Saturday, 26 September 2015

26th September 2015

An early morning walk in very foggy conditions did not produce too much. Coinciding with high tide, a number of Curlew were on Melton Fields with their haunting call piercing the mist. A Chiffchaff was picking it's way through the bushes at the end of Brickyard Lane with a Bullfinch and the ever vocal Wrens.  The fog was two thick to see anything on the river, but nine Siskins flew in low and circled three times before choosing trees to their liking on the field edge.

On the common, Meadow Pipits were in evidence and a Yellow Wagtail was flushed from one of the puddles in the fog. A trio of Cetti's Warblers could be heard and a Great Spotted Woodpecker posed atop a dead tree. 

Back home, a Little Egret flew up river while a Long-Tailed Tit movement contained a Goldcrest and another Chiffchaff.

      Misted webs looked spectacular.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Icterine Warbler - Spurn September 2015

A trip to Spurn in easterly winds was fruitful despite the weather. Torrential rain meant that birding was a challenge to say the least but waders were the highlights of the early morning. A Black Stork, one of a few doing tours of the UK, had been present for while in the ditches at Sunk Island so I opted to stop on route but entirely failed to connect. A Wheatear and many Yellow Wagtails was some compensation as was a Yellow-Legged Gull.

Arriving at Spurn, the weather took a turn for the worse and the rain became torrential. Despite that, Avocet showed well on Kilnsea Wetlands as did a Little Stint. Beacon Ponds had a couple of Curlew Sandpiper and might have had more but the rain and exposed watchpoint resulted in a hasty retreat. The Holderness fields have been excellent this year, and this time a Spotted Redshank was keeping company with a number of Greenshank, as well as a dozen Black-Tailed Godwit. With the easterlies, it seemed promising for small birds, but in the end it was pretty quiet, the rain keeping birds at bay.

A break in the weather however, and the birds began to appear. The Red-Backed Shrike at Corner Field was being elusive (from me anyway) - but Cliff Farm was very lively. Lesser Whitethroat and plenty of Chiffchaffs were kept company by both Spotted and Pied Flycatcher, the latter definitely one of my favourite birds! Highlight however was an Icterine Warbler, which was very showy indeed. While favouring an elder by the wall of the house, it moved across to the conifer and showed exceptionally to the crowd that had braved the weather.

Icterine Warbler - Kilnsea, September 2015

Glossy Ibis - 2nd August 2015 - Brough Airfield

The 1st August 2015 saw us moving house from North Ferriby to Hessle. At 7pm I noticed a message from Erich Hediger saying that a Glossy Ibis had been found at Brough Airfield. Too busy to get there on the first, I kept my fingers crossed that it would still be there the following day.

My only previous Glossy Ibis had been a very confiding bird at Fairburn Ings in 1989. In recent times this bird has had irruption years where it looks set to colonise in the UK, following in the footsteps of the Little Egret. So far however, those irruption years are followed by years like 2015 where records are generally few and far between. So it was that at 5am the next morning I was up and out and walking along from Brickyard Lane, out past Welton Water and along to the airfield.

I was lucky, and the early start paid dividends. Admittedly the bird was not doing very much! Sleeping at the far side of the marsh, the purple and blue colours were evident, it really is an unmistakable bird! It is a shame that I didn't get to see it feeding in the shallows, and it did remain very distant. However, by ten o clock that morning it had departed leaving would be admirers later on the Sunday to be disappointed. Definitely the bird of the patch year so far.

Terrible record shots but it really was a fair distance away and having a snooze!

Patch birding - summer update!

It has been a long time since I last posted! Patchwork Challenge blogging has kept me busy along with work - but I am determined to pick this blog back up where is left off in May. It has been an eventful summer of sightings with some good quality birds along the way - and my patch list for the North Ferriby to Brough stretch has since hit 125 species.

Starting with the patch, the month of May ended with Yellow Wagtails on the paddocks at North Ferriby Walkway and a Wheatear at Brickyard Lane. There have only been two records of Wheatear in what was a very poor Spring with another in early June on Melton Fields. Marsh Harrier sightings became more frequent with singles at North Ferriby and Melton Fields, and a female at Brough Airfield and a young male, but neither seen at the same time.

The North Ferriby Walkway paddocks are perfect habitat for Yellow Wagtails on passage

Marsh Harriers have been a fairly regular sight at a number of areas of the patch

Warblers are always a feature of summer, and confiding Reed Warblers could be found at both Brickyard Lane and North Ferriby Walkway. Cetti's Warblers have continued their expansion of recent years, this year populating a number of sites north of the Humber. The area west of Brickyard Lane had three males on territory throughout the summer period, with all three still present at 24th September. Welton Water also had a number of singing males throughout. Their expansion must be one of the most rapid of recent times, their song being a real feature of this summer.

Another fine record was a Lesser Whitethroat carrying food in June on North Ferriby Walkway. Tucked away behind the hill in the same location as a pair of Whitethroats, at least three pairs of the latter bred. Blackcaps were equally evident, both Whitethroats and Blackcaps are not shy and both call loudly. The Whitethroat will perch in the open and proudly play its scratchy song, whereas the Blackcap is equally vocal but gives itself away with its clumsy approach, moving through bushes and ivy with no finesse whatsoever!

Waders have been largely disappointing in number. Common Sandpiper are the commonest with up to six present at the end of Brickyard Lane and further pairs at Welton Water and Hessle Foreshore. A Green Sandpiper has spent most of the last 6 weeks on the small pond west of Brickyard Lane, most often seen when flushed. Avocet's are common from South Ferriby on the south side of the river but rarely venture to the north side so a bird seen twice in a week in September at Brough Haven was a good record. A trio of Turnstone was good to see, these stunning birds should be much easier to see - but they don't often head to Ferriby and beyond, so this was just the second patch record of the year.

Common Sandpiper, Welton Water bobs constantly and has a white 'shoulder' - the best way to split from Green Sandpiper

Two of the three Turnstones at the end of Brickyard Lane in June
One of the best birds of the summer was also perhaps expected. From the beginning of July, the numbers of gulls increase. Whilst it has been disappointing not to add to the Mediterranean Gull earlier in the year, a Little Gull and Yellow-Legged Gulls were excellent birds on patch. The former was spotted at the end of Brickyard Lane accompanied by its larger Black-Headed cousins whilst the Yellow-Legged was spotted in the same place on the same day, and a further bird was seen at Hessle Foreshore in September.

Distant picture of the Little Gull on 9th July.

Perhaps less seasonal was the two Pink-Footed Geese that have spent most of the summer between Brickyard Lane and Welton Water. One with a clearly damaged wing, it is hard to know whether these are birds that have stayed on after the winter rather than return to their breeding grounds due to the wing damage, or escapes. Enough doubt not to count to my patch tally, but nice to watch all the same. 35 genuinely wild birds flew over Brough Airfield on the 20th September were my first of the autumn.

Normally a winter visitor, the wing damage on the far bird might have resulted in these birds staying in the UK for the summer

A move to Hessle Foreshore at the beginning of August has resulted in a number of records from the river. Numbers of Wigeon have been moving this month but with the autumn come small number of seabirds. Four juvenile Gannet were perhaps expected. Seabirds moving up the Humber often stop at the bridge, and these appeared to do just that and began to head back east before taking a run up and heading under the bridge and on up river past North Ferriby. I had thought that birds would choose to go above the bridge rather than below. Less expected was a Fulmar which spent a few minutes blogging back and forth before heading back east in this instance.

There were plenty more birds this summer, and autumn has brought movements of Siskins and a Redstart to Hessle Foreshore and a second record of Stonechat to Brickyard Lane. Also, the pool on the ground west of Brickyard Lane has been consistently good for Kingfisher with two there all the time.

I will update more often now - and keep this blog of local wildlife more in the now than 4 monthly summaries!

There was one bird that was extra special however, so that gets a post of it's own....

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Knot a Bad Morning - 25th April 2015

A morning walk produced another addition to the patch year list. Whitethroats have returned to the hill on the Riverside Walkway. Three birds were scratching away in the bramble bushes around the hill - a perfect environment for the species so this was a much expected addition.

2 Pochard are still on the pond, and the Little Grebe has been joined by a partner which bodes well for potential breeding success. Blackcaps continue to make themselves obvious and Green Woodpecker also is not subtle in giving away it's position, but is more often seen than heard.

Following a morning walk around the Walkway - I then drove across to Brickyard Lane for a walk across the open ground there. Linnet's are in clear evidence and the area's potential for Warblers is very much coming to the fore with Cetti's, Reed and Willow Warblers along with Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat all adding up to quiet an orchestra. Two Snipe were on the small pond there and another patch first was a Yellowhammer - giving away its prescence with the familiar 'a little bit of bread and no cheese' song.

There were a number of Meadow Pipits, and suspected Tree Pipit but views were to fleeting to confirm - so I will have to return to try to find out for sure.

Finally - the Humber foreshore was a hive of activity this morning just on from Brickyard Lane. 3 Curlew were very confiding as were the ever present Oystercatchers. A group of small waders was made up of the usual Dunlin and Ringed Plovers but with excellent counts of 35 and 16 respectively. Confirmation however that it is always worth checking was a Knot moulting into it's summer plumage. A grey bird in winter becomes a stunning bird in summer, with mottled wings and back combined with a beautiful red flush to it's front and belly - coining it's full name of Red Knot. A real halfway house of a bird - both the flush and winter grey were in evidence.

Common Scoter - North Ferriby

A walk with the dog after work proved well timed when a lone duck on the river off the Riverside Walkway proved to be a smart male Common Scoter. A number of birds have been seen at inland sites over the last month or so - maybe this was a bird returning to the north sea before heading off to Baltic breeding grounds.

The alarm bells always go off when a lone duck is on the river. Other ducks with the exception of Goldeneye tend to stay at the edges - so it immediately warranted a closer look. At about halfway out -it was pretty distant, but the distince neck shape, held straight from the body combined with the distinctive beak shape quickly identified the unusual visitor.

The Scoter followed a record of 4 Goosander earlier in the week, 3 males and a redhead. Just my second record on patch and my first for the walkway. Swallows have now arrived in numbers and Blackcaps are on the rise too. However, a few expected birds have yet to make an appearance such as Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear. Hopefully May will produce the goods.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Birding Sunday - 19th April 2015

This Sunday presented the opportunity to make a first foray of the year to the coast. After a little half-hearted debate, Spurn won out as it often does.

A cold north easterly put paid to much migration movement. First stop was the North Ferriby walkway in hope of a Ring Ouzel or Yellow Wagtail on the horse paddocks. A fairly quiet morning, the Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps continue to be vocal while the number of Swallows had increased with 7 hawking around the Humber bank.

Male Blackcap skulking amidst the blossom
The next move was to head straight to Spurn. A Peregrine just outside Patrington was a great start before reaching Sammy's Point which is my traditional place to start, and it was clear pretty quickly that there was limited movement of small birds. Two Great Tits and a few Linnets was the sum total of the first 3 paddocks before reaching the paddock furthest East. A number of Redshank and Oystercatcher were on the Humber as the tide reached its highest - and the familiar call of a Whimbrel quickly put me onto a bird as it lifted from the flats and headed inland overhead.

You'll have to trust me - it's a Whimbrel!

The field itself was pretty quiet. Again Blackcap and Chiffchaff made their prescence known but no sign of the Redstart which has been present for the previous few days. On the walk back to the car a couple of Yellow Wagtails flew overhead, my first for the year. Reaching the paddock by the car park, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail and 2 Yellow Wagtail were all present, the latter a male and female but no sign of the Flavissima from the previous day.

Stunning male Yellow Wagtail. The colour of summer.
Moving on to the Wetlands - the Avocets have returned with 6 birds there this morning. A Little Egret threatened to land but then moved over the bank towards Beacon Ponds. The pools with the most activity were those on the Holderness fields where the female Garganey has found the first pool to it's liking whilst a trio of Greenshank shared the space with a Redshank a couple of Dunlin and a pair of Avocets.

Female Garganey - Spurn 19th April 2015

My first Greenshank of the year along with Redshank, Dunlin and Avocet, Spurn 19th April
The rest of the walk was pretty quiet. A rest in the hide at Canal Scrape provided an opportunity to get out of the wind and watch a pair of Little Egrets displaying - one of which had a very impressive plume. 

Little Egret - Spurn 19th April
I decided to head back to patch early afternoon, but the journey was to turn up the bird of the day. A superb adult almost pure white Iceland Gull flew low over the road by the Port of Hull building on the east side of Hull. The bird flew low ahead before banking around giving great views. The size and lack of heaviness around the head and build quickly eliminated Glaucous - a real unexpected treat which I wish I could have appreciated more - but the traffic would not have appreciated me stopping!

Finally I finished up back on patch - with a walk from Brough Haven to Welton Water. Sedge Warblers were in three seperate locations along the Humber Bank. There are now two female Marsh Harriers on the airfield marsh - but sailing is now well under way on Welton Water - so there was nothing to be seen there today. The best birds were on route back, whilst listening to a Sedge Warbler a Grasshopper Warbler began reeling from the ditch by the Humber Bank between the fishing pools and the sump. Just as I was taking in this wonderful sound, a Swan flew low across the field and headed off towards Welton. A closer look revealed the thick yellow wedge of a Whooper Swan - a lone bird trailing the rest of its group who headed off to breeding grounds a couple of weeks ago.

Whooper Swan - an unexpected late bird at Brough Airfield, 19th April