Posts Tagged ‘Mandarin Duck’

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 weather forecast seemed like we might be in for some rain last Sunday, but, we decided on a trip anyway. We met in Norden and with Chris B at the wheel we headed of to Sizergh Castle. Nearly a full A team arrived at a wet venue to see Hawfinch, a species we do not often miss here. We missed last time and after 20 minutes of standing under the National Trust cafe verandah in wet and cold conditions it looked like another dip. We decided to “tough it out” and were rewarded when a single Hawfinch was seen feeding along with Bullfinch and Chaffinch, quite a sight in breeding plumage. It was time to employ operation, “Find a Hide”, as we headed for the Allen and Morecambe Pool hides at Leighton Moss. Greenshank and Ruff were again our target species as we had missed out a few weeks ago and as the rain lashed against the hides it did not look good. Lots of Black Tailed Godwit, Avocet and Black Headed Gulls were present, but alas no target waders. A stop to listen for Cetti`s Warbler was also fruitless, can we blame the birds for not singing in these conditions really? We stopped at the “Blue Gate” at Leighton Moss (well it used to be blue) and heard and saw Willow Warbler and Blackcap. Real harbingers of spring these two species, Chris pointed out a couple of fungus, one called King Alfred`s Cakes quite a curious shape and all black! We carried on to the Lower hide as the rain just fell from the sky, I re-told my story about the Golden Oriole that I saw one December along this path, don’t know if I have told them that story before as they appeared to not be listening! On arrival we tried to dry out a little bit with distant views of Sand Martin,House Martin, Swallow and quite a few ducks then, someone saw 2 Otters. We were then treated to 10 minutes watching these beautiful mammals swimming, diving and generally enjoying themselves in the monsoon conditions. It’s a long time since I have seen them, we all enjoyed every minute of it. We decided to head for home the scenic route and check the area out as the rain did slightly subside. We came over the “Cross of Greet” road, always looks good for various hill dwelling birds, but unfortunately it is well gamekeepered and we know what that means. As we used the car as a hide we searched for returning migrants and were lucky to see a male and female Ring Ouzel sat close to the road, they then landed on a dry stone wall and after chasing each other up a boulder strewn valley were lost to view, excellent! We called in at Stocks Reservoir and a male Mandarin duck was found but not much else, we will be back soon when the Cuckoo comes back in few weeks though. We all got home before 3-45pm and in time to watch the Manchester derby football match. Even the excesses of the weather did not prevent us from all enjoying the day out.

Dave O.

A  7:30 am pensive launch – Launch being the appropriate word, Water, water everywhere. It’s bucketing down, and still dark. Unusually we haven’t formulated a route, just that we are staying in the North-West. From a discussion of options. We ship off to Pennington Flash for some early birds, and pray it stops raining and at least brightens up a bit. Sailing down the East Lancs. Road. A ‘niggle’ at the back of my  head tries to interrupt my ears. Haven’t I been to Pennington before the hides are opened – Yes. I mention it to the others, no one backs my ‘niggle’ up.

8:10 Pennington Flash – We park next to a group of wet golfers. We discuss which group is the most maddest. Of we slosh to the best hide in the world – Bunting Hide. It’s locked. ‘Sugar!’ and so is the Spit Hide too. Slosh back to the car, and declare to the golfers that we are the maddest group.

Risley Moss NR. Is a new one for me, and not far away. Cast the rope, on we sail. A nice wooded resort, with a hide close too bird feeders. Noted birds A male Great spotted Woodpecker, Jays, Not much else. Back to the ‘Skylark’. Its’ suggested we move North, in hope that the weather may be brighter, and dryer. For sometime now Preston Docks has had an Iceland gull. Bob has dipped on this twice. Make that three times now. Jinxed or what? Not far away we clock 4 Mandarin ducks.

Marton Mere – We bluff our way into the caravan park, and park right next to a hide a make a dash for it like we have all just had a rather expensive hair-do. A Cetti’s Warbler calls close by. A variety of Ducks. No Bittern. Dave and Steve have no alternative than to brave the weather and walk around the lake to see the Long Eared Owls. I snap some Mallard pictures. The Cettis’ briefly gives us a close view.


Pilling area – No luck with the Kingfisher, Nothing doing on the marshes except  Meadow Pipit. Eagland Hill for the feeding area for Buntings. Tree sparrow, Red Legged Partridge, A single Tree Sparrow, and a Male Sparrowhawk tucking into an unfortunate bird. Moving on a bit. Amongst farsands of Pink Footed Geese, Browny spots a single Barnacle goose. A small flock of Yellowhammer led us for a while along the narrow lanes. Another chance of Two Iceland Gulls at Rishton Res. tempted us for our next port of call. A good soaking we got, but no white winged gulls. They had been seen each day during the week. But not today. Must have been the weather?

Back home for 3:20 we hada missed out on some cast iron certainties, and got a good soaking too. Still, it’s better than staying in doors.