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Brough Haven/Welton Waters

9 Aug

9/8/16 Went to Brough Haven on Tuesday morning. Over the 30 years I’ve worked the area it has had some decent birds including American and Pacific Golden Plovers and Pectoral Sandpiper as well as good numbers of less rare waders among them the Yorkshire Little Stint record. Unfortunately recent years have seen much of the mudflats grown over banishing the thousands of waders once seen at this time. I also suspect realignments including the relatively close Alkborough Flats have provides a better draw for birds. Lastly there just doesn’t seem that many waders these days.

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Brough Haven close to high tide.

Arriving the tide was very high but a small area mud at the entrance to the haven had probably the best flock I’ve seen there for a while with 15 Ringed Plover accompanied by 4 Dunlin.

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Ringed Plover and a Dunlin at Brough Haven

The forecast wasn’t too promising so set off east towards Brough Airfield then Welton Waters immediately, along the path we jokingly called “even longer drag” in tribute to the area now covered by Saltholme Pools RSPB on Teesside. Three Common Sandpipers were roosting on the wooden ‘pier’, as they regularly do on autumn passage.

Last visit the reedbed was full of Reed Buntings as well as Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler and this year joined by a good number of Bearded Tit, but post breeding there was little to see or hear. Had a Painted Lady but didn’t bother to stop for a picture with them being numerous this year. Also a few Common Darter and Brown Hawker.

Reaching Airfield Marsh, apart from the resident Greylags, there were c75 Lapwing and 18 Curlew sitting out the high tide. No sign of any Marsh Harrier though. Like the haven this area has also declined in interest with the reedbed becoming too extensive and only a small area of water visible with none of the muddy edges where passage waders and Garganey used to be seen. On the positive site though some important bird do breed in the reeds.

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Black clouds over Brough Airfield Marsh.

It was looking black towards the west so only risked a quick look at the pits at Welton Waters before heading back. The rest of the week looks better so may get back for a proper look. Only birds seen were a family party of Mute Swans on both Brough Angling complex and watersports pit.

The weather held with the blackest clouds moving to the east so had time to scan the Humber to the west from the Haven. No Marsh Harrier towards Crabley Creek but the bulk of the Whitton Sands Barnacle Goose population seemed to be in the area.

The weather broke not long after I got in.

Eurasian White-fronts at High Eske NR.

10 Oct

Been a while since I’ve posted. The summer nights make it difficult to find the time and not been much to provoke me to blog recently. With my three weeks holiday coming up I expected to do something soon. Hasn’t started well. Began my holiday with the vehicle having an over long trip to the mechanic, but as I had a bad cold and the weather was bad wasn’t too much of a problem. The number of migrants on the coast was a worrying though. Report of Lanceolated Warbler and Pine Bunting at Spurn Point fortunately came to nothing though.

8/10/15 With an improvement in the weather and myself on Thursday, went for a walk with the dog in the fields off Priory Road in the morning but the only migrant was a Chiffchaff. A late Common Darter was interesting but we’ve not had a frost yet.

Late afternoon was back mobile so headed to Brough. Had a male Stonechat by Brough Airfield Marsh [a pair seen recently].

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♂.Stonechat-Brough Airfield Marsh

Other than a cream-crown Marsh Harrier nothing else of note there. c150 Tufted Ducks at Welton Waters on watersports pit. Best count I’ve had for a few years since they put dye in to the kill off the weed. The inevitable consequence is reduced food for wildfowl which are put off by the opaque water anyway. Also a few Mallard and Gadwall. Had a good look through the tuftie flock but found nothing else. Greater Scaup have been regular in the past and one record of Ring-necked Duck. Walked back along Common Lane. A few Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff were encouraging but failed with their rarer cousins.

10/10/15 Went to High Eske NR on Saturday morning. Good numbers of Wigeon, Mallard and Tufted Duck but nothing rarer amongst them. Looking through the large Greylag flock, including several white domestic geese and intermediates, thought I had a juvenile White-fronted Goose but lost track of it. Walked the path round the back looking out for passerines but never located a tit flock. A few Migrant Hawkers still. Headed for Leven Canal head but only a few Common Buzzards seen and a Little Egret by the river. Back at the reserve thought I had a Lesser Redpoll but flew out of view then I was distracted. A mass exist from the pit made me suspect Kayakers, who had caused me grief earlier this year, and was glad I was on my way off. Noticed eight geese circling on their own which looked and sounded different. At least one was clearly an Adult White-fronted Goose from the breast barring and the others were certainly not Greylags. Kept on them hoping they would land again or at least give up their identities. Eventually landed in the south east corner so rushed to check them before they were disturbed again. Passed a young couple fishing, presumably the cause of the disturbance. All the 400+ Greylags had returned so took a while to locate at least eight Eurasian White-fronted Geese, both adult and juveniles. Fortunately seemed settled and got a few pictures.

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White-fronted Geese are regular during winter at High Eske NR including earlier this year. Like Whooper Swan, which also winter regularly, though ones in October may just be passing through. Of interest a Tundra Bean Goose was just to the north at Watton NR, adjacent to Tophill Low NR with two Pink-footed Geese. Also a Great White Egret was seen flying south along the river at Tophill Low NR. Need Bean Goose and Great White Egret for High Eske NR.

A trip to the other side-Spoonbills +Grayling

4 Aug

After my afternoon out with RL on Tuesday I struggle to get out the rest of the week due to pressure of work.

30/7/15 Manage to get up to Nut Wood & Wauldby Scrogs Woodlands Trust reserve early Thursday evening. Always hard work for birds and this time was no different but did photograph an interesting hoverfly- Scaeva pyrastri . A migratory species that arrives in variable number but in some years none.

DSCN8469Scaeva pyrastri-Nut Wood & Wauldby Scrogs

1/8/15 Find East Yorkshire too frenetic during the school holidays and last summer found North Lincolnshire much quieter [both birders and non-birders] and spent a lot of time at
. Like having Blacktoft Sands RSPB to yourself. Saturday was a better day at work and with several Spoonbill at Alkborough Flats head there mid afternoon. Started raining along the the Humber Bridge approach and had to decide whether to stop and put over trousers on or continue with the hope that it was just a shower. Kept going and the rain was short lived. Didn’t fancy walking too much so went to the disabled car park. The last bit involves a steep decline and on a bike you have to be aware of the loose gravel at the bottom. Managed to see the Spoonbills before I got to the hide so knew the journey was worthwhile. Initially so close to the hide that they were partially obscured by vegetation but everything was regularly disturbs by a Hobby hunting low over the lagoon and they became more lively and even took flight a few times.

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Spoonbills-Alkborough Flats

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Eventually they settle to feed.

Large numbers of Avocet on site. Up to 900 counted recently and think close that number were on the whole site.DSCN8485

Large number of Avocets at Alkborough Flats.

Others waders include good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits and few Spotted Redshanks, Ruff and Green Sandpiper. Also several Water Rail “squeaking” unseen below the hide.

The heavy rain finally arrived but in a break I made it to the tower hide where it started up again even heavier. Not much to add to the day but had some close Little Egrets.

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Little Egrets-Alkborough Flats

Only on viewing my pictures did I notice one was colour ringed but couldn’t make out the details.

Also saw the Barnacle Geese that breed on Whitton Sands but, possibly due to the poor light, not the Ruddy Shelduck seen recently [and last summer].

The rain finally stopped and I made a hasty return to the car park. Fortunately stayed dry on the way home.

Getting in had a message from SG that a Glossy Ibis was on Brough Airfield. The first record for the site. Getting late and didn’t think I’d have much time before the light went but tiredness also helped the decision.

2/8/15 The Glossy Ibis was seen again early morning and went to look for it with RL but despite spending over two hours circling the marsh there was no further sign even with the help of Dave Hursthouse. In the past have kept to public rights of way  but local dog-walkers show no problem trespassing so see no reason birders should be so law abiding anymore. Such behaviour would have brought a rapid response from BAE security a few years ago but they seem to no-longer care.

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Cinnabar moth caterpillar-Brough

Early afternoon went to Conesby Quarry with ML and RL. This site is north of Scunthorpe along Normandy Road. Parked outside Blue Lagoon NR and crossed the road. The target was Grayling butterfly. Not an initially appealing site not helped by the gypsy camp early on. Also the sound of motorcycle engines was off putting. Joined by the couple I got the information from yesterday and learnt that noise was actually the Scunthorpe Speedway Stadium. However this wasn’t the only source as there were several dirt-biker including one who took pleasure in repeatedly buzzing us at high speed. Others give us verbal abuse. Not an area I’d visit on my own. Also on week days there are regular HGV’s as the concrete railway sleepers for London Cross-rail project are made at the factory by the quarry.

Initially lead astray by Meadow Browns.

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Meadow Brown-Conesby Quarry

On reaching the quarry the Graylings found us, visiting each of us in turn for minerals from sweat.

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Cryptic Grayling-Conesby Quarry

Also found a new moth for me. Gillmeria ochrodactyla and G.pallidactyla are only reliably separated by present or not of banding on the hind-leg tibia. Can’t do this from the photo but being on Tansy make the former more likely.

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Likely Tansy Plume on food plant

Vipers Bugloss  near Scunthorpe 020815a RL

Vipers Bugloss-Conesby Quarry-RL

Went on to Alkborough Flats.

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Peacock butterfly caterpillar-Alkborough Flats

The last high tide has been a big one and the site had flooded. Five of the Spoonbills were again present but waders numbers were low.

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Spoonbills-Alkborough Flats-showing increase in water level since Saturday.

Had a Kingfisher flying close to the hide. Also an immature Marsh Harrier, that had been surprisingly missing from yesterday’s list. Didn’t see the Montagu’s Harriers, breeding at Blacktoft Sands RSPB, but haven’t been seen as often as last year.

DSCN8600Marsh Harrier-Alkborough Flats