Sunday 13 January 2013

Birding in the dark

Got up a bit too early and arrived at Castle Howard in the dark and in a snow shower. A little later it was light, and I braved the icy dawn in the hope of a Great Northern Diver or Slavonian Grebe. The lake was covered in a frosting of gulls, which headed off in noisy strings as the sky lightened. The whistles of Wigeon pierced the cold air and the increasing light revealed a lake full of birds.The female Scaup appeared as if by magic, and was followed by a handsome male Pintail escorting three females. Nearby, a pair of Goosander dived in the shallows, watched by a pair of Mandarin hunkered down under the willows on the far bank. A large immature Peregrine was having a crack at gull for breakfast, but I didn't see her succeed. No sign of any divers of rare grebes, a Little Grebe would have to do. About 35 Goldeneye were present, groups of males getting a bit frisky and head tossing and kicking, despite the decreasing temperatures. I contemplated the LDV, but headed for Rufforth airfield to check out the gulls. A first winter Lesser Black-back consorted with it's larger cousins among a flock of c250 large gulls, but sadly nothing rarer dropped in before I had to head home for Dad duties.

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