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.

Scarborough

15 Jan

15/1/17 Sunday morning headed for Scarborough with RL and ML.

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Scarborough Harbour

Started at the harbour where we quickly picked up one each of the Black-necked Grebes and Great Northern Divers currently present.

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Great Northern Diver in Scarborough Harbour

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Black-necked Grebe in Scarborough Harbour

Soon had the second diver, the two occasionally surfacing close together. Walked round to the other side of the harbour where the we located the second grebe.

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Cormorants in Scarborough Harbour.

Near the bridge added a approachable Rock Pipit.

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Rock Pipit at Scarborough harbour

Looking out the sea had a juvenile Glaucous Gull in flight.

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Glaucous Gull off Scarborough Harbour

On the sideway added Shag, with the Cormorants.

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Shag and Cormorant in Scarborough Harbour

Moved to Marine Drive, parking near Albert Park Cafe. Initially couldn’t locate any Black Redstarts until we met up with a local birder who had just been watching one with two Stonechat nearby.

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Black Redstart on Marine Drive, Scarborough

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Stonechat on Marine Drive, Scarborough

Finally went to Scalby Mills car park where a juvenile Glaucous Gull was on the rocks but usually obscured by other gulls.

 

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Glaucous Gull with Herring Gulls at Scalby Mills, Scarborough

Year List:- 101

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

Glaucous Gull at Tophill Low NR

5 Jan

4/1/17 On Wednesday had a walk round Willerby Carrs with the dog. A few minor year ticks but the highlight was a Stonechat by Haltemprice Farm. Unfortunately mobile and difficult to get close to.

Year List: 66

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Stonechat at Haltemprice Farm near Hull

5/1/17 Went to Hornsea Mere with ML and RL on Thursday morning. Managed to pick up the two Long-tailed Ducks but distance nearer the south shore. Moved on to Fossehill Pond where there were plenty of gulls but nothing of note. Headed to Tophill Low NR picking up a flock of Grey Partridge near Hutton Cranswick.

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Grey Partridge near Little Common Farm, Cranswick

At Tophill Low NR we headed to the feeders where I got Coal Tit for the year. Next North Marsh where we had the regular experience of been told how well the Otters had shown well earlier. Didn’t give it too long but manage a Water Rail at least. Could hear geese on D reservoir so went to check them from Middle Hide. Only could find a Pink-footed Goose among the Greylags. We were intending to do the gulls anyway so decide to stay put. While waiting for the gulls had two Peregrine over Decoy Fields, hitting the large number of Woodpigeon. The Long-tailed Duck hadn’t been seen for a few days and it was on surprise to find it again under where car park used to be.

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The now gone car park hide with new centre [for more on latter see here].

Although not in great numbers gulls started dropping in. With several white-winged gulls seen in Yorkshire last night they were on our minds and it wasn’t too unexpected when RL said he had got a Glaucous Gull. The juvenile gull was fortunately quite close and although light wasn’t great we all managed to fire off several shots. My first since almost exactly five years ago, again on D reservoir on 15th January 2012.

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Juvenile Glaucous Gull with Common Gull and Greylag Goose on D reservoir-Tophill Low NR

Year List: 74

Red-throated Diver in Bridlington Harbour

3 Jan

3/1/17 Went to Hornsea Mere with RL and ML on Tuesday morning. Added most of the common wildfowl to the year list and Female Marsh Harrier hunting over the reedbed wasn’t a surprise but had none of the rarer birds seen late last year. The Barnacle Geese flock flew north over the hide and we went off to try to track them down with the hope of finding some rarer geese. Didn’t locate the flock so headed to Kirkholme Point where we saw the Barnacles flying back in. Had a Swedish ringed Black-headed Gull.

Swedish ringed Black-headed Gull

Checked the fields in the Low Skirlington area. Had seen a few Russian White-fronts and Pinkfeet with a large Greylag Goose flock on New Years Eve but couldn’t find them today. Next had a quick look from Skipsea Beach Club where I added Sanderling and Ringed Plover on the beach and Red-throated Diver on the sea. Then went to Bridlington where a Black-necked Grebe had recently been seen in harbour. Saw a couple of photographer leaving who had recently seen it. No sign of the Black-necked Grebe for us but had a Red-throated Diver, sometime just below us.

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Red-throated Diver in Bridlington Harbour

Added Turnstone, which were feeding around our feet, and several Redshank and Dunlin feeding on the exposed mud in the harbour.

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Turnstone-Bridlington Harbour

Year List: 62