Thursday, 24 December 2015

Mild December

Crazy weather, as ever. Temperatures in double digits, even after dark. The stiff wind wasn't very helpful for finding birds but it was an interesting weekend no less.

As posted yesterday, there has been an influx of Little Egrets and the Great White Egret discovered on 1st November has found a friend.

The first egrets noted were two flying south along the beck, followed by two standing in a field at Harpham. Naturally, at the time, I assumed they were the same two. Then we located one in trees by Lowthorpe bridge, and another standing in oilseed further down the beck. I make that 4... or 6... or 2. No idea.

Later another was found on the drain near Barf Hill (over a mile from the beck) - almost certainly a different bird. Is that 5 now?

On Sunday almost the first birds seen were four Little Egrets and a Great White Egret flying south along the beck. The group split up and odd ones were noted occasionally later on. The GWE appeared again in the company of two Grey Herons and a second GWE - see photos in the link.

Finally, on Monday, another was seen at Wansford, which I'm considering is likely to be a different bird. Clearly they are mobile but I think 6 is a fairly safe total.

Other highlights as follows...

Saturday 19th - Monday 21st December

Gadwall - 6
Teal - 120+
Shoveler - 4
Mallard - 150+
Little Grebe - 4
Cormorant - 11
Little Egret - 6
Great White Egret - 2
Grey Heron - 13
Sparrowhawk - 4
Buzzard - 11
Kestrel - 5
Lapwing - 56
Snipe - 9
Redshank - 1
Green Sandpiper - 5 an exceptional count for Dec
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 8 an unseasonal record
Herring Gull - 70+
Great Black-backed Gull - 2

Woodpigeon - 6000+ heading to roost at dusk. This is the largest single flock of any species I've recorded locally. It was several hundred metres long. Incredible sight. Less so if for farmers, though.

Barn Owl - 3
Little Owl - 1
Short-eared Owl - 2
Kingfisher - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 3
Meadow Pipit - 1 at Harpham is unseasonal
Grey Wagtail - 3
Fieldfare - 28
Redwing - 1
Mistle Thrush - 8
Jay - 2 at Lowthorpe
Linnet - 80

Two additions to the year list bringing the total to 107. Despite some really good sightings this is my lowest ever.

106 Shoveler
107 Redshank


One of the Barn Owls. We watched this for about 10 minutes quartering a grass field at Lowthorpe. Occasionally it came very close but unfortunately always into direct sunlight.

Grey Wagtail. Always a favourite. Three in a winter weekend is very healthy. Perhaps a symptom of the mild weather.

Meadow Pipit in near darkness. Not at all an easy bird to find here in winter. Again, presumably weather related.

Mistle Thrush in a classic pose. For reasons unknown they have been very elusive in the last couple of years so it was pleasing to find eight over the weekend.

This Short-eared Owl was flushed by a low flying heron. It flew along the hedge line towards us before turning back briefly and then landing! This is almost the same spot where two were together in January. Could this be a returning bird or is it more likely just an attractive bit of habitat.

And that's a wrap, as they say. See you in 2016.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Strange times. In November a Great White Egret appeared in the area. Given the mild weather there was some hope that it might still be knocking around last weekend. Indeed it was. And it had been joined by another. Along with an influx of at least 6 Little Egret. I have never seen more than a single Little Egret at one time.

What is happening? Whatever it is, I like it.

Here's Great White number 1, seen flying along the beck on Sunday.

And here it is a couple of hours later having joined the second, and a Grey Heron for handy size comparison.

Now for some Little Egrets. Here's one enjoying a hedgerow.

Resting in a field of oil-seed.

And, a bit more like it, standing by some water.

Non-egret highlights to appear later...