Posts Tagged ‘Yellowhammer’

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 Red breasted Goose had turned up in Norfolk with a large quantity of Pink footed Geese in December. It didn’t stay long in Norfolk and was relocated in North Lancashire in the Cockerham area. Myself and Steve B decided to have a go at seeing it and left Rochdale at 7am on a cool morning. We called at Fishmoor Reservoir, Blackburn to try to catch up with a couple of white winged gulls that had been seen there recently, but as it was still fairly dark we headed up to the Cockerham area. Lots of geese flying around was a truly great spectacle as the sun began rise, we checked a few of the large flocks out but could not see anything except Pink footed Geese. We headed down into the Thurham area and found a flock of around 300 Whooper Swans with 4 Bewick Swans also seen. A field also contained about 6 dodgy looking Canada Geese, after watching them we realised that they were not moving, then a man appeared and picked them up, they were decoys! A message said, “Red breasted Goose just flown over Sand Villa near Cockerham”. Off we went to try to connect, but on arrival, true to form, the bird had flown out onto the salt marsh! Now for some real birding as we spent a couple of hours sifting through the main flocks and finding: – 11 White fronted Geese (Russian) 2 Bean Geese (Tundra & Taiga) Barnacle Goose, lots of Curlew, 2 Buzzards. Great fun watching the geese push each other around whilst most of them just wanted to feed. We met up with Sarfraz & Paul, fellow Rossendale birders, who both needed Bean Goose. They managed to be put onto the Bean Geese by Rob Creek (GM Birder) well done Rob.

Up to 50 birders were scattered around the area waiting for the Red breasted Goose to reappear, so we decided to have a look at the Lane Ends, Fluke Hall, Eagland Hill & Bradshaw feeding areas. We soon found lots of Tree Sparrows, Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank. As we arrived at the eastern end of Eagland Hill we located a flock of Chaffinch and a few Yellowhammers, Corn Bunting and then Steve B said, “There is a Great Grey Shrike in that bush” and sure enough, there was! Grab the cameras and take some pictures, some other birders arrived and also saw the shrike. Well done to Steve for finding the bird, we picked up Red legged Partridge as we headed back towards Cockerham. We gave the flocks another good grilling, then at 3pm we decided to leave the area and return to Fishmoor Reservoir to try for the gulls once more. As we were reaching Fishmoor the Red breasted Goose reappeared at the same place we had been watching at around 4pm, isn’t that typical.

At Fishmoor it was very cold but about 6 hardy souls were busy looking through the big flocks of gulls as we arrived, one said, “The Kumliens gull has just taken off” and we just could not get on it as it headed for the Walker Steel roof and out of sight. After about 10 minutes, I began to watch a gull bathing in a peculiar fashion and it had no black on its wings, it was an adult Iceland Gull, I suddenly had lots of people asking for directions and wanting to use my scope. I have not seen many adult Iceland Gulls before and really enjoyed watching it. Another 5 minutes went by and I saw a large white bird land on the reservoir and again began to wash in a peculiar fashion, dipping its head in the water and rolling its wings in the water as if to dive, like a Guillemot does when it dives(hope that helps) It was a juvenile Glaucous Gull. Again I had found a good bird and gave directions to people who wanted to see it, fame at last! Steve B was by now frozen and really wanted to go home so that he could go out and drink some freezing cold lager. I bade farewell to the hardy souls at Fishmoor, who said that I must return soon! Got home by 6-15pm after a really enjoyable days birding in Lancashire.

Dave O.

With the lads from York needing the Pallid Harrier for a Yorkshire tick, it only seemed right to join them on their quest for the bird after many failures. The bird has been frequenting the area around Welwick since early November, apart from the odd trip across the water to see what Lincolnshire had to offer. We met at North Cave at a civilised time around 9am, news that the bird had been seen at 8-15am sort off made us visit the site first. We arrived at 10am with the news that the bird flew west and had not been seen since. It looked like we would be in for a long wait!
Lots of birds were seen in the area with Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Redwing, Fieldfare, Starling and Stock Dove. Once the birds of prey began to hunt the marshy area the place seemed to come alive. Kestrel`s, Buzzard, Merlin, Marsh Harrier and a cracking Sparrowhawk all were seen hunting. The hours rolled by on a very pleasant day and the birder`s began to arrive in the hope that the star of the show a juvenile Pallid Harrier would put in an appearance. Some of Greater Manchester`s finest birders were also in attendance and I had a good laugh with them. At around 2-10pm a harrier was seen, the bird sat in a distant bush and allowed all the telescopes to focus on it and to all decide that that was our bird, the Pallid Harrier. The bird remained on show for around 30 minutes distantly hunting the saltmarsh chasing and nearly catching a Curlew then a Pheasant. Really nice bird to watch. A supporting cast of 4 Short eared Owls were also a delight to watch them hunting. The light was now beginning to fade rapidly and it was time for home. The 4 hour wait for the harrier was well worth it and Mark K and Nigel S both had a new bird for their Yorkshire list!

Dave O.

After a very unusual week at home, it was really good to know that I have a lot of friends around me to tell my troubles too. So, when Bob K asked me to go out on Sunday, I could not miss the opportunity. A nice Steve K type start time of 9am with Bob at the controls, we headed for Broomhill Flash not far from Old Moor N.R. A Barn Owl was seen then a lovely Kingfisher flashed past. A small group of Black tailed Godwit`s in brilliant plummage were also seen.

Next stop Hatfield Moor N.R. with the hoped for Hobby and various dragonflies. It was nice and sunny by now as we passed through Doncaster. We parked up and began to explore this large nature reserve. Another perched up Kingfisher was found, but not long enough for Bob to get a picture! At the veiwing platform across from where a 2nd World War plane had crash landed, we had a rest and enjoyed the sunshine. Not many birds or much really happening. In the hide a smart Yellowhammer was seen.

Next stop Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve, we made our way around starting at the Alkborough end. Quite a few Marsh Harriers where in the air at once, always nice to watch. A couple of Bearded Tits were seen dashing about feeding their young family. The real highlight came when a lady said that there was a Peregrine Falcon in the distance coming towards us with prey in its talons. As the bird came fairly close towards us we soon realised that the bird was a Hobby! At the Goole end I expected to see lots of Avocet`s and guess what, not a one was present on the reserve. The presence of 10 Spotted Redshank, some in cracking plummage, was another highlight. Blacktoft is still one of my best northern nature reserves to visit, certainly over the warmer months. We got home at 6pm and really enjoyed the day after a very bad week at home. Thanks Bob K.

By way of a change four A Teamers did an afternoon/evening/night trip in search of a few birds that we would have normally seen on our annual Norfolk trip. We are not going this year unless something “good” turns up. The weather forecast was not to promising as we departed Newhey at 3pm and headed along the M62 into Yorkshire. Our first stop was Sutton Bank visitor centre, we had hoped to see some Turtle Doves that usually come in to feed around the centre after it closes. After a discussion with the centre manager, who told us that he has not seen the doves since earlier in the week we decided to check the area out. Lots of Yellowhammer and a few Siskin were the highlights. We met a fellow birder by the main road that passes Sutton Bank, who informed us of a place to see Turtle Doves and told us that where we were stood will be a good spot to watch the Nightjars in the evening, thanks for the information!!

We reached the place that the birder had told us and we immediately saw a Turtle Dove sat on overhead wires, result! We searched around the area and counted up to six adult birds flying, calling etc. We all really enjoyed the birds as they perched up and “sang” to one another, at one stage we had four birds all perched together. We obviously kept at a safe distance from them, not wishing to upset their “courting” habits. A Yellow Wagtail and more Yellowhammers were also seen in this unusual location. Wood Pigeon, Stock & Collared Doves were also present. We managed to prise ourselves away from this spot and headed for the coast.

At Bempton Cliffs, Chris B hurriedly saw the seabirds that he wanted to get on his list for the year, then suddenly stopped and said, ” I had forgot what a stunning place this is to watch the birds”. With the reserve having been given a major facelift it is much easier to see the rows of Kittiwake, Razorbill, Guillemot, Gannet, Fulmar and of course the star of the show Puffins. With no wind and an eerie mist just hanging off shore it gave the place an unusual feeling about it.

Last call of the day was back to Sutton Bank for the promised Nightjars. We had originally planned to call at Wykeham Forrest to look at any birds of prey in the area, but, the low mist and negative reports by birders had us heading for Sutton Bank. We all looked for a chippy that was open, in any of the small towns etc that we passed through without success. As we climbed up towards our final stopping place light rain was falling and it was misty. We all did not give ourselves much chance of seeing / hearing the birds, but all said “Well they have to feed”. After a ten minute wait listening to Woodcock, a Nightjar began “churring”, excellent. Up to three birds flew around in front of us in pretty grim conditions. Wonder what its like on a warm, dry night? We left the birds at around 10-45pm and reached Rochdale by 12-15am. We must do that trip again,soon!

Dave O.

With the weather prediction being okay anoth trip was organised by Chris B. So, with Chris at the wheel, four A Team birders left Newhey at 6am. Our plan was to meet up with Nigel from York at Strensall Common. At 7-30am we reached the common and set off to the area we believed was the right place. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was busy drumming away on a tree, then a call from Nigel had us heading in a completely different direction. After a trudge along a muddy path, we finally met Nigel. He had heard Woodlark singing a little while ago he told us, so we waited. After around 45 minutes with Linnet and Skylark`s seen, another Woodlark was heard and we headed in the direction. We watched and listened to it singing on top of a silver birch tree, very nice. A drive up to Wykeham Forest near Scarborough was next, Nigel also met us there and we enjoyed distant but good views of, at least 3 Goshawk and lots of Buzzard all displaying and chasing each other around, Tawny Owl also heard calling, thanks Nigel for your help. On the journey back to the main road a beautiful Yellowhammer male was seen and heard in song, its really spring now! A long drive north and west was next, to call in at Shaw Farm, Arkengarthdale. We usually manage lots of hill dwelling birds in this area, but, apart from distant views of the Black Grouse, we could not locate any others? Birding can be really hit and miss cant it. Final stop was Buttertubbs Pass to again look for hill dwelling birds and again without any luck, lots of Meadow Pipits though.We headed for Rochdale, arriving at a very late 6-30pm. Thanks Chris for driving through all that beautiful countryside, very enjoyable trip out.

Dave O.


The birding scene has been fairly quiet this winter (lets hope for a biggy soon) so, we decided to try to see some of the birds that where in our county. Again almost a full A Team left Rochdale at 6am and with rain in the air, we headed north. I drove in my “new” Nissan Quashqai (think that’s how you spell it) its really comfortable and as 3 of the team are now pensioners we need to look after ourselves! We first called at Sizergh Castle, which was stolen from Lancashire in 1974, to see Hawfinch, the rain was still falling but even after a good search no Hawfinch were seen, we don’t often fail here? Well off to Leighton Moss and the weather improved rapidly. The ex warden on the reserve, John Wilson was present and he told us he had not seen the White Fronted Geese that we had come to see, yet. A few Avocet were present though, no Ruff or Spotted Redshank were seen either. At this point I must offer my sincere apologies to Bob K for not giving him credit for having seen a couple of Yellowhammers on the feeders going down to the Allen Hide, single observer sightings are always looked upon sceptically and Bob K did also see the same species at Astley Moss a few weeks ago, it all worked out right in the end. As we searched the fields at Leighton Moss for the geese a small flock flew towards us, what luck, they were the White Fronted Geese. They were watched for a good while and really enjoyed. We walked to the public hide and watched a couple of Marsh Harriers hunting, always a good sight. A call in at Warton Crag revealed Raven & Peregrine Falcon and lots of Jackdaws! At Conder Green the tide was in which allowed us to easily find the resident Spotted Redshank still in winter plumage. At Cockerham we searched for the large flocks of Pink Footed Geese, but found them landing near Pilling Lane Ends along with lots of waders and resting on the salt marsh. Singles of Red Breasted Merganser & Brent Goose were also seen at Pilling, cracking place with the tide coming in. At Bradshaw Lane / Eagland Hill feeding Stations lots of Tree Sparrows, Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers were seen, knew we would see them eventually Bob K! We had a little look around for a Barn Owl in the area, but no joy. A Black Redstart has been in the Newton Le Willows area for a couple of weeks, so we decided to give it a go as it was on the way home. After finding the right area we searched for 20 minutes but had no luck. We all had a good day and all saw a minimum 9 species to add to our year lists. Spring is on its way boys.

Dave O.

A mini trip around Greater Manchester with myself and Steve K leaving Rochdale around 8am. The weather was kind to us with the recent snow having been washed away in most areas. Binn Green near Greenfield (ex-Yorkshire) was first up and the expected Red Grouse were soon heard then seen with a Raven for company overhead. The feeders around the car park at Binn Green were very busy as 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers chased each other around, lots of tits & finches but no Brambling or Siskins. We headed for Heaton Park Reservoir were a very strong wind welcomed us as we balanced on the wall and looked through the fence. Our target species here was a Long Tailed Duck, as 3 had taken up residency on the reservoir. Lots of Teal, Goldeneye, Goosander and a couple of grebe species were found along with a small amount of gulls, As we both searched the water we found a single Long Tailed Duck but did`nt find the other 2, it happily floated around preening, perhaps it had been on the bank? On Rindle Road, Astley Moss the hoped for Yellowhammer or Treecreeper sightings never materialized but a large flock of Redwing and lots of Reed Bunting were seen along with Kestrel, Buzzard and a large flock of Jackdaw were noted. Pennington Flash held its usual amount of noisy people and good birds and fun with the car parking ticket machine! Even a group of grown men “playing” with toy cars on the car park did`nt stop us both enjoying this good place to birdwatch. A trip to most of the hides, but, in Bunting hide, a few pictures were taken as the birds fed quite close to us. The highlight was the 2 Water Rail`s that kept coming out to feed near the Moorhen`s and Stock Dove`s, good entertainment, along with a Willow Tit lots of finches, tits, Nuthatch and Blackbirds were really enjoyed in the dull winter weather, A return to Rindle Road around 3pm did not add any other species to our list. We both saw around 9 species for our year list. At home by 4pm to watch the magic of the FA Cup unravel more strange results. Nice days birding and close to home.

Dave O.

Our almost annual trip to Moore local nature reserve in Warrington was well attended this year, apart from one of the lads choosing down rather than feathers! We met at 6am in Rochdale and with myself at the wheel arrived at Moore around 7am. It was cold but we had the reserve almost to ourselves. After we had all spread out and began to search for the sometimes hard to find Lesser Spotted Woodpecker a Greater Spotted Woodpecker & Green Woodpecker were soon heard. Then the much quieter and more rapid drumming of our target species was heard. The bird was only about 15 yards away and happily fed amongst the mossy/lichen covered branch of an old tree before landing 30 yards away and beginning to drum, great views! Its a smashing reserve for various species and worth a visit if you are ever in the area. A few more birders were arriving by now and we told them what we had seen. As the tide was around 11am at Liverpool we decided to visit Richmond Bank to search for the various type`s of gulls that are usually present. The tip area were the gulls visit closes around midday so the earlier the better we all thought. So by 8-45am we met another 6 “gullers” and began our search through the many birds present. Conditions for viewing were excellent and within 5 minutes of arrival a juvenile/first winter Iceland Gull was found. It remained in view for our 2 hour stay! Then a  Herring Gull that looked like a Yellow Legged Gull was seen, until a really well marked Yellow Legged Gull gave itself up, what a nice example. Next up an adult type Caspian Gull was seen. Long “spindly” legs, slim parallel bill. black beady eye on a tapering head shape were some of the noted identification features. Round about this time Steve B (who has a small attention span with gulls & wildfowl) just happened to point out to us all a Glaucous Gull flying down the river, well done Steve! By this time the River Mersey was beginning to push the birds off their roost areas and as we all watched the tidal “bore” the sound was quite spectacular, most of our team have never seen or heard this before. We believe it was to do with it being a 9.9 metre tide? An Iceland Gull was seen flying up & down the river as the river area was completely covered by now. We called in at an area along the East Lancashire Road (A580) to see if we could see any Yellowhammers and managed to find one. We managed to get home around 1pm and all had enjoyed the half day trip, all seeing around 7 new species for the year.

Dave O.

With Bob K making a shed and trying to earn “browny” points the other four members of the A Team headed for the hills of Yorkshire. The weather over the last couple of weeks had been like traditional summers were, hot! The plan was to search the hills for Ring Ouzel a species that has eluded us all up to now this year. So on a warm Sunday at 6am we set of, it was a bit misty in places as we passed through the Settle area. We reached an area around Buttertubs Pass and began the search and after we had sifted through lots of juvenile Wheatear and Meadow Pipit there on the opposite hillside was a male Ring Ouzel perched out on a rock surveying his area,what a gem, bird of the pennines! After a call at an area well known for having Black Grouse in springtime we made our way towards Wykeham Forest which is around 8 miles west of Scarborough. We did’nt see the grouse by the way but there were lots of the Red one’s. We called in at a place that had Marbled White butterflies present , but, finding the entrance fee to be £7.00 we decided against it, we are from Lancashire by the way, were do they dream these prices up? At Wykeham the search for Turtle Doves began. We visited the area a couple of times last year and between us only saw one bird. Well as soon as we got out of the car one bird began “purring”, I had almost forgotten what the sound was it is so long since I have heard it. Then two birds landed in a tall tree and began being friendly. As we searched for more Turtle Doves, Tree Pipit and Yellowhammer were seen. Probably the same two Turtle Doves were seen again in flight whilst the single bird was still calling. So at least 3 birds were present. At the raptor watch point Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Raven, Spotted Flycatcher and high flying Goshawks were seen, but not the hard to find Honey Buzzards. The first test match between England and Australia was coming to a nail biting conclusion and as we all listened to a ball by ball commentary the end, when it came, was greeted with happiness amongst the 15 or so people there! After about 1 1/2 hours we decided to head for home and arrived home at a decent hour. We all managed at least three new birds for our year list. Very warm trip!
Dave O.