Sunday, 21 February 2016

Drizzly day in Cleveland

Common snipe
Little egret
After last Sunday's success with some great winter scarcities, I hoped to top that today. Dad and I were taking gran back to Hartlepool. We knew that there were rarities present:Penduline tit(s) and Green-winged teal, as well as some scarce birds: Water pipit(s), Short-Eared owl, Glaucous gull and (Pale-bellied) Brent goose. There was also the chance of a flyover Bittern. However when we went to Dorman's pool a birder told us the Glaucous gull had been taken into care, this was good for the bird as it was obviously in poor health. At Dorman's pool we searched for Water pipit but didn't see any. We did see Pintail, Shelduck and Little egret. We then were slightly alarmed to find that the road to Saltholme was closed off by the police. We looked around and there were lots of police bikes and cars at the end of roads closing them off. The reason then became clear as a really big lorry drove along with a police escort carrying piping. We were about to leave when some birders asked if we had seen the Water pipits, we told them no. They told us that whilst we were waiting for the lorry to pass there were up to four Short-Eared owls hunting in the fields just out of site from where we were, we did not see them. When we went to Saltholme we looked for both the Penduline tits and the Green-winged teal but saw neither, we did get good views of 40 Barnacle geese flying past the cafe. This day of missing rare birds was starting to get ridiculous. We then went to try and see a Brent goose which was in amongst Pink-footed geese, we saw it and I was relieved that we didn't miss every bird that wanted to. We then set out to try and see some Rose-Ringed parakeets at Jackson's park, in the end we saw 12+ birds roosting in a tree and flying overhead.
The really long lorry 

Below are some photos of some of the birds seen-

Brent goose with Pink-footed geese
Rose-ringed parakeet
Reed bunting 
40 Barnacle geese
Brent goose with Pink-footed geese
Brent goose with Pink-footed geese
Eurasian wigeon

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Castle Howard

This morning my dad said we were going out for the day with my gran who was staying with us. He suggested Castle Howard, the fact that there was an American Wigeon there was purely coincidental! When we got there we went to the Great lake first. There we saw a huge flock of Eurasian wigeon and some Goldeneye, Gadwall and Tufted ducks. I took a photo of the flock and zoomed in. To my astonishment I could see it's head, the rest of the bird was behind a Mute swan! I wanted better views though and I went back alone later on whilst my gran, dad and brother were looking in the gardens. It was much closer with other duck species. I tried ringing my dad to tell him but I had no signal. I took some photos and rushed to tell him it was there. We went back after having some lunch and got more good views of it. I was glad I saw it as I had missed the Scarborough one the week before, whether this was the same bird or not I am unsure.
American wigeon with Eurasian wigeon and a Tufted duck
American Wigeon
American wigeon with a Tufted duck and a Canada goose

American wigeon with a Eurasian wigeon and a Gadwall

Sunday, 14 February 2016

'Winter wonderland'

Today dad and I were tasked with the job in bringing my gran to our house for half-term. As she lives in Hartlepool we set off a couple of hours earlier than usual to go birding in Cleveland. Once there, the first stop was the Jewish cemetery on the headland. There we saw 3 Shorelarks and 5 Snow buntings, as well as 2 Grey partridges. We then went to try and see a Glaucous gull at Jackson's landing, but failed, however we did see some Red-breasted mergansers. We then picked up my gran and took her to Saltholme where we had lunch and did some more birding. We walked around the reserve getting good views of ducks and various finches and buntings, and keeping an eye out for the Penduline tits which were present the weekend before, we didn't see them. We went to Paddy's pool and got good views of a redhead Smew, it also went onto land which I have never seen this species do. We had already seen this bird the year before but wanted it on this years list. We then went on to Saltholme hide where we saw some Barnacle geese. Our relaxing walk back to the visitor centre was cut short by a heavy snow shower, in this I saw some Wigeon. Back at the visitor centre feeders I got more good views of some Reed bunting but also a Lesser redpoll. We then drove to  the hide at Dorman's pool, but sadly an RSPB volunteer locked it as we arrived. The final bird of the trip was then a Red grouse on the moors whilst driving home. All in all, a good day.Below are 14 pictures from the day-

Snow bunting
Gadwall (and teal)
Wigeon in the snow
Reed bunting
Lesser Redpoll

Little grebe
Tufted duck
Barnacle geese, with Canada and Greylag
Stock dove

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Late afternoon twitch at North Landing, Flamborough

Dad and I went to North Landing in search of two Richard's pipits that had been present for sometime. I had already missed them once and was determined not to this time. We walked along the fields which they had been in but we didn't see them, or any other pipit species.
I did get good views of Fulmars but no Richard's. As we were walking back as the light was beginning to disappear I saw two birds fly low across the field, it was them. We must have walked past them before. This was not just a year tick but also a lifer, I am very glad we saw these two Richard's pipits.
Richard's pipit

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Afternoon on Filey Brigg

Today I went to Filey Brigg to try and see the Surf Scoter that had been there for about 8 weeks! After missing the American wigeon a few days ago in Scarborough I was determined to see this rare duck. My dad was ill and I was lucky to get him to take me out in the first place. I watched from the carpark and saw a Long-tailed duck, I knew there was one present but I didn't expect to see it. After a while of searching I hadn't seen the Surf scoter. As my dad was ill he said I could walk along to the steps down the south side of the Brigg (where there were already some other birders). There I got great views of the Long-tailed duck and a Great-northern diver. I asked one of the birders if they had seen the Surf scoter, they pointed me in the right direction and there it was! This was my third Surf scoter, the others being in the same place in previous years. Further down I have also included a small update from the patch.

Long-tailed duck

Surf scoter
Great-northern diver
 I also went to the fields within my patch earlier that morning, and got two new ticks as a Reed bunting and some Meadow pipits, as well as great views of a Grey wagtail.
Grey wagtail
Reed bunting 

Meadow pipit

Monday, 1 February 2016

Patchwork Challenge 2016 January roundup

This is an overview of my first month of PWC2016, all photographs are of the birds mentioned taken on the patch, however some have a date stamp and some do not.

On the 1st of January I saw 19 species, the only surprise being a female Blackcap in the garden. All of the birds on the 1st were seen around the house: House sparrow, Greylag goose, Canada goose, Great-black backed gull, Herring gull, Black-headed gull, Stock dove, Woodpigeon,  Collared dove, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion crow, Great tit, Coal tit, Starling, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Dunnock and Blackcap.

On the 2nd I walked down a short stretch of road (surrounded by trees and fields) and saw some more  new birds: Sparrowhawk, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Long-tailed tit and Bullfinch.
Later that day (2nd) dad and I went to the coastal section of my patch, Hunmanby gap. There we got my first 'two-pointer,' a Shag. We also saw some other new birds: Sanderling, Kestrel, Stonechat, Linnet, Goldfinch, Robin, Common gull, Moorhen, and Mallard.

It wasn't until the 9th until I got my next patch ticks in the form of a Grey wagtail and a Yellowhammer.
Grey wagtail
On the 10th dad and I went to Hunmanby gap, we got some great new additions: Little gull, Great-northern diver, Black-throated diver, Red-throated diver, Gannet, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, (rock)/Feral pigeon and Cormorant. The Little gulls moved south in a steady passage and the divers were great to watch.
Record shot of a passing Little gull
The next additions after the 10th were not until the 16th, because of school. However we did see what was undoubtedly the highlight of the month, a Little auk. This was not just a patch tick but also a lifer for me! The 16th added: Little auk, Razorbill, Great-crested grebe and Grey heron.

After this the only additions were on the 23rd and 24th. Fieldfare on the 23rd and Redwing on the 24th.

In the end I finished with 52 species and 60 points, I do not know whether this is good or bad for my patch as this is my first year taking part in PWC2016. However one thing I am sure of is that I am looking forwards to the year ahead of me.