Monday, 24 February 2020

Howling a gale out there

Not ideal conditions for birdwatching. I postponed the previous week due to the storm but had no choice this time. Fortunately it stayed dry but goodness me that was hard work.

The big egret is still around but I could only find two of the smaller cousins.

Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd February

Canada Goose - 2
Greylag Goose - 4
Mute Swan - 4
Gadwall - 3
Wigeon - 300
Mallard - 60
Teal - 220
Tufted Duck - 5
Grey Partridge - 3
Little Grebe - 2
Great White Egret - 1
Little Egret - 2
Cormorant - 90
Sparrowhawk - 2
Buzzard - 12
Coot - 6
Lapwing - 165
Snipe - 1
Green Sandpiper - 2
Herring Gull - 210+
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 2
Barn Owl - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2
Kestrel - 7
Jay - 1
Starling - 630 in 3 flocks (180+300+150)
Fieldfare - 220 in 2 flocks (120+110)
Mistle Thrush - 6
Grey Wagtail - 1
Bullfinch - 1
Linnet - 20
Goldfinch - 15
Yellowhammer - 18

Nice close up of a Little Egret at Wansford. My best shot yet I think. No sign of any at Kelk this time.
Great White Egret. Now on six consecutive year lists from 2015-2020. Yowser!
















Timber! These came down at the weekend.















Drain and flood at Wansford.















This spot has always been 'damp' but I've never seen it quite this wet. Looks like an arboreal arctic pool.















Additions to the year list (a very slow start!)

062 Green Sandpiper
063 Lesser Black-backed Gull
064 Canada Goose
065 Great White Egret
066 Grey Wagtail


Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Kickstarting The Tens

New decade, same routine.

I started this 'project' in 2007 to build up a pile of data on the Kelk area with a view to doing something unspecified. One weekend per month, covering roughly the same ground, for as long as possible. The first couple of years were a bit of a trial, building up a decent routine and getting a baseline to work with.

Since everyone seems to like the numerical simplicity of thinking about decades, I now have a 'proper decade' of data, 2010-19.

Yay, I did it!

Of course now I'm left asking what the heck to do with it all. Some clever and fancy analysis is clearly the order of the day. Hmm.

While there were several very unexpected birds (Black-bellied Dipper!!) I think my over-riding sense of what distinguished the decade was the change in status of Little Egret. As 2010 opened I had recorded just one bird previously, in 2007. By the end of the decade multiple birds were wintering in the area and the peak of 14 last November was merely the continuation of a trend. How far away is a breeding attempt?

I will write some more words about the decade, once I work out what to say, but here's the first summary for 2020.

Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th January

Greylags - 30
Mute Swan - 4
Gadwall - 10
Wigeon - 350
Mallard - 120
Teal - 270
Tufted Duck - 9
Grey Partridge - 2
Little Grebe - 1
Heron - 18
Little Egret - 5
Cormorant - 103 over Kelk, later 268 at Wansford
(The previous record of 66 completely trashed - what is going on with these birds? They clearly spend some time in Bridlington Bay. Are they feeding in the bay and moving to Wansford to chill out and roost, or are they feeding at fish farms and roosting in the bay? The sightings I have so far don't really confirm either. And if they are raiding fish farms, the loss of fish must be collosal)
Sparrowhawk - 1
Buzzard - 16
Coot - 4
Lapwing - 46
Woodcock - 1
Snipe - 3
Herring Gull - 34
Stock Dove - flock of 26
Barn Owl - 5
Kingfisher - 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 3
Kestrel - 11
Jay - 1
Coal Tit - 3
Fieldfare - 290 (in 5 flocks)
Redwing - 12
Mistle Thrush - 3
Tree Sparrow - 5
Chaffinch - flock of 40
Bullfinch - 7
Linnet - a flock of 120 is huge for winter

Also
Fox - 1
Roe Deer - 14
Water Vole - 1 was the first for a long time

Some pics...

Buzzard on the lookout. Looking plump after Christmas.















89 of the 103 Cormorants that over-flew Kelk on Sunday. Bonkers!















Herons attending the heronry, stimulated no doubt by the relatively mild and calm weather.















Kestrel preening, or just showing off















Part of a huge flock of 120 Linnet, unusual for winter.















A solid total of 61 species recorded for the new year list.

Monday, 16 December 2019

More Great-ness

Great White Egret present again.

With a photo this time.
















Otherwise not a great deal of greatness going on. Tough birding conditions with the stiff/cold breeze. A trio of Brambling at Harpham was notable. A gigantic pre-roost of 4500 corvids was a personal highlight, containing 1000+ Rook and an unprecedented 3500 Jackdaw. Wowsers!

As that is the last visit it makes the one addition to the year list (Brambling) a disappointing final total of 106.

Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th December.


Mute Swan - 14
Wigeon - 70
Teal - 180
Red-legged Partridge - 63 (released)
Grey Partridge - 10
Cormorant - 1
Little Egret - 5
Great White Egret - 1
Heron - 2
Buzzard - 13
Kestrel - 4
Snipe - 1
Green Sandpipier - 1
Barn Owl - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Grey Wagtail - 2
Fieldfare - 150+
Goldcrest - 10+
Coal Tit - 3
Treecreeper - 1
Jay - 1
Jackdaw - 3500
Rook - 1000
Chaffinch - 80
Brambling - 3 at Harpham
Goldfinch - 30

Coal Tit. There was a decent size tit flock moving around the sheltered churchyard at Lowthorpe. The wood there is by far the easiest place to see Coal Tit in the area.















Goldcrest in the same area. They too are most visible in the church wood.















And squirrels too. They occur across the area, often close to gardens but I see them most often here.















Final photo of a quartet from Lowthorpe - a Treecreeper seeking insets in between the bark. And yes, the photo is the right way up!















One last agenda item until next time...

106 Brambling

Monday, 25 November 2019

A Tale of Gloomy Halves

November visit in the bag. Time to move on. Good grief that was a gloomy weekend. Saturday was a wash out though I managed to get out for a couple of hours at the end of the afternoon. Sunday was at least dry but oh was the visibility atrocious.

There has been A LOT OF WATER fall on the area. The beck is much higher than I've seen it for a good few years. Field floods are everywhere. As tough as that is for farmers and wildlife, it'll be interesting to see if anything unsual makes use of them over winter and into spring.

No new species for the year but some decent highlights: a new high of 14 Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Water Rail, Short-eared Owl and Little Owl. Some outstanding counts of commoner birds were c500 Teal, 900 Herring Gull, and a respectable 90 Yellowhammers.

Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th November

Mute Swan - 13
Wigeon - 20
Gadwall - 4
Teal - c500 (350+ Kelk, 150+ Gembling)
Mallard - 120+
Tufted Duck - 2
Red-legged Partridge - 40+ at Lowthorpe (released)
Cormorant - 2
Little Egret - 14 (11 Wansford, 3 Kelk)
Heron - 6
Marsh Harrier - 1 at Wansford
Buzzard - 13
Kestrel - 5
Water Rail - 1 at Kelk Beck
Lapwing - 22
Snipe - 1
Green Sandpiper - 2
Herring Gull - c900 (600 Wansford, 300 Kelk)
Great Black-backed Gull - 1
Woodpigeon - flock of 800
Short-eared Owl - 1 at Kelk
Little Owl - 1
Kingfisher - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Skylark - flock of 25+
Fieldfare - 56 (3 flocks)
Redwing - 18
Tree Sparrow - 14
Linnet - 120 in 2 flocks (90+30)
Bullfinch - 1
Yellowhammer - 90 in 2 flocks (65+25)

Also noted
Bat sp - 1 at Kelk at dusk
Weasel - 1 at Kelk
Squirrel - 2
Roe Deer - 8

Over the limit. Wansford. Yikes.















And still they keep coming. Counting them is normally difficult as they move around a lot and hide out of view. I've had one day count possibly into double figures before but this is the first confirmed.  It is possible they're more visible than usual because the drains are full, forcing them into the fields where all 14 were seen. These three were on a field at Wansford.















Part of a huge Teal flock. I guess they're attracted to the flooded fields at quiet/safe times of the day but happy to squeeze into small spots in the day for roosting. Even so, I've not seen numbers quite on this scale here before.















Until December - stay dry everyone!

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Make Egrets Great Again

My old friend the Great White Egret is back for its fifth winter. Assuming of course it's the same one. Surely it would be even crazier if it were different birds. Hopefully it will play ball a bit more this time - I only saw it once last winter.

An autumnal feel at the weekend. Lots of birds about but nothing particularly unexpected. Hightlights were the Great White Egret, four Green Sandpipers probably settling in for winter, a whopping record count of 600 Herring Gulls, and five each of Grey Wagtail and Jay.

Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th October

Mute Swan - 6
Greylag Goose - 60+
Wigeon - 35
Gadwall - 1
Teal - 160+
Mallard - 120+
Red-legged Partridge - 6
Cormorant - 5
Great White Egret - 1 at Kelk Beck
Little Egret - 4 (3 Kelk, 1 Wansford)
Heron - 5
Sparrowhawk - 5
Buzzard - 18
Kestrel - 8
Golden Plover - 400+ nr Gembling
Lapwing - 80
Green Sandpiper - 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 2
Herring Gull - 600, a record count
Great Black-backed Gull - 3
Collared Dove - 23 at Gembling
Tawny Owl - 2
Kingfisher - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2
Skylark - flock of 25 at Kelk Beck
Meadow Pipit - 2
Grey Wagtail - 5
Redwing - 31, but no Fieldfares
Mistle Thrush - 25 incl 19 together at Gembling
Goldcrest - 2 at Kelk were presumably migrants
Treecreeper - 1
Jay - 5
Jackdaw - 1000+ at pre-roost
Rook - 1000+ at pre-roost
Linnet - 170 in two flocks of 80+90
Bullfinch - 4
Yellowhammer - flock of 23


Part of the 2000-plus Corvid pre-roost at Kelk. It was about 50/50 Jackdaws and Rook from what I could tell. The roost could still climb to 3k by winter though I would expect most of the increase to be Rooks.















The drain at Gembling has breached and created this flood, plus a similar size patch behind me in a winter corn field. Could be interesting for birds over winter and into spring!















All three of the common gulls; Herring, Black-headed and Common Gull. There was an exceptional number of Herring Gulls in the area over the weekend - a record count of 600 - outnumbering the other species.















A heron flying over.















Ropey photo but I'm just pleased to see a Kingfisher sat still for a change. Incredibly this is the first one I've seen along the beck all year.















Two new for the year...

104 Treecreeper
105 Great White Egret

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

If a tree falls in Kelk woods

A surprisingly quiet weekend, but lovely weather for walking. This time last year I was raving about a Raven but no such luck in 2019. The ground is dry and habitat for migrant waders is almost non-existent this autumn. It feels like forever since the last decent wader passage. Bah!

Highlights included a Peregrine, the first Golden Plover of the year, a whopping flock of 230 Goldfinch, and a lone Corn Bunting.

Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd September

Mute Swan - 11 incl. family of 6
Wigeon - 6
Gadwall - 15
Shoveler - 2
Teal - 1
Mallard - 50+
Tufted Duck - 2
Red-legged Partridge - 2
Grey Partridge - 14
Little Grebe - 4
Cormorant - 30+ at Wansford
Little Egret - 3 at Wansford
Grey Heron - 13
Sparrowhawk - 1
Buzzard - 18
Kestrel - 12
Peregrine - 1
Golden Plover - flocks of 210 + 28
Lapwing - ZERO
Green Sandpiper - 5 possibly 6
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1
Herring Gull - 120+
Great Black-backed Gull - 1
Little Owl - 1
House Martin - 10+
Swallow - 10+
Meadow Pipit - 30+
Mistle Thrush - 6
Chiffchaff - 5 incl. one in song
Goldfinch - flock of 230 at Kelk Beck
Linnet - 95 in two flocks
Bullfinch - 4
Corn Bunting - 1 at Foston

Also...

Hedgehog - roadkill at Lowthorpe
Roe Deer - 1

Painted Lady - 1
Red Admiral - 11
Small Tortoiseshell - 1
Speckled Wood - 3
White sp. - 40+

Migrant Hawker - 16
Common Darter - 45+

Birds weren't in a posing mood this visit but here's some photos anyway.

Common Darter male. Lots of these seen over the weekend.















And female.















Family of Swans. I haven't seen these before and didn't see a nest anywhere in spring. Hard to say if they bred somewhere hidden nearby or if they have swam up the beck from somewhere.















The huge Beeches bordering Lingholmes Plantation were felled earlier in the month. The wood sometimes holds a large corvid roost (they come and go). Hopefully it's still suitable.















And from the Lowthorpe end. There's a small stream bordering the trees which might be more attractive to water birds now it's opened up. We shall see...















Three additions to the yearlist.

101 Little Owl
102 Golden Plover
103 Great Black-backed Gull

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Surprising Hobby

Review for August visit. The highlight was obviously the fabulous first SPOONBILL the area.

Not much more than a decade ago my list of 'herons' in the area was firmly stuck on 1 - Grey Heron. Fast forward and it has expanded to include Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Bittern, Glossy Ibis and Spoonbill. Not bad for an expanse of farmland with a few ditches!

The other highlights over the weekend were a family of Hobbies (2 adults, 2 juveniles together), a Red Kite drifting north, and a Spotted Flycatcher. The wind made observations difficult and I've no doubt I missed quite a bit.

Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th August

Mute Swan - 2
Greylags - 90+
Canadas - 3
Gadwall - 2
Mallard - 100+
Tufted Duck - 11 incl. 6 ducklings
Little Grebe - 9
Cormorant - 2
Grey Heron - 22 at Wansford
Spoonbill - 1 adult
Sparrowhawk - 1
Red Kite - 1 north late morning Sunday
Buzzard - 14
Kestrel - 11
Hobby - pair with 2 young Kelk
... +2 other sightings of adults, Harpham + Foston
Lapwing - 1
Green Sandpiper - 2
Common Gull - 50+ incl first juv. of year
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 20
Herring Gull - 300
Swift - 50
Sand Martin - 50+
Yellow Wagtail - 1
Mistle Thrush - 1
'warblers' - planty of young
Spotted Flycatcher - 1 at Lowthorpe
Coal Tit - 2
Golfinch - flock of 60+
Bullfinch - 1

The wind wasn't particularly favourable for butterflies but I did manage to note a Holly Blue, a Wall, 15 Painted Lady, 3 Red Admiral, 7 Speckled Wood, and a couple of dozen 'whites'. At least on Common Darter was seen along with 4 Migrant Hawker dragonflies.

Green Sandpiper making the most of a local muck heap. I saw it catch a couple of maggots.















One of the adult Hobbies. They can be very unobtrusive. This pair was unknown to me before the weekend. In fact I'd only seen one bird all year, in June. Previous years have often unfolded like this, nothing much happening all summer and a flurry of sightings before they leave in September.















Holly Blue. One of the species that always has its wings closed when perched.















Kestrel. Seem to be doing well in the last couple of seasons. This is not a bad shot for me.















In 30 years of birding around the area I have never seen a gull perched on any of the church towers. No one gave the script to this Lesser Black-backed Gull. Most odd.















Two additions to the year list bring it to a nice round ton.

099 Spoonbill
100 Spotted Flycatcher