Friday, 29 November 2013

Kites Stuck in Trees

Although it was grey and overcast on the journey, it wasn't until I neared the destination that I realised that we would be having to cope with misty weather, which isn't particularly good for flying Red Kites. In the car park even though the weather was very overcast a Song Thrush could be heard singing clearly. Once we'd shared cars to the final venue there were a a few kites perched in nearby trees. The trees were absolutely swarming with birds, which on investigation proved to be Fieldfare. Some even came a little nearer and landed in some berry-laden Hawthorn bushes. Unusually, as far as we could tell there were no Redwings among the Fieldfare.
We walked along the tarmac road in the direction we had just travelled. At first the trees seemed completely devoid of life, but we hadn't gone too far before we encountered a Coal Tit, and shortly afterwards both Blue and Great Tits. There was a Wren too, but we checked some birds at the top of a bare tree, and these all proved to be Barmblings. Searching more thoroughly we could see that the birds near the top of an adjacent Beech tree were also Bramblings. Looking through the stand of the trees to the fence at the back of the trees we could discern movement among the leaf litter - the whole place seemed alive with Bramblings. These were a 'lifer' for Chris, and possibly others on the course. We reached a more open field with telegraph wires, and on these were Mistle Thrushes, and another was singing nearby.

Archived Male Brambling at Home
 Archived Female Brambling at Home
 Archived Male Brambling at Tophill Low
 Red Kite
 Red Kites
 The View at Lunch-time

When we returned to the cars at least 4 Red Kites were found scattered in various trees, one of which seemed to have a very noticeable white mark just below its throat. At lunch time the kites were replaced with Buzzards.
For the first time the afternoon group also saw some Bramblings, but this was the only day that the Sparrowhawks didn't bother to get up!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Mexican Waves

On Wednesday we tried looking for the Snow Buntings, but unfortunately we failed to locate any. The tide was coming in, but at first we couldn't find many waders, but there were plenty of ducks in the tidal zone, Friday Unmentionables, and Wigeon with just a single Teal. 
Just a few minutes later thousands of Golden Plovers could be seen swirling around behind the lighthouses. We carried on and were able to add Grey Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Shelduck and some Turnstones. We carried as far as the land lasted, and had better views of the waders, but few new species, although some one did spot a hunkered down Ringed Plover. A Little Egret flying in the distance was a new bird for the group, that day. We had a good look for Snow Buntings on the return journey, but a Redwing was the only new bird seen.

Golden Plovers
 Wigeon (c) 2013 Tony Robinson
 Carrion Crow
In the afternoon we shared cars to the reserve car park, and walked from there the exhausting walk to the distant hide. On the way we soon came across a Sweetcorn-stealing Carrion Crow, and a Reed Bunting. The light was quite tricky, but one of the highlights were a pair of Carrion Crows in several mid-air duels with a large Falcon. This combat was seen on at least 3 occasions, and when the fight was over the Peregrine just glided out of sight beyond the floodbank. We saw a couple of Little Egrets as we neared the hide, and some Wigeons at the end of a small creek. From the hide we didn't really see anything we hadn't seen on the way, but our rest couldn't last long, as we were soon turfed out by a large group of brightly-coloured waders, none of whom carried appropriate optics.
The return journey took place over a more shorter period, and very few new sightings were added to our haul of species. 
Roe Deer
 Golden Plovers
 Golden Plovers
 Golden Plovers
 Golden Plovers
 Golden Plovers
 Peregrine & Crows
 The Tower
 The walkers - One more hill to climb
All Remaining pics (c) 2013 Tony Robinson 
Little Egret
 Short-eared Owl
Meanwhile several of the am crowd went on to Stone Creek, where they saw many Curlew, Little Egrets, a Kingfisher, and a Short-eared Owl.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Not Really All There

On Monday I was violently sick for the first time since I was at school, accompanied by alternating shiverings and then sweatings, so I didn't expect I'd recover quickly enough for the first classes on Tuesday.  In the morning I couldn't manage any breakfast, but I swathed myself in many layers and started the group off on our way across the railway line at Welton.  When we reached the first lane there was no sign of the other week's Redpoll, it's place taken by many Goldfinches.
All photos (c) 2013 Maggie Bruce
 We carried on down the lane and reached a parking area near a pond.  Here, were a couple of sleeping Mute Swans and a Moorhen, but little else until I heard the call of a Woodpecker.  Shortly afterwards we had seen a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and eventually a third was seen.  I was later told that this species is by no means a resident at the this site, so they may have been birds of continental origin.  We carried on to the big water skiing lake, but there was little to see here.  We were later informed that it is suspected that some blue/green dye has been added to the water to kill some of the underwater vegetation, and this seems to have deterred the birds.
Greylag Geese
 Mute Swans
 Mute Swan
 Male Great Spotted Woodpecker
This is where I had to abandon the morning group, so the following photos were all taken after my departure.  In the afternoon we carried on to the river bank, where we could hear estuary birds, but these were screened by the dense reeds.  We looked into the angler's pool, which was stuffed with wildfowl including: Wigeon, a striking drake Goldeneye, some females, some Tufted Ducks, but Pochard and Gadwall seemed to be missing.  It seems that the morning group saw Fieldfare and Golden Plovers, but these were absent after lunch.  
 Friday Unmentionables
 Golden Plover
The tide wasn't quite at its highest extent, and there were a few scattered waders along the foreshore including a Dunlin, a Grey Plover, some Redshanks, and in the far distance some Godwits.  

Friday, 22 November 2013

A Friday Snob

We met by the side of the River Humber and left our cars in the guardianship of some anglers at Paull. We started off by heading off east. The tide was just starting to recede. A few Redshank flew past from time to time, and the evocative sound of the Curlew punctuated the day, but these were much harder to see than normal. There were lots of Friday Unmentionables on the seaweed-covered rocks, and eventually some Wigeon also swam out on to the river. 
Snow Bunting
 Bar-tailed Godwit & Dunlin
A very pale wader flew in and allowed us to observe it. Dave set up his telescope so people could view it in more detail. Later, we could see that some of the other apparent rocks began to move, there were quite a lot of Turnstones about. It was shortly after this when we reached the saltmarsh and could see a large flock of a Lapwings in the distance. There was not much to see in the main channel, as it was still pretty full of water, but where were all the Teal? We passed the 2 Lighthouses and then Joan spotted lots of waders along the tide line. These included 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, plenty of Dunlin and a few Ringed Plovers. The light was terrible so we tried to get ahead of them to look back at them with the light behind us, but the birds took fright at our approach, so it was difficult to see them as we wanted. Eventually, we managed it, but the birds were further away by this time. We also got a good view of a Grey Plover, and Sue spotted an even better one in the afternoon. 
Wigeon & Curlew
 Record Glimpse of a Knot
 Golden Plovers
 Grey Plover
 Grey Plover
 As we carried on along the grassy, muddy spit a strange call rang out and a bird with a lot of white came along towards us, and then over our heads - a Snow Bunting. Unfortunately, it just kept on going and not everyone saw it. Over on the excavated area were a large flock of Golden Plovers, which increased even more in the afternoon. At times they flew up, but they always settled back down. In the afternoon they flew up in more alarm and with more speed. At first it seemed a Buzzard was responsible, which I thought was a bit odd, but then I spotted the real reason for the rumpus - a Peregrine. After lunch on the return journey eagle-eyed Sue spotted movement on the beach, she had found a Rock Pipit.
 Golden Plovers
 Rock Pipit
Mongrel Mallard
In the morning as Bob doesn't like returning the way he came we came, I took the group along the top to see if we could find any winter thrushes, but these were a bit thin on the ground, apart from Blackbirds. This may have been a tactical error, as by going this way we almost certainly missed the Snow Bunting, which was seen really well both coming and going by the 3 people who turned up for the afternoon session. There was no doubt that this was the real highlight of the day, and we got some amazing and prolonged views. 
Snow Bunting
For those not in the know, Snob is an abbreviation for the Snow Bunting used by twitchers.