Friday, 28 December 2012

Chrimbo Prezzies

No thanks to the utterly crappy weather (ooh look, more rain) but 2012 ended in fine fashion with a spectacular fly-through male HEN HARRIER. Backup also provided in the form of Brambling, Peregrine, Barnacle Goose and 2 Jays.

Saturday 22nd December

Rain stopped play until about 1pm but in the remaining light I managed a walk around Little Kelk that was fairly productive under the circumstances. Bird seen included; 115 Greylags, 2+ Pink-footed Goose, 3 Gadwall, 2 Teal, 14 Mallard, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Cormorant, 1 Heron, 1 Coot, 1 Woodcock, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 20+ Redwing, 'plenty' of Blackbirds in the hedgerows, 30+ Goldfinch, 1 Bullfinch, 20+ Yellowhammer and 1 Reed Bunting.

Sunday 23rd December

A completely different day - sunny but a very stiff wind. Not ideal. In the morning around Harpham were; 3 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine causing chaos among flocks of pigeons near the beck, 30+ Herring Gulls moving through, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Grey Wagtail at New Road, 30+ Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Jays together in Lingholmes. The two best birds, and only year ticks of the weekend were seen a few minutes apart. First up was a Brambling that flew into beech trees at Lingholmes. It's been a couple of years since the last one so the feeling was good!

Not as good as what happened next though. Looking across at the flood water by the beck I noticed the small group of gulls causing a fuss - a male HEN HARRIER moved quickly through them all and over the beck and away as soon as it had arrived. Wow! I had two records in the 90s of 'ringtail' (female/imm) birds but this is the first of this highly sought after raptor. Persecution on grouse moors appears to have driven them to near-extinction as a breeding bird in England but there are still a few hundred in Scotland where this bird is most likely to have come from. A male was also seen at North Cave Wetlands - approx 20 miles SW - on 26th Dec. Given their scarcity one might conclude the same bird is involved.

After all that excitement there was just time for a quick spin around Gembling and a bit of Kelk Beck; 4 Mute Swan, 1 Greylag, 18 Canada Goose, 2 Barnacle Goose (uh-oh, in the company of Canadas!), 120+ Teal, 80+ Mallard, 1 Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 12 Fieldfare, 1 Bullfinch.

Photos, mostly wet ones...

Grey Wagtail being very photogenic at Harpham - typical of them to feed on floating vegetation caught at the side of the beck.

Two Barnacle Geese with Canadas on floods at Gembling. Not good company, eh? Makes the Kelk bird in October look a little more plastic.

Lowthorpe Bridge: yikes!

Lynesykes Bridge: not as bad as the summer flood a few years ago but this is the highest I've ever seen it in winter.

Water where it shouldn't be at Gembling. You can see the drain running through the middle.

And so 2012 comes to a close (er, give or take someone telling some last minute news). Two year ticks in December brought the total to 112 - the lowest since 2007 (110).

111 Brambling
112 Hen Harrier

I will put together a review soon, but what will 2013 bring?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Wax Avoidance

November. Yeah. Ok, this will have to be brief if I'm to get it out before next month (correction, this month)


Saturday 24th November

Harpham/Lowthorpe: 2 Gadwall, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 1 Green Sandpiper, 800+ Woodpigeon, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Grey Wagtail, 5+ Goldcrest, 1 Treecreeper (year tick!), 21+ Long-tailed Tit, 3 Bullfinch. A Stoat was at Harpham - in the highest branches of a tree!

Gembling/Foston: 2 Gadwall, 40+ Teal, 135 Mallard, 10 Grey Partridge, 1 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 320+ Lapwing in two flocks, 4 Snipe, 2 Jay (Foston), 1 Bullfinch.

Sunday 25th November

Kelk Beck / Kelk: 6 Mute Swan, 11 Pink-footed Goose, 130+ Greylags, 130+ Teal, 190 Mallard, 10 Grey Partridge, 2 Cormorant, 1 Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Snipe, 5 Woodcock, 1 Green Sandpiper, 500+ Woodpigeon, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, 130+ Fieldfare, 40+ Redwing.

Highlight of the whole weekend, at the last gasp of daylight was 2+ WAXWING going to roost in Little Kelk. There were possibly more but it was fading light - I could definitely see two but the calling suggested there may have been more. This is my second record, the first being about 20 years ago, practically in the same spot!

Year list inches up two notches...

109 Treecreeper
110 Waxwing

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Review for October.

Saturday 13th October

Gembling/Foston/Wansford: 4 Mute Swan, 50 Greylags, 2 Teal, 3 Shoveler at Wansford, 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, 5 Cormorant, 20 Grey Heron (14 together at Wansford), 2 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 1 Merlin in Little Kelk (possibly a male - seemed v.small) 12 Golden Plover, 60+ Lapwing, 1 Redshank at Wansford, 1 Green Sandpiper, several Skylark at Gembling.

Harpham/Lowthorpe: 1 Little Grebe, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Little Owl, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, plenty of thrushes including 14 Redwing, several Golcrests, 5 Coal Tit, 1 Bullfinch. The Barnacle Goose (photo below) was found in the pasture in Little Kelk in the evening.

Sunday 14th October

Kelk Beck: 2 Mute Swan, 60+ Teal, 32+ Mallard, 4 Grey Partridge, 1 Little Grebe, 3 Cormorant, 4 Grey Heron, 2 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 160+ Lapwing, 1 Tawny Owl, 20+ Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipit, 1 Fieldfare, 2 Goldcrest (the first this year away from the woods), 4 Reed Bunting.

Also 7 Roe Deer, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Common Darter.

A quick look around the railway in the afternoon produced a single Jay calling, but not seen.

Photos >>>

1. The Barnacle Goose with Sheep friends.

2. Munch munch

3. A familiar sight over the weekend - loafing Common/Black-headed Gulls on a freshly sewn field.

4. Dead mole in the middle of a track in Kelk

5. Caaaawww, a Rook.

Two additions to the yearlist

107 Barnacle Goose
108 Jay

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Goose Unexpected

An unexpected sight this weekend during my October visit was this Barnacle Goose on the pasture in Little Kelk. Although I've had one previous record in the early 90s this is the first in recent years. Is it wild or feral? Hard to say - there are feral birds in Yorkshire but wild birds do occur and the timing is interesting. I guess we'll never know... but hey, I'm ticking it :)
More later - including the first Jay for nearly 3 years, possibly part of a continental influx across southern England.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Stop... Raptor Time!

Stylishly late as ever... *checks watch*... but it's here... September review!

As alluded to before the stonking highlight was a HONEY BUZZARD, the first I have ever recorded locally. There were plenty of other raptors around over the weekend. Here's the highlights.

Friday 28th September

Harpham / Lowthorpe: 80+ Pheasants, 3 Herons, 2 Sparrowhawks, 7 Common Buzzard, 5 Kestrel, 35 Lapwing, 1 Snipe, 50+ House Martin and Swallows, 4 Goldcrest. The HONEY BUZZARD was one of the first birds seen - a dark juvenile flying purposefully south over the railway in the morning.

Kelk / Kelk Beck: 14 Greylags, 6 Canada Goose, 20 Teal, 140 Mallard, 1 Red-legged Partridge, 2 Grey Partridge, 5 Cormorant, 1 Marsh Harrier (distant - fem/imm), 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, 1 imm Peregrine - possibly the same bird seen around Kelk a week previously by a local farmer, 25 Golden Plover, 80 Lapwing, 3 Snipe, 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Great Black-backed Gull, 1 Barn Owl, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 20+ Skylark together, 3 Meadow Pipit, 1 Grey Wagtail, 14 Pied Wagtail, 1 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 35 Linnet.

Other stuff today... 1 Squirrel, 3 Roe Deer, 1 Red Admiral, 2 'Hawker' dragonflies.

Saturday 29th September

Gembling/Foston/Millingdale: 4 Mute Swan, 80 Teal on floods, 1 Tufted Duck, 3 Little Grebe, 4 Cormorants, 34 Grey Herons sheltering together between Foston and Wansford, 2 Sparrowhawk, 7 Common Buzzards, 4 Kestrel, imm Peregrine at Foston (perhaps the same as yesterday in Kelk), 6 Coot, 1 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 28 Stock Dove at Gembling, 2 Meadow Pipit, 7 Mistle Thrush together, 1 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 1000+ Corvids in a pre-roost at Kelk, 6 Tree Sparrow. Perhaps the bird of the day was a single Dunlin on the flood at Millingdale - only my second one in the last six years!

No butterflies noted today but a couple of Common Darters were seen.

Sunday 30th September

Busy doing other stuff for a change. Here are some photos instead.

First up a mystery raptor. What are you talking about, you may ask? This is like some photos that regularly appear on birding/photo websites with a description like "It looked much bigger than a nearby Sparrowhawk, is it a Goshawk?". No, it isn't. They're always "just" Sparrowhawks. Take a look in a field guide! Ok, in fairness this one did 'look' big at first glance, but no bigger than females often appear 'big'.

Cormorants, the fisherman's friend. Not.

Hitchcock-esque! Run away!

Greylags en route to somewhere as yet unknown. It's been a real challenge tracking them down in recent years, compared to how reliable they were a decade ago when they roosted at Kelk Lake.

Finally, a Common Darter. Lovely.

And that's that. Two additions to the year list - slow going and running out of time.

105 Honey Buzzard
106 Dunlin

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Tell em about the Honey, mummy

September almost eluded me but I managed to do the rounds on Friday and Saturday, the main reward being my first record of HONEY BUZZARD for the area. The bird was a dark phase juvenile which flew south on Friday morning being mobbed by two Common Buzzards as it flew over 'their' wood, Lingholmes.

That's two 'new' birds this year. Whatever next?

I will add some more information later, and details of other sightings (not a great weekend, otherwise) and photos but here's some landscape-y-ish ones.

1. Sunset over Little Kelk

2. Ploughing in Little Kelk
3. Lisset Windfarm from a mile or so
4. New Road, Harpham and the effect of cattle traffic
5. View of Burton Agnes from Harpham

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Hot and bothered

Birding was pretty hard work last weekend. Too hot. Not quite autumn enough. Harvest not in full swing yet. I could go on, but hey, there's always something out there - highlights included 3 Marsh Harrier, 2 Hobby, 1 very unseasonal Merlin, 1 Greenshank, and 8 Green Sandpiper.

Saturday 18th August

My morning walk around Harpham was very quiet; 8 Mallard, Sparrowhawk, 5 Buzzard, 3 Kestrel, 2 Hobby, Lesser Black-backed Gull, 12 Swift flying south (no others seen all weekend!), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Yellow Wagtail.

Late afternoon was a little better around Gembling/Foston; 10 Little Grebe, Grey Heron, female Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzards, 6 Coot, Greenshank and 6 Green Sandpipers together, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and a Bullfinch. A Cormorant flew south west over Kelk as I was arriving at back to basecamp.

Evening around Kelk a further improvement; 1 Mute Swan, 175+ Greylags including an all-white bird - how long before it gets claimed as a 'possible Snow Goose'? - 1 Canada Goose, 6 Teal, 8 Red-legged and 7 Grey Partridge, a male Marsh Harrier hunting widely between Kelk and Gransmoor, a Buzzard, 3 Kestrel, a female Merlin seen perched on a hedge and then zipping low across a field (from where?), 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Reed Warbler and a Whitethroat. About 1200 small gulls moved through the area - a pretty modest number.

Sunday 19th August

Another scorching morning, though oddly it calmed down toward midday.

Kelk Beck and Kelk; Mute Swan, 10 Grey Partridge (two parties), 3 Grey Heron, another Marsh Harrier this time a fresh dark juvenile, Sparrowhawk, 4 Buzzard, 3 Kestrel, 2 Coot, 3 Lapwing, 2 Green Sandpiper, a Barn Owl flushed from a bush, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Yellow Wagtail and 40 Linnet.

Finally, a late afternoon whizz around Lowthorpe. A few additions to Saturday; Kingfisher, 2 Goldcrest, a very large party of Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tit, 110+ Starling.

Butterflies were once again thin on the ground all weekend despite the perfect weather, totals were 90+ 'whites', 15 Peacock, 3 Wall, 2 Speckled Wood. Dragonflies were represented by 11 'hawkers', 3 Common Darter. The hawkers were mostly seen too distantly to identify but the commonest species is believed to be Migrant Hawker.

Images ahoy...

This fine woodpecker was posing for the camera at the back of gardens in Little Kelk. Our local ones tend to be fairly shy so I'm quite pleased with this shot.

Wader-fest! Greenshank (left) and six Green Sandpipers roosting together. A pretty impressive wader gathering locally.

I call these 'whites' but there's three species that you need to peer closely at the tell apart (ok, not difficult but they fox me for some reason). I think this one is a Large White.

Common Darter by Gransmoor Lane.

Trout seen from Foston Bridge - the first fish to appear on this blog! I had to fiddle with the colours in the original photo which was just, er, 50 shades of grey.

Only one year tick this month - well behind the August progress of recent years but there's still time.

104 Greenshank

Monday, 30 July 2012

Slow news day

Quiet. The most newsworthy item being my speedy write-up!

Saturday 28th July

Harpham/Lowthorpe (AM): 2 Sparrowhawk, 4 Buzzard, 4 Kestrel (3 together!), a juvenile Cuckoo at Lowthorpe, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Mistle Thrush, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2+ Goldcrest.

Gembling/Foston (PM): 27 Mallard, 1 Pochard, 5 Tufted Duck, 10+ Little Grebe, 2 Buzzard, 4 Kestrel, 7 Coot, 1 Redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 40+ Sand Martin, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Bullfinch.

The bird of the day was a Peregrine which drew attention by running amok with a flock of pigeons and crows - it appeared small to me so probably a male and not a juvenile but didn't look adult either. A cracking record and follows a similar one in July 2011.

Kelk (EVE): 2 Mute Swan, 110+ Greylags on stubbles at Gransmoor, 4 Canada Geese, 2 Tufted Duck, 3 Red-legged and 4 Grey Partridge, 13 Golden Plover (a year tick!), 2 Green Sandpiper, 'low treble figures' of small gulls moving through, 1 Barn Owl, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Reed Warbler.

Sunday 29th July

Proper quiet today. Kelk Beck in the morning; 1 Teal, 1 Cormorant flying SW, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 3 Coot, 23 Golden Plover (the ones from yesterday had gone so these were perhaps the same), 1 Yellow Wagtail, juveniles of Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler.

As yesterday there was one standout bird, a Little Egret flying SW over Great Kelk. Like the Peregrine the expectation is to find winter birds and yet my first ever local egret was in July 2007.

I had another look around Gembling and Harpham late afternoon but nothing doing.

Butterflies this weekend were few and far between, the grand totals being; 50+ Ringlet, 25+ 'whites', 14 Meadow Brown, 3 Small Tortoiseshell.

Birds on film...

Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, heavily in wing moult. Gulls aren't everyone's cup of tea but these fellas are quite elegant and have an interesting distribution within the area being mostly a summer visitor.

A young Carrion Crow in Kelk.

Male Linnet in Kelk. Because they're not really garden birds most people don't realise they're one of the commonest finches in the area - flocks over 100+ recorded on several occasions.

Much more familiar in gardens - Greenfinch. I've heard more than one person refer to them as Green Linnets, which I'd never heard before birding locally.

Part of a flock of 23 Golden Plovers, returning from their breeding grounds further north and still in their summer plumage. July records are unusual, however 23 is significant. The crop, by the way, is peas - late sown due to the crappy weather.

These plovers and the egret were the only year ticks...

102 Golden Plover
103 Little Egret

Friday, 20 July 2012

The dog ate my homework - June review

Well ok, not the dog, but my notes were swept away in the rain. Yes, that's my excuse for the delay and I'm sticking to it :o)

Friday 29th June

Very quiet around Harpham in the morning in poor weather; 2 Red-legged Partridge, 4 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 1 Hobby over New Road, 14 Lapwing, several Skylark, a few House Martins, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest.

Afternoon around Kelk was better; 2 Mute Swan, 2 Red-legged and 2 Grey Partridges, 1 Cormorant, 1 Kestrel, 2 Oystercatcher, 48 Lapwing, 1 Black-headed Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed and 21 Herring Gull, 2 Kingfisher together, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 8 Pied Wagtail, 1 Reed Warbler, 180 Starling including many juveniles, 2 Bullfinch, 5 Yellowhammer.

Non-birdy sightings today; a Grass Snake, and only a few butterflies - 1 Peacock, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Small Skipper, 1 Speckled Wood and 1 'white', plus several 'blue' damselflys.

Saturday 30th June

Gembling/Foston/Kelk Beck: 1 Mute Swan, 1 Greylag, 1 female Gadwall with 8 ducklings, 5 Mallard, female Pochard, 6 Tufted Duck, 2 Red-legged Partridge, 3 Grey Partridge, 4 Little Grebe, 10 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 5 Buzzard, 3 Kestrel, 6 Coot, 38 Lapwing, 2 Black-headed Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 6 Stock Dove, 80 Woodpigeon, 40 Swift, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 14 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 11 Whitethroat, and 1 Corn Bunting.

The best record from the day was a Quail at Gembling briefly calling from a corn field.

In the evening a wander around Harpham didn't add too much but a surprise was 2 Oystercatchers at New Road - a new bird for that area. Also a single immature Common Gull was most unseasonal. The highlight, though, was a new record count of 164 Herring Gulls feeding on freshly cut grass and then seen flying east to the bay to roost. Big gulls are regular in summer but usually small numbers, indeed this is a record count for any time of year. Very strange!

Today's non-birdy stuff; 1 Squirrel, 1 'bat sp.', 21 Hares in one field, 1 Toad, and butterflies were nowhere to be seen except a measly 1 Peacock and 1 'white'.

Sunday 1st July

More searching around Kelk; 18 Greylags, 12 Mallard, 2 Tufted Duck, 3 Grey Partridge, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 2 Oystercatcher with a juvenile, 1 Black-headed Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, a flock of 60 Feral Pigeon, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Sedge Warbler, 8 Whitethroat, 2 Bullfinch and 1 Reed Bunting. Remarkably yet another Quail was noted, this one near the Burton Agnes road and calling quite frequently.


Lapwing dive bombing me presumably for walking too close its young, which I couldn't locate in the corn but I did see a few little ones elsewhere.
Common Whitethroat at Gembling - the first one I've had the luck and patience to get a snap of. This one has food in its beak so perhaps there was a nest with young nearby. 
Tufted Duck starting its moult into eclipse plumage. They will look very messy and drab now until October.
A not-too-bad picture of one of the local pairs of Oystercatchers. I think there have been three pairs locally this year and this is the first year recently when I've found a juvenile - result! 
Finally, a vivid sunset over Lowthorpe. For once the weather was actually rather nice on the Saturday and this sight made for a cracking way to end the day. 
And so here we are, almost time for me to make my July visit.

One addition to the yearlist during the visit, plus one from my brother earlier in the month.

100 Marsh Harrier
101 Quail

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Can I tick it?

It's been two weeks and I'm still catching up on the visit for June. While I gather detailed excuses together here's some random pictures...

But it's a bird, so I can tick it, right? This is what summer does to birders!

Angry sunset. Been a fair few of these this year.

Mini escargot.

Rescue-copter. A regular sight over Kelk as they move between Leconfield and the coast

Orchid. Possibly Marsh?


Monday, 4 June 2012

Spot spot

Late May report...

Highlights were 2 sightings of Hobby and a Spotted Flycatcher, plus year ticks in the form of singing songbirds; Garden Warbler, Reed Warbler and Corn Bunting.

Friday 25th May

Afternoon around Kelk: 2 Shelduck, 2 Gadwall, 2 Tufted Duck, 3 Red-legged and 6 Grey Partridge, Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzard, Hobby - excellent view as it drifted overhead, 2 Oystercatcher, 22 Lapwing, 6 Lesser Black-backed and 46 Herring Gull, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Meadow Pipit, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Sedge Warbler, a flock of around 100 Linnet is unusual so late in the season, and 2 Reed Bunting singing.

Some butterflies;  4 Holly Blue, 6 Orange Tip, 4 Peacock, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 5 white sp, plus 3 blue damselflies (prob Azure-winged).

Evening at Gembling and Kelk Lake: pair of Mute Swan with one cygnet at Kelk Lake, 2 Gadwall, 6 Tufted Duck, 3 Red-legged and 2 Grey Partridge, 2 Little Grebe, 3 Coot, 19 immature Common Gulls flew east at dusk to roost.

Saturday 26th May

Harpham-Lowthorpe: 2 Grey Partridge, Little Grebe, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 16 Lapwing, calling Cuckoo, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Garden Warbler, several Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat, several Chiffchaff and 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, a family of Long-tailed Tits, 3 Tree Sparrow, and 2 Bullfinch (pair).

Some more butterflies: 16 Orange Tip, 1 Wall, 1 Peacock, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 24 white sp, plus 10 blue damselfies. Best of the bunch was a BRIMSTONE - my first sighting locally - which flew along the road/wood at the railway crossing.

Evening around Gembling-Foston-Wansford-Little Kelk: 10 Greylags, male Pochard, 4 Tufted Duck, 3 Little Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby - chasing a Swift for several minutes over Millingdale, Tawny Owl calling from a hawthorn thicket at Gembling, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler (Kelk Lake before dusk), 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Whitethroat, 1 singing Corn Bunting near Kelk Lake - same location as the only male heard last year.

Sunday 27th May

Lots of non-birding activities today but a pleasant late afternoon walk around Harpham produced a final flourish in the shape of a Spotted Flycatcher at New Road. Also 3 Buzzard, calling Cuckoo, Yellow Wagtail, a Lesser Whtethroat at New Road, and two family parties of Long-tailed Tit.

One noticeable thing from the weekend was the lack of Swifts and hirundines, very much below what one would expect at the time of year. Either they have been delayed by the weather or were busy feeding elsewhere - despite fantastic weather. I shall be interested to see what the situation is like come August.

Now, a handful of photos. Here's a Pheasant chilling out with the lambs and not getting eaten by horrid Buzzards ;-)

Hawthorn blossom at its peak.

Singing Sedge Warbler at Lowthorpe bridge.

House Martin bringing mud to eaves in Kelk - still a lot of building to go! There was also another pair whirring around the same house.

Such was the heat this pheasant could not be bothered getting out of the road and let me approach to a few feet. Dozy thing!


Finally, a yearlist update...

096 - Reed Warbler
097 - Garden Warbler
098 - Corn Bunting
099 - Spotted Flycatcher

Thursday, 10 May 2012

April migrants... just about

In previous recent years I've tended to make a mid-month visit in April in an attempt to get some early dates for passerine migrants. Which has, pretty much, done the job. However this means I always miss out on an April Swift. I never quite managed to catch one when I was watching the area years ago either so I decided to rectify that by taking a day off for a long weekend to get the last drops of the month.


Saturday 28th April

Harpham: a bit slow going with the poor weather but some birds noted; 4 Greylag Goose, 11 Mallard, 2 Grey Partridge, 1 Red-legged Partridge, 1 Buzzard, 10 Lapwing, 7 Herring Gull, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, several Skylark, several Swallow, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Willow Warber, several Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Bullfinch. A Jackdaw looking somewhat like the continental subspecies was at Harpham - see photo below.

Kelk Lake / Little Kelk: 2 Mute Swan, 2 Shelduck, 2 Gadwall, 1 Kestrel, 1 Cormorant, 5 Coot, 1 Sand Martin, 15+ Swallow, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Bullfinch, 19 Linnet, 16 Yellowhammer.

Gembling / Foston / Wansford: 1 Mute Swan, 5 Greylags, 2 Canada Goose, 6 Shelduck, 8 Gadwall, 2 Pochard, 24 Tufted Duck, 6 Little Grebe, 1 Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 4 Coot, 3 Oystercatcher, 44 Herring Gull, 1 adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, 8+ Swallow, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Whitethroat, 12+ Tree Sparrow.

Sunday 29th April

What an absolutely rubbish day - rain from early morning until 6pm. We managed a couple of hours as soon as it stopped. A brisk walk around Gransmoor Lane revealed 8 Grey Partridge, 1 Cormorant, 1 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 16 Herring Gull, 1 Barn Owl, 9 Swallow and a Yellow Wagtail.

Monday 30th April

Bright sunshine... hard to believe after the previous day.

Kelk Beck / Little Kelk: 2 Mute Swan, 2 Greylags, 2 Gadwall, 12 Mallard, 6 Grey Partridge, 2 Cormorant, 1 Heron, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, 4 Buzzard, 6 Coot, 1 Oystercatcher, 26 Lapwing, 15 Herring Gulls, 2 Cuckoo - including one flying overhead, 18+ Swallow, 2 Sand Martin, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 5 Willow Warbler, 11 Goldfinch, 14 Linnet, 4 male Reed Buntings singing. Also noted were the first butterflies of the visit; 2 whites and 3 Peacock.

Gembling: 2 Pochard, 1 Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 140+ Herring Gulls, 2 Tawny Owls calling to each other, 3 Whitethroat, 4 Willow Warbler. Another 3 Peackock butterflies were noted.

Last effort for the weekend was a quick dash on the bike to Harpham and back which added 1 Swift, 1 Kingfisher, 2 House Martin and a Speckled Wood butterfly. Best of the lot was an excellent view of a Hobby - my first record for April.

Some photos...

A male Yellowhammer in Little Kelk. My first sighting of one of these beauties as a young lad was part reason for getting me into birdwatching.

Linnets on barbed wires. The males a relatively understated for a finch but no less lovely for it.

You're going to have to trust me but this is a Willow Warbler. This view was looking toward sun - though you'd be forgiven for thinking it was dusk! I love the somewhat chilled out vibe to their song.

Gadwall seem to pass through the area regularly every spring, mostly at regular spots like Brigham Quarry or along Kelk Beck, unlike this pair which were at Lowthorpe Bridge - my first record for that spot.

Finally - the odd looking Jackdaw at Harpham, possibly a continental bird. The resident birds typically have a less contrasting pattern around the head and the almost white collar-line is thought to be consistent in continental birds. Popular thinking is that the overlap between the subspecies/races makes safe identification in the field near impossible. And then there's the problem of subspecies hybrids and intergrades. On the positive side, small numbers of continental Jackdaws must, surely, occur in the area, even if we can't properly identify the buggers. Whatever, this was a really striking little chap compared to more drab normal ones.

Additions to the yearlist...

085 Cuckoo
086 Swallow
087 Blackcap
088 Whitethroat
089 Willow Warbler
090 Yellow Wagtail
091 House Martin
092 Sedge Warbler
093 Lesser Whitethroat
094 Swift
095 Hobby