Thursday, 24 October 2013

A Day at Bimble Bay

Thursday saw the best weather of the week, so we were able to go ahead with the planned trip to watch ringing at Bimble Bay.

We walked up to the bushes to find a little marquee erected and several cars arranged in a line.  The first bird we saw after ringing was a Coal Tit, and Peter Dunn splayed its wing feathers to explain why this was a young bird, and its head markings indicate it may be a male, but it was a little early to tell for certain.  

Yellow-Browed Warbler
 Oystercatcher (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Coal Tit
After that we were shown a Blackcap, and it's breast feathers were blown gently apart to show both its fat deposits, and that some feathers were still "in pin", indicating that this bird had not recently arrived, but it was a young bird. 
Blackcap (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Tree Sparrow (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Next came a Tree Sparrow.  The class were told about the fluctuating fortunes of this species, and how measures were being taken locally to stem the decline.  Tree Sparrows ringed at Bimble Bay had been recaptured at Spurn Point and Gibraltar Point, so they head south and if they survive they return to Bimble Bay the following spring.  
 Tree Sparrow
After that we were shown a Lesser Redpoll.  Again as this was a young bird, but had no pinkish feathers on breast or rump, all that could be said was that it may not be a male bird.  If this bird was examined next spring & did exhibit pink feathers in these two areas, then it could be described as a definite male. 
Lesser Redpoll (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Wren (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Next up was a Wren, which are quite tricky to extract from the ringing bag, as there is always a chance it may try & get up your sleeve.  Again this was an immature bird, the bands on its wings formed a straight line, not the less stratified, more chequered lines you expect in adult birds.
 Immature Male Greenfinch (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
We were then shown 2 male Greenfinches, one of this year's, which looked fairly brightly coloured, until this was compared with a full adult bird. 
Adult Male Greenfinch (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Blue Tit
Finally, we were shown a Robin and a Blue Tit, not a bad haul for a relatively quiet day, with lights winds from the west. 
 Immature Moorhen (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Sparrowhawk (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
We shared cars to Bimble Bay Dams, which was also rather quiet.  We did observe a female Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a trio of Magpies, but there were no Snipe, or indeed any waders of any species.  We did see a single Heron, plus masses of Moorhens, and the place was saturated with Woodpigeons.  We were in East Hide when an old gentleman opened the door and said the Yellow-Browed Warbler was showing well.  We then had a 20 minute wait trying to locate the bird, but eventually it was found near the car park.  That morning Claire noticed a Yellow-Browed Warbler in the new Crossley ID guide I was showing the group, and thought to herself that she'd never heard of that species before, but within 2 hours she had seen this species.  Next time I'm going to show her another random picture of an exotic species, and we'll see if we can start a trend. 
Yellow-Browed Warbler
 Yellow-Browed Warbler
 Yellow-Browed Warbler (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Heron (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Drake Teal (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Birds ringed so far this week
In the afternoon there were still a few birds being ringed including a Goldcrest.  Brian offered to release it, and it remained dormant on his hand for a few seconds before flying off into cover.  Then there were more Greenfinches and a Blackbird.  This young male had very noticeable bristles near its bill, which you should be able to see on an accompanying photo.  
 Immature Male Blackbird
 Bristles on a Blackbird
Snow Buntings had been reported on Carr Naze, so we walked through the country park to have a look.  Unfortunately, these had flown off, but we did see a Shag, and a Cormorant trying and failing to swallow a flat fish.  There were Oystercatchers on the Brigg, plus at least one Purple Sandpiper.  The fine weather brought out lots of day trippers, so these had frightened off all the other wader species from the beach and low rocks.  The rest of the time was spent scrambling down the dangerous cliff and then slithering over some very slippery rocks.  We did very well not to sustain any casualties.  The beach itself was safer to walk on, but as we did so my mind went back to that September day 88 years ago when a toy dog was left on the same beach, and a terrible storm that evening consigned it to the waves, but did inspire a children's story.  
Bimble Bay

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Good Stoat to the Afternoon

Another day, another foul weather forecast, so again we abandoned the coastal ringing & decamped to North Cave Wetlands.  It was very windy, but the precipitation wasn't as bad as predicted.  On Main Lake there were hundreds of Greylag Geese with only 1 Canada Goose.  After lunch a large flock of Greylags had arrived and almost concealed among the throng was a single Barnacle Goose.  There were a few sleeping Pochard, but the Friday unmentionables were much more active.  After careful searching a Snipe was found, but as unusual it wasn't the easiest bird for everyone to locate.

 The walk round the edge of Carp Lake added Gadwall, Little Grebe, Mute Swans, but not much else.  The rain began to fall so we went into Crosslands Hide for an early coffee break, and here some Tufted Ducks and Shoveler were observed.  There weren't so many birds on the islands this time, with just Cormorants added from this area.  As we made our way round the back circuit a few Skylarks could be heard passing over, and later 2 birds were actually heard and seen singing.  
Highland Cattle
 Far Lake had more Gadwall, and plenty of Wigeon, and some Coot, and timid Friday Unmentionables.

Reedbed Lake was fairly quiet with just more sleeping Shoveler, some feeding Gadwall and a few Lapwings - a single Redshank was on the edge of an island before it flew onto another.

There were quite a lot of birds in the hedgerow - a charm of Goldfinches, a couple of Reed Buntings, and the odd Blue and Great Tit.  An exaltation of Skylarks were seen heading south, and some silent birds which may have been Meadow Pipits.

From Turret hide there were plenty of Teal, but Anthony also found another Snipe.  There was a very smart Shoveler here, and one or two other wildfowl.  A Buzzard was seen hovering over the distant hillside, before it plunged into a single tree with its talons extended.  Later, Brian spotted another bird of prey overtaking a Woodpigeon, which he thinks may have been a Sparrowhawk.  A Stoat rang quickly into thick cover behind the hide, but we never saw it again, so didn't observe the outcome of its probable hunting foray. As we exited the hide I could hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling form some distance away, but unfortunately we never saw the bird. 
Shaggy Ink Cap
 Rooks & Jackdaws
The final hide was pretty unexciting, but as a compensation plenty of participants eagerly texted their orders to the Wildbird for their lunch.

The afternoon started very well with a Stoat before we had even left our cars behind.  Little did we know at the time that this was to be the high point of the whole afternoon.  At least the weather was a lot brighter than the morning. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Far from Filey

On Tuesday we changed venue because of a very damp, windy forecast to the relatively sheltered Tophill Low.  We headed off to SME to try and locate the Snipe, but there was no sign of either species.  However, we went into the back-2-back hide facing SME & were nearly deafened when a Cetti's Warbler sang almost next to the hide.  A smallish brown bird was spotted moving about from time to time, but we didn't get a really clear view.  Later an even smaller brown bird was seen, but this proved to be a Wren.
All pics (c) 2013 Maggie Bruce
Whooper Swan

 Tufted Duck
The stilted hide provided Heron, Shoveler and Tufted Duck.  There was an immature Great Black Backed Gull, but I don't rate his chances of survival very high.  Last week there were at least 4 large gulls dead on this island.  Although the corpses of these had gone, there were 2 fresh bodies to take their place.  Presumably the local fox is hoovering up the dead birds. 
 Drake Eclipse Pintail [left of Mallard] & female Pintail [right]
From Watton Borrow pits the pair of eclipse Pintail were the best birds, although they can be very hard to pick out.  But there were still Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, an immature Great Crested Grebe & plenty of Cormorants and the usual waterfowl species.
Canada Geese
 Friday Unmentionables

We popped into D reservoir, but apart from a Pochard, 2 female Goldeneyes, and another Great Crested Grebe there wasn't too much to see.  As we had plenty of free time we went to North Marsh.  On the way we were arrested by the sounds of a small flock of Goldcrests, and 2 of which showed nicely.  Coal Tits and Long-tailed Tits were heard in the same area, but not seen.  A Great spotted Woodpecker was heard briefly, but it took flight at our approach.

North Marsh was very quiet.  Pat spotted an immature Cormorant roosting in a Willow Tree, but we heard a Water Rail, and then for less than a second one was seen fluttering from one reedbed to another.  Unfortunately only myself, Barbara & John got on to this bird in time.

While I was typing this at lunch time a male Tawny Owl hooted near the old visitor centre.

A Whooper Swan dropped into Watton Borrow Pits and stayed long enough for all the afternoon people to observe it clearly. 

PS Chris Cox stayed at North Marsh for extra time this morning and into the afternoon.  He was rewarded with seeing the wake of a single Otter, and it continued to swim underwater, apparently even directly under the hide - sorry, no photos!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Birding & Ringing at Spurn

On Friday both groups started with some ringing & then walked around the Kilnsea Triangle.  The groups raised £65 to help Spurn Bird Observatory with its scientific work.  It would have been more, but only half the morning participants put in an appearance.
Jack Snipe
 Tree Sparrow
 Female's Crown
 Younger Example
 Spurn's Stuffed Turnstone & Redshank
 Spurn's recoveries
 Lesser Redpoll
 Choking Dunlin