Sunday 26 April 2015

Moorland Magic (24/25 April 2015)

Birding the Barnsley Moors with my dad on a flying visit back home over the weekend and we connected with returning migrants such as Pied Flycatcher and Redstart in Cliffe Wood, Langsett and staging Ring Ouzels (4+ - 1 male) and Wheatears near Hartcliff Folly. Both views to the east and west were stunning from Hartcliff, to the 'east' you could see the triple set of power stations along the M62 and the contours of the Yorkshire Wolds beyond, whilst to the west the moorland edge of the Pennines looked stunning in the Spring sunshine, as shown in the photo opposite (Midhope Res. on the left and Langsett Res. on the right).

A check of Ingbirchworth Res. produced no passage Terns, and nearby fields not yet? yielding Dotterel. Always worth a look at this time of year.

Buzzards and Kestrels seen over the moorlands with a single Sparrowhawk, and 2 or 3 Ravens patrolled the uplands.

Nice to be home.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Rainham Marshes RSPB - 18/19 April 2015

Spring birding in full flow at Rainham RSPB on Saturday and Sunday 18/19 April 2015. Swallows moving through and the occasional Sand Martin, with Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Cetti's, Reed and Sedge Warblers in song. Several Wheatear along the riverside path and 'Rainham Ridge' plus a stunning Whinchat. A handful of Whimbrels noted flying on to the reserve at high tide on the Saturday and along the Thames shore on the Sunday. A Bar-tailed Godwit changing into 'sum plum' was on the shore in the company of 2 Black-tailed Godwits (one bright 'sum plum') and Whimbrel on Sunday. A lone Greenshank and a few Dunlin (5) added to the passage wader mix on the reserve the day before. A Hobby twisting and turning after insects over Wennington Marsh / Serin Mound on Saturday was a delight and would have been the highlight for me. However, it was overshadowed by the Great White Egret seen flying from Kent into Essex by the Dartford Crossing shortly after 2 pm on Saturday. Excellent directions being called helped me to get on this monster, and even at distance the mass of trailing feet was impressive. Sadly it was only briefly in view as it soon disappeared behind the estate heading north. Adult Mediterranean Gulls flew downriver on both days.

Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Green-veined White butterflies showed well in the sunshine along the Thames path on Saturday. 

Several more photos from the weekend added to the 'Latest UK Bird Photos' and 'Butterflies' pages.

Saturday 11 April 2015

Some Winterers and some Spring arrivals

A flying visit back home over Easter gave me chance to connect with a female Common Scoter and the wintering drake American Wigeon, both in West Yorkshire. The latter at Swillington Ings where I was lucky to see a flock of 20 Whooper Swans in flight heading west in the evening of 04 April 2015, presumably on their way to Iceland. A nice flock of 35 Sand Martins flew over just before dusk on the same date, but neither Iceland Gull nor Glaucous Gull, seen by others on site earlier, were present in the evening gull roost.

Birded the South Yorkshire moors with my dad and saw 3 Mountain Hares on Pike Lowe (scoped from Midhope) and lots of Common Buzzards ranging from Langsett down to Strines. Finally after many hours of watching I found a passage Osprey over the moors in Derbyshire. The Osprey powered its way north through Howden Reservoir during the morning of 07 April 2015. The Midhope Great Grey Shrike decided to vanish over the Easter period and it resurfaced on the day of the Osprey, but we missed it by less than an hour around lunchtime. Snipe drummed and chipped on the moorlands which held a sizeable flock of 500+ Golden Plovers at one location, One bird in display flight down the road at Cowell Flats as well. The ringing notes of 'bubbling' Curlews dominated the moorlands as did calling and parachuting Meadow Pipits. Chiffchaff's called throughout and Swallows were back around moorland farms on 07 April 2015.

Back at Rainham Marshes RSPB, London on Saturday 11 April 2015 and the highlights were an immature Spoonbill on the Target Pools, a pair of Garganey, singing Willow Warbler and Blackcaps, and more surprisingly a 'wintering' Jack Snipe still present. It showed fairly well from the southern boardwalk mid afternoon.

More photos from this period now in the 'Latest UK Bird Photos' area. Enjoy.