Phalaropus being Greek for coot foot - this was a grey coot foot, off the South Pier at Bridlington harbour [20/3/18]. Most of the time it was directly below me as I photographed it from almost overhead. Karl Dutton & Brett Richards also watching. A few from a bit further out first.
Then it came close up against the pier wall so we were looking almost vertically down on it.
Reports of a black redstart at Flamborough tempted us to try for it.
No sign round the lighthouse or fog station. A tired looking juvenile kittiwake was sheltering on the clifftop.
In the car park a chap was with a small point and shoot camera was photographing something in a bush. I went across to him.
'Brown bird just flew into that bush,' he said.
So it did. Kestrel!
Couldn't think of a decent title for this post.
Reports the previous evening of a snowy owl at Overton near York made me go and check things out prima luce. No sign and I wasn't that surprised. After all the publicity in the press and on TV any pale barn owl seen at night could be easily deemed a snowy owl by a non-birder. However I saw grey partridges - gone by the time I got the camera out - and some hares were running away too.
Hoping for a reported egyptian goose or a few sand martins I drove out to North Cave. Neither turned up but I had a good walk round. A kestrel hovered close to me but always had his back end to me.
Gadwall, shovelers and teal on the Island Lake.
The drake shovelers were working together but occasionally one would peck at the other's back end! Black-headed gulls like to annoy the herons! It makes a change from annoying each other!
The main attraction was a green-winged teal. I spent an hour or so pointing it out to people and explaining the differences from common teal. Here are a few shots of this bird that showed quite well. On the walk back I saw a mediterranean gull from the Village Lake hide. It was explaining to the black-headed gulls that it owned the place: So clear off!
But which one? Not anything on March 10th!
Snowy owl confirmed as still present Thornham Point, Norfolk. Within half an hour I had an overnight booking in Hunstanton, everything packed [thanks to Sheila], lunch and flasks etc included and I was on my way. Instructions were to go to Titchwell and walk. I decided to go to Thornham harbour to get a feel of what was happening. Lots of scopes trained on the distant shoreline. Thanks to Brett Richards [of Flamborough seawatch team] I soon had scope views of the snowy owl. I eventually saw it fly about 60m to the left!
Cuckoo shot coming up. [Regular readers know that a 'cuckoo shot' is a very distant view of a bird, not even qualifying to be as good as a record shot!] Well, this is the ultimate cuckoo shot! The snowy owl is on the shoreline left of the two posts. Looks like a dark blob!
Let's zoom in a bit. She's turned her head to look at us! Lifer 435 anyway. Scope views were much better.
I headed to Titchwell. Watched a woodcock in someone else's scope; yellow-legged gull reported and seen out on the Freshwater Marsh. Red-crested pochard on Patsy's Reedbed.
Next morning I had a late breakfast and waited till 9am to see if the owl was reported. Sadly it was reported late morning when people had much closer views. I was long gone at Frampton Marsh by then. It was a lovely day: ruffs, newly arrived avocets, lots of skylarks...
[Note the leg colour on these birds - from yellow to salmon pink to grey]
...a few barnacle geese and lapwings.
I headed north. Decided to have another break at Broomhill near Old Moor. Just a young woman in the car park. We chatted. She'd been standing there since 11am. It was ten to two. Turned out she was from Lostock Hall near Preston where I used to go train-spotting many years ago. We shared memories of places we both had frequented decades apart. I told her 2 o'clock was a good time for the hawfinch. She asked me to keep watch while she slipped across to look at the pig pond. I said I'd scream 'Preston' loudly if it turned up.
I spotted a lump in the depths of one of the trees. Raised my bins and shouted 'Preston' very loudly. Eventually the young woman heard and came back. I'd taken my eye off the bird but it was still there. Two o'clock precisely. She got her lifer in heavy shade but she was happy.
Ambition fulfilled not because it was a year tick - I'd seen quite a few - but I wanted a decent, well-lit photo and all my efforts so far had been dull, grey shaded, overcast or distant efforts. This time was better.
First attempt trying to penetrate the framework of the tree. I moved round to a different angle. The sun tried to come out at just the right moment. The only British bird with a stainless steel bill!
Went to Wombwell afterwards; saw a chiffchaff and met up with Robin and Kirsty from my last Scotland trip. They'd dropped in to see the yellow-browed warbler. I was happy with the chiffchaff and set off home.
Sitting in my warm study to write this, the ploughed field across from our house is striated with black and white lines - snow in the furrows and soil visible on the ridges. The view is punctuated with large black dots which are a selection of the local crow species, jackdaws, rooks and crows.
Looking back over the last few days...
Return to Wombwell. I hoped to see the firecrest this time. I did after much searching - had it briefly in the brambles on the 'wrong' side of the river. Too quick to grab a photo unfortunately. Had another go with the yellow-browed warbler.
From there I drove across country to Hornsea Mere where I looked for some bean geese but no sign. A pair of common scoter were seen along with my third long-tailed duck of the year. [Previous two were at East Chevington and Holme Pierrepont] The Hornsea bird although very distant was looking quite smart.
Briefly I thought spring had come [until I looked out of the window this morning 8/3] Wednesday was a nice day. I headed for Barton on Humber. I needed to find Pit 25. Without the excellent directions from Simon Spavin I would never have got there! Pit 25 is one of the eastern pits, east of the Sailing Club. I spent about three-quarters of an hour trying to find a slavonian grebe. The light was tricky. Although a lovely morning, from the embankment I was looking into the sun to see across the pit. I had just about given up hope when it appeared out in the middle of the pit. Where had it been hiding the last 45 minutes?
Anyway, here's Pit 25. Quite big with plenty of wildfowl including goldeneye and 3 species of grebe. The pits were formed as various brickworks were established along the riverbank. Just the occasional sign remains like this old brickworks chimney.
As for birds, here's a swan... ...the song of reed bunting seemed to be everywhere... ...the female was a much shyer bird... This was quite a pale bird.
Oh yes, slavonian grebe. Mega crop 'cuckoo shot' as I call them.
Rumours of a red-necked grebe near Thealby [thanks, Simon!] sent me a bit further west, near Alkborough. Bagmoor they seem to call it locally. It's not clearly there at all on OS maps but it's now quite a large stretch of water controlled by Anglian Water. Red-necked grebe was scoped a good way off [into the sun again] but that made 4 species of grebe in a morning.
I headed for a break in the hide at Alkborough. No sign of any bearded tits but lots of waders on the sand from the hide. A chap came back from out towards Trent Falls saying that after 2 double bends there was a green field with 2000 barnacle geese in it. Curious, i set off. I didn't get far before this happened.
I didn't count them.
The nicest part of the morning was spent with a confiding stonechat that was doing little display flights just ahead of me. No sign of any female to display to he decided to show off to me. I stood still and he came unbelievably close. Here he is.
I was home for lunchtime!
Heavy snow overnight made me keen to keep an eye on the birds in the garden and in the field across. Eventually redwing and fieldfare turned up not only in the field but in the conifers in the garden and eventually on the ground under our feeders. The redwing were fleeting and nervous. Skylark also seen feeding on the ground in the field. The fieldfare posed in the back garden. A few more common visitors today.
In the afternoon the redwing appeared in the garden as well.
Not as many birds about. The song thrush has a prominent brown cap - not always as obvious as this. Also, tree sparrow still with the house sparrows.
The important visitors turned up late morning... ...and so did these regulars!