Monday, 27 February 2012

Roving Report – Humber

Well that’s all folks; I’m done on the Humber (work-wise at any rate). So here’s my round up of the 18 days over four months that spent surveying on behalf of Footprint Ecology and the Humber Management Scheme.

Over the last four months I’ve chatted to really awesome birders and photographers, who were always keen to tell the newcomer the best spots to see cracking birds. I’ve hung out with the Lincs. Wildlife Trust dawn patrol (giving up their lie-in to protect Donna Nook from certain feckless photographers). I’ve been delivered pie and chips by considerate birders. And I’ve experienced one of my favourite places in the world in wind, rain, hail, snow and glorious sunshine. All in all, it’s been rather good!

Gadwall in flight over Faxfleet
As someone who’s not generally a fan of early mornings, I have to say that the light at that time of day makes it more than worth it (even if I was sometimes mistaken for a shady character!). I have also decided that my idea of heaven is a sunny morning, dew on Phragmites, and Meadow Pippits singing (and you sure get a lot of that here)!

What's Lurking, I Wonder?
I can also say that if you’re going to do a lot of driving you need to take more than 4 albums as the radio these days is AWFUL. However, if you can only take one, make it the new Van Halen album. I was singing like a mentalist at the traffic lights!

"She's the WOMBAT!" (seriously, listen to the chorus and deny it!)
Keep a stash of coffee in your rolling office/hide and keep your filing cabinet/boot in good order.

Trusty Office and Occasional Diner
Also if you’re taking a camera, for god’s sake charge the battery… and take a spare… you have no idea how much I have cursed my lack of preparation! And take spare trousers, that mud is sticky...

They were clean on too...

So here it is, the summation of my working trips to the Humber.

Species List (it’s amazing what you can see over three 30 minute breaks!):
  • ·         Kestrel
  • ·         Buzzard
  • ·         Merlin
  • ·         Hen Harrier
  • ·         Sparrowhawk
  • ·         Peregrine Falcon
  • ·         Barn Owl
  • ·         Tawny Owl
  • ·         Short Eared Owl
  • ·         Ringed Plover
  • ·         Golden Plover
  • ·         Grey Plover
  • ·         Dunlin
  • ·         Knot
  • ·         Sanderling
  • ·         Common Sandpiper
  • ·         Turnstone
  • ·         Redshank
  • ·         Black Tailed Godwit
  • ·         Bar Tailed Godwit
  • ·         Curlew
  • ·         Lapwing
  • ·         Oystercatcher
  • ·         Black Headed Gull
  • ·         Herring Gull
  • ·         Common Gull
  • ·         Kittiwake
  • ·         Lesser Black Backed Gull
  • ·         Greater Black Backed Gull
  • ·         Dunnock
  • ·         House Sparrow
  • ·         Tree Sparrow
  • ·         Robin
  • ·         Wren
  • ·         Goldcrest
  • ·         Greenfinch
  • ·         Gold Finch
  • ·         Chaffinch
  • ·         Bullfinch
  • ·         Blue Tit
  • ·         Coal Tit
  • ·         Great Tit
  • ·         Long Tailed Tit
  • ·         Reed Bunting
  • ·         Pied Wagtail
  • ·         Meadow Pippit
  • ·         Yellowhammer
  • ·         Starling
  • ·         Black Bird
  • ·         Song Thrush
  • ·         Fieldfare
  • ·         Collared Dove
  • ·         Wood Pigeon
  • ·         Stock Dove
  • ·         Jackdaw
  • ·         Rook
  • ·         Carrion Crow
  • ·         Magpie
  • ·         King Fisher
  • ·         Grey Heron
  • ·         Cormorant
  • ·         Little Egret
  • ·         Pheasant
  • ·         Grey Partidge
  • ·         Golden Eye
  • ·         Smew
  • ·         Redbreasted Merganser
  • ·         Tufted Duck
  • ·         Pochard
  • ·         Shoveler
  • ·         Widgeon
  • ·         Teal
  • ·         Gadwall
  • ·         Mallard
  • ·         Moorhen
  • ·         Coot
  • ·         Shelduck
  • ·         Greylag Goose
  • ·         Brent Goose (Pale and Dark bellied)
  • ·         Canada Goose
  • ·         Mute Swan

Bringing me to a grand total of 79 birds (plus a few tame Muscovy at Cleethorpes Discovery Park), not including extras seen during the Naturebites birdrace which I competed in on one of my days off!

Spot the birdy, Faxfleet.

At Faxfleet good weather encouraged the Reed Bunts to begin displaying.

Just Missed (birds that were reported to me by passing birders, but I didn’t have the time to go and find):
  • ·         Bittern (at Farr Ings, showing infrequently, so in the 20 mins I had spare I went for female Smew instead)
  • ·         Snow Bunts and Bearded Tits at Brough (I had a possible bearded tit between 12 and 12:30, but I couldn’t be sure, so no tick)
  • ·         Marsh Harrier at Faxfleet (the weather was so promising, I stayed for an extra half hour until I lost the light, still no sighting)

  • ·         Roe deer
  • ·         Fox
  • ·         Badger
  • ·         Hedgehog
  • ·         Wonderful, wonderful Weasels
  • ·         Rabbit
  • ·         Hare
  • ·         Common Seal
  • ·         Grey Seal
  • ·         Water Vole
  • ·         Shrew
  • ·         Brown Rat

Winner of the Most Fantastic View:
Falling Flocks at Paull

There sure were a lot of birds...

...and watching them all come in to land was incredible... and deafening

Winner of Most Frustrating Image:
Long Tailed Tits at Fax Fleet

Autofocus Failure (Sob)

If you’re planning a visit to the Humber my pick of the sites would be Far Ings and Water’s Edge at Barton, Paull just outside Hull, Killingholme near Immingham, and of course, Spurn Point. Give yourself two days for a site if you don’t know the area. On day one, have a wander, talk to the locals, then on day two, get up early, beat the crowds and get a peaceful view of the area. And if you see a blonde in a daft hat, she’d appreciate any tips offs you care to pass on!


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Duck Soup

I was going to call this post "Wine, Widgeon and Song", but then the last two days of my most recent trip to the Humber took a definite swing toward the Anatidae...

This week I have been at Brough, Hessle, Paull, East Halton and Barton (between Waters Edge and Far Ings), and I can tell you, its been magic.

Brough provided me with lovely views of a small host of teal, which hung around the mud all day and nearly drove me insane with their peeping, and although I had reports of snow bunts and bearded tits, my forays in the area over my breaks failed to uncover them. 

The beginning of Duck-Week

Next I was at Hessle, there were lovely turnstones pacing the shore, joined by dunlin and redshank. I also had a look around the country park beside the bridge, very nice, lots of cahffinch and bullfinch around.

Turnstones crept along the shoreline all day

The next morning I arrived bright and early at Paull after a lovely night at Paull Holme Farm B&B. Its an incredible place, loads of birds about including my star widgeon.

Lapwing, Redshank and Plover

Passers-by kept putting up the birds... but it did surround me with the eerie cries of lapwing, so I wasn't too annoyed

Wonderful widgeon

My next stop was Easton Halton, a site plagued by dirt bikes and 4x4's. No photo's but I did see the flash of a king fisher and a hen harrier.

Then, Sunday, oh Sunday! A site between the two jewels of Far Ings, at which I spent one of my breaks, and Waters Edge, where I spent the other. Waters Edge gave me tufties, goldeneye, shoveler and pochard. Farr Ings provided gold crest and female smew. The site itself was awash with tits, finches and creeping coots.

Look at the weather, wasn't it cracking!?

Goldeneye at Waters Edge

LT Tits at Waters Edge

I always pay close attention to the reeds now (bitterns had been showing at Far Ings, although I had no joy)

My first Shoveller!

My first Smew!!

And my Trusty-Tufties
Next weekend is my last down on the Humber this year, I'm quite upset, but I'll definitely be back later in the year to revisit some of these amazing sites!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Out of My Area: "Working" and the Naturebites birdrace

Another week working down on the Humber took me to four sites, each great in their own way. Unfortunately Faxfleet was unreachable due to the heavy snow fall.

Luckily one of my sites this week was Spurn itself, so I took the opportunity to crash down at the obs. 

Cars make such great hides (especially when you get the heater going), everything strolls casually by.

And occasionally everything decides that your bit of beach is the place to be. The Dunlin, Redshank and my friendly Curlew kept me company all shift).

On Thursday Adam and I took on the challenge laid by Kathy James of naturebites. A 6 hour county wide birdrace. I was only down for one day off, and, off course, it snowed, but we went for it anyway!

6 hours chilly hours later we'd totalled 71 birds including red necked grebe, short eared owl, yellowhammer, red throated diver, goldeneye, whooper swan and barn owl. We await the final results with bated breath!

Adam had managed to avoid the camera for most of the day, but I finally got him whilst he was distracted by snow...

Sensibly I had bought along my ridiculous hat and a few pairs of gloves to combat the evil cold!

Most of the birds weren't sitting still long enough for me to get clear shots, but to be honest we were more keen to catch more for our race total than take pretty snaps!

But their were some nice birds around, and weather be damned, we were going to find them!