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Monday, 28 July 2014

Sweet Raptors and a second chance tern in Teesside

With nothing much around at the moment within striking distance I had been thinking of trying for the Honey Buzzards at Wykeham again this last weekend however with a White Rumped Sandpiper showing well at Cresswell Ponds in Northumberland and another White Winged Black Tern turning up at Saltholme again it looked like plans would change. A quick check of the bird information services before I set off Sunday morning revealed the Sandpiper had gone although the Tern was still present but still smarting from missing the one a fortnight ago I decided not to rush off for it, instead I would do Wykeham as originally planned then go for it if it was still there in the afternoon. I arrived at the Raptor Viewpoint mid-morning and was surprised to find no one else there although I guess the Honey Buzzards haven’t been showing very well this year, it was very slow, a couple of Kestrels and a few common Buzzards were about it and after a couple of hours I'd had enough and decided to drop down to my other favoured area in the valley, it was a bit better here I added Sparrowhawk to the list then as I was photographing a common Buzzard soaring overhead another bird came over the trees and headed over the valley gliding on straight slightly bowed wings with a longer tail, I rattled a few shots off and although not particularly good I determined from the colouration it was a male Honey Buzzard, I hung around for a while longer hoping it may return but it didn’t, a pruk pruk call alerted me to two Ravens flying along the ridge behind me though. It was after 2pm by this time and with the WWB Tern still present I thought it was time I made tracks, quite a trek along the A171 but traffic was OK even around Whitby, I arrived at Saltholme expecting to see birders along the road watching the main pools but there was no-one there, my heart sank, had it flown off as I had made my way there, I carried on to the visitor centre to get some news and was immediately informed the bird was showing there and then on one of the Islands, it had apparently been showing on Paddy’s Pool most of the afternoon and had just recently dropped in front of the Visitor Centre, it sat and preened there for a while and then eventually flew back to Paddy’s Pool where I went round and watched it until closing and filled the memory card up although I dare say a lot will be in the bin, the autofocus really struggled locking on to the bird, a couple of young Foxes were at the feeders when I returned. I took a little look around the Greatham Creek area but apart from the usual Seals and a fly over Whimbrel it was fairly quiet.
Common Buzzards looking tatty

Honey Buzzard

not the best of shots but you can make out the upperwing
colouration and bands on the tail

initial views of the WWB Tern

as it loafed around with Common Terns

before flying back to Paddy's Pool

not the best of backdrops

Common Tern fishing on Greatham Creek

plus the Seals

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A little Beauty

A morning visit to Strensall Common in search of the Dark Bordered Beauty Moth, I've been after seeing this Moth, which occurs at this and just one other site in England, for a few years now and last year I finally managed to find the area of the Common they occur although a week or so too late, I first tried this year at the beginning of the month without success but this morning I was successful, I saw at least three, one unfortunately being taken by a Common Darter, a few Small Heath and Small Skippers were around just to confuse matters although they had quite a different flight action, I didn’t really concentrate on the birds much but a Tree Pipit was singing distantly and a Spotted Flycatcher was nice to see near the Car Park.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Turned out better than expected

I was out with Paz on Saturday and the forecast of thundery showers prompted us to head to Blacktoft Sands, it proved a good move for as well as staying dry when the single thunderstorm and two heavy showers passed through we saw some good birds, after inspecting the catch of Moths from the night before we headed to Marshland Hide where two Spoonbills were stood preening and a female Garganey accompanied some Teal, a few Avocets were still present plus there were a good few returning waders present on the reserve including Ruff, Black Tailed Godwits, Spotted Redshanks, Greenshanks and Green Sandpipers, a big surprise in the morning was a winter plumaged Black Tern that passed through. There were plenty of young Warblers, Water Rails and Bearded Reedlings in the reed edges and the young Marsh Harriers were quite entertaining and a (hepatic or maybe just a juv) Cuckoo was flying around. It started to brighten up mid-afternoon and we decided on a change of scenery and as Paz had never been before we went round to Alkeborough Flats, it was not too much different from Blacktoft really with a good selection of Waders again, a couple of Little Gulls accompanied them, six Spoonbills were present and some juv Bearded Reedlings showed really well.
some of the Moths, Garden Tiger

Ruby Tiger

Swallow Prominent

Early Thorn

Buff Ermine

Poplar Hawkmoth

and Old Lady which was roosting in Marshland Hide

the Spoonbills

the Avocets still launching themselves at anything threatening

a row of Common and Spotted Redshanks

and the Konik's

you're not sitting here

I'll sit over here then

sitting out the thunderstorm

three Shanks

Black Tailed Godwits at Alkeborough

plus a Little Gull

and six sleepy Spoonbills

juv Bearded Reedlings showing well