Saturday, 28 April 2012

Hornsea and Far Ings NR

With the prospect of a couple of hours birding today after work, it was a question of where to go to make the most of it, do I head south to Covenham for the Bufflehead or east to Hornsea for the erratic Green winged Teal. Luckily, for once, I made the right decision. After a quick trip into work, I found myself at Kirkholme Point at Hornsea Mere in very blustery conditions. Predictably there was no sign of the Teal, but the place was alive with hirundines and I soon picked up my first House Martin (129) of the year followed shortly by several Common Terns (130). The teal is probably still around but the mere is a huge piece of water, with large areas unaccessible. Pretty sure I'll get another chance to catch up with one sometime this year, famous last words!!

Arriving home just after lunchtime, I noticed on the pager that I had apparently missed both Osprey and Arctic Tern mid morning at Hornsea, that cheered me up. The afternoon plans were soon to change from a swimming trip for the kids to a quick trip across the bridge to Far Ings NR, Lincs. for a Red rumped Swallow. Setting off into pouring rain I wasn't too hopeful but with the recent decrease in bridge toll fees I thought we'd give it a go anyway. Arriving on site some 20 minutes later, I was soon onto the Red rumped Swallow (131) as it showed well over the Blow Wells Pits with small numbers of Swallows, Sand Martins and the first Swifts (132) of the year.

Friday, 27 April 2012

North Cave (VERY) Wetlands

Managed a day off on Wednesday, the wettest day of the week!! Was busy with an appointment with Toby in the morning but managed to get out for a walk around North Cave Wetlands. I seem to have been there more than ever this year and with every trip there seems to be more and more work being done. The development of the quarry on the opposite side of the track to the main reserve is coming along nicely and now there's a new state of the art straw bale hide over looking it. I'm lucky to live so close to the reserve and it's starting to pull in some decent birds, last year it was the confiding Spotted Crake and the year before was the Spotted Sandpiper. There's already been a couple of Caspian Gulls this year and a fly over Glossy Ibis, I think it's only a matter of time before a real rarity is found and everyone else discovers what a great place this is.

I thought I'd start off in Turret hide for a look for the Reed Warbler but with the raiin lashing down and wind blowing there was no sign but the flock of Avocets (125) on the pools continues to grow. With the continued presence of the Ruff on Village Lake, I headed round the perimeter path getting drenched in doing so. No sign of the Ruff, my second attempt for this bird this year, but a singing male Blackcap showed well as did my first Willow Warbler (126) of the year. Predictably no sign of the Little Owl in the North West corner, but there were large numbers of Swallows and Sand Martins (127) over the lakes at the west end. Walking into the hide over looking the main lake, I was put onto the moblie Ruff (128) as it disappeared over the bank, again large numbers of hirundines were present alnog with one of the regular Black necked Grebes on the far side. All in all a worthwhile walk, even if it was a little on the damp side!!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A catch up

Back in January I decided to set myself a few targets for the 12 months ahead. Every year when I read the annual reviews and see all of the decent birds I've missed, I think "Why didn't I get to see that?", usually the answer is either that I simply couldn't be bothered or had family commitments. By setting myself a few, modest achievable targets, I felt that I would get myslef out in the field a bit more than a normal year and would get to see a few decent birds, sounds easy doesn't it?

Year List: 225
A more than achievable target as long as I can actually get out every now and then. Year listing can be a bit full on if you're going to do it properly and I'd really love to be able to have a proper go one year, but for that you need to have a lot of spare time and even more money. My last serious year list was back in 2005 and involved some pretty decent birds as well as a lot of expense. It was the year before Amy was born so meant that I could go for a lot more stuff. One particular madcap trip was the Green Heron in North Wales followed by a return route home for the Surf Scoter in Derbyshire and a Great White Egret in Leicestershire, bit of a long journey round for 3 year ticks but they were pretty decent birds to catch up with. Other "days out" were the King Eider up in Ayrshire and another trip to Anglesey, this time for a Blue winged teal.

Yorkshie List: 30 new ticks
30 new birds for Yorkshire seems a lot in one year but there are some ridiculous gaps on there so with a little effort, it's more than do-able.

Life List: BOU 2 / UK400 4 new ticks
Most years I tend to get a couple of new birds, so again, altthough this may need a bit more effort, it's achievable.

Watch this space............................................

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A little unexpected...

There are some birds that you just don't expect to get the chance to see. For me these include: Fea's Petrel- not being a fan of seawatching and with the Scillonian pelagics now a thing of the past, seems unlikely. Needletail Swift also seems unlikely as you have to be pretty quick off the mark with hirundines and those days have gone.

When the news initially broke, this list also included Thayers Gull. Ok, so they've been turning up with increasing regularity or at least being reported in Ireland but as I don't intend on doing Ireland any time soon, it seemed unlikely that I'd catch up with one. I always fancied one being found by the Welsh birders but have done so ever since the first back in 1989 in County Cork and was still waiting, that was until TL found this contender at Elsham, Lincs.

Little did I realise how much of a rarity finder he'd be when I took him on a twitch to the Scillies back in 1999 for the Siberian and White's Thrush combo, but he's really delivering at the moment, congrats Tom.

Living less than 20 miles away from Elsham, all be it on the North shore of the Humber, should have meant for a pretty straight forward little twitch, hmmm- yeah right!! The bird was confirmed on Weds 4th April but we had an appointment and couldn't cancel at such short notice. Thursday saw us all heading to Norfolk for Easter, driving past the field that the bird had been frequenting, game on! Arrived on site at 10am with no sign of the bird so far and with 2 children in the back of the car who didn't want to stop, aaagggghhhh! Decided to have a quick recce of the site in case it turned up again. Of course it did, when we were an hour and a half closer to Norfolk, disaster! Decided for the best that we should continue on our journey and get to Norfolk. The bird continued to show for most of the afternoon and I considered heading straight back as soon as I'd dropped off the family but was needed for the kids bedtimes. Plans were immediately made for the next day.

As the bird hadn't been picked up much before lunch on any of the days it had been present, we decided not to be onsite for first light, of course, less than 10 minutes into the journey, it was reported as still being present. FOOT DOWN!!! This helped to speed the journey up a bit, although it wasn't reported again until we were less than 30 minutes away from Elsham. Having been onsite the previous day proved invaluable as we were able to get straight to the bird and it was still there - result.

The bird showed reasonably well if a little distant. Having been for 2 previous reported Thayers, in Cambs in the nineties and more recently, Worcestershire, for what turned out to be a Herring Gull!!!, it was something of a relief to catch up with a real one.  Oh well, all good things come to those who wait.

Above 3 photos all courtesy of Alan Lewis