On Wednesday because of the appalling weather we had to abandon Swinemoor for Tophill Low. Luckily, the worst of the rain stopped just before the class started. On both sessions a glorious Mistle Thrush was singing in the poplars above the car park. In the morning we headed south. We heard a Reed Warbler in South Lagoon, but the first bird of interest we saw was a Yellow Wagtail on the wall of 'O' reservoir. Just before that Richard explained to the group the changes around East Pond, and the results which should come about from these improvements.
Near the first hide on SME were singing Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler. From the hide we saw a pair of Shoveler and a pair of Gadwall. Otherwise, the rest of the birds there were Black-headed Gulls which had flown in from North Cave Wetlands. We could hear a Cetti's Warbler singing near the hides to our right, and see plenty of Sand Martins swarming in that area.
The next hides had 2 Garden Warblers singing nearby, plus Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat with its partner. From the hide itself we could see a Pochard, Shoveler, and Canada Geese, whilst further away John spotted what looked like a Goldeneye on the island beyond the reeds.
From the L-shaped hide the Goldeneye was very easy to see. There were a pair of Little Ringed Plovers, some rather romantic Mute Swans, plus a Pochard, and a Shoveler. A pair of Greylags swam past with their 7 goslings. One of the Lesser Whitethroats from the previous area came towards the hide and perched on top of a bramble bush. Shortly afterwards Miles spotted a Stoat scrambling down the bank underneath the Sand Martin cliff.
Love isn't in the water, instead Love is in the Air!
Mute Swans (c) 2015 Aileen Urquhart
Greylags (c) 2015 Aileen Urquhart
Alderfly on Tony's Jacket [ID thanks to B.Warrington]
On coming out of the hide and heading towards South Scrub we were arrested by the sight of 3 Sparrowhawks all in the air at the same time. 2 were certainly females, but the 3rd wasn't examined closely before it disappeared into the trees, however it didn't appear to be noticeably smaller than the other two. On the return journey a Kestrel was plucking its prey on the wall of O reservoir in the same area as the earlier Sparrowhawks.
Watton Borrow Pits added Lapwing, Cormorants and Herons, but not too much extra. There was a shy Goldcrest in South Scrub, but it didn't give great views.Swift
Delightful April Weather & Anthony
In the afternoon we went north instead. 2 prominent West Yorkshire birders went into North Marsh hide, so we carried on to Hempholme Meadows. On the way we saw our first Swift of the year. There wasn't a great deal to see in the hide, but the bird of the day was what may have been a female Cuckoo. She flew past slowly twice, and then swiftly the final time, but she didn't call on any occasion, so is less likely to have been a male. A Little Egret was concealed behind the thick sedge, but there wasn't a great deal of anything else to see here. We started to return, but noticed some threatening clouds and reached a hide before a massive hailstorm arrived. Anthony from the am group seemed to choose the wrong moment to return to the car park!
A record shot of a Blackcap Pretending it's a Leaf Warbler
We retraced our steps to North Marsh, but again there was very little to see. A Blackcap (a Sylvia Warbler) was seen behaving just like a leaf warbler. A Willow Warbler was singing outside the hide, and a Treecreeper heard calling nearby. There were relatively few birds on 'D' reservoir apart from Tufted Ducks, but hundreds of Sand Martins skimmed over the water. Finally, a visit to North Lagoon added plenty of Gadwall and a pair of Little Grebes.
Little Grebe (c) 2015 Aileen Urquhart