Monday, 30 April 2012
Friday, 27 April 2012
Thursday, 26 April 2012
Sunday, 22 April 2012
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Bird song is building up now and the notable song of the Blackcap was heard along with the inevitable Chiffchaffs and other woodland species. The song of the Song Thrush was once again well represented. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard, but never seen. Jays were heard then eventually seen as we walked up river. Seed had been put out in places and this attracted Nuthatches, one of which had a clearly deformed curved bill, Treecreeper, tits and finches.
Flora seen along the way included Common Comfrey, Violet species, Forgetmenot species, Bluebell, Wild Garlic, Red Campion and the most prolific, Wood Anemone.
Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa (The pure white being far more abundant than the purple).
The bird species which took our attention, almost as much as the Dippers, were the Grey Wagtails once again, with a pair showing really well. Lack of activity seemed to me to suggest that these birds have not yet nested, but I may have that wrong. We watched a lone male bird at length up river before finding the pair later in the day. I can’t be sure if the lone male bird was or was not one of this pair found later.
Our day ended with a Dipper watch. Sam managed to capture very well the bird’s image in flight. It certainly is not an easy bird to photograph in flight and it took time to get to know its flight lines and behaviour. I captured it too, but afraid I have to practice somewhat to match his standards.:-) I think we may be back up here soon and hopefully, may find the Kingfisher the next time. We were given some advice on that subject from the friendly angler that we spoke to who has in past years found the Kingfishers nesting site during his expeditions on the river. This showing how valuable the experience is of someone who really knows the patch. All in all, it had been a very nice and relaxing day that I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks Sam.
17th April. Today I’ve been on patch. It didn’t rain as forecast. Some interesting developments with the Great Crested Grebes. At least two Blackcaps, two Willow Warblers and numbers of Chiffchaff sang south of the village.
A recent political newsletter seems to suggest we can forget about any work being done on the floating reed-bed. The non-reedbed’s sad looking photo appears in the newsletter. It seems that even the new sports centre is threatened! That is according to the Conservatives and of course, and as far as they are concerned, it’s all the fault of the Labour Party. Oh, I see the local elections are coming up soon. Surprise, Surprise! The Labour Party newsletter has now arrived and low and behold I now see it is all the fault of the Conservatives! I best just go birding on 3rd May
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
16th April. Sam and I made for Plessey Woods today. We had a few targets in mind and whilst expecting to cover quite a bit of ground around the country park, as it turned out we spent all of the time on the banks of the River Blyth. It was a peaceful morning when we arrived and the sun shone brightly, especially from mid morning until early afternoon. This provided us with some very nice reflections on the river.
We sat by the bank for some lengthy periods, initially with only Dippers and insect for company. One of the latter has given me a rather nasty bite! When did stroll along the pathways and into the Blagdon Estate area, but there was little in the way of wildlife along there today so we soon retraced our steps, preferring to remain by the river rather than climbing up to the meadowland areas.
Thankfully it remained peaceful throughout our stay, although we did get chatting to a few folk along the way. The most interesting being an elderly angler who had obviously fished this and the surrounding areas for many, many years. So there was a little more reflection from him, as well as from the river, as he told us some tales from the past and mentioned some of the local characters he knows.
I’ll put up a few more photos and mention the bird life anon.
Sunday, 15 April 2012
14th April. I attended the RSPB trip today with Sam and his dad Malcolm. I hadn’t expected it to be quite so cold. I should have known better. The day began with a few Common Buzzards. We soon had a chance to look on the river. Sam quickly found a Dipper’s nest, although we saw no Dipper at this point in time. We also missed the Kingfisher by seconds. We did find a Siskin at bird feeders giving a far better sighting than those later found high in the trees.
We walked up onto the moorland with the sound of Willow Warblers in our ears and an occasional call from Chiffchaff. I found what I believe to be Common Dog Violet Viola riviniana but I’m happy to be corrected on that one. I had been hoping for Wheatears, but we found none. There were plenty of Red Grouse and you can find good photos of a few of them on Sam’s blog. There was little other birdlife up there apart from the Curlew, Golden Plover and Meadow Pipits. When we walked down off the moor my muscles told me that we had been quite high up.
Common Dog Violet Viola riviniana
Best part of the day for me was down by the river and I would have liked to have spent more time there and explored further along the river banks where I know from a previous visit that there is quite a lot of bird life. Anyway, over lunch we did see, very, briefly a Dipper fly along the river. I’d promised Malcolm a Dipper today so I was hoping for better. Later we were to find a pair of Dippers in the area of the nest that Sam had found earlier. From their actions I think the birds were incubating rather than feeding young at this stage, although I couldn’t rule out the latter. The female went into the nest and didn’t come back out. The male went in with food and then flew off to search for more. It was a nice to watch this at an appropriate distance. Again, Sam has on his blog a very interesting photo of the male Dipper’s reactions at a car mirror!
A pair of Yellow Wagtails was also found and several Pied Wagtails performed for us along the river bank. Swallows were seen at some point during the day. When we returned to the village in preparation for the final part of the day which was to be at the hide at Derwent Reservoir, we were caught in a very heavy hailstone downpour. I had thought I was cold but when I had hailstones going down my neck and back I realised what cold really meant!
The water was really low in the reservoir and therefore the waders that were around were somewhat distant. My telescope had been abandoned today as I had chosen the camera instead, so my wader watching was limited although I did confirm Ruff were present when I had a quick look through another member’s scope. Oystercatchers and Curlew were easily seen and I believe others spotted Redshank and Ringed Plover. I spent as much time here watching the black Pheasants as watching waders. I’ve had check on the internet and there seems to be some mixed, but limited information about these birds. The most reliable seems to suggest that their origin came about by hybridisation between Common Pheasant and some other introduced pheasant. Other information suggests mutation and melanism. I don’t know that much about pheasants and to be honest I’m confused and need to do a bit more research. I’d welcome any information. What ever the explanation they are certainly stunning birds and do look black at a distance or at certain angles.
So we’d had a good day and Sam had got some good photos of Red Grouse which had been a target for the day. I’d thought the birding had been quiet until I looked at the group list on the coach whilst returning home and quite a lot had been seen by members.
Friday, 13 April 2012
12th April. Yes, the all weather birders have made the promised return. Up at some unearthly hour with only the Blackbirds singing in the darkness and into Doncaster before 7:00am, I met up with Tom and we were quickly on our way in the direction of Spurn. Not without ominous cloud to the west of us and the need to negotiate thick fog in places.
First stop was Easington village and the nearby Gas Works where we knew there was a good area attractive to migrant birds. We soon had Blackcaps and Wheatears on our list along with a very early and newly arrived female Whinchat found on the scrub near to the beach so probably having just arrived. Sand Martins were flying over the shore area. Skylarks song filled the air and was to stay with us throughout most of the day, as were the Meadow Pipits. I began to feel that our last visit had been only recent and not as far back as October. It was milder and less windy today.
Willow Warblers were around in large numbers today and a few Chiffchaffs also. Every so often I see a bird in a new light. Today it was the Blackcap. Incidentally all of the Blackcaps seen were males. One especially showed extremely well in wonderful light. We also heard an early arriving Sedge Warbler during the day, but failed to see this one. Without doubt the earliest Sedge Warbler I personally have ever heard.
Both Tom and I were sure we were in for a soaking at some point as dark grey clouds built up in the west, where there were clearly some storms. We made the most of the dry period we thought we had left. More Willow Warblers and Blackcaps were found and a few Swallows, but rather fewer than we had anticipated
A hide with a view. We never did get wet!
Initially the tide was at its highest so there were few waders around, but we picked up Oystercatchers, Knot, Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank. Numbers of dark bellied Brent Geese were on the water and in flight and Shelduck were present. We later picked up a couple of Ringed Plover at the lagoon, which also held three Wigeon, and later in the day added Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit to the list.
Our seawatch list was a short one and included the one Gannet flying north, one Kittiwake and a few Herring Gulls or ‘sea gulls’ as I referred to them. Cormorant was seen and on our return a Lesser Black Backed Gull was seen in Hull.
We walked in various areas and picked up the likes of Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, thrushes, tits and finches. A White Wagtail was also found and seen very well.
Miraculously the dark cloud and rains it was carrying missed us and gradually dispersed leaving us with clear skies and sun. It was a true spring day and I found my first Speckled Wood Butterfly of the year. White species and Small Tortoiseshell were also seen.
Dark clouds dispersed.
Speckled Wood Butterfly
We missed a flyover Osprey by only a few minutes. We weren’t the only ones to do so. However the day ended on a real high note. As we counted the Wheatears, eleven seen together in one small area at one point and at least one just arriving off the sea it appeared, Tom got his eye on a male Yellow Wagtail. We eventually found a female Yellow Wagtail close by and the birds joined one another eventually. This was bird of the day for both Tom and I. I found our second White Wagtail of the day in the same small area. It seemed to fly in courtship display with a Pied Wagtail. A guy who was out with his family joined us and we were pleased to be able to show him his first ever Yellow Wagtail through the telescope. A real pleasure for him and us!
It had been a great day with RAF Tornados adding some excitement throughout the day as they turned in the skies above us. We ended the day overlooking a sunlit sea and with a day list of sixty-four species. The list reached sixty-five when Tom opened the car window on the way home and we heard a Pheasant calling.
So the All Weather Birders have made a return! :-) My thanks go to Tom for researching the day and doing the driving. It was a quality day. We’ll be back!
It wasn't easy to leave!