Monday, 16 April 2018

Easter Break Snaps

A lot of the Easter Break was either overcast or very wet, so I haven't been sent as many images as usual, although as few have arrived in the past week.  The first were sent by a resident of the Yorkshire coast who thought he had a pair of Black Redstarts in his garden.  This proved to be the case, and on a very misty morning these were joined by a male Common Redstart.  He also got a photo of his resident Barn Owl.
Black Redstart (c) 2018 David Ford

 Common Redstart (c) 2018 David Ford
 Barn Owl (c) 2018 David Ford
Meanwhile, at home a female Brambling visited for several days, looking remarkably like the one we had a few weeks ago.  She was still present today.  A colourful male Siskin arrived on the same day as the Brambling, but he hasn't been seen for a couple of days now. 
Meanwhile, a Friday morning attendee went to the coast and found a few Wheatears, a Meadow Pipit some Willowchiffs and more Black Redstarts. 
Meadow Pipit (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
 Wheatear (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
 Adult Male Wheatear (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Willowchiff (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Goldcrest (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Black Redstart (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Brent Geese
A little nagging from my nephew resulted in a search for our local Black Redstart last summer.  Sure enough there was one in fine condition, but I've no way of knowing if this is the same bird.  It's rather a shame that they never seem to be found in photogenic surroundings!
 Black Redstart

 The crouch
 Looking Down on one
 Taking Off
 Rusty in front and rusty behind
 Black Redstart
 Tail on full show
Finally, Buzzards are now becoming a regular sight just west of Hull.
Common Buzzard (c) 2018 Hugh Wood

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Bird with the Sci-fi Eyes

Today myself and my nephew did a recce to West Yorkshire to check out the location of a special in 3 weeks' time.  We hadn't been walking long before we heard the 5 deep booms of a performing Bittern.  The paths were saturated with water in places, so walking dry shod was rather difficult.  There were Meadow Pipits displaying, Skylarks singing, a drab Wheatear (in comparison with the one the other day), Lapwings, a Curlew, but very few signs of summer migrants.  In the channels and pools we saw Tufted Ducks and some smart Pochard, and dull Coots, but little else of interest for a long time.  Our walk was punctuated by a few more booms of the Bittern and the frenetic trills of Little Grebes.  Then we had distant views of a pair of more interesting-looking birds  
Black-necked Grebe
 Drake Pochard
Eyes still red, but toned down!
 Later, we were quite close to the Black-necked Grebes, but they were mostly out of sight behind the tall phragmites reeds.  Eventually, they came into the open and I was able to take a few photos, but as soon as I had some nice images I continued on our walk.  The Black-necked Grebes make short high-pitched calls quite different from the trills of Little Grebes.  Unfortunately, the photographers who were there before we arrived, continued to chase the Black-necked Grebes along the channel.  We looked back several times and the photographers seemed to be still in pursuit.  I hope the birds found some peace eventually.  Ben spotted a strange bird in flight heading towards the visitor centre, which was being mobbed by a Black-headed Gull.  it was a Bittern, but was too far away, even for a record shot.
Even more strange looking right at you!
Zoomed in
Back to profile
 With reeds reflected in the water
 Back to Blue
Still Strange!
Back at home the Mistle Thrushes are still visiting, occasionally together, and sometimes taking a bath.  The Tree Sparrow has never returned. 
Mistle Thrush
 The pair
 Having a bath

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Signs of Spring at Last!

This morning my nephew and I visited Kilnsea to see if there were any common Summer migrants.  We parked in the Canal car park, although I can't be sure if you are supposed to do that anymore.  I avoided the pay and display car park, as it looked too high tech.  We went to Canal Scrape first for the first time in over a year.  There were two Little Grebes, Coots and two rather over-excited male unmentionables making a female's life miserable, before they started fighting each other.  My nephew heard the call of a Yellow Wagtail and sure enough we saw it heading south.  Apparently, it was the first seen in the Spurn area this year.
Male Wheatear
We attempted to walk along the Canal Zone, which was the muddiest I'd ever seen it.  I shouldn't have been surprised, as there were flooded ditches and fields all along the journey, and even across the road in a couple of places.  We came across a toad in the middle of the path along the canal, which Ben placed to the side of the path for safety.  There were plenty of Reed Buntings, which was probably the most numerous passerine species seen.  Meanwhile small flocks of Redshank were flying low over the high tide water on our left.  Two-thirds along the canal Ben spotted movement along the rocks, and sure enough there was a very smart male Wheatear.  
 Pair of Shoveler heading south - not a species I see too often at Spurn
 Common Toad
We saw two more Wheatears on Borrow Pits - one of which was much browner than the bird at the top of the blog.   
Meanwhile, back at home the pair of Mistle Thrushes are still visiting.  The Tree Sparrow stayed four days in total, and I managed a record shot through the window, but it has gone now.  Hopefully, it won't be long before the Swallows and Willow Warblers are back in numbers, and it would be nice to have the opportunity to photograph some of the most colourful summer visitors, especially after what has been a long and rather drab winter.  Bring it on!
Mistle Thrush
 Tree Sparrow