Saturday, 12 February 2011

Wheldrake & Thorganby

I was hoping to get out early this morning but woke up to find a misty, murky wet day - not great, so I stayed in bed a bit longer, then got on with a few jobs and headed off into the Lower Derwent Valley (LDV) around lunch time.

First stop was Thorganby viewing platform, on first looks the small area near the platform was rammed with birds. I started counting and got 270x Lapwing, 291x Golden Plover (some getting into summer plumage!), 26x Curlew, 10x Dunlin, 2x Ruff, 300x Teal and 140x Wigeon. Unfortunately before I could start counting the other section viewable from the platform some birder walked right out into the middle and flushed the lot! I'm not sure who he was, or whose land he was on but it was a tad annoying!

Golden Plover © Quirin Herzog 2006

As most of the birds flew off I decided to head up to Wheldrake Ings. On first impressions here there was a lot less wildfowl but more waders present than my previous visit last Saturday. I sat up in Tower Hide to wait for the gull roost to start up.
Although numbers of Wigeon and Teal appeared down, it was more likely that they were just widely dispersed due to the vast area of flooding in the valley. Coot and Gadwall appeared to be up on last weeks counts. Whilst in the hide I met up with York University student Tim Jones - check out his blog here.

We recorded the following birds: 161x Coot, 2x Egyptian Goose, 4x Buzzard, c4,000 Wigeon, c2,000 Teal, c40+ Pintail, c40+ Gadwall, c350+ Golden Plover, c3,000 Lapwing, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Dunlin, Mute Swan, 15x Shoveler, 3x Goldeneye, 12x Curlew, 2x Shelduck, 16x Cormorant and 1x Grey Heron. However the highlight was 2x Black-tailed Godwit that came in late and joined the Lapwing on the waters edge. A Barn Owl flew past the hide briefly which was nice but it was gone too soon.

Black-tailed Godwit © J.M. Garg 2009

The gull roost was a lot quieter this week than last, the majority of birds in the roost today were several hundred Black-headed and Common Gulls. There were no 'white-wingers' in the roost tonight (that we could see) and only a few Herring and Great Black-backed. There was a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a single Yellow-legged Gull. One of the Lesser's looked good for 'intermedius', and a couple of Herring Gulls were 'argentatus'.

It was a beautiful evening, however the temperature dropped considerably once the sun went down. An enjoyable afternoons birding and great to meet Tim.

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