Posts Tagged ‘Mediterranean Gull’

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.

DSCF3741.JPGDSCF3742.JPGDSCF3746.JPGJust two A Team members enjoyed a good trip to our second favourite county, Yorkshire. We met in Milnrow at a reasonable time and in Steve K`s car headed for Spurn Point. Yesterday there had been some good birds,Red backed Shrike and Turtle Doves, but upon arrival it was apparent that everything had cleared out, or had they? There was low cloud/mist, a strong wind blowing in the wrong direction for any good migrants, but we had a good look around the wetlands. A number of Arctic Tern and a single Cuckoo were seen,so,after about an hour we decided to cut our losses and head for North Cave Wetlands were two Glossy Ibis had been seen. As we passed through Patrington a check of the bird news revealed a Red backed Shrike at Spurn,typical!
The weather had improved greatly with wall to wall sunshine, even Hull looked nice, although there was still not much sign of life after Hull City had gained promotion back to the Premiership! Upon arrival at North Cave Wetlands news of the two Glossy Ibis was good. We hurried along to a small crowd and saw the two birds feeding and being sent packing by the local Moorhens, what nice colourful birds Glossy Ibis are. News of a breeding pair of Mediterranean Gull`s quickly followed, so we went to a hide and after around twenty minutes searching through the large Black headed Gull colony, Steve K saw the “unmissable” head of the Mediterranean Gull, this bird was in fabulous plummage.
We headed for Blacktoft Sands Nature Reserve and headed for Singleton Hide were the single,female Montagu`s Harrier is occasionally seen from. The local Bearded Tit colony seemed to be very busy feeding young as they were very showy and dashed about the reedbeds. Up to six Marsh Harrier`s seemed to be on show most of the time but, we had no joy seeing the Montagu`s Harrier, which is still waiting for a male bird to re-appear.We then began birding the other hides,Cetti`s,Reed and Sedge Warbler all singing. A nicely marked group of Black tailed Godwit`s were seen at Ousefleet Hide and again after a lot of searching the “eagle-eyed” Steve K found the male Garganey, well done Steve. We enjoyed the day,even after the slow start at Spurn. We reached Milnrow by five thirty.
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.

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.

A promise of some snow in Lancashire did not put of three intrepid souls leaving Rochdale at 6:30am on a cold Sunday morning. With Steve B at the helm, myself and Chris B hoping to explore the old part of Lancashire E.g. South Cumbria, to see if we could pick up some more species for the new year list. Just as the first vestiges of light began to filter through we arrived at Sizergh and quickly picked up Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Then a Song Thrush, Treecreeper, Bullfinch, then the star bird a solitary Hawfinch. It showed really well for the three of us and it was a great pleasure not to have to listen to the constant bickering of the “photographers” that normally assemble here. News of a Black Redstart at Grange over Sands on Saturday was worth a look, but, alas the bird did not show itself during the time that we were there, lots of Dunlin though. It was a nice place to visit.  Next stop, Leighton Moss and we saw Gadwall, Pintail, Marsh Harrier, Snipe, Black tailed Godwit and a Kingfisher near the public hide, what a gem! Teal Bay, Morecambe held a strange looking grey feathered Oystercatcher, it sat alongside a ‘White’ Oystercatcher seen a number of years ago.IMG_3970 Strange! A search for any Scaup on the high tide in Morecambe, was unsuccessful, just a Great crested Grebe Surely we would get the Purple Sandpiper at Heysham Harbour, after a search through the Turnstone roost, it wasn’t found. The two nearing breeding plumaged Mediterranean Gull’s that sat on the fence waiting to be photographed, made up for this miss!IMG_3973 Lots of Twite, and a solitary Shag. lots of Knot and a lively Rock Pipit made up the species seen around the harbour. At Conder Green pools the weather took a turn for the worst and it began to sleet, turning to snow, we saw Little Grebe and Spotted Redshank and a Little Egret.  News of an adult Lesser Snow Goose “Blue form” near Cockerham made us quicken the pace a little, the snow was getting worse by now. On arrival Maurice Jones, Lancashires finest,  said, “You can only see the birds head from here.  Follow us we have been told a better place to see it”. Unfortunately it wasn’t and we went back to our original spot on Crimbles Lane and after a bit of a wait the bird was picked out and showed well, if only a little distantly. It was a first for us all watching a Snow Goose in the snow, really excellent bird to almost end the day on. On the way to Fluke Hall lots of Golden Plover were seen and on arrival the large herd of Whooper Swans graced the wintery fields. On the way past Eagland Hill a large flock of Pink footed Geese were checked out, a really  large flock that was. Time for home, another good day out and we all had 20+ new species for the new year list. Thanks for driving Steve. You will never need a Sat Nav!!

The weeks events went like this,  excellent strong winds from the east, 3 Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers on the east coast on the same day (none were twitchable for us and none stayed the day after), lots of eastern specialities dotted around the same coast, so, with this in mind, a trip out east was arranged for Sunday. As usual, the weather was mild and the wind blew from the south west, just the kind of wind direction that you dont want for an east coast trip! You never know what might turn up at Spurn in various weather conditions though ! The 4 of us left Milnrow at 6am and after various diversions on the excuse for a motorway / permanent roadworks, the M62, we arrived at Spurn by 8-15am. First call was to see a Greenish Warbler behind the Riverside Hotel, but, it was that windy that you couldn’t see any movement in the low bushes. Lots of Redshank were flying around though. A call at the Crown & Anchor car park revealed none of yesterday’s rarities, except a very showy Lesser Whitethroat that almost turned into “bird of the day”. A seawatch followed with a single Sooty Shearwater, lots of Red Throated Divers, Little Gulls, Gannets but not much else. I then took the team to visit the Beacon Lane/ Easington Lagoon area using a much easier path (the team might not agree with this) for me this was the highlight of the day as we saw, Short Eared Owl, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Brent Geese, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Whinchat, Reed Bunting. Ste K was watching some gulls flying over the long ponds. He then announced that at least one of them was a Med. Gull. A quick check confirmed this true.  Back to the car, and we drive close bye where the gulls had settled. A scan of the gulls, and we clearly see two Med. Gull. Continuing our drive, to visit Canal Scrape with Mute Swan and 3 Greylag Geese that flew in, not much else though. We checked the mist nets at the observatory and lots of Redpoll had been caught by using a tape lure, but again, not much else. Another call at the Crown & Anchor car park and someone had seen a “Barred Warbler type” bird or was it the Lesser Whitethroat again? As we exhausted most of the parts of Spurn to visit, a check of the phone revealed a Yellow Browed Warbler at the west end of Easington village, off we went to try to see it. Again, with no shelter, the bird just could not be found. At this point we realised that heading for home was our best option. We called in at a flooded Fairbairn Ings reserve and only saw an underwater scene with lots of wildfowl. We reached home and all got “browny points” for being early,we also got at least 2 year ticks each, so, not a bad days birding, we also had a completely dry day until we got to the Wakefield area when the heavens opened!!

Dave Ousey.

Not very often that you can fit a “lifer”, for one of our group, into a normal birding trip, but, we managed it last Saturday! We usually go to Anglesey around this time of the year for the seabird colony’s and for a regularly good day out. What with all the bad weather we have just had there was always a chance that the high winds in the right direction would blow something rare to our shores. Then,the news broke, just after dinnertime, that a Little Swift had been seen in New Brighton, on the Wirral. In rain and generally poor conditions, but was showing well. One of our team needed this species but was unable to twitch the bird on Friday, so, we decided that if it remained on Saturday that it would be our first stop, being sort of on the way to Wales. At 5-45am on Saturday I checked RBA news and the bird had roosted and was still present. We all met and  headed for Liverpool via tunnel under the Mersey reaching the area near Perch Rock in New Brighton by 8-15am. It was still fairly windy as we headed towards a group of about 30 birders watching the Little Swift. It was performing very well along with Swift and House Martin’s so that you could make a comparison between the species. A really nice bird to watch for the 40 minutes we were there, as the bird flew quite close on occasions. It was congratulations for one of the team also. Next stop Holyhead Harbour on Anglesey, and a nice close up look at 7 Black Guillemots that were disturbed by the arrival of an Irish ferry and flew quite close to us. Up at South Stack masses of seabirds adorned the cliffs, but as it was very windy nobody got to close to the cliffs edge to watch them! Lots of Manx Shearwaters were passing and the Choughs and Ravens were enjoying the conditions to show of their aerial skills. No small birds were seen at South Stack due to the conditions. On to Cemlyn Bay lagoon for the masses of terns, but, on a sad note, I found a freshly dead Sandwich Tern chick that must have strayed too far from its parents and was taken by a passing gull. Lots of terns greeted us, with Sandwich Tern making up the largest breeding group present and with a few Common and Arctic Terns  with a solitary Kittiwake all made for good watching. A new lady warden was quite informative and she said that a Roseate Tern called in now and then, but not today though! We managed to pick out 4 Mediterranean Gulls, all in different plumages and a Black Guillemot was seen in the bay. Now as the weather looked a little dodgy we headed for the car. Last stop was Burton Mere RSPB reserve and a very impressive centre. It should be good in the winter, but we did miss the calls of the birds whilst we were inside! We managed to see a Green Sandpiper being hassled by the breeding Avocets with lots of chasing going on. It was time to go home after a very eventful day. We reached Rochdale by 6-15pm.