Saturday, 24 August 2013

Autumn is here!

Grey Plover flew south over the village this morning in the mist, the sign of birds on the move.

A trip to Heslington East this afternoon produced Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel (heading NW), 5 Common Sandpiper, 3 Oystercatcher and 4 Lapwing. There was at least 14 Little Grebe present, 4 of these were fresh hatchlings - a great sight! Still a few young Moorhen chicks about too. Interestingly there was a flock of 32 Teal (site record count?) and 2 Shoveler. There may have been a Garganey, but as I've said before I don't do brown ducks.

Three Wheatear were the first returning birds of the autumn in the local area (to my knowledge). There was quite a few Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin flying about, a lot less Wagtails and Linnet, however I think they were probably just somewhere else on the site.

Late news was that there was an Osprey at Castle Howard yesterday afternoon for an hour or so. I was heading past there this afternoon in the hope of Black Tern or something, but there was none, and the visibility was rubbish in the pouring rain.

It appears as though the Great White Egret has departed Wheldrake Ings now, one was seen flying south through Southfield Reservoir yesterday, likely the same bird...

Looking forward to seeing if tomorrow brings something new like Sanderling, Stint sp., Curlew Sandpiper, Black Tern... or better please... Wryneck or Booted Warbler in the local area would go down a treat!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

A late Cuckoo

Had an hour on Skipwith Common this evening, there was a more autumnal feel with a large flock of Greylag and the air full of the sound of Teal.

A few Green Woodpeckers were calling and a Jay flew through. Tonnes of Swallow and House Martin were flying about. However, the highlight was this juvenile Cuckoo that showed nicely, if straight into the sun by the time I thought about getting a record shot on my phone.

Cuckoo - phone-scoped straight into the sun!

There has been a large gathering of House Martin over the garden/village over the last couple of days as adults and fledglings all swarm about getting ready to depart. "My" two pairs are both on their second broods - as are several other pairs in the street but there are at least 120 flying about (and also 50+ Swallow - probably attracted to the maize fields around the village to roost in). This number of birds has attracted the attention of the local Sparrowhawk, and more spectacularly the attention of the local Hobby! Great fun to watch, I just hope "my" families survive! Also had 1 Swift over the garden this afternoon.

The Great White Egret is still showing at Wheldrake Ings - best early in the morning.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Great White Egret and a Big Bird Fair...

The Great White Egret is still present at Wheldrake Ings - however thus far it has only ever been seen early morning, up till about 0800/0830 before it flies off elsewhere to feed for the day.

I popped across to Heslington East to see if yesterdays showers had dropped anything in. It was fairly quiet really, though the Greenshank and a moulting Common Redshank were still busy feeding together (as they were when I dropped in to the site on Friday afternoon). There was also the Little Egret busily feeding and 2 Common Sandpiper flying about. I counted 350 Greylag Geese, but there was more but I flushed them before I got through them all, decent flocks of finches and wagtails but nothing exciting in with them.

On the way to York I noticed a field of gulls, 89 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (pretty much all adults) and 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls.

Saturday I went to the Rutland Bird Fair with my dad. Was a great day. I didn't go last year but it seemed a lot bigger than 2011? Saw tonnes of people I know through work, world birding, Uni, twitter, my blog, local birding etc. Was great to chat to so many people. Was good to check out some of the tour destinations I have my eye on for the next couple of years (though was disappointed to not find anything for Thailand, other than that in general tour company info) such as mainly Australia, Borneo, South Africa, India etc...

Had a really good chat with Mike Edgecombe (who I met in Malaysia) and Chris Gooddie both on the Oriental Bird Club stand who gave me some more good advice on Thailand. Chris also signed me a copy of his book The Jewel Hunter - his quest for seeing all the Pittas in the world! I'm looking forward to reading it, and also emulating his achievement (in my lifetime - not a year unfortunately!!), only 27 to go!!

I also got to meet Bruce Pearson, who very kindly signed me a very limited copy of his Troubled Waters book - some fantastic artwork.

Friday, 16 August 2013

More (proper) Great White Egret Pictures

I was very kindly sent these pictures of the Great White Egret (at Wheldrake Ings from Pool hide) by York Birder Robert Dawson (thank you) who was the only person down in the hide with me when the bird was showing this morning and as it flew off came within range of his camera! The photos below are reproduced with Roberts permission:

Great White Egret

Finally caught up with the Wheldrake Ings Great White Egret this morning. Was sat out in the open for a while before flying off.

There was no sign of it when I was there last night between 1800-2000 but there was 1 Little Egret, 8 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 2 Ruff, 6 Snipe, 1 Water Rail, 1 Common Tern and about 8 Grey Heron.

This morning 0820-0830 there was 1 Great White Egret, 1 Little Egret, 6 Grey Heron, 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Ruff and 3 Snipe. I didn't hang around so highly likely there was other waders about but I got what I wanted and then had to get to work!

A few record shots off my phone below as too far away for camera:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

It's been a long time coming...

...I finally went birding!

Most of the summer has been taken up by writing reports of one sort or another. I've been engrossed in the cricket and have done a little planning for my rapidly approaching birding trip to Thailand (4 months to go) but in all honesty I've just been too busy to blog. No great loss!

I have actually done a bit of birding locally (had a Red Kite almost visible from my house) and a bit further afield but most of it has involved Schedule 1 birds at secret locations so I can't talk about those here! As Autumn is starting to get going I thought I'd try and get a bit more active, we'll see....

Today I went to Wheldrake Ings, was overcast but still fairly mild. Highlights included 8 Green Sandpiper, 1 Ruff, 4 Snipe and 33 Lapwing. A few ducks but they were all in their 'brown-look' so I didn't really bother with them and a few gulls flew over with lots of gaps in their wings, ugly, so again ignored those. Did see a Grey Heron catch a foot long Pike wash it, then swallow it whole, and still alive! Quite impressive.

I called in to Bank Island, the Butterfly Garden there last week was spectacular, most of the plants have gone over now but there was quite a few 'White's' still knocking about, and a Little Egret on the pool too.

That was about it, the Vulcan flew over and flushed everything a couple of times before it cleared off.

The only other thing was Swift, noticeable by their absence in the LDV today...