Tuesday 10 April 2012

April showers

Dodging the April showers I took a quick afternoon visit to Wheldrake Ings with Chris G. A sprinkling of hirundines noted, Swallows and Sand Martins with at least one House Martin thrown in, looking stonking as they always do when they first return. A fine male Peregrine shot through and close over Pool Hide, though not preceded by clouds of ducks and waders as most have departed. A smart Greenshank was on the Refuge, found earlier by Russ, though the Avocets had gone. Four or five Dunlin were present too plus a solitary Blackwit. No Sedge Warblers yet though at least one Willow Warbler singing. Intriguingly, c20 large finches in the tops of the larches and repeatedly dropping into the pines in the plantation just north of the site could only have been Crossbills. Chris and me beat a hasty exit to confront a man who had let a lurcher and a big shaggy dog off on to the meadows, upsetting all the Curlews and Lapwings getting ready to breed. This guy either didn't know any better or didn't care; unfortunately he had gone before we got to have a word. The new signage coming soon should hopefully reduce this problem. The Ings is looking good at the mo, due to the pulse of snowmelt water and rain coming off the Moors. Bodes well for the spring passage.

Old Moor Wetlands

My first visit to the site since the RSPB took it on. Had a fun morning with the kids - the site is set up well for families, complete with playground, well surfaced paths, friendly staff, lots of stuff for the kids, even a family friendly hide with crayons and without grumbling photographers. The RSPB have really cracked this new hybrid country park/nature reserve thing. The cynical birder in me doesn't like this -too tame and well-organised- the Dad in me loves it - perfect for fitting a bit of birding round a day out with the kids. My only criticism was their raised pond which was stuffed full of Canadian pondweed. If this gets on a net and is then spread into other areas it will rapidly colonise the wetlands. Might be worth getting rid of it!
Saw 2 Avocets and heard a couple of Water Rails, otherwise quite quiet. Looked in vain through the hordes of BHGs for a rarer gull nd kept one eye on the sky for an Osprey or better, but to no avail. Oh, and a Stoat seen briefly. Hes East yesterday: Green Sandpiper, Swallow in the rain.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Winter 3 - Spring 4

A wet, murky start in the LDV this morning. Wheldrake Ings revealed 3 Willow Warblers, 1 Blackcap and a solitary Sand Martin heralding the spring, whilst 80 Fieldfares and a selection of ducks maintained the wintry feel. Thanks to last week's snow, the Derwent was up, with more water on the Ings. Had a look at Thorganby which was still pretty dry, but some water down towards Aughton held 20 Whooper Swans, overflown by my first Swallow of the year. At North Duffield two leftover Short-eared Owls performed well but a brief Merlin less so. So the battle between the end of the winter and the start of spring proper has almost been won.

Tuesday 3 April 2012


An hour in the pouring rain this afternoon at Heslington East produced the usual waders, plus a female Wheatear, c10 Pied Wags and c30 Linnets. Chris G was down there and in a day long stint had notched up Merlin, 2 Swallow, Willow Warbler, 3 Wheatear, Rock Pipit and Twite. A nice haul for the York area!
15 Redwing headed north over Bishopthorpe this morning first thing, following the 35 Fieldfare that moved north yesterday.

Monday 2 April 2012

Yikes, there is dust on my bins!

Escaped for a bit of birding. Misty Wheldrake revealed fab views of short-eared and barn owls, plus two adult snow geese that dropped in from high - presumably the birds from High Eske. Wild? Probably not, but fully winged and unringed... Smart birds nevertheless. 20 Icelandic black'wits present, plus several dunlin and a singing blackcap. No other warblers yet, apart from lots of chiffchaffs.
On to Newburgh to have a look at the drake garganey which was elusive for a little while before showing well. Castle Howard next which had plenty of tufties a lingering female goldeneye, but not much else.

Top: Garganey, then a murky Short-eared Owl, followed by two distant Snow Geese.