Grimsby Waxwings 18/02/17

Received a message that a flock of c40 Waxwings were close to Grimsby College so made the short trip to see them. This is the largest flock reported locally this winter and I managed to count 36 Waxwings. The berry bush they wanted to visit was defended by 2 Mistle Thrushes who constantly saw off any Waxwing that attempted to land on it.


Tetney 17/02/17

Out with DW. A largely sunny day with a variable F2 wind and the temperature reaching double figures.
The humber was like a millpond but quiet yet again with just a Great Crested Grebe, 4 Common Scoter, a Pochard and 3 Teal seen. There was some gull movement along the tide edge though and this included a fine adult Med Gull flying north.
Birds of prey today were: 2 Hen Harrier, 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Peregrine, 3 Merlin, 4 Short-eared Owl and 2 Barn Owl.
Other highlights: Pale-bellied Brent Goose with c850 Dark-bellied, Black-tailed Godwit, Water Rail, 6 Grey Partridge, the wintering male Stonechat, 31 Twite and a Lapland Bunting.
There were two Guillemot corpses along the strandline and the remains of what on size was presumably a Little Auk.
There was also an obvious wreck of Common Cuttlefish shells, along with a few Sea Urchins and a Common Sunstar.
Two patch year ticks today - Pochard and Med Gull. Total: 102

1 of 2 Guillemots washed up

Common Sunstar

Common Cuttlefish shell

Submerged car was new for my Tetney list

Tetney 15/02/17 - 100 up

An afternoon and rare visit to the northern boundary as it's the only part with a significant area of trees and thus my best bet for ticking some woodland species for 2017.
Weather was pleasant with sunshine and an F2 southerly. Temperature around 9-10°C and I could actually feel the warmth of the sun in sheltered areas.
Four patch year ticks today which included three i'd targeted - Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper and Coal Tit. The bonus tick was a Black-tailed Godwit on the Yacht Club Pools.
Other notable species were a pair of Shoveler and at least one Gadwall on the pools in amongst the wintering Wigeon. A pair of Common Buzzards soaring and 2 Twite over.
To highlight the lack of freshwater pools I find I still need Pochard and Tufted Duck for 2017. Also how I've not had Grey Wagtail yet is baffling - especially as I was encountering them regularly in December! 

No.100 - Black-tailed Godwit. "Blackwits" are solely a passage migrant through the Tetney area.

Tetney 08/02/17

Covered the area with DW. Dull all day with occasional sleet showers. Temperature not rising above 4°C - a raw F3 easterly made it feel much colder.
Star bird of the day had to be the Great Skua that flew south close in - a good winter record.
We had hoped the easterlies would've pushed some birds up the humber but apart from the skua it was the usual species with 2 Red-throated Diver, 43 Great Crested Grebe and the Common Scoter flock now down to just 3 birds.
Bird of prey highlights: Hen Harrier, 2 Peregrine, Merlin, Short-eared Owl and 2 Barn Owl
Also logged today: Pale-bellied Brent Goose with 350 Dark-bellied, 2 Shoveler, 3,500 Golden Plover, 11 Grey Partridge, the wintering male Stonechat and 10 Twite.
2 pairs of Oystercatchers noted back on territories.
Not surprisingly Great Skua was a patch year tick - total now 96.

Tetney 04/02/17

F3 SW and sunny all day. Temperature around 6°C.
On the humber there was an excellent count of 47 Great Crested Grebes - smashing my previous highest of 22. A pair of grebes were observed displaying.
Also on the humber were the usual 15 Common Scoter and also 3 Red-throated Diver and 3 Teal.
Notable raptors: a Marsh Harrier went south, 2 Hen Harrier, 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Peregrine and a Merlin. An immature Peregrine was seen to briefly catch a Wigeon but subsequently dropped it.
Other highlights: Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 9 Grey Partridge, female Stonechat, 30 Linnet and 6 Twite.
Skylark, Dunnock, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and Chaffinch all in song. A few Meadow Pipits are starting to appear back in the area (littoralis Rock Pipits dominate here during winter).
A young Grey Seal was up the beach along the dune edge.
No Tetney year ticks today.

Sanderlings are certainly opportunistic feeders - this individual was feeding on a seal carcass and with patience I won its trust (though always keeping one eye on me it seems)

Tetney 30/01/17

A cloudy day with a F2 NE.
On the humber were 13 Great Crested Grebe and the 15 Common Scoter still. A flock of 13 distant seaduck looked good for Velvets and a redhead Goosander flew past.
Birds of prey today were Hen Harrier, 3 Common Buzzard, 2 Peregrine and a Merlin.
Other highlights: 2 Water Rail, the wintering male Stonechat, 60 Linnet, 6 Twite and a Lapland Bunting.
Also seen were 2 Harbour Porpoise and 3 Roe Deer.
No sign of the Glaucous Gull today.
Three more species added to the 2017 patch list -  Collared Dove, House Sparrow and Long-tailed Tit. Total now 95.

A new arrival on the patch. Duly added to my plastic list (as a presumed Greylag x Mallard hybrid)

Tetney 27/01/17

Back doing the Tetney circuit with DW today.
A raw F3 S-SE wind with the temperature not rising above 3°C. Also a largely cloudy day with murk throughout limiting the distance we could view over.
The best bird was again the 2CY Glaucous Gull which has now been visiting the Conger Eel carcass for at least 7 days (observed by others 22/1 and 24/1). Not surprisingly, there's not much left of the carcass so this white-winger is likely to be moving on very shortly.
The humber was quiet with only 2 species seen - Common Scoter and Great Crested Grebe, with counts of 15 and 22 respectively, the latter actually our highest count for here.
Notable birds of prey were 2 Hen Harrier, 2 Peregrine and 2 Merlin.
Other highlights: Jack Snipe, 9 Grey Partridge, the regular male Stonechat, 6 Mistle Thrush together, 4 Twite and 60 Linnet. 
The 2017 patch list is now up to 92 with latest additions being Common Snipe, Jack Snipe, Meadow Pipit and Bullfinch.

Cleethorpes Slavonian Grebe 25/01/17

With Cleethorpes Country Park less than 3 miles from the doorstep it would've been rude of me not to pay the recently found Slavonian Grebe a visit. Also noted were a Kingfisher and 2 Water Rails (one seen, one heard).

The Slavonian was first seen 22nd Jan. Two Slavonians turned up here on the 28th Jan last year - maybe this latest visitor is a returning bird. 

If at first you don't succeed, try again

I just had to go back the following day and have another go at seeing the White-billed Diver. There have been only 2 previous records in Lincs - an adult found dead at Friskney Marsh in 1976 and the adult bird on the River Witham at Tattershall Bridge in 1996 - the later taken into care having swallowed an angler's bait and subsequently died. The latter bird was taken into care on the day I was going to see it. I had also dipped on one in NW Scotland in 2000 so you can see I was keen to finally see one!
I parked at Southrey as the diver had cleared moved north along the river the previous day - of course it turned out this morning it had moved back south again so a long walk south from Southrey it was then. The trek proved to be well worth it as eventually I had amazing views of the juvenile White-billed Diver. It didn't seem that bothered by all those there on the riverbank watching or photographing it, actually coming up close to us from dives at times. What a way to see my first ever White-billed - a memorable experience. Here's hoping this bird doesn't suffer the same fate as that 1996 bird.
I really liked the habitat along the River Witham - an area I hadn't visited until yesterday. I decided to take advantage of the fine weather (very cold but sunny with light winds all day) and stayed for a few hours birding along the river.
I noted 15 Goosander (13 drakes) and a ringtail Hen Harrier between Kirkstead Bridge and Southrey.


 
White-billed Diver (juvenile)


Whisby and the Witham 21/01/17

At Whisby with JF, TH and IS today for a joint LBC/LNU talk though we would not get to attend the talk. We had a good look around the Whisby reserve with a Green Woodpecker, c25 Siskin and a single flyover Redpoll being the only highlights.
Around midday news came through of a White-billed Diver nearby on the River Witham, close to Kirkstead Bridge. Three of us had never seen White-billed Diver before (me included), in fact the last record for Lincs was amazingly on the same inland river some 21 years ago!
We drove straight to Kirkstead bridge and walked a good way north of where the diver had been reported but there was no sign. We eventually left the area frustrated - no diver and too late to get back to Whisby for the talk.
We decided to try and salvage something from the day by heading to Kirkby Pits for the trio of good birds there and thankfully all were still present - the drake Ring-necked Duck on Riverslea Pit (though it spent most of the time asleep!), the Great White Egret seen and the 2CY Glaucous Gull that's been in the tip area for sometime. A Scaup was also seen on Riverslea Pit.
Got home to find the White-billed Diver had been found close to dusk just a little further north than we had walked - grrrgh!!

 Iron sheep showed well at the River Witham but frustratingly a White-billed Diver didn't

Tetney 20/01/17 - persistence pays off

Out with DW today. Very light winds and a blue sky all day though a low layer of mist engulfed the area in the morning for approx an hour. If you keep birding a patch long enough then eventually something good should come along and today that happened with a fine 2CY Glaucous Gull feeding on a carcass on the beach. We were obviously both happy with the Glauc but there was another impressive sight to be had - when the Glauc flew off we went over to inspect what the carcass was and found it to be a Conger Eel! Neither of us had ever seen a Conger Eel before - what a beast! Looking on the internet it seems though Conger Eels do occur in the North Sea, though they are far from common.
As always with the Tetney area, a good selection of birds today.
30 Pink-footed Geese flew upriver while on the humber were - 3 Red-throated Diver, 9 Great Crested Grebe, 15 Common Scoter, a drake Goldeneye and 4 Teal.
Birds of prey seen - 3 Hen Harrier (all ringtails), Peregrine and Merlin. We actually failed to see any owls today.
Other highlights were - Water Rail, Kingfisher, the regular male Stonechat, 35 Twite, Lapland Bunting and pleased to see the Snow Bunting still present.
2 Harbour Porpoise were also seen.
Patch year list now at 88.

 2CY Glaucous Gull

Conger Eel - approx 6ft long

Cleethorpes Bittern 19/01/17

Received a call from DW this morning to say a Bittern was showing well on the edge of the island at Cleethorpes Country Park. I drove straight there and luckily the bird was still posing nicely. This is likely to be the same bird that's been seen here in previous winters - good to see it's made it back again.
Water Rail and Kingfisher heard whilst photographing the Bittern.


The Tetney challenge

I've decided to commit to doing a year list for the Tetney/North Cotes Point area. The thought of birding the area through the seasons, an area that hardly anyone watches, is something I'm finding quite appealing.
 I like the challenge of something new and with the Tetney area the majority I see will be birds I've had to find myself - that should test my birding skills.
The area lacks wader scrapes and the bush habitat is somewhat limited but I still think it has got great potential so let's see if it can deliver - watching it since November has already produced Pallid Harrier, White-fronted Geese, Slavonian Grebe, Shag, Grey Phalarope, Velvet Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Scaup, Waxwing and Shorelarks, so there is hope.
Anyway, I've just totalled it up and I'm only currently on 83 species for the year so much to be found!

Tetney 17/01/17

Light cloud for most of the day. F3 southerlies but at 4°C it was still chilly.
A good push of Pink-footed Geese upriver in the first half of the morning  - 6 skeins totalling 760 birds.
I'd hoped the recent strong NW's might've shaken things up on the humber but it was the usual fare - Red-throated Diver, 14 Common Scoter, 4 Goldeneye, 18 Gadwall, 65 Wigeon and 5 Teal.
Birds of prey seen were 2 Hen Harrier, 2 Peregrine. 2 Merlin and 2 Barn Owl.
Other highlights - Water Rail, 12 Grey Partridge, Stonechat & 25 Twite.

The confiding male Stonechat still going strong

The local farmer did his usual letting off of a rocket to scare the Brents off his fields but they flew straight into the adjacent field in front of me - needless to say, the farmer drove around to near where I was standing and this time fired a shotgun to put them up. At least I can take some comfort knowing they'll soon be back once he's gone.

Covenham Reservoir 10/01/17

Having realised I'd not managed to bump into a Med Gull since September I decided to actually make an effort today to see some. In previous years Covenham Reservoir was a regular winter birding spot for me but I hadn't paid it a visit at all this winter - this largely due to concentrating my efforts at Tetney. The reservoir is usually a reliable winter site for Med Gulls from late afternoon.
Weatherwise it was sunny with a W F4 easing to F3 later in the day.
It turned out to be a productive visit as I managed to pick out 3 Med Gulls (an adult & 2x2CY birds) in amongst the masses of Common and Black-headed Gulls
Other highlights were 2 Whooper Swan, 5 Goosander (4 drakes), 2 Scaup, Common Buzzard, Barn Owl and Grey Wagtail.

  Scaup 

Nice to see the Whoopers but for a species that remains in a tight family unit it was sad to see only one adult and one youngster.