Due to a few factors mainly work and college I haven’t been able to get out much this year so decided I’d treat myself to a day at what is probably my favourite nature reserve – North Cave Wetlands over the Easter break. I’d managed to get a long weekend off work (nearly impossible!) so thought that after a weekend of seeing family, we’d go to North Cave on the Monday. Also a nice walk to burn off some of the chocolate and pub lunches I’d had over the weekend!
Using EYMS’ excellent X57 service we arrived in North Cave and proceeded through the village to the reserve. We opted for the anti-clockwise route and settled down into the East Hide to get my year first Avocet (Y53), Oyster Catcher (Y54) and Shelduck (Y55). I mentioned I’ve hardly been out this year and at this point last year I was on 99 birds, including a chiffchaff which not many people seem to have seen yet this year! Between here and Turret hide we picked up the usual ducks and gulls. Some people managed to see a snipe but I had no luck with the cryptic beauties. We decided to back on ourselves and go clockwise at the East Hide we were treated to some Great Crested Grebes teasing us with their head shaking, but the ziggy stardusts did not follow through into full courtship display. From the ridge I could see some raptors soaring, however impossible to ID with binoculars and couldn’t get them in my scope. Due to there being three I would put these as Red Kites, which seem to be quite common over the reserve however have always eluded me! In my bid to get an ID of them I managed to find the resident kestrel though. Walking towards Far Lake to try for the Red-Head Smew I saw a white dot diving on Carp Lake, there she was! Walked along Carp Lake and at one point had brilliant views of her as we came level, was so close that if it had been a drake I could have offered him my hand in marriage. However it was only a red head, so you wouldn’t go as far as marriage, maybe just a nice weekend away in the Cotswolds…
We walked a bit further and I tried for Little Owl in the trees, but had no such luck, I found some pellets however on the ground (most probably from the Barn Owl), as I looked up from poking them with my foot (I wasn’t allowed to pick them up!) and was explaining to my daughter what they were a large raptor flew close over head. No need for binoculars or any doubt of the identification RED KITE! Year tick 57 and a long over due lifer! Been a bogey bird of mine for ages! It flew off as quick as it appeared. A trip to the new crosslands hide (door still as stiff as ever) we were entertained by Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers scurrying about, fighting with pied wagtails. This new hide with its excellent views gave us chance to warm up slightly! A downside of birding by bus is that we had to stay a while longer than we wanted to at North Cave, so decided to go to the East Hide for a bit before heading off home.
A good day out which gave my year list a needed bump of 8. Still 40 behind this time last year however! Although this has only been my fourth outing besides BTO WeBS counts so the low number is expected. Bring on June when hopefully we’ll have summer weather and summer migrants!
Posted in 2013 List, birding, Birding Outings, Birds, Summer Migrants, Winter Migrants
Tagged billy idol looks like a smew, bird watching, birding, birds of prey, have you ever thought david bowie looks like a great crested grebe?, kestrel, North Cave Wetlands, raptors, sexy ducks, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
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.
Posted in 2012 List, Biographic, birding, Birding Outings, Birds, High Eske, Mammals, Summer Migrants, twitching, Winter Migrants
Tagged bempton cliffs, billy idol looks like a smew, bird watching, birding, birds, birds of prey, Blacktoft Sands, desert wheatear, gulls, harrier, iceland gulls, North Cave Wetlands, owls, raptors, roller, RSPB, seabirds, sexy ducks, swinemoor, twitching, waders, waxwings
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.
Posted in 2012 List, birding, Birding Outings, Mammals, RSPB, Summer Migrants, twitching
Tagged birding, birds of prey, Blacktoft Sands, food pass, gulls, harrier, hornsea, kestrel, marsh harrier, North Cave Wetlands, raptors, roller, RSPB, stoatly different, stoats, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
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?!)
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
Posted in 2012 List, Birding Outings, High Eske, Local Patch, Mammals, RSPB, Summer Migrants, twitching
Tagged avocets, bird watching, birding, birds, birds of prey, black necked grebe, Blacktoft Sands, figham, Grebes, harrier, hot march, hot weather, kestrel, North Cave Wetlands, raptors, RSPB, ruff, sexy ducks, sun burnt in march, swallows, swinemoor, tophill low, waders, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Another sightings update.
14th March I headed back to High Eske and Pulfin managing to see:
Red Shank, Wigeon, Coot, Great Creasted Grebe – now with crests!, Reed Bunting around 7 or 8 mostly males, Tufted Ducks
GoldenEye around 6 or 7
Pair of Oyster Catchers
Gadwall in the ponds next to Pulfin Bog
Great, Blue and Long Tailed Tits
I then decided to venture a bit further and headed onto Leven Canal. I saw one buzzard soaring then managed to see another 3 soaring together. Then possibly a 5th buzzard flew out of trees and across farm land swooping down before perching in a tree next to the river barely still in sight. I then saw a pair of Kestrels hovering and heard a tawny owl calling. When I got back to the lake at High Eske I decided one more time to check the greylags to see if I could pick out the white fronted and pink footed geese that have been mixed in with the flock. Only managed to pick out a single pink footed goose though. Decided on one final look at the lake before heading back, wise choice as a cormorant flew across, landed on the water and proceeded to dive. I then saw 3 sand martins skimming across the water hunting for food.
20th March – After noticing that my pledge to add more variety to where I went birding meant that I hardly visited my local patch I decided a trip to Figham was in order. After a night with no sleep I finally gave up at 6am and thought that some early morning birding would be a good idea. In the fields next to the river I saw 2 displaying lapwings tumbling in the air. There was also a lone kestrel flying to and from trees but not doing much hunting.
Whilst scanning the trees at the top end of the common I encountered a patch first, a great spotted woodpecker! In the same location that I saw my first and only sighting of a Green Woodpecker on my patch. Shortly after I saw another patch first, although it’s probably not tickable: I’d crossed over the bridge and was on the other side of the common, trying to see if I could spot the drumming woodpecker when a strange bird flew past, which I’m pretty certain was a ring neck parakeet. I know there’s some feral ones not far away in Cottingham but never heard of them in this location. Maybe the lack of sleep was making me see things! I then walked into the far corner of the common an area I’d previously not explored. In this area is permanently wet rushes, there was a male reed bunting flying around and a few mallards. A grey heron also flew out of this area. Also spotted a hare sprint away and around the wet areas into hiding.
I also spent a few days at Filey which gave me chance to do a bit of sea / cliff watching. Plenty of auks about. Excellent views of Puffins a lot better than at RSPB Bempton. Both Razorbills and Guillemots flying from cliffs to the sea, although it took me a while to positive ID them both by their beaks due to been just slightly too far away. I don’t know how else you can ID them from a fair distance! Plenty of Kittiwakes around giving off their splendid kittiwaaaaaaaaaaaaaak call. Also lots of Jackdaws (lovely corvid, those dazzling blue eyes!) a few skylarks in the fields next to the cliffs. A lone kestrel flying close to the cliffs mid way down, 15 or so Curlew feeding on the rocks and a few seals sprawled out on the rocks at low tide. Great few hours birding spread over several days.
Finally on 28th March I made my first trip to North Cave Wetlands (might count it as my new site for April) where I saw around 14 avocet, these birds quickly jumped into my top ten list. The handsome devils. Also at the reserve was Shelduck, a lovely pair of Great Crested Grebe, more Sand Martins, Shoveler, Teal, Red-legged Partridge and my next summer migrant – Little Ringed Plover.
Year list up to 74
Posted in 2011 List, birding, Birds, High Eske, Local Patch, Mammals, RSPB, Summer Migrants
Tagged 2011 list, barn owl, bempton cliffs, bird watching, birding, birds, birds of prey, figham, kestrel, lapwing, North Cave Wetlands, RSPB, seabirds, summer migrants, swinemoor