Thursday, 24 March 2011

Everybody loves the sunshine

Signs of Spring everywhere though it's still early days. Highlights from the weekend were; 2 Shelduck, 23 Wigeon, 2 Goldeneye, 9 Common Buzzard, 2 Oystercatcher, 8 Golden Plover, 5 Fieldfare, 24 Redwing, 1 Chiffchaff, 4 Coal Tit. And of course the 15 Whooper Swans!

Saturday 19th March

Harpham-Lowthorpe: 8 Greylags, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Kestrel, 4 Lapwing, 1 Herring Gull, 1 Barn Owl, 1 GS Woodpecker, 14 Redwing at Lowthorpe Church, 1 Goldcrest, several Long-tailed Tit, 4 Coal Tit including one in song, 2 Tree Sparrow, 4 Bullfinch (2 pairs), 1 Reed Bunting. Also one Roe Deer and a brief encounter with a Stoat. The first two butterflies of the year appeared in the morning sunshine, Small Tortoiseshells. Highlight of the morning were 9 Common Buzzards in the air - the most I've seen at once in the area.

Green Lane-Barf Hill: On the semi-permanent 'flash' were 2 Shelduck, 23 Wigeon, 4 Teal. Blimey, whatever next? Elsewhere were 4 Greylags, 6 Mallard, 2 Grey Partridge, 1 Sparrowhawk, 10 Lapwing, 300+ small gulls were on one field (mostly Commons), 3 Herring Gulls, 10 Redwing at Barf Hill, several Long-tailed Tit, 1 Reed Bunting.

A quick look at Kelk Lake at dusk produced 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Goldeneye including a fine drake, 2 Coot and a Little Grebe. Nearby also a Kestrel, 6 Grey Partridge, and 8 Golden Plover (year tick!).

Sunday 20th March

Kelk Beck: 9 Mute Swan, 6 Teal, 36 Mallard, 2 Grey Partridge, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 2 Coot, 8 Lapwing, 1 Snipe, 1 Barn Owl, 2 Meadow Pipit (year tick!), 2 Long-tailed Tit, 4 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting. The 15 Whooper Swans were first noticed from the beck - far in the distance heading north before dropping down. I wasn't 100% they were Whoopers on such a view but it seemed most likely they should be. A detour along Green Lane found them on the pasture near the flash - also 2 Oystercatcher and a Green Sandpiper.

Gembling-Foston: 4 Teal, 8 Mallard, 1 Sparrowhawk (Kelk), 3 Kestrel, 8 Coot at Brigham Quarry but nothing else as someone was riding a quad bike around! Also 1 Curlew and 5 Fieldfare. A singing Chiffchaff was in Kelk as I returned.

A few photos although the birdies were generally being uncooperative all weekend. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Now this is easy. It stayed still and posed well. Erm... a new Barn Owl box by the road bridge at Foston.

Reed Bunting on Green Lane - not a spot I normally see them at.

These little buggers flit about too much and I have no patience. Rubbish shot, but still a Great Tit for the archive.

Robin serenading me at dusk. What a charmer.

Lovely male Pied Wagtail posing on wires in Kelk. They have a strong preference for farmyards in the area but you can pick them up calling as they fly over almost anywhere. Occasionally in autumn they will form flocks especialy on pasture or freshly ploughed land.

Yearlist up to 78. I missed Great Black-backed Gull off the last count and there were 6 more in March. Still way behind 2010 with 87 at this stage.
072 Great Black-backed Gull
073 Shelduck
074 Golden Plover
075 Meadow Pipit
076 Whooper Swan
077 Curlew
078 Chiffchaff

Monday, 21 March 2011

Whoop! Whoop!

"Unremarkable" was how I was preparing to describe this weekend by lunchtime on Sunday. Not a sniff of any migrants and frankly not alot else to write home about. And then BLAM, a very distant party of 15 Whooper Swan appeared heading north over Kelk village. I tracked them for a minute and to my surprise they lost height and were gliding. Were they going to land in the pastures? That would be unheard of!

This was the view from a kilometre away...

I decided to calmly plough on with my walk rather than divert on the off chance. An hour or so later I find myself face-to-face with the flock on the pasture in Little Kelk. Superb!

Several hours later after returning from my afternoon trip the same flock had relocated two fields north, next to Little Kelk Farm. All my previous records of Whooper are either flyovers or at Kelk Lake when it was still attractive to wildfowl. Not once have I seen any in a field.
This final shot gives some idea of how ridiculous this sighting was. A herd of swans having a bit of a rest. In a corn field. Note the absence of evocative winter wetlands. I guess they'll be headed for Scotland to fuel up for the trip to the tundra in Iceland (or arctic Europe) some time in April.

More write up later in the week :)