Posts Tagged ‘Short Eared Owl’


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A trip to a place that I always enjoy visiting was on the cards now that the major autumn rush has finally ended. It was to be a solo trip, as the rest of the A team seem to have “mothballed” their binoculars for the year. A late starting time of 8-30am on a cold, but pleasant (for late November) morning had me at Burton Mere on the Dee estuary by 10-00am. A large group of Whooper Swans were feeding in the distance, but no sign of the almost resident Cattle Egrets. In the reserve centre, news of the Water Pipits was positive so, after meeting up with Kevin Hughes, Bill & Marie from Macclesfield, we made our way out to see them. On the way there a female Hen Harrier was seen and a close Little Egret, good start to the mornings birding. We were soon enjoying views of about 6 Water Pipits in the company of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails. They kept us entertained, as did Kevin who began speaking welsh when another birding pal Ian Evans from Denbigh walked into the hide. A few old birders “tails” came out and we all had a good laugh. Myself & Ian walked out up to the old fort lookout over the Dee estuary, by now it was a little cooler but visibility was great with Point of Ayr, Hilbre Island clearly visible. Up to 3 Marsh Harriers, 2 female Hen Harriers, Great White Egret and finally after about 30 minutes, a hunting Short eared Owl, great birds to watch at any time!

We headed back to the reserve centre for a warm up and then I went back to my car to try to find the location of a female Smew on Newchurch Common near Sandiway. It looked a little awkward so I decided to go down onto Denhall Lane and continue watching the Dee estuary. In about an hour, as it was getting cooler as I left, I saw: – 3 Short eared Owl, 1 Buzzard, 3 Marsh Harrier, 2 female Hen Harrier (missed the male Hen Harrier that had been present) 2 Kestrel, missed a perched Merlin. There was a lot of Little Egret`s around, I counted around 20 birds. Headed for home around 3pm enjoying my cars heater all the way!!

Dave O.

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Just myself and Steve K out for another east coast trip (think that`s 6 trip`s to Spurn this year?) Steve K drove and we departed a dark and gloomy Rochdale at 6am. We reached Flamborough just before 8am after seeing very little traffic. We started with a sea watch after descending the ever narrowing path down to the head (glad it wasn’t slippy) A few of the regulars were already there, Brett etc. Within 15minutes a Balearic Shearwater was seen and what followed was an almost constant passage of Great Skua or Bonxie`s to give them their Scottish name. They seemed to be in family parties of 4 or 5 at a time nearly all heading south. I have never seen so many Great Skua`s at a 2 hour sea watch before, quite fascinating! 4 Sooty Shearwater in single`s all headed north, around 3 Arctic Skua`s seemed to be chasing anything smaller than themselves around. 9 Red Throated Diver`s, 300+ Gannet`s, lots of auks (no Little yet Steve K)Fulmar and a few Common Scoter made up an excellent sea watch. With our legs regaining some circulation we headed along the coast heading south and soon found a male Velvet Scoter close inshore. Lots of Goldcrest`s landed at our feet having made it across the sea and they all began feeding in the low vegetation, these little bird`s really have to be admired. A Great Grey Shrike was pointed out to us by a Greater Manchester birder, thanks Mark. News of a Siberian Stonechat in a set aside field close by was checked out and the bird was soon located and gave very good views. Looked like a real fall of birds was in progress as we saw lots of Willow Warbler`s and more Goldcrest`s in the bushes leading towards Old Fall Plantation. Then talk about being in the right place at the right time, the Dusky Warbler had been re-found in the same area. The bird could be located by its call, but as all Dusky Warbler`s like to stay well hidden did not show really well until it sat in a bush for about 5 seconds. We followed the bird along the hedge for about an hour and the crowd had grown to about 20 birders as we left. As we made our way back to the lighthouse a Short-Eared Owl put in a cameo performance for us as it hunted for its breakfast. Well what a cracking morning`s birding that was! Refreshments at the car and then a decision to head for Spurn to try to catch up with Pallas`s Warbler and American Golden Plover (which would be a lifer for Steve K) It`s not a long way, but it can be a difficult journey, so, when we got behind a man towing a boat, a horsebox and two caravan draggers the pace really flagged. Upon arrival at Spurn, well the Crown & Anchor pub in Kilnsea really, a small group were admiring a bird high up in the tree`s. We dashed along and were soon admiring a cracking little Pallas`s Warbler, we watched the bird on and off for 35 minutes. Could it get better? We enquired about the American Golden Plover just down the road towards Easington and were told that it did fly away but may well return to the same field to feed. Within 5 minutes of leaving we were watching the plover as it happily fed on its own giving reasonable views. A lifer for Steve K and a great way to end what turned out to be a really good day`s birding. The lads from York were there also and we had a good laugh with them. We left Spurn area around 5pm and managed to watch a Tawny Owl fly across the M62 in fading light. We got home by 7pm after a long and enjoyable day!
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”.
Regards,
Dave O.


On what could probably be our last trip of 2012, apart from any major “twitches”, it was decided to visit one of our favourite places, North Wales. Our target bird was, as the title implies, the Surf Scoter, as one of the team has yet to connect with this species. Up to three Surf Scoter’s have been present in the Llandulas area, but, along with 5/6000 (I think) Common Scoter, can proove difficult to pick out! Myself, along with Chris & Steve Brown left a dark and misty Rochdale at 6-30am and as it got lighter the mist cleared and apart from a small rain flurry a nice day was in prospect. We reached a new viewing area above the quarry in Llandulas and were soon joined by other birders looking for the Surf Scoter’s, after an hour we had drawn a blank. Time to try to catch up with another species that has thwarted us this year, Purple Sandpiper. Rhos-on -Sea point has had quite a few Purple Sandpipers in the wintertime in the past, so, as it was high tide it was time to try. Lots of Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Dunlin were sheltering on the rocks upon our arrival and Steve was already taking pictures of them, then we found a single Purple Sandpiper only 4 yards away, it was a really nice bird and it give two of us a new bird for the year!

The 80 + Waxwings in the shopping area of Llandudno was our next port of call,we saw a lot sat in the tall trees in the area but none were very photogenic. We met an “old” twitching friend of ours from Wales, Ian Evans. We all had a good chat, and then after a check of Ian’s pager we learned that the Surf Scoter had been seen again at Llandulas. Off we go again, Chris got to know the way there and as we arrived there was no-one watching anything? A few other birders assembled in the hour we tried to find the bird, but with just a Velvet Scoter for our troubles, it was not located again (Bummer). It appears that you just have to be lucky to drop onto this bird from this watchpoint. At this point I told the tale of watching one just fifty yards from the rocks many year’s ago, sorry lads. Well, at Conway RSPB, a couple of Firecrest’s had been seen in the morning, perhaps we could catch up with one of these little beauties? We firstly tried the carpark and then spent a while near the pond seeing Redpoll, Dunnock, Blue & Great Tits and Goldcrest but no Firecrest. We headed back to the car, apart from Chris, who was answering a call of nature, luckily for us he heard a “crest” then saw the Firecrest. He rounded us up and we enjoyed good views of the bird, along with a few of the RSPB staff who wondered what all the fuss was about. At this point one of the North Wales birders told us that the Surf Scoter had been seen again, (Bummer X2) we thought,”Third time lucky” and of we went again. Guess what even with a few more birders we didn’t manage to see the bird. Ah well. It lives to be seen another day. The traffic on the busy A55 had ground to a halt, just as we decided to leave, due to a vehicle crash, so, we had to join the long line of traffic that was diverted off through Abergele.We managed to reach Burton Point at the bottom of Station Road and had a nice walk back towards Shotton. We managed to see about five Short-eared Owls, one having a go at a Merlin way out on the marsh. One of the owl’s came quite close and was really stunning. The count of Little Egrets going to roost had reached about 30, when we began to recall how a single Little Egret was such a rarity 25 years ago, we much be getting old? It was time for home, but as we reached Two Mills traffic lights, not far from Burton, another crash had occured and slowed our progress. We got back home at 5:30pm and all had enjoyed a good day’s birding, well apart from the Surf Scoter!

Regards,

Dave O.


Another year nearly gone by and another Spurn trip,this time for a long weekend,it was to prove eventful to say the least!! Me and Bob K left Rochdale at 6:30am and headed for Stone Creek, Sunk Island area, Humberside, no easterlies blowing, so, nothing really special was expected. We managed a few common raptors but, for me, the 15 Roe Deer moving around the area were really nice. Off to Patrington Haven to see lots of waders next, but there were hardly any birds there at all. Time to check out anything interesting on a rare bird site we thought, the news was, “Pallas`s Grasshopper Warbler at Whitburn, near South Shields”, I know they are real skulkers but we had to go for it, didn’t we?. Bob took the wheel and got us towards York, then a dart up the A19 and into Marsden Quarry, Whitburn. A mere 160 miles from Spurn. Upon arrival no sightings since 2:05pm and it was 4:30pm, would we be lucky? A few birders on site showed us the area the bird had been seen in and one man said the bird is in this clump of grass, but, as hard as he tried it wouldn’t fly out. By 5:50pm as the light began to falter and we left for Spurn, did we feel like we had made a wrong call on this one, what would we have thought if the bird had be sat out like it had been earlier in the day, no, it was a real good trip and we were really due to “dip out” on a bird sometime. We got to Patrington chippy at 8:25pm and enjoyed fish and chips and by 9:00pm were sat in the club at Sandy Beaches Caravan site enjoying a few pints of bitter, with Steve and Chris Brown, Billy Jackson and Martin Quinlan who thought we might have fancied a cup of PG Tips, nice one boys! Saturday dawned and a good breakfast was had, now for some proper birding! A trip along the point was soon abandoned, with news of a Tawny Pipit near Easington Lagoons, but, as we made our way the bird flew off towards Sammy’s Point, so we had a go for it there, but, no joy. Bob K. got a few going with a possible Woodlark (Martin had heard one on Friday evening as he arrived) again to no avail, a few nice birds around here though, Yellow Wagtail, Yellowhammer, Lesser Whitethroat and a steady passage of Redwing. News of a Bearded Tit in the canal area got us all going, a Spurn tick for all, I think! As we arrived the bird was “pinging” away and when it showed, it was a cracking male bird. A Jack Snipe from the Canal Scrape hide and then 2 Short Eared Owl’s patrolling the canal area made it feel like a “mini Scillies”. A trip down the point finally revealed a really smart Yellow Browed Warbler and after a seawatch we headed back to the caravans for our evening meals and a few beers, plus an interesting debate about global warming. Sundays birding began with a trip to the point, only interesting bird was a model doing a photo shoot in rather skimpy clothes with a backdrop of the old lighthouse, very nice! The YB Warbler was still showing and a look at Chalk Bank revealed a few missing waders from our trip list. We had a look at Beacon Lane pools and used the new footpaths in the area and admired the new lagoon area, not much on the old lagoons, apart from Brent Geese and Wigeon. After we packed up ready to set off for home, the Tawny Pipit again showed itself at Easington Lagoons, got to give it another go then. Upon arrival the bird promptly flew away and none of us saw it leave, ah well a good way to end another excellent trip. 93 species seen and 4 year ticks for myself,very good trip( would have been excellent if PG Tips would have been seen on Friday)

Dave Ousey.


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!!

Regards,
Dave Ousey.


Blast-off 6:30 – Dave ‘The Stig Ousey’ at the wheel. We are off for two reasons 1) Some good birds in Lincolshire. 2) Somthing on the tele? we have to miss. Dave manages to keep the speedometer below 100 – most of the time..Good man. One time he tries to get the car on two wheels. As the tyres stop screeching Dave says “I like to throw things about abit sometimes”

Immingham North-West from Grimsby on the Southern side of the Humber. Two days ago a Collared Pratincole took a liking to these small ponds. This is likely to be the bird that was seen at Spurn the previous weekend. Collared Pratincoles look like large chestnut & black coloured Swallows. A good looking bird we have all seen abroard. For me this is a Lifer for Britain, having dipped out twice before. It’s a chilly morning with an easterly wind blowing into our faces. No sign of the ‘Prat’. Other year ticks here Snipe and Little Grebe. Once again Whitethroats all over the shop. After a 40 minute wait, ‘the Prat’ shows it self close bye. Jaws drop, cameras click, broad smiles for all. The bird put on a magnifcent show – ‘Leaching’ (Bob’s term for flying like a Leach’s Petrel) for bugs and landing in view for minutes. A lovely bird, appreciated by all.

Collared Pratincole

Back on the road again. We leave behind a plume of dust as we blast off for Tetney Lock, 36 miles away. Tetney looks out across the Humber Estuary directly opposite Spurn Point. We quickly get  Two Short Eared Owls quartering the saltmarsh. In a ploughed field We see Seven Dotterel sitting low, keeping out of the wind no doubt. Behind us a small drain has attracted some Yellow Wagtails. No sign of what we really wanted to see though a Tawny Pipit. It has been seen here since the previous weekend. But not today, or  since. A common Sandpiper makes its way on to the list. Loads of Whitethroats ..again.

Covington Res. next stop. A large res that should attract some stuff..but not today. Time for Plan ‘B’.

Blacktoft Sands. still glorious sunshine. The usual Marsh Harriers are displaying. We count 68 Avocets on one of the pools. Briefly, five Whimbrel fly through. And that was it. On the way home we call in at..

Weeton, Nr Harewood for Red Kites. We count nine in one go. Some managed to glide above our heads. Always appreciated seeing these Red Kites. Then Home. A great days birding by all.