Sunday, 29 January 2012

Within the Perimeter Fence

We finally got over to Watton to see the Cattle Egret that has been present in the area a number of weeks. The presence and whereabouts of the bird was rightly kept a secret at first as it was on a local farm but then news leaked out so publicity was put out.

The bird luckily became more prominent where it was visible from footpaths on local farmland and then for over the  last week in transferred to in the actual grounds of the Yorkshire Water Treatment Works which is at the entrance to Top Hill Lows fine reserve.

We would have gone last Sunday but it became a grim day weather wise. Anyway finally caught up today. When we first arrived it was visible from the front gate of the water plant so we set off and walk around the perimeter, the front gate approaches we view a white speck and off it flies. Luckily it flew to a duke near to where we came from so back again and a small group of birders/photographers had got it in a ditch at the back of the water works.

The top shot is much zoomed in and cropped, the second shows the sort of image I started with and the third that perimeter fence that the picture was taken through.

Cattle Egrets are members of the heron family, it is a stocky white bird adorned bu buff plumes in the breeding season. It nests in colonies usually near a body of water nesting on a platform of sticks in a tree or shrub. Unlike most herons it feeds mostly in grassland on small insects and vertebrates and follows cattle and other mammals that have been disturbed and thrown them up. It also removes ticks and flies from cattle.

After lunch the weather deteriorated and we did not see much more. On South Marsh West there were three pairs of Gadwell, a nice sight. A shot of the typical sighting today below in the gloom!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Not much to show!

I have drawn a bit of a blank this week photography wise.

Numerous visits to B&Q but whilst others have got sightings and even good pictures of the Waxwing flock that has been present for the last couple of weeks my visits have not coincided with there brief stays. The flock has varied, originally 7, slowly up to 12, 6 yesterday, I would be grateful of one!

I did add Mistle thrush to my year list today as I spent another half hour on the retail park.

A tour around local lanes today produced, not a lot but the early sun, followed by dark clouds (whilst at B&Q) transformed again to lovely afternoon sunshine.

My desperation for new blog pictures led to the local bird feeding station and these shots at high ISO when the sun started to brighten. Nothing out the ordinary but these common birds are still beauties.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Drake Goosander

When I went to Scarborough Mere to view the Red Crested Pochard I was informed that Goosander was present, I did not have enough time after picturing the Pochard so on Thursday lunch time, my first chance, I went to take a peek.

Fortunately the Goosanders were still present, five birds in total, four of which were drakes. Goosanders are members of the saw bill family, the serrated edge of their bill enable them to hold onto oily fish underwater.

The pictures are purely record shots as the birds were always to distant but I like the size comparison in the shot with the Black Headed Gull.

Today (Saturday) we looked again for the Waxwings (10 were back at B & Q car park yesterday) but no sightings, we went for the Med Gulls at Holbeck car park, I threw my bread, no Med Gulls came. We went to a Barn Owl sight but did not see them but a fantastic male Hen Harrier went close by. Another first for the year was a male Bullfinch on the lane to our house.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Red Crested Pochard (Netta rufina)

A male Red Crested Pochard has been reported on Scarborough's Mere on and off for a few weeks.

When Pat & myself visited last Saturday we got no joy. On Monday when I went to look at the Black Restart on the Castle Headland I was told the Red Crested Pochard fed with the ducks and geese and was pretty tame of dubious origin.

I went during my lunch hour on Tuesday and sure enough there it was feeding with the ducks on my offerings of bread. The sun was in the wrong direction and low making the lighting difficult but it is a lovely little bird, smaller than the mallards.

I am sure the exposures are not quite right but on the day and in 20 minutes it was the best I could achieve.

One of my books entry for these birds starts, 'irrespective of origins, Red Crested Pochards are exciting birds to find anywhere in Europe'. It also says mostly silent but this bird was making a delightful nasal whistling sound.

It is a diving duck that often feeds in the shallows, a good diver it often up ends like a Pintail or mallard to feed.

My book also says an isolated, extralimital bird (whatever that means), that is tolerant of people is likely to be an escapee.

The preferred habitat is fresh water with extensive cover, wintering on lakes and gravel pits.

They feed mostly on plant material and lay 8 to 10 pale green eggs.

The males bill will turn bright red in summer plumage.

Monday, 9 January 2012

A few additions _ _ _ _ _

The last few days have seen only a few additions to our year list but they have been real treats.

On Saturday we went around Scarborough Mere but did not see the Red Crested Pochard that has been present over the last few weeks. From Friday I saw a report of 6 Waxwings outside Halfords, we tried a couple of times on Saturday, I went up and down the length of the retail park saw other birders but no Waxwings. Later that day Bird Guides said there were 7 Waxwings briefly outside B & Q at 2:00pm, we were around at that time.

Yesterday we went to an East Yorkshire reserve, the day produced only 13 additions to our measly year total. We seemed to bomb out as there were no waders other than Redshank. The additions though included Goldcrest, Tree Creeper, Smew (Red Headed), Short Eared Owl, Shoveller, Gadwell, Song Thrush.

Ironically the car park was the highlight as we got good views of Treecreepers going around the base of trees. Unfortunately, it was very dark for photography. A pair of Goldcrest were flitting around with the males crest looking dramatically orangy, a real treat, a record shot is posted to try and show the brilliant top knot.

I saw a Black Redstart was seen on North Marine Drive under the Castle Headland yesterday so I went for a quick look at lunchtime. I could not believe my luck as it was precisely in the same spot with a male Stonechat. The Redstart was flighty and I only got glimpses the Redstart showed a bit better, perching up on some big boulders from a recent rock fall. There is a big wall at the foot of the cliff (obviously designed to stop those rocks pitching into the road), birding is not easy peering over that!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

No BTD but GCG

I went down to the harbour at lunch time as a few divers have been around in the last few days and a Black Throated Diver reported in the harbour the last two mornings. Having checked its presence on Bird Guides I went down but having spoken to a few birders nobody had seen it. I had a scout around but drew a blank.

There was a Great Crested Grebe in the harbour, see record shot. Plus the usual suspects on the harbour piers, Turnstones.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


A few shots taken whilst visiting father-in-law. There are plenty of House Sparrows around the property, Robin, Wren and several Dunnock.

Whilst the light was good this Dunnock was in the shade on the ground, the pictures are noisy but I like Dunnock's so I thought I would share.

Monday, 2 January 2012

A very slow start

Eleven days holidays, where as it all gone, back to work tomorrow. A combination of circumstances and very dark days has conspired against us for birding and photography.

Yesterday, first day of the year was no mad rush around to start the list the weather was awful and dark from early onwards. Surprise first bird of the year was a pheasant under our bird feeders, a new one in that place for we are in an enclosed yard in the middle of the village. Whilst, there has been a pair of pheasants around the area for sometime I have never seen one in the yard before. The best place for them too as all you heard here yesterday was the crack of damned shotguns from the surrounding fields.

I had to walk up to my father-in-laws flat and got a great view of a Sparrowhawk flying just over head which was a good start.

It has been nice light today and we had a short run out (jobs to get back to) but we saw a Red Breasted Goose with four Barnacle Geese amongst the Canada's and Greylag at Harwood Dale Lake.

This Marsh Tit was photographed at a local beauty spot. I am not happy with the result and aim to return and spend a bit of time there when the light is right and work permits. This location is no good once the leaves appear.