Saturday, 22 January 2022

An Excellent Day on a New Reserve

 I found the hole in the tree in the 'scope and, as I zoomed in, the back of the hole morphed into the face of a tawny owl.  Excellent, my first for this year.  To be fair a regular birder had told me where to look but I finished my day with several new for year species.  Heather and I were staying at South Cave in the fine Cave Castle Hotel for a weekend yoga retreat so I used the excuse of a creaky back to spend the day exploring a new reserve for me: North Cave Wetlands, only 15 minutes away.  It was a perfect morning: blue skies and a hard frost but the sun made it feel quite pleasant.  When I parked up the Butty Van looked very tempting but fresh from a full English breakfast and a large evening meal to come I desisted.  The reserve is relatively new and is in old gravel workings.  Some of the old pits are well rewilded now but others are in the process of allowing nature to reclaim them.  The route around the reserve is a square with several hides overlooking the workings.  Other areas, such as the maize field, have been developed to be attractive to a range of bird species and the site is well-supplied with feeding stations and hedges.  Most of the pits were iced over so not ideal for the birds but at the Crosslands hide the water was open and there were large numbers of waders and wildfowl.  Highlights of the day for me were a pair of ruff at Crosslands along with 2 black-tailed godwit, good numbers of siskin, the tawny and a peregrine.  I did take the trouble to make the walk to where a little owl was a regular but it had gone by the time I arrived.  Such is life.  The sky had clouded over by 2.30 and it was time to return to the hotel for a cup of tea and thoughts of a swim in the lovely pool.

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Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting
Robin

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Rare Birds at Frampton RSPB Reserve.

 All day the background sounds were the deep guttural mutterings of brent geese overlaid by the higher pitched susurations of smaller waders, mainly golden plover.  There were thousands of both birds present at RSPB Frampton yesterday as well as similar numbers of lapwing and wigeon.  It was stunning to be surrounded by so many birds all day.  Along with the sounds we were periodically treated to the spectacular sight of thousands of waders wheeling in the air in a murmuration, possibly when frighted by a passing raptor.  This was probably marsh harrier, although kestrel, merlin and hen harrier were also present.  The brent geese were also constantly filling the sky as they flew backwards and forwards from their Wash feeding grounds like squadrons of heavy bombers flying in formation.

Brian and I had arrived in the car park around 11.00 am and were somewhat dismayed by the large numbers of birders setting out from the car park.  As it turned out the large size of the reserve swallowed up the numbers and I put it down to the beautiful weather - a perfect winter day with cloudless skies and temperatures around 4C.  Having checked in at the visitor centre we headed down through the centre of the reserve along the main track to the sea wall.  From up here there are spectacular views over the lagoons and scrapes of the reserve as well as out over the expansive salt marsh towards the River Welland and The Wash beyond.  We enjoyed lunch in the sun here, delighting in views of birds wheeling in the air and also the stirring sight of that mini-raider, a female merlin, which zipped across in front of us and then gave excellent views through the 'scope as it perched on a nearby fence post.

After lunch we dropped back down onto the reserve and followed the path to the East Hide.  The highlight from here was finding one of the 3 little stints on the reserve.  It was in the company of a dunlin so it was satisfying to be able to compare sizes, the stint being about 2/3 the size of the dunlin.  Whilst walking around to the 360 hide we had excellent views of a pair of stonechat which I was able to photograph and then another male as we approached the 360 hide.  Here there were more views of the stint and dunlin as well as close views of lapwing and greylag geese.

Eventually it was time to return to the centre and think about the journey home but first we checked the sightings board.  We had missed one or two good birds: hen harrier, whooper swan and long-tailed duck, but we had enjoyed one of my best days at Frampton, topped off by excellent views of ruff and snipe in perfect light just before returning to the car.

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Brent Geese
Brent Geese
View over the reserve
Golden plover and lapwing
Golden plover and lapwing
Golden plover
Greylag
Greylag
Lapwing
Lapwing
Lapwing
Stonechat - male
Stonechat -female
Stonechat - male
Stonechat - female
Stonechat - male
Stonechat - male
Teal
Teal
Wigeon
Wigeon
Wigeon
Wigeon

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Tetney Marshes Birding Bimble

 It was a very cold and foggy start to the day with temperatures around freezing.  At first it seemed as though it was going to clear for us but then the fog came in again and, on the coast, stayed for the day.  This made for very cold birding and Brian and I were well ready for our tomato soup and Christmas cake by one of the pill boxes which made a convenient table.  Our route was basically an out and back with a short loop from the lock gates.  We had parked by the boating lake at the Fitties Yacht Club where there was a great deal of activity, mainly from black-headed gulls and mallards but there were one or two mute swans, a few little grebes, wigeon and teal.  Having checked out the lagoon we then headed along the sea wall towards the sea lock at Tetney.  Here, the main interest was on the fields behind the sea wall: quite a few lapwing and a smattering of pheasants and gulls.  The two highlights, however, were the large flock of 300+ brent geese and two fields each with about 30 curlew feeding on them.  We were hoping for short-eared owl as 3 had been seen the day before but we were out of luck. The noisy alarm calls of redshank rang out over the salt marsh and we could see several little egret feeding in the creeks.  At the sea lock we walked alongside the haven (the point where the Louth Canal flows out to sea) for a short distance.  Here we could see more redshank and a small flock of teal as well as a few pied wagtails.  Following our soup and cake we quickly made our way back to the car park where we made a sweep of the beach finding shelduck and large numbers of oystercatcher as well as the bigger gulls:herring and common.  There were a few dunlin and knot in with the redshank and it was useful to be able to compare sizes.  Back on the lagoon we found some more teal amongst the wigeon and a solitary sleeping black-tailed godwit.  Although we didn't find stonechat today we were pleased with the snipe which zipped noisily away from under our feet.

All in all another good day.

To view large, please click on an image.  Photographs from the archives.

Brent Geese
Curlew
Black-tailed godwit
Black-tailed godwit
Little grebe
Dunlin

Brent geese

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Purple Sandpiper and Fish and Chips

 I raced up the beach to get to the outflow pipe before the tide finally covered it and there it was.  The purple sandpiper was calmly feeding in the shade by one of the concrete blocks of the outflow pipe at Mablethorpe's North End.  I had know that the bird was there and as we had needed to go to Spilsby we decided to pop over to Mablethorpe for some of Salty's excellent fish and chips and to see if the sandpiper was there.  I was delighted as, not only did I make some excellent images it was a 'lifer' for me.  I have never know such a confiding bird, in fact it kept coming too close and I had to keep zooming the lens out.  The light was stunning so, for once, no complaints!!  There were lots of sanderling running around like clockwork toys as they fed in the edge of the tide.  These were more of a challenge as, although very confiding, they move so fast.  A very good day.

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Purple sandpiper
Purple sandpiper
Purple sandpiper
Purple sandpiper
Purple sandpiper
Sanderling
Sanderling
Sanderling
Sanderling
Sanderling
Sanderling
Sanderling

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

A Cemetery Wander

 A mild but overcast day with very little happening on the bird front: wood pigeon, blackbird, Robin, Blue Tit, Magpie, Black-headed gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Crow, Great Tit.  Snowdrops and daffodils are now showing growth with one snowdrop actually in flower.  Hazel and alder catkins are well out now and female flowers on hazel showing.

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Sunday, 9 January 2022

A Covenham Birding Walk

 As we began our walk just beyond the sailing club, I could see that most of the birds present were in the SE corner of the reservoir diagonally opposite where we were.  Not a problem as we had Jet to walk.  I had been keen to visit Covenham Reservoir as I knew that there was a great northern diver present.  Early in the walk I thought that I had seen it out in the middle, but whatever it was dived and I could never find it gain.  Possibly a cormorant or a grebe but I was sure that I could see the pale undersides and checker board back; ah well, such is life.  As we approached the gathering of birds I could see that there were large numbers of mallard with some pochard, tufted duck and wigeon amongst them, but there were also several sizeable rafts of goldeneye.  These proved reasonably cooperative and I managed a few images.  It was lovely to hear the rooks busy in the rookery by Grange Lane; I always think that this clamorous activity is a joyous harbinger of spring.  A couple of mute swans flew over and there were large flocks of coot and gulls.  On the way home I was pleased to find a fieldfare grubbing in the field close to the road, but the highlight was the very large flock of lapwing that we saw wheeling in the air near Waithe.

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Goldeneye
Goldeneye
Goldeneye
Goldeneye
Goldeneye
Goldeneye
Fieldfare