Posts Tagged ‘Red Kite’

A Pine Bunting was found in Dunnington near York last week. It associated itself with a large flock of finches (Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Brambling and Tree Sparrow) A few of our friends from the York area had really struggled to see the bird but, as the flock was being fed in a couple of area`s and with one of our team needing to see it, a trip was planned for Saturday. A 10am start with Bob K driving had us soon near to the bird’s favoured spot, or so we thought! We enjoyed all the birds in and around the fields and after Bob K had walked along a hedge lots more birds took to the air. After two and a half hours searching/waiting, Chris B found the bird in the hedge but before anyone else could get on it, the bird had flown into the field. Luckily, the original finder of the Pine Bunting was stood next to us and he quickly got all (about10 birders) onto the bird as it sat and preened in the hedge. The views were not great but most of the features were seen. Nige from York also got much better sightings of the bird just after we left (this was his 4th visit though). We also called to see a Great Grey Shrike near a disused RAF base near York, but we could not find it.
On our way towards home around 4 Red Kites were seen in the Leeds area before we reached our next stop at Fairburn Ings. We asked a couple of local birders about the whereabouts of the 2 Smew that had been reported there. Their directions were spot on and we soon saw the female and the quickly disappearing male in Village Bay, what a stunning bird to end a good, if difficult, days birding.
Dave O


A quickly arranged trip up to see the Penduline Tit`s at Saltholme Pools, Middlesbrough on Easter Sunday ended with us being disappointed! Four of us met at 6am (with the the clocks going forward it was 5am really) in Newhey and with a plan to get back early, surely it was just a question of going up to see the birds and do a bit of general birding. Well, that did not happen. We reached the dried up pond, facing the fire station, with the wind blowing everything about, including us, with only another 4 birders for on site. After around an hour with a Chiff-Chaff for company, we decided to go to Hartlepool Headland. Nothing on the sea but a few Purple Sandpipers, Eider and Turnstone made up for that. After a pleasant stroll around the headland and reliving some of the great birds we have seen in the area we called in at the Jewish Cemetery in Hartlepool and saw a couple of Shore Lark in flight only and my first Ringed Plover of the year. This area will soon be being built on, so we said goodbye to a very productive migration area!  We returned to Saltholme Pools, the news, off course, was that the 2 Penduline Tits showed around 9-30am, it was now 10-15am. We thought they had been blown away.

Another hour spent  waiting for them to show was brightened up by meeting Nigel from York. He told us that they could be fairly difficult to see, yes they were okay! We called in at North Gare to catch up with some Wheatear that had been reported earlier, you guessed it, we didn`t see any.

We headed south and called in to a churchyard that had  lots of wild Daffodils  growing in it( I had a little nod as I was driving) We reached the final birding spot near Harewood House, Yorkshire and found out that the Penduline Tits showed quite well at 2-30pm, is was not too be!  We were soon enjoying up to 30 Red Kites in the area. What great birds they are. We reached home by 4pm a little deflated but we enjoyed the day out.

Dave O.


Another one of our, “looked forward to” trips, was last Sunday. With Bob K at the wheel nearly a full A Team left Rochdale on a cold spring like morning at 6am heading for World`s End in North Wales. Lots of frost around greeted us in the elevated area and even at the early hour quite a few birders had assembled to witness something very special. It was a Black Grouse lek! Firstly around 5 male birds showing their absolute finery and making lots of bubbling sounds as they went toe to toe with the nearest other male. Then we moved to the main lek in which we estimated around 25 males all having some input to this great spectacle in the bird world! They were later joined by a few females who sat around the edges enjoying the show. You can never tire of watching this unusual activity. Quite a few Raven were flying around and “gronking” sounds were all around at one time. In a small larch copse we saw Crossbill, Siskin & Goldcrest and as the grouse lek ended we had a search for a Great Grey Shrike that was a regular winter visitor to these parts. We stopped along the small road as a few other birders were watching something, it was a very distant Great Grey Shrike. We moved on and found another shrike ourselves about 1/2 mile away, the bird quickly made its exit and was not seen again. We moved into the Conway valley to search for the Hawfinch at Llan Bedr y Cenin, we were not lucky on this occasion but were treated to great views of a few Red Kites that have moved into this beautiful area. With the tide being in, a trip to Morfa Madryn (The Spinnies) was next, but frankly it was a little bit of a let down as nothing new was seen, apart from one of the bringer’s of the spring a singing Chiff Chaff which was very nice. News of Surf & Velvet Scoters near Old Colwyn had us dashing up the coast to try to find them. None of us really knew were we where heading for but we must have found the right spot as there were some other birders present. We asked the question about the Surf Scoters and we got the negative (usual) reply! With a flat sea and the sun behind us we began to search through the ever-moving flock of thousands of Common Scoter. We must have a chance of picking one up of these resplendent American sea ducks. Luckily it was myself that finally found a cracking drake Surf Scoter, we really deserved to find one after many hours of searching in unfavourable conditions didn’t we? It did not end there with up to 6 male Velvet and a further 3 more Surf Scoter being found. A few Fulmar,Brent Geese, Red Throated Divers,Guillemot & Razorbills were also seen, a really excellent haul. A very, almost tame Iceland Gull had been present on the beach at Pensarn for a while now so we called in to see it and take a few pictures, guess what? it had flown off just before we got there! A few Ringed Plovers made up our day in North Wales and the usual traffic problems haunted us on the way home, but it had all been worth it as we all got around 10+ new birds for the year lists. Cracking day out.

Dave O.

We thought we would have a change and have a trip on a Saturday with myself, Bob K & Steve K for company, with Steve K driving. We quickly worked out a trip into Yorkshire with a  couple of new sites on the agenda. We met at a time that had allowed more sleep and we set off into a dense fog patch from Rochdale to Brighouse, it cleared as we arrived at Fairburn Ings near Castleford to reveal a nice winters morning. After a visit to the far end of the reserve and watching up to 40 Red Legged Partridge feeding in a field. A pair of  Pintail  were also seen. We were told that the male & female Smew were in the Village Bay area by one of the locals. These beautiful ducks were soon seen on the water and after a couple of minutes took flight towards the visitor centre, a Kingfisher was seen by Steve K. As we headed towards York around the Bramham area A64/A1 a single Red Kite was seen (thanks for the tip Mark K) Our first visit to Rufforth Airport to watch the many different types of small & large gulls that are usually drawn to the area by the local tip was quite a successful one. It’s not an easy place to find but the large flocks of gulls that gather in the area help you get there. Around 5/6 birders were already on station and as we set up an Iceland Gull was soon found as we searched the bathing gulls. The microlight aircraft, that were landing and taking off, kept flushing the gulls, but it meant birds from the various flocks came towards the area we were watching and an adult Glaucous Gull was then found by one of us, what an excellent bird! Both these white winged birds were well watched and really enjoyed in the hour or so we were there, nice place to visit. We now had a bit of a dilemma, there had been 2 Great Grey Shrikes reported in the south part of Yorkshire the day before, but as yet not reported today. So, we headed off back into Lancashire to find the single Waxwing at Orrell Water Park. As we reached the area we saw cameras pointed skywards and quickly the Waxwing was seen and photographed. It was a little unusual seeing a single bird after the large flocks of recent years. A look around the water park for a Mandarin & a Water Rail were unsuccessful, but the star bird showed really well eating apples on a bird feeder in someones front garden. Another visit along Rindle Road, Astley Moss did not reveal the hoped for Yellowhammer, but a Sparrowhawk and lots of Reed Bunting were seen. Good trip out.

Dave O.IMG_8464

Way back in 1994 myself and Bob K were lucky enough to see a Blyth`s Pipit at Landguard Point, Suffolk. The bird was catching “blue-bottles” (thanks Brian) and showing very well most of the time and was thought to be only the second record of this species recorded in Britain. When local birder Jonny H found a strange pipit on his patch near Pugneys N.R, in Wakefield, he quickly realised that the bird was another Blyth`s Pipit and a first for Yorkshire! He found the bird during the week so most of our crew were not able to go for it until the weekend, so an anxious wait followed. The bird was remaining faithful to a watery meadow inside a business park and overlooked by the headquarters of West Yorkshire Police. All other “A Teamers” needed to see the bird as a lifer. Our Christmas get together on Friday evening for beer and a curry produced a few headaches but did not put Chris B off from going to Wakefield on Saturday morning. Chris connected with the bird almost upon arrival and obtained good flight views and the distinctive calls were heard. The finder was on site to walk the area to flush the bird every hour or so to save the bird any undue stress of lots of birders milling around its favoured feeding area. Sunday morning saw myself, Steve B and Steve K waiting for news of the bird, that was put out around 9-15am that it was still present. We met at 10am and arrived on site by 11am and the bird had been seen in flight at 10-30am as a Red Kite had flown over the area and flushed the bird, but the pipit had landed in the deep grassy area. At 11-30am the finder went into the watery area and after flushing 4 Grey Partridge, Snipe & 4 Meadow Pipit the Blyth`s Pipit took flight. Its tail appeared “twisted” and the call was quite different to the smaller Meadow Pipits that also flushed up. We all had a good, if brief views of the bird. A further 3 times the bird flew and better sightings were had. We left around 12-35pm and headed for home. The bird did show perched up and on the ground later in the day as the wind decreased. The journey home over the Pennines on the motorway was like driving in a fish tank as the rain lashed us around!

Dave O.

A few day’s before a family holiday is not the ideal time to go rushing off on a twitch at the other end of the country, now is it? So when a Short Toed Eagle was first seen in Hampshire and later in East Sussex, I thought I will have to miss that one, even after a couple of my fellow A Team birder friends had tried to tempt me to go (try harder next time boys) You cannot believe how I felt upon returning to the UK, late on Friday, to find that the Short Toed Eagle was still present in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. Whilst unpacking, washing, cleaning house, gardening and shopping a few texts where secretly sent and a team assembled for an early dash Sunday morning, after first obtaining permission from my “understanding” wife. At two am we got into Chris B’s car with Steve B,Steve K & myself, only, “bird of prey man” Bob was missing from a full A Team trip! Heading along the M62, M6, M40, M25 and finally onto the M23, East Grinstead and into the Ashdown Forest area. At this point we struggled to find the “Long” car park, but as a few other birders arrived we realised we were in the right place. This area is really beautiful and certainly not like “Up North”. A few Tree Pipit’s and Stonechat’s were seen, but no birds of prey, so after about an hour we decided to go to the Gills Lap car park area were, we were told, quite a few birders were present. A check of the bird news revealed the bird was sat in tree waiting for us, put your foot down driver time. As we arrived a gathering of around 60 birders were watching something! A birder told us the Short Toed Eagle was sat on top of a tree at the other side of the valley, what joy, a bird that was seen by one of our departed birder friends on Scilly a few years ago, could finally be enjoyed by us all now! Truly amazing to be lucky enough to see one of the most charismatic eagles of the Western Palearctic right here in England. As it was a “lifer” for all our group the customery hand shakes were exchanged. The bird took to the air after about 20 minutes and gave great flight views, especially right over our heads! It gained height and disappeared out of the valley (not to be seen again until Tuesday morning). A couple of Red Kite’s and a single Honey Buzzard along with a couple of Common Buzzard’s made up the impressive bird of prey list! The people that live or visit this area are truly impressed by its natural beauty, as we were. After the very early start we all began to feel a bit “jaded” and we decided after a little stop in Crawley to head for home. We all got home around five pm and enjoyed the sunshine that had made the day very special.

Dave O.

Having been lucky enough to have seen a Yellow Rumped or Myrtle Warbler on Scilly in the early 80’s, the appearance of one near Durham didn’t get me “twitching” the same as all my birding mates! Bob K dashed up last week and connected and the York lads did the same,well done to you all. The other 3 members of the team all waited patiently until Sunday and we all headed of with a 6-30am start with myself at the wheel. The weather looked promising as we headed up the A1 and as we got to High Shincliffe,County Durham, the sun was coming out. A short walk around the estate, after parking in the prescribed area, followed by joining a crowd of around 50 birders looking at some bird feeders and coconuts filled with bird food. After a couple of minutes the Myrtle Warbler showed and began feeding albeit a little well hidden! Everyone except Steve B had a view of the bird, he kept saying, “Which coconut ?” The bird was very active and as we watched it , it left the deeper cover and sat in the branches and showed very well and Steve B got some pictures of it. After an hour or so we decided to head for the coast and try for the various waders and seabirds at Hartlepool Headland. It was a really nice morning as we found the Purple Sandpipers feeding on the rocks along with Eider,Fulmar,Razorbill,Guillemot and a solitary Gannet. Lots of Herring Gulls were following a couple of small fishing boats towards the dock area, but nothing unusual was found. A trip to Seal Sands near Middlesborough is always memorable and  today was to prove no exception.Steve K decided to have a recharging session (sleep) So Chris & Steve B and myself walked the river towards the power station, along the way we were told of a female Velvet Scoter, Whimbrel,Long Tailed Duck and a Brent Goose being present. After a nice walk we managed to see the target birds and also picking up a few missing waders for our year list’s. We met a man from Guisborough who entertained us with a few twitching tales, good entertainment. A call at Saltholme Pools revealed a lot of people so we moved on, after seeing another 2 Long Tailed Ducks, well found Chris B. A trip to Hay a Park,Knaresborough reminded me and Steve B of a fruitless journey to miss a couple of Red Rumped Swallows a number of years ago, the Iceland Gull we came to see also suffered the same fate! What a way to end a rather good day than to visit the Harewood House area to watch the Red Kites. We saw about 10 of these beautiful raptors and a couple of them seemed to be pair bonding,it will soon be springtime! We headed for home and with 3 of the boys having a new bird it made it all the more memorable. We all saw around 18 new species for our year lists.

Dave O.

On one of my normal walks on a Friday afternoon with my dog, I try to check out the many abandoned quarries that are in the hills around the Rochdale and Whitworth areas. Mainly searching for migrants, Wheatears etc. This day would be very special for me. My friends have nearly all seen Red Kite in Lancashire or Greater Manchester and remind me of this omission occasionally! As I climbed my way towards a quarry just above Spring Mill Reservoir,which is divided by Lancashire and Greater Manchester, a large bird of prey flew close by from the Rochdale direction. I immediately recognised the bird as a Red Kite, my wait was over, I watched the bird for a good five minute as it lazily hunted over the hills and drifted off into Rossendale and out of site. Even after having watched lots of beautiful birds all over the place,this bird gave me a real thrill and to find one myself !

Happy Birder,

Dave O.

The wintery weather that we are still getting didn’t put us of having a trip into North Wales last Sunday. After a little planning and the promise of a 5:30am start, it wasn’t surprising that there were only three of us. Steve B, Chris B and myself at the wheel. After getting rid of some snow we left Rochdale on time and by 7am reached Minera, near Wrexham. Then a climb into the snow and ice line, up a steep gradient made us all wonder as to our sanity! Then we found the reason why we were here, 10 Black Grouse at a “Lek”. Great displays and much noise accompanied this spectacle. They were distant, but undisturbed by our presence as we stayed in the car, on a bitterly cold morning. A Peregrine was a nice sighting as it flashed by silhouette against the snow.Worlds end 001 Worlds end 008 Worlds end 005 Worlds end 003 At the other end of the valley more Black Grouse were seen, bringing the total to around the 30 mark. The hoped for Great Grey Shrike was not seen by our team but others found it back up the valley. My luck with seeing Great Grey Shrike’s carries on. Well the one in Clocaenog Forest is much more reliable to see, we were told by a group of Greater Manchester birders. We went to a couple of raptor watch points but were inundated by lots of Ravens, Buzzards, Red Kite’s, then after a slog up a mountain path we arrived at the highest point in the forest. Great views, but next to no birds and not a glimpse of the Great Grey Shrike that we were told had just been seen by 2 leaving birders! The sun was now shinning as we headed for the coast for our third call at Rhos point, this year, to search for Purple Sandpiper. As usual they were not present or showing themselves. Now comes the duck part of the title, one of our team has not caught up with Surf Scoter yet. We have called at Llandulas to search the enormous flocks of scoters for the Surfies but have always failed. Today we thought our luck was in, as we saw 4 Velvet Scoters and the large flock of birds were coming closer inshore, but,as luck would have it, some prat in a boat sailed right through the centre of them and scattered them all away, thanks pal! After we had added Red Breasted Merganser we decided on a last call at Burton Marsh, Cheshire. Upon arrival, I said that it would be a little early for the Short Eared Owls to be out hunting and of course up to 3 birds were quickly found. One of which was a really pale bird, that we have seen before. A Peregrine on a post and lots of Little Egrets were also seen. We headed for home having all added at least 4 species to our year totals. The day was a real success and the early start was rewarded with watching the Black Grouse “Lek”.
Dave O.

Imagine getting the news from RBA website at 10-30pm on Sunday night then going to work on Monday morning and seeing the message, “Cream -coloured Courser in Herefordshire”. It was put on the website at 10-56pm on Sunday night when most people were in bed! Enough of that, the red mist of the twitcher begins to decend/ascend. I quickly text all likely people who might accompany me, no replies. Looks like a solo effort then, work are very understanding as I head for the door. Reaching home and steadily get all my gear together I head for the petrol station and set my sat nav for the Kington, Herefordshire area. I have never done any twitching in this beautiful county before. Then Bob rings and says “I cant make it today you go and get the bird, I understand, we will go tommorrow”, I ring Mark Gibson and he cant get out of work, so off I go! Leaving Rochdale by 10-15am and after various sat nav moments, large waggon convoys, generally dozy drivers and along with lots of ‘A’ roads I reach the highest golf course in England (1100 feet) at about 1-00pm. A kind lady directs me further up the hill as I try to park the car with a little less stressful walk up to the trig point, I pass lots of smiling birders and ask “Is the bird still here then?” The only answer I want to hear is yes, it is. Over the hill and what a splendid view looking from England into Wales only a mile away. The next splendid sight was an adult Cream-coloured Courser feeding in amongst the gorse, it has been well worth the effort. A flock of sheep were used as good markers to put people onto the bird as it ran around and caught insects. About forty people were present and enjoying great views of this much sought after species. Apart from the juvenile bird on the Scilly Isles the last really “twitchable” bird was way back in 1984. I watched the bird for about an hour then it flew about 70 yards and landed in the middle of a fairway, it was close enough for me to get a couple of snaps through my telescope! In flight the bird had all dark underwings and its upper primary and secondary feathers were also quite dark with hardly any trace of these feathers when the bird was on the ground. It was difficult to drag myself away from the bird, but,at 3-10pm I had to go, it had been two very memorable hours! I managed to see Red Kite on the way home. I also managed to get embroiled in the confusion after an accident in Craven Arms as I tried a short cut along a single track road that only the “locals” use. What a trip it was, I managing to reach home by 7-00pm doing 315 miles in the process. I would be followed by the rest of our squad into Herefordshire the morning after and they also enjoyed the bird, well done lads!

Dave O (Back to being the Stig again lads, you missed the fun Steve K)