Monday, 19 February 2018

A Colourful Half-Term

While I was busy catching up on admin, and making final preparations for the new term, at least 4 of my Friday students were out and about, and two of them were taking photos.  The Friday am contingent headed north and not too far from Scarborough they found some obliging Crossbills.  They were coming down for seed and water and gave some very good views.  Also seen on the same trip was a Red-legged Partridge, some Fieldfare and a Rook.
Male Crossbill (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Female Crossbill (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
Red-legged Partridge (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Rook (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Fieldfare (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
Please be aware it may not be possible to emulate Jane's sightings  at the present time, as the Raptor car park is now closed until the end of February, because some of the surrounding timber is being harvested, and the car park is closed at least until the end of the month.
Sign (c) 2018 Nick Addey
 Former car park (c) 2018 Nick Addey
Meanwhile, the afternoon contingent headed south to RSPB Old Moor.  There was a lot of activity around the feeders, and a very colourful Shoveler on the water.  In all the Ossett couple logged 45 species.  Nearer home they were delighted to spot a Water Rail, but a less welcome visitor was a Mink
 Yellowhammer (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Goldfinch (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Shoveler (c) 2018 Mike Woods
Nearer to home was this Water Rail.
 Water Rail (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Stock Dove (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Reed Bunting (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Ditto
 This Mink was not at Old Moor, but near the River Calder at Ossett. 
Mink (c) 2018 Mike Woods

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Wide-Eyed & Headless

On Tuesday and Wednesday it was too cold for the planned venues, so we switched to North Cave Wetlands.  The light was good, but it's never that easy there to get close views of the 44 or so species.   Some of the highlights included: Mandarin, Marsh Harrier, Ruff, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Snipe, confiding Redwing, Bullfinch, Siskin, Shoveler, Shelduck, Teal, Gadwall, and Long-tailed Tit etc.
The Gleam in a Marsh Harrier's Eye!
 Little Grebe
 Tree Sparrow 
 Heron (c) 2018 Aileen Urquhart
 Ditto
 Marsh Harrier
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Oystercatcher
 Ditto
 Shoveler
 Mandarin
 Dunnock
 Pochard
 Lapwing (c) 2018 Aileen Urquhart

Ruff
 Ditto
 Siskin
Redwing (c) 2018 Aileen Urquhart
Redwing
Redwing (c) 2018 Tony Robinson
Redwing (c) 2018 Chris Lawson

Treecreeper (c) 2018 Chris Lawson
 Ditto
Treecreeper (c) 2018 Aileen Urquhart

Snipe & Redshank
Goldfinch (c) 2018 Hugh Wood
Chaffinch (c) 2018 Hugh Wood
Ditto
Robin (c) 2018 Hugh Wood
Gatekeepers (c) 2018 Aileen Urquhart
 Mute Swan (c) 2018 Aileen Urquhart

 Some of the Wednesday am crowd went on to the wolds, and had good views of Red Kites and Buzzards.  As you can see Tony Robinson appears to have repaired his camera himself.
 Buzzard (c) 2018 Tony Robinson
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Red Kite (c) 2018 Tony Robinson
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
On Thursday we stayed with the Bempton plan, but I soon wished we hadn't.  There was an extremely cold wind, which we had to battle in-between the various stands.  The situation wasn't improved by a very rough track between some of the furthest flung areas.  Despite the adverse conditions we saw three different Peregrines, plus plenty of Gannets, Fulmars, Shags, Herring Gulls, and Feral Pigeons.  The Red-throated Divers on the sea were a new species for some.  
 Peregrine
 Record shot of Peregrine
 Ditto
 Ditto
Record shot of a pair of Peregrine
 Red-throated Diver
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Shag
 Cormorant
 Gannets
Gannet (c) 2018 Margaret Richardson
 Ditto
Welcoming Fulmars!
Fulmar (c) 2018 Margaret Richardson

 Herring Gull
 Great Black Backed Gull 
 Stonechat
 Ditto
 Harbour Porpoise
 Grey Seal
  
In the afternoon we started at Sewerby as the tide had begun to recede.  The group were able to connect with Purple Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Turnstones, Cormorants, Black headed, Common, Herring and Great Black Backed Gulls.  There were thrushes in the grounds, which gave good views.
Song Thrush
 Redwing
 Ringed Plover 
 Ringed plover & Purple Sandpiper
On Friday morning we arrived in Alkborough village and immediately saw a Nuthatch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker near the church.  Down at the reserve there were plenty of birds in front of the hide being harassed by at least 5 Marsh Harriers.  Birds seen included: Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Curlew, Teal, & a Reed Bunting.  A walk to the Trent resulted in some Golden Plovers.  The wind speed increased and the walk became unpleasant.  We saw a Kestrel, but there were no geese near the hide, so the long walk was painful and quite unproductive.  The morning group broke the 70 species barrier that morning...
 Black-tailed Godwit
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Golden Plover
 Starling - victim of Falcon? Merlin? Peregrine?

The afternoon session began to assemble as the rain set in.  The vast majority voted to return to shelter at Ness End instead.  However, Ian P had been there in the morning so he joined the Osset couple at Alkborough.  The drive between the two was blighted first with sleet and then snow, and many thought the prospect was hopeless, but after a wait of 30 mins a Bittern was pointed out to us in the right-hand reedbed.  Ian C hadn't seen one before, so he isn't a jinx on Bitterns after all!  We enjoyed good views as it stood very upright in the open, so I regretted leaving my camera in the car.  What follows is an archive photo taken in a similar attitude.  
Bittern
What follows are the photographs taken at Alkborough Flats once the sleet and snow showers had subsided.
Golden Plovers (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Ditto
 Fieldfare (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Ditto
 Ditto
 Marsh Harrier (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Record shot of Marsh Harrier (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Ditto
 Record shot of Roe Deer (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Geese (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Ditto
 Murmuration (c) 2018 Mike Woods
Meanwhile one Thursday attendee found a strange sight in his raised bed on Wednesday.  Some Pheasant feathers were sticking upright in an otherwise smooth bed.  On investigation he discovered the fairly fresh body of a headless Pheasant.  It seems that a fox caught a Pheasant, decapitated it, and then buried it very smoothly in a raised bed in Phil's garden.  Only the erect tail feathers remained to show something mysterious was afoot.  The only other explanation is that one of Phil's neighbours is getting into voodoo experiments!
The Murder Scene (c) 2018 Phil Groves
 A Closer View (c) 2018 Phil Groves
 The Silent Witness (c) 2018 Phil Groves
Finally, a photo of the Green-Winged Teal taken at North Cave Wetlands a few weeks ago.
Green-Winged Teal (c) 2018 Chris Lawson