Sunday, 20 March 2011

Common Crane & Great Grey Shrike - North Duffield

Most of Saturday was spent sorting the horses new stables out so I had to put the Great Grey Shrike hunt at Skipwith on hold until today. I was meeting up with Will (who I used to work with) during the afternoon so I suggested we met at Skipwith Common with the hope of catching up with said shrike. After 2 hours of no sign we thought that it had probably moved off somewhere. There was an awful lot of people/dogs etc running all over the place which may well have flushed it.

At about 4.30 I went over with Jenny to check on her horse over at Escrick, and at exactly the same time I got a message from Russell saying that he and John had just found 3 Common Crane and they were flying south through the Lower Derwent Valley, headed straight to North Duffield! Arghhhhhh!!! Then another message from Russell, then one from Alan, I was getting nervous that I was going to miss them... At least I got to enjoy views of these little beauties! (and 2 Oystercatcher).

Yorkshire Junglefowl!

We quickly finished sorting the horse out and I shot home and then across to the North Duffield Carrs car park, all the time hoping to see the group of Cranes in flight somewhere (part of me wished they were flying right over my house whilst I was dropping Jenny off!). I got there to see Alan walking back towards the car park. A quick chat revealed that the birds had done a circuit over the Carrs after leaving Wheldrake Ings airspace and had dropped low, possibly near the village. I've missed them was my immediate thought. Gutted! Alan decided to head towards the village and I decided to check the fields from the reserve area. A sudden flash, a Peregrine caught my eye, I followed it as it flew over Bubwith Ings.... then something else caught my eye, the 3 Common Cranes! They must have done a circuit behind the reserve and landed on Bubwith Ings! Awesome, and close and out in the open too! I called Alan back, we scoped them from near the car park. I phoned Russell and Jono to say I'd relocated them and they were on the deck.

I decided to go down to the Geoff Smith Hide to see if I could get a better angle through the willows - I could! I was now getting truly stunning views of these three birds, birds that were in spectacular plumage. I rattled off a couple of record shots on my new phone - I don't really like it for phonescoping. After a while feeding the Cranes started displaying. I've never seen this before (in this species of Crane). It was spectacular!

3 Common Crane, Bubwith Ings

3 Common Crane, Bubwith Ings

Displaying Common Crane, Bubwith Ings

I had the place to myself as most birders were watching the Cranes from Bubwith Bridge. I'd intended on going to the Carrs for dusk regardless of the Cranes as I'd wanted to check through the waterfowl. With the Cranes on view it was hard to take my eyes away from them but a quick scan revealed a typical range of species in higher numbers. A movement in front of the hide caught my attention. The Great Grey Shrike was sat in the same bush as it had been when I first saw it about 5 weeks ago! Amazing! The light was going quickly as it was gone 6pm so I got a quick record shot (worse than usual).

Great Grey Shrike, North Duffield Carrs - Geoff Smith Hide

I phoned Alan, Russ and Jono and the news must have got about as within 10 minutes the hide went from me only, to standing room only! Everyone got views of the Cranes and Shrike, then it got dark so I left. Hopefully they will get seen tomorrow too.

According to Birdguides News Extra, 3 Common Crane were observed flying north this morning in Nottinghamshire. It's likely that these are the same birds seen here this evening.
Thanks to Alan, John and Russ!

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