Patchwork & Potteric

2015 did not got off to great start for me – the first day that I had the free time to and could get over to Pugney’s and guess what – the Blyth’s Pipit has done a moonlight flit, so I miss out on a Yorkshire first. Annoyed doesn’t quite fit the bill in this instance, as I’d also missed the Little Bustard.

blyht's pipit - pugneys - Jim Welford

Blyth’s Pipit – Jim Welford provided the picture

So I had to content myself with getting down to patchworking during January, 1 visit to Eccup and 3 to Adel Dam/ Breary Marsh. Managed to get myself to 52 species, including 2 new to patch species ( Song Thrush & Golden Plover), which is an incredible result considering that last year I only got 67 the whole year. The light has been abysmal so no snaps unfortunately. Oddest sighting – on my trip to Eccup I saw an odd looking duck away down the West end of the reservoir, got the scope on it and it was someone swimming, in January with snow on the ground! You have to question his sanity, swimming solo in freezing weather in open water, hypothermia can strike at any time. Oh yes it was a bloke, he clambered out the water to reveal his nudity, even more of a divvy.

February was a bit better as I got out to play for the day on the 8th, meeting up with fellow birders at Potteric Carr. Richard was already at the car park when Ken and I arrived, first bird of the day Ring-necked Parakeet, a Yorkshire tick for me.

parakeet

Ring-necked parakeet – Potteric Carr

Great start to the day, sadly it didn’t last as we dipped on Bittern, Lesser Redpoll and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, although by the end of the day I’d added 20 year ticks. Andy and Rob arrived after the parakeet had been spooked by a couple of Carrion Crows, a flock of 30 or so Linnets didn’t quite make up for that. We took the route around by Old Eaa hide and the cafe before heading to the Huxter Well wetlands area. Willow hide failed to provide Willow Tit, that has to be a first. The Kingfisher was at the usual spot on the Mother Drain by the bridge, on a branch rather than the brackets in the bridge arch. Plenty wildfowl on Huxter Well, Tufties, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Greylags, Canadas and Mute Swan to name but a few, best were the 2 Pintail that flew over us as we left the Turret hide. We had a single Marsh Harrier as well as 2 Buzzards here also. Piper Marsh was pretty much all ice so very little there, so back to the Cafe for a brew and a buttie, some one needs to tell the chaf that bacon butties do not need a bit of lollo rosso and a tomato as garnish, just plenty of decent bacon. Sad to see the mugs have been replaced by piddling little paper cups, sacrilege. The decision was taken to leave Potteric and take our chances over at  Blacktoft Sands for the harrier roost. Marshland hide was completely iced over, Ousefleet was open but had little other than Blackwits, Dunlin and Redshank that were new for the day. We gave Xerox hide a miss and tried First, again little around, same at Townsend not really much about. Once in Singleton we settled down to await the harrier roost building up, we did get up to 4 Marsh Harriers eventually but sadly no hen harriers. Distant Pinkies flying over were small consolation.

B-B-B-Blacktoft Sands can be cold!

Apologies  for my tardiness in updating my pages. This was due to real life intruding into my birding.

It doesn’t mean I haven’t  been birding just that I haven’t had time to write anything up.

Where do we start,  since I last talked to you in January I’ve frozen my nuts off at Blacktoft Sands,  bagged a few swans at the LDV,  almost crashed the car near  Fairburn Ings,  and got my best ever kingfisher picture at Adel Dams. Busy me!

Going through things chronologically the first item on the agenda was the Blacktoft Sands trip. The 6th of February was a rather overcast day with a strong northerly bias to the breeze. That was true in Leeds, however out by Goole it was wet and there was a freaking gale. Thankfully the precipitation diminished over the afternoon  but the wind didn’t – worst luck.

The trip was with Ken, birding buddy and token non-Tyke. Target birds were hen harrier and barn owl, we got 1 of the 2 so 50% strike rate, pretty fair given the conditions.

We worked the reserve from West to East,  first up was Ousefleet, out on a limb and quite frankly on the day best avoided, we saw nothing there that we didn’t see from other hides.  Moving East we had a very rapid glance at the water from Marshland,  honestly there was nothing there. Xerox next and we started getting more good birds, goldeneye, snipe, shelduck, distant marsh harriers and the odd dunlin. More of the same at First hide, nothing at Townend and then the last one on our Eastward  journey, Singleton. It was here we set up camp for the next couple of  hours  and were treated to 10 marsh harriers in the air at once,  not 1 nor 2 but 3 hen harriers in the air (including a spanking male bird) along with distant flights of golden plover, some nice heron interactions and the freezing Northerly wind.  By the time we quit the hide to make our way back to the car park we were shaking like a couple of those dogs my Dad used to talk about. Man it was cold, I lost contact with my feet (amongst other extremities) for a few hours! Light crap so not photos.

Part two to follow within a short time