Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Alkborough Flats

 Yesterday's was my first visit to this fantastic and relatively new site. Placed on north Lincolnshire, where the Trent River meets the Humber bridge, by the somewhat misleading name of Trent Falls, the reserve was born in the autumn of 2006, where the bank was breached in a managed realignment scheme allowing the Humber to flood over 400 acres of fields. Habitat management since then has created a diversity of habitats, including extensive reedbeds, lagoons and saltmarsh. It is a beautiful location, with impressive views of the landscape surrounding the site from the cliff where the village of Alkborough is perched: the Humber and Blacktoft Sands and Whitton Sands in the distance. The dead tree trunks scattered across the reedbeds make for very atmospheric views. There are also some wooded patches on the cliff near the reserve.
 A cold, a bit breezy, but sunny morning, it didn't take long to see a large group of Bearded Tits feeding on the dry reed seedheads performing their acrobatics. At some point, three Marsh Harriers were visible gliding over the reeds. We visited three hides, by far the most interesting is a tall hide overlooking the reserve, were we saw a Kingfisher, a pair of Grey Herons and a regular pass of Bearded tits and Reed Buntings. Geese, Lapwing and Golden Plover flocks fed on the grassland, occasionally spooked into flight.
A western hide facing mudflats provided good views of Teal, Shoveler, Lapwing, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits preening, with a flock of Dunlin and Shelduck feeding on the mud.
A panel showing a map of Alkborough Flats
A male and a female Bearded Tit feeding on the reeds. At some point three males were visible.
A female feeding
View from the tall hide

View from the western hide
More information
Article at Wildlife Extra.

Site location map

Bird list
  1. Bearded Tit
  2. Black-headed Gull
  3. Black-tailed Godwit
  4. Blackbird
  5. Blue Tit
  6. Canada Goose
  7. Carrion Crow
  8. Common Gull
  9. Cormorant
  10. Curlew
  11. Dunnock
  12. Fieldfare
  13. Goldcrest
  14. Golden Plover
  15. Goldfinch
  16. Greenfinch
  17. Grey Heron
  18. Greylag Goose
  19. Jackdaw
  20. Jay
  21. Kestrel
  22. Kingfisher
  23. Lapwing
  24. Little Egret
  25. Mallard
  26. Marsh Harrier
  27. Moorhen
  28. Pheasant
  29. Redshank
  30. Redwing
  31. Reed Bunting
  32. Robin
  33. Rook
  34. Shelduck
  35. Shoveler
  36. Starling
  37. Stock Dove
  38. Teal
  39. Water Rail
  40. Woodpigeon
  41. Wren 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Frosty wetlands with three geese

I had a sunny, if frosty walk around North Cave Wetlands this morning. The reserve was busier than usual, probably due to the presence of a trio of Tundra Bean Geese. I hadn't visited since late September, and the first thing I noticed is the presence of a new, almost complete, viewing terrace with a great view of Village lake, with the sun behind in the morning. New composting toilets were also in place. I walked anti-clockwise. Under the alders, a lone Goldfinch, a Song Thrush and a pair of Chaffinches fed on the path.
 In Village lake, many Wigeon, Teal and Lapwing, which shone in the low sun (above).
 As I approached the area with the Tree Sparrow nests, I spotted a Treecreeper feeding on a large willow. It was quite tricky to photograph with many branches in the way, but I managed a poor record shot. As I reached north path, three geese flew over the fields. They turned out to be the Tundra Bean geese, which landed ahead. A kind birdwatcher let me check them out with his telescope. They look very dapper with their dark head and orange markings. Two sat down while the third watched warily.
 Walking in the west path, the cold wind became very noticeable. A group of Goldfinches fed noisily on the alders, and I heard an unusual 'tee-oo!' whistle reminiscent of a bullfinch, although cheerier (later identified as a Siskin, which I didn't see). I looked closer and found three Lesser Redpolls feeding. I would have stayed longer watching their antics, but the wind spurred me onwards.
 Crosslands hide was a welcome respite from the cold. The hide traps the sun and it was balmy compared to outdoors. The water levels were very high, and a few coots, pochard and gadwall were feeding. A group of mixed gulls sat on a shallow area resting. A buzzard soared higher an higher, avoiding some crows. A large flock of Fieldfare flew over.
 I reached village lake, where I saw my first little Egret of the reserve. There was a strange absence  of geese, the only ones the Bean Geese I had seen before.
 There were many Redwing and blackbirds at Dryham lane feeding on the hawthorn berries and a few fieldfare passed over too.
 Despite the absence of geese, I managed to list 52 species.
Lesser Redpoll
the entrance to the new viewing terrace
the view from the terrace overlooking, village lake 
Grey Heron
A poor Treecreeper record shot
The distant Tundra Bean Geese on the field

This robin tried several times - unsuccessfully - to detach a hawthorn berry from its stalk.
Drake Gadwall
Little Egret
Song thrush
Bird list
  1. Bean Goose (Tundra) 3   
  2. Black-headed Gull  
  3. Blackbird    
  4. Blue Tit    
  5. Bullfinch 1   
  6. Buzzard 2   
  7. Carrion Crow    
  8. Chaffinch    
  9. Common Gull    
  10. Coot    
  11. Cormorant 3 +  
  12. Dunnock    
  13. Feral Pigeon    
  14. Fieldfare 50 +  
  15. Gadwall    
  16. Goldcrest 1   
  17. Goldfinch    
  18. Great Tit    
  19. Grey Heron 1   
  20. Herring Gull    
  21. House Sparrow    
  22. Jackdaw    
  23. Kestrel 1   
  24. Lapwing 100 +  
  25. Lesser Redpoll 3   
  26. Little Egret 1   
  27. Little Grebe 1   
  28. Long-tailed Tit    
  29. Magpie    
  30. Mallard   D - courtship and Display
  31. Moorhen    
  32. Mute Swan 1   
  33. Pheasant    
  34. Pied Wagtail (yarrellii) 1   
  35. Pochard    
  36. Redshank 3 +  
  37. Redwing    
  38. Robin    
  39. Rook    
  40. Shelduck 5   
  41. Shoveler    
  42. Siskin 1   
  43. Song Thrush 1   
  44. Starling    
  45. Teal    
  46. Tree Sparrow    
  47. Treecreeper    
  48. Tufted Duck    
  49. Water Rail    
  50. Wigeon    
  51. Woodpigeon    
  52. Wren 

Monday, 24 November 2014

South Landing, a Rough-legged Buzzard and a stoat

A lovely morning at South Landing, sunny and low tide. As I arrived a flock of Meadow Pipits, with a few Rock Pipits and a Pied Wagtail, fed by the stream. In the beach, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Ringed Plovers, Cormorant, Herring Gulls, Turnstones and Redshank with a Bar-tailed Godwit. They mostly scattered as a dog walker threw a tennis ball towards the beach. I moved east to try and get a better angle, to photograph the waders and found a Male Kestrel sunbathing on the cliff. I watched the wading birds feed and the cormorant drying its wings, when I heard the Carrion Crow mobbing call behind me. A pale buzzard was being chased just over the cliff. Despite having read about the differences between Rough-Legged and the Common Buzzard, I couldn't remember any at the time, but it was an unusual buzzard, so I checked it carefully trying to memorise its features. Two stuck with me: its mostly white tail, with only the submarginal bar black, and the white wing leading edge. Before it disappeared behind the cliff I also managed a record shot.
 There were three photographers east of the landing, pointing at the cliff with their cameras. They were after a couple of Black Redstarts, but there was no sign of them. A Wren foraged on the cliff, disappearing between the boulders and the crevices in the chalk, in the company of a Rock pipit.
 I had a walk on the top cliff and wood. The only thing of notice was a Sparrowhawk, and a bounding Stoat, which stood on its rear legs to have a good look at me. Before I could change the camera settings, it disappeared into the long grass. 
A running Meadow Pipit
Male Kestrel
Curlew with worm
Bar-tailed Godwit
Young Cormorant
Carrion Crow and the Rough-legged Buzzard
Rock Wren
and Rock Pipit
My favourite place in Yorkshire!
Another Rock pipit
Stoat (sorry for the poor quality but today it wasn't a good day for photos!)

Monday, 17 November 2014

A trip to Noddle Hill

Very subdued trip to Noddle Hill, with a shower. The place was quite deserted, just a couple of dog walkers and no fishermen. There were a couple of Cormorants on the lake, and while taking some shots, I flushed a Water Vole, which plopped in the water, only to reappear briefly shortly after, but not long enough for a photo. A large flock of Lapwing flew overhead. There were Redwings on the hawthorns, feeding on berries with blackbirds, but they were very shy, flying off while giving away their soft 'wow' calls.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Who's a pretty bird?

After some thought, I decided to head to East Park today, as there were two bird species I hadn't seen this year that I wanted to watch. Week days are always quieter there and I guessed the chances of good views would be greater. The day was overcast, with dar clouds, and a light breeze. As I was locking the car in the main entrance car park I heard the screech of a jay, but was unable to locate it.
 A pair of blue tits were hunting on the shrivelled leaves of a small horse chestnut. They proved tricky to photograph, as they often hung nimbly from underneath the umbrella-like leaves and it was hard to see what they were after, although the chances are that they were hunting horse-chestnut leaf miner pupae (Cameraria ohridella).
 Swan 775 spent the whole morning by the lake landing, grooming.
 I heard Jackdaw calls, like last week, and this time I saw them too, on top of the ticket office building. There were three of them, and this is the first time I see them in the park.
 There were good numbers of Pochard, mostly males, I only saw one female
A pair of Great Crested Grebes were present at the East side of the lake
 The first pretty bird was the Goosander, four females and two males, were snorkelling near the large island, still nervous of people getting too close.

 I heard the call of the parakeet. I hadn't seen it for quite a while, but here he was, the lone male in a garden by the park, eating an apple. Isn't he a pretty bird too?

 A Mistle Thrush guarding a Whitebeam. It must be out of habit, as there were few berries left on the tree.
I heard the call of a wagtail, and managed to see it landing by the bridge, a Grey Wagtail it was.
In the mini zoo, a very large young wallaby nursed
On the skate park, another Grey Wagtail, this one with a paler chest than the other.
And then I heard the Jay again. This time I found it on a tree. I hid behind the exercise machines and watched it feeding on the ground for a while.

I lost it when it flew to the hollies, but just as I was leaving, it flew over and landed on a horse chestnut tree by the car. This was the best and longer jay encounter I ever had. Who's a pretty bird indeed?

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. Coot
  11. Cormorant
  12. Dunnock
  13. Feral Pigeon
  14. Goldcrest
  15. Goldfinch
  16. Goosander
  17. Great Crested Grebe
  18. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  19. Great Tit
  20. Greenfinch
  21. Grey Wagtail
  22. Greylag Goose
  23. Herring Gull
  24. House Sparrow
  25. Jackdaw
  26. Jay
  27. Long-tailed Tit
  28. Magpie
  29. Mallard
  30. Mallard (domestic)
  31. Mistle Thrush
  32. Moorhen
  33. Mute Swan
  34. Pochard
  35. Ring-necked Parakeet
  36. Robin
  37. Starling
  38. Tufted Duck
  39. Woodpigeon
  40. Wren