Tag Archives: nature

Eastern Yellow Wagtail in Northumberland

20 Dec

Eastern Yellow Wagtail is one of those birds that flew under the radar until recently with the first accepted record over a hundreds years old on Fair Isle in 1909 with a further bird there in 1912 now considered “British” following genetic analysis of  both records.  The next record was at Colyton, Devon in December 2010 which was trapped allowing DNA analysis to confirm it as the 2nd record {BB Vol 106 p36-41}. Since then though there have been a small but steady occurrence, likely more to do with greater knowledge, particularly the call with sound recording and sonographs, as well as ‘appearance’ than actual increase in occurrence. What were just late “grey’ Yellow Wagtails [as with the Devon record birds seen after the usual autumn migration and into winter] are now given a good grilling [and listening!] Of course with split of Eastern from Western forms they have now become in demand to twitchers. Living in Yorkshire the temptation to ‘sit and wait’ had kept me expecting one locally but with one not too far off in Northumberland and showing well TD got interested and ofter some reluctance I gave in.

18712/19 Too cold, with the risk of ice, and my usual trip to Bridlington by bike was replaced with the train. So walked to Cottingham station in the dark and despite initial worries the new ticket machine proved non-challenging and after a few minutes on a frozen bench joined RG on the train. TD picked us up from the station and got to Prestwick Carr by early afternoon with incident. Unfortunately the bird, having been settled all morning, had flown to north of the cross road. Getting there it had flown again and after a few minutes searching returned to the fields further south. Found a distant group of Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit and started looking through when called back to the northern field were the Eastern Yellow Wagtail had been relocated. To be honest the usual early twitch panic where a bit of patience was the best thing. The bird then spent the rest of our stay feeding on blood worms only a few metres from the birders.

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Eastern Yellow Wagtail-Prestwick Carr

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Birders including Joe and Richard at Prestwick Carr

The fields had a few horses and was like the sort of thing you see in RSPSA programs being virtually devoid of grass although did have a plenty of hay in feeders.

Was nice to get back to Bridlington and getting on train with only a short walk home at the end rather than having to ride back the extra cost is an issue. In better weather the ticket price would have paid for almost enough petrol to make the full journey on my own.

With the Cornish Brown Booby already on my life list from Florida the Wagtail looks likely my only lifer in Britain in 2019, my worst total since I started birding. However got a few more in Romania.

A word of caution The parking is a on a soft verge and one birder got so stuck the front of the car was dug in so deep with couldn’t push him out.

 

Update Still present on Sunday 29th but a better marked male in Norfolk of the Blue-headed [Alaskan] race is attracting more visitors.

Smew and Long-tailed Duck at Hornsea Mere

23 Nov

Saved from a boring day rained in, with even the dog not interested in a walk, by RL with a trip to Hornsea Mere early afternoon. Started in Seaton Road hide where immediately on opening the flaps saw the redhead Smew close in. Went for our cameras, and ignoring a close fly over by a Marsh Harrier, got a few shots before it swam off.

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Juvenile Smew at Hornsea Mere from Seaton Road Hide

Nothing else of note and having learned from MJ that the track to Wassand Hide was flooded we headed to Kirkholme Point where a Long-tailed Duck was usually seen around the jetties. No sign there so looked further afield, still with no luck, but on walking back towards the jetties RL picked it up flying in from the west then landing and showing well again at the jetties.

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Juvenile Long-tailed Duck with Tufted Duck at Kirkholme Point, Hornsea Mere

No sign of any of the recent Scaup.

Went to look for wild geese in the Skipsea area with out luck then ended the day looking for gulls around Catwick but also no sign no helped by a jet ski on FosseHill.

Shag at East Park, Hull

17 Dec

17/12/18 Apart from twitching the Royal Tern on Anglesey last Tuesday the only birding I’ve done recently had been locally with the dog.

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Royal Tern-Traeth Lligwy, Anglesey

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Raven-Traeth Lligwy, Anglesey

This doesn’t mean I don’t get to see much, as a Little Egret has been seen on the north side of Cottingham a few times recently with another lingering in fields north of Springhead GC. Even better last Wednesday managed to see Peregrine, Merlin, Little Owl and Green Woodpecker.

This morning the dog wasn’t interested in going out so with a Shag in Hull at East Park Lake since at least late last week and the weather better, got out on the bike for the first time in a while. From the feeding area [although ‘feeding’ is no longer encouraged] the bird was visitable and although the guy I spoke to seemed to think it was a Cormorant, on closer inspection it was clearly an immature Shag.

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First winter Shag-East Park Lake, Hull

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Goosander-East Park Lake, Hull

A few Goosander were also in the area and after getting a few pictures set off round the lake to count them. Thirty had been reported earlier and my count was in the same ball park.

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Black-headed Gull-East Park Lake, Hull

Didn’t see them myself but of interest Jay and Mistle Thrush are on site.

More winter wildfowl

30 Oct

30/10/16 Started Sunday morning at High Eske NR, with RL and ML, hoping to see the recent Long-tailed Duck. Met DH along the track from the farm. Had seen the duck on Saturday evening but no sign today but had had a Smew. The lone Whooper Swan was still present.fullsizeoutput_1a4d

Whooper Swan-High Eske NR

Quickly found the redhead Smew among the Tufted Duck and Pochard at the south end. Also picked out three Scaup. The large flock of Greylags dropped still with the Pink-footed Goose. Next to Hornsea Mere starting in the Seaton Road Hide. A Pink-footed Goose was just in front of the hide. Eleven Whooper Swans were near the entrance to Decoy Bay and another eight flew southwest.fullsizeoutput_1a4a

Whooper Swans at Hornsea Mere

I picked up the two Slavonian Grebe between us and Kirkholme Point, presumably displaced by the boat.dscn3372

What we have to contend with at Hornsea Mere

Eventually came fairly close.

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Juvenile and adult Slavonian Grebes with Mute Swan-Hornsea Mere

Went round to Kirkholme Point where the same or another Pink-footed Goose was just offshore.fullsizeoutput_1a42

Pink-footed Goose at Hornsea Mere off Kirkholme Point

A few Tundra Bean and White-fronted Geese and a Common Scoter had been seen earlier. Went to Tophill Low NR this afternoon. I found a redhead Smew on D reservoir from car park hide. Likely the same bird we saw this morning as it was also associating with Pochard. Flew to the north end and RL and I went to the North Hide while ML went to North Marsh where a Bittern had been seen earlier. The Smew showed close in before flying off with Pochards eventually coming down below car park hide where it stayed until late afternoon at least. fullsizeoutput_1a3b

Redhead Smew with Pochard at Tophill Low NR on D reservoir

Also had two Green Sandpipers in flight before dropping onto Decoy Fields.dscn3408

The new visitors centre at Tophill Low NR-‘still under wraps’

Did the gulls. Although we didn’t stay until dark, with the clocks now back, we’re likely to start doing the gull roost again. A Tawny Owl was calling in D wood as we left. Had a few Migrant Hawkers. With the forecast of colder nights there won’t be many more.

Geese at Hornsea Mere and Tophill Low NR

23 Oct

21/10/16 Started Saturday in the Hornsea Mere Seaton Road Hide [check here for access details] with RL and ML. Plenty of geese flying about but too distant to ID. Also no sign of the Slavonian Grebe seen this morning [or Black-necked Grebe seen yesterday]. RL did find a redhead Goosander though. Moved round to Kirkholme Point. A few birders present but they had nothing to report. However I quickly picked out a Tundra Bean Goose with the Greylags just offshore followed by a Pink-footed Goose. fullsizeoutput_1a1d

Tundra Bean Goose off Kirkholme Point at Hornsea Mere

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Pink-footed Goose off Kirkholme Point at Hornsea Mere

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 Goosander off Kirkholme Point at Hornsea Mere

Later seven Tundra Bean Geese were reported in flight and two Slavonian Grebes off Swan Island presumably seen from the south shore. Moved to Atwick to check for migrants near the church. Found nothing but I kept walking north and had a Chiffchaff at the SSE gas terminal.

Checked the geese at Skirlington market pond but only feral Greylags.

Spent the afternoon at Tophill Low NR. Started in car park hide and had three Whooper Swans at the far end of D reservoir. dscn3251

Distant Whooper Swans on D res at Tophill Low NR

Moved on the Watton NR where we had two Tundra Bean Geese, seven Russian White-fronts and four Pinkfeet. fullsizeoutput_1a1a

Two Tundra Bean Geese with two Pink-footed Geese on Watton NR at Tophill Low NR

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Family party of Russian White-fronted Geese on Watton NR at Tophill Low NR

The Beans and three Pinks flew north late afternoon. Had a Common Darter in South Scrub and several more with a Migrant Hawker later near South Lagoon. Had twenty-two Siskin in the Alders by the lagoons on the way back.

The Flamborough/Easington twitch

14 Oct

13/10/16 Like the Eastern Crowned Warbler last week news of the Flamborough Paddyfield Warbler broke too late to get there. Tuesday morning the Paddyfield Warbler still along the permissive footpath by the gorse field but it was raining heavily. Forecast looked better for later in the day so decide not to get soaked for no reason. On schedule late morning the sky brightened and I made a quick get away. Didn’t even bother to wear my over-trousers.  Did start raining fairly heavily in Beverley but this didn’t last long. Strangely although most of the roads were drenched there were a dry section around Beeford. Arriving at Flamborough Head the Paddyfield was reported to still be showing but on arriving on site it was hidden in long grass and hadn’t been seen for a good while. A push was organised shortly but nothing resulted initially but it was seen a little later to fly into the hedgerow. However although been called regularly it wasn’t showing itself. Tried the other side of the hedge where the situation was much the same but on going back round we all had very good views but too briefly for photographs. dscn3817

My only previous Paddyfield Warbler was the above in Cornwall on the Lizard in October 2012.

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The Flamborough Paddyfield Warbler-Richard Willison

Give it a bit longer then went to look for the nearby Shore Larks, getting  involve with the flushing of a Olive-backed Pipit on the way. Having seen one well at Easington on Sunday wasn’t too interested in mere flight views. The Shore Lark proved difficult with the lark flock staying in the long stubble. Finally the flock all got up and flew toward the lighthouse and I was able to follow one Shore Lark. Started walking back as my ticket was running out. Try to avoid paying to park but the walk from a suitable place along the road in wasn’t worthwhile. Doesn’t help though that the ticket isn’t the sticky type but fortunately I had a elastic band to hold it on the handlebar. dscn3131The Paddyfield had just shown well but was now hidden in the grass and with the weather going off again I continued  walking back with TD. He had  just come back from dipping the Siberian Accentor, taking the cheaper ferry route rather than a one way flight that had paid off for the those with bigger budgets. There had been much discussion during the wait for the warbler, with me among others expressing the view that with the influx on the Continent a mainland bird was likely if not this year then in the near future. Getting back to the car park TD showed me a text from AW that a Siberian Accentor had been found in Easington. I initially took this as a wipe up but TD remained serious and I must admit he drove off fairly rapidly. Shortly the confirmation came on the pager and phone. Although I didn’t share his faith I could image a great “BOOOM” from Martin Garner in Heaven. The big twitch was one with most birders heading out including TC who hadn’t yet connected with the Paddyfield. Made a quick call to RL then was on the road. This time I did put on my over-trousers. Which way to go? Going via Hornsea was probably shorter but the A165 then Bilton/Preston/Hedon was a more familiar route and with the roads sodden I would feel safer trying to get a move on. Had some heavy rain and by Hedon was feeling quite chilled but fortunately with dryer weather later I warmed up again. The problem with twitching on a bike is with out stopping you get no news so on arriving in Easington I hadn’t the directions and headed the wrong but immediately saw 2 birders heading away and was sent back towards Vicar’s Lane and even got parked almost opposite and as assured the Accentor was showing very well feeding like it’s commoner relations on a moss pack near a skip on a tarmac pad.dscn3167

The skip with a Dunnock feeding on the moss pack.

Got a few shots but the light wasn’t good.dscn3141

Siberian Accentor below the skip.

Most of the crowd from Flamborough were there along with Spurn regulars and a few Hull area birder. RL at least had even managed to tick and run.dscn3179

Some of the crowd watching the Siberian Accentor

Also had a Brambling. A Goldcrest feeding above my head got a quick look incase. Although showing well the viewing was restricted and even with the relative small number present it could be difficult to get a unrestricted view so with no chance of getting better views or picture set off home. That it was a different bird from Shetland was confirm by SW and AW who had seen it.fullsizeoutput_19b4

My best shot of the Siberian Accentor in fading light.

The Siberian Accentor flew out of view, probably to roost not long after. Didn’t recognise anyone but hope no one coming the other way could see the big smile through my visor. Thanks to Lance Degnan for finding this beauty. Pity you missed a first by a few days.

All in all a great day. If I’d set off earlier I’d have been leaving Flamborough before the news broke and would then have got home to read the pager and then had had to cope with the start of the rush hour through Hull. Any later and I’d have been conflicted if I’d not yet seen the Paddyfield Warbler.

Update

No sign of the Paddyfield Warbler since the mass exodus on Thursday.

The Siberian Accentor is still around Monday morning. Check the Spurn website for parking and access details. Expect a big crowd but if it shows as on Thursday everyone will get to see it. The discovery of a second bird at Saltburn-by-the-sea in Cleveland [historic Yorkshire] on Saturday could of suck in a few birders but was an elusive one day bird but another one was found in Sunderland Docks on Sunday and continued to show for a 2nd day.

Even made the Hull Daily Mail [see here] and the nation press including the Express and Telegraph and the Sun. Having clicked on these though they seem pretty lazy jobs as appear to have the same agency pictures and the Sun even uses a library shot rather than of the actual bird. Better account on Birdguides.

Another Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR

17 Sep

The second Pectoral Sandpiper of the year for Tophill Low NR was again found by visitors on a Monday. Went to check it out with RL on Tuesday. Still present on South Marsh East but too distant for a reasonable picture.14311254_1170391073017539_5739176024044637117_o

Ruff and Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East-RL

17/9/16 Went back to Tophill Low NR with MB on Saturday morning. The Pectoral Sandpiper hadn’t been reported since Wednesday but was in the log for Friday. Started with North Lagoon. Three Greenshank were there on Tuesday but initially no waders today but a Ruff dropped in. On South Marsh East the sandpiper hadn’t been seen but I picked it up far off with Teal. No sign of the two Ruff it had accompanied on Tuesday. Went round to back-2-back hide where it should be closer but wasn’t currently on show so headed to Watton NR. The usual mass of Greylags but also three Little Egrets and a sign of autumn with flocks of Golden Plover circling Watton Carrs. Back at South Marsh East the Pectoral Sandpiper was showing well enough for a picture but often hidden behind vegetation.dscn2922

Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

A second look at North Lagoon found a Greenshank and Dunlin.

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Greenshank at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Ruff and Dunlin at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Pied Wagtail at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon 

With weather more seasonal after the heatwave earlier this week it wasn’t surprising a Comma near South Marsh East was our only butterfly of the morning and we also only had a few Migrant Hawkers.dscn2912

Comma at Tophill Low NR

Walking the north end in the afternoon we did better with several Speckled Woods in D wood and a few Small Whites in North Scrub as well as many Common Darter on the path near Hempholme Meadows. Bird-wise it was poor but redeemed by an approachable Wheatear along straight road and a fly over male Marsh Harrier.dscn2967

North Wheatear at Tophill Low NR by D reservoir

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The current status of the new visitor centre. Check the Tophill blog for more details.

For Mike’s version check here.