Friday, 31 January 2014

Big Increase in Goosanders

This morning we risked a very overcast East Park. Before everyone had quite assembled a Great Spotted Woodpecker called and then flew into the top of a very high Lombardy Poplar. Although the bird's call rang out clearly, rather disappointingly not one participant actually picked out the sound, and spun round to see the bird. This was a shame, as it was the only chance to see this species during the whole morning. 

Goosander [drake right]
Great Spotted Woodpecker
 Song Thrush (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Recoird shot of a Goldcrest (c) 2014 Richard Whateley
We had just passed the workmen's room when we heard a Song Thrush singing, so we stopped and tried to locate the bird. It was facing away from us singing towards a garden, but it did eventually turn and face us. We noticed movement in the small alder trees nearby and located a Blue Tit and a long staying Goldcrest. From here we turned 180 degrees and the 3 species of gull present were differentiated. 
Black-headed Gull (1st winter)
 Adult Black-headed Gull
 Common Gull (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
When we reached the model boating lake there was a Canada Goose, several Greylag Geese and plenty of Gulls. Rather concealed by the gulls was a female Goosander residing on the concrete edge, and then we noticed another pair at the back of the lake. As soon as they spotted us they were off, and shortly after the female jumped into the water and then swam away. 
Tufted Duck [drake]
 Tufted Duck [female] (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
The rest of the morning was similar to last week's visit. One difference was 13 Redpolls in the car park near the splashboat, a single Pink-footed Goose on the lawn, and 17 Goosanders spread around the lake.  This marks a massive increase from last week's single Goosander, but it seems some have been trying out the lake in Pickering Park.
Lesser Redpoll (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Pink-footed Goose
 Size Comparison Pink-footed Goose v Greylag (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Goosander [female]
 Goosander in flight [drake] (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
 Friday Unmentionables Doing Unmentionable Things
 Herring Gull taken with Canon 100-400mm lens (no lightening or contrast, only sharpened)
 Same Bird taken with Canon fixed 400 lens (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
In the very grey afternoon the star bird was a Grey Plover, which flew over South hide at N Cave Wetlands & tried landing on Reedbed Lake & then Island Lake before being seen flying east and low over a field to the north of the site. There were 3 female Goosanders and 2 over active drakes on Island Lake.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Missed by a Nose

On Wednesday we switched to North Cave Wetlands because of the weather forecast. In the afternoon we enjoyed a fly past by a Green Woodpecker less than ten minutes after the session began. This paid off in spades when we visited South Hide. There were Lapwings and Redshanks on the pontoon, and 45 sleepy Pochard with 43 Shelduck and some noisy Teal further away from us. However, the highlight was provided by someone spotting a partial-ermine Stoat chasing Rabbits on the eastern bank. In both instances the Stoat chased the Rabbit right along that bank, then the Rabbit turned at right angles and headed along the southern bank, which went right under the hide. Both the Rabbit and the Stoat carried straight on past the hide. The first Rabbit definitely escaped & the Stoat returned empty-pawed. On the second occasion neither the Rabbit nor the Stoat returned, so we can only conjecture what happened.

Partial-Ermine Stoat
 Stoat (c) 2013 Tony Robinson
 Partial-Ermine Stoat
 Ditto - if only I'd pulled the lens in a little!
We walked towards Crosslands Hide, but didn't see anything special, or on Carp Lake, Far Lake had a few Shoveler, and even more Gadwall. Reedbed Lake was very windswept, and there wasn't that much to see. A few class members looked in the opposite direction and could just make out a small covey of Red-Legged Partridges. 
When we approached the bird table near the Maize field there was a charm of Goldfinches, and some Reed Buntings. However, as we got closer we spotted 2 female and a single male Bullfinch under and around the bird table. We also had views of a single Lesser Redpoll later.
 Lesser Redpoll
Turret hide was fairly quiet with nearly all islands submerged. There were plenty of Teal, but only a few other birds, although after lunch one island was covered with Redshank. There were no Goosanders when we were there, but apparently 3 females flew in after we left, but had flown out again before the afternoon group arrived!  
Lapwings & Redshank

Tony Robinson managed to locate an almost-impossible-to-see Snipe, but everyone eventually managed to pick it out from the vegetation. Some Wigeon were grazing on the grassy areas. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Topping Up

On Friday and Tuesday we transferred to Tophill Low because of the weather forecasts. Friday's was erroneous, so we could have gone to Sewerby after all, but today's forecast was pretty accurate.


We decided to try and wait for the Otter, so set out for North Marsh. On the way there were a pair of Marsh Tits near the feeders. The male was singing prominently, and the female wasn't too far away. There were lots of the usual species, but nothing out of the ordinary. 
Bittern Mobbed by Crow

 Bittern Taking Off
At North Marsh itself we crept up to the hide and settled in for the long haul. There was a cold wind from the east, so I nearly didn't open the side window, but that would have been an error. We hadn't been in the hide long when Pat drew our attention to a brown bird being chased by a crow. As soon as the bird landed near the bank of the River Hull south of the hide, it was evident that it was a Bittern. It soon pointed its head into the air and puffed out all its neck feathers, as it continued to be bombarded by the corvid. The Bittern began to calm down, but continued to be bothered by the crow. Eventually, the Bittern seemed to tire of the constant harassment and took off, flying along the river bank, and then over the river before disappearing in a north easterly direction.   
Bittern Chased by Crow
Also included here are some photos taken on Thursday and Friday last week also at Tophill Low. 
Long-tailed Tits
 Marsh Tit
 Barn Owl
 Pale Buzzard