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Monday, 26 May 2014

A few good birds for a wet weekend

Saturday the 24th and after rain most of the day myself, Mark and Paz had a late afternoon early evening session as the forecast seemed better then although we still went through a fair bit of rain as we headed north. Hummersea near Skinningrove was the destination as an Icterine Warbler had been found there that morning in the garden of Josie’s Cottage, I’ve seen this area mentioned a lot on Teesmouth Bird Clubs website but its the first time we’ve ever been, it did look a superb bit of coastal habitat, upon arrival we were informed that a Woodchat Shrike also seen briefly that morning had just been refound so we got that as well on the way back, the cottage was at the end of a long track and we were soon staking the garden out, the Iccy kept giving brief snatches of song but it was quite a while before we eventually saw it, a typical spring bird, nice and bright, as we walked back to the car the Woodchat Shrike was showing along a fence-line but too far for a photo. It was then back down the coast to Long Nab at Burniston as a Marsh Warbler found in the morning had started singing again, it was in the little gulley near the car park and although it was singing its heart out at times it was in thick cover and we never got more than a few fleeting glimpses of the bird, it did some rather good impersonations particularly Blackbird alarm calls and Chiffchaff
nice Spring Iccy

Sunday the 25th and it was just me and Mark, we had a bit later start while we awaited news to help us decide where to go, there were two snippets to interest us, a male Little Bittern in Greater Manchester and a Broad Billed Sandpiper at Nosterfield, we decided on the Sandpiper first and wait for more news on the Bittern. As is typical for Nosterfield the Broad Billed was distant to say the least but we had good scope views, we stayed with it quite a while as we deliberated what to do next still not being convinced about going for the Bittern at this stage. With the onset of a heavy shower we moved on initially heading for Staveley NR but after a couple more messages saying the Little Bittern was showing well we decided to chance it, dropped on to the A1, up to the M62 and across to Manchester then found our way to Elton Reservoir on the outskirts of Bury, upon arriving we were a bit lost and wondered if we were in the right place but along with a few other birders who arrived at the same time we worked out where we needed to be and sure enough as soon as we headed off in the right direction we saw a small crowd of birders overlooking an incredibly small marshy area at the southern end of the Reservoir and there it was, we had timed it just right and the bird was showing on the reedy edge of a small pool right from us getting there and then for the next hour or more eventually working its way into the corner where it was lost to view, a tick for Mark and only my second in this country. As we made our way back to the car we had a drake Common Scoter on the Reservoir and tried our luck photographing low flying Swifts, not easy, then on the way back home after an aborted attempt to find a Red Backed Shrike in Pontefract (we had no idea where to look) we paid a quick visit to the Quarry at Tadcaster where we had a Peregrine carrying prey to one of the nearby pylons. So five good birds this weekend unfortunately none were photogenic although I did get some record shots of the Little Bittern.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Terek at Covenham

Well its all happening now, I was out after work this afternoon, over the Humber Bridge and on to Covenham Reservoir where a Terek Sandpiper found yesterday evening had been showing well this morning, the bird was a bit nervy, easily spooked and had been chased about a bit this morning apparently but by the time I got there it had got into a routine in the South-east corner and by waiting patiently it eventually came quite close, it was my fourth one but by far the closest I've ever had, a handful of more common Waders were keeping it company but unfortunately the Black Terns that had been present this morning had departed, a passing Osprey was a bonus though, the local Buzzards giving it short shrift.
initial views tucked away in the corner

then it started coming closer

eventually passing right by

before heading back

a distant Osprey passing by

the sun was out on its second pass

Dunlin and Sanderling

a very bright Redshank

the Dunlin was the only other bird to come close

Monday, 19 May 2014

Moorland Magic and a female Phal

I was out last Saturday afternoon and decided on a jaunt around Bransdale, it was nice and sunny but a little breezy on the tops, I checked out the area we had Redstarts last year to find at least two pairs present, further on at the first Ring Ouzel site I had a couple of Green Hairstreaks on the Bilberry plus plenty of Meadow Pipits, Red Grouse etc, a protective Lapwing nearly took my head off but no sign of any Ring Ouzels or Whinchats, I took the road that links across cutting out the head of the Dale, a pleasant little drive, I stopped where a little bridge went over a stream and had a Spotted Flycatcher there, heading back down the other side of the valley I stopped by the bridge and picked up my first Whinchats for the year also a male Ring Ouzel in the area, haven't managed to see one at this site the last couple of years, another one was feeding by the road 500 yards or so further on and another pair of Whinchats were nearby.

took exception to my presence 

her chicks hid in nearby vegetation, she relied on camouflage
doesn't really work on grass though

Spotted Flycatcher silhouette

Red Grouse from a different angle

Whinchat had been singing from this tree, staked it out for a bit
but it didn't come back, these two came along  though

kept its distance as usual

unlike this poser

Common Heath Moth
Sunday I was out with Mark and Mike Williams and it was up on to the Moors again but more with Butterflies in mind, called in at the Gilling end of Yearsley Moor Woods on the way to check for Redstarts and Wood Warblers, nice walk but nothing out of the ordinary was seen, we carried on to our first main site of the day, Hawnby Hill north of Helmsley for Duke of Burgundy Butterfly, as I knew where I was going this time we were soon in the area and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying good views of them, by the end of the session we reckoned there were probably up to 50 around also a couple of Dingy Skippers and all the while we were serenaded by Tree Pipits, a Garden Warbler sat out in the open singing its head off, typically as I didn’t have my big lens on the camera. After lunch we headed across to our next Butterfly site where I first saw Pearl Bordered Fritillaries a couple of years back, once again they were out in good numbers but in the warmth of the afternoon they were very active and it was hard work trying to get a picture. Late afternoon we thought we'd do a bit of birding and when we found out the female Red Necked Phalarope that had been found at North Cave Wetlands in the morning was still present we decided to go for that, it was on the Reedbed Lake and showing well, always nice to see a spring bird, just always a little distant for the camera, nevertheless a good end to a superb day.
a family party of young Wrens at Yearsley Wood

view from Hawnby Hill

super little Butterflies, hit it right this year

chuffed to get an underwing shot

10 mins later this one posed for me

also Dingy Skipper

Garden Warbler singing out in the open, cos I didn't have the big lens on

Thought this was Latticed Heath at the time but its a female Common Heath Moth

the Hillside

very active Pearl Bordered Frits, proved hard work

Mating pair

Brown Silver-line Moth

and a female Phal