Last week was the first full week of wildlife classes. The Friday sessions had to be changed because the Derwent hadn't broken its banks, so there was no flooding & very few birds to see - not enough to keep everyone interested for a 2-hour class anyway! The standby venue paid dividends immediately with a Green Woodpecker delighting the am session, plus a Stoat chasing Rabbits. In all we probably saw 3 different hunting individuals. Meanwhile a Tues am attendee managed to photograph a Stoat with what looks like a Water Vole in its jaws at the same location while the Fri am session were moving round the reserve.
Stoat with Water Vole (c) 2012 David Tasker
On Thursday we visited an urban location and saw at least 21 Goosanders, but the biggest surprise was a Ring-necked Parakeet. Apparently, it's been seen since early last year, but it was the first time I knew about it. It seems to hang around the aviary area, attracted by the members of the parrot family imprisoned there, but at the same time driving the prisoners wild! New class members were impressed with the Goosanders, but also with the close views of Pochard, Tufted Duck, Mistle Thrushes, Black-headed and Common Gulls, which just aren't available elsewhere.
Ring-necked Parakeet (c) 2012 Margaret Richardson
Tufted Duck [drake]
Tufted Duck [female]
Great Crested Grebe
Black-headed Gull [moulting into its summer hood]
Black-headed Gulls in non-breeding plumage
Hybrid Canada x Greylag Goose
The Wednesday group had a session on the Humber estuary. This can be a bleak place, but luckily the wind was kinder to us than normal. There were many Golden Plover in the air, but the tide was well out, so the birds on the mudflat were all quite distant. Some Roe Deer were feeding on the saltmarsh, but the raptors were noticeable by their absence. The afternoon session was saved by a Short-eared Owl, which gave several good aerial views after it had been flushed by a dog-walker on the flood-bank.
Cormorant (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
Lapwings (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
The Tuesday session went to one of the premier winter reserves in the area. The morning session went south & saw over 30 species included 2 Redhead Smew & plenty of wildlfowl. The pm session voted to head north in case they encountered Short-eared Owls. We missed a Kingfisher by 10 minutes, but the owls refused to appear. The female Great-Spotted Woodpecker seen with in the final 10 minutes salvaged the afternoon. Overall, not a classic week, but at least things should only improve from this moment on....