Monday, 20 February 2023
Wykeham Black-throated Thrush - Go Well!
Delighted to see this male Black-throated Thrush in trees bordering the Wykeham tree nurseries. It was very flighty in strong winds, moving between the trees. The final clip was the last time I saw it, at 1.20pm; it wasn't reported again, so this may have been the moment it left the area. My third in the UK, the last BTT I saw was way back in 1999 at Maidenhead in Berkshire.
...and away! Go Well!
More Goshawk Action
Spent the morning in the forest, checking out what the Goshawks were up to. Some class action witnessed, including some full on dogfights between two young females, plus a few brief skirmishes with the local Buzzards. The female from the territory-holding pair was calling a lot and after a bit powered across the valley and chased one of the intruding young females (quite possibly one of her daughters from last year) into the distance. A young male was cruising around too, and I was surprised to see two adult males together, with the adult female doing a bit of display, once she'd returned triumphantly to her patch of forest.
Second calendar-year female
Second calendar-year male
Female sparring with a Buzzard
Two 2CY females in combat (slow-motion)
Somewhat late, here is a first-winter Caspian Gull from the Wheldrake roost on 28th January, plus a few recent Med Gulls.
The Wheldrake snowstorm
I have travelled past this Scots Pine on the way home from Wheldrake Ings for decades, always thinking there should be an owl perched on it, and earlier this month it happened. I spied an owl shape as I drove past, so reversed quickly and was pleased that my eyes hadn't deceived me, as there, on a low branch was a gorgeous Tawny Owl, sihouetted against a fiery sunset. I took a pic with my smartphone through the windscreen, so it ain't great!
It has been weeks since there has been any 'proper' rain in the York area and the LDV, which flooded heavily in mid-January is drying out rapidly. This has concentrated birds on to North Duffield Carrs and Wheldrake Ings in particular, the floods literally hooching with birds, which attracts the attention of a steady stream of raptors.
Spring felt very much in the air on Saturday morning, with mild temperatures sparking Reed Buntings and Skylarks to sing high over the ings, and Lapwings to begin displaying. Curlews are arriving back in the area and will soon be back on territory. Ten were present at North Duffield Carrs including a male ringed at Wheldrake in April 2021, seen shortly afterwards at Bank Island, and not seen since. They really are fantastic birds and one of the icons of the Lower Derwent Valley.
The juvenile Hen Harrier zipped past at high speed, turning on a sixpence effortlessly, before heading on down the Derwent. It was seen a little later upriver at Wheldrake.
Twenty something Redshanks were hanging out, doing their best to avoid the attention of two hunting Peregrines.
Tuesday, 14 February 2023
Redpolls are a sporadic visitor to our little garden but in the last few weeks, they have become a regular fixture. Good numbers of Goldfinches and Greenfinches seem to have attracted four birds back in late January, and these individuals have been present daily since then. On a couple of dates, these birds have attracted in other small groups, with max counts of 14 at the beginning of the month, with ten a couple of days later. These additional birds moved on quickly, leaving the regular four to continue their stay in the garden. Redpolls have been reported elsewhere locally in good numbers but it is unclear why. The end of winter usually signals a shortage of food out in the countryside, so this could explain why the influx to birdfeeders. All birds have been Lesser Redpolls, which seem to have been relumped with Common/Mealy Redpolls in recent months. Whatever their taxonomic status, it is a joy to have these little stripy dudes in the garden.
Despite being smaller than the other finches, they are pretty feisty and are capable of defending their feeder perch against all comers, except the local House Sparrows.
Sunday, 12 February 2023
There's been an adult Mediterranean Gull wintering around the high street in Acomb, York. I popped over on my way to pick up Addie, with a bread crust in my pocket and feeling slightly anxious walking about in a busy shopping street with my bins and camera. The bird showed immediately or arrival, flying about with a few Black-heads. I lobbed some bread on to the road, and it dropped down right in front of me! Between feeding, it surveyed the scene from atop a chimney pot above Heron Foods. It wasn't happy if another gull took this spot and would return to chase them off usually with a few loud calls and a bit of display. My usual winter Med experience is from scouring the gull roost at Wheldrake, so this was a treat.
Sunday, 5 February 2023
Tundra Bean Geese are a pretty scarce winter visitor to the York area, so it was great to see these four in front of Tower Hide yesterday afternoon. A confused Pink-foot was hanging out with them, which gave a useful comparison, of it's smaller size, slighter head and beak, and pink feet and bill band, compared to the chunkier Beans, with their orange feet and bill band. One, possibly two of the Beans seemed to be youngsters, with pale fringing on the coverts. Later on, Phil picked up one of the mobile redhead Smew on the refuge, as it flew past. It then landed distantly and started to feed.
Tundra Bean Geese, with Pink-footed Goose in top two pics, on the left. Bottom vid, Smew.