewhere in County Durham during the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch of all things, negotiations were apparently underway with the residents to gain access but there had been no developments by this morning so myself, Mark and Pete Watson stuck to our original plan of heading to North Lincs via Southfield Reservoir near Thorne, we had arrived at this site and were watching the Slavonian Grebe that is wintering there when details of the Yellow Rumped site were released.  The Twitch was on, we dropped back onto the M62 headed over to the A1 then struck north to the village of High Shincliffe just southeast of Durham itself, we arrived on site and joined the 100+ birders already there but the bird had disappeared at that point, we milled around seeing a good selection of common garden birds plus three Waxwings that had also been found then after an hour and a half or more the bird was seen again briefly in the original garden moving across the road to a hedge where feeders had been put up where it then performed admirably for the very exuberant throng of birders, Mega new bird for us all, they’re few and far between for me these days, not sure whether it is the first mainland one or not but its certainly the first one on the East Coast. Called in at Teesside on the way back starting at Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool as Mark still needed to year tick the Parakeets, a quick stop at Newburn Bridge found the usual Med Gull and a couple of Red Breasted Mergansers on the sea, it was then on to Cowpen Marsh where we eventually found the seven Tundra Bean Geese that had been reported earlier, also a small flock of Barnacle Geese and a couple of Little Egrets out on the marsh, we finished off with a scan over Saltholme Pools from the Layby, the usual Wildfowl were present. 
with the bird in the hedge and the press of birders jostling
to get a view it was only ever going to be record shots

interesting behaviour, they were really ripping into this dead tree