Posts Tagged ‘Shore Lark’

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.


With two of the “A” team needing to see the Pacific Diver that has been present at East Chevington, Northumberland for a while and with the promise of fine weather, we arranged to go. We met in Newhey at 6am, a time that our driver Steve K seemed unfamiliar with having had to miss his regular large breakfast. Myself, Bob K & Chris B made up the numbers. We made good progress using the satnav in Steve`s car, even allowing for some of its eccentricities, we reached the car park at Druridge Bay at 8-50am. We had a good look at Ladyburn pool first and could not find the diver, so we headed for its regular haunt, North pool. The weather was really nice and sunny, but not that warm. We soon found the Pacific Diver and all enjoyed its diving and preening in the sunshine, handshakes all around then. We called into one of the hides and had good views of a few Scaup and eventually saw the Slavonian Grebe, a bird that I have not seen for a few years.
After a slog over the sand dunes we found a flock of around a 100 Twite, Bob K went and got a few good pictures of them. We did a bit of sea watching and saw: – Guillemot, Razorbill, Red Breasted Merganser, Shag, Common Scoter & around ten Red Throated Divers, a few Sanderling, Ringed Plover also. After 40 minutes or so a single Skylark began singing and seven Shorelark flew onto the beach near the Twite, we really enjoyed watching them for the short time they were there. Some really nice birds at this reserve and lots of people out enjoying the weather.
We decided to go and have a look at the long staying Eastern Black Redstart at Skinningrove, Cleveland. We reached the area after a bit of my dodgy navigation (as I had been before) we got to the bird’s favoured area and apart from: – Rock Pipit, Stonechat, Robin & Wren, the bird was nowhere to be found. A few early returning Fulmar entertained us high up on the cliffs, but after 30 minutes most of us returned to the car for refreshments, apart from Bob K. After a long search of the area he had found the Eastern Black Redstart and it was now back in its normal place on the rocks, well done Bob. The bird performed very well for us all and lots of pictures were taken. On our way back to the car Chris B casually mentioned that he had not added Pine Bunting to his British list. Next stop it is then.
After a very long slog over the hills south of Whitby, which are very picturesque, also with lots of Sunday drivers, traffic problems etc our chances of seeing the Pine Bunting had gone. We did go to its daytime area at Dunnington, near York, but it was too late as all the birds had gone to roost. We headed for home after a really good days birding at around 7pm.
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.


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.