This week has been a good week, well for birds anyway! Three new lifers made up a total of eight new birds to add to the year list and that’s only from two outings!
On Monday I was feeling stressed and fed up so I decided to go do a bit of early evening birding as birding is one of the best ways to relax I have found, wandering around a field on your own for a few hours can sometimes work magic. It had been reported on East Yorkshire Birding that a large amount of Whimbrel had been present on Swinemoor Common for the past few days. Whimbrel would be a lifer for me so I decided to go try for them, especially seen as I had missed out on seeing them last year just because I got a lift home rather than walk through Swinemoor.
Arriving at Swinemoor I wasn’t surprised to see how high the water levels were on here after all the recent rain fall we’ve had, although I was surprised to see some areas of mud still rather quite dry. I walked onto the riverbank and was instantly greeted with a flash of white from the back of a House Martin. I watched the House Martin for a while however my attention was soon stolen by what is quite possibly my favourite bird… Swifts! There were around 12 swifts performing their brilliant displays of aerial mastery. One of the things I love about swifts is how close they can come to you, with some of them whizzing past at little more than an arm’s length away. You can hear their wing beats; it’s almost as if you don’t exist to them.
After spending a while looking at the swifts I decided it was time to go look for the whimbrel. Obviously with a bird like a whimbrel it doesn’t take long to find them. As I’ve never seen one before I’d often looked in my field books and wondered how it was possible to tell them apart from Curlew, yet when I saw my first one it was practically a silhouette due to the lighting and the difference in beak shape and length and their general size was obvious. I walked around the common to get a better look at them before heading on back home.
I recently got the following spam comment on my blog:
“I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you could space it out better? Also I suggest that you could add more interesting topics in your articles like poker games. Thanks…”
Talk about poker on a nature blog? Really?! Ok well also whilst on Swinemoor I saw a several lapwings playing Texas Hold ‘em with some woodpigeons and some Great tits having a game of blackjack. I don’t think it goes to well does it?
Back on track, on Wednesday I woke up and seen as it was a rain free day for a while I decided I would make a trip up to High Eske. When I got there I was surprised by how little wildfowl was on the lake, which had a high water level. There was a lot of Great Crested Grebes, one little grebe, Cormorants but apart from that there was nothing else. Not any ducks anyway. The air was full of hirundines and swifts. Also a Common Tern gave me another new bird for the year.
As I walked around the lake and through the trees, I hoped to see my first blackcap of the year. I thought I heard one however I couldn’t see it. Blackcap is one of several birds I’d seen by this point last year but not yet seen. Wheatear was another I was hoping for but didn’t see. I did however see the terrapin of High Eske basking out on his log.
A walk down Leven Canal produced very little except for a kestrel, year first Sedge Warbler and a friendly dog. As I headed back to High Eske, I walked back around the lake and managed to see three Little Gulls which provided the second lifer of the week, although I did have to ask HVWG if it was a Little Gull due to my lack of confidence with gull species. Incidentally that was the second time I’d met Eric and the first time I saw him he was pointing me in the direction of an Iceland Gull. Perhaps next time it’ll be an Ivory gull he shows me… Whilst talking to a birder taking photographs of the gulls and terns I also saw a Common Sandpiper which was another year first.
Walking back as I got close to the bridge that crosses the river Hull, something landing on the water in the flooded field next to me caught my eye. I raised my binoculars and was greeted with a great sight of a male garganey. I had tried for the garganey at Top Hill a few weeks earlier so to self-find one was a great treat. Seeing it swimming with two mallards I was surprised by how small of a duck it is and after staring longingly at it in field guides it didn’t take any skill to ID it. I managed to take the following bad photo of it with my binoculars and camera phone.
So there’s my exciting two days out which brings my year list up to 111