A lovely spring morning and off at first light. The day started started out well with a Barn Owl close to home and my aim was to see some summer migrants. The favoured location in the heart of the North Yorks Moors, to see Redstart and Pied Flycatcher. Both species were there and it appeared good numbers of the Flycatchers in the area. Sadly the rest of the day went downhill with yesterdays goodies at RSPB Saltholme failing to show and apart from a single Wheatear and singing Sedge Warbler the journey was totally unproductive.
The incredibly slow Spring migration made a small step towards Spring today with at last a bit of warmer weather. A visit to Nosterfield and the walk down to Flask and finally singing Blackcap, Chiff-Chaff and Willow Warbler. On Flask a few remaining Goldeneye and a nice ♂ Red-Crested Pochard on Kiln. Only a single Little Egret on the Reed-beds and the long staying Slavonian Grebe (still a long way from the viewing area) remains on Lingham.
The start of British Summer Time and finally a bright sunny morning, of which they have been few and far between this year. A visit to Castle Howard lake and first bird was a Red headed Smew, which was on the very far side of the lake, skulking in the cover and subsequently was never seen again. Good numbers of Goldeneye, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and single Pochard and Goosander.
Decent numbers of Common Geese with a single Pink Footed and 2 Barnacles mixed in. The first summer migrant was a calling Chiffchaff.
A few days visit to Northumberland and one of my favourite places. A chance to undertake some birding in an area that on its day can beat anywhere. However the winter that still won’t give in remains a constant threat, with heavy Snow causing the obligatory road closures and traffic disruption. Thankfully this recent bout only lasted a couple of days and by the time we arrived in Northumberland the snow had all but disappeared.
We started off at Cresswell Ponds and scanning around only common wildfowl and a good number of Pink Footed Geese in the surrounding fields. Onto Druridge Ponds and the place had lots of Wildfowl around with Pintail, Shoveller, Teal, Wigeon and a couple of Scaup which were very distant. Wader wise both Black-Tailed and Bar-Tailed Godwits, Snipe, Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatchers, Ruff and Dunlin were on the reserve, and the highlight was a Water Pipit, which was very elusive initially, but finally displayed itself along the water edges.
The recent cold snap had left us with bitterly cold Easterly winds which considering where we were, could be viewed as a blessing, however even with many layers on it was still difficult to keep warm. Looking out over Alnmouth estuary where approximately 1000 Gulls were feeding very close in, really should have meant some White Wingers in amongst the Commoner species, but apart from a few Kittiwakes it was the usual Black-headed and Herring Gulls which was something of a disappointment. In fact it was a tremendous disappointment as conditions were perfect and other East Coast sites were turning a few of the rarer Gulls up.
The winds dropped over the following days and viewing over the sea anywhere on the Coastal paths meant Eiders galore. In fact every Harbour or estuary only had Eiders in and nothing else.
Lindisfarne proved to be very quiet with the tide well out. The Harbour area only housed the commoner Waders with Ringed Plover, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Grey Plover seen. Apart from Eiders only Red-breasted Mergansers and a few Shags were seen on the sea and a few Brent Geese were seen flying over.
Checking Seahouses, Craster and Beadnell Harbour only meant more Eiders and nothing else. In fact there were no Grebes of any description anywhere on the sea.
Alas the birding was relatively quiet but the stunning scenery makes up for it, and its an area where we will return again and again.
As we head towards the first day of spring, winter decided it still had a lot more to give. With the latest “Beast from the East”, including heavy snowfall and bitterly cold eastern winds being predicted, I wandered down to the village Church Yard to check on the local Hawfinches. Heavy snowfall in the morning gave way to sunshine in the afternoon and thankfully at least 4 Hawfinch remain within the area. The Constant “Ticking” as the birds called to each other, meant the opportunity for these elusive birds to put on a show, and as the light levels increased they decided to sit out on top of the Yew trees.
A quick hours birding after work was very fruitful with 4 Hawfinch in the garden, 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Crossbill, 1 Goshawk and a mixed finch flock over 250 strong including 50+ Brambling.
A couple of days holiday and a couple of days winter birding. The decision to stay relatively local due to the short time available meant catching up with birds I’ve missed so far this year.
Both mornings got off to a good start with Hawfinch present in and around the garden, with a single bird on Monday and Three visible on Tuesday.
Monday mornings first stop was at Wykeham South Lake and we were greeted by a flying Barn Owl near the viewing platform. The lake itself however was very quiet, with only Egyptian Goose and mostly common wildfowl.
Onto Seamer Large Pools and a good number of Geese present with 2 Pink-Footed Geese and a Tundra Bean Goose mixed in with the resident Greylags and Canadas. A walk around Star Carr produced Little Egret and Grey Partridge.
Onto Filey and a stop of at both the Dams and the Country Park wasn’t really worthwhile as both areas were very quiet with only common species seen.
After lunch a visit to Flamborough and a Greenland White-Fronted Goose was seen from the Water Lane Flooded area. Subsequent walks around the Cliff top fields were also quiet, but a further Barn Owl on the way home made up for it.
Tuesday’s visit was to South Gare to see what was in that area. We stopped off at Lockwood Beck but only a Pink -Footed Goose was worthy of note. South Gare was its normal bitterly cold weather and thankfully the long staying flock of c70 Twite were showing very well. The birds were incredibly flighty and would only feed for a couple of seconds before moving on.
Wader wise Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Knot, Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatchers and Bar-Tailed Godwit were seen, whilst on the sea Red-Throated Divers and a solitary Harbour Porpoise.