Friday, 30 April 2010
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
The morning was a tough slog, the habitat was full of common birds but walking through it was really not that much fun. A flock of 300 Golden Plover in complete breeding attire was rather cool, and a bit more interesting to look at than during the winter when I've spent days and days looking at them. Waders were fairly evident with Curlew, Lapwing, Snipe and Oystercatcher all showing signs of breeding. Plenty of Red Grouse were bubbling and croaking away, some showing down to a few feet. Several Barn Swallow were recorded, many back on breeding territory with several others noted on passage. A good dozen or so Wheatear were found with several Lesser Redpoll displaying within small plantations amongst what seemed like hundreds of Willow Warblers. However bird of the day was a showy singing Grasshopper Warbler, my first of the year that was reeling in some marshy grassland.
Back on the local patch this evening a new Willow Warbler was singing away, with several Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and a single Garden Warbler all heard/seen. The ducklings were down to four today.
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
There were no reports of the Black-winged Stilt at Nosterfield today but unfortunately it wasn't on my patch either, which is not really a surprise!
Monday, 26 April 2010
After little excitement and time pressing on and nothing of note I decided to turn back towards home, as I turned back to call the dogs I couldn't believe my eyes as the unmistakable shape of a Black-winged Stilt appeared before my eyes low over an adjacent hedgerow, its ridiculously long legs seeming to stretch for infinity behind its small body and long neck and long bill, its all dark wings being immediately evident also, a truly unmistakable bird. A double and triple take revealed that the bird was definitely real as it gradually gained height and flew off west. A quick email was sent out to the local York birders group and Birdguides were phoned in the hope that someone out and about would connect with it. A look at my watch revealed that I was going to be late for work, because the bird had flown out of sight I was happy that it wouldn't loop round and come back so I left the site rather pleased with myself.
Later in the day the bird (presumably the same one) was relocated at Nosterfield. It is highly likely that the bird on my patch was the same bird that was seen briefly on Sunday morning, also at Nosterfield. A quick look on Birdguides Online Guide to Rarer British Birds showed that there have previously been 2 records from North Yorkshire, a single bird in 1991 (Filey) with a party of 3 birds in 1993 (Wheldrake Ings), both of these records pertained to birds that seem to have travelled around several counties including South and East Yorkshire, other birds have been recorded in 1986 (South Yorks), 1983 (East Yorks) other than that it was Pre 1907 and c.1851 (both East Yorks), so a fairly decent Yorkshire bird.
All in all a good day, and I went to work with a big grin, albeit a little later than I should have done. The picture below is not 'the bird', however it is a Black-winged Stilt I have seen on my travels (in The Gambia).
A quick trek round the patch in the evening provided little other than a brief song from a Garden Warbler, 2 Grey Heron, a single Barn Swallow and a new family of ducklings, 9 in total, hopefully they will fare better than the last lot!
Sunday, 25 April 2010
A more leisurely dog walk mid afternoon produced a (presumed) Grey Heron flying north at a height of at least 250m. It was evident that there was some interesting weather building up (below - an image from the middle field) with a few flashes of lightening and claps of thunder. With the added lift several Herring, Lesser Black-backed and a single Great Black-backed Gull, a Sparrowhawk and a couple of other distant raptors/corvids were noted on thermals.
A planned trip to Staveley YWT Nature Reserve during the afternoon was aborted due to some incredibly heavy rain, which was a shame.
Saturday, 24 April 2010
Friday, 23 April 2010
I've been surveying north of Preston the last couple of days, highlights included several Whimbrel, about 60 Wheatear (including many 'Greenland' Wheatears), 4 White Wagtails, 4 Yellow Wagtails, Barn Owl, Tree Pipit, hundreds of Barn Swallow, 2 House martin, 6 Tree Sparrow, c30 Corn Bunting and pride of place to a stonker of a male Ring Ouzel singing away.
This Corn Bunting was very close, at one stage it landed in the bush 2ft behind me! Unfortunately I still can't get my zoom function to work on my BlackBerry, hence why it looks like it's a mile away!
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
The evening saw at least 350 Common Gulls and 20 Lesser Black-backed Gulls all flying south.
Today I spent the day in my new office where I added to my 'office list', this now stands at about 6/7 species!
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Back on the local patch this evening 2x Species X were present, the first time I've seen two birds together, which is promising. Overflying the site were 5x Barn Swallow (2 of which were hanging around Patch Pond). A single Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were still present around Patch Pond, but again there was no sign of the ducklings.
Monday, 19 April 2010
A rushed walk in the evening was fairly unproductive, mainly due to the large amount of disturbance that was going on, no sign of Species X, but that was probably due to the heard of pikies and pack of 20+ dogs they were 'walking'. 4 Canada Geese roaming across the fields was a little unusual. One of this mornings Willow Warbler was still singing next to the Patch Pond. The pair of Hybrid Mallards were still present but a combination of two pulling dogs and the duck family hanging out in the marginal vegetation made making a count of the ducklings was impossible. Two singing Reed Buntings were recorded, as were several Goldfinch, Bullfinch and at least 12 Linnet, however everything went quiet as the male Sparrowhawk made a fleeting appearance.
Sunday, 18 April 2010
An hour round the local patch this evening produced brilliant views of Species X which I watched for about an hour, other 'bits and pieces' included Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Pied Wagtail, 2 singing Song Thrush, Blackbird (and nest), with the regular residents all recorded too. A pair of Sand Martin were recorded flying north, my first on the patch this year.
A walk past the patch pond produced excellent views of a pair of hybrid Mallard complete with 12 tiny ducklings, it will be interesting to see how many of these make it through the night/next couple of weeks.
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Insects were very noticeable today, lots of Bees and a few Wasps but numerous butterflies too, commonest was Small Tortoiseshell (c30+) with a few Peacock (c5) and a single Comma, my first of the year.
An early evening walk around the local patch produced a somewhat unexpected Schedule 1 species. Due to the sensitivity of this species, it will hereafter be referred to as 'Species X'. Needless to say this was a new site bird for me so a very exciting find and makes plodding round the local patch feel rewarding, alas still no Willow Warbler but several Chiffchaff and Blackcap still singing with Sparrowhawk noted again with a pair of Small Tortoiseshell getting it on.
Midnight update! Just finished catching up with the IPL, let the dogs out for a final wee of the day and an Early Thorn moth flew up to my light, a nice garden tick!
Friday, 16 April 2010
Plenty of Chiffchaff and Blackcap were again evident and very showy, a single Swallow heading north was a new year bird at the site for me, as was a single Yellow Wagtail that flew north. Several Meadow Pipit were also noted heading north.
A Jay was probably the other highlight, only the 3rd/4th time I've had it on the site, and the first time since early last winter, it got chased off by the hundreds of Magpies so not sure when/if it will be back! A pair of Sparrowhawk were again in evidence over the woodland. Smaller fare included 3 singing Reed Bunting, several pairs of Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin and Blackbird with several Starlings and House Sparrow collecting nesting material before flying off into the adjacent housing.
The small pond contained a couple of pairs of Mallard x Hybrid Ducks with a pair of Moorhen noted. A couple of Greylag and Canada Geese were observed flying around, presumably part of the local feral goose population.
A smallish white butterfly sp was noted but views were too brief to get a firm ID.
This evening a Grey Heron flew over the garden, a garden first, bringing the garden list to 27 species. The Yellow Wagtail brings my Backies list up to 40 species! Good times!!!
Thursday, 15 April 2010
The local patch is still very quiet with the only migrants evident being Chiffchaff and Blackcap, with a couple of female Blackcaps noted in the presence of the showy males. Several pairs of Bullfinch and a single pair of Reed Bunting were also showing breeding behaviour and showing very well.
A trip over to the Wolds this afternoon resulted in 2 Swallows and yet more Chiffchaff with several Buzzards noted.
News of a possible/probable Harlequin Duck came through a bit too late for me today, but since I'm off tomorrow I imagine I might be making a trip east in the morning, probably with several hundred other people! Fingers crossed...
Saturday, 10 April 2010
Back at home nothing new, save a garden tick in the form of a singing male Blackcap with many Blackcap and Chiffchaff noted within the local patch. A couple of male Sparrowhawk were very vocal as they flew around in the early morning sun. But still no local Willow Warblers for me!
I think I'll keep my eyes skyward tomorrow and hope for a Common Crane, White Stork or White-tailed Eagle going over the garden!
Thursday, 8 April 2010
I did however get a nice look at a hunting male Peregrine, a shed load of Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Red Kite. Several migrants were noted, including 5 Sand Martin, 5 Barn Swallow, 6 Pied/White Wagtails, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 1 male Stonechat, c.50 Meadow Pipit and about 35 Linnet. One of the Yellow Wagtails, a very sexy male came and sat in the field next to me, however the camera phone zoom wouldn't work so I didn't get a great picture unfortunately, however I will still put it on here if I can work out how to do so! (edit: done)
Migrants on the local patch included 3 male Blackcaps and 6 Chiffchaff, with hopefully more to come tomorrow.
I remembered why I called this tit tastic, it was because I had a really nice look at some Blue Tits this morning - nest building they were.
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Back on the local patch a cold wet morning - that meant that I didn't go back to the Beverley area - resulted in no new migrants, but by the evening, by which time the temperature was about 10 degrees hotter more migrants were noticeable, including 4 male Blackcap and 10+ male Chiffchaff. A flock of 10 hirundines over the river in York could well have been House Martin but they were too high and there were too many cyclists for me to get a firm ID. Still no Willow Warbler from my patch - which incidentally is the Clifton Backies in York but I know from local reports that they are in surrounding habitat already. I moved here in August last year so this is my first spring here so I'm waiting for the migrants to arrive and hoping for something a little interesting to turn up too!
Breeding behaviour noted in Magpie, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Reed Bunting, Robin, Wren, Dunncok, Carrion Crow and Bullfinch.
The only benefit of a day in the office was Red Kite seen along the A64 near the A1 junction.
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
The local patch walk this morning produced 2 singing male Blackcap, 6 singing Chiffchaff with nest building noted in Magpie and House Sparrow but no hoped-for Willow Warblers, yet.
Monday, 5 April 2010
Last week saw a big twitch down to Suffolk for the Lesser Kestrel, definitely my birding highlight of the year so far, the bird was distant, however showed well perched up and in flight, even feeding on the wing at a bit closer range. In addition to the Lesser Kestrel, Great Grey Shrike and Alpine Swift made nice additional species to the trip list, with a few migrants also noted (Wheatear, Swallow and Chiffchaff).
Back at home the migrants have started to arrive, with plenty of Chiffchaff present for over a week now, with a few Blackcap, Sand Martin and Barn Swallow also noted, including a Barn Swallow noted over the garden this pm.