Back to the local patch

Did between the RAF base and Grainthorpe Marsh today. Here's the results: Male Hen Harrier still wintering, Merlin, Short-eared Owl, 2 Barn Owl, the hardy Greenshank still around, 50 Twite, 42 Snow Bunting & also 3 Laplands still in the usual wintering spot. 3 Roe deer were noteworthy - don't often see them around here. Also noted a steady passage of Herring Gulls upriver throughout the day.

North Yorkshire

Paid a visit to North Yorkshire today & had one of those rare days when everything just fell into place. Barn Owl south of Driffield 1st thing whilst on the way to Scarborough. Drake Red-breasted Merganser twitched on Seamer Road Mere + Kingfisher present. No sign of the 1w Iceland Gull in the Scarborough harbour area but 2 Red-breasted Mergs (male & female) in South Bay along with an adult Shag. Ad Med Gull scoped over Holbeck Car Park. A confiding imm Shag in the harbour itself. The pair of Peregrines showed very well on the nearby cliffs. Plenty of Fulmars also back & paired up on the cliffs. Breakfast in a bun complimented by a nice hot chocolate from a nearby snack bar recharged the batteries, then onto Scalby Mills and literally the 2nd gull I checked out was, yep, you guessed it - the 1w Iceland. Purple Sandpiper also at the Mills as well as 275 Wigeon.
Finally destination was the Wykeham/Troutsdale area for the big Gossie. It's always a pleasure to bird in this scenic area & everytime I've visited it the Goshawks have put on a great show - today was no exception. 5 Goshawks logged including some close views of adult & imm male birds, at one point 3 males were in the air together. Also in the area: 5 Common Buzzards, Grey Wagtail, 2 Kingfisher & several Siskin.
A successful twitch of the Great Grey Shrike in the area rounded off a memorable day and put the icing on the cake.

An Iceland Gull-less harbour

The coast is never complete without these





Not the wintering bird from my work patch, but an imm Shag of the Scarborough variety


How do you keep those primaries so white?

Back on the coast

Better results today. Covered the stretch from the southern end of Donna Nook to Grainthorpe Marsh. Here's the results: Whooper Swan, Tundra Bean Goose, 3 Hen Harrier (2 males), 3 Merlin, 4 Barn Owl, the wintering Greenshank, 75+ Twite, the wintering flock of Goldfinch at Pyes numbered 15 & finally a Lapland Bunting showed well N of Pyes.
The Tundra Bean has apparently been present at the southern end of Donna Nook since Nov & is believed to be the individual originally seen at Saltfleet Haven in the same month - I saw that Beanie, so if it is the same then I've reconnected with it exactly 100 days later.
Seeing 3 Hen Harriers today was my highest day total of the winter. They are one of my favourite raptors & I always savour each time I see one, especially when I think of the threat of persecution they continually face when back on their breeding grounds. Where did these 3 birds originate from? Continent, UK or both? I wonder how many birds are currently wintering on our stretch of coastline between Tetney & Rimac? I watched a female N of Howden's this am in the company of a male, then not long before last light a female flew N towards Pyes and then 20mins later was heading back south in determined flight over pylons in the direction of Howdens - I've presumed it to be the same female. Whilst Hen Harrier numbers can fluctuate as birds readily move from one area to another, one thing I do know is there are clearly 2 separate males along our coast that continue to remain site faithful (at least whilst hunting), with possibly a 3rd male also present.

More signs that spring is getting near today.
Snowdrops in flower...

... Skylarks were singing & some of the hairy locals were getting horny...

Inland

With a weather forecast of sun, little wind and milder temperatures, I decided to head inland with thoughts of a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker or maybe even an early Woodlark. The weather forecast turned out to be spot on though there was still plenty of snow on the ground. The above birds never materialised and it's safe to say this won't go down as my most productive day in the field. Here's my sightings from Linwood Warren & the Walesby area: 2 Common Buzzard, Woodcock, 2 Green Woodpecker, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 4 Siskin, 9 Bullfinch & a single Crossbill. Pleasing to hear plenty of birds in song though (including Siskin),Greater-spotted Woodpecker drumming & a very vocal Common Buzzard. Snowdrops also on show.
Expect an improvement tomorrow when I hit the coast.

Finally, any idea as to what made these? I'm trying to improve my knowledge of tracks & signs.

I'm guessing Badger

Wintry wolds

Still not having had decent views of the Wolds Rough-legged Buzzard, I decided to make my 3rd trip to its wintering area. Admittedly I couldn't have picked a worse day weatherwise, a raw easterly of siberian origin with frequent sleet & snow showers in my face made viewing very difficult & uncomfortable. Not surprisingly, I didn't see the RLB. To show how unlucky I am with this bird, I did find a raptor with a white rump - unfortunately it was "only" a ringtail Hen Harrier, actually a much rarer sight here this winter than the Rough-leg! I did clock up 3 Common Buzzards before succumbing to the weather. Snowdrops in a copse near Cadwell Park gave me hope that spring isn't far away
Here's a pic of something totally different, a Black Vine Weevil Otiorhynchus sulcatus that was patrolling my lounge floor last night.