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Twitching Waxwing with Wilbur

20 Mar

20/3/17 Got a text from RL early afternoon about 23+ Waxwings in Hull at the Junction of Hotham Road South and Wold Road. Had been raining heavy all morning and Wilbur was restless for a proper walk so as it was only a small diversion to my Willerby Carrs walk [see here] took this route. Met another regular dog walking birder and thought he was going to follow me but he baulked at going down the very muddy Wood Lane. Got a message that the Waxwings had flown but on arriving found MU photographing some with his mobile phone through his telescope. Only four left and just got in one shot before they flew behind shops and didn’t return by 4pm.

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Waxwings on Wold Road, Hull

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Carrion Crow off Wold Road eating what appears to be a Woodpigeon squab.

Apart from a flock of Fieldfare that alighted near Haltemprice farm I had little else of note although there were still a few Wigeon and Teal on flashes north of Carr Farm and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen regularly.

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Wilbur at the back of Springhead GC

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat in Cottingham

18 Mar

A Lesser Whitethroat was found in a garden near me last week.

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The garden in Cottingham

As this is a well watched garden it’s interesting to think where it spent the rest of the winter. Following circulation of photographs it was confirmed as a likely Eastern or Siberian race. Following a confrontation with a Robin it lost a feather. A feather, hopefully the same one, was later retrieved and forward to Martin Collinson for gene analysis ,so with luck the exact race will be known. I was lucky to be able to see the bird twice this week.

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Eastern [Siberian] Lesser Whitethroat

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Eastern [Siberian] Lesser Whitethroat

Unfortunately as the bird can only be seen from with in the house and there is no nearby public area where it might be seen I am unable to give anymore information. Even parking for few cars would be very difficult. Fortunately we’re only talking about a race! If I’m ever lucky to find a similar bird in my garden I have the advantage ample parking nearby.

Still present on Tuesday 28th March.

Birding from the new Tophill Low NR Visitors Centre

12 Mar

12/3/17 Went to Tophill Low NR with ML and RL on Sunday morning. Started in D reservoir Middle Hide. The long staying female Long-tailed Duck was still present but kept close in the the near side so was difficult to see and even harder to photograph.

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Female Long-tailed Duck on D reservoir.

The main purpose of the trip was to attend the meeting of those volunteering to help out in the new Visitors Centre. I’ll gloss over any details of the place as Richard will do a better job and some of the more interesting features are yet to be completed. The main room of visitors centre features full height windows over looking the reservoir but because of the essential anti-birdstrike coating they aren’t optically perfect. They give a good panoramic view but to get a better look or take pictures the adjacent ‘members hide’ is essential. Only has a fraction of the capacity of the now demolished Carpark Hide but being higher and nearer the reservoir the viewing is an improvement.

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Pair of Red-crested Pochard on D reservoir

Also can again view the reservoir with out the long muddy walk to Middle Hide.

There are feeders viewable from a side window and these seem fine for photography.

 

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Siskin on Visitors Centre feeders.

 

A few Chiffchaff are now singing but couldn’t hear the one by South Lagoon on the way out. Nothing else of interest reported on the reserve but with migrants; including Garganey,  Little Ringed Plover and Sand Martin; seen in the county this weekend, things should get interesting soon.

 

Short-tailed Vole at Raywell

14 Feb

14/2/17 I visited Raywell for likely fifty years and birded there since the mid eighties. Since The Woodland Trust took it over the woods there, in 1991, they are now known as Nut Wood and Wauldby Scrogs. Too be honest birding there is hard work and I mostly visit in winter when time is limited and it’s too cold to bother going any further. This was the case Tuesday afternoon and after the recent cold wet period I needed an excuse to get the bike out.

First checked the path to the north by Trinity Farm hoping for farmland birds but it was very quiet. Walking back towards the woods kept seeing a brown shape moving it the grass nearby. First thoughts were a foraging Robin, Wren or Dunnock but getting closer could see it was a small blunt faced rodent. From the location it had to be a Short-tailed Vole. It was very approachable and was regularly dashing from under a hedge to feed in the grass but was usually just an obscured brown shape but eventually got a clear enough view to get one decent picture.

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Short-tailed Vole-Microtus agrestis-Raywell

Had seen a lot of winter thrushes on my last visit in January but today only had one Fieldfare, near the vole. There were a lot of Blackbird though and at least one Song Thrush. Also plenty of Great and Blue Tit but although I heard a Marsh Tit couldn’t locate it. A brief male Bullfinch added some colour. Walking back through the woods had a striking fungus, Scarlet Elf Cap, fortunately one of the few I can identify with confidence.

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Scarlet Elf Cap-Raywell

 

 

Geese at Hornsea Mere

4 Feb

4/2/17 Went out with RL and ML early Saturday afternoon. Started at Swine Moor where there was still 1400 Wigeon and 260 Teal but again the only waders were a few Redshank. Next checked Fossehill Pond and nearby roofs but couldn’t find any white-winged gulls. Spent the rest of the day at Hornsea Mere. Started with Wassand Hide where on entering RL called out a Bittern, which we all managed to see before it dropped into the reeds. Had at least five Marsh Harrier, often giving close views.

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♀.Marsh Harrier from Wassand Hide at Hornsea Mere

I checked the distant ducks in Decoy channel and found two Long-tailed Ducks. While watching them a second Bittern flew in from the east and again lost it close to where the first had gone in. A second year tick was added when ML called out a Jay flying over. Next round to Kirkholme Point. Found nothing new but on leaving I saw some geese just past the gate.

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‘Goose stepping” Greylag with a Tundra Bean Goose and several Russian White-fronted Geese at  Hornsea Mere

On a closer inspection  we found, among the Greylags, 34 Russian White-fronts, then a Tundra Bean Goose with two Pink-footed Geese.

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Russian White-fronted Geese at Hornsea Mere

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Tundra Bean Goose with Russian White-fronted Goose at Hornsea Mere

Went round to Seaton Road Hide where ML found a close Long-tailed Duck followed by a second less well marked bird.

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Long-tailed Duck at Hornsea Mere from Seaton Road Hide.

Although the original birds were distant it seemed likely these were different birds. Maybe because of the charm conditions the gull roost was very small.

Hornsea gulls

11 Jan

11/1/17 Went to Hornsea Mere with RL on Wednesday morning. Although windy viewing wasn’t too bad but couldn’t find the Great Northern Diver or Long-tailed Duck [see here]. Best of it was Peregrine lingering around Swan island and occasionally half-heartedly stooping at Black-headed Gulls. Moved round to Kirkholme Point where I found a Norwegian ringed Black-headed Gull.

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Norwegian ringed Black-headed Gull-Hornsea Mere

Moved to the sea-front where recently a few white-winged gulls had been seen. Picked out a Glaucous Gull on the sea off the Leisure Centre car park. Flew towards us then headed north. Went in hot pursuit and eventually, after been regularly flushed by dogs, it settled on the beach below the northern car park, remembered by long time local birders as previous site of the sea-watching shelter. Seemed happy and got close enough for some decent pictures.

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Juvenile Glaucous Gull-Hornsea sea-front

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Sanderling-Hornsea sea-front

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Turnstone-Hornsea sea-front

We headed north, checking the sea at a few sites, as far as Barmston but found nothing else. On the way up again failed to find any geese in the Low Skirlington area. Headed back south to Fosse Hill Pond where we added a first winter Mediterranean Gull as well as Kingfisher.

Year List: 93

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1w Mediterranean Gull with Black-headed Gull-Fosse Hill Pond

Finished the day back at Hornsea Mere hoping for another white-winged gull.

Great Northern Diver at Hornsea Mere

7 Jan

7/1/17 A Great Northern Diver was found on Hornsea Mere by JC mid morning. RL and I were planning to do the gulls there anyway and it was a site tick for ML so headed for Kirkholme Point early afternoon. A birder there had seen it recently but had lost track of it. We started looking with out luck and were about to give up and when I noticed an sudden disturbance among the ducks and Coot with no obvious cause. Thought it would be the diver so called the other two back and ML picked it up,close to where the birds had moved from. Came fairly close although the mist didn’t help but we all got satisfactory shots.

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Great Northern Diver at Hornsea Mere

Moved round to Seaton Road Hide to try and get the diver from there but failed. Had tried with out success to see the Long-tailed Ducks from Kirkholme Point and there was even less chance from the hide with the mist getting worse.

Year List: 77

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Mist over Hornsea Mere

No point doing the gull roost so left early but had time for our first look at Swine Moor in 2017. As in recent winters there was plenty of water. Counted 1600 Wigeon and 500 Teal.

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Wigeon on Swine Moor-RL

Also a large number of Lapwing with smaller sums of Redshank and single figures of Dunlin and Snipe; the latter a year tick.

Year List: 80