Sunday, 27 January 2013

A grand day out!

Decided on some more local birding today, I started out at 9am at Duffield Carrs, Andy Walker arrived just as I was about to set off to the GS hide. It was blowing a gale and had come over very dark and the heavy rain followed. As we arrived in the hide we noted a huge number of swans on the water, mostly whooper, I counted 83 Whooper Swans, 41 Mute Swans and interestingly 1 Black Swan (not a species i've seen before).

                                                           Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)

A few minutes later the clouds passed over and we were in glorious sunshine, this seemed to be a feature of the day with short sharp showers. There was a marked increase in Gadwall on the Carrs, with around 6 pairs.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

Whoopers rainbow flypast!

As I was scanning the skies for raptors Andy called out about a pair of geese flying low over the reserve, two Tundra Bean Geese flew past and over towards Skipwith, shame they didnt drop in but this was a life tick for me. 
On to Bubwith ings next for a waderfest! I've not been lucky with these in the area so far this year so was nice to finally catch up with some. Here were 9 Redshank, 12 Ruff, 4 Golden Plover, 67 Dunlin and 62 Lapwing. Also present were a few Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Reed Bunting and a big flock of Starling.

                                                           Bubwith Ings - Drenched in sun

I moved on to a nearby site known for its farmland birds but unfortunately it was very quiet, probably because of the high winds but these fieldfare provided a nice photograph.

                                                                Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

 I carried on up the LDV stopping off at Thorganby viewing platform (once I finally found it!). Not a a massive amount about but plenty of Wigeon, Teal & Mallard and 1 Shelduck.

Carrying on up to Wheldrake in search of Willow Tits (another bird i've not seen before), Andy told me he had seen some yesterday at Wheldrake Ings and a Water Rail! Unfortunately I couldnt find any and the river was up again (and you had to wade to get to the bridge!). I returned back to Bank Island and to my surprise a lovely Willow Tit was calling away, I managed to get on it and it flitted from the bushes to the feeders a few times, result! 

                                                        Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)

The Willow Tit is quite similar to the Coal Tit in size, with a black cap which extends down to the neck (there is no white stripe here as on the Coal Tit), and a pronounced black bib. 

There were plenty of birds enjoying the food available including Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Tree Sparrow, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock and a big fat brown Rat!! I was joined again by Andy Walker as I was leaving who was going to explore, but it was time for me to go home!

On the way home there were 7 pheasants all feeding together at the side of the road (5 males!) and driving from Skipwith to North Duffield the usual numerous woodpigeon were still feeding in the fields.

A real cracking day out really enjoyed despite the weather being terrible at times. 6 year ticks and 2 life ticks, not bad going at all!

                                                          Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
                                                              Great Tit (Parus major)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

North Duffield & Bubwith in the snow!

I decided to head out early this morning just as it began to get light (8am), I headed out to a local spot where I had Brambling earlier in the year, it was bitterly cold just 2c but the wind chill made it feel more like -2c!
3 birds flew over as I approached the lane with a flight call I didn't recognise, I think they were Corn Bunting but can't be certain. As I carried on I noticed deer footprints heading into the field where I had previously seen Brambling, as I carried on two Roe Deer sprung across the field, always lovely to see, especially in the snow! Unfortunately too quick for me to reach for the camera.

In the same field were c15 Brambling mixed with Linnet and Chaffinch. As I headed back I heard the thin 'Si' calls of my favourite little bird, the Goldcrest. Two of these were in a bush next to me but the scrub was too dense to get a photo. I also heard another two calling from across the field.

                                                                       North Duffield
                                                                     Bubwith Bridge

I called in at the other side for a quick look, as I entered the car park 30+ Tree Sparrow flew into the car park, for those of you not versed in birds the main difference from the house sparrow is the black cheek spot and the chestnut cap to the head as seen in the photo below taken today.

                                                       Tree Sparrow (Passer Montanus)
I had a short stay here as the wind was bitterly cold and almost impossible to see in the scope as it was shaking so much (that may have been me not the scope!). Not much else about that wasn't viewable from the other side.

                                                                         Bubwith Ings

By this time I was contemplating returning home as I could no longer feel my hands or my feet, but I decided to man up and go to Duffield Carrs for a while and I'm so glad I did!

From the Geoff Smith hide I observed 19 whooper swans, 3 Goldeneye (one stunning male and 2 female), hundreds of Tufted Duck, plenty of Pochard, Wigeon and Teal. Also present were Greylag Geese, Canadian Geese, Lapwing, Fieldfare, 2 Shoveler and finally... A greater Scaup, thanks to Andy Walker for pointing this out, I was looking for about half an hour before he joined me in the hide and picked it out sleeping in the distance. A few more year ticks bring me on nicely, but still a long way to go yet!

Until next time...

P.S. Here's a nice photo I got at another location the other day.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Birthday Birding!

 I decided to get out early today after unwrapping my presents! Headed over to bubwith first where the water levels have now dropped substantially and was able to park on either side of the bridge, the highlight was an obliging female reed bunting. Also present were wigeon, coot, mute swan, black headed gulls & plenty of lapwing on the strips of land now above the water level.

I carried on to a site where Bewick swans had been reported 2 days before and at last I caught up with these birds which i've been chasing around for the last few weeks with no luck! There were 2 Bewicks in with 7 Whooper swans which was really helpful for comparison purposes, I noticed the Bewicks were more slender than the whoopers and the yellow on the bill is very much a small circle not extending down to a point as in the Whoopers.

         Bewick's Swan - Cygnus columbianus (rear) & Whooper Swan - Cygnus cygnus (front)

I decided to visit Ellerton to pick up some more species for the year list, plenty of winter ducks about with wigeon, shelduck, 7 pintail. The air was full of the noise of hundreds of greylag geese and there were a good number of vocal whooper swans about too.

Heading back home I called in at Duffield Carrs, arriving in the car park a kestrel floated overhead & perched in a nearby tree, but took off as I reached for the camera! From the GS hide it was evident water levels had dropped somewhat but still plenty of water about. The Garganey hide windows are visible again! Present at duffield cars were Pochard (around 65), Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Mute Swan, wigeon, lapwing (in big numbers) and lots of Canadian Geese. The local wren was very showy infront of the GS hide again.

I then went home (late) to set off for the day trip to Whitby for birthday fish & chips on the beach!


On arrival there were a few turnstone about happily running around peoples feet picking up the scraps, are they the new Herring gull?!

                                                             Turnstone - Arenaria interpres

Me and Mrs Kiz went to the beach with our fish & chips to eat them away from the hustle & bustle and walking on the beach I heard a fulmar calling, then another, and another! There were around 20 on the cliffside sat on old nests, some were flying in circles and swooping at the nests, great to see them so close up and in flight above my head.

                                                           Fulmar - Fulmarus glacialis

We finished the day at Robin Hoods Bay as the sun was setting, picking up my final year tick of the day - Oystercatcher.

It was a lovely way to spend my birthday, thankyou to all for your birthday wishes!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy new year!

Happy new year to all my fellow birders & bloggers!

I ended up heading out today after AW Birder sent me a tweet alerting me the Brambling were about just down the road. Since I was free (for the first time this week!) I decided to head out. It was a lovely sunny day but eventually clouded over and then cleared again. There were around 200 Woodpigeon roosting in 3 trees in the field, i've noticed large numbers of these around the LDV lately. I arrived at the site Andy had told me about, I walked up and down the lane about 3 times with no luck so I headed into the overgrown boggy field! Eventually I picked up some Chaffinches, then Greenfinch and at last, the bird i'd been searching for, a Brambling! This was a lifer for me, and 3 others joined it. More and more arrived out of the pasture in the field and I counted between 10-15 Bramblings along with Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch in much bigger numbers. I also picked up a single Linnet.

                                                     Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)

                                                             Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

A walk around the village of North Duffield produced more Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Starling, House Sparrow and arriving home to Long-Tailed Tits, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Collared Doves on the feeders. A good start to the year, here's to a prosperous 2013!