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Sunday, 19 March 2017

South & West Yorks

Out with Mark today and we headed South this morning to Hagg Lane Flash at Newington near Bawtry where a drake Green Winged Teal had been found yesterday, it was still present this morning but typically right over the other side of the Flash, good scope views though and a good selection of other Wildfowl. As we were nearby we decided to have a look at the two Shore Larks at Stainton next, a good inland record, after eventually finding the site we made our way up to the top of the slag heap and with other birders watching them we were soon onto them, one of the other birders mentioned they had seen a Raven fly into the nearby quarry so we went over to have a look and picked it up flying around on the other side, such a big bird it dwarved the other Corvids and a nice bonus bird. Next up was Broomhill Flash hoping for Garganey and other stuff, two drakes and a female duly obliged though distantly. We were disappointed there were no Sand Martins about but we knew there had been some at Swillington Ings so after a bit of lunch we headed North, called at the Lemonroyd Filter Beds again and with no workmen about today we managed to get onto a Water Pipit amongst a handful of Meadows, on the very windy main reserve we failed to find the Long Tailed Duck but three Sand Martins and the Black Necked Grebe were good. It was very blowy so we soon moved on to a slightly more sheltered Fairburn Ings, the Great White Egret was out in a ditch behind the Flashes today so no hoped for photo opportunity for Mark and the feeders were also very quiet so we called it a day. 
the distant Green Winged Teal

Shore Larks at Stainton

also distant Garganey at Broomhill Flash

Water Pipit on the filter beds

obliging Dunlin on the causeway at Swillington

Monday, 13 March 2017

A trio of Inland Wetlands

I was out on Sunday and as the weather looked better away from the Coast I decided to do some Inland Wetland reserves starting at Nosterfield with the chance of year ticking Smew, called in at Ladybridge Lakes first on the offchance Fridays Ring Necked Duck might have returned but it hadn’t, a good selection of Wildfowl but nothing out of the ordinary, carried on to Flasks Lake where the 1st winter drake Smew has been residing for a while but there was no sign of that neither, I suppose they all have to go sometime, it was a lovely morning though, the Great Crested Grebes were displaying and I just had a steady wander around. Late morning I headed South, Swillington Ings was next on the agenda, I went to the Lemonroyd Filter Beds first hoping for Water Pipit but ironically even though it was Sunday they were working in the compound so there was very little about although I did have my first Chiffchaff of the year singing away, the main reserve held the usual fare plus the long staying Long Tailed Duck on Lemonroyd Lake and the Black Necked Grebe now attaining its summer finery on the Eastern Reedbeds. Mid-afternoon I moved on to Fairburn Ings where a walk along Lin Dyke saw the usual stuff plus a couple more Chiffchaffs then a local informed me the Great White Egret was showing well from the feeding platforms by the Visitor Centre, I went down and spent a bit of time watching it feeding along the edge of the reeds then carried on to Pickup Hide where I saw my first Willow Tit for the year then gradually moved round to the Kingfisher screen where there was not a lot happening, with nothing more to do I headed back for a second look at the Egret watching it until it flew off late afternoon, magnificent bird. 
Great Crested Grebes displaying at Nosterfield

the Black Necked Grebe at Swillington Ings coming into summer plumage

and the Long Tailed Duck on Lemonroyd Lake

Fairburns Great White

a good selection of passerines from the Pickup Hide

Oh and the odd Squirrel

a second look at the Egret

until it decided to go

Sunday, 12 March 2017

A Great Grey afternoon

A couple of hours to spare this afternoon (Saturday) so I nipped down to Acaster Airfield for another session with the Great Grey Shrike, it was in the area beyond Ibbotsons Trailer Park this afternoon and initial views from further down the road were fairly distant, however I moved back to Ibbotsons to see if I could see it from the far side of the Trailer Park and discovered it linked to a part of the old runway with all the hay bales lined all along it, I walked out and soon found the bushes the Shrike had been perched in and discovered it was still sat there, I approached carefully and was quite amazed just how close it let me get, it even flew down onto the bales to catch and dispatch a Bumblebee then flew back to the bush, it also perched up on a couple of trees nearby and started singing at one point, wasn’t sure whether it was in response to a pair of Buzzards that had started displaying. A super approachable bird but a grey cloudy afternoon meant the poor light levels didn't lend itself to photography.

dispatching a Bumblebee

having a good sing song from this perch

Monday, 6 March 2017

Cleveland Goodies

Out with Mark and our mate Dave from Rochdale yesterday (Sunday) and with a few goodies on offer we decided on Teesside and area, started at Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool for Mark and Dave to year tick the Parakeets, carried on to the Headland and with the reappearance of the Shore Lark near the cemeteries we thought we’d try for that, a couple of birders leaving the area told us they hadn’t seen it but then we noted a small flock of Linnets drop in, don’t know if it came in with them but all of sudden there it was and ended up showing well, on to the Fish Quay next and the juv Iceland Gull was soon located flying around, we were allowed into the compound and ended up getting some amazing close views of it on the quayside. We headed back calling at Newburn Bridge for the Med Gull and waders then Greatham Creek were we got our first Avocets of the year plus some colourful Grey Seals then it was round to Redcar, the Velvet Scoter flock was still on the sea near the cinema but we failed to see the Snow Buntings by the Stray Cafe, a bit further along the road near Marske it wasn’t looking good for the Lapland Buntings in the stubble field by Fox Covert either with no sign since early morning however a good tramp around the favoured concrete block soon flushed one, calling as it flew although we only managed several flight views. Skinningrove was next for another session with long staying Eastern Black Redstart, the Stonechats were also showing well again, then it was over to Lockwood Beck Reservoir for a Water Pipit found there Saturday and still present early afternoon but unfortunately there was no sign of it when we got there, some Grey Wagtails were showing well though and a handful of Bramblings were still around. We finished the day with a steady drive back home over the Moors adding Red Grouse to our year lists, all in all it was a pretty good day and we managed to get most of the target species plus the best of the weather, seeing no rain until we headed back south over the moors.
this one seemed quite petite, wondered if it was a young one

being inquisitive

Shore Lark at last

easy to see where it gets its alternative name "Horned Lark" from

Iceland Gull in the Fish Quay

some good close views

coming in for a landing

also a few Eiders milling around

Med Gull on the rocks at Newburn Bridge

first Avocets of the year on the Tidal Pools

with some colourful Seals nearby

Velvet Scoters still off the cinema at Redcar

Stonechat posing well at Skinningrove

as well as the Eastern Black Redstart

nice to get him in the sun

Lockwood Beck, no sign of the Water Pipit but the Grey wagtails were showing well

first Red Grouse of the year by Danby Beacon