Donna Nook/Pyes Hall 31/01/10

A very productive raptor day on the patch with 3 Hen Harriers (2 males), one of the resident Common Buzzards, Peregrine & 2 Merlin all present. Also seen: 6+ Red-throated Diver, 4 Little Egret, Woodcock, Barn Owl, 20 Twite & 30 Snow Bunting. A male Shoveler flying around over the marsh was noteworthy for the reserve. Plenty of Fieldfares and smaller numbers of Redwings indicated a further arrival of these winter thrushes over the past couple of days. On the mammal front, hares were very conspicious on the fields inland of the dunes.

A beach all to myself

It's not often I see the strandline covered in snow

Checked the gulls following this trawler but no white-wingers. The trawler was a long way from home - NN is Newhaven, East Sussex

Pyes Hall at sunset

Cleethorpes to Humberston 30/01/10

A walk from Buck Beck to Humberston Yacht Club pools and the surrounding area produced a male Hen Harrier, 3 Pale-bellied Brents, the confiding Ruff still present on the pools while 7 Bullfinch were also noteworthy.

Donna Nook/Pyes Hall 17/01/10

Struggled to get my ass out of bed yesterday morning so was a bit late onto the patch & actually only spent 3 hours there. Had a look at the sea, then realised I shouldn't have bothered as there was absolutely no notable species, though I couldnt help but notice a mass movement of Herring Gulls heading upriver. Best bird of the day was the ringtail Hen Harrier at Pyes - my 1st for the patch this winter (none in the autumn either). At least 2 Pale-bellied Brents were present and I would have probably had more amongst the dark-bellied flock had a Peregrine not gone through the lot and caused them to fly off. Merlin also seen as well 117 Pinkfeet south (skeins of 67 & 50).

Found the above on the beach at Donna Nook. Not being one to shy away from trying to identify & appreciate new things, I've done my homework and come up with it being Common sunstar Crossaster papposus.

Black -throated Thrush in N Yorks

Made a trip out of the county today along with Steve Routledge, Dave Wright & Nigel Genn, to see the 1st winter female Black-throated Thrush. We braved the wind and rain (which never eased off all the time we were there!) and was watching the star bird from close range just after 1st light in a garden at Newholm, which is 2 miles west of Whitby. She has been present in the garden since the 10/1 and feeding on the handouts left out for her, seeing off any Blackbird that dare enter the garden. This behaviour mirrored that I witnessed 13 years ago when I saw my only other Black-throated Thrush, also in January - a 1st winter male present in a Chesterfield garden. It was great to see another one of these Sibe thrushes after all this time.
Also saw 2 redhead Goosanders on Hackness Lake, 4 Nuthatches & 3 Marsh Tits at Forge Valley feeding station, before moving onto Scarborough where a pair of Peregrines were next to Marine Drive and 5 Med Gulls (3 x ad, 2 x 2w) gave fantastic views right next to the car at their traditional winter haunt of Holbeck Car Park.

The most frustrating part of the day was not getting any shots of the Black-throated Thrush. The bird gave very close views but the rain was just too heavy and I wasn't going to risk using a non-waterproof camera! The Meds were viewed from the car so I made the effort to get some shots for the day...

Adult Med Gull

Adult Med head

2nd winter Med Gull

Back to the Patch & a visit to Rimac

Thought I'd check out Donna Nook & Pyes with the hope the seal circus would be easing off - thankfully I was right, with not many seals left on the beach, the car park having empty spaces all day & it must be only a matter of time before the burger van bids farewell.
Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Peregrine, 2 Merlin, Barn Owl, 4 Little Egret, Goosander (need to check my records as this could be a patch tick), 2 Woodcock, 3 Common Snipe, Brambling, 60 Snow & 2 Lapland Buntings was the patch list for the day.
A visit to Rimac, which has in the past been good to me for Hen Harriers, didnt disappoint on that score with 2 ringtails seen. 11 Whooper Swan went through. Barn Owl and Woodcock also noted.
Still large numbers of thrushes on the coast today.

One of the highlights on the coast over the past 3 days has been the mass influx of thrushes from Scandinavia - a fantastic spectacle. I witnessed all five winter thrush species visit one single hawthorn bush - 3 of those species are shown above (Fieldfare, Redwing & Mistle Thrush)

I just wanted to highlight that while thousands visit Donna Nook to marvel at the cuteness of the pups, on birth the pups themselves are immediately faced with a battle where there's a thin line between life and death. Quite a few dead pups scattered on the beach today but on a brighter note plenty alive and kicking...

Think this one is going to be just fine - it's got Big Brother watching over it after all

Infection in it's left eye?

Any idea on what is responsible for this? Found on top of a fence post

It didn't seem keen on lending me it's coat on what was another very cold day

Tetney Marshes

A walk this afternoon at Tetney finally produced my 1st Hen Harrier of the autumn/winter - a cracking adult male. Hen Harriers are my favourite bird and over the past few winters the numbers wintering along our coast have been low compared to previous years. Our wintering birds are made up of British birds and continental migrants and I never tire of seeing them, especially when I think of the risks they face each year on their UK breeding grounds where they are often persecuted. Less than 10 nests successfully fledged young in England last year and the threat of this species becoming extinct as a breeding bird in the country is very real.
Also seen today were: 3+ Little Egrets, 5 Pale-bellied Brents in with the Dark-bellied flock, 130 Pink-footed Geese through, 2 Peregrines sat on the outer sandbank, 2 Merlin, Kingfisher & 400+ thrushes - again mainly Fieldfares.

3 of the 5 Pale-bellied Brents at Tetney today. A further 8 were reported at nearby Donna Nook.

Covenham Reservoir & Grainthorpe Marsh

A productive start to the new year. The goodies remained at Covenham Res with both Great Northern Divers and the Velvet Scoter still present. 6 Goosanders, 2 Scaup & the drake Red-crested Pochard were also seen. A Marsh Harrier flew north along the west wall and is an unusual winter sighting for here. A Little Owl also showed well nearby.
At Grainthorpe the highlight was seeing c400 thrushes on the bushes south of Horseshoe car park as well as on the adjacent sea bank and field. The vast majority of the birds were Fieldfares wih a few Redwings and the odd Blackbird also. A further 150 thrushes flew over (again mainly Fieldfares) - clearly there had been a mass overnight arrival!
Also seen at Grainthorpe: 5 Little Egret, drake Pintail, Peregrine, 2 Merlin. 2 Barn Owl & a Woodcock.