Wednesday, 23 April 2014

So much Poetical Baggage

Today we drove over 50 miles for our annual pilgrimage to try and hear and actually see the elusive Nightingale. I arrived at 8.18am to have a look round. There were quite a lot of cars blocking the car park already, so it looked as though it was going to busy. However, many of these were dog walkers coming early to take their dogs around the reserve before the car parking charges came into being. 

Nightingale
Sure enough there were 3 big lenses right at the junction where you normally obtain the best views. I carried on a bit further and arrived at another open area, where a Nightingale was singing in full view. Later, when we went round again the 3 at the front got another excellent view of a nightingale even closer to us. Unfortunately, this time my camera refused to focus on the bird, but the one at 8.30 has come out OK, as the photo shows. 
Nightingale
There was another Nightingale a little further up, and another just a few yards further on. Later, there was a bush near a junction which had 3 males singing snatching of song in between scuffles. There may have been a silent 4th bird present, and this may have been the cause of the antagonism. When we walked this way later, there was still one in the area, but now there was a Common Whitethroat and a Blackcap. 
Lesser Whitethroat
We heard at least 2 Garden Warblers on the way round, and on of them perched briefly in a bare tree, so a couple of us managed to glimpse it in our binoculars, before it disappeared over the railway line. We carried on and on the way back we had a good view of a Lesser Whitethroat. Some uplifting birding encounters, and then another 50+ miles drive back home. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Tepid off the Press

This Otter photo taken at Tophill Low from 18th February, has just made it into today's Hull Daily Mail

The full story may be read here:

4th Free Session: Kiplingcotes

On Friday's final free session we met at Kiplingcotes Station.  It was another grey overcast day, but at least it didnt rain.  We walked in an easterly direction and encountered Yellowhammers, Bullfinches, Linnets, Greenfinches, Buzzards and eventually a Red Kite.
White Morph Common Buzzard
Doug's Bald Blackbird
Bald Blackbird
 Chiffchaff
 Chiffchaff
 Wren
 Wren
 Yellowhammer
 Yellowhammer
 White Morph Common Buzzard
 Ditto
 White Morph Common Buzzard
 Ditto

Saturday, 5 April 2014

3rd Free Session: RSPB Blacktoft Sands

Thursday's free end of term class was to Blacktoft Sands.  I was lucky enough to see a Bittern from the visitor centre before the class arrived.  However, the Marsh harriers put on a good display for the class participants.  it was possible to see one male collecting reeds from location and transporting one stalk at a time to a proposed nest site.  The Avocets were mainly at Marshland and Ousefleet.  The ducks were sprinkled liberally throughout the reserve.
Male Marsh Harrier
 Male Marsh Harrier
 Male Marsh Harrier
 Avocet (c) 2014 Patrick Ferguson
 Snipe (c) 2014 Patrick Ferguson
 Black-headed Gull (c) 2014 Patrick Ferguson
 Little Grebe
 Linnet
 Linnet
 Twite
 Twite
 Record Shot of Twite in Flight (c) 2014 Patrick Ferguson

Thursday, 3 April 2014

2nd Free Session - Paull Holme Strays

On Wednesday the free class was held at Paull Holme Strays. The sun didn't shine all day, and the mist deepened and thinned throughout the day. It was supposed to be a day without wind, but it felt bitterly cold in the breeze we did have.

Green Woodpecker
 Meadow Pipit
 Reed Bunting
 Reed Bunting
 Turnstones
I heard a Redpoll near the car park, but we failed to track it down. Birds seen included Curlew, Turnstone and Redshanks. Some Meadow Pipits showed well just beside the path. As we reached the end of the floodbank we could see a single Grey Plover and Brian may have seen a species of Godwit. In the afternoon there were many godwits, but they were so distant and we didn't see them flying, so it wasn't possible to confirm which particular species they were. 
Dunlin (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
 Dunlin (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
 Dunlin
 Dunlin
 Green Woodpecker
  Green Woodpecker
 The biggest surprise came on the return to the car park when we heard a Green Woodpecker from the scanty woodland. Then a dog walker flushed the bird towards us. It landed briefly in a tree near us, and everyone managed to catch sight of it, before it flew NW along the line of trees leading to the car park.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ist Free Session: RSPB Bempton Cliffs

We've now completed our 10-week winter course, but as a thank you to all those who kept the faith and signed up for the full 10 weeks during what can be a severe winter period, this week's classes were thrown in free of charge. The Tuesday class went to Bempton.

Puffin
 Ditto
 Meadow Pipit
In the morning we drove through pelting rain & then arrived in patchy misty conditions at RSPB Bempton. The mist appeared to have cleared, though we could see it wrapped around the top of the cliffs at Flamborough as we headed to Staple Newk. The walk was punctuated with the songs and calls of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, but the former drowned out the latter whenever they occurred together. We stopped at the T junction and the morning group were rewarded with good views of a couple of Puffins. Little did we realise that these would be the best views of Puffins we would get all day. Also present were some Razorbills. 
Razorbill
 Ditto
 Ditto

 Gannet
 Angry Gannets
 Ditto
We walked towards the mist at Staple Newk where we were accompanied by a male Pied Wagtail. It was possible to see the Gannets themselves and a few Guillemots on the top of the lower rock. From here I could just hear the jangled key song of a Corn Bunting, so we went towards him through the mist. We could see a dumpy shape on the top of a post, but that was all we could see for quite some time. Along another fence line were a number of streaky finches, and a great number of these seemed to be Twite. There were some Linnets in the ploughed field behind. 
Corn Bunting
 Twite (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
 Mixed Finch Flock (c) 2014 Maggie Bruce
 Peregrine
 Kittiwake
 Ditto
 Shag
We headed back to the T junction, and stopped off at most of the other viewpoints. Near one of these someone pointed out a Peregrine perched on the cliff edge, which it was impossible to see from the viewpoint itself. He even allowed everyone to look through his telescope when the yellow eye-ring could be glimpsed. At the viewpoints themselves we enjoyed excellent views of Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Herring Gulls and Fulmars. Over the sea we caught sight of a Shag hugging the waves, while a pair of Cormorants flew much higher up. 
Unconscious Coupling Toads
 Unconscious Coupling Toads
 Rock Dove?/Feral Pigeon?
 Fulmar
 Jackdaw
 Fulmar
 Gannet
 Puffin
 Guillemot
 Herring Gull
 Tree Sparrow
Back in the car park the Tree Sparrows and Jackdaws were the most dominant birds.
Guillemot