Tag Archives: harrier

2012 – Top Ten


Here are my top ten birds of 2012….

10 – Goosander
It’s a good duck

9 –  Black Necked-grebe
I’m a big fan of grebes however had only seen little and great crested so when three black-necked grebes turned up at North Cave Wetlands I decided that instead of heading to the library to do important college work that I would travel down to one of my favourite nature reserves. Well worth it.

8 – Cuckoo
Often heard but never seen. After a disappointing trip to a high water levelled Filey Dams we headed off to Bempton Cliffs. A cuckoo had been seen on the concrete posts that fence off the MoD land. It didn’t take long to locate and stayed still most of the time with the only movement flying from one post to another. Great to get such brilliant views of a bird I can rarely locate.

7 – Garganey
My first garganey and my first self-found rare bird too! Cracking little duck.

6 – Hobby
In august I went on an awkward lunch date. Afterwards in a bid to rid myself of the shame I went birding and saw my first ever hobby! You know you’ve seen a good bird when you mutter “f**king hobby!” to yourself when you see it!

5 – Waxwings
Hold the revolving door! Waxwings only at number five? What is this madness?! It’s been a good year for top birds so much so that the avian Jedwards have been knocked back into fifth place. They crop up in your dreams , oh but dreams have a knack of just not coming true. However this year was different and I managed to catch up with them as my last post shows. They also turned up in Hull behind St Stephens shopping centre, but unfortunately I was in a class when the alert came through on RBA android app and I spent an agonising hour and a half waiting for my lunch break to see if I could see them (sadly I didn’t). I didn’t renew my trail RBA subscription to save me from the hell of not been able to shoot off for a bird, for now anyway.

Joint third – Short-eared Owl and Hen Harrier
New Year’s Day 2012 I saw two short-eared owls hunting then a ringtailed Hen Harrier appeared trying to steal food from the hunting owls. It was hard to follow where all three birds were at times and who was stealing from who, but it was a “spectacular” as some would say. After seeing these three birds there was a total down pour and I had to walk an hour home soaking wet. Was still worth it!

2 – Desert Wheatear
My first proper twitch to go see the long staying and most photographed bird. Hung around on the cold cliff tops at Bempton waiting for this little cute thing to pop up. Was well worth the wait. Didn’t get a photograph as there’s already a million of it on the web! That same day I also made friends with a one footed turnstone, saw my first gannets of the year some four months earlier than I usually do and saw some harbour porpoises.

1 – Roller
My second proper twitch to another bird that stayed around for a while. Parked up, waiting in the cold drizzle for an hour (luckily some friendly birders were present for company) eventually it turned up in on some over head wires and I got to  see its vivid blue colouring and lovely cinnamon pink back. Watched it for half an hour and then had to go to work, but I went to work very happy!

Close calls – Iceland Gull (I like gulls but not enough to make them to the top 10), Smew – female only a male would have found its way into there. That’s the type of sexist pig I am. Peregrine – same day as the cuckoo. I had fantastic views of a juvenile female calmly sat on the cliffs at Bempton. Greenish Warbler, cute little bird but too didn’t want to feel too much of a twitcher by counting it ;), Golden Plover – incredibly cute, Wood Sandpiper, Temmincks Stint, Little Stint, Bar-Tailed Godwit – The Swinemoor highlights, Brent Goose – probably my favourite goose!

I finished the year with 144 birds, bit disappointing seen as I had 90 in February however I’ve done very little birding since the summer. Missed out on going to see the Jack Snipe that was present for a long while at North Cave Wetlands, no green woodpecker sadly. Dipped on Barred Warbler, Yellow-Browed Warbler and Red Breasted Flycatcher whilst at Spurn. Also missed out on a Pectoral Sandpiper on Swinemoor and when at South Landing found a Spotted Flycatcher but didn’t see the Pied fly, at least I didn’t see it and get disappointed when it turned out not to be an Atlas though!  Hope 2013 is more successful and full of even more fantastic lifers.

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Roller and an Outing


There’s been a bit of excitement recently, excitement in the form of a bright blue bird known as a roller. I’m not quite sure of the full story but a roller turned up at Spurn before travelling along the coast to Aldbrough just outside of Hornsea. I had seen various tweets about the bird however didn’t really pay notice.

Last Monday I received a text from my aunt saying she had been to see it and it was a fantastic bird and would I like to go and see it. Unfortunately I had to decline as I was just about to head out to go see my daughter for the day (putting family before birds I won’t make a good twitcher!). It was a hard decision however I thought that when she becomes an unruly teenager and is shouting about how her parents don’t love her I’d be able to remind her the time I gave up seeing a roller to see her! As I sulkily shopped with the child a got a text from my aunt saying it was still around and looked amazing. I’d also seen a few pictures on twitter and was getting quite jealous. Gripping continued with the return of my parents from a holiday to Spain, who informed me that they’d seen a Hoopoe on their travels!

On Thursday night I made a few enquiries and Michael Flowers told me it was still around and where to see it. A midday start at work on Friday meant that “twitching” it was a possibility. We headed out to Aldbrough and found the site, mainly due to a car ignoring the advice to not park on the grass verge and getting stuck in a drainage ditch! A couple of other birders turned up and we managed to get the car back on the road. After all was sorted a quick look and the roller was nowhere to be seen. We hung around for a while time getting on before I would have to head back for work. As we stood talking to a couple of birders suddenly the roller appeared on the wires above our heads.

Rising my binoculars up to get a better look I was greeted with a brilliant sight of electric blue and “cinnamon pink” after a while on the wire the bird flew down onto the tilled soil. We watched it for around half an hour hunting for insects and getting mobbed by a meadow pipit. An utterly fantastic bird! A cuckoo was also heard whilst we watched the roller. I didn’t take any pictures of the roller however lots of gorgeous pictures on Michael Flowers’ blog.

Yesterday we headed for the RSPB reserve of Blacktoft Sands, we’d done this a few months back but had to call the trip short. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t as nice as our previous visit but was pleasant enough. A quick chat in the visitor centre gave us our first views of the wonderful marsh harriers. We did the left hand side of the reserve first. A sad sight was what looked like an already sorry-looking Great Creasted Grebe chick being attacked by some black-headed gulls. It disappeared into an inlet and wasn’t seen again. I doubt it survived.

Highlights were a few remaining avocets (sadly not a successful breeding season), Ringed Plover and my first blackcap of the year. After lunch we did the right side of the reserve. After arriving in the “First Hide” three marsh harriers appeared from nowhere as usual. I’ve never seen the harrier food pass before and a male and female harrier started behaving as if it were about to take place. At this point my stepdad re-joined me after putting his new RSPB membership pack in the car and I rather excitedly shouted out “Watch them two there!” a few seconds later the food pass took place. A first for me and even though I’ve seen it many times on programmes and clips it was brilliant to see happen a few meters away. The tide was high at this point river traffic was busy, whilst watching the birds we also saw two large ships bringing in wind turbine parts along the River Ouse, first ship brought in the blades and the next one passing brought the shafts. After a while we decided to head off to close by Yorkshire Trust’s North Cave Wetlands site.

North Cave is probably one of my favourite reserves to visit. Whilst it doesn’t always turn up as good stuff as other sites it’s always a pleasant walk around and the information is always up to date. As we were getting the gear out of the car I spotted a stoat running across the road. It then stood up right giving excellent views of this wonderful and beautiful mustelid. It’s not surprising you see stoats at North Cave considering the huge amount of rabbits on site.

A walk round produced lots of black headed gulls, avocets, a Dunlin in summer plumage, either a few kestrels or one very busy kestrel, red-legged partridges and some common terns getting vicious with some of the gulls on the main lake. Sadly the hobby that had been seen the previous evening was nowhere to be seen however that wouldn’t dampen a great days birding.

Whilst visiting North Cave we also ventured into the new hide. A sign on the door stated it was open however the door was very stiff. You could be fooled into thinking the door was locked which is probably what I have been before! Inside the hide is very smart-looking with lots of information and colourful pictures about the local wildlife and habitats. It is well worth a visit.

Migrants are here


Since I haven’t posted a blog since the snow, some of you may have been concerned that I had perished in the snow, stuck birding at some remote location and suffered some terrible fate. However I’ve just been lazy. If you think this blog looks bad you should check out my log book!

However I have been birding! At the beginning of March it was reported that three avocets were at North Cave Wetlands. I went down there hoping to see my favourite wading bird. However those sleek smoothies had already moved on. I wasn’t disappointed as I knew I would soon catch up with them later in the year. On that trip I did manage to add a further three to the year list with skylark, reed bunting, snipe and a pair of goosander was a good consolation prize.  I also found half a rabbit’s skull which I showed my daughter when I got home. “No daddy, I only like real rabbits with fur!” she cried in horror. Looks like I won’t be getting a Dad of the year mug this Father’s Day…

A trip out to Oak Road Playing fields in Hull let me see my first ever weasel. Eventually after hopping around for a bit it decided to go and kill some rabbits. It went down the rabbit warren and a loud squealing was heard. Surprisingly the rabbit managed to escape from its clutches and scurried free away from the weasel. However when it saw us it dived back into the warren where the weasel was! After that there was no more noise or commotion from the warren, one can only assume that the rabbit informed the weasel of our presence and the pair have become new BFFs. The rabbit convincing the weasel that there is no reason to eat meat and that vegetarianism is the way forward. The weasel is reluctant to agree but the prospect of a new friend makes him agree he’ll only eat meat from abandoned take away containers from now on. I also saw first woodpecker of the year. It was a great spot! (Do you see what I did there?!)

Wood Lane

At the end of March we had very warm weather. I even got a bit sunburnt! Sun burn! In March! The Shame! Whilst getting sunburnt I was out birding in the Willerby and Cottingham area, mainly seeing lots of Linnets. I also ventured into the cemetery on Priory Road. Had two roe deer shoot out past me no more than 12 feet away which was great. I also saw a stock-dove in an owl box.

At college I sometimes get out of my morning class early, instead of using this spare time to do useful things like work on assignments I instead bird (or write blogs like I am doing now) most of my urban birding takes place walking the River Hull towards the Humber looking for waders. I usually only ever encounter Redshanks, however Curlew I have seen on the Humber as well as a Kestrel hovering over the tiniest bit of waste land by the side of one of the busiest roads in Hull.

Kestrel over Castle Street. Taken on mobile and could not see the screen so please excuse the awfulness of picture

With migrants starting to appear I decided a trip to High Eske was on the books. I walked through Swinemoor Common and saw eight Ruff which have been there a while and are now starting to get into breeding plumage which means I should try to check them out again. (The Wold Ranger recently visited them have a look and wrote about it here) I was hoping to see some hirundines. I didn’t see any, however I did see and hear lots of Chiffchaffs. A further trip to North Cave Wetlands abled me to finally see the avocets, making them bird number 99. We went from this Yorkshire Wildlife Trust site to the RSPB Blacktoft Sands. Neither site had any hirdundines. Although we did see more avocets and around eight Marsh Harriers!

Curlew on Humber

A garganey had been seen at Top Hill Low for a few days but by the time I managed to get to the site it was long gone. Although I did see two avocets, which I think is a rare occurrence for this site, especially now that the pair appears to be breeding. We also saw a possible ring tailed Hen Harrier. Also finally saw bird one hundred and my first hirundines of the year two swallows at the hide overlooking Watton Nature Reserve. Also saw another pair later in the evening whilst walking my dog on Figham Common.

News of three Black Necked Grebes at North Cave Wetlands and the possibility of a new lifer for the year saw me visit the reserve for the third in in two months last Friday. Whilst initially hard to see them at first due to them spending a lot of time diving and staying underwater I eventually managed to see the lone grebe quickly dive underwater before finding the pair swimming around. They really are a fantastic bird. They’re only the third grebe species I’ve seen and I always love seeing Great Crested and Little Grebes. Whilst looking for the grebes I saw my first Sandmartins of the year and walking around the reserve saw first Willow Warbler of the year. Sadly an evening at work meant I had to call the trip short and missed out on seeing Little Ringed Plover, having a good look for some Pink Footed geese and having another gander at the grebes.

Zoomed in phone camera curlew

Missing out on new birds can send you off the (water) rails


On Wednesday I took a break from working hard on my college assignments  to do a spot of birding (I say working hard I mean staring blankly at my work not knowing what to do for a few days straight). I was due to meet up with Jess of pinkcuckoos fame and one half of the birding tag team I’ve Never Killed a Pipit and my gripper nemesis Rob before heading off to North Cave Wetlands. I caught the bus in Beverley which already contained Jess. I didn’t see Jess on the bus due to sprinting upstairs like a big kid. In front of me sat two people working on a chemistry project for Hull university. I really should be doing my chemistry work and not birding I thought at this point. I did see a pheasant on Figham Common as the bus went past. So if nothing else of note happened all day I had a new year bird.

On arriving in Hull I found Jess, easily recognisable because she was carrying a telescope. We then had to wait for Rob to show up, then when he did we did a bit more waiting for our bus whilst Robert entertained us wonderfully with tales about the time he watched a male dunnock remove a rivals sperm from his mate.

One the bus we talked birds, mammals, pets and stuff, an old woman kept on pulling a funny face every time Rob spoke. She had a carry bag full of Heinz Sausages in Beans though so who is she to judge?

Arriving in North Cave we walked through the village to the reserve. We walked across a bridge over a little stream, this stream contained two mallards two feet away, Jess at this point for some strange reason decided to get out her binoculars to get a better look at them. Feeling sorry for her we all got our bins out and the days birding was about to begin.

Upon arriving at North Cave I was set upon by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust membership collector person. I really should join them seen as North Cave is an excellent free reserve. I foolishly told the man I was planning on joining and had to listen to what membership options are available before trying to get him to just let me take a form home rather than compleing one there. 

We went into a refurbished looking Village lake hide (I think that’s what it’s called) and scanned around for birds. I got a few nice easy birds for the year list such as Teal, Lapwing and Pochard. On the way to the turret hide we saw a mixed flock of Goldfinch and Siskin in the bushes. In the turret hide I was setting up my hide clamp when Jess shouts out “Is that a Water Rail?!” it was as well! Except I didn’t see it. Rob stuck to his habit of seeing birds I don’t see and confirmed it was a water rail. After a while Rob’s friend and co-writer of their blog popped along and we became a birding gang. We soon left the hide, I don’t know what other birds were on the lake as I just stared longingly at the spot where the water rail had popped out hoping for a reappearance. No luck. I also missed out on a sparrowhawk flying across the lake which obviously Robert saw.

Walking around the reserve we added a few ducks and little grebe to our list and I finally managed to see; Robin, Mute Swan, Blue Tit and Great Tit which have been shockingly missing from my year list. We all decided that James was going to drive us to RSPB Blacktoft Sands. On the way to his car a sparrowhawk shot out in front of us. Was good to get last years bogey bird early in the year.

During the journey to Blacktoft we all chatted about birds and stuff. I managed to get revenge on Robert over the Water Rail gripping by telling him about the time a MERLIN got trapped in my garden and I got to see one up close before it was released. We also saw a dead badger roadside. We got out to look at it closer. Like school boys we prodded it with our feet. Sadly that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a badger.

At Blacktoft we checked out a few hides but there wasn’t much about. We settled in a hide that I can’t remember the name of and started to watch the raptor roost come in. It was quite epic! I got year first Marsh Harrier and a lifer with Peregrine Falcon!!! We counted 9 marsh harriers at one point. There was also a male Hen Harrier. I’d already seen a female hen harrier on 1st January. Which was a life tick and one of the best birding moments I’ve ever had as it fought with two Short-earred Owls that were also hunting at the time. You would have read all about this if I had the ability to update blogs… This male Hen Harrier was very sexy, it was such a good bird to see it felt like I was getting another lifer. Which I soon did! A flock of small birds shot over the hide and we all decided to go out side and see if we could see them. They had landed on the tree right outside the hide. We managed to ID them as Twite.

Back inside the hide however James and Robert took to arguing about if it was a Linnet or a Twite. James wasn’t sure of it. I think it’s now been decided it was Twite. I was on Robs side mainly because of the fact Robert has a beard and James doesn’t. You can’t really trust a naturalist that doesn’t have a beard.

We hung around for a bit longer, talked about the controversial Ruddy Duck cull which ended up with me sounding a bit xenophobic to Spanish waterfowl. When the raptors started to thin out we decided to head off home. On the way back to the car park Robert reckoned to see another water rail. All I could see was a Moorhen. Gripped again or Robert can’t see that well in the fading light…

I went home with two new lifers and a year list increased to 54, not bad. I didn’t manage to get my assignment done, however I did see a peregrine and male hen harrier. I’d call that a worthy sacrifice.

April and May


Hello again, I’ve sort of abandoned this blog haven’t I. I’m sorry. Well anyway here’s what I’ve been up to birding wise since the last time I blogged!

At the start of April there was news of an Osprey lingering around a few fishing ponds at Arram just outside of my town. I decided to get a lift down and see if I could find it. I acted on information I’d heard and went out to see a specific bird, does this mean I’m on my way to becoming a twitcher? I spoke to a fellow birder in the area and he said it was most likely to have flown off after not being seen all morning. However with at least an hour before the next train I decided to hang around the area and see if there was anything else about. I’d already picked up my first swallow of the year when I arrived in Arram. I walked along the barmston drain part of the Minster to Minster trail (Beverley to York) in the field on the other side of the railway tracks I noticed a large brown blob. I was going to dismiss it as a Pheasant but decided to get the binoculars out on it anyway. YES! It is the Osprey! I decided to sit down on the bank and watch it for a while, 40 minutes and a couple of train passes later (I wonder how many commuters  saw the bird and how many thought I were a train spotter) the Osprey decides to take flight. Magnificent! I soon lost it, but seeing it in flight was amazing. Bird of the year so far!

I headed back to the train station and saw that there wasn’t a train back to Beverley for a good few hours but there was one to Bridlington, so I decided I’d head that way then get a train to Bempton and visit RSPB reserve Bempton Cliffs. Bempton was very quiet on the auk front, although for list ticking this wasn’t too bad as I’d managed to get them at Filey a couple of weeks earlier. Managed to see a single Puffin which seems to be the only bird a lot of people who go to at Bempton are interested in seeing despite it being home to the only mainland breeding colony of Gannets in England. Although I’m slightly biased as gannets are probably my favourite sea-bird. There was also four Shags at the base of the cliff, one of those birds that you hate because non birders have to mention it whilst trying to be hilarious.  Fulmar tucked up neatly on a cliff and a siskin at the feeding station brought my year total up to 81. It was also a warm day with strong winds which resulted in myself getting sunburnt. Sunburnt in the first week of April! Can you believe it?!

Visits to my local patch produced my first treecreeper. A very cute bird. Also I managed to see a kestrel every time I went out on there yet last year I never managed to see one all year on there. Local patch was also where I picked up my first whitethroat of the year. I stated in this blog at the start of the year that I was planning to get out and go to more sites after last years entries into my log book were mainly all made up of my local patch. This year however I’m in danger of not going there enough! This is some sort of birding faux pas surely?

17th April I went to High Eske walking through Swinemoor Common (where I managed to get a Snipe) and then to Leven Canal. Very hot day which resulted in sunburn again. You’d have thought I’d have learnt my lesson! Well I did it was only the tops of my ears I burnt this time! This was a good day for picking up spring migrants with Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Wheatear, Sedge Warbler and Chiff Chaff all seen and a cuckoo heard. Manage to hear a few grass snakes slithering away out of sight. Maybe I’m too heavy footed?

1st May I went to Top Hill Low, for those of you that don’t know about Top Hill Low it is a nature reserve built on the site of a Yorkshire Water treatment works and has two large reservoirs that attract a lot of wildfowl and for this reason have SSSI status. Around the reservoirs are marshes and ponds created from the digging of mud to build flood barriers along the River Hull. There’s also woodlands and grasslands. I don’t get to go here often so it’s always a real treat. First swifts of the year were picked up here along with Yellow Wagtail, Green Sandpiper, Common Tern and Canada goose. I originally missed the Canada goose off when totting up my year list as I’d assumed I’d seen one earlier but a double-check proved me wrong.

Further trips out to High Eske I managed a Greenshank among others including a pair of Great Crested Grebes that looked very David Bowie like with their crests and head shaking. Also bird 100 on the my year list – Kingfisher! What a bird to make it 100! Although 101 was just as good – Marsh Harriers at RSPB Blacktoft Sands. As mentioned before in my blog I’m aiming to visit several new sites this year and Blacktoft was the new site for May. I’ve seen people say about Blacktoft being good for the harriers but that didn’t stop me for being surprised and amazed at the great views you can get of them even without optics from the visitor centre. The day also produced lovely close up views of Avocets feeding and Swifts hawking for insects. Both wonderful birds, definitely top 10 stuff! My year list reached 103 with thanks to Blacktailed Godwits and a single stock-dove.

Right now that’s updated, shall I see you all in three months time? Splendid!

Top Ten Birds of 2010


Let me start by saying that I’m not a twitcher (I should write a piece on my opinion of twitching really) so my list of top ten birds I’ve seen this year might be a bit plain for some! I’m pretty much limited to my local patch but here are my favourite spots of 2010

 

10. Gannet

At number ten on my list is the magnificent sea-bird the gannet. I made my first ever trip to Bempton Cliffs this year and got to see the spectacular sights of thousands of gannets at their only mainland breeding site in the UK.

 

9. Starlings

A lot people would be disgusted at the sight of a starling on a top ten bird list, but I simply love them! From an early age they’ve always been one of my favourite town and garden birds however this year saw my love for them increase when I bought a window feeder and was then able to see their beautiful glossy petrol sheen coat close up. Fantastic colours! I’m yet to see a murmuration of them coming to roost but hopefully 2011 will allow me to see that magnificent sight of nature.

 

8. Green Woodpecker

Whilst always a beautiful bird to see, this pops up on my top ten list for the fact that it was on my local patch which is a great spot for the area.

 

7. Swallow

Not really a great spot but their aerial displays are just beautiful, on a hot summers evening is there anything more peaceful and relaxing than sitting by a river and watching them feeding? I don’t think there is. When watching swallows I’m always amazed at how they don’t crash.

 

6. Swifts

Along with number 7, the essence of summer is watching these masters of flight cut through the skies on their scythe shaped wings at high speeds screeching away. Just an amazing bird, I can’t wait for the start of spring just to see their return.

 

5. Marsh Harrier

I think most birders have a fondness for birds of prey there is just something about them. I went on holiday in October and paid a visit to RSPB Leighton Moss, whilst in one of the hides looking over the reed beds I caught the slightest glimpse of a marsh harrier swoop down for a few seconds before disappearing, a real blink and you’ll miss it moment. If my eyes hadn’t had been on that area for those few seconds I’d have missed out of a great view and a life tick.

 

4. Reed Bunting

For me the male Reed Bunting is quite possibly the cutest bird around, either that or a goldcrest. Whilst I’ve seen a fair few Reed Buntings on my local patch and other birding areas the reason this makes my list is that during the harsh winter at the beginning of the year my garden in West Hull was visited by a male reed bunting which had joined a flock of sparrows. For the area I lived it was a very good garden bird indeed. As my bird knowledge was very slim back then I did not have a clue what it was, so on a trip to my parents I dug out my dads old bird books until I discovered what it was. This then in turn lead me to buy bird books and then start to take birding more serious. So there you have it, the reed bunting, the bird which turned me.

 

3. Kestrel

As previously mentioned I only really began birding properly this year. However I’ve always had a great interest in nature and birds and for a long time in my childhood my favourite bird was a kestrel. Although they were fairly easy to spot as a child, seeing them hovering above motorways on car journeys I’d never really got a good view of them. This was one of my main aims when I took up birding. It happened to me twice this year. The first was when walking along the river; the day itself was a pretty poor day for birding. It was in mid august so a quiet time for birding not only this but there was a very strong wind that even the swallows seemed to struggle with. My list for the day was shockingly bad, under 5 spots if I remember correctly. However as I kept on walking I see a Kestrel struggling in the wind to keep hovering before diving down on prey. A great find on a very poor day. The second kestrel encounter was whilst on holiday at a Haven holiday resort in Cumbria. I’d taken my daughter for a walk on the site, we had reached an area of the site where the caravans are slightly better than those elsewhere. There is a small pond in front the group of caravans which contains a little island and there hovering above the island what do we see but a kestrel and for the extra points it’s a male too! Its beautiful blue head focuses still on the ground waiting for its prey. Or looking for his family as my daughter suggested!

 

2. Barn Owl

The common theme of this list seems to be the average / nice bird in a great situation and none beats that for me then when I saw a barn owl in late October. I’d had the pleasure of watching a Barn Owl hunt on my patch all summer, however summer had become autumn and the dark nights were drawing in, I had given up on going out on an evening birding and swapped it for taking my parents dog for a walk. It was getting close to 7pm and getting dark when my dog and I reached the middle of my patch, as we cut down into the middle to start heading back I saw the unmistakeable ghostly flight of a Barn Owl at dusk, (there were now two Barn Owls out hunting instead of the one from summer, hopefully this means chicks were reared!) I stopped still to watch it hunt for a few minutes, as it flew across the common hunting for voles it was seemingly oblivious to my presence and this was confirmed when it flew within ten feet of me at around my head height before swooping down on prey. Simply breath taking.

 

1. Waxwing

Almost didn’t make it to the list at all! However whilst walking to work on the 29th December, through the thick mist I make out the shape of a flock of birds sat in a tree. Hang on a minute they look like Waxwings, I think so I take a better look, notice their size and the crest on their heads, most definitely Waxwings! I cross over the road to try and get a better view and can make out the patterning on their wings! A brilliant find! I’d become fed up of people saying how we we’re having a great year for Waxwings one of the best for years yet not seen a single one! I don’t know what it is about Waxwings that people seem to love, yes they’re magnificent beautiful birds with gorgeous wing colouring and patterns. Is it just that? As that alone is a great reason to love the Waxwing, is it their semi rarity value? How one year only a small few reach our shores whilst other years like this year thousands make it across? One reason for me is that they’re one of my earliest birding memories, when my family had them in our garden when I was nine years old, I remember my dad getting really excited about them but at the time I didn’t really get why. Whatever people’s reason is for loving them they’re a brilliant bird and one I’ve been aching to see for a while, even dreaming about them on a few occasions! They will probably be my last year tick for 2010, but what a great tick to finish on!

 

Other 2010 stuff

Whilst at RSPB Leighton Moss I also got to see Red Deer and a black tern both great to see.  Missed out on seeing Little Egrets at Leighton Moss a few days before I went they’d had bumper numbers! I was also hoping on seeing Raven and Bearded Tits whilst at Leighton Moss / Cumbria but wasn’t so lucky.  Maybe an excuse to go on holiday to Cumbria again? Other top bird sightings would have to be Cormorants flying above local patch, seeing a Roe Deer staring at me through the bushes only a couple of feet away, Common seal swimming down the river, Kingfisher fluttering by at great speed so all I can make out is its wonderful blue colouring.