Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Holiday - Part 1

Well, I didn't make it to Mexico... but more about that later. Instead I have dodged down to England for a few days holiday.

Friday - 
Leaving the zebra finches in Tracy's capable hands I set out for Yorkshire, first nipping in at Baron's Haugh in Motherwell. Its a great site, set in mixed woodland opening out onto marsh and a large lake. A nice stock of wildfowl occupied the far side of the lake, including a couple of snoozing shovellers and a group of whoopers. These mixed with teal and wigeon, and greylags could be heard a way off.

I got chatting to a regular in the hide, great guy called John, who was very knowledgeable about the area. Proving the benefits of getting to know the locals, after disappearing for 15 minutes, John returned to take me to an area of the path that I'd completely missed, and pointed out a pair of roosting Tawnys in a nearby pine. He's got good eyes, as they were so high and tucked into the pine, that I would have never found them alone.

Looked down on

Heading back onto the M6 I picked up and Aussie hitch-hiker called Matt who was heading for Birmingham. I said I'd get him as far as Gretna before I turned for the east coast. Good thing I did too, as I also picked up my first waxwings of the autumn at Gretna filling station.

Grenta Waxies

Saturday - 
After a long lie in Matt and I headed over to Farr Ings near Selby, a cracking RSPB reserve boasting a number of nice hides and well set up pond dipping areas as well. As we got out of the car and approached the centre a GS woodpecker was sat at the top of a nearby birch.

After what felt like an epic trek we found settled into the hide to enjoy the remaining daylight. Again, plenty of wildfowl, tufties, goldeneye, wigeon, pochard, teal, around 80 coot, a great crested grebe and 11 mute swans.

Heading back along the path we were surrounded by 15 LTT's and a little egret flew over.

Sunday -
I put my Sunday birding in the hands of Andy of AWBirder, trusting in his local knowledge to get me to the birds; I wasn't disappointed. Starting off at Aughton Ings we were treated to plenty of teal and widgeon, and a nice mix of waders including lapwing, around 30 Ruff, and a small host of snipe - feeding out on the waterlogged field edge despite passing marsh harriers and sparrowhawk.

After about an hour we headed over to check out the bittern that was still showing over at North Duffield. On arriving we were told that the bid had last been sighted an hour before, and, after a quick shuffle of people in the hide, we were both seated and waiting for the bird to emerge from the reeds.

We didn't have long to wait, although I was thoroughly distracted by a hunting barn owl and the hide banter. But in less than 30 minutes Andy had spotted it, sat not 20 feet away, crouched in  front of the reeds.

One of the best Bittern views I've had!

After bagging itself a nice fat frog, it retreated back into the foliage, and it became a game of track the birdy as we strained for glimpses of its head amongst the leaves.

There was more than the bittern to entertain me hear, another marsh harrier passed over as we scanned the reeds, and we had a second, much closer sighting of the barn owl. Off on the open water there was a mix of wildfowl including a very striking black swan.

Its a great site and I'll definitely be back across when I'm next haunting York.

Monday - 
In the car by 7, I was off to Spurn. I knew the wind was going the wrong direction and the clouds were threatening rain, but I was looking forward to catching up with old friends. Bird wise, the day wasn't amazing. I drank a lot of tea and coffee.

Sea watching turned up around 30 scoter and 3 great northern diver, a couple of gannets and kittiwakes, and some passing waders. A few waxwings were passing through whilst Andy was ringing, and I caught a glimpse of a rail's backside on Canal Scrape.

I'm hoping to get in a bit more birding tomorrow before I head to Derbyshire this weekend to see the family, hoping the rain holds off.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Lunchtime Callers

A new face on the feeders this lunchtime. To find out who it was, take a look here.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Needing a Getaway

Just a quick question, am I the only person that hasn't seen a waxwing yet this autumn? Their supposedly everywhere. All up and around the Clyde and Ayrshire areas the reports are coming in; but here on Cumbrae? Nada. Zip. Granted, having 5 minutes daylight a day isn't helping the odds. And to make matters worse, the cloud seems to have cut out the Rain middle-man and just decided to sit right on us.

The best thing I've seen for a week is a few kittiwakes from the back of today's ill timed trip on the trawler. Plenty of prawns, no birds. With that in mind, I'm escaping. This Friday I'm taking a week off, and heading to Yorkshire, then to the ole homestead in Notts. A whole week without thermals... It'll be ace. Maybe that bee-eater'll still be around for me to swing in on as I go past, it seems to have hung around forever now...

... a girl can hope.