Thursday, 24 February 2011

ELO, ELO, ELO, What's all this then? - an LEO

Just a Bundle of Feathers
Looking Up
Having a preen
Looking Left
Eyes Wide, Tufts Down
The Other Bird
Spotting the Lens
Look into my Eyes!
Eyes Wide Open & Tufts Fully Up
Long-tailed Tit
This morning I took my 10-year-old nephew to see the two Long-eared Owls at RSPB Blacktoft Sands. We were 1st on the scene & I was able to take a series of pictures for 10 minutes before someone arrived with a £5,000 camera & lens, so I beat a hasty retreat. Ben has seen Long-eared Owls before, but these were his best views, and the birds remained preening in the same trees, even though we didn't have an uninterrupted view - with plenty of Willow strands obscuring the view in places.
The ravages of winter have left their marks on this reserve, and numbers of wildfowl are still down on what is to be expected at this time of year. 2 Long-tailed Tits were busy looking for nesting material, but there weren't any other birds of interest during our morning stay. Later in the day Marsh Harriers & a possible male Hen Harrier were sighted.
Ben & I headed home, but stopped off at a venue normally good for large raptors, where we saw 3 Red Kites, and at least 6 Common Buzzards. A female Bullfinch was seen, and Marsh Tits were heard sneezing.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

In the Pink

Redpoll (c) 2011 Paul Reed
Redpoll (c) 2011 Paul Reed
Redpoll (c) 2011 Paul Reed
Great Spotted Woodpecker [male] (c) 2011 David Hitchen
Great Spotted Woodpecker [male]
Great Spotted Woodpecker [female]
Pheasant [female - melanistic?] (c) 2011 David Hitchen
Willow Tit
Chaffinch [male]
Chaffinch [female]
Reed Bunting [male]
Reed Bunting [female]
Blue Tit
Blue Tit
One-legged Blue Tit
One-legged Blue Tit [resting on umbellifer stalk]
Great Tit
Friday at Potteric was very dull, murky and bone-chillingly cold, but at least the drizzle was only on the journey to the reserve! The Willow Pool feeding station was dripping with passerine species even though no food had yet been put out! Some food was eventually thrown down, but the Jays and Willow Tits didn't materialise. Elsewhere, we had distant views of the wildfowl from various hides, and large flocks of Lapwings on Huxter Well. No raptor species were seen, and the morning crowd were informed by an excited 11-year-old boy that he had just seen (flushed) the Kingfisher! The highlight of the morning was an extremely pink Redpoll species right outside the Visitor Centre on the return journey. The Redpolls were feeding on a path near Mother Drain in the afternoon, but we couldn't discern one as Pink as that depicted above. Thanks to Paul Reed for the above pics from a site near York - where a large flock is being seen on a daily basis. The highlight of the afternoon were a pair of Willow Tits seen along the railway line dividing Low Ellers Marsh from the remainder of the reserve.

Friday, 18 February 2011


Red-throated DiverTurnstone
Fulmar (c) 2011 Margaret Richardson
Razorbills (c) 2011 Margaret Richardson
Great Tit
Tree Sparrow
Nothing could possibly live up to Wednesday morning's Goshawk display, so yesterday was rather drab in comparison, and that wasn't just the weather!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

What's the Gos?

Probable Goshawk (c) 2011 Aileen Urquhart
Red Kite (c) 2011 Aileen Urquhart
Red Kite
Record shot of Buzzard
Record shot of Buzzard
Marsh Tit

Today we travelled the best part of 100 miles to visit the only reliable site for Goshawks displaying. We saw 3 Red Kites in the sky at the same time with 6 Buzzards also visible. A Green Woodpecker yaffled three times in the morning, and we had a brief sighting of a Great Spotted Woodpecker too. A pair of Mistle Thrushes rattled away at us, but the male couldn't be bothered to sing! Marsh Tits give us the runaround in the morning, but they came out easily in the afternoon. A sighting of 7 Bullfinches was the highest figure I've seen at this site. Other birds seen or heard of the 35 recorded today include: Treecreeper, Pied Wagtail, Long-tailed Tits, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Mallard, and Mallard. A day of quality rather than quantity sightings. At the furthest point of the walk, at 10.45, just before we were due to turn around I spotted a possible Goshawk soaring directly above us. The bird circled a few times, showing its white undertail coverts, while its tail was relatively short in relation to the rest of the bird, and it had large rounded, almost club-like wings. It was not as large as a Buzzard, so cannot have been a female Goshawk. It then flew fairly low over a stand of conifers its white coverts still showing even though the bird was displaying its back to us. It then rose steeply almost vertically above the conifers, and then suddenly plummeted down towards the tree line again; it repeated this procedure a couple of times before disappearing completely. About 10 minutes later a raptor flew towards us being mobbed by a crow. Some 'students' claimed it was another Goshawk, but for me the tail was a lot longer for the size of the bird, and there was no sign of white undertail coverts, for me it was a classic view of a female Sparrowhawk! The class were suitably overwhelmed by the display they had witnessed earlier. Many other people arrived later to try & witness a similar display, but as far as I know the bird wasn't seen again by either the afternoon group or by the other visitors.