Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Pink-feet at Bonby and Beardies at Alkborough.

Another day of good weather was forecast today so I set out early planning to go to Bonby Carrs, an area of farmland and water meadows in the Ancholme valley between the spring line villages on the scarp slope of the Wolds and the river.  There had been a sharp frost and skies were clear as I turned off the motorway onto Elsham Wold.  The temperature was 2C but as I descended into the valley it plummeted to -1C with some mist - a classic high pressure temperature inversion.  As I approached Bonby village a large skein of pink-footed geese flew over; a stirring sight.  When I reached the end of Carr Lane I could see the huge flock of pink feet feeding across the far side of the water meadow.  Sadly too far for respectable photography.  It was a huge flock though 1000+ at least.  I could hear a constant chattering from the geese, especially when groups periodically took to the air.  They sounded like the yelping of hounds and I was reminded of the wild hunt of Herne the Hunter chasing down 'the dark' in Susan Cooper's wonderful book The Dark is Rising.  With nothing else to see on the carrs apart from a couple of buzzards which were again too far away for photography, I decided to head off to Alkborough Flats to see if the bearded tits were playing.

Things were looking more optimistic when I parked up at Alkborough as I could see a group of bird watchers/photographers who obviously had their sights on the beardies.  I was delighted that a flock of approximately twenty soon arrived and provided challenging photography as they fed on reed seeds, clinging to the stems of the reeds which then swayed from side to side.  Isolating birds for the reeds was difficult and they were also somewhat against the light.  After a while I went off to chase up some reported stonechats and to have some lunch.  I then returned to the fray to find that the birds had moved to the other side of the path and were perfectly lit.  Although I have seen and  photographed bearded tits before I have never had such prolonged and close contact.  It was a real privilege.

Although my main focus was on the bearded tits there were other birds about.  Skeins of geese periodically flew across and the call of curlew rang across the marsh as the flew over the reeds.  A heron flew over and and an egret lifted off the lagoon.  From the hide I saw mallard and teal quite close and a group of whooper swans were on the far side of the lagoon.  There were teal and shelduck and I could hear the magical whistling of wigeon from another, nearby, lagoon.
To view large, please click on an image.
Julian's Bower with the flats behind.

Alkborough Flats

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, female

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, female

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, male

Bearded Tit, female

Reed Bunting

Stonechat, female

Stonechat, male

Stonechat, male

Monday, 20 January 2020

A Frosty Woodland Walk

After a mild winter so far the last few days have been clear and bright and yesterday we had quite a hard frost, although in Grimsby temperatures have barely got to zero.  What we have had, though, is extremely high pressure air, up to 1050 mb today, the highest since 1958.  On Sunday we took Jet out for a walk in Willingham woods, enjoying the bright sun and hard frost on shady areas.













Feeding Station Photography

The weather was superb on Saturday so after a relaxed start, I headed out to the feeding station for a good long spell in the hide.  As usual there was a great deal of activity.  The jay actually landed by the feeders but so briefly that I barely saw it.  It is extremely wary despite the fact that I have covered the camera access on the hide with scrim to try to hide my face and movement.  A woodpecker made a couple of visits and I did notice that it was much less wary than usual.  It was only when processing the images that I realised that it was a female with no red patch on the back of the head, rather than the usual male.  Obviously this different bird is more confiding.  So far this winter nuthatch visits have been few and far between but today at least three birds were visiting regularly.  I put some apples out and was delighted when a pair of blackbirds came and fed on them.  As usual I had a couple of visits from the tree creeper but today it landed on the sun rather than the shady side of the tree which made for much better images.
An excellent session.