Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Far Ings in the Snow

For the first time in 14 years today's class was postponed because of the threat of heavy snow.  We were supposed to be visiting the high wolds to observe large birds of prey.  Hopefully, we can catch up on that the week after the course was officially due to end.  Meanwhile 2 Friday morning stalwarts risked a visit to Ness End/Far Ings in the snow.  They were rewarded with excellent views of a Water Rail, and a Bittern - allegedly!
All photos (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Water Rail
 The photographer insists that there is a Bittern in this photo.  I remain to be convinced!

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Coughing up!

Last week was rather cold, but nothing like the near future apparently.  Goodness know what next week's photos will be like if there are any.  
Female Kingfisher on Friday (c) 2018 Mike Woods 
On Tuesday because of the terrible forecast we detoured to Tophill Low, and for a change we tried the northern end.  We encountered 37 species.  One of the highlights was the Glaucous Gull, which has now been in the area for over 50 days - the longest-staying scarce Gull.  We also saw our first Tuesday Barn Owl of the year, although it remained concealed in deep cover.  A mysterious black bird was sheltering one the far side of the wall of D reservoir.  We were eventually able to see it was an Oystercatcher.  When we reached Hempholme the best birds were a pair of Stonechats, as the nest-building Kingfishers remained out of sight.  Other birds seen included Great Crested Grebes, Little Grebes, Pochard, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Teal, Goldcrest and Gadwall.
Barn Owl
 Glaucous Gull 

On Wednesday we went to North Duffield Carrs, and came across the highest total of Pintail we've ever seen - over 40.  The morning group saw 40 species, whilst there were 38 in the afternoon.  Other highlights included Whooper Swans, a Ruff, Curlew, Lapwing,  distant Golden Plovers, Pochard, Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Marsh harrier, Buzzard, Reed Bunting, Stock Dove etc
 Pintail, Curlew, Teal, Wigeon & Lapwing
 Drake Pintail
On Thursday we went to Potteric carr, but the wildlife wasn't really any different from November.  When you can't find a Bittern or even the supposedly resident Kingfisher the venue loses its lustre.  A bright spot was provided by a small flock of 4 Siskin, and a pair of Jays.
 Great Crested Grebe swallowing a large fish 
 Whooper Swans heading further inland
 Hoof Fungus
On Friday we travelled all the way into another county when we visited RSPB Fairburn Ings - the first time for months.  One disappointment was the lack of Nuthatches.  It will be a shame if they've died out from here.  The star bird was a Great White Egret (GWE), which was a "lifer" for some.  Mike did well to spot a mottled bird next to a fence post, which when it moved proved to be a Sparrowhawk.  Luckily, the GWE was still present for the afternoon crowd.  The other highlight was a female Kingfisher, which Mike managed to photograph coughing up a pellet.  In all both groups saw 46 species, although a couple of these were different! 
Female Bullfinch
 Great White Egret with Little Egret
 Great White Egret
 Time to compare again
 Immature GWE being chased by a Heron
 Tables Turned (c) 2018 Mike Woods
Great White Egret (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
 Great White Egret & Shelduck (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
 Little Egret
 The Egret has landed (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 The Egret is Landing (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 GWE & Heron (c) 2018 Mike Woods
Sparrowhawk (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Tree Sparrow (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
 Kingfisher (c) 2018 Mike Woods
 Coughing up a Pellet
 Clearly visible
 Reed Bunting (c) 2018 Mike Woods
Drake Goosander
 Female Goosander
Shelduck (c) 2018 Mike Woods
Tree Sparrow (c) 2018 Mike Woods 
 Coal Tit (c) 2018 Mike Woods
Robin (c) 2018 Mike Woods 
Meanwhile, Chris saw a Red-Crested Pochard at North Cave Wetlands.  The cold weather may see it and many other wildfowl abandoning inland sites.
Red-Crested Pochard
plus Tufted Duck, Wigeon & Teal (c) 2018 Chris Lawson