Sunday, 28 September 2014

Week 2: The Best of the Rest

On Tuesday we crossed the Humber Bridge and travelled to Alkborough Flats.  We were overwhelmed by the numbers of Bearded Tits, which kept us entertained all morning.  Everyone could identify the class by the end of the session.  We also saw footprints of the Otter, saw plenty of waders from the hide including Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets, Redshank, Snipe, and some very smart Ruff.  The other highlights were a very smart Stonechat and a female Whinchat, Jays on the hillside.

Wednesday has already been described.

Male Bearded Tit
 At least 7 Bearded Tits
 A Pair of Bearded Tits
 Female Bearded Tit
 Male Stonechat
 Otter tracks
 Small Tortoiseshell
The Thursday forecast was for stronger winds than Wednesday, plus some morning rain, so I changed from our most exposed location to the regular standby of N Cave Wetlands.  As it turned out neither the wind or the rain materialised, so we could have gone ahead with Paull after all.

The morning group recorded 44 species with the highlights being Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Creat Crested and Little Grebes, Skylark, Heron (a site rarity), a single Snipe, and a Goldcrest.  Ducks seen include: Friday unmentionables, plus Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Teal and Gadwall.

I hadn't been since July, so the big changes for me were the new toilet block, and the amazing growth of vegetation, plus the amazing differences of depth of the various ongoing excavations.
Comma (& Red Admiral)
 Great Crested Grebes
 Green Sandpipers
 Green Sandpipers
 Green Sandpiper
 Little Grebes
 Red Admiral
 Female House Sparrow
 Male House Sparrow
 Record Shot of Goldcrest
On Friday we went to Far Ings where the best birds were a Water Rail and a Willow Tit.  There were plenty of Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters, and in one sheltered area at least 11 Comma butterflies.  
Long-tailed Tit
 Common Darter
 Migrant Hawker
 Spindle fruit
 Water Rail
 Migrant Hawker
 Willow Tit
 Another Big Bird

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Scarcest Bird in 10 years?

Scarce Vagrant by Bruce Woodcock (c) 2014

Hunkered in the hedge against wind and twitchers,
a pale smudge in the quivering scope,
a white pocket, a touch of pink perhaps,  
it could be anything, but this
is the rarest bird I’ll ever see:
a masked shrike, an accidental, 
lost, blown across from Syria, 
or somewhere else in the Middle East, 
a fair exchange for our bombs, except
there’s a man keeps a list of all scarce vagrants
that arrive and get picked off by birds of prey,
hovering ghosts shadowing fields
’til they dive and strike and seize and squeeze
life from each unlooked-for surprise,
each bundle of feathers shivering on the edge.

We don't go chasing rare birds on the course, but when there is a really scarce bird somewhere we were already going, it would be rude to ignore it, wouldn't it?
Masked Shrike (c) 2014 Mike Robinson
 Redstart (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
 Blackbird (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
When we arrived at Kilnsea shortly after 8.45am the car park was already half full.  We walked the triangle and hadn't gone too far before I spotted a Redstart.  It immediately hid behind a waste bin.  We waited several minutes, and it came into the open for a few seconds each time, just long enough for everyone to get a good look at it.  We carried on a little further and came across a group of twitchers penned almost in a cattle enclosure.  We didn't join them, but struck out on our own, and had a look for any birds around the Church and another building, but didn't add much to our tally.  There was also very little to see in the Crown and Anchor car park.  We reached the river bank and could see plenty of Redshank, a large flock of Golden Plovers, a few scattered Dunlin and Ringed Plovers and a very distant flock of possible Knot.  When we carried on with our walk we found a couple of Curlew, but not a single Little Egret.   
Wren (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
 Curlew (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
As we walked along the river bank Anthony turned and spotted a pale blob about the right ear of a distant Roe Deer.    4 telescopes were soon trained on it, and this was the Masked Shrike everyone has been making so much fuss about since Saturday morning.  Eric's Kowa provided the best image in which details of plumage could be discerned.  In the afternoon it was far more distant, so we retraced our steps and swallowed our pride & joined the twitchers. 
A trip to Canal Scrape was a waste of time with no signs of the Jack Snipe in the morning.  In the afternoon the injured Redshank was there, as well as a very confiding Common Snipe, and a lovely Wheatear.  I left the afternoon group trying to locate the Jack Snipe.
 Roe Deer (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
 Immature Kestrel (c) 2014 Tony Robinson

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Autumn Term, Week 1: Retrospective

Last week saw the first classes of the Autumn term.  There were some light easterlies, which resulted in very dank conditions on the coast.  On Tuesday we went to Kilnsea and walked the triangle.  It was very dark, and no photographs were sent on to me, but we did have glimpses of a Red-breasted Flycatcher, a Wryneck, plenty of Whinchats, a Redstart and some Wheatears.  There were several Little Egrets on the saltmarsh and a Redshank without a foot.

Wryneck (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
 An old photo of a Whinchat
 Old Photo of a Whimbrel
On Wednesday we went to the west end of Paull Holme Strays.  We had the most prolonged views of a Whimbrel on both session, and views of a Harbour Porpoise.  the differences between Black-tailed and Bar-tailed godwits were pointed out, and 5 immature Gannets were seen travelling up the Humber.  Siome of the morning crew went on to Spurn, and connected with the Wryneck, which looked very wet in the long grass. 
Harbour Porpoise (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
 Harbnour Porpoise (c) 2014 Aileen Urquhart
 Black-tailed Godwits (c) 2014 Tony Robinson

 Bar-tailed Godwit (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
On Friday we went to Spurn again.  the visibility wasn't so good, and we couldn't find a Wryneck, but we did have decent views of our first Red-breasted Flycatcher followed by two other species of Flycatcher, some very confiding Siskins, redstarts and Wheatears on the beach, the injured Redshank again, and a pneumatic Jack Snipe from Canal Scrape hide.  When we left Canal Scrape we saw one of the many Grey Wagtails in the area that day, and a field absolutely stiffed with immature Meadow Pipits.   
Record Shot of Red-breasted Flycatcher
 Spotted Flycatcher
 Pied Flycatcher
 Jack Snipe
 Grey Wagtail
 Meadow Pipit