Monday, 31 December 2012

Final Bash of the Year at North Duffield Carrs

A massive flock of 800 Wood Pigeon flew low over the garden this morning which was an impressive sight, along with a few Stock Dove in amongst them. The dog walk produced a decent flock of Chaffinch but I couldn't find any Brambling today. There was a small flock of Fieldfare and Redwing about and quite a few Blackbirds. Still more Wood Pigeon went through.

I had a look at North Duffield Carrs this lunchtime to see if there was anything doing. It was fairly interesting with an adult male Peregrine putting all the Wood Pigeon and Lapwing from the valley up as it hunted at leisure. I'd estimate 2,500 Lapwing around the Carrs, with several thousand more along the valley - a very impressive sight. Quite a few Dunlin about and still plenty of Ruff and a few Golden Plover too.

Again plenty of wildfowl with the flock of 50+ Pochard still present and 13 Tufted Duck amongst thousands of Wigeon and Teal. A very nice pair of Pintail remain, but again just too far for the camera!

There was a very showy Wren close to the hide, though trying to get a photograph was quite hard amongst the vegetation, and a Great Tit popped in briefly too. As I was walking back to the car a Barn Owl gave a very nice fly-past. I just managed to get back to the car before the heavens opened!

Happy New Year to all my followers & readers, hope 2013 is good. I'll probably put my 2012 review up tomorrow if I have time.

Mute Swans

Mute Swans

Wren in front of the hide

Wren in front of the hide

Wren in front of the hide

Wren in front of the hide

Great Tit near the hide

Sunday, 30 December 2012

The River Derwent Floods (and some birds)

Popped out this afternoon to see if the floods had decreased much. Not a lot but they had gone down a bit!  I also wanted to get some pictures of the floods from Bubwith Bridge as a gauge for future years to see how future floods compare to this one! Pictures below.

I started at Bubwith Bridge, there was a good 600+ Wigeon (and a few Teal, Mallard) here and a few Mute Swans. The ducks were all concentrated on the very tops of the flood banks that were just visible. A Kestrel was busy along the roadside

On to North Duffield Carrs. There was a flock of about 40 Whooper Swans in the field near the reserve (most had got their heads down so not really possible to check for Bewick's), also lots of Lapwing, Golden Plover and various gulls in the field. I may check it again tomorrow properly.

The North Duffiled Carrs were still well underwater, the flock of 50+ Pochard was still present, 2 drake Pintail showed nicely but were just out of range of the camera and there was a good 500 Wigeon, 300 Teal and a few Gadwall, Mallard, Canada Geese and Greylags. There was also a good 1500 Lapwing present and there was a single Redshank on the riverbank too. A flock of 30 Knot flew south through the valley with a single Dunlin (though I missed these as I was counting Pochard at the time!). As I reached the car park I had a very nice fly-past from a Barn owl. Unfortunately there was no sign of any Regulus sps.

Look out for my annual review of 2012 in the next day or so....

View to NW of Bubwith Bridge looking towards North Duffield Carrs

View to S from Bubwith Bridge of River Derwent

View to SW from Bubwith Bridge (Drax Power Station) looking into sun

Mute Swans on Bubwith Ings through a five-bar gate

Wigeon (and Teal) on the River Derwent S of Bubwith Bridge

Bubwith Bridge

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Owls in York

Had two Barn Owls and one Tawny Owl today, otherwise not a great deal.

The weather was, yet again, horrible. A very wet dog walk produced a dozen or so Fieldfare but not a great deal else to be honest!

Just as it was getting dark I got a message about a possible interesting Regulus sp. down at North Duffield Carrs, but by the time I got down there the bird, and flock it was in (Long-tailed Tit and Treecreeper) had gone beyond a flood and I wasn't able to follow them! Will have to see if it comes back tomorrow, whatever it was! Compensation in the form of 2 Barn Owl sat on fence posts was nice though I didn't hang about as it was still raining.  A very brief glance out of the hide showed the water levels to have dropped by almost a foot and there was several Shoveler and lots of Lapwing and a few Ruff present. Will have a proper look tomorrow probably.

I went over to visit Rich in the Yorkshire Wolds this pm for my tea and had a very nice Tawny Owl sat in a roadside bush on my way home, presumably making the most of the near-full moon lighting up the country lanes.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Thorganby Birding LDV

Fancied a change of scenery today so headed over to Thorganby (West Cottingwith Ings) to see if there was anything of interest visible from the Viewing Platform, generally there wasn't but it was still enjoyable in the near-darkness of mid-afternoon and cold cutting wind (no it wasn't!). Was good to catch up with Nige again after briefly catching up at the Buff-bellied Pipit twitch last Sunday - check out his blog here for some local sightings and great photography: Clifton Birding.

I was hoping to view the Whooper and Bewick's Swans from the Thorganby Viewing Platform, but unfortunately they were hidden from this location with only a few birds (not identifiable to species) observed distantly.

I did manage 5 Goldeneye (3 male, 2 female), 7 Shelduck, and 55 Tufted Duck, none of which I'd had at North Duffield Carrs yesterday (and Nige told me of several Goosander at Bank Island). The floods have covered all but the tops of the river/flood banks here and these were at a premium for Wigeon, Teal and Lapwing today with many hundreds of these three species present all squeezing onto somewhere dry.  There was also at least 36 Dunlin observed here.

Something unseen (Peregrine?) went down the eastern side of the Lower Derwent Valley and put up tonnes of Lapwing c500+, there was over 30 Ruff in with these too and several hundred Fieldfare, Redwing and Starling.  Otherwise it was the standard Mallard, Gadwall, Mute Swan etc, didn't see any Shoveler, Pintail or Pochard today, or any Greylag or Canada Geese...

The dog walk this am was the first time I've been back on patch for almost a week and it was notable how few birds were present. Still lots of Chaffinch and Greenfinch so presumably the Brambling are still about too, but the majority of Thrushes seem to have cleared out. Just a couple of Blackbird and Mistle Thrush noted.

Sorry for lack of pictures, too dark etc! Maybe tomorrow....

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Meanwhile, back at North Duffield

Came back from the Midlands this afternoon and headed down to North Duffield Carrs to see what the water levels were like. Surprise surprise, they were up again! Garganey Hide pretty much totally submerged again!

I had a good count of Pochard, possibly one of my highest counts here and a few other species of wildfowl like Pintail etc. The following were fairly close but there was lots of wildfowl further away that I couldn't count properly.

Pochard x54
Teal x357
Wigeon x170
Pintail x4
Gadwall x6
Mallard x26
Mute Swan x9
Canada Goose x34
Greylag Goose x221

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Buff-bellied Pipit VIDEOS and More PICS

Took the following couple of very short videos of the Buff-bellied Pipit when I was down at Queen Mothers Reservoir, Berkshire on Sunday. This was the first time I'd ever used the video camera so need to look at how it works properly, but you can kind of get the idea!  In order to view these videos (and not take up all my remaining blogger memory) I've created a Vimeo account. (thanks to Tim for suggestions re photos/videos etc. Now I just need him to take the actual photos and all will be sorted!)

First video here:

Second video here:

I've just had a play around with the following pics which I've not put up before.  Though see here for the better photos.

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Monday, 24 December 2012

Buff-bellied Pipit & Cockney Spara

Went down to London yesterday to look for the Buff-bellied Pipit at Queen Mother's Reservoir. An easy journey with not much bother. A Red Kite at the junction of the M1 and M25 wasn't the most helpful and proved a bit distracting but I didn't end up on the wrong side of town!

The site was easy to find and so I set off round the reservoir in the hope of finding the Pipit. It didn't take long to connect with it as it fed on the reservoir bank, showing down to about 1 foot! Staggering. It was surprisingly difficult to photograph as the light wasn't great, and the bird was very active as it was foraging often right below the wall and often came too close!!! But it was great to be able to finally catch up with this bird, one that I'd hoped to have caught up with/found on the Scillies this autumn.

I watched the bird for a good couple of hours and got a selection of photos, some of these below, will put some others up over the next couple of days.

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker

Buff-bellied Pipit © Andy Walker - not a crop! This was as it walked below me!

Prior to seeing the Pipit I had nice close-up views of a Long-tailed Duck that was within a flock of Tufted Duck. Several Red Kite soared overhead and the not-so-familiar, but instantly recognisable sound of three Ring-necked Parakeets rang out, and finally showed well as they were exploring some trees along the edge of the reservoir.

Long-tailed Duck © Andy Walker (phone-scoped)

It was nice to catch up with a few familiar faces (James - blog here, and Nige - blog here), we even saw a big fancy castle thing...

Windsor Castle I gather.

The drive back produced a flock of about 35-40 Waxwing a mile south of the Watford Gap services, plenty of Kestrel, Buzzard and a couple more Red Kites. Oh and I did see a couple of Cockney Sparras.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Swans Everywhere!

A staggering 154 Whooper Swans and 18 Bewick's Swans reported in the LDV in the last day or so! Though I've not seen any recently. There was a large flock of Swans off Bubwith Bridge at last-light on Sunday but I didn't attempt to scope them as I was too busy trying to keep my eye on that plastic Barnacle Goose for Tim!

I had a very brief trip to North Duffield Carrs at lunchtime, it was blowing a gale and torrential rain - with increased water levels again! Not a single bird on the reserve that I could see! So I didn't hang around at all! A few Lapwing flew over Aughton, and there were singles of Black-headed and Common Gulls flying south along the river. That was it!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Back in the LDV

Morning walk produced an incredible immature female Peregrine, she was huge! Only a small flock of finches today, 50+ Linnet and a few Chaffinch and Brambling.

Went down to North Duffield Carrs for a bit this afternoon, it was fairly quiet due to several people walking along the river bank that flushed everything as far as I could see. Eventually it picked up as the afternoon progressed (and the disturbance reduced). Several gulls flew through, Lapwing and Ruff flew in/past but the highlights were 5 Pochard, a very close-up Barn Owl and the two biggies, male Goosander which flew through heading south, and 3 Barnacle Geese (that got the year-listers in a flap...wild/feral.... who knows!)... but can you afford to not see them?...

Had 2 Marsh Harriers this pm, one of which caught a Lapwing! There was a few Whooper Swans about but most were very distant.