Sunday, 30 September 2012

Harriers still putting on a show at NDC

My day was taken up by catching up with the work I'd dropped for the easterly winds last week in order to ensure I don't miss any of my looming reporting deadlines!  Luckily I was entertained by two cracking T20 World Cup cricket matches in South Africa vs Australia, followed by India vs Pakistan - wish I was in Sri Lanka please! Awesome cricket and even more awesome birding!

Last night I had planned on spending the day looking round the local area to look for Yellow-browed Warblers and Little Buntings, but the reality of a cold and overcast morning torpedoed that idea and I stayed in bed!

I did get a text message from Zing tonight (thanks) informing me that a similar number of Marsh Harriers were again present at North Duffield Carrs, with 8 seen in the air together at one stage which is really cool!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

BONXIE in the LDV (and lots of Marsh Harriers)!!!

I decided to go and check out the local floods to see if there was any birds worth noting today.  Just as I pulled up at my first destination I got a call to say that there was a Bonxie (Great Skua) to the north of Selby heading towards the Lower Derwent Valley (LDV). Wow! Local Mega!! (I think there's been a few York Recording Area records; somewhere between 2 and 4 I think) I'd just got to a decent viewpoint so started scanning, hoping, then thinking, if it was going to turn up it will have gone over my garden! Ouch! That would have been a monster of a garden tick!! Trying not to let that put me off I kept scanning back and forth but unfortunately there was no further sign of it, so, just like the [at least] 2 Arctic Skuas and 2 Gannets that I've missed this year they go on the big pile of dipped birds!! Would have been a good bird to have gripped Tim off with while he tarts about on North Ron!

The floods were rapidly increasing this morning, looking at the flood banks was a bit like looking at Murchison Falls! Pouring over..  The birds were moving around all the time as their feeding/roosting spots were going under.  There was 100+ Lapwing, 60+ Golden Plover, lots of Snipe and 2 Ruff with several hundred Starling in amongst them. The water also flushed out loads of duck, several hundred Teal, Mallard and Gadwall with a good (increasing) number of Wigeon and a few Shoveler.  Counting birds was near impossible due to them never keeping still, mainly due to the water but also by the continuous presence of several Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Marsh Harriers. If all that wasn't enough, it was blowing a gale, right into my face! I gave it a few hours before retiring back home for a few hours of the T20 Cricket world cup!

Marsh Harrier 

Marsh Harrier 

Marsh Harrier 


Swallow (almost got it!)

Late afternoon saw me back down at the Geoff Smith Hide at North Duffield Carrs. As above, there was a substantial increase in the water level here compared to yesterday, but still enough places left for roosting Marsh Harriers, good job too as there was between 10 and 12 that came into roost tonight.  Unfortunately they didn't play ball for photographing them as by the time a couple came close there was hardly any light left!

A couple of the Marsh Harriers

The sky was full with Swallows and House Martin, thousands of them, perfect for a Hobby I thought, unfortunately (for me) the Hobby had already been through, 30 minutes before I arrived in the hide! One of those days!  The floods on Bubwith as viewed from North Duffield had a small flock (c12)Tufted Duck and there was 3 drake Pochard too.  Thousands of Black-headed Gulls this evening. Additional interest was provided by a pair of Kestrel, single Barn Owl and a male Sparrowhawk that hovered (yes that's right) before dropping into a reedbed, picking out some prey and flying back to its perch next to the hide!

Tomorrow's quest is for a Yellow-browed Warbler or Little Bunting given the presence of these inland today... wish me luck!

Pallas Grasshopper Warbler Finders Account/Pics

On Wednesday, my mate Ade George, ringer in charge at Whitburn (Souter Bird Observatory), County Durham found the 3rd county record of Pallas Grasshopper Warbler (PGTips) - this follows the first record for the county in 2010 (also at Whitburn though not caught) and the second record for the county earlier on the same day over at Hartlepool Headland (seen briefly).  Interestingly there was also one seen well up in Aberdeenshire on the same day, and one apparently in Lincolnshire the day before! How many went undetected!

There had been some pretty decent conditions over the few days preceding this so hopes were high of some good birds all along the east coast, some of us did OK, however it was Ade that struck gold!

Read Ade's 'Finders Account' on the Souter Bird Observatory blog.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Marsh Harriers still roosting despite massive floods!

I popped across to North Duffield this evening to see if the site was underwater like most of the rest of the valley and to see if there was any Marsh Harriers still roosting if there was somewhere for them to do so.  So far the water is not covering the whole area and the Marsh Harriers were still present and I reckon there was at least 10-12 birds roosting tonight - At one stage there was a line of 6 birds in the air together!

Additional interest was provided by some Pink-footed Geese that dropped in, as well as an assortment of waders and gulls but nothing out of the ordinary.  A couple of Barn Owls were out hunting and a Tawny Owl was calling by the hide again.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

More from Flamborough: I love this place!

Headed over to Flamborough again this evening, much much quieter than yesterday, though I didn't cover the exact same area as I wanted to explore a few different places.  Did manage the following though:

5 Redstart
3 Whinchat
3 Lesser Whitethroat
3 Garden Warbler
1 Blackcap (male)
1 Willow Warbler
1 Chiffchaff
2 Wheatear
86 'Alba' Wagtail
35 Meadow Pipit
4 Swallow
1 Barn Owl
1 Kestrel
1 Sparrowhawk
1 Song Thrush
5 Siskin
1 Golden Plover
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
1 Reed Bunting

Plus the usual Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer etc.  Didn't take too many pics today but here's some of them... and one from yesterday that I really like!


Lesser Whitethroat 

Song Thrush 

 Whinchat (and Sheep)

Just the Whinchat

Barn Owl 

Barn Owl 

Red-breasted Flycatcher - really like this photo! One of 3 found yesterday, this individual would come to within 10 feet of us and at one time flew straight out at me to catch a midge! Not as crazy as the Spotted Flycatcher that took on a dragonfly!

Back in the local area we're rapidly sinking under water! Should be good for Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks for the local area year-listers in the next few days!  Decent flock of waders/gulls forming near Elvington where had several hundred Lapwing, 80 Golden Plover, 1 Dunlin, 2 Ruff and a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull.  Today the waders had increase to 200 Golden Plover, 560 Lapwing, 2 Ruff, 3 Dunlin and best of all 2 Grey Plovers! Definitely one to keep an eye on!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

What a Day!!!

What a day that was! Awesome!  My mate Ade caught a PGTips at Whitburn, and another couple of mates Tim and Jack scored with Lancy on North Ron check out Tims pics of this and a Little Bunting on the North Ron blog!!! What about me? Well, I didn't fare too badly either....

I had a meeting this morning over in Beverley so I thought it would be rude not to check out the coast afterwards so headed over to the north of Flamborough where it was visibly different to my visit last Sunday, i.e. there was some birds to look at! I didn't bother with the south side where there was Greenish Warbler, 5/6 Yellow-browed Warbler, Great Grey Shrike, Firecrest, Red-breasted Flycatcher...

Some of the highlights from where I went today included:

3 Red-breasted Flycatcher
2 Yellow-browed Warbler
1 Barred Warbler
2/3 Spotted Flycatcher
6+ Pied Flycatchers
c15 Redstart
5/6 Whinchat
12+ Wheatear
1 Common Whitethroat
3 Garden Warbler
2 Reed Warbler
4+ Blackcap
c12+ Willow Warbler
c5+ Chiffchaff
12+ Song Thrush
Decent numbers of Robin

I managed to get the following shots... I do like my new camera! Will be great when I get chance to read the instruction book so I know what setting is what!

Pied Flycatcher 

Pied Flycatcher 

Red-breasted Flycatcher (1 of 3 found today) 

Red-breasted Flycatcher (1 of 3 found today)




Yellow-browed Warbler (1 of 2 found today)

Monday, 24 September 2012


Woke up this morning wondering if I'd be regretting not trying to get on a charter to Fair Isle for the Magnolia Warbler, luckily I wasn't.  As I stepped outside it was clear something different was going on.  A look around as I walked the dogs and the penny dropped. It was quiet. No House Martin and no Swallows flying around the house. All gone.

A day in the office was hard, wishing I was working the coast somewhere, then from lunchtime onwards it got worst, White's Thrush on the Farnes (READ THE FINDERS ACCOUNT HEREsee awesome in-hand pictures etc here and some more new photos here) the first in the county since 1914!! Then some pretty decent birds scattered from north to south...Blyth's Pipit, Olive-backed Pipit, Richard's Pipit, Paddyfield Warbler, River Warbler, Booted Warbler, Sykes Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Little Bunting, Common Rosefinch more Red-breasted Flycatchers and Yellow-browed Warblers, tonnes of Redstart by all accounts with other typical migrants such as Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher etc...

I've got a meeting in Beverley tomorrow so fingers crossed I may be able to head to the coast afterwards for a hour or so...

Almost as exciting as the list above, one from yesterday....

Spot the Bluetail....

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Fair Isle and Flamborough - Worlds apart today!!!

Wow, check out the stunning pictures of the MAGNOLIA WARBLER on Fair Isle! Talk about an impressive bird. 1981 the last one I think!  I'm tempted by a flight out of Elvington tomorrow morning!  Pictures here:

Also-rans today include Swainson's Thrush, Lanceolated Warbler, Sykes Warbler, Booted Warbler (not to mention Bailons Crake and Short-billed Dowitcher......)

Almost as good as my day at Flamborough....

Well, yesterday was awesome on the coast of Yorkshire, and much of the rest of the east coast of the UK so I decided to get up before dawn in order to be at Flamborough nice and early, and wow, was I rewarded... totals from today included:

3 Lesser Whitethroat
1 Common Whitethroat
4 Blackcap (3 male and 1 female)
3 Chiffchaff
5 Goldcrest
8 Long-tailed Tit
1 Common Crossbill
1 Song Thrush
3 Blackbird
2 Kestrel
1 Juv female Sparrowhawk
1 Arctic Skua
3 Red-throated Divers
17 Common Scoter

Plus the usual Skylark, Meadow Pipit, 'Alba' Wagtails, Linnet, Goldfinch, Starling, Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Sandwich Tern and all the usual seabirds.

I didn't bother going to the southern side of the peninsula, rather I focussed on the northern side as I prefer the quieter bits!  Was good to catch up with Dave and Rich too.  Dave did substantially better than us (me and Rich) as he bothered to do a proper seawatch first which included lots of common stuff and 4/5 Sooty Shearwater, 4 Juvenile Long-tailed Skua, 1 adult Pomarine Skua, lots of Arctic Skua, Bonxies and Red-throated Divers...

Got the following pics on the camera...

Blackcap - interesting male with a bit of 'albino-ness' on forehead 

Canada Geese 

Canada Geese 




Saturday, 22 September 2012

Skipwith and LDV (with the new camera)

Morning dog walk resulted in two decent flocks of Skylark, totalling about 35 birds.  A couple of Siskin and Meadow Pipit were noted flying south.

I decided to take my new camera for a walk round Skipwith this morning.  It was a beautiful day, cool but bright and sunny.  Highlights included several Jays, 2 Spotted Flycatchers (my first local area ones of the year!), single Hobby, 11 Buzzard all in a kettle (and very vocal), single Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk and a massive tit flock, made up mainly by Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, a few Goldcrest and a couple of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Chiffchaff but none of the hoped-for Yellow-browed Warblers!  Also had a few Wigeon flying around with the Mallard.  Further interest was provided by lots of dragonflies, mainly Hawkers and Darters I think? I also managed the following photographs with the new camera.  Will hopefully get better as I learn the correct settings etc...





 Presumed Hawker sp?

Presumed Ruddy Darter?

I then went across to Bank Island at Wheldrake to check out the wader habitat, about the only bit in the whole valley at the moment, but it does look good (had Grey Plover here last week).  There was near to 100 Lapwing, 1 Greenshank, several Common Snipe and 28 Golden Plover.  A flock of about 125 Black-headed Gull dropped in, and in with them was a first-winter Mediterranean Gull.  As I was leaving a flock of 17 Pink-footed Geese flew through heading south.

My last stop was North Duffield Carrs to check on the Marsh Harrier roost.  It was really quiet tonight with only 5 Marsh Harrier seen coming in to roost.  Most interest was from a distant Short-eared Owl that was getting mobbed by a Carrion Crow.  The crow soon lost interest and the Short-eared Owl remained sat on the fencepost for the next two hours! When I arrived at the hide I'd just missed a Hobby, no doubt attracted by the huge number of hirundines present (thousands of Swallow and House Martin tonight - really impressive).  There was also a distant Barn Owl out hunting and a roving flock of over 60 Goldfinch and Linnet. No pictures from here as everything was distant and the light faded rapidly.

All in all an enjoyable day, though the coast is calling for tomorrow!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Marsh Harrier Roost North Duffield (Friday)

I've just spent another couple of days in the office so I haven't been able to get out birding, however I've just heard from Chris who's been down to the North Duffield Carrs Marsh Harrier roost this evening.  Apparently there was 8 birds in tonight.  Hopefully I'll get chance to get out and check the roost over the weekend, though it does depends on the lure of the coast...

There was a few hundred Pink-footed Geese through the Lower Derwent Valley today and I've just heard that the first (as far as I'm aware) Jack Snipe of the autumn was a Bank Island this evening.

Inspired by Tims new camera and the pictures he's been getting in the week since he's had it I've decided to take the plunge and upgrade to the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 so that I can hopefully have some slightly less rubbish pictures on my blog! Though I can't guarantee  it! Will hopefully get to try it out over the weekend with the aim of knowing what I'm doing before Dave and I hit the Scillies in a few weeks.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Actual Birding!

I threatened it yesterday, and today it became a reality.  I carried out some actual proper survey work for the first time in MONTHS!  I've done a few doss-type surveys over the breeding season, mainly involving protected species surveys for the likes of Barn Owl, Little Ringed Plover, Marsh Harrier and Quail and surveys I wanted to do because they are fun, such as Nightjar surveys!  I've been sat in the office for the majority of the last three months writing ES Chapter after ES Chapter, with some technical work including the delights of some Collision Risk Modelling and Population Viability Modelling thrown in just to really blow the mind!!

Today I was out doing the donkey work, Vantage Point (VP) surveys.  It was like standing in a wind tunnel for most of the day, however there was a couple of decent sightings including several small flocks of Pink-footed Geese heading south, a pair of Peregrine Falcons (the female seen at length giving some great views), a Hobby that was busy chasing dragonflies, and a hint of autumn with a couple of small flocks of Golden Plover and several Snipe.  It was enjoyable to be back out on a site, rather than being sat writing about it!

My reward for being out for the day surveying is to spend the evening catching up with all the reporting time I've missed today! For starters there's the Legal Review comments to answer from the lawyers... best get back to it!

If you want something on the Marsh Harriers, check out the excellent Lower Derwent Valley blog which has some details on a Marsh Harrier that was recently released in the area after being taken into care..

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Got a Plover (and some more raptors)

Had a really enjoyable walk this morning round the patch, found an ever-increasingly large flock of mixed finches and buntings, also seemed to be an increase in Robins, either that or they were just a bit more conspicuous by being a bit more vocal. Also had a very showy Great Spotted Woodpecker.

After work I decided to visit Bank Island to check out the Grey Plover that was found yesterday (see post below).  After a few minutes of scanning the vast area of mud the bird walked out into view, allowing me to get an excellent photo, before walking out of view and disappearing for a bit... Countryfile calendar here I come...

Grey Plover - York Area Year Tick 172...

As I said yesterday I had my first York Area Grey Plover last year, and this was my first one this year. Hopefully Tim caught up with it too? There was loads of hirundines flying about, including quite a few Sand Martin.

On the way back home I decided to check out a field gull of gulls c350+, mainly Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Highlight however was at least 2 Yellow-legged Gulls.  There is likely to be many more of these in with the vast (and rapidly increasing) number of gulls in the area.  Last year I got up to about 15 Yellow-legged Gulls in the field near the house so I'll be trying to keep an eye on them this year! Didn't quite go as planned here as someone reported me to the farmer who came over and flushed all the gulls! As it turned out I wasn't walking round his field with a gun!!!

I then went across to the North Duffield Carrs to check out the Marsh Harrier roost.  Unfortunately it was quite slow tonight for the majority of the evening, though did pick up nicely at the end with about 12 birds recorded coming in eventually.  In addition to the harriers, some of which showed really well, other highlights were provided by two Hobbies.  The first bird shot west through the centre of the site and the second came flying down the river, before heading back east.  As further up the valley there was loads of hirundines flying around tonight, no doubt attracting the Hobbies. Barn Owl showed well in front of the hide just before I threw in the towel.

A rarity tomorrow, I'm actually getting out to do a survey! Time to bring out the thermals...

Monday, 17 September 2012

Marsh Harrier Roost NDC (Monday) & more good local birds

Unfortunately I had to spend the day sat in the office (which was actually quite interesting in itself) however I'd have preferred to have been in the field, especially given what was found in the local area today...

Got a message early afternoon that there was a Grey Plover on the (now pretty good looking) wader habitat at Bank Island.  I think there has only been 1 reported Grey Plover in the York Recording Area this year, and this was a fly-through, so is quite an important record for those year-listing (I hear 2 of the "Big 3" connected....Tim?). Grey Plover is referred to as a Winter Visitor and Passage Migrant in the York Area according to the YOC report. I got one in March last year but haven't connected this year.

Even better than the the Grey Plover was the Gannet that flew over Bank Island a bit later this afternoon per another gripping message! Considered a scarce autumn visitor on passage according to the YOC report, it is a proper difficult one to catch up with, you just need to be lucky - as was "Jammy Tim" earlier in the year... still needed by 2 of the "Big 3".

Got a message from Chris this evening, he'd been down at the Harrier Roost at North Duffield Carrs this evening.  A conservative estimate of roosting harriers tonight was 13 birds, with potentially 3 or 4 more birds  on top of that.  Included within that were at least 5 males of varying ages.

I'm working from home tomorrow so will hopefully be able to check out the roost.  I hear there was a Hen Harrier not too far from the York Recording Area boundary today, it would be rather nice if it/another were to drop in to add a splash of scarcity!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Marsh Harrier Roost NDC (Sunday)

I spent the late afternoon and early evening in the Geoff Smith Hide today waiting to see what was going on with the Marsh Harriers. I got to the hide a bit earlier than usual, at about 1600 hrs and it was actually quite interesting as several males were seen coming in to roost fairly early (possibly due to the weather, or possibly that's just what they do?).  Anyway, this evening (between 1600-1845) I had a minimum of 12 come in to roost, and as I walked back to the car as a torrential shower hit, another one flew in over the road in front of me, so a minimum of 13 birds in total.  There was still about an hour of light left but I was getting hungry and the visibility was decreasing rapidly so I gave it up!

It was apparent that there was an increase in wildfowl and waders about, with 250+ Teal moving about,168 Lapwing, 225 Golden Plover, 2 Ruff and c15 Snipe.  A Merlin made a dashing appearance after a flock of Linnet. No sign of any owls by 1845, but then the weather really wasn't conducive to it!

This morning I had a really nice walk with the dogs, found a nice mixed flock with a number of Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Tree Sparrow. Also a decent flock of Linnet and Goldfinch too. A few Meadow Pipit and Yellow Wagtail were noted flying south, as was a migrating flock of 45 Swallow. On returning home a nice surprise was a flock of 15 Corn Bunting that flew over!

Here's a couple from late winter, looking forward for some more views like this please!

Short-eared Owl - about 800 m closer than the owls seen yesterday 

 Short-eared Owl - about 800 m closer than the owls seen yesterday 

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Harrier Roost and SEOs are back...

Dog walk was quiet this morning, only a scattering of Meadow Pipit south though there was a decent flock of Yellowhammer and a couple of Skylark.  Got a phone call from Ollie late morning letting me know he'd just had 15 Marsh Harrier up in the air together at NDC, however most had dropped out of sight by the time I got there. I gave it an hour in the middle of the day which was quite interesting and then came home for a bit before spending the late afternoon and evening back down there in what turned out to be a stacked-out Geoff Smith Hide. Glad I got in early as it was practically standing room only this evening.

The Marsh Harrier activity tonight was much reduced on the previous few days that I've been down there which was a shame and there was no sign of the adult female, or of at least 3 males, and a couple of distinctive juveniles (e.g. a cream-crown with black diamond). I reckon at least (only) 8 birds came in this evening.

Extra interest was provided tonight by 2 distant owls, both seemingly flushed by the Vulcan Bomber that flew low through the valley (below).  Although they didn't ever come closer than 800m I'm fairly happy they were both Short-eared Owl (one was very dark - below), though hopefully they'll come a bit closer over the coming days.  There was also 3 Barn Owl flying about, one was fairly close to the hide and would allow me enough time to get scope on it, focus, get phone to scope before it would fly off! I then gave it up as a bad idea! There was also a Tawny Owl outside the hide again (and last Thursday there was a Little Owl too).

 Vulcan Bomber

There was a couple of fly-by Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk and a small raptor getting mobbed by 4 Carrion Crows which look fairly good for Merlin, however the views were way too brief to call it.

Interesting was the number of Snipe flushed from a small presumably damp patch on Bubwith side of the river.  Several flocks were flushed up by Marsh Harriers, with a peak flock count of about 33 birds, however there was several smaller flocks (26, 12, 19, 8, 10) and it was difficult to tell how many birds were involved in total. Minimum 33, maximum 110ish! No Lapwing tonight.

Looking forward to some more patch birding tomorrow!

Friday, 14 September 2012

A blustery day!

A pretty windy one today, started very well.  I stepped out the back door this morning to take the dogs on their walk and looked up to see a Green Sandpiper flying over the back garden! This is only the second time I've seen the species over the garden, the last (and first) was only a month ago.

I guess there is some potential that it's the same bird that's moving around the ditches in the local farmland, alternatively it could quite easily be another migrant given the time of year.

The day didn't really get any better as I was stuck in the office, however given the windy conditions I probably didn't miss too much!  I didn't make the harrier roost tonight but heard that between 10 and 14 birds were potentially in the area. Will take another look tomorrow.

Hoping the wind dies down overnight so I can make the most of tomorrow and do some local birding, however I may be tempted to the coast if the conditions improve!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Harrier Roost: NDC

100 followers! Result!

Another very interesting evening down at North Duffield watching the harriers coming in to roost.  The weather was not great and it was dark a good 30/40 minutes earlier than Tuesday.  As a result the harriers appeared to come in a fair bit earlier.  I'd estimate between 13 and 16 birds tonight, there was at least 5 males of various ages, 1 adult female and the rest a load of juveniles, some dark, some light.

A merlin shot through at about 1900hrs and 10 Lapwing flew south along the river.  Good times!

Just as exciting, I've booked up for my Scillies trip in October. Dave and I are going to be seeing if we can beat last years totals...Northern Waterthrush, Scarlet Tanager, Red-eyed Vireo, Solitary Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Wilsons Snipe, Olive-backed Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Melodious Warbler, Black Kite, Woodchat, Wryneck, Bluethroat to name a few...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Raptors Keep On Coming...

Had a busy day in the office today but my dog walk this morning was great, clear and obvious Meadow Pipit  passage with the odd Yellow Wagtail in with them, also plenty of hirundines heading south.  A flock of 8 Lesser Redpoll zipping through was cool, though my attention was soon pulled away and skywards as I picked up 2 Hobbies (an adult and a juvenile) coming together right overhead.  It was almost as if they spoke to each other as after a short time together they formed a pincer movement and shot off into the sun, presumably to nail one of the aforementioned species! For the first time since about late-July it felt freezing this morning, however this didn't stop at least 3 Chiffchaff singing, maybe they thought spring had finally arrived?

I didn't get to the roost tonight but heard at least 7 birds were present early on (before the roost watch was aborted for something more interesting - to the year-listers!).

We had some really heavy rain showers this afternoon so it will be interesting to see if it has dropped anything of interest tomorrow.  I'll be doing the roost tomorrow night so looking forward to some more harrier action!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

WOW! What a night! Raptor Central in the LDV

After Sunday night at North Duffield I decided to go back and check out the roost to see what was going on.  I got into the Geoff Smith hide at about 1715hrs (and met a really nice gentleman) and it wasn't long before the Marsh Harriers started to appear... from all directions! More on these later... but first the other birds which were not half bad either! It was a good evening in the hide with Tim, Jack and Elaine all helping make the counting a bit easier than when I was sat in the hide on my own the other night! We finished off about 2010hrs.  Tim got some good pictures too so worth checking out his blog too.

2 x Merlin: A juvenile/female hunting flew straight towards the hide and an adult male seen hunting over the north part of the reserve an hour or so later;
2 x Hobby: A juvenile seen with a kill about 1730 as it flew low towards the village and an adult seen hunting to the right of the hide towards Aughton;
c.500+ Swallow/House Martin hawking over the whole reserve (may be an under-estimation as there was loads of them!);
2 x Wheatear sat on straw bales;
c.100+ Meadow Pipit/Yellow Wagtail flew in from the east towards my wagtail field;
1 x Woodcock flushed by a tractor from Bubwith side;
2 x Snipe flushed by Marsh Harriers; and
2 x Barn Owl (one near hide and one in north).

So how many Marsh Harriers?  Well I'd go for at least 11 tonight that roosted, with 2/3 others that may have just carried on through the site. There was at least 2 distinctively plumaged/birds in moult that were present on Sunday that were not recorded tonight.  It became quite difficult to count the birds near the end as the farmer came out twice with his tractor which resulted in some/most of the birds being flushed and them moving around a fair bit.  However we were all fairly happy with the following:

1 x adult female;
4 x 2nd/3rd year males (variable amounts of grey in tail including 3 males all in the air together); and
6 x juveniles.

Marsh Harrier - © Tim Jones 2012

Marsh Harrier - © Tim Jones 2012

Marsh Harrier - © Tim Jones 2012

Marsh Harrier - © Tim Jones 2012

Tree Pipit

Just remembered I had a Tree Pipit over when I was walking the dog yesterday, totally forgot about it until Tim just messaged to say he and Jack had had one over North Duffield this am.... more to follow later!

Walk this morning was good, felt like autumn rather than an Indian summer like the last couple of mornings.  Had a flock of 25 Lapwing NW, 3 Snipe S and flocks of 45 Goldfinch and 60-80 mixed Swallow and House Martin all swarming about and a couple of Meadow Pipit and Yellow Wagtail south.

Looking forward to the Harriers tonight...

Alfie and Daisy enjoying the morning walk

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Marsh Harrier Roost: North Duffield Carrs

After yesterdays trip out I seem to have got a bit of my desire back.  Unfortunately there was very few Yellow Wagtail or Meadow Pipit around but there still appeared to be a few Swallow going south. Highlight was a cracking juvenile Marsh Harrier that flew very low right overhead giving super views.

It was another really hot day so the middle of it was spent lounging in the garden, again more Swallow passed south with the odd Yellow Wagtail and Tree Sparrow too.

I decided to go sit in the Geoff Smith hide down at North Duffield Carrs this evening to see if there was much doing with the roosting Marsh Harriers. I wasn't disappointed!  I'd heard that 8 birds had roosted down there on Thursday night which would be a local area 'gathering' record I hear.

I got to the hide about 1830.  The last entry for the notebook was 1730. 3 Marsh Harrier.  It didn't give any specifics regarding age/sex, however on my arrival there was none to be seen, had they already gone to roost?  It didn't take long for the party to get going and it lasted just over an hour.  It started at 1845 when the first bird appeared, and finished at 1949 when the last one dropped out of view.  I gave it another 20 minutes but nothing else appeared.

So how many.... well I'd estimate at least 8-10 roosted, and at least 1 juvenile went straight through (and what about the 3 that were there before I got there?  There was a good mix of ages and sexes and it was interesting to watch their behaviour.  For example an adult male flew straight into the central field and dropped straight in to roost. It wasn't seen again. Several of the young (2nd year birds)/females perched up on fenceposts and sat and surveyed their surroundings before dropping in to roost and the juvenile birds - looking really smart and bright moved around a lot before settling down.

There wasn't too much else doing several geese flocks distantly, looked more like Greylag than anything more exciting. Several groups of Swallow flew south and the odd Yellow Wagtail did likewise.  Two Buzzard and a Kestrel showed well.

It will be interesting to keep an eye out on this harrier roost (until the field gets cut!), fingers crossed it pulls in a Hen Harrier (or better)...

View out of the hide this evening

Saturday, 8 September 2012

I actually went birding!

A shock I know.  Had to find my optics as it's been a while!  Just lost the desire over the last few months, too many other things going on.

Anyway, I decided to take a trip around the local patch.  For the morning dog walk I decided to take a different route, this proved a good choice as I came across a field with at least 25 Yellow Wagtail present.  I hung around for a bit and had loads of Goldfinch, Linnet and about 30 Meadow Pipit. Quite a few Swallow were heading south.  I hoped for something better, but no joy and it was starting to get hot so I headed back home. Had a male Sparrowhawk drop in with its breakfast - a young Blackbird, and the local Kestrel was busy flushing the wagtails.

It was surprisingly hot so I spent the afternoon sat in the garden, kind of working, kind of keeping an eye on the sky.  There was loads of hirundines over the house, presumably a mix of the local breeding birds and some migrants as the Swallows just seemed to be going south.  A Buzzard caught my eye high in the sky, then another, then another couple even higher.  All four birds drifted south at quite some height. Several Meadow Pipit and Yellow Wagtails could be heard as they also passed south. Quite a lot of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were moving about, as they have been doing over recent days, one bird caught my eye as it looked real good for Yellow-legged Gull.  There's been a few in the local gull flock that has been in the fields so chances are fairly high as they move around. Not happy with the brevity of the views so want more to be 100% satisfied!

Late afternoon/early evening I decided to go down to North Duffield Carrs, for about the first time since about May (I've really been that busy!).  Had 4 Marsh Harriers flying about - there had been 8 birds roost the other night, which, apparently is a local area record. Otherwise is was fairly quite with the odd Swallow, Yellow Wagtail and Meadow Pipit heading south along the river. Still lots of dragonflies shooting about the place too. A flock of five disant geese disappeared, too early for Pink-feet???

I decided to check the wagtail field again, most of them cleared off as I approached, at least 32 Yellow Wagtail and a number of Meadow Pipit, was bad viewing as I was looking straight into the sun.  Highlight however was a smart autumn plumage Wheatear sat on a straw bale.  The Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were still hanging round too!  Hopefully I'll check out the area in the morning when the light might  be better.