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Monday, 29 February 2016

Sunday 28th: Teesside again

With the reappearance of the Penduline Tits yesterday it was up to Teesside today, called off at Haverton first and found one of the roosting Long Eared Owls but it was still fairly obscured so still no clear shot. At Saltholme news came over that the Penduline Tits were still present as I was checking in so it was a quick dash out to the Wildlife Watchpoint hide but upon arrival it seemed nobody there knew anything nor indeed did anybody else around the reserve, everyone was a bit baffled by the report but certainly after staking out the area with many other birders most of the morning it unfortunately became a no show day, a lot of the Ducks looked good in the morning sunshine though and the female Smew was back on the main lake this week. After lunch I drove up to Blackhall Rocks north of Hartlepool where a couple of Richard’s Pipits had been found a few days ago, they were in an area of very long grass so it was just flight views although the one I saw was calling a lot as well, bumped into Darren, Mike, Richard and John from Leeds here and spent the rest of the afternoon with them. Driving back through Hartlepool we had decided with it being a nice sunny afternoon to have another session with the Shore Larks, just two now but they posed well, no Snow Buntings today though, we then carried on to Dorman's Pool although I stopped off at Newburn Bridge on the way where one Med Gull sat on a lamppost but there was little else. At Dorman’s Pool, Darren and co were already heading back from the hide with news there had been no sign of any Water Pipits for more than an hour and had decided to try an area around the back of Saltholme East Pool, no joy with the Pipits but we got superb views of a hunting Short Eared Owl, we returned to Dorman's and eventually a flock of Pipits flew in, mainly Meadows but in the end we got some decent views of two or three Water Pipits on the telegraph wires.
still hiding too well

smart drake Gadwall

the Shore Larks in nice light

the Med

and Shortie on display

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Last of the set

I went out after work today to North Cave Wetlands for the last of the trio of good Ducks that have been in the region, the Green Winged Teal, still present on Village Lake this afternoon though like the other two it was distant, looked good in the afternoon sun though, also a couple of Red Kites over the back field and a Little Egret on Dryham Ings. Went back via the LDV to search for the recent Bewick’s Swans, had a look from Bubwith Bridge, North Duffield Carrs and Thorganby and although I managed to see Mute, Black and Whoopers easy enough they were a bit too distant to be able to pick out any Bewick’s.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Saturday Gulls and Sunday up North

I joined the York Bird Club at Rufforth Airfield on Saturday morning for a session with the Gulls, many thanks to Tim, Ollie, Chris and Jack for a very entertaining and informative morning, my tally of the more interesting Gulls were a juv Glaucous, juv and 3rd winter Iceland plus adult and two 1st winter Caspians, although I'm sure the lads will tell you they're all interesting.
Out with Mark today and with there being nothing much in Yorkshire, a better weather forecast for further North and the elusive Long Billed Dowitcher still tantalizing we headed up into Northumberland again this morning, first port of call was the hide at Cresswell Ponds and a smaller wader asleep at the back of a group of Lapwings proved to be the Dowitcher, it eventually woke up and came a little closer, though not close enough, preened for a while then flew back again, but at least we saw it this time. Mid-morning we took our leave and headed further North to Stag Rocks at Bamburgh to search for some sea Duck, a large flock of Pinkfeet were seen en route, it was a very calm sea and at first glance apart from a few Eiders seemed to be empty but we eventually found several small rafts of Common Scoters, of which one was accompanied by four Slavonian Grebes and another by a Black Throated Diver but most impressive of all were up to nine spring drake Long Tailed Ducks, they really do look smart at this time of year and it's a shame they didn't come close, we dropped back to Seahouses Harbour where the Eiders posed as usual but we also had the bonus of Black Redstart hanging around on some garage roofs. We headed back South calling back at Cresswell, the light was a bit better this afternoon and the Dowitcher was a bit closer roosting with some Redshank but it remained asleep until the flock got spooked and then flew off to the back again, we carried on for home with the plan of calling in at Boldon Flats for a Green Winged Teal but we couldn’t remember how to get to the reserve and had to give up, annoyingly looking at the map when I got home we had been so close.
The Dowitcher, always distant

wing stretch

a bit more AV

Eiders at Seahouses

Herring Gull

plus this Black Redstart

back at Cresswell some Redshank and friends were roosting

including the Dowitcher

and then they were off, Dowitcher in the middle

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Local Yank

I had a trip down to the Great Lake at Castle Howard this morning for an American Wigeon that had been found there at the back end of last week, there had been no news on it yesterday but then it had been a miserable wet day so I thought it quite likely to still be around, most of the Eurasion Wigeon were around the middle part of lake when I arrived but several scans failed to find the Yank, I carried on down to the far end where it had been reported from on previous days but there were very few Ducks down there however I don’t know where it had been hiding but there it was with the main flock as I made my way back.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Weekend wanderings

I managed to get out Saturday afternoon for a few hours and basically had a triple choice, Green Winged Teal at North Cave Wetlands, American Wigeon at Castle Howard Lake or Ferruginous Duck at Pugney’s CP, I chose the latter as I deemed it to be the least likely to stay around for long, several Kestrels and Buzzards were seen utilizing Motorway signs, lampposts etc en route. I made my out to the Wildlife pool hide and made several scans but there was no sign of the Ferruginous Duck then a local birder came in and exclaimed that it wasn’t playing ball but thought it might be tucked away in the reeds where all the Pochard were, I bided my time making frequent scans, several other birders came and went then eventually all the Pochard started to move about a bit, I took a good look through them but there was still no sign however a couple of scans later I picked it up swimming about with a female Tufted Duck in the bottom right corner of the pool they both then proceeded to climb out onto the bank and disappeared behind some vegetation, so maybe that’s where it had been all the time, fortunately it wasn’t long before it returned to the pool and then flew across to the other corner showing some very striking wingbars in flight, it showed well thereafter, preening and swimming plus flying across again although it remained distant down at the bottom end all the time, returning to the car I had a scan through the gathering Gulls on the main lake but the only thing of note was a rather dark Lesser Black Backed with very long primaries I thought could be good candidate for intermedius.
Distant female Fudge Duck

On Sunday me and Mark headed off to Teesside calling first at Dorman’s Pool where three or four Water Pipits have been showing recently, nothing doing at that time but another birder informed us of a roosting Long Eared Owl he had just seen at Haverton, we decided to go have a look and were pleased to find it still present, a bit obscured but reasonably close, always nice to see. We then drove back round to Saltholme admiring a little lock of Barnacle Geese close to the road on the way, probably a bit suspect but still nice looking Geese, at Saltholme we headed out to the Wildlife Watchpoint hide with half a hope that last weekends Penduline Tits might pop out, no such luck, then ended up at the Haverton Viewpoint hoping for a Bittern fly by, not today but an Otter swimming across was good compensation, we retreated to Paddy’s hide in front of an impending wintry shower although it caught us up half way there, we sat it out in the hide being entertained by a good selection of Wildfowl that included the long staying redhead Smew plus a pair of Stonechat posed for us just outside the hide when we left. We had lunch at Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park watching a good selection of Finches and Buntings attending the feeders there then walked out to the main lake where a female Scaup showed unbelievably well. We decided on Hartlepool next for another session with the three Shore Larks and now five Snow Buntings on the waste ground South of the Cemeteries, then we had a look out from the Headland, it was good light and there were several Red Throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes on the sea but little else, we made a brief stop at Jackson’s Landing to see if the Glaucous Gull was showing, no sign, then went on to Newburn Bridge where two Med Gulls were flying around. We ended the day where we started back at Dorman’s Pool and after about half an hour a couple of Water Pipits flew in from behind us calling and landed on some telegraph wires, we were hoping they were going to drop down to the waters edge but after around 5 mins they just flew off again, we hung around a while longer, a Little Egret dropped in and a Short Eared Owl flew past but there were no further sightings of the Pipits.

redhead Smew on Paddy's pool

Stonechat outside the hide

female Scaup, nice comparison with white fronted female Tufty

Tufties looked good in the sun as well

Bullfinch at the feeders

Shore Lark are still showing well

and Snow Buntings

Little Egret at Dorman's