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After the Beast from the East

12 Mar

5/3/18 Filling the feeders on Monday morning it felt more springlike, helped by my resident Blackcap starting to sing. No sign of the dog so headed to Welton Waters. My first visit of 2018 and with reports of Smew, Scaup and Slavonian Grebe on the opposite side of the Humber at Barton Pits I hoped for something interesting. As usual parked on Myrtle Way and took the path to the across the airfield. A few Curlew there and Skylark singing. Reaching the flood bank set up to scan the airfield and adjacent marsh. A few Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Coot on the marsh and on the recently created ‘scrape’ a few Redshank and Dunlin, the latter a year tick. Walking east had a few Goldeneye on Brough Angling Complex. Next was watersports Pit but this apart from a small number of Mute Swan and Mallrd was empty not helped by a few sailing boats. There were a few Black-headed Gull at the far end and looking closer picked out an adult Little Gull, another species that had been seen in small numbers last week. With little to be gained from continuing east I walked Common Lane. Had a good number of small birds including Bullfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Since taking over, the now, Brough Angling Complex, Hull and District anglers have shown if anything hostility to birders so was pleasantly surprised to see a feeding station set up near the entrance gate, attracting a good number of birds including Reed Bunting and Greenfinch. Had a Cetti’s Warbler singing by the small pond. Walked east along the road to view the area of watersports pit not visible from Common Lane. No new birds but was fortunate that the now two Little Gulls were feeding close in.

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Adult Little Gull-watersports pit, Welton Waters

Walking back to my bike had two Stonechat on the fence enclosing the building site of the new school. Unfortunately while I had my camera out they didn’t return to the fence so had to make do with shooting them through the mesh, perched on vegetation. I had seen one nearby late last year.

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Stonechat-Brough

6/3/18 Tuesday morning headed to High Eske NR hopefully for a more complete coverage that my last visit. Still several Russian White-fronted Geese, although exactly how many I wasn’t sure as despite eight birds flying off, including a bird that may have been a Bean Goose, I again counted the regular seventeen birds on the water.

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Russian White-fronted Geese with Greylag Geese-High Eske NR

An Otter was feeding at the north end but I decided to walk to the south end then around the back. A Cetti’s Warbler was singing in the bushes but didn’t flush the Woodcock that had been seen for a few weeks on Pulfin NR. This time made it to Leven Canal. The two Whooper Swan were still to the west on Arram Carr and found a Stonechat on Leven Carr. Back at High Eske NR the Otter was showing well and also had a drake Pintail with the Wigeon.

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Otter-High Eske NR

A quick look at Swine Moor added Redshank and Golden Plover to the site year list.

7/3/18 On Wednesday the dog went back to his usual routine so had a morning walk. Nothing different from our normal birds but had a very relaxed Brown Rat in Oppy Wood that somehow was missed by the dog, probably too obsessed by Rabbits.

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Brown Rat-Oppy Wood, Cottingham

Was genuinely warm. Headed to North Cave Wetlands in the afternoon. My previous visit had been little more than a twitch of the Green-winged Teal so today I headed up Dryham Lane so to avoid wasting time on it. Found an adult Mediterranean Gull on Main Lake then spent a while waiting with out luck for Siskin by Far Lake.

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Near summer adult Mediterranean Gull-Main Lake, North Cave Wetlands

While checking reedbed was called by SG, from Turret Hide, he had the Green-winged Teal as well an adult Mediterranean Gull [later proved to be a second bird on comparing photos]. I had a good number of Teal which were pushed into the open by a low flying Marsh Harrier so now knew I didn’t need to look at them too well. Joined SG in Turret Hide and were lucky to see the recently regular Barn Owl.

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Drake Green-winged Teal-Island Lake, North Cave Wetlands

On the way out we checked the fields near the entrance and added Red-legged Partridge then a distant Stonechat on Dryham Ings. Had noticed a good number of birds on Church Pond on the way in so stopped to have a look on the way home. Plenty of Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Wigeon and a few Little Grebe. Had a couple of Kingfisher on the far bank, one of which flew closer and was last seen sat high in a large tree, higher than remember seeing one before. Just before SG arrived I found the drake Mandarin that had been resident at the Wetlands all of last year among the tree roots.

9/3/18 After a wet Thursday, Friday morning was again warm and although again like Wednesday turned cooler in the afternoon I headed to Tophill Low NR. Started in the visitor centre and had the Glaucous Gull on the same section of D reservoir straight wall as on my first encounter. Got a record shot and would have tried to get closer walking up the road but it decided to join the other gulls on the reservoir so after a quick look at the feeder without seeing Brambling or Lesser Redpoll by the centre pond I headed south.

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Juvenile Glaucous Gull-D reservoir, Tophill Low NR

Work on South Marsh East had finished and had a few birds, unlike on previous visits this year, including returning Oystercatcher. On Watton NR had three Pintail [two drake and a female] as well as a fly over Marsh Harrier which I saw again on my second visit to South Marsh East. Did the D reservoir gull roost and added Lesser Black-backed Gull but failed with Mediterranean Gull but as the gulls were at the north end of the reservoir so weren’t easy from the centre hide. Also no sign of the Glaucous Gull but it doesn’t always appear in the roost. Had a distant Peregrine over D woods.

 

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My first {brief] visit to High Eske NR in 2018.

21 Feb

2018 continues to be cold and wet and I am still struggling to do anything more than walk the dog but the last few days were forecast, at least, to be a bit milder. Wasted Sunday morning on a reported Siberian Rubythroat in South Yorkshire at Bramwith Lock. A bird of my dreams having chickened out on a twitch to Shetland a few years back.  As I would struggle to get there on my own so I took up the offer to go early morning with SM and SE. This would have paid off if it had been seen anyway as the parking was limited and I must admit the navigation would have been difficult with out a satnav. Wasn’t a total waste of time as I added Jay to the year list and the regular Goosander fly overs were nice. The authenticity of the bird has been well debated. My thinking is although a hoax is never out the question [proved by a fictional American Robin in London the same day] the report of several sightings over a few days does make me wonder what actually was seen. No photo doesn’t help as a female Siberian Rubythroat isn’t a straight forward bird. Anyway it’s not been seen since so no point wasting anymore thoughts on it.

Monday was a wash out and Tuesday, with the strong cold wind, kept me to our regular walk to Lawns Farm.

21/2/18 Wednesday, the wind at least had gone but heavy rain mid morning wasn’t promising. However set off with the dog expecting an early return. Walked through the The Lawns Centre then round the playing field behind. The weather didn’t seem to want to make it’s mind up. It was quite warm when the sun got out but black clouds kept building. Head to the Millbeck Wildlife area where I made up my mind to head home and get out early afternoon. The choice was North Cave Wetlands, to add to my small list from the the Green-winged Teal twitch, or make my first visit of the year to High Eske NR. The first would at least give me shelter but it was the cowards choice so headed to the second. A rainbow over the area wasn’t a good sign but it was dry when I pulled up at High Eske Farm. Little in the orchard so didn’t waste any time and quickly headed down the track to the reserve. With DH now on twitter I know what is about. Quickly picked up two of the Russian White-fronted Geese with the Greylags then the other fifteen in a separate flock of their own.

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Russian White-fronted Geese-High Eske NR

Otherwise there was the usual few hundred Wigeon, a few tens of Goldeneye but only a few Mallard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe. No Coot reflecting the situation last year when numbers were very low throughout. One of Oystercatcher pair had returned. No confidence in the weather so headed north to check the fields to the north for the Whooper Swans. Added Kingfisher to my year list over the north end of the pit. Saw two distant swans just after I left the reserve behind. Got the scope on them and confirmed they were the yellow billed birds I was looking for. Continued towards Leven Carrs but the rain started again becoming heavy as I hurried back to the farm for shelter. Added a few common species as I waited for the shower to pass. Went home via Weel Road to do Swine Moor. As expected there was plenty of water, holding a few hundred Teal and Wigeon and a pair of Shoveler but none of geese from last year. Also the only waders were a few tens of Lapwing. A fairly poor start to the year list but the amount of water should make spring at least interesting.

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Swine Moor from Weel Road, Beverley

 

 

2017 in 12 pictures

2 Jan

Intro

The beginning of the year was interesting, reflexed in the number of posts, but in contrast to 2016 there was a very poor return wader passage followed by a predominance of westerly winds leading to little interest on the Yorkshire coast then winter has, so far, been very poor for rarer wildfowl. Thus the blog has been quiet the second half of the year. I have not posted in Cottingham Moths this year. I started but due to technical problems lost the first post and never bothered starting again. It was a poor year anyway but a few highlights will feature below. I hope to start again next year, maybe with a different approach.

January

Although not a great picture this shot of the male Hooded Merganser at Barr Loch, Renfrewshire on the 21st was a desperate tick for me. Only seen two previous but the first in Nottinghamshire [can’t remember the date!] was an obvious escape on first site, the second at Scaling Dam, Cleveland felt more reliable initially but was quickly deemed an escape also. Always a tricky one to judge but this one had been around a few weeks and hadn’t given any reason to be damned. Also having arrived in late 2016 I only had to wait 9 months for the BBRC to deem it kosher.

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Drake Hooded Merganser-Barr Loch,Renfrewshire-21/1/17

February

In a fairly quiet month February I go for a mammal in a Short-tailed Field Vole at Raywell. See here for the full account.

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Short-tailed Field Vole-Wauldby Scrogs, Raywell

March

Two close contenders for this month but as one appears in the”top ten viewed posts” for the year I will go for the male Pine Bunting at Dunnington near York. One of my bogey birds having had untickable views of one in South Yorkshire and missed another at Filey after it was flushed by a dog then for the fields to be shut, like much of the country, because of Foot and Mouth. Originally saw the bird in January, a few days after it had been found, on the way back from the Hooded Merganser. Wasn’t too happy with the views, in fact wondered whether I should have counted my first unticked bird, but a return visit 7th March provide much better views when it showed regularly in a hedge with finches and buntings in good weather and to a smaller less excited crowd with no-one flushing the bird in an attempt to get the best shot.

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Male Pine Bunting-Dunnington, N.Yorks.

April

April was poor for birds so Shoulder Stripe moth caught on the 9th, a first for me, is this month’s picture

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Shoulder Stripe moth

May

Early 2017 was very good for white-winged gulls so with little else of note this month I go for the Iceland Gull that give great views at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point for a few weeks in May and June.

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Juvenile Iceland Gull-Hornsea Mere

June

Best bird this month was Black-browed Albatross at Bempton Cliffs RSPB. Missed one in October 2016, setting off too late for the Eastern Crowned Warbler, which was followed by several fly throughs but none lingering in 2016 before one on 28th June decided to hang on long enough for RL and I to make a less than hectic trip and despite it departing as we reached the cliff top gave us tickable but not photographical views. Also earlier in the months on the 11th saw Elegant Tern at Pagham Harbour which was beyond useful photographic range. Had seen one in Ireland at Lady’s Island Lake,Co.Wexford in July 1999 so a UK tick but as this one was previously ringed France also a known Elegant Tern. Had two new moths durning the month so the more photogenic, Scorched Wing is this month’s picture.

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Scorched Wing moth

July

Probably the best month of 2017. My choice is the Pacific Golden Plover at North Cave Wetlands on 21st. A site tick and my first since the Brough Haven bird almost 17 years to the day. Full account here.

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Pacific Golden Plover-North Cave Wetlands

August

This month’s picture is another moth [making up for not posting in Cottingham Moths this year!] This Magpie Moth was found in hedgerow north of Millbeck Wildlife area in Cottingham on 11th. A first for me and the Marsh Harrier that flew over at the same time was my first for the village.

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Magpie Moth-Cottingham

September

This month it’s the Ryhope Scops Owl. The Lewis American Redstart was the other candidate but the fact the owl was totally self twitched pushes it to the front. Full account here.

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Scops Owl-Ryhope, Co.Durham

October

Although a let down compared with last year October still offered a few choices. If I’d got a picture of the Richardson’s Cackling Goose at Budle Bay, Northumberland, that would have been the obvious choice, but without the Great White Egret at High Eske NR is the the next best, being surprisingly my first for the site and only the second certain record despite the number of records just north at Tophill Low NR. First seen on the 3rd, the photograph was taken on the 7th. Found another at North Cave Wetlands on the 4th where the possibility of it being the same bird continuing south did cross my mind but but subsequent multiple sighting the area proved this unlikely. Only added the species to the latter site list on 24th September.

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Great White Egret-R.Hull N.of High Eske NR.

November

This month it’s a Little Egret, not a rare bird but still an unusual bird to see in your local park. Taken on the 7th it was often seen along a drain by Millhouse Woods Lane Water Works in Cottingham until the freeze in early December [including some non birder fellow dog walkers]. Possibly a different bird was seen on the other side of the village in fields south of Haltemprice Farm in December.

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Little Egret-Millbeck Wildlife area, Cottingham

December

Little choice with the last one as the pair of Stonechat present in Willerby at Haltemprice Farm {Abbey} ruin since October were the only nature photographs I took this month. The species winter here most years. More here.

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Stonechat-Haltemprice Farm, Willerby

Top 10 posts of 2017 [viewing figures]

1. Birding from the new Tophill Low NR Visitors Centre

2. Scops Owl in Co.Durham

3. Eastern Lesser Whitethroat in Cottingham

4. Stejnegers Stonechat at Spurn Point From 2016 likely boosted by the Stonechat’s upgrade to full species from 2018

5. Scarborough A day of winter birding with plenty to see.

6. Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR Another from 2016 reflecting the interest in the site. No Pec Sand in 2017!

7. Eastern Black Redstart in Skinningrove From the end of December 2017 so most of the interest was in early 2017.

8. Geese at Hornsea Mere

9. Great White Egret and other stuff at Tophill Low NR

10. Twitching Waxwing with Wilbur A dog-walk/twitch to Hull.

Great White Egret at North Cave Wetlands

24 Sep

Last year at this time there were enough birds. particularly waders, locally to keep life interesting. So far this month it’s been hard going at my sites. Choose High Eske/Pulfin NR as my Patchwork Challenge site but so far it’s not pay off with many previously tied on birds not yet recorded. Added nothing this week despite visiting every other day. Nearby at Swine Moor it’s been slightly better finding a Garganey on the 21st.

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Garganey-Hornsea Mere

 

However the waders have been disappointing with just Ruff, peaking at 13, and the occasional Dunlin or Redshank.

Did Hornsea Mere on the 21st where a few Little Gulls were still around the jetties and my first returning Pintail off Swan Island.

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Little Gull at Kirkholme Point-Hornsea Mere

Also had two Bearded Tit briefly under Wassand Hide and a late Hobby nearby.

At Tophill Low NR on the 22nd only managed 2-3 Green Sandpiper with a Barnacle Goose [of unknown origin] on Watton NR.

On walk to Creykebeck substation with Wilbur on the 23rd was bit of a raptor-fest, the highlights being a Hobby hitting finches at Lawns Farm and Peregrine near Millhouse Woods Lane pumping station, although the latter may have had jesses.

Sunday morning I had planned to do Welton Waters in hope of seeing a few Bearded Tit. However got a text from SG about a Great White Egret at North Cave Wetlands. Not even a year tick but although there are a few previous records it would be a site tick for me. Didn’t panic though waiting for The Andrew Marr Show to end. Getting there the Egret had gone over the bank to the back of Main Lake. As distant as it was possible to be but did my best with the camera.

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Great White Egret on Main Lake-North Cave Wetlands

Some debate about whether it was the bird recently seen at Tophill Low NR [see here] but I remember the one I’d seen having pale legs when the current birds are almost black. There have been several records recently anyway including one at Hornsea Mere the same day I was last there. Moved on to Crosslands Hide, usually the best chance for waders, but was very quiet. In fact apart from Lapwing the only waders on site were the large number of Snipe on Island Lake and a brief Dunlin.

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Snipe on Island Lake-North Cave Wetlands

Had earlier seen a falcon, more likely Peregrine than Hobby, spooking everything off the north fields.

Pacific Golden Plover at North Cave Wetlands

22 Jul

21/7/17 Spent Friday morning at High Eske NR. Again nothing new but at it was peaceful, without the teenagers who tend to invade on warm summer days. Took in Swine Moor on the way back. Despite some good rain yesterday it was drier than on Tuesday won’t be worth looking at again before some prolonged rain. May be some hidden pools nearer Barmston Drain which I may check next week.

Getting in saw a probable Pacific Golden Plover was at North Cave Wetlands. My previous Pacific Golden Plover was found by RL and spent much of July 2000 at nearby Brough Haven. My first was on the opposite side of the Humber at South Ferriby in 1993, yet again in July. Checked the reserve Facebook page to confirm it was at least a Lesser Golden Plover and therefore worth ignoring Wilbur’s demands for a walk. Getting there mid afternoon had reasonable views over the gate on Dryham Lane.

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Pacific Golden Plover on Cell A-North Cave Wetlands.

It moved close to Crossland’s Hide but before entering was I distracted by a group viewing an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the silt lagoon. Had a look at it among Lesser Black-backed before they all got up and on re-alighting the Yellow-legged wasn’t to be seen. A Caspian Gull had been found so I went into the hide where luckily most were still looking the other way at the plover. The Caspian was easily found, being the only large pale gull among the Lesser Black-backs with no Herring Gulls present. Was shortly joined by JH who’d also viewed the plover from Dryham Lane. After taking a few pictures of the Caspian, and the Yellow-legged Gull not reappearing, I decided to get back to take Wilbur out instead of visiting the rest of the reserve.

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Caspian Gull with Lesser Black-backed Gulls on silt pond-North Cave Wetlands

Managed to find a Smoky Wainscot on a thistle in fields off Dunswell Road but typical of this time of year the birds were hard work.

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Smoky Wainscot-fields off Dunswell Road-Cottingham

The plover flew high south after I left and didn’t return by dusk.

 

Long-tailed Duck bonanza at Hornsea Mere

15 Nov

14/11/16 Went to High Eske NR on Monday morning. Walking north had seven Whooper Swans on Arram Carrs opposite Leven Canal entrance. Checked Leven Carrs from the river bank then walked the canal as far as Waterloo bridge but no sign of the eight Short-eared Owls seen on Sunday. Usually find late afternoon best for Short-eared Owls but was tied up later [see below]. Weather permitting will try again later in the week.

15/11/16 Went out with RL and ML on Tuesday morning. Started at Hornsea Mere Seaton Road Hide. At this time of day the light makes viewing the south side difficult and we failed to find the Smew in it’s usual place. We did though have the regular White-fronted Goose family swimming out from the shore to the west.fullsizeoutput_1a85

European White-fronted Geese at Hornsea Mere

Later I found another adult among the Greylags off ‘tree island’. Again a Long-tailed Duck appear between us and Swan Island although further out than on Sunday. GB came into the hide and on being shown the duck another three flew past. Although mobile a nice male and the original or a similar bird did show well in front of us later. Also had a late Migrant Hawker over the reeds in front of the hide.fullsizeoutput_1a79

Long-tailed Ducks at Hornsea Mere

fullsizeoutput_1a8aLater I had a Common Scoter flying towards Decoy Bay with a second bird close behind.

Went to Tophill Low NR this afternoon. No sign of the Grey Phalarope since Sunday but a redhead Smew had been seen on Watton NR. Walked south and had a very late Common Darter near South Lagoon [Two Migrant Hawker had been seen at East Pond on Sunday]. However on reaching Watton NR hide there was no sign of the Smew and the bird numbers hinted at a recent disturbance. Did have four Little Egret as well as the pale Common Buzzard.15129456_1232459953477317_1501047782318437426_o

Pale Common Buzzard over Watton Carrs

There had been a good number of ducks on O reservoir but no sign of the Smew there on a second look. Did the roost on D reservoir. No sign of the Smew or any interesting gulls. The Smew may have gone onto the river then returned to Watton NR later but may be worth checking High Eske NR tomorrow. With the small number of Smew this year seems likely the there is just one mobile bird locally, first been seen at High Eske NR on the 30th October then quickly moving to Tophill Low NR then Hornsea Mere.dscn3518

The new Tophill Low NR visitors centre nearing completion.

RIP Holly

My dog Holly following a visit to the vet on Monday afternoon was put down today. She along with Wilbur have occasionally featured in my Hull Valley Blog.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Holly in her prime

Anyone interested moths check, likely the last post this year of, my Cottingham Moth blog.

Dipping the Cayton Bay Eastern Black Redstart

13 Nov

11/11/16 Went to High Eske NR on Friday afternoon. Three Whooper Swans briefly with the Mute Swans and again a Pink-footed Goose with the feral Greylags.fullsizeoutput_1a6c

Whooper Swans at High Eske NR

A Water Rail was squealing in the south-east corner and eventually showed well. fullsizeoutput_1a6d

Water Rail at High Eske NR

Got too cold after sunset so left early.

13/11/16 Nice on Sunday morning so headed to Cayton Bay with RL and ML. dscn3483

Interesting graffiti on a bunker at Cayton Bay.

Walking south along the beach had four Stonechats on the cliff face before reaching the rocks at the south end.

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Male Stonechat at Cayton Bay.

Gave it until early afternoon but there was no sign of the Eastern Black Redstart. Met up with DV. He had already missed it on Wednesday and the bird had been tricky all week. Had a few Rock Pipits and Robin.

Went to Hornsea Mere for the rest of the afternoon. The Smew, Long-tailed Duck, three Scaup, White-fronted Goose and two Tundra Bean Geese had been seen earlier. Check the Merebirders blog for more recent sightings. RL again picked up the Smew close to the south shore and the three Scaup in the bay from Seaton Road Hide. Later on I picked up the Long-tailed Duck at very close range. We all got some decent pictures before the light got too bad.fullsizeoutput_1a75

Long-tailed Duck at Hornsea Mere