Sunday, 18 January 2015

Half a month

After the amazing end to 2014, 2015 has been a little lack lustre on the bird front for me. Went up to the north end of the Dales with the family on 2 January which was a great, if not freezing day. Saw a first winter Glaucous Gull fly across the A1 near Catterick and more intriguingly a pale brown Starling with c20 Starlings flying west over the A1 somewhere south of Catterick...Up in the Dales, three Blackcock were in the usual fields with several Red Grouse and a pair of Ravens nearby.

4 January 2015
Spent the day birding the York area having failed to get a Bird Race team together. Had a great day amassing 91 species plus a possible Caspian Gull. Highlights included Pink-footed Goose, Grey Wagtail and Nuthatch at Castle Howard (the latter two species having eluded us in 2011), Jack Snipe and Chiffchaff at Hes East, Grey Partridges and Peregrine down the Tillmire, 2 Woodcocks in Askham Bog, Bewick's Swan found skillfully by Rob Chapman at North Duffield Carrs and then a possible Caspian Gull at Wheldrake Ings late afternoon. Very pleased to see a Barn Owl come out of the nestbox we put up back in the summer with ITV's Liz Bonin too! Congratulations to the three York teams that took part, with the winners the String Quartet who scored 97 species.

Some pics from the day:
 Castle Howard at dawn.
Skipwith Common 
North Duffield Carrs - not much water in the Lower Derwent Valley currently.

 Not a very convincing shot of a first winter Caspian Gull candidate.

 Wheldrake Ings late afternoon - view from Swantail Hide

Dusk at Wheldrake Ings, looking SW over the refuge

11 January 2015
A week later and it was my turn to lead a YOC trip round the Lower Derwent Valley. A very pleasant day, with the highlight being prolonged views of a Red Kite over the flood at Wheldrake Ings.

Phonescoped pic of the Red Kite.

Early in the New Year the water went over out of the Ouse and there is a good patch on Acaster Church Ings just south of where I live. Yesterday, 17 January this held 20 Pintail (my highest ever count here), 27 Wigeon, 10 Teal and 9 Gadwall. c20 Goosander flew over south too. On 14 January I saw a Barn Owl near the farm just south of Acaster Bridge, the first I have seen round here for ages.

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