Friday, 27 September 2013

Two For the Price of One

On Thursday we went to Paull Holme Strays.  We walked east from the Fishermen's Car Park, and on both sessions the tide was fairly high.  There were a few Curlews, and Redshank flying swiftly east just above the very still water.  When we reached ares of exposed mud we were able to locate small flocks of Ringed Plovers, the odd Knot and very busy Dunlin.  An occasional Godwit was seen, and on one occasion one Black-tailed Godwit flew past accompanied by 3 Bar-tailed Godwits.  There were plenty of Friday unmentionables in the river just away from the rocks, and these were accompanied by 3 eclipse Wigeon, and a slightly larger flock of Teal.

As we approached the end of the flood bank we flushed a small charm of Goldfinches which were feeding on the seed heads of various teasles and members of the thistle family.  At the tip of the bank we could hear a constant chatter, which came from a group of 1000+ Golden Plovers resting on the mud.  In the morning a Hobby powered through the plovers sending them up into a Mexican wave, while a Peregrine in the afternoon sent them scything the air just above our heads.  They left their roosting area never to return during the time of our stay.  

The Hobby was the star of the morning, and the immature peregrine the highlight of the afternoon.  This latter was circling around when we first spotted it, and seemed to be attacking a bird on the water.  It later transpired that it must have caught a feral pigeon, and then dropped it.  The pigeon was badly injured, but still alive.  it managed to swim ashore by flapping its weeks, and hauled itself out on the water, where it sat drying itself on the mudflats.  It is not known if it was well enough to survive from that point.  It was inaccessible to be rescued by any of our party.

The coo-ee of a Grey Plover punctuated the air at times, but apart from an individual flying north on one occasion and another distant bird on the mudflat these remained out of sight.  

On the area created to take excessive floodwater were a few Curlew, Redshank, Lapwings and at least 3 Little Egrets.  On the afternoon return journey we also flushed a Greenshank - the first I've ever seen in that particular venue.  There was very little to see round the church, but a male Tawny Owl called twice after we had passed that way in the morning.  The ivy was crawling with wasps, but also featured Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, and in the afternoon a pair of Commas. 

Golden Plover
 Curlew (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
  Curlew (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
  Curlew (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
  Ringed Plover (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Knot, Ringed Plover & Dunlin  (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Wigeon  (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Goldfinch  (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Bar-tailed Godwit  (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Golden Plovers (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Golden Plovers
 Golden Plovers
 Golden Plovers
 Golden Plovers
 Red Admiral (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Small Tortoiseshell (c) 2013 Richard Whateley

I gave myself an extra 15 minutes to get to Tuesday's location, but there was a terrible snarl up round the centre of Hull, so I wished I'd given myself even longer to get to Blacktoft Sands.  It was a very grey day, so there were no photo opportunities.

We started off at Singleton, which despite the murk we could just about make out a Spotted Crake skulking in the reeds, and a more obliging Pectoral Sandpiper.  There was also a Water Rail, some Black-tailed Godwits, a couple of Spotted Redshanks and a juvenile Ruff.  Aileen & Tony arrived early and they saw a Marsh Harrier, but in the wind-free conditions, this species remained out of sight for the rest of the group.

There wasn't as much variety at Townend, just a large sprinkling of Redshank, and a single Spotted Redshank at the rear.  However, a nice mixed flock of Ruff flew in later, so it was possible to discern some of the characteristics of the varied states of non-breeding plumages.  

We went on to Marshland, and new birds here included a Greenshank and a pair of Green Sandpipers.  There was the distant sound of some Bearded Tits, but we couldn't get decent views.  There were a few more Ruff here, some Snipe and quite a few Lapwings.  There were also a couple of Black-tailed Godwits.  A few Shoveler looked as they were almost about to come out of eclipse.

Xerox had some more Snipe, plenty of eclipse Teal and Shoveler, while another Ruff dropped in.  First hide was very poor with just a few scattered Teal, but some Tree Sparrows flew in on occasions to drink some "fresh water."

Ruff taken at an earlier date

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