After previously failing to see the Great Grey Shrike in Langdale Forest, a second visit proved more successful, with the bird sitting out on the highest branches and flying from different trees within an area no more than 1/4 Mile Square. The bird is frequenting the Maw Rigg area and showed well this morning. It doesn’t appear to like being approached though, so views of only 100M through the scope were the closest you could get.
Siskins and Crossbills were also present in good numbers.
♂ Smew are extremely rare in Yorkshire and it was many years ago that I last saw one at Fairburn Ings, so with news of a ♂ at Hornsea Mere and a rather damp dull day we ventured over to Hornsea to try to find this beautiful of all the wildfowl. On arrival all the ducks were on the field side of the Mere and so with gloomy light distinguishing even the commonest bird was a challenge. Gadwall, Goldeneye, Pochard and Tufted Ducks were in good numbers and things started to look up when a ♀ Smew was eventually found. A ♂ Long Tailed Duck was also located within the same area and ♀ Marsh Harriers were seen hunting over the reeds. However despite lots of searching around the ♂ Smew eluded me yet again.
From Hornsea we moved onto Barmston and as usual there it was bitterly cold. A walk along the beach did produce Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Purple Sandpiper and a few Red Throated Divers on the sea. Whilst on the fields 16 Pink Footed Geese were distant but viewable.
From Barmston we moved down to Filey but the bay was extremely quiet with only common species around and no sign of any Snow Buntings.
Finally we headed to Seamer Pool and saw both Jack and Common Snipe, whilst in the surrounding fields 36 White Fronted Geese were mixed in with the large flock on the Western edge.
A quick dash after work up Ellerburn resulted in 50+ Brambling, 40 Redpoll, 12 Crossbill and a solitary Goshawk. The Redpoll were the first decent size flock I’ve seen in the Forest for a substantial period.
A cold but frosy start and first call was Skinningrove to see the very long staying Eastern Black Redstart. The bird remains in the same area now for in excess of 3 months, without any sign of moving on. It has become increasingly tame and literally sits on the end of the camera lens. Also in the area were Fulmar, Rock Pipits and Turnstones.
A fortuitous stop at Scaling Dam on the way past resulted in a Great White Egret and Green Sandpiper. The GWE was at the very far end of the Reservoir and so couldn’t have been further away if it tried.
Onwards to the forest and Maw Rig within Langdale. An over wintering Great Grey Shrike had been relocated to the area, but after viewing all the favourable area’s we failed to see the bird and gave up and headed onwards. A few Crossbill and Siskin were seen flying over.
After lunch we headed for Long Nab and fortunately, after 8 previous attempts, we finally caught up with the 16 Shore Larks. These birds simply disappear into the stubble fields and unless they are flying are impossible to see. We only saw the birds in flight and again they disappeared not to be relocated.
Finally a brief visit to Scarborough South Bay where at least 4 Mediterranean Gulls were feeding in Holbeck Car Park and in the Bay Red Throated Diver and Velvet Scoter.
Black Redstart – Eastern Race
Recent days have been bitterly cold with Strong North Easterly winds, which at this time of year means White Winged Gulls blown from Artic areas towards our East Coast.
Saturday was very cold but beautiful clear skies and a gorgeous winters day and we decided to head for Hartlepool as various Gulls had been reported there.
On arrival at the Headland we immediately met some local birders who were really helpful in telling us where to go, directions for various birds and access etc and so our Gull quest began.
First to be found was a 1st Winter Glaucous Gull, its very bulky by nature and although it sat still on the water could be clearly identified along with the many Eiders in the area.
Moving onto to the Fish Quay and a similar aged Iceland Gull flew around for everyone to get clear views and finally rested only a few feet away on the water. Normally I’ve only ever had brief flight views of this bird so to see one only 10 Feet away was a wonderful sight.
Having had our fill of Gulls we headed off to RSPB Saltholme, but with all the bitterly cold weather of recent days, alot of the fresh water was frozen solid. Tree Sparrows and Greenfinch were on the feeders and a ♀ Merlin sat motionless on a protruding post. Good numbers of Barnacle Geese were on the Back Fields and at least 4 Stonechat were seen around the reserve.
Sunday was a complete contrast to Saturday with a wet dark miserable day. However the day started out really well with 12 Waxwings seen locally. A walk around Cod Beck Reservoir, once the skies had cleared, produced a few Crossbill in the Conifers and a couple of Red legged Partridge over.
An incredibly photgenic 1st Winter Iceland Gull
A very distinctive 1st Winter Iceland Gull in Flight
A brute of a Glaucous Gull
A birsk walk down Thornton Carrs after work, with at least a little bit of daylight left, only produced the over wintering Green Sandpipers. Both the birds were seen in the usual place, and despite however quiet you try to be, they inevitably flush before you even see them.
Saturday started out bright and early and a trip down to Welwick Saltmarsh for the long staying Pallid Harrier, was planned earlier in the week. The trip, which always takes forever, as once you’ve reached Hull it is with great dismay to find you are only half way there, but traffic was quiet and by first light we were on Welwick and along with lots of other birders waiting patentiently for the main attraction to appear from its roost.
A Tawny Owl was seen on the trip just before daybreak and the first bird to be seen at Welwick was one of many Reed Buntings which frequent the area and then a solitary Peregrine overhead. Many Hundreds of Golden Plover were seen on the shoreline and then a bit of excitement in the event of a Marsh Harrier putting in an appearance.
By mid morning and no conclusive sightings of the Pallid Harrier someone picked up a very distant raptor sat on a fence post. Everyone moved en block to get better views and finally a positive identification of the Pallid sat out on a post. The bird sat happily for a good hour and had a short fly around towards other bushes before finally some walkers flushed the bird and it flew behind the marsh towards the village and out of sight.
Back to viewing over the Saltmarsh and finally 2 Short Eared Owls hunted over the area, with Little Egret, ♀ Hen Harrier, Linnets and finally the Pallid Harrier returned and sat on the opposite end of the Marsh on a protruding post.
By lunchtime we moved onto Kilnsea Wetlands and saw a separate ♀ Hen Harrier hunting along the bankside and a Peregrine in the fields with what looked like a kill.
Viewing along the Humber we saw good numbers of waders including Bar Tailed Godwit, Knot, Grey Plover and Ringed Plover with Common Scoter and Pintail on the water.
A fortunate stop at Skeffling, and a very helpful Birder, we dropped onto a large flock of Brent Geese and within the flock a Black Brant and Pale Bellied Brents. Another Short Eared Owl flew past and after packing up for the day and heading home a Barn Owl was seen close to Otteringham.
What a day!
Sunday started out with thick fog, and so staying locally we tried to find the local Bean Geese, which were reported on Seamer Carrs. The known area was to view from the A64, but thick fog meant that was a pure waste of time. So with a bit of extra help we ventured the opposite way down to Seamer Carrs and eventually found the birds close enough to view, but still poor visibility. Normally the Scarborough areas lucky to find a few Bean Geese every year, but in this flock there were 39 Tundra Beans, 6 Whitefronts and a couple of Greylags, so thankfully the birds were close enough to identify.
After lunch we visitited Holbeck Car Park and saw the resident Mediterreanean Gulls, with Stonechat, Meadow and Rock Pipit on the Rocks.
A walk towards the harbour and the long staying Black Necked Grebe and now 2 Great Northern Divers, 2 Shags and 2 Razorbills were all in the Harbour or just outside the enterance.
Overall a very productive weekend.