Friday, 24 February 2017

light wind

The power cut in the village yesterday amid the raging gale, and as the evening drew near I went down to the beet pits, arriving just as a Peregrine sailed off towards Ely.
I followed the rainbow that lit the back of the pits, and scanned a group of gulls that were battling the angry dark waves. A few Cormorants took to the air and were soon lost overhead in an uncontrolled beat towards the shelter of Roswell Pits.
Over the reedbed, five harriers fared better in the strong gusts. They came again and again, dipping low under the airstream, skimming the tops of the reed heads, wings angled then spread as the wind dropped then blew fiercely. The light caught their plumage, gilding it with evening gold.
Suddenly a huge falcon was above them, tilting downwards briefly before speeding away to the east, unable to face the wind head-on as the harriers were doing.
A group of wagtails, like storm-tossed leaves, gathered below me among the ruins of last years rushes, and waited for the night to hide them.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Gloss

The water meadows at Ely have been home to a Glossy Ibis for a while now, with the bird that first appeared before Christmas back among the Teal and Black-headed Gulls. I finally made time for it this afternoon, having glimpsed it it passing on two previous occasions. While never particularly close, it seemed unconcerned by human presence, as various doggers and jog walkers passed along the hedgerow path without causing alarm. 
Early Spring ( the blooming snowdrops would seem to suggest the change of season), is perhaps the best time of year to watch the water meadows, as later on they will dry up and lose their attraction to waterbirds. At the moment a good collection of wildfowl is present, and a flock of about twenty Lapwing briefly visited. Other waders are sure to drop in, and it is only a matter of weeks before the first Sedge Warblers of the year arrive to take up the Dawn Chorus already vibrating with the songs of Robins and thrushes.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Blue Tuesday

Bluethroats can skulk for hours, hidden in reeds or scrub uttering the odd squeak. Even on their breeding grounds they can be difficult to see through the tangle of birch carr as they flash their orange tail bases. 
So when one turns up, and hops around in the open- take advantage.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Scarborough Fayre

A potter over to the coast from York via some Goshawk woods where one bird cruised across the misty treetops and settled in a conifer crown before disappearing in the murk.  In Scarborough harbour a couple of Black-necked Grebes played hide and seek between the boats and a Great Northern Diver proved to be more confiding.   Turnstones and Rock Pipits picked at chips on the front and a pair of Peregrines spiralled and stooped playfully above the town and castle cliffs.  Very nice distractions between ice creams and cod supper.


Next day a walk out along side the lake at Castle Howard revealed plenty of Goldeneye, Goosander and a couple of female type Scaup.  Quite a few folk were out looking for Bean Geese that had been around the previous week.  A second look at the Canada flock on some adjacent parkland revealed the dark, wild geese.  Difficult to count but 7 was my best count.  Cracking birds.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hometown Unicorn

A few days in York with the folks/grandfolks enabled some very good birding.  Monday morning dawned bright after a very grey and drizzly weekend and there had been no sight of the Pine Bunting at Dunnington I rated my chance of seeing the bird at less than 10%.  When I did find the site I also found a sizeable Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow flock popping up and down into a stubble field, when they all got up there must have been over 200 birds but they were only moving up into the hedge in smaller groups.  I was in for the long haul but fortunately a dog walker took a path right through the middle of the field, I was well prepared for the minute or so I estimated that the birds would be flushed and alert in the hedge.  Up they went and many disappeared into the centre of the hedge my scan needed to be very quick, and quicker than I imagined the pink and russets of my first ever Pine Bunting burnt my retina.  It stayed for a minute or so before hopping the hedge, I took some speculative video and managed to grab a couple of stills of the bird from this.  I spent another 10 mins looking for it in the next field but considered my 15 minute mission a success and having enjoyed good views of the other finches I took my leave.

I decided to use the gained time to visit the nearby tip at Rufforth where I was joined by Chris Gomersall who found the Pine Bunting, a great piece of work.  We sifted through and chatted Gulls and saw a couple of 2CY Glaucous Gulls. One, a monster settled briefly close too but flew again to the farthest flock before I could get a decent shot.  By far the scarcest visitor required a second and third look, Chris asked me to check his scope "Is there really a naked lady on the tip?" to my disbelief the answer was "Yes, Chris" 

When I went back for dinner my Dad had been talking to a friend in the village who had just seen some Waxwings at the Click and Collect in Tesco's car park at the top of the road.  We headed up there in bright sunshine and found a little flock of six beauties as confiding as we could have possibly hoped.  A great hour ensued as the birds descended from their chosen Ash tree to feed on rosehips, every 10 minutes or so.  Several times the birds tossed the hips up into the air to get a better position for guzzling and they were also descending to the ground to collect fallen fruit.  A very good day around my hometown.



Tuesday, 14 February 2017

February swan sount

The wash bank is crisp as icing sugar under the moonlight. a silver-blue light that hides the swans at first, only to reveal them as the last of the darkness fades.

The islands are not islands, but rafts of waders, and the whole waterscape is covered by a hail of gulls.

As the thousands of gulls take flight in a confused flurry- almost blown into the air by the breeze, the swans wait; still sleeping, or sailing on the dawn. Only when the Sun begins to cast it's light upon the Moon do the swans begin, and even then it is a slow exodus this morning- couples, the odd family, single birds venture out towards the pink glow beyond the pylons.

Finally the Sun appears, and the day begins.