Saturday 10 February 2024

Penetrating the Murk

My Yorkshire Coast Nature LDV tour was postponed due to bad weather and deep flooding, but it turned out to be not as bad as forecast, so mid-morning I went out for a wander. My second Barn Owl of the day, following one on the dawn dog walk in Bishopthorpe, showed well hunting the rough grass at East Cottingwith. The bad weather over the last few days has probably made hunting arduous for these owls, which is why they are out and about this late. 

Not much was doing at Wheldrake from the East Cottingwith side, due to deep flooding, but it was nice to see D3 the regularly-wintering female Marsh Harrier, here for another vacation from East Anglia.

148 Pochards at Aughton was good, but there were no birds with paler mantles among them (Canvasbacks). Five more were on Bubwith Ings but unfortunately I couldn't pull in at the bridge due to a line of traffic, so I missed the 170+ Blackwits that Tim reported later. North Duff was quiet, due to deep water, so I pressed on to Thorganby. A Little Owl was calling on arrival but I failed so spot it. Counting the distant Whoopers on the other side of the river, I suddenly noticed there were two smaller swans with them. They had their heads underwater (feeding!) for what seemed like ages and seemed to always pull their heads up when they were facing away. After a few minutes of convincing myself they were Bewick's Swans, they finally turned side-on and I got a good view of one of the beaks, clinching the ID. I thought I was not going to see any Bewick's in the LDV this winter, so this was a nice finale to my loop of the valley. The drizzle had started again and the visibility was reducing, so I decided to call it a day.

Bewick's in the murk

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