Posts Tagged ‘Kestrel’

With the lads from York needing the Pallid Harrier for a Yorkshire tick, it only seemed right to join them on their quest for the bird after many failures. The bird has been frequenting the area around Welwick since early November, apart from the odd trip across the water to see what Lincolnshire had to offer. We met at North Cave at a civilised time around 9am, news that the bird had been seen at 8-15am sort off made us visit the site first. We arrived at 10am with the news that the bird flew west and had not been seen since. It looked like we would be in for a long wait!
Lots of birds were seen in the area with Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Redwing, Fieldfare, Starling and Stock Dove. Once the birds of prey began to hunt the marshy area the place seemed to come alive. Kestrel`s, Buzzard, Merlin, Marsh Harrier and a cracking Sparrowhawk all were seen hunting. The hours rolled by on a very pleasant day and the birder`s began to arrive in the hope that the star of the show a juvenile Pallid Harrier would put in an appearance. Some of Greater Manchester`s finest birders were also in attendance and I had a good laugh with them. At around 2-10pm a harrier was seen, the bird sat in a distant bush and allowed all the telescopes to focus on it and to all decide that that was our bird, the Pallid Harrier. The bird remained on show for around 30 minutes distantly hunting the saltmarsh chasing and nearly catching a Curlew then a Pheasant. Really nice bird to watch. A supporting cast of 4 Short eared Owls were also a delight to watch them hunting. The light was now beginning to fade rapidly and it was time for home. The 4 hour wait for the harrier was well worth it and Mark K and Nigel S both had a new bird for their Yorkshire list!

Dave O.


A family holiday spent at the Sahara Beach Hotel in Skanes, Monastir, Tunisia. It was our fifth visit to the area so I already knew where to go birding. Managed to do some birding every day, but mainly in the morning, usually around 6-15am as it became very warm around 9-30am. The area around this hotel is dominated by very large salt lagoons and lots of breeding birds, including Yellow legged Gull, Slender billed Gull, Little, Common and Gull billed Tern’s and good numbers of Collared Pratincole. Waders in the shape of Black winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover. Lots of Greater Flamingo directly behind the Monastir Airport, along with Spoonbill and Stone Curlew in small numbers. At the local dump near Sahline, up to 180 White Storks were present but the spectacle of uncountable numbers of Yellow legged Gull will stay with me for a long while! In the hotel area’s Hoopoe, Serin, Crested Lark, Bee-Eater, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Spanish Sparrow were seen in varying numbers. Around the salt lagoons various bushes and mixed habitat held up to 8 Great Grey Shrikes of the algeriencis form that allow close attention to photograph! Also in those area’ s are small numbers of Zitting Cisticola(Fan Tailed Warbler), Greenfinch, Linnet, Short Toed Lark and the abundant Rock/ Feral Dove. Smaller numbers of Collared, Laughing and Turtle Doves also.Large flocks of Spotless Starling are great to watch as they dig for food on the ground and squabble just like “our” one’s. There are lots of Swift and with a bit of luck a few Pallid Swift can be found as they chase their prey close to the ground. Small numbers of House and Sand Martins were seen, but not many Barn Swallow’s (think there is a sad decline this year in their numbers) On the journey from Enfidha Airport to our hotel a single Carrion Crow was seen flying around a small village, a bit unusual that? A single Barbary Partridge was seen one early morning in the scrub around the salt lagoons and in the evening a single Hobby was out hunting and then a flock of 5 Shelduck flew past. A few Kestrel’s and Sparrowhawk’s were seen again in small numbers. Our our return home and near the airport at Enfidha a Booted Eagle was seen hunting and great end to a very localised birding / family holiday.

We had planned to go to Hilbre Island on the Wirral, but, the winds did not look very promising, so, we decided to go to find the Blue winged Teal’s in Lincoln. A fully employed “A” team met in Newhey for a 6am departure with Bob K at the wheel. My idea of a shortcut over the tops turned into a bit of a nightmare with thick fog/mist hampering our progress. We reached the M62, which was surprisingly short of roadworks, but still shrouded in mist and upon reaching the A1 the mist cleared. As we reached Lincoln the famous cathedral was engulfed in the early morning mist, normally associated with San Francisco! We began the half mile walk to Boultham Mere, formally a gravel pit for railway ballast and the sun began to shine. A Chiff -Chaff was around and as we crossed the drain we met a couple of birders, who told us the birds were still present. A quick look in the hide revealed nothing only sunlight. At the south western end of the reserve was a seat and as we rested on it, the 3 Blue winged Teals began feeding only 25 yards away, result for us and a tick for one of our number! A really pleasant reserve in a nice city makes a pleasant change. Blue Wing Teal 22-09-13With the main target birds seen, where too now? Blacktoft Sands was the answer to see an elusive Spotted Crake. An hour later at 11-50am we sat in Singleton Hide and as we had only missed a brief appearance by 10 minutes it would show would’nt it? By 3pm the bird had beaten us and had really earned the title elusive, not much consolation for one of our number who still needs it! Lots of Ruff, Snipe, Lapwing and a couple of Green Sandpipers made up the waders present. Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel & Buzzard were the birds of prey present. Next stop,  Fairburn Ings,  for a “nailed on” species of duck whose name escapes me. As we got there a lady birder told us that,  “they” had been flushed off by a Grey Heron! Despite a 45 minute search they were not seen. Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Dunlin, Garganey were seen though. All the birds suddenly took to the air and we thought that the 5 Grey Herons were to blame for this, but Steve B, who had left the hide, had seen and photographed a Fox grabbing a Canada Goose. At least someone would have had a good meal on Sunday evening!

Dave O.

With Bob K making a shed and trying to earn “browny” points the other four members of the A Team headed for the hills of Yorkshire. The weather over the last couple of weeks had been like traditional summers were, hot! The plan was to search the hills for Ring Ouzel a species that has eluded us all up to now this year. So on a warm Sunday at 6am we set of, it was a bit misty in places as we passed through the Settle area. We reached an area around Buttertubs Pass and began the search and after we had sifted through lots of juvenile Wheatear and Meadow Pipit there on the opposite hillside was a male Ring Ouzel perched out on a rock surveying his area,what a gem, bird of the pennines! After a call at an area well known for having Black Grouse in springtime we made our way towards Wykeham Forest which is around 8 miles west of Scarborough. We did’nt see the grouse by the way but there were lots of the Red one’s. We called in at a place that had Marbled White butterflies present , but, finding the entrance fee to be £7.00 we decided against it, we are from Lancashire by the way, were do they dream these prices up? At Wykeham the search for Turtle Doves began. We visited the area a couple of times last year and between us only saw one bird. Well as soon as we got out of the car one bird began “purring”, I had almost forgotten what the sound was it is so long since I have heard it. Then two birds landed in a tall tree and began being friendly. As we searched for more Turtle Doves, Tree Pipit and Yellowhammer were seen. Probably the same two Turtle Doves were seen again in flight whilst the single bird was still calling. So at least 3 birds were present. At the raptor watch point Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Raven, Spotted Flycatcher and high flying Goshawks were seen, but not the hard to find Honey Buzzards. The first test match between England and Australia was coming to a nail biting conclusion and as we all listened to a ball by ball commentary the end, when it came, was greeted with happiness amongst the 15 or so people there! After about 1 1/2 hours we decided to head for home and arrived home at a decent hour. We all managed at least three new birds for our year list. Very warm trip!
Dave O.