Monday 14th March
The day did not begin well. My car announced that it had a loss of pressure and told me to check my tyres. Again. I pumped one tyre up the day before. So I thought I'd better call at Kwikfit to sort it out. The girl in Reception chatted on and on to a customer laughing intermittently until eventually she found time to tell me I'd have to wait until the afternoon or leave the car overnight as they were short staffed. Not with all my gear, I decided. So, I won't be going to 'Slowfit' again.
I went to York Tyre sales out at Murton. Very good service and eventually I got to Swine Moor for my long walk along the canal bank to find the Baikal teal - or so I hoped.
I spent a fair while scanning from the location suggested on Bird Guides but found nothing, although there were plenty of birds to look at. It was good to see an adult lesser black-backed gull. I don't suppose the other birds would agree with me! I spotted a birder with a scope about 200m further south so I headed that way. He told me the teal was in the grass behind a clump of juncus.
The view - the bird was a very long way away and I'm amazed I got the images I got as I was focussing on the ducks in general as through the camera I couldn't be sure which was the Baikal. Taken with 500mm lens plus 1.4 extender at 1000 ISO. Here's the location.
I saw the bird's head a few times so that was good enough as a Baikal teal's head markings are unmistakable. The other birder left after telling me he'd been a few times and never had a really clear view. I remain grateful to him for putting me on the bird as about 10 minutes later...
Heading home I called at Tesco for diesel. They were closed: 'No Fuel' sign displayed. Got diesel elsewhere.
March 17th: time to bite the bullet and try for the lapland buntings at Buckton clifftop. It's quite a walk from Bempton especially if, at the end, all you've got to show for it is a ploughed field! I've memories of similar experiences at Long Nab looking for lapland buntings. Best ones were round my feet years ago on the Great Orme and, more recently, on the clifftop near Blackhall Rocks. They can be quite reluctant to fly. Anyway, I set off on my walk. I saw skylarks displaying near the old RAF area...
...obligatory gannets and fulmars...
...and a small tortoiseshell butterfly sunning itself just before the big drop to the sea.
A few lapland buntings, pied wagtails and meadow pipits were seen but eventually I managed a photo of one lapland bunting. Not a prizewinner but I was well satisfied.
Tree sparrows greeted me as I eventually got back to the car park.
I decided to drive south to Kilnsea and see some Brent geese before they depart for the summer.
Curlews on the grass opposite the Kilnsea Wetlands car park.
I called next at Canal Scrape. Very quiet. But I've always found wagtails hard to photograph well so I enjoyed this one. He [I think it's a male] was a bit of a poser!
A teal in the sunshine.
Quite simple: I drove a fair few miles that day and by the time I got home I'd seen 9 kestrels.
March 21st: a trip for the afternoon to Middlesbrough to hopefully see an iceland gull. Strange memories of Albert ParK: I once locked myself out of my first Tiguan [the current version is less likely to do this to me!!] and Barry very kindly drove up from York to bring the spare keys after the RAC man failed to get the door open!
The bird was on Lower Lake. There must be a story here: there's only one lake in Albert Park and it's called Lower Lake on all the maps so what happened to upper lake? Someone must know!
Oh yes, here's the bird.
There wasn't much time left so I headed to Greatham Creek for a bit of a walk. Tide was coming in and things were quite quiet. A few godwits [black-tailed] and redshanks were present along with a number of avocets. I smiled to myself as I recalled the lady who said she'd just seen her first exocets!
Pictures that I liked so I've put them on. Godwit and redshank doing the walk! March 22nd: one hour at Blacktoft! I had mown the lawns, sown seeds and watered greenhouses and felt ready for a more relaxing afternoon so I popped down to Blacktoft as the sun was shining and I thought something will be there. There's always something at Blacktoft.
Spoonbills, dunlins [over 100 - I'm just showing one of 2 islets that held large numbers], fighting avocets, godwits...
Who woke me? [Glad something did!]
A little egret landed, then got nervous and flew up in the air. This spooked some snipe which also appeared from nownere.
Then a second snipe flew too.
Which left one snipe happily sitting enjoying the sunshine! All done in 75 minutes!