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 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Brough Haven and Crabley Creek

From the train to London on Friday morning I spotted a Marsh Harrier flying over the reed beds just north of Brough. So I planned a walk today between Brough Haven and Crabley Farm, a marshy area traversed by Crabley Creek, lying between the Humber and its bank. It was sunny, but breezy in the morning and it was the first trip this season that I wished I have brough gloves. Although it warmed a bit later, the south westerly breeze was relentless. The tide was almost at its lowest as I parked by Brough Haven. A small group of Mallard, a flock of Teal and some Redshank fed on the mudflats. As soon as I pointed my binoculars towards the reed beds, I saw the distant silhouettes of four Marsh Harriers quartering near each other, the highest number I've seen together in East Yorkshire. One or several of them were visible through the morning. A large flock of geese, far too distant to identify, passed over the Humber, as did some small groups of Swans, which I couldn't ID.
 I found the way around Brough Haven onto the flood bank. A male Pheasant flew away landing near a group of Curlew. There were good numbers of Curlew around today.
 The side of the bank was flanked by wet pasture and large reed beds streaked by muddy creeks and ponds. New hedges have been planted, and some mature scattered hawthorns, laden with berries, revealed the position of old hedges. Sheep grazed the bank and the marshland. Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Pied Wagtails, Reed Buntings and a single Grey Heron flew across the bank.
 I noticed a Marsh Harrier flying nearby and landing in a visible spot by the path. At the same time, two Kestrels appeared to be squabbling over prey on the bank, one of them flying onto the other, which lifted its wings protecting its prey.
 I returned after reaching Crabley Farm. A bright male Yellowhammer flew towards the hedge by the train line. 
 Two Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral were flying by the entrance of the Haven. After feeding on the mud and getting a very muddy face, a Curlew started bathing in a pool on the mudflats, putting an end to an interesting outing.
Two Marsh Harriers over the reedbed with Drax and windmills on the background.
Distant swans crossing the Humber
Three Marsh Harriers in a line
Ram checking the females
Hawthorn Berries
One of the Marsh Harrier stopped briefly by the reedbed.
Grey Heron
A Kestrel being mobbed by a Meadow Pipit
One kestrel had got a prey and lifted its wings every time the other approached and dived
If you click to enlarge you can spot the prey on the Kestrel talons, with the other chasing it, and two Curlew on the background
The long straight bank heading towards Crabley Farm
A flock of geese in the distance
Female Reed Bunting
A Hawthorn laden with berries
The yellow spot in the middle of the photo is an almost fluorescent male Yellowhammer
Marsh Harrier
A view towards Lincolnshire 
The russet reed bed of Crabley Creek
Teal feeding in Brough Haven
Brough Haven
Marsh Harrier
Curlew with muddy face...
... and finishing its bath with a lovely clean face

Bird list
  1. Black-headed Gull 
  2. Blackbird 
  3. Bullfinch 
  4. Carrion Crow 
  5. Chaffinch 
  6. Common Gull 
  7. Curlew 
  8. Goldfinch 
  9. Greenfinch 
  10. House Sparrow 
  11. Kestrel 
  12. Lapwing 
  13. Linnet 
  14. Magpie 
  15. Mallard 
  16. Marsh Harrier 
  17. Meadow Pipit 
  18. Pheasant 
  19. Pied/White Wagtail
  20. Redshank 
  21. Reed Bunting 
  22. Robin 
  23. Rock Dove
  24. Skylark 
  25. Teal 
  26. Tufted Duck
  27. Woodpigeon 
  28. Wren 
  29. Yellowhammer