Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Pretty Tame Stuff

Stonechat (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Wheatear (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Comma Red Admiral (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Red Admiral
Speckled Wood
Hawthorn Shield Bug
Record shot of Jay Immature Gull (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Lighthouse (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
A return visit to last Thursday's venue without the explicit nudity! The morning started well with a total of 6 Stonechats spotted from the car park. There was no sign of the Snow Bunting, and the number of Linnets were well down, although a few Wheatear were still present. The largest surprise of the morning was a bird which flew out of Welkie Wood & headed towards us standing outside Old Fall plantation - a Jay - quite a surprise! It passed directly overhead & either flew in to Old Fall or may even have kept on going to the cliff edge & beyond! In this same area in the afternoon we had a sole Golden Plover going in the opposite direction. Otherwise nothing special, but what can you expect when the wind is coming from an uninteresting direction! Brian recorded 33 species in the morning, and the Golden Plover made it 34!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Large Mammals

Alpha male - apparently nodding off Antlers top heavy? (c) 2009 Mike Williamson
Youngish stags
ditto (c) 2009 Mike Williamson
Beta males fighting
Car park Robin (c) 2009 Mike Williamson
The bird easiest to see today!

Richard Hampshire, the warden at Tophill Low, kindly gave up his morning off to show the Tues am group around his old ‘manor.’ The birds were a little thin on the ground apart from flighty Jays which were very plentiful. In the morning more than one Nuthatch was heard, but these were silent in the afternoon. At least 2 different Buzzards were seen, as well as a male Kestrel in the afternoon. In the morning a flock of c.6 Bullfinches were seen along the south-east corner of the fenced-off area. In contrast to the relative paucity of bird sightings, the views of large mammals were much better than average. The fallow deer were rather quiet, but there were some beautiful dappled examples, a white female & some very attractive fawns. The Red Deer were a different matter. The alpha male was only occasionally noisy; whilst his harem of c30 hinds were relatively docile. 2 younger males had a little scuffle in the morning until the chief male sent them all packing. We had closer views of the stag in the afternoon, but fighting amongst the others was non-existent. The trees and gardens were beautiful, and their fruit plentiful: acorns, beech-mast, guelder rose berries & sweet chestnuts.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Bath Time

C'mon Greenfinch, your time is up!
Great Tit - waiting its turn
Forgot to include these from the other day. Taken through glass in bright sunshine. Just need to connect with the Long-tailed Tits doing the same thing!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Middle of Nowhere

Grey Plover - Bird of the Afternoon
Pink-footed Geese Knot
Common Darter (c) 2009 David Ware
Migrant Hawker (c) 2009 David Ware
There were swirling flocks of Knot and Golden Plover as we arrived at today's location - we had just missed the high tide. It was a new location for several of the people there. There were plenty of other waders on show, including Grey Plover, Redshank, Curlew, and a briefly stopping Greenshank. Also present were Shelduck and Mallard, and at least 3 Little Egrets, but the Pink-footed Geese in a nearby field were more of a surprise. The top passerine was a Wheatear, followed a long way behind by Linnet, Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting and a Yellowhammer (pm only). Barbara had a glimpse of Kingfisher in the afternoon, but quality birds were generally few and far between in the strong westerly winds.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Ooo, er, Missus!

Snow Bunting - Bird of the Morning
Spotted Flycatcher - Bird of the Afternoon
Skylark (c) 2009 Jackie Dawson
Meadow Pipit
Small Tortoiseshell (c) 2009 Jackie Dawson
Red Admiral (c) 2009 Jackie Dawson
Silver-Y Moth (c) 2009 Jackie Dawson
Well, we've seen it all now! A couple with a champagne bottle at 10.30am in strong sunlight were stripped for action on a bench in a place quite popular with twitchers after an easterly wind. Sorry, no x-rated pictures were taken! Meanwhile, the birds were relatively few and far between. However, a single Snow Bunting (almost a quarter of-a-mile away) in a bare field was the bird of the morning, and at least 4 Wheatears were present in the same field which also contained more than 50 Linnets. The birds of the afternoon were a pair of Spotted Flycatchers which had moved into the area after the nearly copulating human couple had left. The Flycatchers were being chased by 3 juvenile Willow Warblers. On the sea were several Comorants and Shags; which in the afternoon were drying on the rocks, where they were joined by a nervy juvenile Heron. A Curlew & an Oystercatcher were among the nearby rock pools. Never my favourite location, it is even worse in westerly winds - we need some easterlies to pep things up.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Home of the Rusks

Stonechat (c) 2009 Tony Robinson
Stonechat (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Knot (c) 2009 Tony Robinson
Knot & Dunlin (right) (c) 2009 Tony Robinson
Dunlin (c) 2009 Aileen Urquhart
Meadow Pipit
Heron (c) 2009 Aileen Urquhart
Black-headed Gull
Pink-footed Geese
We went to a venue which we avoided last year because of the extra distance involved and the soaring petrol prices – guess what, petrol prices are still increasing! In the morning we shared cars to the housing estate where we saw a flock of Dunlin, at least 8 Snipe and a Common Sandpiper. Also present 2 Herons, Teal, and the usual suspects, plus close comparison was possible between Stock Dove and Woodpigeon. We went back to the car park & drove to the headland. There were massive numbers of Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and Goldfinches on the cut grass right alongside the road. Unfortunately, when one of our group stopped for a few seconds to take pictures an impatient road hog nearly caused an accident! Along the headland we saw 2 elusive Wheatear, whilst Shags & Cormorants were hanging their wings out to dry. There were lots of Oystercatchers. In the afternoon we spent the whole time scrambling over rocks where we saw even more Oystercatchers, but also a good flock of Knot, Dunlin, Redshank & a scattering of Turnstones. Unfortunately, we couldn’t track down any Purple Sandpipers. There was a flock of 8 scruffy (eclipse) Eider on the sea. Was a bit worried about Dave S on the steep climb back up to the car park, but he was still breathing when he got in his car. Around the pool near the car park were more Meadow Pipits, Swallows & Martins, and a brief glimpse of a Yellow Wagtail, but the highlight here was a showy pair of Stonechat. Not a classic visit to this location, but slightly more productive than yesterday’s visit to Spurn!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A Windy Start

Golden Plovers (c) 2009 Mike Williamson
Reed Bunting (c) 2009 Mike Williamson
Yellow Wagtail
Sloe Berries
There was a very strong westerly wind at Spurn today - not prefect for the 1st class of the new term; and certainly not the best direction for quality birds. This afternoon's class contained the greatest number of first-timers, so I would have preferred a northerly or easterly wind to have brought some interesting birds down. However, if we had been swamped with quality birds it's possible that the newcomers may have found too many unusual birds rather confusing. The radio buzzed into life just before the morning class was due to start with the call of a "large raptor" - this materialised as a Buzzard - not a common sight at Spurn. The best birds of the afternoon were the 5 Yellow Wagtails prancing about among the feet of the Long-horned cattle - one of which was very bright. Other birds seen included: Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Teal, Meadow Pipit, Shelduck, Golden Plover, Turnstone, Linnet, & young House Martins still in the nest. Anyone disappointed by the quantity and quality of birds this week, should find an improvement in future weeks.