Monday, 19 February 2018

Patch Update

The weather hasn't changed much since my last post, we've still had flurries of snow and ice/frost most mornings but there has been a little bit more sun and the temperature even got over 5°C a couple of days! Of course it's still winter so it's to be expected.

I've added a couple more birds to the Patch list including a Canada Goose fly over. The Red Kite has been around, flying low over our house.......but typically only when i've been at work, it's early days though so plenty of time to add yet.

It's been a couple of weeks since i've seen a Fox in the evening but the food is still being eaten and my husband has seen them early morning. We hear them plenty though, they make an awful lot of noise nearly every night. 

It's getting daylight not long after 7am now, Blackbirds, Robins and Blue Tits, usually in that order, are the first birds in the garden. The Sparrow roost starts to stir not long after and the birds fly out in small groups after sitting chattering noisily for a good 20 minutes or so. About the same time the Black-headed Gulls that roost nearby start to fly low over the street looking for whatever food has been dropped overnight, I love to see their wings turn orange in the glow from the sun.

We also had another visitor one morning in the form of a Wood Mouse which leapt into the window feeder from the Budleia! I only managed to grab a photo with my phone (and yes I cleaned the window afterwards).

The park on the way to work is now full of birdsong - Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Chaffinch, Song Thrush. On Friday a handful of Redwing were back in the park, they disappeared after the trees were stripped bare a couple of weeks ago. Though walking through today they seem to have gone again.

In the woods we have again heard plenty of birdsong - Mistle and Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Blackbird and the usual Tits - Blue, Great, Long-tailed. We've heard the GS Woodpecker drumming and seen Nuthatch scurrying around the branches. I'm told by a couple of the regular dog walkers that the Kingfisher is still around but it's eluding me! I also heard tales of Owls too, now that would be something to see, Owls are something that are missing from my patch, maybe that'll change?

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

A Day Out

On Saturday we went out with a couple of destinations in mind the first one being North Cave Wetlands. Another damp dull day for us but I think we're used to that, it did mean that I didn't make much use of my camera though.

Redshanks in the gloom

The path from the entrance past the lake was filled with birds - Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Wrens, Robins, Blackbirds, Goldfinch, all flitting around us in and out of the trees, we stopped just to watch them for a little while. It was the same on the path between the reedbed lake and the far lake with a Song Thrush there too.


 Blue Tit

At the Turret Hide two guys in there pointed out a Green-winged Teal, i'd read they'd been seen during the week but I thought after seeing how many Teal were just on the Village Lake it would be a bit of a needle in a haystack. So thank you to them! A Marsh Harrier spooked some of the birds on the opposite side of the lake and we saw it a couple more times as we walked around.

Green-winged Teal

 We saw plenty of Gulls mostly Black-headed and Common, Lapwings, Shovelers, Shelduck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Wigeon, Pochard, Heron, Little Egret, Gadwall and Oystercatcher amongst others.




Wigeon & Coot


Little Grebe

Coot, Teal & Common Gulls

On Dryham lane we saw more flocks Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Tree Sparrows and several Dunnocks.

Tree Sparrow & Chaffinch


Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Tree Sparrows

Warming our hands with bacon sandwiches and mugs of tea from the Wild Bird Cafe we watched the birds at the feeders on the viewing platform. I spotted a couple of Lesser Redpolls in the trees nearby they were gone before I thought about prising my fingers from around the mug to take a photo though!

Long-tailed Tit

I must admit that I dropped my lens some time back and it really struggles with the light now and jams up now and again. It's fine if it's a bright sunny day (which are few and far between right now) but otherwise not so's not worth repairing as it wasn't overly expensive, I want to hold out a little longer to get a better one so for now the photos are lacking somewhat!

After our food we headed off towards Castle Howard and the Yorkshire Arboretum to try and see the Hawfinch that have been there some time. By now the rain was coming down a little more but the route between the two places is scenic and we counted Buzzards along the way - 11 in total! Including two that were in the same field with a large flock of Fieldfares, in fact we saw several fields full of Fieldfares.

I got some not great photos from the car but you can tell the difference between the two Buzzards.

We also saw Grey Partridge in some of the fields too, another new bird for me, i've seen plenty of Red-legged before. Two Roe Deer were in a field right by one of the roads we drove along, clearly used to the traffic!

After a few stops and starts to peer at various birds we arrived at the Arboretum in the pouring rain. I wasn't really sure where to go from the car park but we had a wander around, I saw a Stoat run across one of the paths and several Great/Blue Tits in the trees. Looking over the fence by the shop I saw a bird sat at the top of the one of the trees.........could it be? Yes finally, a Hawfinch! I won't embarrass myself by posting the dreadful photo I got of it but we had good view of a couple of them through the binoculars in the end before they flew off.

All in all another great day despite the rain, 3 new lifers, which isn't something that happens very often these days. (We were glad to get into the car and warm up though).

Saturday, 3 February 2018

RSPB Gardenwatch

I didn't get chance to do my hour until Monday afternoon, it wasn't the best time of day but it was better than not doing it at all!

In the end I saw 9 species, though not in great numbers -

Robin 2
Starling 28 (this number is a garden record)
Coal Tit 1
Blue Tit 2
Goldfinch 2
Great Tit 2
Blackbird 1
House Sparrow 1
Long-tailed Tit 1 (the rest of the flock turned up about twenty minutes after the hour was up!)

A few photos taken through the window.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Fairburn and St Aidan's

A bit of a damp day visiting the Aire Valley reserves on Sunday. We started off at Lin Dike and spotted a pair of Stonechats in the grass not far from the hide. It's the first time i've seen them here. Also by the hide a Little Egret, Teal and a couple of Swans.

We sat in the hide a while and saw Teal, Mallard, Shelduck, Swans, Canada Geese, Black-headed Gulls and the Little Egret as it flew off from the side.

Onto Fairburn then where we saw my daughters favourite teacher from primary school that she hadn't seen in a few years so that was a nice start to the walk! There were plenty of birds around the feeders - Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Tree Sparrows, Dunnock, Various Tits and Pheasants too.

We walked around the Coal Tips trail and the sheep around there seemed very interested in us!

In the big hole we saw Herring, Black-headed and Common Gulls, a few Lapwing and Mallards too.

Stopping at the Kingfisher screen on the way back as there seemed to be a bit of excitement from those gathered there. A Kingfisher was flying between a couple of trees a way down the stream, just a bit distant for the camera but there's no mistaking those stunning colours.

We couldn't leave without a walk to the lake to feed the birds there, plenty of Mallard, Swans, Tufted Ducks and Gulls. The Swans were quite bolshy chasing each other and anything in their way really.

By the time we got to St Aidan's it was wet and windy but we've never let that stop us and after a chat with the lovely staff in the visitor centre we headed out to look for Goldeneye, Pintails and possibly a Great White Egret. 

We did see Goldeneye, if you squint a bit and get out the magnifying glass you can see three in the photo below!

We didn't see Pintails or any type of Egret though. To be fair we could well have had the Pintails in view but at times the wind/rain combined made for difficult viewing both with and without binoculars, my camera stayed hidden away in my coat for a lot of the walk.

Coots and Black-headed Gulls


Great Crested Grebe

Cormorants, BH Gulls and Lapwings

The Lapwings and a number of Teal were spooked by something whilst we were stood by Astley Lake, you don't realise just how many there are until they are filling the sky above you, amazing to watch!

This Swan was completely unfazed by the panicking Lapwings

On the walk back to visitor centre we saw a Kestrel hunting over the hillside.

By this point we were a little cold, wet, certainly windswept and covered in an orange coloured mud from the footpaths, my daughter had a blast jumping through the puddles and getting filthy, we loved every single bit of it!