Posts Tagged ‘Black Necked Grebe’

Whisby, Barnack & Yorkshire (1)
A trip to Lincolnshire to see / hear the freshly arrived Nightingales was eagerly awaited and when news of their arrival was confirmed a trip was planned. Meeting at 6am in Newhey with a dodgy weather forecast was not for the faint of heart, but I never really believe forecasts. Off we went with Bob K at the wheel, who soon had us at Whisby NR by 7-40am. Next to nobody there at that time so, with any luck we should be lucky. We reached the location and were all quite staggered by the Nightingales song but better still you could watch them in the dense, dark bushes (Just my excuse for not getting any good pictures really) Nightingales are a very evocative species to be near at this time of year, but we had to give the birds some room etc. We all headed off for a grand tour of the nature reserve amid the cacophony of Black Headed Gulls. Plenty of Willow Warblers, Chiff-chaff, Blackcap all singing, what a joy they are to listen to. We have only really called into Whisby before but I feel sure we will be back again.
A bit of a change was our next port of call, a place called Barnack in Cambridgeshire to see the Pasque flowers. Upon arrival Chris B shot off in pursuit of this rather beautiful flower, his face was a picture of delight having found lots of them! We all took lots of pictures and managed to leave before hordes of people arrived. After a call at a small reserve near Wittering, a check of rare bird news revealed a Red Rumped Swallow at Fairburn Ings NR near Castleford, Yorkshire. As one of the boys needed this species for a “lifer”, we headed off up the A1.
The weather was a little worse upon arrival at Fairburn, but that would keep the swallow in the area we all thought. As we hurried down the path a few birders were looking skywards, quickly telling that the bird was still present. Fairly good views were had of the bird that was in the company of House Martins. An adult Little Gull also performed really well in Village Bay, but not close enough for any pictures. We met Darren from Leeds who told us about a Spoonbill, booming Bittern on the Coal Tip walk. We had to give it a go didn’t we, Bob K by this stage was feeling the effects of a sore ankle and stayed near the visitor centre, wise move Bob. A long uphill slog passing 3 reed fringed ponds revealed the booming Bittern and a “squealing” Water Rail. After searching through lots of Little Egret, Grey Heron and Cormorant nesting areas we had to leave not having found the hoped for Spoonbill, very nice walk though.
Final call was at St Aiden’s / Swillington RSPB for the breeding plumaged Black Necked Grebe`s. We entered the reserve via Station Road, Methley, crossed over the railway and the river and walked along the causeway that cuts across the reserve (ta for the information Darren) The grebe`s were soon located and they performed really well. A pair of Common Tern also seemed newly arrived. This area has changed since we used to birdwatch the area many years ago, for the better this time. We soon reached home having all enjoyed a really good day out. Thanks for driving Bob.
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.

The full “A” team assembled in Newhey (after brief introductions) and after a small discussion we decided to head for Alkborough, North Lincolnshire as the Western Purple Swamphen was still present. As two of the team still needed to see this species, we soon arrived on a beautiful Lincolnshire (8 miles north of Scunthorpe) morning. The news was good, the bird was still present, as we entered the hide the bird was showing a little distantly, but well enough and with 6 Spoonbills, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Ruff, Marsh Harrier and lots of Avocets it certainly made me think I was on a Mediterranean reserve!! We had a walk towards the place where the River Humber splits into the River Trent and the River Ouse, always wanted to see this area, we all enjoyed that. As we left the area there were still lots of birders around the hide, enjoying all the birds present.

News of a Baird`s Sandpiper at Hatfield Moor`s N.R. reached us, so as it was another potential “lifer” for Chris B, we made plans to go. A supporting cast of a Pectoral Sandpiper and a Black Necked Grebe added a bit of “let`s get there”. We arrived at the Boston Park car park to the news that the sandpiper was still present. Now anyone who has ever visited the Hatfield Moors reserve will know that it is large, so, when the “good” birds turn up they are always a long walk, the distance to the Baird`s Sandpiper was no exception. After 30 minutes slog over track and raised peat bog, we saw birders in the distance. As we arrived the sandpiper was showing well down to 25 yards allowing for some reasonable pictures being taken (not by me though) as it was another lifer for Chris, the handshakes passed around. The Pectoral Sandpiper was pointed out to us and good views of it at around 30 yards distance were had. A juvenile Peregrine Falcon then put all the birds on that part of the moor to flight, except the Baird`s (perhaps it has never seen one before?) We met a couple of birding friends and had a good natter on the long walk back to the carpark. We called in at the Boston Park pool to try and find the Black Necked Grebe that had been present a few days. There were a lot of Little Grebes and a couple of Great Crested Grebe, but no sighting of the bird. Then I picked it up and as I tried to get the others onto it, it dived and was not seen again after much searching. That was a real mystery! Bob K had us all home by 4-30pm, another good day out birding, well done to all.

Dave O.

Whilst one of our number was watching the Great Spotted Cuckoo in Pembrokeshire and another doing his conservation thing the 3 remaining members of the A Team (Steve B, myself and Chris B at the wheel) headed for North Wales. Our target was the Black Grouse at the well named World’s End, we left Brooks End at 6am and arrived at our destination by 7-30am. A bit of frost about but not snowbound like last year! Three aptly named Blackcocks were soon seen at the side of the track and about 30 birds in total were seen during our short visit. Its advisable to stay in your car so not scare the birds and you should have reasonable sightings. Raven, Skylark and lots of Meadow Pipits were seen but the Great Grey Shrike was not around and a couple of fly past Siskin made up the sightings. Up to 8 Surf Scoter have been seen each day from Pensarn Beach over the last week or so, must be worth a go then? The wind was fairly strong from the west as we arrived and the tide was in and the light perfect, but if you dont get all 3 at the same time your chances of seeing them are very limited. After about an hour of watching Common Scoter and a few passing Red Throated Divers, we decided to go without any success, the wind was blowing us about that much!. A nice Snow Bunting was seen on the seawall though. We headed off to Aber Ogwen / The Spinnies, were two Chiff-Chaffs were singing away, they gave this delightfull nature reserve a spring like feel. A Water Rail feeding below the bird feeders and a distant Slavonian Grebe and two Greenshank made up the species. A little detour to see some Chough`s followed and after a bit of good bird observation by Steve B two of these captivating birds were seen. Another visit to Llandulas and again Pensarn still drew a blank with the Surf Scoters, mind you they were not reported from any other birders on Sunday. A quick look in at Haughton Green Pool near Warrington did not reveal the hoped for Black necked Grebe’s but lots of people walking their dogs and low water did not help. Home by 5-30pm, with around 8 new birds for the year.

Dave O.

2013 has really been an exceptional year for great birds so why should December be any different. So when, “an unusual guillemot” was seen in Portland Harbour on Boxing Day, it seemed like another rarity was on the cards. The bird was quickly identified as an Brunnich’s Guillemot, but as we all know, they usually just die overnight or are found floating on the tide line. We were told that this bird was feeding happily and even looked in good health and must have been blown into Portland Harbour by all the recent gales. So, apart from feeling a bit rough after the excesses of Christmas a trip down south was planned for Saturday. Myself, Bob K and Steve K met in Milnrow and we picked up Phil R in Leigh at 4am. Steve K was driving and after passing through a bit of bad weather made our way via the M6 onto the M5 leaving at Taunton then onto the A roads. The news was that the bird was still present, so a very happy car load of birders arrived at Portland at 9am. The bird was showing to the 400+ birders that were well spread out along the quayside and followed the pattern of:- on the surface for 3 seconds, dive and surface nearly 50 meters away. What amazing lungs for such a seabird! We watched the bird for around 2 hours, at times quite close in and really enjoyed its antics as it was nearly, “rowed over” by a bunch of oarsmen, twice! Alongside a pair of Razorbills the structural differences could be seen, with a shorter thicker bill and a white line on its upper mandible. Lots of other good seabirds were also present with Black Throated and Great Northern Divers, Black and Common Guillemots, Black and Red Necked Grebes, 28 Mediterranean Gulls. A rather large cloud made us run to the car and make plans to see a Glossy Ibis near Radipole Lake, Weymouth. Upon arrival the bird was feeding on a playing field that had been flooded by the recent gales. We also met Nibber a friend from our Scilly Island’s days, good to see you pal! Next stop was West Bexington were a second winter Glaucous Gull was seen (a little distantly) on the beach, luckily disturbed by dog walkers and identified in flight. Time was pressing on and as we all basked in the warm feeling that is a “lifer” and having seen such a lot of nice birds in one day we headed for home. We called at a couple of services on the way back, as the traffic was not too bad really. Special mention to Steve K for driving there and back in a really chilled manner, don’t think me or Bob could have contained ourselves as well. Reaching Rochdale by around 7pm. Great memorable trip with a “lifer” for each of us.
Dave O.