Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Unusual Garden Drop-ins

Great Spotted Woodpecker (c) 2009 Vince Cowell
Stock Dove (c) 2009 David Ware Yellowhammer (c) 2009 David Ware
I mentioned in my previous post that the cold weather often brings unusual birds into the garden, and at least this seems to work in the Wetwang area. Stock Doves & Yellowhammers don't normally visit David's garden, but the snow did the trick. The white of the snow seems to enhance the delicate colouring of the Stock Dove. Similarly, the Blackcaps continued to show in Hutton Cranswick & Beverley after the snow. Unfortunately, this Boxing Day the Central Asian Lesser Whithethroat failed to turn up in this garden! In fact we didn't have anything out-of-the-ordinary apart from larger quantities of the birds we have all the time: 36+ Goldfinches, 8 Chaffinches (3, is usually the maximum), even 5 Grey Squirrels (3, is again the normal max), plus 4 Dunnocks, and at least 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers etc. However, we did have a Redwing, which stayed all of 2 minutes today - the first one we've had for at least 5 years, actually it's probably much further back in time than that.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Winter Wonderland

Snipe (c) 2009 Vince Cowell
Bearded Tit © 2009 Vince Cowell
Coal Tit © 2009 Maurice Gordon
Blue Tit © 2009 Maurice Gordon
Really should know this one! © 2009 Maurice Gordon
Goosander [drake] © 2009 Vince Cowell
Goosander [female] © 2009 Vince Cowell
Pochard [left] & Goosander
Whooper Swans over Humber Bridge © 2009 Vince Cowell
Prolonged snowy weather can result in some surprises, especially in gardens. A 'student' currently has a flock of Fieldfare visiting his suburban garden; whilst another has a male Blackcap terrorising her Hutton Cranswick regulars, and a female is doing the same in Napier Close, Beverley. Although these birds have yet to be photographed, above are some recently-taken seasonal pictures, including a few surprises. Happy Christmas & Best wishes for 2010 to everyone who visits this blog.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Colourful Snack

All pics for this post (c) 2009 Ken Dawson
Kestrel eating a.....
Not a Blue Tit, surely?
Tucking in
Best bits, all gone
Almost Finished
Free to Pose
Something else trying to get in on the act
In this monochrome world - we're covered in a blanket of snow with accompanying freezing fog - here's a bird which is usually a welcome splash of colour. Long before the recent snow this Kingfisher found itself providing a welcome meal for a male Kestrel. Kestrels generally eat small mammals, but this bird may have taken advantage of a Kingfisher flying into a plate-glass window. All these pictures were taken through glass, which makes their quality all the more remarkable. Thanks to course member Jackie Dawson for bringing her husband's interesting pics to my attention. Hope you enjoy your Christmas meals, as much as this Kestrel enjoyed his!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Blue "Crossbill" Tit

Crossbill Tit
Bog Standard Male Blue Tit
For a couple of months now, we've noticed a very scruffy Blue Tit making swift visits to the feeders, before it gets set upon by the other 4 regulars. The feathers, especially on the breast, seem to be in a terrible state, but it was only the other day when it was snatching a quiet moment in the sunshine preening after a bath, that its beak could be observed. The upper mandible is clearly elongated and curves downwards, but the lower mandible is also slightly longer than normal and curves upwards. It may be that it is the disfigured bill, which has caused it problems cleaning itself. It is possible at times to see the naked bleeding breast, so it will be interesting to see if this bird survives the present cold snap, which must add to the pressures of birds like this surviving the winter. If it does survive it will be fascinating to see if it manages to moult into a more tidy set of feathers, or whether the deformed beak proves to be a major handicap in attaining normality. People in the Hull Valley area may get some unusual visitors in this snowy weather, so please send any interesting records to me. Thanks.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Final Giant Slug Visit

Great Northern Diver (c) 2009 Vince Cowell
Giant Slug (c) 2009 Vince Cowell
Yesterday marked the final visit to the giant slugs at Donna Nook. Unfortunately, it drizzled most of the time, which tended to dampen the spirits of the 1st-timers. However, compensation came in the form of only a trickle of visitors (apart from the very sulky, obese schoolboy who plonked himself on the sand & wouldn't move!) and a significantly larger mixed flock of Snow Buntings & Twite. Because of the weather we didn't go looking for the Shore Larks, which haven't been spotted by anyone for at least 10 days, so popped in to Covenham Reservoir instead. A Grey Wagtail and a Rock Pipit were early finds, as were Redshank, and many more Goldeneye than last time we visited. Eventually, sharp-eyed Anthony spotted a Great Northern Diver at the furthest end of the reservoir, so we went for a closer look. When we'd travelled halfway along the side of the reservoir, we could see that two were still present & then they both jumped out of the water to give us a flap. The rain, which had eased off for a few minutes began to reassert itself, so we called it a day. Both the above pictures were taken on a brighter day!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Roe Deer Rodeo

Roe Deer
Rock Pipit
Silhouette of Black-tailed Godwit
Record shot of Hare - just before dusk
The first Roe Deer Rodeo didn't disappoint with well over 15 individual deer seen, some at fairly close quarters. There was a mobile flock of c.300 Fieldfare, which could indicate that they'd recently arrived from Scandinavia. At Stone Creek there were plenty of Redshank, Curlew and single Black-tailed Godwits & Rock Pipits - the 1st time I've seen the latter at this location. I could also hear a Grey Plover on the mud-flats. There were 4 Common Seals basking on the mud, but not as close as the Grey Seals last week. We also saw a Little Egret, Mute Swans and some indistinct ducks - it was pretty dark by then. There were nearly 10,000 Golden Plovers swarming around Paull. The only disappointment was that the Barn Owls which are normally knee-deep round here were noticeable by their absence.

Friday, 11 December 2009

See'll ya Next Time

Grey Seal (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Great Northern Diver (c) 2009 David Ware
Snow Bunting (c) 2009 David Ware
Pied Wagtail
The Grey Seal colony was still delighting delegates today, but there was a colder, stronger wind, so we spent less time there. We went on to another location, but were unable to track down the Shore larks, but we did see a large flock of Snow Buntings, which also contained Linnets and Twite. Here, we also saw Brent Geese, Curlew, Shelduck, Wigeon and the cuter-looking, but scarcer Common Seal. As we had made such good time, we also called in at Covenham Reservoir where a Great Northern Diver gave us the run around, until we realised two were at it. Also seen here were Great Crested Grebes, Little Grebes, Cormorants (loads), a Grey Wagtail and David spotted a Barn Owl. 3 locations, plenty of species, and all for only a tenner!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Home Parasol

Shaggy Parasol

No classes today, but popped outside the back door for a picture of this fungi. The flaky appearance and habitat of this one (under Leylandii) would suggest that this is a Shaggy Parasol (Lepiota rhacodes). It is not rare, and is said to be edible, but apparently "may cause gastric upset in some people"! Now, where's that frying pan?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Seal of Approval

Record pic of Shore Lark (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Striking a Pose! (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Waiting for a Canadian
Courtship 1

Juvenile Maw
Courtship 2
Flying Object (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon

We had a special today to see the Grey Seal pups, which duly performed. There were also plenty of cows (females) & aggressive bulls (males). Highlights of the birds there included a Peregrine, which flushed the waders several times; a single Snow Bunting, a Turnstone, a Curlew, and flocks of Brent Geese. We went on to another location, and managed views of more than 30 Snow Buntings with Twite, and then Claude asked what the birds were on the left – sure enough she had found 7 Shore Larks, which eventually flew off south. These were a lifer for several participants.