Sunday, 28 October 2012

Antidote to UK's Winter Blues

Long-time stalwart Tony Robinson has recently returned from his annual visit to Arizona, where he took some great pictures of the rather exotic wildlife.   As it has been rather dull, miserable and cold here in the last few days, these photos taken in a warmer, sunnier climate offer the perfect antidote to Northern Europe at the moment.
All Photos (c) 2012 Tony Robinson
Stellar's Jay
 Yellow Warbler
 Lesser Goldfinch
 Lawrence's Goldfinch
 Hairy Woodpecker
 Gila Woodpecker
 Northern Flicker
White-Breasted Nuthatch
 Black-Chinned Hummingbird
 Broad-tailed Hummingbird
 American Robin
 Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher [Anglicised]
 Curve-billed Thrasher
 Harris Hawks
 Harris Hawks
Inca Dove
 House Finch
 Bighorn Goat
Record Shot of  Northern Cardinal

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Signs of Summer Still Lingering

On Friday everyone shared cars from the Humber Bridge to the same N. Lincs estuarine location we visited on Tuesday. We looked for the Grey Wagtail first but we were disappointed. Instead there were what may have been Otter tracks. When we reached the hide we flushed a Kingfisher, but it perched just a little further on allowing everyone great views. However, before I could snatch a photo a careless dog-walker with her 2 unruly dogs ensured it was frightened off to an area where none of us could see it.

Kestrel [male]

From the hide there were at least 60 Avocets (amazingly late for this far north), and over 200 Black-tailed Godwits. There was one adult male Ruff with white head feathers and some black feathers on its crown. Meanwhile 2 females or juveniles were on the flooded field opposite the hide. There were fewer than 20 Dunlin, and a possible Snipe, and Caroline pointed out a pair of Shoveler. A few Golden Plover flew through from time to time, but didn't settle on the mud. An immature and an adult Heron were useful for comparison purposes, and a few Curlew stalked on the mud near the Black-tailed Godwits to illustrate just how much larger they are!

The walk round the gravel path resulted in a pair of Bearded Tits, which were later joined by another pair. There were also a few Redwings a little further on. We didn't see much from the east hide apart from Curlews and young Moorhens, although a juvenile Ruff dropped in for the pm crowd. On the way back there were 2 Kestrels hunting and 3 Lesser Redpolls flew near the female, whilst the male settled down and perched in an Elder bush quite close to the group, and stayed there for several minutes. In fact in the end we carried on & left the relaxed Kestrel to preen in peace. It also allowed the pm group to approach fairly close. Some of the group glimpsed a flying Bearded Tit on the way back.  
 Avocet (underside)
 Black-tailed Godwit
 Otter Footprints?
 Otter Footprints?
At least one member of the pm group viewed Kingfishers as mythical birds like a Roc or a Phoenix, but yesterday she did gain a glimpse of it flying away from the hide area where it was seen in the morning.  

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Hilda's Muriel

On Thursday we had a walk along the Humber estuary. As we waited for Chris in the car park plenty of Fieldfare and a few Redwing were spotted collapsing into the hawthorn bushes around the fort. The miniature lighthouses were flashing, presumably because of poor visibility, although its the brightest its been all week. Alan suddenly spotted in the far distance between the 2 lighthouses that the air was swirling with birds. They were thousands of Golden Plovers. There were a few Curlew at the waters edge and 6 Wigeon, but the birds were in rather short supply.

No Comment necessary (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 Wigeon (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 Golden Plover (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 Grey Plover (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
At the tip of the old flood bank we saw quite a variety of waders. Jean spotted & correctly identified a Turnstone, but there were also a few Bar-tailed Godwits, a dozen Redshank, half a dozen Dunlin, and 30 Lapwing. We had just started to head back when I spotted a Swallow, then another and another. In total 6 Swallows were heading east.

 Turnstones (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 Curlew (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 The 'Maybe' with Humber Bridge
 The Grimsby Tower with Golden Plovers
In the afternoon the tide was coming in, but was still a long way out when we visited. We counted 150 Black-tailed Godwit, 112 Knot, and 8 Bar-tailed Godwit. We were standing near the breach when suddenly I spotted a Peregrine steaming in from the south-west. It made a bee-line for the Golden Plovers, and although they took some time to see it they all escaped. This remained the case even when a second smaller Peregrine see spotted by Eric all joined in on the action. After several stoops and swift changes of direction they failed to catch a single bird. However, one Peregrine moved quickly north, as it has spotted that a Merlin had just caught a small bird. The Merlin relinquished its catch, but the Peregrines seemed a bit fussy about picking something up from the estuary mud, and it took 3 attempts before it carried away the prize.
On the way back a Pipit flew up from the main path making an unusual 'tsskk' call. It was larger and paler than a Meadow Pipit, but still seemed to have white in the tail and in the wing. Although a similar colour to a Skylark its wings were much narrower than the large wing area of a Skylark. On returning home and playing the sounds of a Richard's Pipit and an Olive-Backed Pipit, the latter seemed a much better fit. Hopefully, someone is going to check out the area tomorrow, to see if they can relocate this intriguing bird.  Finally, in a Hawthorn bush near the entrance to the fort we found a Goldcrest, although it was shy about coming into the open!

Peregrine - the bane of Golden Plovers (c) 2012 Vince Cowell
 Merlin on Mudflats

Once Upon a Time...

On Wednesday we were just a few miles south of Tuesday's location. The visibility was better than yesterday, but a lot worse than our last visit to this site on Thursday. This time there was a prat noisily needle-blowing in the car park, so there was no sign of the Nuthatch there.  Later, we came across him again leaf blowing in the main park area, where most of the trees have yet to shed their leaves.  If there's a more useless (& noisy) activity, we've yet to discover it.

Fly Agaric (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
 Fly Agaric
However, when we reached the Treecreeper camera box we heard a Nuthatch and looking up there it was on the topmost dead branches of an Oak. A Treecreeper was also working its way up the same tree. We waited for Ian to finish filling up the feeders at the feeding station, but not long after he'd gone at least 2 Nuthatches came down! But it was way too gloomy for photos. Last week's Fly Agarics were past their best, but there was plenty of other fungi about & the next section became something of a fungal foray. The Stinkhorn had grown to its full extent since Thursday, whist last weeks' had decayed into almost nothing.
 Phallus impudicus (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
 3 Sombreros (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
 Fairies' Bonnets
 Birch Polypore
 Honey or Bootlace Fungus
 Not Sulphur Tuft

Unlike last week we heard flying Green Woodpeckers on a couple of occasions, but we couldn't see them. The best birds in the locked section were 3 Lesser Redpolls, which came quite close, although the light wasn't brilliant. We had slightly better views of a Jay in the afternoon, but the session was really a fungal foray with a few birds thrown in!
Miles regaled the am group with the 'true' story behind the origins of Father Christmas - it involved a Finnish tribe, Fly Agarics, hallucinations and Reindeer.  I then tried to pass this on to the pm session - there seemed to be a lot of raised eyebrows & sceptical glances!