Posts Tagged ‘Great Northern Diver’


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.


Nearly a full squad of “A” Teamers for a trip to the seaside, with the promise of some different birds and a couple from last year, who seemed to be wintering. We left a snowy Norden around 7-30am after a few “local difficulties”, well put Chris, who took the wheel. We got through the various belts of icy fog and as we reached the coast it was cold but the sun was shining at times. Calling firstly at Knott End slipway for a nice Twite. Our second call was to see the first winter dark morph Pomarine Skua that had been blown into Cockers Dyke in the recent gales. The bird appeared to have an injured wing and was being supplied with some carrion / food by the local birders. We searched the bird filled coast and salt marsh and could not pick up the Pomarine Skua. I didn’t have my telescope with me, having hoped for some pictures of the close feeding skua, so, as I scanned the area with my binoculars, I kept being drawn to a strange shape in the distance, a clod of salt marsh surely? A birder said, ” I have the skua”, yes it was the clod, tip:-always take your scope with you! The bird eventually got to its feet to repel the attentions of 2 Carrion Crows, who looked like undertakers weighing up their next victim! The hoped for close up of this bird did not materialise, but 2 Mediterranean Gulls were seen. Lots of godwits,Curlews and a large skein of Pink Footed Geese flew over the bay, very nice. A trip along the coast towards Thurnham to see the Whooper & Bewick`s Swans was enjoyed, helped by one of the Flyde bird clubs members,many thanks. Golden & Grey Plovers feeding in roadside fields in large number were also noted. At Bradshaw Lane End & Eagland Hill the small feeding stations are usually filled with small finches, but only Tree Sparrows were seen and no evidence of any food for the birds. The Shore Lark was enjoyed at Rossall Point though it was still quite cold on this part of the coast, smart little bird this one. At Marton Mere the hoped for Iceland Gull, Firecrest, Long Eared Owl or Cetti`s Warbler were not located, a couple of Shoveller and a smart female Sparrowhawk were our reward. The trend continued as the regular Great Grey Shrike on Lytham Moss had not been seen for 2 hours prior to our arrival and was not located. A dash up to Parsonage Reservoir near Rishton to see a wintering Great Northern Diver was to be our last stop on a wintry birding day. Around 20 new species were enjoyed by all our team and a little more knowledge gained about Pomarine Skua`s that are on the ground!

Dave O.


Myself and Steve B just could not resist a Shore Lark at Rossall Point, Fleetwood, so off we went last Sunday. A cold, windy, grey morning greeted us both as Steve drove towards the coast, after leaving Rochdale at 8am. My last sighting of this species was in the Bolton area a few year`s ago, they are certainly not as usual as they used to be. We got to Rossall Point and a real strong wind blew the sand into our faces, as we battled the elements. A couple of “early birders”, were on the beach watching something, it was the bird a cracking male Shore Lark! We spent about 3/4 of an hour watching and trying to get a couple of pictures of the bird and the conditions were forgotten about. Well worth the effort in the end. The tide was well in as we visited the river mouth, were 5 Eiders were seen battling the strong winds. Our next stop was Lytham Moss where a Great Grey Shrike had taken up residence, not far from Blackpool Airport. It was a little hard to find at first (knowing how difficult shrikes can be for me in Lancashire) when out of nowhere it appeared sat on top of a tall bush. Always good to watch as the local Magpie chased it around and eventually gave up and left the shrike alone. In Lytham Crematorium there is a very small population of Ring Necked Parakeets, these are always worth popping in to see and  listen to and what they are up to. Pulling leaves of Holly bushes is their latest pastime, very exotic. A male Scaup was seen next on Fairhaven lake and afforded very close views with it striking plummage and diving ability. A birdwatching colleague of ours, who will not admit to living in the “made up” county of Greater Manchester, sent me a text to tell us that a Great Northern Diver had been found on Rishton Reservoir in Lancashire, so off we went in search of this large diving seabird. We reached Rishton and one of the ELOC members present, could not see the bird after a long search, had it flown off? He thought so and began to leave. Steve B had other idea`s (he had found all the birds this morning) he said, “I have got the diver, its there”. I quickly called the departing birder back to see the diver and he was pleased and so were we. All in all a really grand day out we reached home by 2-45pm.


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.


20th December.

A Great Northern Diver had entertained Steve K on his latest fishing trip to Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield, Yorkshire. He said what a dark, well marked bird it was and that it was even singing/calling a little. Worth a go on a Friday dinner trip after work I thought. Upon arrival I could see the bird at some distance away and as I got closer the sheer bulk of the bird became apparent. It was pretty dark but some of its breeding plumage was still evident. It did not do much diving and showed really well. After checking out the weir where the Ring Billed Gull is usually found in winter,it was not there or has not been reported yet, I headed for home and the news about an Ivory Gull in Yorkshire came out.

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

Grt. Northern Diver, Ladywood Lakes, Mirfield

21st December.

Steve K needed Ivory Gull, so a trip was hastily put together with Steve, Bob K and Phil R and myself making up the number. Upon hearing the news that the bird was still present we all met in Milnrow and Bob drove us over the hill to Patrington Haven,Yorkshire. At midday we walked the half a mile to Outstray Pumping Station and could see about 20 birders break away from the main group. Had the bird flown off? As we approached we were told that the bird had finished feeding on the fish that had been left out for it but was still in the area. All was not lost as we quickly found this ermine clad arctic wanderer only 100 metres away sat on the tideline. It quickly brought memories of fruitless trips to Inverness, Cardiff and finally seeing the species in Aldeburgh, Suffolk prior to the millenium. What a bird it is. Lots of waders on the shore and a quick moving Merlin to watch as we waited for the Ivory Gull to come into feed again. After about two and a half hours the bird began to circle then land on the pumping station then it landed about 20yards away and the cameras began to click. Even I felt like one of the paparazzi as I photographed one of the stars of the birding world! The light was beginning to fade as we headed away and all really enjoyed being in the company of such a splendid bird. (Sorry for going on a bit)

Ivory Gull, Patrington, Dec 2013

Ivory Gull, Patrington, Dec 2013

Dave O.


None of us have ever been to Hilbre Island, just off the Wirral, so, on Sunday we decided to go! The reason was that one of the team needed to connect with Leach’s Petrel and a sighting of Long Tailed Skua would be appreciated for both of the other lads. There had been some action on the sea during the week with high winds etc. and as the forecast was just as bad, we all donned extra waterproofing. Leaving Rochdale, nice and early we reached West Kirby at 7:40am and encountered 2 almost naked gentlemen ( totally naked waist down), who had been swimming in the marine lake, we are not alone being a little eccentric birdwatching then are we? The weather was not going to script, it was not very windy and fairly mild, though the wind did get up once we were on the island. After working out which path to take, at 8:07 we headed of along the mile plus of sand, rocks, seaweed and sticky mud( I think it was mud??) reaching Middle Hilbre and onto Hilbre itself at around 9-00am.

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A few other birders later joined us at what looked like a lifeboat slipway with a birding hide above it. We made camp and began watching the in rushing tide, a few Grey Seals were fun to watch as they did their “surfing”. It wasn’t very long when we saw our first skua of the day a distant Arctic Skua chasing one of the many Sandwich Tern’s that were around. Great Skua soon followed on, then a Pomarine Skua was on view for a while as it flew around the wind turbines and green buoys chasing more terns until they dropped there prey. Gannets, Red throated Divers, Scoters and lots of waders were also seen over the high tide period. The highlight though was a juvenile Long Tailed Skua that flew towards and almost over were we were stood! A Great Northern Diver was seen with a Red Throated Diver and a nice comparison was made. A stunning Peregrine had flushed a lot of the waders on the way out to the island. As the tide began to retreat we had a look for other birds on the island and found:-20 Linnet, 1 Robin, 1 Swallow, 4 Meadow Pipit, 1 Pied Wagtail and a brief look at a Wheatear. All in all we really enjoyed the experience of visiting a remote island. The walk back was made a little quicker with the news of a Blue Winged Teal at Southport. Off we go through the tunnel again, this time the weather was dreadful with almost storm conditions welcoming us to Marshside Reserve, Southport. Met an old birding friend of mine and he said that the duck had not been seen for over an hour, we gave it 45 minutes, but, the weather was apalling and not as they say, “good weather for ducks”. We also missed a “Great White Egret” that was possibly, just a close to the road, Little Egret,there’s me being scepticle again! By now home and some dry clothes were beckoned, we reached home by 7-00pm, another excellent day’s birding.

Regards,
Dave Ousey.


An American Wigeon at Wintersett Reservoir near Wakefield was a lifer for one of our number, so, a trip was planned with a reasonable “supporting cast” to bolster our year totals. We reached a windy Wintersett and began sifting through lots of wildfowl and after a muddy trudge, we didn’t manage to locate the American Wigeon.” Lets try Anglers country park then”, which is only 200 yards away. Again lots of birds but no sign of our quarry, so, after 2 hours we began to think the bird had departed due to the strong winds of last night. We were then told that the bird was showing very well on Wintersett, and, you guessed it, we had to wade through the mud yet again! The bird was picked out and we were happy and after exchanging a few pleasantry’s. With Kevin Hughes and his friends from Cheshire we headed for Pugney’s Country Park, also in Wakefield. We had hoped to locate a juvenile Great Northern Diver but as we arrived the bird had been flushed off by the “plank balancers”, strange hobby that one! We had a good look around the immediate area for the diver but without success. A cracking male Red Crested Pochard was found though. We headed off to the other side of the River Calder to Calder Wetlands and managed to find a moulting male Smew, what a beauty he was! A quick check on RBA news revealed that the diver had returned to Pugneys, so did we. We then managed distant views of the bird as the “plank balancer” numbers had decreased (hopefully not due to drowning or freezing to death) In the end we managed to see all the species we had gone for but didn’t we have to work hard for them!

Regards,
The Stig