Sunday 24 February 2013

Cold Sunday

Family visit to YWT Moorlands revealed singing Skylark in the field opposite the first I have heard this year. In the woods lots of activity, with Nuthatch about the best. On to YWT Strensall Common for a short visit. No sign of any Stonechats though c50 Fieldfares flying north was notable.

Later, went up to YWT Wheldrake Ings for an hour. Two smart drake Scaup were present among the hordes of ducks. The Peregrine I saw the other day was stirring things up and flushed most of the gulls which headed off south. A first winter Caspian Gull was present at 4.30pm, a different individual from that seen on Thursday, with more pale at the bill base and more worn upperparts. The tertials had quite white thumbnail marks. Other things of note included displaying Lapwing, 2 Oystercatchers and a Barn Owl.

Thursday 21 February 2013


Bloody cold today, especially the wind. Perfect for spending hours sitting still. Not.

Castle Howard first thing revealed the wintering Scaup, 40 Goldeneye and a sleepy Shoveler. As usual, no sign of any rare grebes and divers no matter how hard I imagined them being there.

On to Wykeham Forest where it was snowing and I revelled in the sight of a very distant Kestrel and not a lot else. Even Willow got bored. But the view was nice!

Dropping Willow off, I headed down the LDV which teemed with birds. Bubwith Bridge was fab with c200 Dunlin, 40 Ruff including three white-headed males, c300 Golden Plovers two of which had attained spanking summer plumage and lots of ducks. Nearby the herd of Whoopers and the wintering pair of Bewick's Swans were in the usual field. Not much from the hide at North Duff. 9 Oystercatchers at Thorganby hinted at spring on the horizon.

The water had dropped at Wheldrake Ings so I managed to wade round to the Tower Hide in my wellies. A good candidate for a first winter Caspian Gull dropped in early and absolutely hordes of large gulls arrived from 4pm onwards and were still streaming in as I drove home. Sadly, apart from a few Lesser Black-backs, I couldn't pull out anything better before I had to head home to defrost my frozen toes at 5pm. A big scary Peregrine was terrorising everything as I walked back. She particularly seemed to enjoy scaring a trio of crows, repeatedly stooping at them; they rolled on their backs putting their feet up in the air and screaming their heads off. She was only playing luckily for them.

Looking good for a Caspian Gull, though very distant so difficult to get plumage features clearly, though tertials look reasonable as does jizz and colouration.

Monday 11 February 2013

YWT Potteric Carr

A quick look for Bitterns mid-meeting today revealed none of the streaky blighters, despite four being present currently. Turns out Low Ellers Marsh may have been the wrong spot as 3 were seen on Pipers Marsh later on. c20 Shoveler were present, plus Gadwall, Tufties, Pochard etc.

Sunday 10 February 2013

The Living Seas Centre, Flamborough

Two very fine Woodcocks in South Landing valley today prior to a lovely visit to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's new Living Seas Centre. Good coffee too!

Having had some advice, the Poppleton Iceland Gull probably was a second winter, the regular bird, after all.

Saturday 9 February 2013

Quality gull action

A quick visit to Rufforth airfield revealed a man walking his dog and no gulls, so I headed round to Poppleton.  A staggering number of large gulls were in the fields north of the Red Lion and viewable distantly from the road west of the field. I soon picked up a sleeping Iceland Gull. It was very white and I assumed it was the regular second-winter bird that has been reported. However, on second thoughts despite having not seen the bare parts I think this is actually a first-winter. There are certainly no newer feathers on the mantle showing. Thoughts?

Further scanning revealed a good candidate for a first-winter Caspian Gull. It was a bit distant for a reasonable photo, but the jizz, structure and plumage all worked pretty well. I really could use a better camera! Also, several Corn Buntings along the road here.

After 20 minutes the gulls took flight and so I headed to the park with Sol who had been very patient.
Later on I popped down to Wheldrake Ings to see if I could get on for the roost. The place was very flooded and I was anxious about driving through the water to the car park but thought I would try. Bit neverwracking but I made it ok.

This site was still very wet so I will unable to get further than the bridge. Fortunately a pack of large gulls were loafing on a near spit and after a few minutes a cracking adult Iceland Gull dropped in and began preening. A little later it took off and flew right to the back of the flood near Swantail where I struggled to see it. Craig Ralston arrived and said he has seen a second winter Iceland flying over Bank Island a few minutes ago. A little later, I picked up a lumbering first-winter Glaucous Gull coming in. It settled on the water but was too distant for photos. My first of the winter. Shortly, I picked up another white winger, this time a first-winter Iceland Gull. This was clearly a first winter, being dark-billed and with plenty of brown on the upperparts. Not much else of note, apart from half a dozen Goldeneye, some Pintails, 30 Fieldfares flew north, calling Little Owl and Water Rails and a fine Barn Owl on the way home. Not bad for a total of 80 minutes birding!

By the way, one Waxwing seen this morning feeding on rosehips by the river near the Bishopthorpe allotments. Also, three Bullfinches.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Med Gull NDC

A couple of hours down at a very flooded North Duffield Carrs revealed a dapper first winter Med Gull among the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls gathering to roost. Andy W turned up 30 seconds after it had flown out of sight, but fortunately having changed position it was visible among the roosting gulls on the floodbank.

Not much else about, save 225 Pochards which was a good count. 8 Golden Plover, 5 Ruff and c25 Dunlin were present though finding little land to sit on. One Buzzard and a cruise-through Sparrowhawk noted.

First-winter Mediterranean Gull (videograb). Hardly big news, but surprisingly scarce round here.