Monday, April 14, 2014


Another sunny day on offer today saw me heading over to MSQ to see what goodies were on offer at this superb inland reserve.I started in usual fashion by checking the sheep fields,new workings and pools and they revealed some decent numbers of birds which included 62 Sand Martin,1 Egyptian Goose,6 Redshank and a pair of Wigeon with a few Willow Warbler,Chiffies and Blackcaps in the adjacent hedgerows and woodland.I then,as usual made my way around to the reserve proper,had a quick bite to eat and made my way down to the Grebe Lake,listening to a singing male Water Rail as i walked the pathway.No Otters today on Grebe Lake,but a very welcome first for the year in the form of a single Common Tern flying over the Lake giving some nice views before it disappeared over the trees in the direction of the main lake.A minimum of 3 Kingfisher were seen on several of the water bodies today,with 2 together on the pits along the entrance track,providing some excellent viewing and some welcome colour to the days sightings,hopefully they will settle down and nest this year.I continued through the reserve and the Heathy area provided some interesting and 'First' sightings of the year in the form a single Tachina ursina and Gorse Shieldbug,the former a member of the parasitic Tachinid Fly family,these group of flies lay their eggs on the unsuspecting host before the larvae hatches and eats the host while it is still alive.Another Tachinid was also seen nearby,the much more attractive Gymnochaeta viridis,this species resembles the 'Green Bottles' and is quite common around the reserve in the wooded areas,being seen basking on the sides of sun soaked trees in the Spring,a cracking fly species.The only Reptile of the day was also seen here,a single male Common Lizard,basking in the warm spring sunshine,my first sighting on the reserve so far this year.I continued around to the Duck hide seeing very little on the main lake apart from a single House Martin feeding over the water in amongst the Sand Marts and as i left the hide another 'First' for the year in the form of a Speckled Wood boosted the already good list of insects for the day.A couple of Green-veined Whites were seen also and at least 7 Peacock Butterfly.In the plantation a Siskin was logged  and a few more Chiffchaff and Blackcap gave the following Warbler totals for the day,11 Chiffie,10 Willow Warbler and 10 Blackcap.Some great showings of Marsh Marigolds are being seen around the reserve now along with Greater Stichwort,Lesser Celandine and masses of Ground Ivy.The only notable Fungi seen today was the scarce Helvella corium.Another great visit with some increasing numbers of insects at last.

Goat Willow Blossum.

Tachinid Fly - Tachina ursina.

Tachinid Fly - Gymnochaeta viridis.

Gorse Shieldbug.

Greater Stichwort.

Marsh Marigolds.

Speckled Wood.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Local Patch....

With the prospect of a lovely sunny morning on offer,Lee and myself decided to have a walk from the village out to Kettleby Quarries and the fishing lakes.The first section of the walk along Marsh Lane towards the first of the ponds revealed nothing new in with a few Swallows and singles of Blackcap,Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff.On the first of the pits over the railway crossing,the pair of Great-crested Grebes were still busy feeding their brood of youngsters and the pair of Little Grebes were still showing no signs of settling down yet.After hearing a few snippets of Sylvia song i soon found the songster,a cracking male Whitethroat,my first of the year.He was watched giving his bouncing song flight over his chosen area of Nettle beds and gave some great views,a little beauty.Shortly afterwards,another great sighting in the form of a male Green Woodpecker watched feeding on the ground near the chicken farm and 'Yaffling' from a nearby Silver Birch.This was a most welcome sight,as i havn't seen one in the local area since the winter of 2010/11 which devastated the population of this species,hopefully they will have a recovery now.A few more hirundines over the main lake included 4 Sand Martin and a further 6 Swallows and they were watched as they hawked over the water for their flying prey and nearby a mini kettle of 5 Common Buzzard soared over the adajacent conifer plantation.On the water filled quarries a couple of pairs of Oystercatcher,2 Redshank and a mixed flock of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls bathed.On the edge of the plantation a Muslin Moth caterpillar was found and on the fields up towards the hillside,2 pairs of Grey Partridge were logged and a few more insects included 4 Peacock Butterfly and 2 Small Tortoiseshell.A scattering of Wildflowers included some lovely examples of the very attractive Field Pansy and others recorded were Lesser Celandine and Coltsfoot.The top path towards St.Mary's Church saw a pair of Bullfinch and several Tawny-mining Bees being seen,but sadly no Firecrest in the churchyard today.A nice few hours out in some great weather this morning.
Male Starling,Barnetby-Le-Wold.

Male Swallow,Barnetby-Le-Wold.

Male Whitethroat,Kettleby Quarries.

Blackthorn Hedge,Kettleby Quarries.

Field Pansy,Kettleby Quarries.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Mega Day....Flamborough,11.04.2014.

After hearing the Pied-billed Grebe hadn't been seen this morning,Trace and myself were discussing where to go and thanks to a text from Karen,this was soon decided...Crag Martin at Flamborough @#%#.I knew this journey would not be an easy one,Friday shopping traffic through Beverley was a tad frustrating to say the least and every OAP on the road in the disrespect to OAP's,but they are a little more carefull at driving than a manic birder desperate to get to his destination.I eventually made into the lighthouse car park,grabbed the binos and camera bag to be told the bird had flown....Nooooo!.I could see a group of birders just to the west of the lighthouse so i made my way down there,a few friendly faces said the bird had not been seen for the best part of an hour,this was not good and i had visions of it being found over Hornsea Mere.A few people started to filter away and we all just wandered about then thankfully one of the lads i was with got a VERY well timed phone call to say he was watching the bird close to South Landing.What ensued was a 2 mile route march/run to South Landing and eventually we could see the guy watching the bird.A quick phone call as we got closer confirmed it was still there,we eventually made it looked over the cliff edge but only Sand Martins were on view,then suddenly infront of us about 100 feet away was the Crag Martin...boooom!.It was watched as it fed at fairly close range the larger size,diagnostic white spots in the tail and blackish area on the underwing being very noticeable when compared to the accompanying Sand Martins,giving the bird a very distinctive jizz.It was also heard to call several times a harsher more grating 'Chirr' than the Sand Marts.We continued to watch it for about ten minutes and it disappeared,appearing further away at South Landing itself before being lost to view and that was that,it wasn't seen again!.After looking for about ten minutes i decided to go and look for the Pipit Sp. that had been reported from earlier and about 100 metres from where we had been stood watching the Martin i flushed the Pipit,it flew past me calling a distinct 'Shueep',almost Yellow Wagtail like in quality and not has harsh as Richard's,all pale,sandy mantle must be a Tawny i said to myself.I went back to the assembled birders and they all looked at me in disbelief at what i had seen,someone even put it out as an unconfirmed sighting of Tawny Pipit...but what else could it have been.I walked off back towards Old Fall slightly peed off and around towards the Lighthouse,when it happened again,i couldn't believe it,the bird flew past me calling and landed on the footpath in the open,there it was in full view a definite Tawny Pipit.I got as many shots with the camera as i could before it flew into an adjacent rough grass pasture field and i tried to phone as many people as possible and put it out on and Twitter.I was then joined by my friend David Aitken and he gladly watched his 'First' Tawny Pipit as it fed in the pasture,sometimes being lost to view and also being chased by a pair of Skylarks on a couple of occasions.It gave a full range of calls as it was watched here,from a Sparrow like 'Chup' to the earlier calls,it was the best way to keep tabs on the bird when it flew.I was so chuffed to have had my initial sighting confirmed with some photos as i had been 100% certain that was the species i had seen.After spending some quality time watching this southern beauty i said my goodbyes to the boys and headed back to the car park.Other sightings during this amazing day included a single Common Buzzard,2 Peregrine one of which was watched killing a Wood Pigeon near South Landing,White Wagtail and my 'First' Wheatear of the year,a cracking male.Well what a day and as i write this I'm still in shock in what was an incredible day at this superb site.
South Landing.

South Landing.

Small Tortoiseshell,South Landing.

Tawny Pipit,Outer Head.

Tawny Pipit,Outer Head.

Tawny Pipit,Outer Head.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Firecrested Wren And Barnetby Bits....Thursday 10.04.2014.

Day one of a mini holiday,saw me heading out locally and having a wander down to Kettleby Quarries and having a look around the general area.I decided to do the usual circular walk that i do,parking in the village,then walking along Marsh Lane,around the pits and back up the hillside to the west of the village and back through the churchyard to my parking spot.The first section of my walk takes in mainly gardens and some good looking horse paddocks,but little was seen on these today apart from the local Corvids and Wood Pigs,but its wasn't long before the first spring migrants were encountered.Not far from the pumping station and sewage works were the first of 4 Chiffie and 3 Blackcaps and a single Sand Martin flew over the workings.It was perfect weather for raptors today with at least 11 Common Buzzard being logged,including a very close encounter with one bird as i unknowingly flushed it from it's perch.Other birds of prey included a single female Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.A very welcome sight was a pair of Great-crested Grebes on one of the pits with a good sized,early brood of 4 chicks and were a joy to watch as the male bird brought several small insects and fish for the youngsters,which was a great sight to watch.On the workings and pits at least 5 pairs of Oystercatcher were seen and overhead 3 Swallow and further 2 Sand Martin were logged in the phone.There were plenty of insects on the wing today and these included my first Bee Fly of the year,4 Small Tortoiseshell and at least 11 Peacock butterflies.Along the path back to the churchyard several Tawny-mining Bees were seen sheltering from the brisk westerly and also a queen Common Wasp.After reaching the churchyard i heard a very familiar song and to my amazement there he was,a Firecrest!.I spent the next hour watching this little beauty as he fed around a group of Yew trees singing his little head off,what a fantastic bonus and beautiful little bird.I walked the short journey back to the car a very happy boy,a great start to my holiday.
Common Wasp.

Female Tawny-mining Bee.

Great-crested Grebes with young.

Female Great-crested Grebe.

Male Firecrest.

Singing male Firecrest.

Singing male Firecrest.



Monday, April 07, 2014

MSQ And Barton Poll's......Sunday 06.04.2014.

As Trace was busy sleeping this morning,i decided to drive over to MSQ and check the whole area to see if there were any 'New' migrants in and to generally have a good look around.
 I started by checking the sheep fields and new quarry workings to the east of the site first,then cover the reserve proper.It was really dull today with low cloud and slightly misty conditions and fairly cool to start,so a few layers were put on and the wellies due to the overnight rain.A quick check of the sheep fields revealed nothing new from my last visit,with at least 4 pairs of Oyck's,several Lapwings dotted about and a few Curlew along with Lag's and one or two Shoveler pairs.A look on the sand workings revealed the best bird in this area,a single Green Sandpiper doing it's best to hide from the gusty South Westerly wind,my first for a while and 21 Sand Martin fed overhead.Other sightings included 3 Willow Warbler,2 Blackcap,1 Chiffchaff,1 Common Buzzard and 4 Brown Hare on the fields.I then travelled the short hop over to the reserve and the weather now began to deteriorate with occasional showers,but this didn't put me off and i continued around the reserve.Nothing unusual was recorded on my visit today,but sightings included a single male Siskin,12 Chiffchaff,3 Blackcap and 3 Goldeneye.The latter are certainly not a common visitor to the reserve and i havn't seen any here for ages.Very few insects were seen due to the weather,but a few Common Toads and the brief sighting of a Fox was a welcome one.Not a bad visit considering the weather.I then returned home and received a text to say GPC had found a Coues Arctic Redpoll at Water's Edge.This was a surprise to say the least as there wasn't a sniff of one on yesterdays visit,but Graham had glimpsed a bird on the 1st but not since which he thought was an Arctic,so this was no doubt the bird.It wasn't long before i was watching my 8th Arctic Roll in Lincolnshire and my 3rd at this site,the bird being typically frosty and showing the full suit of characters indicative of this northern species a proper cracker!.Also in this mini flock of Redpolls were at least 2 Mealies and a hand full of Lesser's giving a great chance to compare all 3 species,superb stuff!.After a short while of watching this mobile flock the birds all flew and that was that.While wandering around the CP a couple more 'First' sightings of the year for myself included 3 Swallows and a single House Martin moving west up the Estuary a very welcome sight to see and the forerunner of warmer times to come hopefully.Another good effort out and about topped off with another cracking Arctic Redpoll locally.
Black-headed Gull,MSQ.




Barton Pits....Saturday 05.04.2014.

A full day out planned today locally at Barton saw me covering nearly all the habitat between Pit25 and Chowder Ness,this is what i recorded.
 The day began by parking in the Water's Edge car park and using this as a base and for the first half of the day covering the pits to the east of the bridge and the second half covering the west side.After getting the gear together i decided to walk the Humber bank all the way to Pit 25 and then back along the side of the Sailing Pit,Hoe Hill etc. and through Water's Edge back to the car for lunch.I checked the boatyard at the haven first in the hope that a Black Red maybe hiding somewhere,as has happened on a couple of occasions before,but no such luck today.Similarly i searched the bank side for any Wheatears,but again nothing.Things certainly began to improve as i reached the path between the Sailing Pit and Pit 25,with 2nd calendar year Drake Long-tailed Duck putting on a great show as he displayed to some confused looking female Tufted Ducks.This was quickly followed by a brief snippet of Willow Warbler song and i quickly found the culprit and he showed brilliantly at the side of the New Workings as a brief shower passed over.He was quickly followed in song by a 2nd bird,the first 2 of 6 birds being seen in total on these eastern side pits,my 'First' records for the year.This area proved to be quite productive with a couple of male Blackcap and 4 Common Buzzard soaring over Barrow Haven.I made my way down the side of the sailing pit and could see the Slavonian Grebe was still present and i made my way closer.On route to the Slav,another 'First' for the year was seen in the form of a single Sand Martin as it made it's way west up the Estuary,a great sight to see.I eventually made it to were the grebe was and it is safe to say this is probably the scruffiest Slav i have seen,with a mixture of winter and summer plumage.I don't think it is an adult bird though,as surely it would have acquired full summer plumage by now if it had been an adult.I managed a few record shots of him or her as the bird always kept it's distance,but nice to see all the same.Other birds present and seen on the Sailing Pit included 22 Goldeneye and a single Kingfisher.I then carried on walking being stopped in my tracks by an explosive burst of Cetti's song,but i never did see the bird.This species seems to have recovered from the harsh winter of 2010/11 with at least 5 males being heard on my first section of today's walk,a very welcome return.In Hoe Hill the first brood of ducklings i have seen this year numbered 8 birds and the mother soon alerted them to my presence a great sight to see.I eventually made it back to the car for some welcome lunch before walking the western side pits taking in Far-Ings etc.Unfortunately it was difficult to cover all this area properly as large sections of the Humber bank are closed now due to the flood damage.Highlights consisted of a single 2nd calendar year male Marsh Harrier passing north over the Estuary,3 female Goldeneye on Ness Lake at Far-Ings and 3 more singing male Cetti's Warbler.A little disappointing to say the least this side,but like i said not 100% coverage good be completed.Warbler totals for the day included 23 Chiffie,12 Blackcap,6 Willow Warbler and an very impressive 8 singing male Cetti's Warbler.A few insects were also seen on the visit and included my 'First' Green-veined White of the year at Far-ings,a single Small Copper and 6 Peacock.A very enjoyable visit and hopefully more will come this year.
Record shot of the male Long-tailed Duck.

Mute Swan,Sailing Pit.

Record shot of the Slav Grebe,Sailing Pit.

Great-crested Grebe,Water's Edge.

Grey Heron,Far-Ings.

Drake Pochard,Far-Ings.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Down On The Moors Again.....Sunday 30.03.2014.

A full day to myself today,as Trace was sleeping after her night shift,so i decided to drive over to the superb NNR encompassing Crowle and Thorne Moors.On arrival it was slightly misty and the sun was trying to push its way through,a feature which lasted all day,but at least it wasn't cold.I parked at the Crowle side and began to explore this smaller section of the NNR.It wasn't long before i recorded the first of at least 8 Chiffchaff seen during the day as it belted out its song in the hazy sun,while close by a prospecting pair of Willow Tit gave great views as they searched for a suitable hole to nest in.Further on into the reserve and after an incredibly close encounter with a Brown Hare,the distinct song of a Common Snipe could be heard as it sang from its song perch,sadly a sound that isn't heard very often in the countryside nowadays and a couple of male Meadow Pipits parachuted back to earth in their display flights.Not much further along the path,the first highlight of the day was noted after hearing that rich,flutey song and the first of 2 male Blackcap gave himself up and showed nicely singing away as he fed in a Pussy Willow,which was brimming with flying prey.These,along with Sedge Warbler are my favourite summer visiting warblers that we have the privilege of seeing,lovely birds.As i walked along the edge of the Warping Drain,several male Common Toad could be heard calling and a few areas of Groundsel brightened the bare areas of newly cleared ground.Much management work is ongoing here,with many of the paths being repaired and widened,new gates and fences being erected and some habitat creation as well which is making the reserve much more user friendly.I just hope it doesn't become another dog toilet,which would be a real shame.Quite a few Buff and White-tailed Bumblebee's were encountered on my walk and also 5 Eristalis intricarius,my first 'Syrph's' of the year.I eventually reached the bailey bridge to cross over onto the Thorne side of the NNR and Will Pitts Scrape revealed 1 female Goldeneye and 2 'Redhead' Goosander,with 5 of the latter on my return journey.After a chance meeting with both Brian Wainwright and Des Parmenter,Des and myself walked the long distance to the other end of the reserve to look for the wintering Great-grey Shrike after Brian had said he had been watching it earlier,but sadly by the time we had arrived it had moved on,but great compensation was had in the form of some superb raptor action.This included a stunning,ghostly male Hen Harrier,which we managed to see at pretty close range at first and later more distantly as he hunted this prime raptor habitat,what a bird and highlight of the day for us both.Nearby,the Hen's close cousins also put on a fine display with at least 4 Marsh Harriers being seen,these consisted of two females,an adult and a 3rd calendar year male.It is great to see these superb raptors doing so well,a shame we cannot say the same about the beautiful Hen Harrier.A few butterflies were encountered as we wandered our way back to Will Pitts and included 1 male Brimstone,2 Small Tort,4 Peacock and my 'First' Small Copper of the year and a couple of the verocious Green-tiger Beetles buzzed in front of us as we flushed them from the limestone road.A drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker was heard in Will Pitts wood and at least 3 Common Buzzard were also logged,one of the latter having a tussle with a male and female Marsh Harrier.A couple of Sparv and a single Kestrel completed the 5 species of raptor for the day.As we eventually made it back to the car park,a little weary to say the least after all the walking,we both made our way home after another brilliant visit to this cracking site.