Monday, 13 February 2017

Still Battling the Grey

The weather was pretty grim again last week, but despite that we has plenty of sightings.  The day at Scarborough - a first for the Wednesday class - produced some birds which we just wouldn't see anywhere else this term, so helped to bump up the tally of species seen during the full term so far.
Bramblings at North Cave Wetlands
We started off in the Harbour first where we saw a Guillemot on the seen, and in the afternoon as the wind increased and the waves lashed, it made its way into the safety of the harbour.
Guillemot - winter plumage 
We haven't seen Great Northern Divers for many years, so they were a nice sight.  Only one remained for the afternoon group. 
Great Northern Divers
 Great Northern Divers (c) 2017 Aileen Urquhart
 The one in the afternoon
Anthony was the first to locate one of the shy Black-necked Grebes, which showed site well at times.  The other was hidden among the boats, and in the afternoon was even harder to find.  
Black-necked Grebe (c) 2017 Aileen Urquhart
 Black-necked Grebe (c) 2017 Tony Robinson
 In the afternoon against a jetty
 At the back of the boat
 Cormorant (c) 2017 Aileen Urquhart
 Erm, a very dark Eagle owl
In the afternoon we found a Grey Seal up against the side of a boat.  Was it scratching its back on the bow, or trying to get oil and diesel from its snout?
 Grey Seal
 Rock Pipit
 Rock Pipit (c) 2017 Aileen Urquhart
 Gull Bathing (c) 2017 Aileen Urquhart
Great Black-backed Gulls
 Herring Gull
Following a tip-off we braved the ocean spray and peered over the harbour wall and found the Purple Sandpipers among the boulders.
Purple Sandpiper
 Purple Sandpipers 
We walked along Marine Drive on the lookout for the Peregrine.  Unfortunately, it wass absent in the morning, but after lunch it could be seen rising the air currents along the top of the cliff.  We were fairly surprised to see that the Fulmars were back on territory. 
Fulmar pair on their ledge
As we walked along a red-throated Diver flew south fairly far out at sea, but not as far as the gannets heading for Bempton Cliffs. 
Record shot of Red-throated Diver Flying Past 
We went looking for a reported Black Redstart near a cafe, but John found a female Common Scoter dodging the waves. 
Record Shot of Common Scoter
At Scalby Mills before a sleet shower arrived we came across a great number of Wigeon eating seaweed.   
Wigeon (c) 2017 Aileen Urquhart
On Thursday we went to Old Far Ings now known as Ness End Farm.  We didn't see the Bittern, but a handsome male Marsh Harrier made up for its absence.  The Harrier flushed a wisp of Snipe which were invisible before it flew overhead.  Other birds encountered: Goldeneye, Bullfinches, Female Sparrowhawk, Long-tailed Tit, Wigeon, Pochard, Shoveler, Teal, Curlew, Redshank, Long-tailed Tits, Reed Buntings, etc.
Marsh Harrier ('Crossbill')
 Female Sparrowhawk
On Friday in-between sleet showers we stayed at North Cave Wetlands, where we saw a great number of species as always.  The biggest surprise was a chiffchaff species in the NW corner, which posed beautifully several times during the 5 minutes we watched it.  Unfortunately, because of the sleet neither myself or Jane had our cameras with us.  A Woodcock flying over the feeding station was another highlight,m as were the 4 Bramblings after lunch.
Siskin (c) 2017 Mike Woods
Other birds seen included: Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Siskin, Skylark, Bullfinches, Shoveler, Teal, Shelduck, Pochard, Tufted Duck etc 
 Kestrel with a small bird 
 Teal and 3 Snipe (c) 2017 Mike Woods
Marsh Harrier (c) 2017 Mike Woods
 Brambling & Tree Sparrow
 Robin on the hand of a photographer
 Shelduck in the gloom
 North Cave Sheep
And a few from West Yorkshire...where the sun always shines - allegedly!
Great Crested Grebe (c) 2017 Mike Woods
 Male Kestrel (c) 2017 Mike Woods
 Mistle Thrush (c) 2017 Mike Woods
PS Public demand means that I must point out that Miles was the first to spot the Bittern last week!

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