Friday, 27 February 2009
Thursday, 26 February 2009
Oystercatcher finding a snack (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Going for it! (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
I wish I could say I was blown away by the wildlife today, but sadly it was the wind! We didn't stay round the mere too long, but that gave us the best photo opportunities. The class had already started by the time I'd got there, as they'd been looking through their bird books perplexed by two tired geese sat on the shore. They did very well really, as we've never seen this species at such close quarters before. They went for Bean Goose, but I was able to show why these are Pink-footed. Perhaps they were exhausted, and stopped off on migration, because when we returned about noon they'd gone. We had displaying Goldeneye, Ruddy Duck, Wigeon, Heron, Cormorant; and then were able to add several Great-Spotted Woodpeckers around the Wassand Estate. There was a fine display of Snowdrops & Aconites, but no Jays or rarities!
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Unusually, when we entered the Piper Marsh hide at Potteric this morning the Bittern was waiting for us, and gave excellent views. Unfortunately, Tony was too polite to push to the front & Aileen was scrambling around for her battery, so they weren’t clicking away when the Bittern was showing at its best, so the blog is headed by an excellent pic taken from the same hide in December. The drake Pintail was another morning highlight, but it was snoozing in the afternoon, and was difficult to point out its plumage. We found time to visit the hide overlooking the main line to London from which I spotted Casper being given a hard time by the Black-headed Gulls which hope to nest there. Casper is the 3rd winter Caspian Gull, which has been at Potteric since 12th November. This was a “lifer” for everyone present, including the tutor – shock, horror! Although the pm session lacked Casper and the Bittern, we were blessed with a really confiding group of Redpolls – the best views we’ve ever had of this species in 6 years of the course! We could have watched these for ages but 2 trains decided to blast their sirens & the Redpolls (& Siskins) were frightened off. Also of interest were seven Herons showing from Piper Marsh Hide in the morning until one flew off with nesting material; a singing Goldcrest, and some on the morning session managed to track down a treecreeper without Eileen’s help! One slight disappointment was the failure to locate the Kingfisher, but I did hear it call from Mother Drain. Another good thing – Miles spotted a Peacock butterfly – it almost felt like spring has arrived, yipee!
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Marsh Tit (c) 2009 John Batham
We couldn’t enter the site in our usual way, so had to go in by a back entrance. This proved to be a bit too steep for some on the course, so I may have to come up with an alternative next time. We did see a pair of distant Red Kites in the morning, but some had better views in the afternoon. There was very little wind so we watched in amusement in the afternoon as a Buzzard in a high field tried to get itself airbourne by catching a little breeze on an escarpment. Other birds we saw included several Bullfinches, and Marsh Tits, plenty of Song Thrushes doing what it says on the tin & we heard a few distant Mistle Thrush cadences. However, the dull, calm weather ensured we didn’t see the rich and varied bird life I would normally expect at this location.
Monday, 23 February 2009
Went back to Welwick with Chris Cox for another look at the Hen Harriers. It was a dull afternoon with drizzle at times, so didn't really expect many birds. The harriers didn't show, but came across a Short-eared Owl sat in a hawthorn bush. It flew over the saltmarsh, where it was joined by another 3. They had a couple of dog-fights, or should that be owl-fights before spreading out. One landed in the distant washed-up tree, but the others disappeared into the reeds. The Barn Owl gave better views. Had a good look further afield, and came across some very promising habitat to explore during the summer months. Oh, dear, I've just realised it's more raptors tomorrow! Can you have too much of a good thing?
Sunday, 22 February 2009
Stonechat (c) 2009 Chris Cox
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
We do occasionally venure outside East Yorkshire and yesterday was one of those times. I'm very grateful to Richard Hampshire (Tophill Low Reserve Manager) who gave up his free time to show the group round his old stamping ground. We had a good morning with the Nuthatch, Jays, Green Woodpecker and the Red & Fallow Deer feeding time being some of the main highlights. 5 of us went on to Alkborough Flats to enjoy really good views of Golden Plover, which were beautifully illuminated by the sun. The 10+ sunbathing Reed Buntings (or hot-cross buns, as someone calls the females!) were a surprise. A distant female Marsh Harrier caused a little extra drama. What looked like a Snow Goose flew over us with some Greylag Geese - also seen by Chris Cox at Blacktoft. Thanks to Vince Cowell for today's excellent pics!