Wednesday, 30 November 2016

November: Egrets

A lovely autumn weekend, just gone. Some good birds too. The highlight was the (presumed) returning Great White Egret along with several Little Egrets that looked to have settled on Kelk Beck, much like last winter.

Where exactly these egrets live in the summer is a mystery for now but given that very few spend the summer to the north then surely there is a northerly dimension to their winter 'migration' to Kelk. It's probably a safe guess that most are from colonies in the South East that disperse through autumn. There are around 1000 pairs breeding in UK. On the Humber estuary the peak counts for Little Egrets are typically in Aug-Sep. Perhaps 'ours' have spent time there recently. Some basic info here.


November 26th-27th

Mute Swan - 4
Pink-footed Goose - skein of 90 south
Wigeon - 410+ is the largest ever area count
Gadwall - 4
Teal - 200+
Mallard - 60+
Red-legged Partridge - 8
Grey Partridge - 11
Cormorant - 3
Little Egret - 6
GREAT WHITE EGRET - 1
Grey Heron - 7
Sparrowhawk - 1
Buzzard - 7
Kestrel - 5
Peregrine - 1
Golden Plover - 120 flying south
Lapwing - 75
Snipe - 12
Woodcock - 2
Green Sandpiper - 4 (2 Kelk, 2 Wansford)
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 4
Meadow Pipit - 4
Grey Wagtail - 2, possibly 3
Blackbird - 170+
Fieldfare - 360+
Song Thrush - 15+
Redwing - 130+
Mistle Thrush - 5
Coal Tit - 3
Jay - 2
Tree Sparrow - 30+
Brambling - 3
Reed Bunting - 11+

Here's another snap of the big egret. So much of them being only found in massive reedbed reserves and estuaries!













And one of the little uns. Five took up residence last winter and left in early March. Hopefully that will be repeated. It's still less than a decade since I saw my first one in the area.













Two year ticks...

108 Great White Egret
109 Brambling

Monday, 28 November 2016

Look who's back!

In November 2015 a Great White Egret was seen near Kelk Beck. If that wasn't enough of a surprise it was joined by a second bird in December, but neither were evident as 2016 rolled around.

However...














This was almost the same spot as the two last December. Surely this can only be one of last year's birds, returning. Will the other one come back?

Update on the rest of the weekend to follow.

October: Osprey

Like busses, reviews come all at once. Here is a whizz through sightings from October. The unquestionable highlight, possibly bird of the year, was an Osprey drifting west - quite a late date for this species in Yorkshire.

8-9th October

Mute Swan - 21, incl. the Kelk Beck family with 5 young
Pink-footed Goose - 1 on stubbles at Wansford
Greylag Goose - 250+
Canada Goose - 41 is a record local count
Wigeon - 110
Teal - 4
Red-legged Partridge - 16 at Harpham, tame / released
Grey Partridge - 18
Cormorant - 6
Grey Heron - 14
OSPREY - 1
Sparrowhawk - 3
Buzzard - 19
Kestrel - 9
Golden Plover - 300+
Lapwing - 260+
Snipe - 4
Green Sandpiper - 1
Barn Owl - 1
Kingfisher - 1
Skylark - 50+
House Martin - 20+
Swallow - none seen
Meadow Pipit - 10
Grey Wagtail - 1
Pied Wagtail - 15 together at Harpham
Stonechat - 1 at Kelk Beck
Fieldfare - 1
Redwing - 90
Blackcap - 1
Jay - 3
Goldfinch - 60+ flock

My third record of Osprey in the area, though my first in autumn. October is getting late for passing Ospreys so this one was either in no hurry due to the mild weather, or maybe from northern Europe and fresh in over the sea. Either way, an absolute beauty!













Two year ticks...

106 Stonechat
107 Osprey

September: Kite Flying

Not before time, a review for September. It wasn't a vintage month by any stretch of the imagination. Recent weather had been generous to migrants so it's hardly surprising most had left with barely any sign of birds getting a bit lost or early winter arrivals. The two most notable records were an exceptionally late Swift over Little Kelk and a Red Kite drifting north-west. Treecreeper was the sole year-tick.

24-25th September

Mute Swan - 16
Greylag Goose - 70
Canada Goose - 2
Teal - 50+
Mallard - 85+
Little Grebe - 2
Grey Heron - 14
Red Kite - 1 NW over Kelk Lake
Marsh Harrier - 1 female at Kelk Beck
Sparrowhawk - 6
Buzzard - 24
Kestrel - 11
Hobby - 1
Lapwing - 32
'small gulls' - approx 3000 flying E to roost
Swift - 1 on 24th is the latest record for the area
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
House Martin - 50+ at Harpham
Swallow - 'several'
Meadow Pipit - 6
Mistle Thrush - 19 is an excellent count
Chiffchaff - still 2 in song!
Treecreeper - 1
Rook/Jackdaw - 1800 pre-roost gathering
Goldfinch - 60+ flock
Bullfinch - 1

It was that time of year again, tame Pheasants everywhere, recently released from their pens in the woods at Harpham/Lowthorpe.













Just the one year tick...

105 Treecreeper

Friday, 30 September 2016

Sunflowers and Rainbows

Crossover weather at the moment, for sure. It must be time to recap from my August visit!

Saturday 20th - Sunday 21st August

Greylag Goose - 330 at Gembling. The only large count so far this year.
Canada Goose - 2
Gadwall - 3
Teal - 48
Mallard - 140
Pochard - 3
Tufted Duck - 3
Grey Heron - 10
Sparrowhawk - 2
Buzzard - 16
Kestrel - 11
Hobby - 2
Peregrine - 1 juvenile
Golden Plover - 30
Lapwing - 6 (yes, that was all)
Green Sandpiper - 2
Turtle Dove - 1 at Millingdale
Warblers - still quite a few about
Jay - 2

No new species for the year so the total stays at 104 for now.

Also nothing much to show for it in terms of photos. Weather, as per.





Monday, 15 August 2016

Soaring Summer


Review for my most recent visit. Raptors was the theme, including lots of Buzzards, Marsh Harrier finally making an appearance and a surprise young Merlin! The backup cast included several Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, and a couple of Hobbies.

Friday 29th July - Monday 1st August

Mute Swan - the pair still have 6 cygnets, now half-grown
Greylag Goose - 38
Gadwall - 2
Mallard - 70+
Tufted Duck - 3
Red-legged Partridge - 2
Grey Partridge - 34 including two large family parties
Little Grebe - 8
Grey Heron - 3
Marsh Harrier - female hunting around Kelk Beck
Sparrowhawk - 6 sightings
Buzzard - 30+ including at least 7 juvs (possibly double)
Kestrel - 10
Merlin - 1 probably juvenile near Kelk Beck
Hobby - 4 sightings prob 2 birds
Lapwing - 230+ including flocks of 150 and 70
Green Sandpiper - 1
'small gulls' - 500+ attending stubble cultivation
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 6
Herring Gull - 160+ attending stubble cultivation
Yellow-legged Gull - 1 adult with other gulls
Swift - 460+ incl. flock of 400+ feeding over Kelk Beck
Kingfisher - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Sand Martin - 100+ around colony
House Martin - 80+ at Harpham
Meadow Pipit - 2 together in Kelk, possible breeding
Yellow Wagtail - 5
Mistle Thrush - 2
Sedge Warbler - 6
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Jay - 1 is first July record for over a decade
Bullfinch - 1
Corn Bunting - 1 singing

Buzzards everywhere enjoying the lovely weather. This adult is in the middle of wing moult - the uneven wing feathers are at different growth stages and the outermost feather on both wings are half-grown.













Merlin, if you squint a bit. Not an easy bird to see at any time of year in the area and most unexpected in July. I think it was a juvenile but wasn't 100% sure.













Female Marsh Harrier on partol. Surprisingly this was my first sighting this year.













Meadow Pipits probably bred this year. Two birds were being very territorial. Despite being very common in other parts of the country they are really only passage migrants here, with breeding happening only irregularly.













The swan family. This is from Lowthorpe road bridge, over a mile from the nest.













Along with the Quail mentioned in a previous post the year list is now up to a respectable 104 and a final total of between 110-115 seems likely.

100 Quail
101 Corn Bunting
102 Merlin
103 Yellow-legged Gull
104 Marsh Harrier


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

An 'all-dark' Grey Heron

The heronry contained a very unusual 'all dark' bird in June. I thought it was worth making a separate note out of this oddity rather than include it in the June summary.

Birds at the heronry were not especially visible during my visit, with about 12 counted. While I was there the completely dark bird (a juvenile? weird plumages often seem to be) flew in from the north and landed in one of the trees, close to a typical adult.

It wasn't black as such, but a weird super deep blue/purple. As far as I could tell it's whole plumage was uniform.

A really rubbish photo below. Birds are distant so it's the best I could do!














And again with the addition of pointers...














Very strange. I've certainly never seen a heron like this before. Hopfully it will survive a while and hang around the beck so I can get a better look at it / photo.