Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Plastic Pinkies

Pink-footed Geese (c) 2009 Chris Cox
Pink-footed Goose (c) 2009 John Batham
Mute Swan (c) 2009 John Batham
Song Thrush (c) 2009 Chris Cox
Goldeneye (c) 2009 Chris Cox
Goldeneye (c) 2009 John Batham
Sweet Violets (c) 2009 Chris Cox

The Tuesday am sessions finished last week, but the Tues pm session to Hornsea was abandoned a couple of weeks ago because of a dodgy weather forecast which didn't materialise! There was more Great Spotted Woodpecker action today, but no sign of its Green cousin or the more secretive Jay. The violets were almost prolific & the Pink-footed Geese gave good views at the mere. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced these were genuine wild birds as they ran for bread with the other wildfowl, although they did seem to hang around the peripherary of the group. There was no sign of the pinioned Garganey, but some confiding Treecreepers provided some excellent views at Wassand. The winds were very light in the warm hazy sunshine, but there were no sightings of the 7 Buzzards seen a few weeks ago, and a Kestrel was the only raptor spotted. That's the final class visit to Hornsea this year, unless something really exciting turns up, and all planned sessions are abandoned - not a very likely circumstance!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Having a Grouse

Black Grouse (c) 2009 Marcus Conway
All the crappy pics below (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Going Under
Red Grouse
Red Grouse
Ice - in Ring Ouzel Valley

Hope I won't be done under the trade descriptions Act, as this is an East Yorkshire Birding blog, but this post displays & discusses birds which I've never seen in East Yorkshire, and all of these pics were taken over the border! Woke up at 2.55 (1.55 in old money) & couldn't get back to sleep again - must have been too excited!!! Knew there was a possibility of Black Grouse today, and I wasn't to be disappointed. Saw a pair of males sparring and others dotted about the landscape, but none as clearly as the marvellous shot Marcus managed at the top of this post. Had drumming Snipe at the same location, plus Curlew, Meadow Pipit and a cryptic Buzzard. Went on a few miles and had a minimum of 4 Goshawk giving fairly close views & occasionally displaying spectacularly; plus more Buzzards and Mistle Thrush, Siskin and Meadow Pipt again. We went on to another location to try for Ring Ouzel, which we failed to see, but we did have views of Grey Wagtail, Dipper and my first Wheatears of the year. Finally, on to Nosterfield where the highlight was a Red-necked Grebe, but there was a good scattering of other wildfowl and a couple of waders. However, the best feature of the day was the company of a great group of good-natured birders with no outsize egos! We did manage to see at least 10 Barn Owls in the first hour of travel this morning & another on the way home, and as they were all on home territory, at least the last sentence fulfills the remit of the blog!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Top Notch

Grey Wagtail (c) 2009 Vince Cowell
Little Grebe (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Goldeneye (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Pochard (c) 2009 Vince Cowell
Female Pochard (c) 2009 Vince Cowell
Female Pochard (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Gadwall (c) 2009 Vince Cowell
Brown Hares (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Going 2
Tree Sparrow (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Wigeon (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Tufted Duck (c) 2009 Michael Flowers

Another venue changed at the last minute to cope with the very high winds. The most exciting bird today was the Redhead Smew on 'O' reservoir. We had a pair of Grey Wagtails on 'O' reservoir, and then possibly a second pair on 'D' reservoir. This species seems to be increasing in the area and may even soon breed in the Nafferton area, if it hasn't done so already! One side effect of the winds was that a couple of the marshes which can be quiet sometimes, gave us very close views of Little Grebe, Pochard and Gadwall. There was an almost record-breaking number of Chaffinches under the feeders. There was a good selection of birds on South Marsh East including: Barn Owl, Wigeon, Goldeneye, Shelduck, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Teal, Redshank, and Oystercatchers, but no LRPs. We didn't venture as far as the usual best site - Watton Borrow Pits - as we'd heard the winds had blown most of the birds off the water. A Peregrine (if I can be forgiven for mentioning it) steaming south over 'D' reservoir was a late afternoon highlight. On the way back one of the fields was absolutely stuffed with Fieldfare alongside a few Mistle Thurshes; whilst Hares were very active in several others. One disappointment was that this site is supposed to have a permanent fixture monitoring the behaviour of the feeding Teal [which were acting very strangely in the strong winds], but after very careful searching we failed to locate him, perhaps he was punctuating and capitalising his dissertation! That's the last Friday session until late in April.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Not Quite a Duck Out of Water

Still looking Elegant Leaving the water
Less Elegance
Return Journey 20 mins later
Phew got past that 'orrible Grey Lag
Back in its natural habitat
Shoveler landing
Ruddy Duck
Blowing Bubbles
Mute Swan (Cob)

"Roll up, roll up, come & see the amazing performing Great Crested Grebe!" Probably the most remarkable sight of the day was the walking Great Crested Grebe. It performed once to the delight of the class, got bored with the pool it had gone to, and 20 minutes later decided to walk back again. Obviously, it preferred the uncomfortable shuffle across the isthmus (named as such by 2 different class members on 2 different sessions) to flying the short distance between the 2 areas of water! There were few passerines around in the strong winds, but we did see at least 13 Sand Martins & heard about 3 Chiffchaffs, and saw 2 Bullfinches in the morning. No booming Bitterns, or squealing Water Rails in the gale force winds, but high-pitched Redwings could be discerned above the moaning winds. That's enough about the weather!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Final Lap[wing]

Redshank (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Lapwing (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Shape Shifter (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Teal (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Female Teal (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Drake Teal (c0 2009 Michael Flowers
Record shot of Weasel (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Rook (c) 2009 Michael Flowers
Strong winds today, so the original venue was dumped for the perennial standby location. We managed extremely close views of Redshank, and Teal from the hide on Dryham Lane, but the passerines were quite difficult to see in the blustery conditions. There was also no sign of the usual Green Woodpeckers. A pair of Wigeon were visible on Island Lake in the morning; whilst both sessions managed to glimpse Snipe. The aerobatic display of the Lapwing is a very welcome sight at this time of year, and they didn't seem to be put off by the wind. They would make a good subject to photograph on a day with better light. That's the final Wednesday session until next term.