Saturday, 31 January 2009

Winter Term - Friday 3 - Sewerby Beach/Gardens

Mandarin [captive]
Pintail [captive]
Sika Deer [stag]
Record shot comparison of Stock Dove (left) & Woodpigeon (right)
This morning session was the worst attended since the course started. The 2 that did turn up enjoyed the almost 1-2-1 attention. The bird of the morning was a juvenile male Peregrine which swept over us while we were on the beach & headed towards Bridlington. There were most of the usual waders on the beach, but as the tide was on the way out the Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper and Ringed Plovers had dispersed. We had excellent views in the afternoon of at least 3 different Treecreepers, and the Stock Doves; whilst in the morning a Mistle Thrush serenaded the group from the top of a sycamore. We were able to have close views of several duck species in the aviary which we should see further away in their natural habitat later in the term.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Winter Term - Thursday 3 - Tophill Low

Woodcock (c) 2009 Richard Hampshire
Record shot of Woodcock (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Record shot of Woodcock (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Brambling (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Hares (c) 2009 Michael Flowers enhanced by Vince Cowell
Barn Owl (c) 2009 Jackie Dawson
Barn Owl (c) 2009 Jackie Dawson
Wigeon (c) 2009 Jackie Dawson
Wigeon (c) 2009 Jackie Dawson
Mute Swan (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Record shot of Bullfinch [female] (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Record shot of Bullfinch [female] (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
The special bird today was the Woodcock, which gave excellent views in front of the feeding station windows at the Visitor Centre. Richard Hampshire, the warden may train his telescope on the bird for you, so it's well worth going to see, if you've never had chance to get a good view of this secretive species. 2 male Bramblings were also there under the feeders; also present were 3 different males and at least 1 female Great Spotted Woodpecker. A less expected visitor was the female Bullfinch which fed in the bushes either side of the feeders at lunchtime. The Redhead Smew was visible on the far right from Watton Borrow Pits, and the Barn Owl showed well in the morning, but strangely, not in the afternoon. Once the sun came out the session had fairly good views of a pair of Pintail on 'O' reservoir. The hares, which didn't quite have a boxing match were a bonus on the way out.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Winter Term - Wednesday 3 - Far Ings

Dapper Cormorant (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Maurice's 'sexy' Pochard (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon - whatever turns you on!
Snipe (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon

The star bird was a Bittern this afternoon, which sat in the open on the bank, but no one took a picture! In the morning 2 Water Rails came to have a look at us in Reedy Hide, but soon scuttled off, singularly unimpressed. Also in the morning we heard what sounded like the call of a Cetti's Warbler. Unfortunately, it didn't sing which would have clinched ID. We had good views of a Willow Tit, a pair of Goldeneye, Redwings & Bullfinches. There was the usual good supply of a wide variety of duck, but we couldn't find the drake Smew, perhaps this has popped over to Welton Water. After a lot of searching we were eventually able to track down at least 3 Snipe from the hide with steps. In more than 10 years of visiting this site I think this was the muddiest I've ever known it - take some wellies!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Winter Term - Tuesday 3 - Millington Pastures

Hawfinch (c) 2009 Chris Gomersall Hawfinch (c) 2009 Chris Cox
Hawfinch (c) 2009 John Batham Grey Wagtail (c) 2009 John Batham
Bullfinch (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Great Tit (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
This morning’s session clashed with a major shoot, and the shoot won! There were no birds round the pool as a result. We retreated to the woodland and had some excellent views of Marsh Tit, Kestrel, Stonechat and Bullfinches. Phil & Claude were held up in traffic, but came across a Stoat in its Ermine coat in Millington Wood itself; and Chris Cox saw another Ermine nearer the village of Millington. The shoot had moved off by the time of the afternoon session and the group were rewarded with the best views of a male Hawfinch so far. We were generously helped to these views by Chris Gomersall, a patient wildlife photographer who directed the classes attention on more than one occasion. His is the first photo above. We also saw a Grey Wagtail and heard Redwing singing. A party of Long-tailed Tits came extremely close, but it will be the excellent views of the Hawfinch which will linger in the memory.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Winter Term - Friday 2 - Millington Pastures

All record shots below today (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
I feel like Rolf Harris! "Can you see what it is yet?"
To see a really cracking photo of this species by highly talented Yorkshire wildlife photographer, Marcus Conway, please see & click on his blog or buy the Yorkshire Post of 24/1/09 - Country Section
Grey Wagtail
Marsh Tit
Ear Fungus

This morning was a washout, so we retreated to the old standby of North Cave Wetlands. The best birds were 2 Lesser Redpolls. The afternoon session was able to go ahead as planned to Millington Pastures. The best viewing was round the pool, where we saw a Kingfisher performing acrobatics, but we also had really good views of the Grey Wagtail, and heard a Water Rail. Bullfinches came down for a drink, but the best bird was on the way back to the car park. A Hawfinch landed at the top of the Hawthorn bush we were standing under. It didn't remain long, and not everyone manged to focus their bins before it flew off, but for those who did see it it was a "lifer."

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Winter Term - Thursday 2 - Far Ings

Great Crested Grebe (c) 2008 Michael Flowers
Shoveler (c) 2008 Michael Flowers

The weather looked awful this morning, and 4 class members dropped out, but it turned out to be a good day. The star bird was the drake Smew, which appeared for the morning crowd, but we couldn’t relocate it in the afternoon. We also had excellent views of Goldeneye (displaying), Shoveler, Gadwall, Pochard and Teal on the lakes; whilst a small flock of Wigeon flew past us on the Humber, and one whistling individual landed very close by. There were few waders with only Redshank & Curlew seen; but Bullfinches gave excellent views both morning & afternoon. There were at least 3 Great Crested Grebes – 2 in very plain winter plumage, but one already had well developed headgear! Shame about the Bittern, but Ken was here, so only to expected in the circumstances!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Winter Term - Wednesday 2 - Sewerby Beach/Gardens

Treecreeper (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Ringed Plover, Redshank & Oystercatchers (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Oystercatchers & Ringed Plover (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Purple Sandpipers (c) 2008 Michael Flowers
Rock Pipit (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Stock Dove (c) 2008 Michael Flowers
Woodpigeon [for comparison purposes] (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Song Thrush (c) 2009 Aileen Urquhart
Velvet Shank? (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Another good day with a nice mixture of species. On the beach there were Purple Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers, Sanderlings, Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatchers and a brief glimpse of a Peregrine. Among the insects in the seaweed we identified Grey and Pied Wagtails, plus a Rock Pipit. In the grounds there was a woodpecker drumming, Redwings, Song Thrush; whilst a Mistle Thrush sang beautifully. Also present 4 species of tit, 3 species of finch, plus an elusive male bullfinch. The highlight among the passerines was a very confiding pair of Treecreepers, but the Stock Doves seemed much less confiding this year!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Winter Term - Tuesday 2 - Tophill Low

Barn Owl (c) 2009 John Batham
Barn Owl (c) 2009 John Batham
Great Spotted Woodpecker [male] (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Record shot of Kingfisher [male] (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Record shot of Kingfisher [male] (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
" I can see you!" (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Shelduck (c) 2009 John Batham
A very good Tuesday. The bird of the morning was the male kingfisher, which gave very close views – unfortunately, no one had a camera, as I was lugging the telescope around! This was a “lifer” for some there, whilst for others it was the best view they’d ever had! I dashed back at lunch time to try & get a picture, but it was further away & hidden in dense vegetation! In the afternoon the star bird was the Barn Owl, which came extremely close as we sat in the hide looking over ‘O’ reservoir. Other highlights were 2 Smew – what was probably a juvenile male in the morning and a more standard redhead female in the afternoon. The displaying Goldeneye proved a fascination, and we also saw Curlew, Redshank, Wigeon, Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, and possible redpolls, but we didn’t get a good enough view to clinch ID.