What’s been happening since I last updated? Well for a start winter arrived at last, and a mad frenzy occurred when the snow fell. Or something like that… I was working or doing college work for most of the week when the snow first came so could not do some snow birding. There is something about the snow that makes birding more enjoyable. Perhaps because the harsh conditions means that birds have to travel to new areas for food and water or that they’re more obliging because they’re starving to death so don’t mind your presence.
On my walk to work on the Tuesday after snow, there was a lot of Long-tailed Tits in the shrubs that run along the Beverley Beck. This is the first time I can remember seeing them here so they’ve probably travelled from Figham in search of food. It was my first encounter with this bird for the year. Probably a top ten bird!
On Friday 10th I had slept so going to college was out of the question, instead I decided to go birding after dinner. I’ve shamelessly not been out on my local patch yet this year (maybe I shouldn’t call it my patch any more) so Figham Common was decided as my place of choice. Especially after my step-dad had just come in from walking the dog and told me he’d seen a pair of Goosander on the river. I’d only ever seen Goosander once before at East Park earlier this year and they are now probably in my top three ducks, so the idea of seeing them on my patch was exciting.
As I walked onto the common I could see some activity in front of me. I saw a wader inflight, quick as a flash I looked through my binoculars and followed it. It landed next to some other waders. It didn’t take me long to identify them. Golden Plover! A lifer for me and therefore of course a patch first for me as well. I’ve often gazed longingly at Golden Plover in books, so it was great to finally see one for real. There was about eight of them in total feeding on the river bank, some getting hassled by some black-headed gulls. I felt like telling them I had their backs, but they wouldn’t understand. They’re just Golden Plovers.
I continued to walk down the riverbank and saw the two Goosander looking very fine indeed. I’d previously spend £2.90 on bus fares on going to see Goosander at East Park and now I was viewing some on my patch for free. I felt like demanding a refund for my bus fare from them. I would show them my ticket and explain that I spent good money going to see them at East Park and now they’re teasing me by showing up on my patch. They would reply that they’re giving me a new patch record so I shouldn’t be so ungrateful. Or they’d just stare at me and fly off, because they’re only ducks.
As I walked along the river I saw a pair of Little Grebe, a sole Pochard and some tufted ducks. I also saw fifteen Coot in a gang. Coot for some reason is a rare sight on this patch of the River Hull and is usually seen on the fishing ponds near the river and not actually on it. A bit further up a pair of Goldeneye swam, giving me my third patch first for the day. I walked away from the river to try the trees and shrubs, the number of small birds was low. Although a good number of blue and great tit about.
I decided to go back towards the river for more views of the Plovers and Goosanders. In the field on the opposite side of the river apart from an annoying man talking loudly on his phone there was a Barn Owl and Kestrel hunting in the same field. It’s always great to see Barn Owls. Shame it didn’t come to my side of the river so I could get better views. However there was a lot less snow covering on that side.
A very good outing on my patch, a lifer seconds from the entrance and two further patch firsts. Don’t think I’ll get a day like that again! I hope I do though!
On the Saturday I ventured out with Rob and James to Hornsea. We started birding in the Beverley Tesco car park as James had found a Lesser Redpoll hanging out with some Goldfinches. We then sped out towards Hornsea, stopping off to check the pond at Bewholme on the way. We arrived at the Mere after passing through a Hornsea that now has every single shop boarded up because of Tesco arriving in the town… The ice had meant that there was little to see except some far distant ducks, swans and geese that were still hard to make out with binos. We managed to see the Iceland gull that everyone was mainly looking for however didn’t see the Glaucous gull. There’s some great pictures of the gull here. A flock of Barnacle geese where present and another flock of geese flew other. Bean we were told. A single whooper sawn was seen mingling with the mutes. There was a domestic duck at the mere so cute that I wanted to scoop it up, take it home and hand feed it bread on Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t allowed. We decided to try our luck on the path the runs along the other side of the mere so headed out that way. Whilst trudging slowly through deep snow, I managed to see a Yellowhammer, my first for a few months.
We got to the side of the mere and set up the scope and a flock of grey geese landed on the ice. They were Bean geese, a flock of Tundra with a single Taiga along with them. This was either one or two lifers for me, depending on who rules you play by. I play by my own rules and say it’s two. However on Bubo I use BOU for my life list so it’s only one. Whilst watching the birdies, an incredibly stupid woman, her idiot daughter and their dog decided that it would be a good idea to walk on the frozen mere. Either Rob or James said we might have to rescue them at some point. I decided that we shouldn’t as it’s evolution if they fall in and die. Fortunately they didn’t die and we headed off in the search of some dirty hybrid geese to please James.
The location of these hybrids was at Skirlington they were Emperor x Barnacle and Ross x Barnacle. The first one we saw was actually quite cute, I didn’t get as good views of the second. There were also some weird-looking Greylag mutant things, with necks wider than a small child I was slightly scared of getting swallowed whole by them. At the pond a flock of white-fronted geese departed as we got out of the car to view them. James then drove around the area trying to find some ponds where the geese might have flown. Sadly all the ponds on the map were at locked off lodges. They didn’t want our kind there. We ended up at the Beverley Westwood and didn’t see much except some interesting fungi that I didn’t take a picture of and a Redwing feeding that Rob got some great pictures of.
A good couple of days pushing the year list up to 90. I also got 4/5 lifers in two days, which is nice.