We used the need to take Jet for a walk as an excuse to visit one of our favourite local sites: The River Freshney and Town's Holt. As soon as we left the road we could hear the chiffchaffs calling loudly and behind them one or two very vocal wrens. Chiffchaffs seem to have arrived in good numbers this year as they are all over the place. Blackcaps soon joined the chorus and I was pleased to be able to secure some shots. Sedge warblers as usual were vocal and I was pleased to be able to pinpoint at least one reed warbler; both sound very similar. Two cetti's were singing their explosive song, but, as usual, they were not to be seen. Surprisingly I only saw three butterflies: a distant white that I was unable to identify and two speckled woods, one of which posed perfectly. I was delighted to find my first whitethroat of the year, although it didn't stay for photographs, either that or I was too slow!
Sunday 30 April 2023
Saturday 29 April 2023
Although we had driven through hill fog and drizzle, when Brian and I pulled into the car park at Goulceby's Three Horseshoes pub it was at least dry and calm although misty. Soon Dorothy and Steve arrived and we set off on our circular walk taking in Asterby Top and Red Hill. On the way up to Asterby Top it was amazing to see that the road had been closed. There is a huge badger sett on the hillside here and the badgers have dug under the road and caused it to collapse. On a better day there would be good views across to Lincoln Catherdral and over the Bain Valley.
Our route took us down into the valley and then steeply up to the nature reserve at Red Hill. Here we had a quick look at the pasque flowers that have now started to go over somewhat. The cowslips in the festival field, however, were looking superb.
Our walk finished by walking down into the valley and over fields, where we met 'The Heathers', back to the car and pub. It was, of course, beer o'clock: Batemans Yella Belly for me; nectar. The food was also superb and to be highly recommended.
Thursday 27 April 2023
As I walked across to Ness Hide at Far Ings I could hear the bittern booming so, full of anticipation, I joined the other birders in the hide. The bittern continued to boom all morning but absolutely refused to show. The light was reasonable, however, and it was good to relax in the hide and watch nature go about its business. The most obvious birds were the resident greylag geese, some complete with broods of goslings. As usual, cetti's warblers were vocal. Not so many years ago it would have been one bird, now they are plentiful on the reserve. As well as these two birds we heard a water rail squealing in the the reeds and a distant sedge warbler singing its jerky, scratchy song. A marsh harrier briefly appeared and gave a distant fly past and we had a brief sighting of common tern.
Once Nigel had joined me we set off for a circuit of the reserve calling in at the other hides. We were hoping for views of great crested grebes with their striped chicks on Target Lake but, although we had good views of the adults, the chicks must have been tucked away in the reeds into which the adults soon disappeared. Moving on to the Scrape Hide, we enjoyed excellent views of male and female marsh harrier displaying. In my photograph the male is carrying food so perhaps we missed a food pass. Both birds dropped down into the reeds, perhaps onto the nest.
Completing our circuit of the reserve rewarded us with blackcap, more cetti's, dunnock, reed bunting and my first willow warbler of the year. Once back at the car it was time for soup and a roll in The Ropewalk cafe.
Tuesday 25 April 2023
Roger and I had had plans to visit Donna Nook to look for the recently emerged green hairstreak butterflies. However, the forecast was so poor that we decided to wait until the weather warms up somewhat. So I changed plans and headed for Covenham Reservoir to see if there were any yellow wagtails or wheatears about, the great nothern diver is still there, as well, and newly arrived arctic terns have been seen.
Arriving in the car park I expected gloomy skies and strong cold northerly winds, but the weather was nothing like as bad as forcast. In fact the sky was largely clear and the wind amounted to no more than a strong breeze. Wearing multiple layers, hat and gloves I hope to be warm enough but, in the event, I was rather too warm despite cool 9C temeratures. Although I didn't manage to find the diver, terns or wheatears, I was delighted to find half a dozen yellow wagtails and plenty of pied, at least 4 of which turned out to be white wagtails, a continental variant with grey backs rather than the more usual glossy black. The other high spot of the morning was connecting with a pair of ravens which are nesting close to the water treatment works - a real bonus.
After my circuit of the reservoir, I drove around to the sheltered south side and was pleased to find my first orange-tip of the year.
Sunday 23 April 2023
After a morning of gloomy wet weather we decided to venture out and opted for a cup of tea at The Ropewalk and a quick look at the current exhibitions. After this we took Malcolm and Maureen to Winter's Pit at East Halton Marsh, one of my favourite local birding spots. We were fortunate as the black clouds began to clear and eventually the sun put in an appearance. Although we only spent an hour here we managed to see 32 species. The highlight was the large numbers of swallows, house matrtins and sand martins hawking over the lake. We also had the pleasure of recording the local cetti's warbler on several occasions as it followed us back down the track from the Humber Bank. We finished our visit with a quick trip to the Hide at Killingholme Haven Pits where there was nothing other than a solitary, distant egret, either a little egret with muddy feet or a juvenile cattle egret. Annoyingly by the time I went for my 'scope it had gone.
Wednesday 19 April 2023
At first the hoped for clear skies were not to be; it was grey and gloomy as Brian and I drew into the car park at Frampton Marsh RSPB Reserve set on the Wash south of Boston. As soon as we stepped out of the car we were blasted by the very strong easterly wind howling straight off the sea. Fortunately as the day progressed the clouds moved away to give clear skies which at least provided some semblance of warmth. We began our visit with coffee and scone in the excellent new cafe at the visitor centre - this is to be hichly recommended as is the warm welcom from staff and volunteers.
Suitably nourished we set off on out tour of the reserve, heading first fo the 360 degree hide. Here most of our expected birds could be seen including good numbers of avocet and some superb ruff, now coming into breeding plumage. We were pleased to spot a lone ringed plover here as well as well as a flock of dunlin, most still in winter plumage.
Moving on, our next port of call was the Reedbed Hide where our only sightings were great crested grebe, pochard and gadwall. We continued from here round to East Hide which often produces some good birds and today was no exception with a group of 5 spoonbills, although, unfortunately, both asleep and distant. A good tick nonetheless.
We opted not to brave the gale up on the sea wall and headed back; a cup of tea and food a big draw!! All the same birds were present at the first two hides but we were delighted to see two mediterranean gulls from 360 degree hide. Back at the visitor centre a pot of tea and sausage roll went down well. Before leaving we had a wander down the hedgerow footpath hoping for some small birds but everything seemed to be keeping hunkered down out of the wind.
Yet another excellent day at this superb reserve.
Monday 17 April 2023
It was sunny and clear as I set off for the cemetery and Gooseman's Field on 17th although slightly more chilly than of late at 13.5C and the easterly wind making it cooler still. I was pleased to hear chiffchaff again singing loudly in the cemetery and woodland burial ground and also surprised and delighted when I flushed a woodcock out of Gooseman's Drain whilst walking around the burial ground. I enjoyed photographing the snakeshead fritillaries that flower profusely on a grave in the cemetery; they increse every year. The burial ground also produced a superb fresh speckled wood. Once on Gooseman's Field I began to hear skylarks singing, suspended high in the sky almost out of sight, their beautiful song cascading down. As usual, Gooseman's produced the most butterflies with 10 peacock, another speckled wood, 8 small tortoiseshell and 2 comma. Quite a few of these early butterflies are now beginning to look quite worn. The final treat from Gooseman's was my first yellowhammer in a while.