January 9th: Teesside & Redcar
I started out at the back of Morrisons, Teesside Shopping Park, Thornaby walking along the Old River Tees at low tide. Plenty of redshanks but eventually located my target bird: green sandpiper. Next I planned to go to Redcar and seawatch from the boating lake, hoping the velvet scoters were still offshore. The wind did not encourage me to linger once I had found the birds. I went down to the water's edge to try to get some sort of record shot. I had always wondered exactly where Fox Covert is at Marske. Planning and research located it at NZ 63108 23133 across the road from the first beach car park leaving Marske heading for Redcar. It was full of little birds - some fieldfare, scores of goldfinch and reed buntings. In the adjacent stubble field skylarks were evident but in the swirling wind I was unable to isolate the corn bunting although from the many reports it is probably still there. Is there just one? I don't know.
Calling at Saltholme to get away from the rain which had set in, it was blue skies to the north. Several pintail were on the main lake from the VC.
January 10th: birthday birding at North Cave, Fairburn and Poppleton
Tiggy took me to North Cave via the back roads round Weighton Common [she knows the way now!]. There I stopped to look at a field full of birds - producing redwing, fieldfare, mistle thrush and good numbers of red-legged partridges. The two latter birds were year ticks. North Cave held a noisy but unseen green woodpecker, a couple of ruff, dunlin and a kingfisher - another year first.
The day still had some life in it but I didn't want to be late home so I headed for Fairburn for a quick look round. I found water rail at the kingfisher screen immediately as some birders were already watching it. It's very tame! A few willow tits were seen at the feeding stations and redpoll in the alders along the canal walking back from the screen. Finally I picked Sheila up from home and we headed down a lane in Poppleton to see if the barn owl would show. She did at 4.15 flew low out of sight, came back round the field and flew along the hedge towards us. We were thrilled as it flew low over Tiggy and disappeared since when we turned our heads we had no idea where it had gone. Just slipped away...
January 12th: GARDEN MEGA
Single waxwing for 5 minutes spotted in the garden at the top of a very tall old wild cherry
By chance I looked out of the back bedroom window late afternoon and spotted our local waxwings [9 seen] in a tree. I grabbed the camera and took this record shot through glass in fading light.
January 14th: NSFQ as it mystifyingly says on twitter.
I'd been before to see a Sabine's gull - some years ago. North Shields fish quay. Iceland gull, glaucous gulls [2 birds feature in the photos] and eider. All in pictures...
Iceland in the foreground, glaucous brooding behind. Later I walked Greatham Creek. Few waders about but I was still well rewarded for my efforts. Shelduck, grey plover, greenshank, shovelers and mergansers: you'll know which is which! On the walk back I spotted a distant roe deer out on the marsh. It was getting quite dark as I headed back and this last picture of a male merganser was taken in real twilight and given a bit of a boost in photoshop.
January 15th: North Cave and Adwick
Sheila and I headed for North Cave hoping we might catch up with the returning [probably] green-winged teal. We did, after spending a long time watching what we were led to believe was it and waiting for 'it' to wake up. When it did it was 'it' if you know what I mean! We also saw mandarin duck and along the road a jay from the car.
However a report of a black-throated thrush pushed us to leave for Adwick-upon-Dearne. After chasing around a bit suddenly the lemming-like crowd set off on a route march not dissimilar to an army cross-country training course. After completing an enormous loop we ended up by the Manvers Arms in the village peering over a hedge into a rape field. Mercifully through someone else's scope I saw the thrush. My second black-throated thrush having seen one in Newholm [Whitby] in January 2010.
January 17th: Scarborough, Flamborough and Bempton.
Old camera as the 5DSR battery died and I'd forgotten to charge the spare. The 1D saved the day but it doesn't work like the 5D on high ISO settings. Scarborough harbour: feral pigeon, great northern, shag and black-necked. I was particularly pleased to see a friendly rock pipit.
No sign of any black redstarts at the fog station, Flamborough, after a good scout round. Fulmars in residence; a kestrel had found a spot out of the cold wind. So final call at Bempton as I knew short-eared owls were around. In fact as I drove in I saw one, drove to the nearest parking space, grabbed camera... January 20th: Saltholme
We walked out to see the long-eared owl which was a good walk for our two-year old grand-daughter. Rather distant hidden low down in the scrub.
We saw stonechats too. Getting a clean bill of health.
January 21st: Blacktoft.
After wasting several hours at Dunnington watching yellowhammers. No sign of a pine bunting.
Smew, scaup and marsh harrier.
January 22nd: Tale of the White Dagger!
Trip to Stixwould on the River Witham. Parked at the old Stixwould station and walked along the old trackbed [now a country path]. The white-billed diver was about 1.5 miles downstream and I was much relieved when the birders came into view. Here is my first lifer of 2017 - a bird I have wanted to see for a long time! Reminds me of last time I had Tiggy serviced: what a bill!!!
Walking back I saw fieldfares and goldfinches. Before I went home I called again in the afternoon at Dunnington. Some things are just not meant to be! And I'll tell you what: after the diver I really didn't care a hoot or even two hoots!
A tawny owl would have been nice though!
More soon I hope. Problem is finding time to do the blog!
Current UK 2017 total: 141