Monday 29 February 2016

Leap Day! 29th February 2016

Not often you get a Leap Day, well, every four years I suppose. With a new dog, Lunar, I decided to take a day off to settle her in, and what better way than to go birding! Checked out the east side of the LDV for a couple of hours, which was a good move, with a Cetti's Warbler calling in the reeds north of East Cottingwith by the Pocklington Canal, the redhead Smew from here on the Wheldrake Ings refuge, and a Jack Snipe flushed from under my feet from the edge of the Canal half way to Storwood. Down at Ellerton I just missed the Ruddy Shelduck which had been flushed by a farmer along with everything else. Down at Aughton, the four Russian White-fronted Geese (two adults and two juveniles now sporting decent white faces) were showing well, and five Scaup (drake plus two adult females and two immature females) were among hordes of Pochards.

 Smew and White-fronts.

Headed down to Rufforth Airfield mid afternoon which was also great, with three first winter Glaucous Gulls ranging from standard brown to virtually white, and a pale first winter Iceland Gull, with Glauc-alike bill pattern. Lots of Lesser Black-backs in the flock now with 40 present in one sweep of the flock. No Caspians today.

To give you an idea of what looking through gull flocks is like: Can you see the Glaucous and Iceland Gulls in this pic?
 Glaucous Gull #1 Fairly pale first winter.

Faded first winter Iceland Gull
Glaucous Gull #2 A very faded first winter.

 Adult Lesser Black-back next to a first winter Great Black-back.

Glaucous Gull #3 standard first winter.

Leap Day's Eve 28 February.
Popped out to Wheldrake Ings late afternoon:
Whooper Swan, 21 adults and 4 juveniles dropped in from the south at c4pm
Black-tailed Godwits, 18 (first of the year)
Iceland Gull, 1 adult in the roost. This bird may have been a fourth winter as seemed to have a little dark mark on the bill, but it could have been muck!
Glaucous Gull, 1 first winter in the roost.
Barn Owl, 1.

Bottom photo: Iceland Gull ad/4w

Other odds and ends
Have spent a fair bit of time down at Rufforth usually in a quick lunchtime dash. This has revealed a few Glaucous Gulls, an adult and first winter Iceland Gulls. Caspian Gull numbers seem to have dropped right off recently. Went to Filey on the 14th to see the immature drake Surf Scoter which showed well off Carr Naze, but I failed to get a good shot with my phone. Had a few gulls the same day in the roost at Wheldrake Ings: second winter Caspian and first winter Glaucous.

 Surf Scoter off Filey Brigg

 2w Caspian Gull in failing light at Wheldrake Ings, and first winter Glaucous Gull below.

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