Peregrines, Parakeets, a Purp & a Pom

With poor weather forecast I decided to stay local. With rain coming down first thing, things didn't look hopeful but after birding the stretch between N Cleethorpes & Tetney Marshes it turned out far better than I'd expected. All of the following birds were found within a 3 mile radius of my house & it reminded me how lucky I am to live by the coast. Birds seen were: Pom Skua (no doubt the bird seen in the area last Wednesday & a week previous to that - a rare winter record for the Humber estuary), juv Whooper Swan with 10 Mute Swans, Pale-bellied Brent with 100+ Dark-bellied, the wintering 1w Goosander still on the boating lake, Hen Harrier (male), 3 Peregrines, 2 Merlins, Lincolnshire's only wintering Purple Sandpiper, Ruff, 15 Black-tailed Godwits, adult Med Gull (unringed) & these...

Ring-necked Parakeets have adapted to survive our winters, though some still seem to be suffering from the cold...

Donna Nook/Pyes Hall/Grainthorpe Marsh

Now that the seal circus has left town I hit the patch for the 1st time this year. I covered the area between the RAF base & Grainthorpe Marsh. Highlight of the day was locating a flock of 7 Lapland Buntings feeding in a stubble field with Reed Buntings, some of them visiting nearby bushes & giving me good views through the telescope. Other sightings were: Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Greenshank (the wintering bird down Somercotes Haven), Hen Harrier (the regular male on Grainthorpe Marsh), 2 Common Buzzard, Peregrine, 2 Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Redpoll N & Snow Bunting S.
At one point today, the Hen Harrier climbed quite high & then appeared to head towards a Merlin which was trying to nail a passerine, then a 2nd Merlin appeared close by & finally a Peregrine came on the scene & had a go at the 1st Merlin - needless to say with the hunting Merlin now well & truly distracted, the passerine lived to fight another day!

100 day Shag

The wintering 1w Shag (with weed) taken back in October

The 1w Shag wintering on my work patch has now reached 100 days of residence, literally across the road from Grimsby's shopping centre. There hasn't been much to shout about on the work patch this winter apart from a wintering Grey Wagtail & the occasional Kingfisher, so the Shag has without doubt been the star bird.

Potteric Carr

A day late posting but yesterday I ventured into South Yorkshire to have my 1st ever look at Potteric Carr. The reserve is well managed with numerous trails & hides along with a visitor centre and a cafe (I can thoroughly recommend the sausage sarnies by the way!). A 3W Caspian Gull has been coming in daily there so you can guess what happened on my visit - it didnt show (apparently seen briefly at Doncaster Lakeside). I did however see the 1w Iceland thats been in the area the last few days - it flew straight over me but unfortunately kept going. Had great views of Bittern in the open and then in flight, as well as a impressive total of 14 Bullfinches, several flyover Siskins & Redpolls, 2 Green Woodpeckers & a Peregrine in hot pursuit of a Golden Plover.

Winter Waxwings

A very windy day. Only popped out to look for the 5 Waxwings that had been hanging around the A16 near the Ludborough turn-offs. We seem to see them every winter now but i never tire of looking at them - a stunning bird.

Cleveland & County Durham

It seemed we weren't the only people looking for the gull

The other members of the "Lincs birders on tour" - Steve Routledge & Dave Wright (+ a chap in a silly hat - soz Al)

The reason we were up in the North East in the 1st place. Another poor (digiscoped) record shot but showing the pale grey wingtips compared to the black of the Herrings behind. The legs were a deeper, darker pink colouration compared to the paler pink of the Herrings. Also note the dark hood.

My 1st expedition of the year outside my home county. Made the pilgrimage up to Cleveland for the UK's 2nd ever Glaucous-winged Gull, on what felt like the coldest day of the winter so far - boy it was bitter up in the North East! An adult Glaucous Gull showed first on the tip but no Glaucous-winged. Eventually a mad stampede of twitchers told us the big one had been found. Sure enough the star bird had just come in to Saltholme Pools & showed well next to the Herring Gulls to give a good comparison - my 1st lifer of the year! I wonder which part of the world this bird arrived from - NW America or NE Asia?

Went on to County Durham & the Teesdale area where I had great views of 17 Black Grouse (16 males and a solitary female - lucky girl!). 13 of the Black Grouse gave a fantastic flyby and I also witnessed the species lekking for the 1st time - a memorable experience. Also seen in Teesdale - 5 Red Grouse, 2 Common Buzzard, Peregrine, Merlin & Dipper.

A great day all round & nice to catch up with some species that don't occur in Lincs - Black Grouse, Red Grouse & (British) Dipper.

PS - thanks to Dave for driving (and handling the icy conditions well!)

Saltfleet Haven & Howden's Pullover

Bonxie & fish - but what's the fish? Any ideas greatly appreciated as I know jack about fish!

Crap record shot I know but if you click the image you can make out the generally dark colouration to the upperparts along with rufous tones & spotting + restricted white wing flashes - indicating a 1st-winter bird.

Decided to have a look at Saltfleet Haven & Howdens Pullover today. Sightings for the day as follows: 3 Great Crested Grebes, 15 Red-throated Divers, masses of Cormorants, 1 adult Gannet, 30 Pinkfeet west, 2 Hen Harriers (male & ringtail), Peregrine, Merlin, Short-eared Owl, a Great Skua harrassing the gulls on the beach, then checking out a fish on the beach before heading N (no doubt the bird reported feeding on a seal carcass at Donna Nook yesterday), Water Pipit & 106 Snow Buntings ( i'd best tell the Daily Mail quick! - see prev post).

A newspaper classic

Snow Buntings are apparently so rare here you need to travel 500 miles to Norway to see them, so when one does eventually make it to the UK not only does it turn up in a garden, but it also cunningly disguises itself as a dodgy Chaffinch! - just to show how much research goes into a newspaper article check this out

Tetney Marshes

Spent a couple of hours at Tetney Marshes this afternoon, highlights were: Peregrine, Merlin & 3 Pale-bellied Brents with the 500 Dark-bellied flock.

Killingholme & Barton

Another bitterly cold & murky day. Had a look at N. Killingholme Haven Pits for the 1st time in over a year but unfortunately 2 out of the 3 pits were frozen over. Around 25 Pochard & 15 Shoveler were the highlights on the ice-free pit. A Water Rail squealed & 15 Fieldfare were on the hedges. 9 Black-tailed Godwits were on the mudflats. Most surprising sighting of the day was a Marsh Harrier that flew east over the pits and continued over the river into Yorkshire -most likely a rare winter record for the pits.

Went on to Barton and had good views of the wintering drake Smew at Far Ings along with a Bittern in flight, Willow Tit, Bullfinch & a further 3 Water Rails heard.
Brief visit to Water's Edge but quiet and the only bird of note was a Green Woodpecker.