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