Thursday 29 March 2012

South Bank Sun

Yesterday I finished my monthly low-tide counts with a sojourn to the south bank of the Humber. It was scorchio with 23 degrees registering on my car thermometer. A mid afternoon start at Barrow Haven saw 3 Chiffchaff to greet me from the car door. These were the first of 18 that I noted across the couple of hours that I was out. A sprinkling of Lapwing were notable as were a few pairs of Shelduck. Little was on any of the lagoons behind the bank but on heading back after finishing up a Short-eared Owl appeared hunting the thin strip of saltmarsh. I watched the owl for about ten minutes as I wandered up the floodbank. I have seen SEOs hunting in the day but never in bright, strong sun before. Certainly a pleasant surprise.

Humber Bridge seen from Barrow Haven

The second survey at Barton was a little more mundane with tonnes of Black-headed, Common, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Little else was seen on the mudflat but I was serenaded by more Chiffchaf plus the odd Bullfinch and Reed Bunting. I thought I heard a sub-singing Cetti's Warbler briefly at one point but it could equally have been a Wren in the reeds, so brief was the snatch of song. I was getting hot and tired when I noticed a decent group of Aythya ducks on a water skiing pit. 4 or 5 pairs of Pochard were farting about in the reeds to hold my attention when two bigger ducks surfaced. A 1st winter drake Scaup and an adult female. These birds weren't particularly playing ball but patience yielded decent enough views. Happy days. And that was it... Im ringing on Saturday so hopefully I can get a few decent photos and see some migrants.

Watersports Pits, Barton-upon-Humber. The Scaup were on the back pit in the photo

Friday 23 March 2012

Im not dead. Honest

Sorry for the massive gap in postings. It was neither apathy or acute death but perhaps a more serious issue. No birding. I have been desk bound for several weeks now and although there is light at the end of the tunnel I am still due to be stuck indoors during the majority of daylight hours until the middle of next week.

I did manage to sneak away for a couple of hours today for a low-tide count but that was largely dross with 4 Turnstone, 4 Mallard & 4 Oystercatcher the sum total of 7.6km walking. I did notice numbers of Herring Gulls picking up as they return to Hull to breed. Plenty of sub-adults were dossing on exposed mud banks in the river. The passerine assemblage behind the bank was quite horny with plenty of singing despite it being the middle of the day. An unusual song that I couldnt place immediately on a rooftop turned out to be a Linnet still in its winter dress. My head was saying finch but the fact it was on a roof I was trying to make it a buzzy Greenfinch. Eventually the penny dropped and I could get on with life. Even better than the out of place Linnet was the fact that I came across an addition to the avifaunal ensemble. Yes, the Chiffchaffs are back. 2 from my front door this morning and at least 2 on my walk today. I thought I heard one in sub song yesterday at home but I wasnt sure (and was on Dad duty). Its good to hear them although I didnt lay bins on any (a brief non-bin view of a small brown thing in a tree sufficed for the year tick). No Wheatears in the horse paddocks yet. Plenty of time.

The second part of this post relates to the Darvic ringed Black-headed Gull that I encountered a couple of times at Hornsea. Sadly it isnt a particularly interesting story but it does come from Denmark. It was ringed last spring by Kjeld Tommy Pedersen as a 3CY+ (making it now a 4CY+). It was refound at Kirkholme Point, Hornsea Mere in August and has been seen there about a dozen times. I will google map the movement when I have the chance (with a badly centred map of course).

Oh and Im going to Spain for 11 days in 10 days. Woo woo!!! 

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Cold as Ice

Finally, finally I caught up with one of the many Iceland Gulls that have invaded the UK this winter. It was pounding with rain so following local gen I sacrificed a golden nugget and scoped the beauty from the covered multi-storey car opposite the fish market in the locale where the gulls had been loafing. I was stuck in port due to weather and was damned if I was staying put. I got some nice views of the bird, an adult, flying around the harbour and briefly alighted on the fish market roof. It is a streaky headed individual - not something I readily associated with Iceland Gulls. When I arrived all the birds were facing the car park and not showing the primary tips yet the common gull esque bill was easy to pick amongst the more brutish Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. At sea we had little of interest although I did get offshore ticks in Gadwall, Pintail and Black-tailed Godwit.

Adult Iceland Gull, Lowestoft. Copyright Peter Ransome

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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