Sunday, 17 February 2013

Tophill Low half term ticks

The last day of the school holidays, and a wonderful sunny day with an uplifting spring feel, I drive the kids to Tophill Low. Never underestimate the fuss, noise, and squabbling that three kids between four and ten years old can make at a hide - note to self, must buy more binoculars! After not even 20 min there, and with more and more twitchers arriving to tick the Great Northern Diver in the D-reservoir the hide was full to capacity (sorry guys!). When another birder arrived with a large telescope and positioned himself behind us trying to find a gap in between the kids I thought, enough, time to move on, no chance for the GND. We had a quick snack by the car - it is amazing how quickly snack time arrives when you are out and about with children - and started to walk toward the woods. More squabbling ensued on the way.
We climbed to East Hide, overlooking D res, only two people there, who left promptly. There were so many birds this morning in D res. The ever whistling Wigeon formed displaying circles (top shot), there was also Goldeneye, Coot, Gadwall, Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Ducks and Pochard. A duck arrived just opposite us: a drake Pintail!
Drake pintail

In my next turn with the binoculars I scan the reservoir and in the distance, amongst a group of Coots I distinguish the Great Northern Diver clearly. That was luck when we were not expecting it!

The ducks then appeared to get nervous and large flocks started taking to the air, only the coots staying put. At least it wasn't our noise, a small plane started flying over the reservoirs.
A lull of a few minutes while we watched the birds coming to the feeding station in the wood, and a pair of Roe Deer walking by not 10 m away a magic moment.
We see a group of three Roe Deer by the road as we leave the reserve. One of them starts galloping closer to us.
Just a record shot for the Great Northern Diver

Goldeneye pair
Roe Deer
A galloping roe deer runs toward tree cover

Bird list

  1. Blackbird        
  2.  Blue Tit        
  3.  Chaffinch        
  4.  Coal Tit       
  5.  Common Gull        
  6.  Coot        
  7.  Dunnock        
  8.  Gadwall        
  9.  Goldeneye        
  10.  Goldfinch        
  11.  Great Northern Diver        
  12.  Great Spotted Woodpecker        
  13.  Great Tit        
  14.  Long-tailed Tit        
  15.  Mallard        
  16.  Moorhen        
  17.  Pheasant        
  18.  Pintail        
  19.  Pochard        
  20.  Redwing        
  21.  Robin        
  22.  Rook        
  23.  Shoveler        
  24.  Tufted Duck        
  25.  Wigeon        
  26.  Woodpigeon        
  27.  Wren

Plus three more on the approach road: Yellowhammer, Red-Legged partridge and Mute Swan.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Pearson Park birdwatching

Sometimes, birdwatching on your local patch can be amazingly rewarding. Today the day started with sun and a hard frost. I set off early towards the park, hoping to avoid the bulk of visitors and dog walkers. The ground is covered on hoar frost.
I walk around the park. There is lots of different species singing: Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Dunnock, Robin, Stock Doves, Collared Doves, Mistle Thrush and the first, tentative singing of two Chaffinches, which seem unable to finish their repetitive phrase. A small Greylag flock feeds on the grass. A couple of individuals watchful for dogs, while the rest feed or rest. I was appalled when a few days ago I watched a woman encouraging her dog to chase the geese.
 After the perimeter walk, I decided to stay for another five minutes and explore the area at back of the conservatory. This was rewarded by a Golcrest, Long Tailed Tits and a Wren feeding on and under the leaf litter, giving a very mouse-like impression. I also managed to watch the courtship of the Stock Dove, very similar to that of the Woodpigeon, with bowing and tail fanning.
As I was watching a Long Tailed Tits, I heard the distant calls of geese, and looked up to see a large flock of Pink-Footed geese, flying high in a V shape towards the north. I have never seen them migrating so early, but it was probably a small movement toward Scotland, in anticipation to their migration to Iceland. I counted (on the photos I took), a flock of 104 and another of 138.
This first year male Blackbird was feeding on the frosty ground. It sprinted and then raised its tail almost to the vertical, and repeated it again. I tried to get a shot when the tail was at its highest, but failed, as I had to follow it as it run, and it had started to lower its tailed by the time I focused it.
Mallard pair on ice
This Common Gull kept a close eye on the ground as it paced on the frosty grass
Frost on the wildlife garden
I noticed a pair of Woodpigeons on a roof. The female had adopted a horizontal position and I just had time to get this poor shot of them mating.
Stock Doves were very obvious today. This one sang from a high tree.
Migrating Pink-footed geese

A short video of the migrating geese
A watchful Greylag, while its partner feeds.
The frost steams with the morning sun
This Robin had a reason to look up worriedly. A thin whistling alarm call announced a male Sparrowhawk flying past, and setting off a mixed flock of tits into frenzy. 
This is my only shot of the Sparrowhawk, settled on the tree, with white undertail feathers fluffled up. The the little birds continued calling making quite a kerfuffle nearby and they didn't stop until the raptor flew away.

I don't think I have seen so many species on a trip to the park before!

Bird list
  1. Black-headed Gull        
  2.  Blackbird        
  3.  Blue Tit        
  4.  Canada Goose        
  5.  Carrion Crow        
  6.  Chaffinch        
  7.  Coal Tit        
  8.  Collared Dove        
  9.  Common Gull        
  10.  Dunnock        
  11.  Feral Pigeon        
  12.  Goldcrest        
  13.  Goldfinch        
  14.  Great Spotted Woodpecker        
  15.  Great Tit        
  16.  Greenfinch        
  17.  Greylag Goose        
  18.  Herring Gull        
  19.  House Sparrow        
  20.  Long-tailed Tit        
  21.  Magpie        
  22.  Mallard        
  23.  Mistle Thrush        
  24.  Moorhen        
  25.  Pink-footed Goose        
  26.  Robin        
  27.  Song Thrush        
  28.  Sparrowhawk        
  29.  Starling        
  30.  Stock Dove        
  31.  Woodpigeon        
  32.  Wren     

Monday, 4 February 2013

A topsy turvy day at North Cave Wetlands

This is one of the windiest days I can remember, gales with sudden, violent gusts blew over the reserve. The hides whistled, creaked and howled. Moorhens rode waves, Redshanks flew backwards, a Kestrel failed to hover, despite trying hard, passerines kept a low profile. Only the Jackdaws seem to enjoy riding on the wind like kites. And there were lots of people about for a change - monday mornings have been very quiet so far.
  There were quite a number of Shelducks in the reserve today: a few on the grassy areas south of Dryham Lane, and large flock on a mudflat on Reedbed Lake. A variety of other ducks about as well: Wigeon, Teal, Pochard (top shot) and Tufted ducks.

  On the main lake, a motley crew of Cormorants, an Oystercatcher and Lapwings sat on the raft facing the raging wind.
Pair of Shelduck
View of Main lake
Flock of Shelduck on Reedbed Lake

Bird List

  1. Black-headed Gull        
  2.  Blackbird        
  3.  Blue Tit        
  4.  Canada Goose        
  5.  Carrion Crow        
  6.  Common Gull        
  7.  Coot        
  8.  Cormorant        
  9.  Feral Pigeon        
  10.  Fieldfare        
  11.  Gadwall        
  12.  Goldfinch        
  13.  Greylag Goose        
  14.  House Sparrow        
  15.  Jackdaw        
  16.  Kestrel        
  17.  Lapwing        
  18.  Long-tailed Tit        
  19.  Magpie        
  20.  Mallard        
  21.  Moorhen        
  22.  Mute Swan        
  23.  Oystercatcher        
  24.  Pochard        
  25.  Redshank        
  26.  Reed Bunting        
  27.  Robin        
  28.  Rook        
  29.  Shelduck        
  30.  Shoveler        
  31.  Skylark        
  32.  Snipe        
  33.  Starling        
  34.  Teal        
  35.  Tree Sparrow        
  36.  Tufted Duck        
  37.  Wigeon        
  38.  Woodpigeon        
  39.  Wren