Friday, 28 May 2010

Cuckoo Reprise

Most of today's pictures are (c) 2010 Vince Cowell. The pics are: Cuckoo, Swift, Great Tit [fledgling], Orange-Tip, Wall [Brown], 4-Spotted Chaser, and the stuff the 'best' sort of dogwalker leaves behind at a place of great natural beauty & tranquility.

Thursday, 27 May 2010


Both sessions spent a lot of time with our most reliable male Cuckoo. Another was heard further along the canal. However, there was no evidence that a female was present. The Reed Warbler actually showed better than the Sedge Warblers, and both became almost impossible to see when the clouds came over & the squally winds associated with them flurried the canal's surface. There were plenty of Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings, Orange Tips, Speckled Woods, and a whole Long-tailed Tit family.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Another Wednesday, Another Lifer

Today both the morning & afternoon sessions had good views of the Iberian Chiffchaff, and were suitably freaked out by its song. It was annoying in the afternoon when a digiscoper spent the whole of his lunch hour 'luring' the bird with its song from his iPod. The general bird song has definitely started to subside but we did hear & see a bog standard Chiffchaff, A Willow Tit, a Garden Warbler, a Blackcap, A Willow Warbler, a Whitethroat and a Song Thrush. We saw Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Heron, Little Ringed Plover & Redshank on Huxter Well Marsh. Other birds included a Jay (spotted by Eileen!), a pair of Bullfinches, and a whole Willow Tit family in the afternoon. From Cottage Drain Hide we had 2 young Little Grebes with their parents, and a Coot family, plus a Heron appearing to swin like a Swan! A Reed Warbler sang in from the vegetation around the pool, but the dragonflies from Saturday were absent in the overcast conditions. Not a bad day, but not up to the excitement of last week's Purple Heron.
Above pics are: Iberian Chiffchaff [2 pics], Wren [#1 (c) 2010 Aileen Urquhart], another 2 Wrens, Heron (c) 2010 Aileen Urquhart, Little Grebe [#1 (c) 2010 Aillen Urquhart], Damselfly, Fly, Herb Bennet & White Bryony.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Birthday Gift

Today I was a Birthday present for the 1st time! An old work colleague thought the prefect present for her mother-in-law would be a morning out at a nature reserve with me on hand to identify all the wildlife. So at 9 o’clock, Dorrie, her son Tony, and her friend Janice arrivedfor their first ever visit to North Cave Wetlands. I arrived early & checked out the Wood Sandpiper’s location for later.
We began with good views of a Whitethroat singing in one of the dead elm trees, quickly followed by a singing Goldfinch. A Reed Bunting, the first of many, was also in the back of a dead elm. Some Tufted Ducks flew over, and the air was thick with Sand Martins. A Wren serenaded us along the path and a Skylark could be heard singing further away. We saw our first Avocet on Main Lake, where we also added Common Tern, Black-headed Gull, Gadwall (a ‘lifer’ for Dorrie), Pochard, Greylag Goose, Redshank, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Pied Wagtail & Little & Great Crested Grebe. We also watched a Lapwing dive-bombing a hapless Rook.
The walk around Carp Lake added Willow Warbler, Blackbird, Great Tit, Woodpigeon & Dunnock; whilst around Far Lake we saw a pair of Red-Legged partridge, several Wall Brown & Speckled Wood butterflies, and a few almost colourless Blue-tailed Damselflies. There was a Song Thrush singing strongly here, and a Pheasant ran for cover.
Reedbed Lake was more interesting and we heard several Reed Warblers, and glimpsed a Sedge Warbler and more Reed Buntings. A Corn Bunting could be heard jangling its keys on the other side of the tall hedge, and a couple of Oystercatchers were in a field with several Lapwing. A Linnet flew over heading north, whilst a Shoveler slept on an island on Reedbed Lake. A Jackdaw allowed us to approach fairly close on the path whilst a male Common Blue butterfly landed on some vegetation. A Four-Spotted Chaser Dragonfly showed well near the Dragonfly Ponds, but a Small Tortoiseshell was more evasive.
Unfortunately, Turret Hide, which should have been the highlight proved to be a great disappointment. It had been invaded by a very noisy group, who were loudly shouting out all the birds they could see. Presumably, their noise had frightened off the Wood Sandpiper, of which there was now no sign. The only new bird added here was a Lesser Black Backed Gull, but the highlight was a pair of Avocets with 3 chicks which were being dive-bombed by an angry Lapwing, whose partner was on a nearby nest.
The walk to East Hide added a Blue Tit, whilst a Ringed Plover could be seen from the hide itself. Also seen here were a pair of Swifts, a Carrion Crow, and on the walk back Sparrows could be heard in the hedge with Tree Sparrows heading towards their box in a tree. Back at Angela’s buttie wagon a Greenfinch flew over taking the number of birds seen by me to 46, but Dorrie reckons we had 56! Whichever, the correct figure I’m sure Dorrie was well pleased with her Birthday introduction to the wildlife wonders of North Cave Wetlands.
Photographs are from the top Acocet in flight [(c) 2010 Tony Grassby], 2 Avocets, Lapwing [female], Chaffinch, Common Tern, 4 Spotted Chhaser [(c) 2010 Tony Grassby, Common Blue, Green-veined White, and Damselfly (c) 2010 Tony Grassby.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Dingy in the Sun

Dingy Skippers are a threatened species in the UK, but can sometimes be farly abundant in small localised populations. I saw about 6 two years ago in a YWT reserve at the time of year. However, it looks as though some scraping of the chalk floor has been undertaken in an attempt to encourage the species to bounce back. The Dingy Skipper is a species which had so far eluded Maurice, but in the Thursday sunshine he reckoned there must have been about 100 of the rare creatures. He also found a Burnet Companion. Meanwhile David Ware found a pair of Redstarts nearby, and managed to get a very decent photo of the female.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

So Sorry, He's from Barcelona

John was going to Potteric Carr to see the Iberian Chiffchaff, and asked if I wanted to come along, so we set off at 8am to escape the screaming Saturday hordes. We arrived just before it opened, but weren't the 1st through the turnstiles. We guessed where St Catherine's Field might be from the inadequate official map, and luckily, proved correct. We could hear it clearly from quite a distance away, despite the proximity of the thunderous motorway traffic. Its song was quite a revelation. It approximates as: "Chiff-chiff-chiff-whip-whip-whip" & sometimes a little twitter. We spent at least 10 mins with the bird before a big party of twitchers started turning up. They had been ahead of us but probably went to St. Catherine's Copse by mistake, whilst we made our way unerringly to St. Catherine's Field. The bird wasn't anything special to look at, if anything it was in a tatty condition, but it certainly sounded very different. Earlier, John found a buck Roe Deer trapped behind fencing, attempting to get away from us, so we left it in peace, and it hopefully found somewhere to graze away from humans. On the way to Catherine's Field the best bird was probably a male Bullfinch. We went looking for the Kingfishers in Piper Marsh, but there was no apparent activity at the nest site - perhaps the young have recently fledged. There was very little at Willow Pool hide apart from 2 Canada Geese goslings, and at least 5 baby Moorhens. We went to a hide on the other side of Willow Pool, where we heard Reed Warblers and saw plenty of Four-Spotted Chasers, and some smaller damselflies. We seemed to be the youngest people on the reserve until a trendy pair in their twenties turned up & quickly spotted the Heron. Outside the hide we had brief views of a beautifully singing Garden Warbler, and heard Great Spotted Woodpeckers near the bridge over Mother Drain. John was happy to get his 300+ UK bird, and I was satisfied to have heard its weird song, & to check on the reserve before next week's class. The Chiffchaff can't really compete with last week's Purple Heron, but the class should be very interested in hearing its very different song if the bird stays around!
First 4 pics are of the Iberian Chiffchaff followed by the Four-Spotted Chaser & then the temporarily trapped Roe Deer.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Foston Tea Party

Today was our final visit to the Organic Farm, and we enjoyed the warmest weather, and arguably the best birds. The biggest surprise was the Tawny Owl, which we flushed from the woodland edge in the morning, and it headed deeper into the wood. I had assumed that the louder noise in the rookery was due to the young rooks fledging, but it may have been the presence of the Owl which unsettled the Rooks. There were more Yellow Wagtails visible than last week with one stunning male hovering over a field of Charlock right in front of the am group. The pm group had to make do with a female giving much closer views from the edge of a bare field. We had Yellowhammers, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Common Whitethroat, and a Sedge Warbler. A Linnet showed well even though it was concealed in a bush, whilst in the pm a Treecreeper and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen in the wood. The young Herons were virtually all fledged with only one visible in a nest, but it was impossible to be sure from our vantage point on the extreme edge of the colony how many more were in nests out of view. Butterflies seen included: Wall Brown, Brimstone, Small Copper, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Speckled Wood and assorted Whites. Both sessions enjoyed their organic produce and the afternoon group ended their walk with a final freshly-brewed cup of tea.
The Tawny Owl is from the archive, but the pictures of the Yellow Wagtail [female], Pied Wagtail, Swallow, Linnet, Rook, Hare, Speckled Wood and Wall [Brown] were taken today.