I set off at around half past eight this morning for a mornings birding, it was pretty cold out, just 2 degrees above and overcast. I decided to start out at Duffield Carrs to check out the situation with the water levels (its the first time i've been back since the floods hit again). Levels are basically back to what they were early January, the garganey hide is partially submerged again.
As I walked down the path to the hide I noticed a familiar sight, a big white bird perched on the fence post... A Barn Owl! As I stealthily manouvered myself to grab my camera, my heart sunk as i realised clutching in my bag I had my small lens on, I rifled around for the larger lens, attached it (whilst being intently watched by the barn owl) who then flew off. Typical, this seems to be my luck with Barn Owls here (im sure its the same one playing games with me!). However my fortunes have since changed on this - more on that later.
Not a huge amount about on the water but on the floodbank were 103 lapwing, my highest ever count of Lapwing here. Still lots of wigeon about (I didn't count them), 25 Teal, a single Coot, 10 Canadian Geese and a smattering of Mallard. A flock of circa 20 dunlin flew past heading towards Bubwith.
In the fields over the road from the car park were Whooper and Mute swans but nothing much else about (at this time).
I carried on to Duffield & Bubwith Ings, connecting with my first Curlew of the year, I always enjoying seeing these birds, with their ungainly long bills! Thousands of Wigeon on the water here & lots more Teal and 2 Pintail.
Moving on looking for farmland birds at a nearby site I quckly connected with circa 20 Yellowhammer & 30 Tree Sparrows. Its great to see so many of these birds thriving, the local farmers are obviously doing their bit for nature. The Yellowhammer & Tree Sparrows were particularly showy, but it really wasnt a good day for photography! Also seen here were 2 Corn Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting, Chaffinch & Greenfinch
In the field beyound the hedge were circa 400 Starling mixed with Fieldfare & Redwing, they were very flighty & as they took off a huge noise was made, sounded like a roll of thunder, pretty spectacular to see too! There were also 2 male Pheasants & 20+ Woodpigeon.
I'd decided i'd had enough for the day with the cold & persistant rain, but on my way home I noticed big numbers of lapwing in the fields opposite Duffield Carrs, I pulled in to check it out for other waders & noticed Andy Walker was here too. He'd picked out 5 European White Fronted Geese mixed in with Greylags & Whooper Swans in the distance. The conditions made for difficult viewing but eventually I noted the large white patch behind the bill and the dark patches on their breast - this was a lifer for me, result!
Whilst we were watching masses of lapwing shot up all at once, usally a sure sign of a bird of prey and it was, not just 1 but 2 Peregrine Falcons were tussling in the air. Always a magnificent sight, one flew straight towards us & I got on it with the scope providing fantastic views, though I totally forgot to reach for the camera! It was here my luck also changed with the Barn Owls, one flew along the road from Bubwith direction straight towards us, this time I managed to get some photos!
There were also lots of Dunlin about here, with a flock of 25 flying in to join the others along the waters edge. After this I went for a quick visit up to Thorganby to look for the reported Barnacle Goose, but no such luck here, quite a few wigeon & teal about again, 2 shelduck and some whooper swans in the distance. It was time to go home and the end of my birding day.... or was it?!
After a few hours at home enjoying the warmth of the fire, a text came through from Andy to let me know the Egyptian Geese were in the field where i'd seen the whitefronts earlier so back out I went! It was about 4pm now and the light was going, the rain was still falling too! As I arrived I picked up the two Egyptian Geese within minutes, giving me a chance to appreciate their characteristics, but they soon wandered off out of view. This was another Lifer for me, quite a day for Geese! The whitefronts were still about but there was a marked increase in Greylags here too, which made it difficult to pick them out as it was now darker, mistier and possibly wetter too!
2 Lifers and 3 year ticks in a day, pretty pleased with that really!
In other news...
In my previous post I mentioned the bird I'd seen at Bank Island was a Willow Tit. Its been pointed out to me that this is actually a Marsh Tit (I'd never seen one of these either) so I'll have to go back to look for Willow Tit!
Saturday morning got off with a bang with 5 Waxwings on the next street to where I live, my first chance to get some good photographs of these stunning birds!
Next week some of the Yorkshire Birdforum lot are visiting my patch for a full days birding (weather permitting), so look forward to an even longer blog post next time!
Thanks for reading!