Archive for the ‘Bird Watching’ Category


Myself, Bob K and Nigel S from York, decided on a trip to the east coast. Me and Bob got to York at 8am and as we picked up Nige news of an Iberian Chiff-chaff at Kilnsea came through. We headed of through the sun drenched city of Hull on our first trip of the year to the Spurn area. In the Crown & Anchor car park a few birders had assembled, news of the bird was good as it had been caught and rung and was still in the area. We watched two Firecrest and a Fieldfare as we waited for about an hour for the bird to show. Nige managed to see the bird pretty well as we had drifted off to search around the ringing area. The bird began calling and showing in a tall tree on the caravan site but visible from the Crown & Anchor car park, the song was very nice to hear, felt like we were in Spain as the sun shone on us all! After seeing some butterflies. Brimstone, Peacock, Green Veined White and Small Tortoiseshell we headed out to Holderness Fields to see the cracking male Garganey that has been around for a few days. It was a little distant but well worth the effort, our first Swallow of the year flew past us, it must be springtime. We called in at Sammy`s Point in the hope of seeing a Wheatear, without any joy. After a search of the bushes and paddocks, that seemed very quiet we managed to see a nearly summer plumaged Golden Plover, this bird was very photogenic.

We called in at North Cave wetlands and watched a couple of Little Ringed Plover along with lots of other water birds, Ruff, Redshank, Gadwall and Great Crested Grebe. The report of a singing Sedge Warbler took us around the reserve, but the bird was not seen, sure there will be more. We did not manage to see any Red Kites in the area, but after we had dropped Nige off in York a single bird was seen from the road in Tadcaster. Good day out with brilliant weather.


Dave O.

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A nice trip to the principality to see some birds that, sadly we don’t get to see very often, which is a good enough excuse to visit Wales. We met in Norden at 6am with myself, Steve & Chris Brown with Chris driving. There was a feel of spring in the air as we gained height towards World`s End, we were hoping to get some pictures of the “lekking” Black Grouse. We first saw a distant couple of males but, as we reached a pull in around 14 male Black Grouse were all doing their posturing, displaying etc, only problem was a car was stopped right in the middle of the road! We headed along the single track road and watched from the car as another 20 male birds were displaying. Raven, Peregrine, Meadow Pipit & Stonechat also observed. As we headed back downhill around 6 more birds were seen and a few pictures taken. Great birds to watch and in a really good place.

The long drive to Anglesey was brightened up with lots of Daffodils in full bloom along the roads, very nice. We reached Holyhead Harbour and soon managed to watch a single Black Guillemot. The tide was very high and we remarked that we had never seen it that high before. We headed up to South Stack with its impressive seabird colony, Guillemot, Razorbill and Herring Gull. We were a bit early for Kittiwake and Puffin but a few Sand Martin heading north made up for that. The local Chough flock also put on a good display for us, Steve searched in vain for a Rock Pipit and we all missed a Hooded Crow that had been seen in the area.

We called in at Penrhos, but could not find a Slavonian Grebe that had been seen earlier in the day, next stop was the Spinnies or Aber Ogwen. We managed to see a Greenshank in the tidal pools along with Redshank, Teal, Shelduck and lots of Oystercatchers. We decided to head for Pennington Flash near Leigh as a Yellow Legged Gull had been “coming to bread” on the car park for the last couple of days. We even saved some bread, but no sign of the gull, a few contenders were seen out on the flash but as we had all left our scopes in the car an ID could not be clinched. Got home by 6pm after a good trip out.

Dave O.

 


A hurried decision to go with the lads from York, Nige S & Mark K was fully justified with a really good days birding. We met in York and with Mark driving, we were soon at Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool. A couple of Ring Necked Parakeet`s gave excellent close up views on a sunny but cold morning. Next stop was the Jewish Cemetery on the way up to the headland in Hartlepool. The Shore Lark was soon being watched and gave quite a good show. The fish quay in Hartlepool has been used by lots of white winged gulls over the years and, as we managed to be invited in we found a very obliging juvenile Iceland Gull. The bird was photographed many times, some really close shots. We also watched a couple of fishing boats come into dock and chatted with the men on the quayside about the state of sea fishing in Britain. We called at Newburn Bridge on the coast to watch one of the local Mediterranean Gull`s and a few waders as they fed and preened on the foreshore.
At Seal Sands on Teesside we searched for a Spotted Redshank without success, but Nige found a newly arrived flock of Avocet`s, spring is nearly here we all thought. We watched the seals as they used as little energy as possible trying to get into the water, great fun! We headed for Redcar and were soon watching a small flock of Velvet Scoter and in trying to get a bit closer managed to catch a couple of waves in our footwear. Just down the road behind The Stray Café we had hoped to see a small flock of Snow Bunting, but with lots of people and dogs around they were nowhere to be seen. At Marske by the Sea a couple of Lapland Buntings had been seen in the morning. On site birders told us that they had not been seen for a couple of hours. We decided to walk the large stubble field and we managed to encourage one of the Lapland Buntings to fly up and call as it flew around us, very nice indeed. The birds were left in peace to enjoy the food left out by some birders.
As we were so close to Skinningrove it made sense to call in and enjoy the Eastern Black Redstart that seems to have taken up residency there. The bird did not let us down, showing really well and a few pictures were taken. Along with the Rock Pipits, Stonechats & Wrens and lots of enquiring tourists a very nice hour was spent on the sandy beach admiring the Redstart. At Lockwood Beck Reservoir a Water Pipit had been showing all day, well up until we got there! A few Grey Wagtails were seen, but that was all. Our final call was to be Danby Beacon were lots of Red Grouse seemed to be dotted all over the place, they are always good entertainment. The drive back over the North York Moors was very spectacular, especially Rosedale, but being a heavily keepered area the chance of seeing any birds of prey was minimal. We reached York after a good days birding around 5-30pm, thanks for showing me some new places lads.
Dave O.


med-gulls-etc-at-scarboro-2A good day out with Mark K and Nige S from York and apart from an early communications problem, a memorable one. We met in York at 8am and headed off towards Wykeham Lakes with Nige S driving. The possibility of seeing Egyptian Geese at Wykeham spurred us on as we traversed a bumpy, muddy track to a good viewing area. The weather was cold, but at least it was dry. We checked out the old gravel pits, now used by gentlemen yachters, without seeing the geese. At Hackness Nige saw a Kingfisher as it dashed upstream, we did see a couple of Dipper on the river and on a pool nearby a small flock of Mandarin Ducks were admired. We called at Forge Valley, Troutsdale feeding area were lots of birds were seen: – Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, Nuthatch and various other species were seen, very nice place to stop in at in the car. A move along the valley below the Wykeham raptor watch point revealed a Crossbill and after 30 minutes or so a flock of Wood Pigeons burst out of a wooded area. Was a bird of prey around? Then Mark K saw two Goshawks take to the air, within a few seconds they were seen flying around, one quickly disappeared but the larger female was on show for around a minute, what a stunning bird to be seen so close (150 metres?) Good job we didn’t leave the area chaps!
Next stop was the area below the castle in Scarborough to try to find a wintering Black Redstart. After around 10 minutes Mark K (who had his eye in today) found the Black Redstart as it showed itself dashing from on rock to another then hiding again. Nice bird! The tide was out in Scarborough Harbour but it didn’t stop us watching the wintering Black Necked Grebe and Great Northern Diver as they fished in between the boats. A few Purple Sandpipers were also seen as we walked around the harbour wall. In an area known as Holbeck in Scarborough we decided to have our lunch (or at least share it) with the Mediterranean Gulls that winter there? They did not let us down, I managed to sit on a bench and get them to come to around 2 metres away and they seemed to enjoy my Ham & French Mustard sandwiches. A few pictures were taken. News of an Arctic Redpoll having been relocated in Hagg Wood in Dunnington was now our next target species.
A pleasant ride back to Dunnington (I might be paying poll tax for the area if I visit again) with not much news about the birds whereabouts except that it had been seen in the south east corner of the wood. We trudged around in ankle deep mud and winding paths without any joy, until we saw a couple who had just watched a flock of about 30 Redpoll, we could not find them and went back to the car after having met a couple of York birders going in. After 10 minutes Mark got a call that they were watching the Arctic Redpoll. We all dashed back to a completely different spot, but guess what? The small flock had flown again, another half an hour searching without any luck and we abandoned the search. Really enjoyed the day out though lads. Got home by 6-30pm.
Dave O.


A Pine Bunting was found in Dunnington near York last week. It associated itself with a large flock of finches (Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Brambling and Tree Sparrow) A few of our friends from the York area had really struggled to see the bird but, as the flock was being fed in a couple of area`s and with one of our team needing to see it, a trip was planned for Saturday. A 10am start with Bob K driving had us soon near to the bird’s favoured spot, or so we thought! We enjoyed all the birds in and around the fields and after Bob K had walked along a hedge lots more birds took to the air. After two and a half hours searching/waiting, Chris B found the bird in the hedge but before anyone else could get on it, the bird had flown into the field. Luckily, the original finder of the Pine Bunting was stood next to us and he quickly got all (about10 birders) onto the bird as it sat and preened in the hedge. The views were not great but most of the features were seen. Nige from York also got much better sightings of the bird just after we left (this was his 4th visit though). We also called to see a Great Grey Shrike near a disused RAF base near York, but we could not find it.
On our way towards home around 4 Red Kites were seen in the Leeds area before we reached our next stop at Fairburn Ings. We asked a couple of local birders about the whereabouts of the 2 Smew that had been reported there. Their directions were spot on and we soon saw the female and the quickly disappearing male in Village Bay, what a stunning bird to end a good, if difficult, days birding.
Dave O


With two of the “A” team needing to see the Pacific Diver that has been present at East Chevington, Northumberland for a while and with the promise of fine weather, we arranged to go. We met in Newhey at 6am, a time that our driver Steve K seemed unfamiliar with having had to miss his regular large breakfast. Myself, Bob K & Chris B made up the numbers. We made good progress using the satnav in Steve`s car, even allowing for some of its eccentricities, we reached the car park at Druridge Bay at 8-50am. We had a good look at Ladyburn pool first and could not find the diver, so we headed for its regular haunt, North pool. The weather was really nice and sunny, but not that warm. We soon found the Pacific Diver and all enjoyed its diving and preening in the sunshine, handshakes all around then. We called into one of the hides and had good views of a few Scaup and eventually saw the Slavonian Grebe, a bird that I have not seen for a few years.
After a slog over the sand dunes we found a flock of around a 100 Twite, Bob K went and got a few good pictures of them. We did a bit of sea watching and saw: – Guillemot, Razorbill, Red Breasted Merganser, Shag, Common Scoter & around ten Red Throated Divers, a few Sanderling, Ringed Plover also. After 40 minutes or so a single Skylark began singing and seven Shorelark flew onto the beach near the Twite, we really enjoyed watching them for the short time they were there. Some really nice birds at this reserve and lots of people out enjoying the weather.
We decided to go and have a look at the long staying Eastern Black Redstart at Skinningrove, Cleveland. We reached the area after a bit of my dodgy navigation (as I had been before) we got to the bird’s favoured area and apart from: – Rock Pipit, Stonechat, Robin & Wren, the bird was nowhere to be found. A few early returning Fulmar entertained us high up on the cliffs, but after 30 minutes most of us returned to the car for refreshments, apart from Bob K. After a long search of the area he had found the Eastern Black Redstart and it was now back in its normal place on the rocks, well done Bob. The bird performed very well for us all and lots of pictures were taken. On our way back to the car Chris B casually mentioned that he had not added Pine Bunting to his British list. Next stop it is then.
After a very long slog over the hills south of Whitby, which are very picturesque, also with lots of Sunday drivers, traffic problems etc our chances of seeing the Pine Bunting had gone. We did go to its daytime area at Dunnington, near York, but it was too late as all the birds had gone to roost. We headed for home after a really good days birding at around 7pm.
Dave O.


If you keep trying to do something without any joy, don’t give up, stick at it and eventually you will succeed. Now that is one of my many profound statements which can really be applied to the “A Teams” effort`s to see the Red Breasted Goose near Pilling, Lancashire. We had originally planned to go to see the Pacific Diver at East Chevington, Northumberland, but, after looking at the weather, decided against it.
Steve B, Bob K and myself set off at a leisurely time intending to call at the Pilling area for any news of the goose and then onto Heysham, Pine Lake and Leighton Moss. We reached the all too familiar area and began to sift through the many flocks of Pink Feet without any joy. After a while we decided to head up to Thurnham to watch the Whooper and Bewick Swans. We also managed to find a Pale Bellied Brent Goose in amongst more Pink Feet. Around this time our friends from York, Nige & Mark, had arrived in the area and after waiting around in the area that the Red Breasted Goose had been seen in on Saturday, actually saw it fly in! A hurried call from Nige had us dashing back to the right place, giving my car its first taste of “twitch speed”. Would it fly off after all our efforts over the last few weeks? We reached the area and after some parking difficulties, dashed along the road to meet the boys who put us straight on the bird, thanks for that lads! The bird was feeding very happily with it travel companions White Fronted Geese as we enjoyed the bird. You are all probably a bit bored with this “saga” but it has been a real hard bird for us to locate.
Next stop was Conder Green, surely the Spotted Redshank would be there after all it was high tide, no we missed it, but we did see a Common Sandpiper. Onto to Heysham north harbour wall in the hope of seeing Mediterranean Gull and a nice flock of Twite. The road through Lancaster has always been a torturous one and it again proved difficult, I thought the new road to Heysham would have made it easier. Upon arrival we found the path to the harbour had been blocked off, so we quickly left the area, stopping only to watch a Red Breasted Merganser fishing. At Pine Lake near Carnforth we watched a smart couple of Long Tailed Ducks swimming around.
Our final stop was Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, at Morecambe & Allen Pools we were rather disappointed to not find many birds at all, although one of the pools is almost empty due to a sluice problem. In the main reserve we had really good views of a Marsh Tit and along the public causeway we managed to watch Nuthatch & Treecreeper busily feeding. A Marsh Harrier was making all the wildfowl take to the air as it hunted the marsh. We climbed up the new tower and had a panoramic view of the reserve, good way to end a rather unusual days birding!
Dave O.


 

The long staying Red Breasted Goose that has been in the Pilling area in Lancashire has been admired by visitors from far & wide, but not by any of the A Team. One of our members has already been twice without any luck. So it seemed right that as the bird has been in the same field for the last three days that we make an effort to see it. News from Steve K on Saturday said the bird was visible from his car, no problem then. Dave O in different “twitch mobile” along with Steve B and Chris B left Rochdale at 7am, surely what can go wrong?

We reached the Pilling area and saw a flock of Twite feeding in a favoured weedy field and perching on the wire fences, nice start to the day. We took up our position on Backsands Lane and watched the great spectacle of all the geese(mainly Pink Footed) leaving the overnight roost, some passed right over us and a few landed in the same field that the Red Breasted Goose has recently favoured. After 1.5 hours of this the target bird was not seen, we decided to check out other fields also without much luck. We had a look up towards the Eagland Hill area for Chris B to see the Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer & Corn Bunting. Next stop over to Cockerham to watch the Whooper and Bewick Swans, then Conder Green to again miss out on the Spotted Redshank, well the tide was out.

A decision to go back to the Eagland Hill area looked like being a good one as, on arrival, we were told that the Red Breasted Goose had been seen around 9-30am, it was now 10-30am and no news of the birds appearance had been given to any of the news services. Thanks for that Mr Finder! We were invited into a man’s garden to watch the large flock of geese that were feeding on beet. He told us that he had been watching it there earlier in the morning, there was no sign of the bird so, we headed off to Knott End. The Black Redstart near the slipway apartments was much more obliging, we enjoyed watching that. Back to Eagland Hill to watch the huge flocks of geese coming and going and with a passing Peregrine and a perched up female Merlin to entertain us, we must not grumble. Kevin Hughes and his entourage also made the day an enjoyable one. We called in at Fishmoor Reservoir, Blackburn and had pretty good views of the juvenile Glaucous Gull as the sun began to go down. (The Red Breasted Goose was not seen again up to today 7/2/2017)

Dave O.


A juvenile White billed Diver had been found on the River Whitham near Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. A strange inland record for the county, but even stranger was that the last one in the county was also found on the same river! Myself and Bob K decided on a last minute trip to see the bird and an early start was planned. 6am dawned and we departed from a gloomy Newhey heading along the most famous “carpark” outside London, the M62. My trusty Satnav took us towards the A1 and then into Lincoln. At this point I must really sympathise with all the commuters who have to pass through Lincoln on a daily basis, it’s a real mess. We pressed on and reached Kirkstead Bridge, near Woodhall Spa, we immediately saw the White billed Diver in the river at the side of the road, what luck! There now followed a game of “cat & mouse” as we walked up and down the river to try and get a couple of pictures of this rather splendid bird. After an hour or so the bird had won and we retreated to the car to get warm.
News of a male Ring necked Duck on some gravel pits in Kirkby on Bain soon followed, so after some expert directions from one of our York birding colleagues, we arrived safely. We found the Ring necked Duck, after a bit of searching (isn’t that what birding’s all about?) and really enjoyed distant views of a cracking American duck. Lots of different pits / pools in this area holding lots of duck and gulls from the nearby active tip. Worth keeping an eye on this place.

Our next port of call was to be Rufford Abbey C.P in Nottinghamshire that usually has a small flock of Hawfinch. The dry weather we had enjoyed, turned to being a little damp as we found our way into the country park area. As we got out of the car a flock of 5 Hawfinch flew above us and landed in a tall tree for us to admire, more nice birds to enjoy. We watched a small flock of Redwing feeding on the ground along with Mistle and Song Thrushes, really nice to watch. It was time to get home and we reached very wet Newhey around 3-30pm. Nice day out watching some cracking birds.
Dave O.


A Red breasted Goose had turned up in Norfolk with a large quantity of Pink footed Geese in December. It didn’t stay long in Norfolk and was relocated in North Lancashire in the Cockerham area. Myself and Steve B decided to have a go at seeing it and left Rochdale at 7am on a cool morning. We called at Fishmoor Reservoir, Blackburn to try to catch up with a couple of white winged gulls that had been seen there recently, but as it was still fairly dark we headed up to the Cockerham area. Lots of geese flying around was a truly great spectacle as the sun began rise, we checked a few of the large flocks out but could not see anything except Pink footed Geese. We headed down into the Thurham area and found a flock of around 300 Whooper Swans with 4 Bewick Swans also seen. A field also contained about 6 dodgy looking Canada Geese, after watching them we realised that they were not moving, then a man appeared and picked them up, they were decoys! A message said, “Red breasted Goose just flown over Sand Villa near Cockerham”. Off we went to try to connect, but on arrival, true to form, the bird had flown out onto the salt marsh! Now for some real birding as we spent a couple of hours sifting through the main flocks and finding: – 11 White fronted Geese (Russian) 2 Bean Geese (Tundra & Taiga) Barnacle Goose, lots of Curlew, 2 Buzzards. Great fun watching the geese push each other around whilst most of them just wanted to feed. We met up with Sarfraz & Paul, fellow Rossendale birders, who both needed Bean Goose. They managed to be put onto the Bean Geese by Rob Creek (GM Birder) well done Rob.

Up to 50 birders were scattered around the area waiting for the Red breasted Goose to reappear, so we decided to have a look at the Lane Ends, Fluke Hall, Eagland Hill & Bradshaw feeding areas. We soon found lots of Tree Sparrows, Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank. As we arrived at the eastern end of Eagland Hill we located a flock of Chaffinch and a few Yellowhammers, Corn Bunting and then Steve B said, “There is a Great Grey Shrike in that bush” and sure enough, there was! Grab the cameras and take some pictures, some other birders arrived and also saw the shrike. Well done to Steve for finding the bird, we picked up Red legged Partridge as we headed back towards Cockerham. We gave the flocks another good grilling, then at 3pm we decided to leave the area and return to Fishmoor Reservoir to try for the gulls once more. As we were reaching Fishmoor the Red breasted Goose reappeared at the same place we had been watching at around 4pm, isn’t that typical.

At Fishmoor it was very cold but about 6 hardy souls were busy looking through the big flocks of gulls as we arrived, one said, “The Kumliens gull has just taken off” and we just could not get on it as it headed for the Walker Steel roof and out of sight. After about 10 minutes, I began to watch a gull bathing in a peculiar fashion and it had no black on its wings, it was an adult Iceland Gull, I suddenly had lots of people asking for directions and wanting to use my scope. I have not seen many adult Iceland Gulls before and really enjoyed watching it. Another 5 minutes went by and I saw a large white bird land on the reservoir and again began to wash in a peculiar fashion, dipping its head in the water and rolling its wings in the water as if to dive, like a Guillemot does when it dives(hope that helps) It was a juvenile Glaucous Gull. Again I had found a good bird and gave directions to people who wanted to see it, fame at last! Steve B was by now frozen and really wanted to go home so that he could go out and drink some freezing cold lager. I bade farewell to the hardy souls at Fishmoor, who said that I must return soon! Got home by 6-15pm after a really enjoyable days birding in Lancashire.

Dave O.