Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Checking Out a New Venue

Red-Necked Grebe

ditto Having a Stretch
Taking out its Frustration
Bog Standard Grebe
A Pair
Tiger Beetle
Heathland Spider Sp
Yesterday I checked out a possible new venue for next term. The day started well with the screams of Jays from the car park, and then almost immediately the harsh chatter of Sand Martins. A flock of more than 5 Redpolls flew over, and there were a few waterfowl species on the large lake - Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Coot, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Mallard. A walk along a heathland path and another through some tangled birch woodland, and I arrived at the far end of the lake, and eventually a Red-necked Grebe came out from undergrowth near the bank and sailed fairly close to me. Most of the time it just swam serenely away, but occasionally it made some loud guttural noises and stretched, and then changed its shape completely by going into some rather strange postures. This bird has been returning to this location for the past 5 years, unable to find a mate, but never giving up on its lovelorn quest. I didn't find any Adders, but when the sun was out, there were lots of Tiger beetles. This venue should be even better when the summer visitors arrive in large numbers next month.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Chips with Everything

Afternoon Little Owl
Early Morning Little Owl
Bright Sunshine Little Owl (c) 2011 Brian Richardson

Long-tailed Tit
Small Tortoiseshell
Record shot of Comma
Hares on the Horizon
Another gorgeous day with Yellowhammers everywhere. There weren't that many singing 'A-Lit-tle-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese', but there were plenty making their 'chip' 'chip' alarm calls. There was a lovely Marsh Tit in the morning, and Red Kites in both the morning and the afternoon. 6 Buzzards were circling over some distant woodland in the morning only, but a single was glimpsed more closely in the afternoon. Other birds seen were Long-tailed Tits, Lapwings, Common Gulls, Red-legged Partridge, Bullfinches, Mistle thrushes, Song Thrushes and a large flock of singing Linnets in the afternoon. The Skylarks were probably more active in the morning. The Hares were also busier in the morning when 11 diffferent individuals were seen, but they were also spotted from the car park at the beginning of the afternoon session.
I stopped off at a nearby location in the morning to see the Little Owl, and was pleased to find about 6 Fieldfare in the same tree. Unfortunately, they didn't hang around to have their photograph taken!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Spring Again

Chiffchaff (c) 2011 Aileen Urquhart
Siskin (c) 2011 Aileen Urquhart
Frog (c) 2011 Aileen Urquhart
Chiffchaff Magpie
this was the most spring-like day so far. In fact I was so uncomfortable at lunchtime I had to change out of my thermals in the BTCV first-floor loos in the Potteric Carr Visitor centre. The nice weather meant that bird numbers were down at the feeding station, so there were no Willow Tits, Jays and fewer Reed Buntings than of late. In the morning 2 Kingfishers were in the nesting area, but there was no sign in the afternoon. A redpoll flew over in the afternoon, and some of the particpants found their own Siskins. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was seen at the reserve yesterday, but we didn't see or hear either that or its Green cousin. A Great Spotted Woopecker was heard briefly in the morning, but the bright sunshine made locating it a problem. A Buzzard in the afternoon made the long walk to Piper Marsh worthwhile. The place was swarming with Bumblebees, and Brimstone & Peacock butterflies. There was also a single Small Tortoiseshell. I was hoping for Sand Martins, but the only summer visitors in evidence were a scattering of Chiffchaffs. Overall it was a beautiful day, but the wildlife didn't really match up to it!


All Marsh Harrier pics (c) 2011 David Tasker
Marsh Harrier [male]
Marsh Harrier [female]
A pair Skydancing
Black-tailed Godwits
Mute Swan
Record shot of Pink-footed Geese
There was no sign of the Red-breasted Merganser or Long-eared Owls yesterday, so it may easily have been a anti-climax. However, it felt like Spring had finally sprung, and the male Marsh Harriers had turned up at the weekend. This resulted in a great deal of acrobatics as pairs indulged in spectacular bouts of skydancing. Elsewhere, there were many Toads around, some locked in carnal embraces - oblivious to everything around them. We didn't see any Avocets, but a couple of Black-tailed Godwits showed some evidence of moulting into breeding plumage. Some Snipe were huddled in the grass in front of Xerox hide, but there were few signs of other waders. A flock of Pink-footed Geese dropped in for a few hours to refuel before heading further north. The 'Supermoon' at the weekend meant that there had been some very high spring tides, and parts of the reserve, which are normally dry had been comprehensively flooded.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Dragged through a Week Backwards

Red-breasted Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Little Grebe
Long-eared Owl
Reed Bunting
Red Deer [stag]
Nuthatch [below]
Record shot of Goldcrest
Reed Bunting [male]
Reed Bunting
Conservation in Action!
For the first time in 3 terms Friday sessions enjoyed the best weather of the week, and it could be argued the best birds. Everyone who turned up in the morning had 2 lifers, but most in the pm group had one lifer, but this wasn't the same bird. The lifers were the Long-eared Owl and he Red-breasted Merganser. The latter was a fine drake, and was much more striking than the scraggy female I saw with the Weds evening group about 7 years ago. The Marsh Harrier was seen briefly in the morning, as were a pair of Avocets, but there were nos sign of either of these in the afternoon. this is rather disappointing for this reserve, when Marsh Harriers are supposed to be guaranteed. The light was perfect, and also seen were Little Grebes, courting Great Crested Grebes, Wigeon, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Dunlin, Lapwing, Curlew and a Kestrel.
Thursday was our best day at Normanby Hall this term with the highlights being a pair of Nuthatches and close views of the Red Deer stags.
On Wednesday we had to detour to North Cave Wetlands to avoid the worst of the fog. Over 40 species were seen, including our first Chiffchaff of the year, but nothing else of particular note. The full Great Crested Grebe courtship was witnessed by the pm group.
Tuesday saw us visiting Potteric Carr, and through the mist we saw the usual suspects, including a pair of Kingfishers nest building in the morning. We also spotted a pair of Avocet on Huxter Well Marsh.