Thursday, 30 December 2010

Wintering Waders

All photos in this post (c) 2010 John Sparham
Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit in flight - note only a faint wing-bar
Purple Sandpiper
Redshank [above]
Turnstone [below]
Turnstones in flight
Rock Pipit - not a wader, but around at the same site!
Now the blog is up and working again, it is possible to include some of the backlog of pictures taken when the blog was disabled. Today includes a selection of the varied waders found in Northumberland in November. Most of these birds can still be found on the Yorkshire coast around Filey and Flamborough at this time of year. The Rock Pipit isn't a wader of course, but frequents the same habitat as the wading birds.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Wintery Wildlife

Woodcock [Hull]
Kestrel & Starling (c) 2010 Peter Stead [North Ferriby]
Kestrel (c) 2010 [North Ferriby]
Great Spotted Woodpecker [Hull]
[above] Fieldfare (c) 2010 David Ware [Wetwang]

Brambling (c) 2010 Chris Cox [Keyingham]
Brambling (c) 2010 Chris Cox [Keyingham]
[above] Bramblings (c) 2010 David Ware [Wetwang]
Redwings (c) 2010 David Ware [Wetwang]
Pied Wagtail (c) 2010 Chris Cox [Keyingham]
Roe Deer (c) 2010 Chris Cox [Burstwick]
Hedgehog (c) 2010 Janet Whitchurch [Hornsea]
Leucistic Blackbird [not Reversed Ring Ouzel] (c) 2010 Les Waby [Pocklington]
Mistletoe in flower [Hull]
Woodcock probing with head shape & tracks [Hull]
Woodcock tracks [Hull]
Because of the prolonged wintery weather unusual wildlife has been turning up in people's gardens. The Kestrel was seen with its wings spread out lying on a hedge with its talons plunging into the depths of the hedge. The reason this sight was spotted was the sound of screaming Starlings coming from inside the hedge! This behaviour, which is more expected from Sparrowhawks was forced on the Kestrel because of the difficulty of locating voles under the snow! The other birds seen in gardens are more expected at times of snowy weather, although none of them have turned up in my garden so far!
There were 3 Woodcock near home this morning, two of them under the same tree. The second one flew along the length of a long brick building, so I was able to snatch a couple of pics of this speeding bird through the gloom. There was plenty of evidence of disturbed leaf letter which the Woodcocks had turned over looking for food. There were many tracks, and then there seemed to be signs of where the Woodcock had probed into the snow looking for another hidden cache of leaves, covering some more worms. Thanks to everyone for sending in their wintery wildlife pics.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Last Few Weeks

All Short-eared Owl Photos (c) 2010 Maurice Gordon

Water Rail (above)
Stock Dove (above)
Curlew (above)
My sincere apologies for a series of technical problems, which has prevented this site being updated since October! I did buy extra photo space at that time, and was informed it would take 24 hours for that space to become available, but 2 weeks later it still hadn't appeared, and I didn't check it again until today!
In the hiatus one of my Goldcrest photos appeared on the Red Button after the Autumnwatch programmes, whilst another was featured in a very rowdy section during the Unsprung 'Pub Quiz'! Meanwhile, the Water Rail picture depicted above appeared in the December issue of Birdwatching Magazine.
The final classes of the Autumn term were heavily disrupted by bad weather, so I can no longer remember the highlights. However, the specials to see the Short-eared Owls were amazingly successful with 8 birds seen both days and a female Hen Harrier on one occasion. The snow moved in within minutes of the final Short-eared Owl session! I went back on my own and was lucky enough to see a Peregrine whizz a few feet over my head. Both visits also had good views of the Rough-legged Buzzard, which was still showing as recently as yesterday. This was a 'lifer' for the vast majority of those present. Unfortunately, the recent snow prevented me from revisiting the Short-eared Owl site, and since the snow, reports of the birds have not been so frequent. Of course it will have been more difficult for the owls to locate voles under the snow and they have probably had to range further afield - unfortunately, others may have starved to death!
The snow has also resulted in 3 Barn Owl casualties in their Holderness stronghold, with a 4th bird being struck by a car & taken to a rescue centre.
Hopefully, all of you have now encountered a flock of Waxwings, as the invasion continued throughout November & December, with small flocks around Marfleet Lane, Bilton Grove and Old Hedon Road. The most recent reliable flock is of 7 birds in Baynard Avenue, Cottingham. However, Sheffield seems to be the best area to catch up with birds of 300+.
There has also been an invasion of Woodcock with some birds appearing in people's gardens during the bad weather. Unfortunately, I haven't been lucky enough to photograph one of these elusive birds so far this winter.
If I take any worthwhile photographs over the festive season I will update this blog, but normal service should resume anyway from 11 of January.
May I take this opportunity to wish all my customers (& anyone else who has read the blog throughout the year) all the best for Christmas and the New Year!