Posts Tagged ‘Smew’

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


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

Just myself and Chris B for a trip to the east coast with me driving. We met in Newhey at 6am and arrived at Flamborough at 8am with the roads nice and quiet. The weather was dull at first and becoming sunny around midday. There had been some good birds during the week with easterly winds and good sea watching. It had all changed on Sunday as after an hour, apart from lots of Gannets, a solitary Arctic Skua was our seawatching total! News of a Wryneck and a Barred Warbler in Thornwick Bay (near the lighthouse) had us looking for them. The Wryneck showed really well after a while and the Barred Warbler remained hidden. Lots of more common species where around which made the birding much more pleasant, after the springtime double dip of the Crag Martin (think that really hurt me). A trip to Old Fall Flash to see a Little Stint was next, along with a close encounter with 2 Roe Deer, who just ran through a hedge at the side of me! Two Greenshank also on the flash and lots of bathing large gulls. Time to leave the area and have a look out for other raptors in Wykeham Forest just west of Scarborough. Perfect conditions for raptors, but, in the hour Hobby, Sparrowhawk and a single Buzzard was all we saw! News of a White fronted Goose at Fairburn Ings (even though a bit dodgy) was our next stop and and after a good search around only a very large flock of Greylag Geese was apparent and no White front. We lastly visited a reserve that I have only been to once in the last 20 years, Swillington Ings. It used to be known as St Aidans Flood/Flash and was a dissused open cast mining area you could always guarantee things like Iceland & Glaucous Gulls and lots of Smew. The area has really changed and is ready to be taken over by the RSPB. There are lots of footpaths around the large area with lots of people using them and with lots of effort will be transformed into a great nature reserve in time. We called in here as there was a Black Tern in the area, the only hide was visited, access along Fleet Lane. We went into the hide and 3 of the local Swillington Ings members were present, they made us feel very welcome and even gave, yes gave us each a copy of their yearly report! A Spotted Redshank was seen and the lads told us how to find the Black Tern at the other end of the reserve, we had a good laugh with them and as time was against us we went along Astley Lane to where the very large “Drag Crane” is. This will be the RSPB visitor center area as it has a large carpark. The Black Tern was found after 10 minutes of searching and was really enjoyed after missing out on a couple of birds during the day. We reached home by around 6-15pm and both enjoyed our trip seeing 4 new year birds each.

Dave O.

Lots of reports of unusual gulls in the Anglers/Wintersett country park area’s had us organising a trip out on Sunday. Only Steve B missing, sunning himself in the middle of the Atlantic! After a late start, well 7:30am, we left Chris B’s home and headed over the hills into Yorkshire. We reached Wintersett, and it was a little icy and quite misty so we walked over to Anglers. The Long tailed Duck showed pretty well and the mist began to break up, we had a plan to return to the area for the gull roost later in the day. Another look at Wintersett revealed two handsome drake Scaup and a few Grey Partridge. The “boatmen” had begun to arrive at Wintersett, so we left the area like the bird also did. We headed to Old Moor RSPB reserve for the reported female Smew along with a supporting cast of Brambling, Yellowhammer & Tree Sparrow. We managed to “clean up” all the target species at this very well supported reserve. Lots of people out on an unusually warm February day! Next stop was Edderthorpe flash, but,unfortunately the light was against us, so not much seen here apart from our first singing Skylark of the year, what a gem! Back at Anglers for the gull roost and a well filled bird hide saw us all get a seat and wait for the action. A Yellow-legged Gull usually appeared at 3:20pm, but it was early today and we all enjoyed great view’s of the local “bully” chasing even bigger birds around the water. This bird was a lifer for one of our number and most appreciated by all. A concerted effort was now required to find a Kumlien’s Gull that had been appearing most late afternoon’s in the roost. To a full hide, one of us found a gull with no black on its tail and a pale grey back and said, “Have a look at that gull”. The bird was watched and photographed and lots of interest shown in it and it was pronounced, by the local gull expert’s, that, that was the bird we think is a Kumlien’s, result! After so much excitement in the hide another chap came in and said, “The Caspian Gull is showing on Wintersett Reservoir”, off we went again through the mud and tangled undergrowth. There was nobody looking at the large gathering of gulls as we arrived, we said , “We will find it ourselves, we have a picture”. After about an hour and as the gulls had multiplied ten fold, all we had seen was the Yellow-legged Gull again and lots of candidates for the Caspian Gull but nothing we all agreed too was the bird! It was getting cold so we left the reservoir all agreeing that we had enjoyed the gull roost, we must do it again. We reached Rochdale by 6:30pm all of us with at least 6 year ticks in the bag. A memorable day out.
Dave Ousey.

An American Wigeon at Wintersett Reservoir near Wakefield was a lifer for one of our number, so, a trip was planned with a reasonable “supporting cast” to bolster our year totals. We reached a windy Wintersett and began sifting through lots of wildfowl and after a muddy trudge, we didn’t manage to locate the American Wigeon.” Lets try Anglers country park then”, which is only 200 yards away. Again lots of birds but no sign of our quarry, so, after 2 hours we began to think the bird had departed due to the strong winds of last night. We were then told that the bird was showing very well on Wintersett, and, you guessed it, we had to wade through the mud yet again! The bird was picked out and we were happy and after exchanging a few pleasantry’s. With Kevin Hughes and his friends from Cheshire we headed for Pugney’s Country Park, also in Wakefield. We had hoped to locate a juvenile Great Northern Diver but as we arrived the bird had been flushed off by the “plank balancers”, strange hobby that one! We had a good look around the immediate area for the diver but without success. A cracking male Red Crested Pochard was found though. We headed off to the other side of the River Calder to Calder Wetlands and managed to find a moulting male Smew, what a beauty he was! A quick check on RBA news revealed that the diver had returned to Pugneys, so did we. We then managed distant views of the bird as the “plank balancer” numbers had decreased (hopefully not due to drowning or freezing to death) In the end we managed to see all the species we had gone for but didn’t we have to work hard for them!

The Stig