Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Return To The Sand Quarries....Monday 21.04.2014.

With a decent forecast in prospect today i headed down the M180 to Messingham and the gem of a reserve that is Messingham Sand Quarries managed by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.I started the visit in usual fashion by looking on the sheep fields and the usual suspects were present as on my previous visit.This included at least 32 Sand Martin and 2 Redshank on and around the new workings and a displaying male Redshank,singing male Snipe,single Egyptian Goose and 4 Brown Hare on the fields.In the surrounding hedgerows and woodland 10 Willow Warbler and 2 male Blackcap sang their lovely songs.I then made my way around to the reserve proper and it was nice to see the Common Tern from my previous visit had now attracted a mate and much displaying and mobbing of intruders near to their raft was great to watch.Another single individual was watched over the main lake later on.As i walked past the small dipping platform i heard that distinct scratchy,low key song of a male Reed Warbler and i was soon watching this lovely little warbler,with another 2 birds being heard adjacent to the main lake.The Heath area revealed several nice insects,the best of which was the attractive Hoverfly sp. Leucozona leucorum and a male Common Lizard showed nicely in its Heather home.Other notables where at least 5 Twenty four-spot Ladybird,a Common Footman on the trunk of a nearby Oak,2 Gorse Shieldbug and a single Green Shieldbug.On the main lake apart from the afore-mentioned Common Tern,2 Goldeneye still held on,a 2nd calendar year drake and female,but very little else was seen on here.Just down from the Duck hide my second new species for the year came in the form of another 'Acro',a singing male Sedge Warbler,but he was a proper skulker and i never even managed to see him,which was a shame as these are one of my fave species.A little further over the little bridge down towards the wader hide a single female Large-red Damselfly was seen flying up from the ground as it's amber wings glinted in the sun.I attempted to get near it to try and get some pics,but it was having none of it and disappeared into some tall Birch trees,bugger.Quite good numbers of Butterflies had been seen today and included Brimstone,Green-veined White,Speckled Wood,Orange Tip,Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell,a female Brimstone gave superb views as she was watched laying eggs on an Alder Buckthorn tree.As is usual some nice flower were seen and included Greater Stichwort,Marsh Marigold and two new species for the year,Meadow Saxifrage and Cuckoo Flower.Another great visit to this excellent reserve.
Common Footman Larva.

Greater Stichwort.

Meadow Saxifrage.

Green Shieldbug.

Male Pheasant.

Black-headed Gulls.

Drake Gadwall.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wonderfull Hatfield....Good Friday,18.04.2014.

A full day on the cards today after picking Trace up and taking her home to get some sleep and i decided to go and visit one of the other parts of the superb and extensive Humberhead Peatlands at Hatfield.I used Boston park as a base and tried to cover as much of the reserve as was possible.After packing the food and drink etc. into the rucksack i started by looking around Boston Park itself,some nice views were had of about 30 Sand Martin as they hawked for insects over the lake and a Little Owl was seen roosting in a stack of bales giving some nice views.I made my way along to Badger Corner Lake,where the first highlight of the day was found,a female Large-red Damselfly.This was the first of 7 seen during my visit today and are my earliest personal records of this cracking Damsel.I continued around the reserve seeing and hearing several Willow Warbler,Blackcap and Chiffchaff and a distant Common Buzzard was watched as it displayed over an adjacent wood.I carried on seeing very few 'New' migrants until i came across two Wheatear on the side of Packards South and a single Little-ringed Plover passed overhead.The best sighting of the day was encountered along here,1 male and 3 female Adders.They gave stunning views with a little patience and the male was in pristine condition after sloughing his old skin,but for me female Adders are the stars,cracking animals and are by far my favourite native animal.The weather wasn't too bad today and in between the periods of sun,some good numbers of Butterflies were recorded with 7 species being seen.These included 2 'Firsts' for the year in the form of 1 male Orange Tip and a single Large White,others logged included 6 Green-veined White,1 Brimstone,4 Speckled Wood,5 Small Tort and a whopping count of 42 Peacock.The latter is the largest count i have had of the species in spring.After eating my lunch at the stunning Ten Acre Lake i continued my journey looking around Red Bridge Pits where the best sighting went to another first for the year and another reptile,a male Grass Snake,found basking in vegetation on the edge of one of the ponds.And as i tried to get closer he shot off at lightning speed,they are extremely quick animals and i was so lucky to get some pictures a few years back.A quick wander around the Dragon Pits revealed nothing out of the ordinary and i returned back to the car slightly knacked to say the least,but what a great place to visit.Another great day enjoyed in this fine land of ours.
Hoverfly sp. Eristalis intricarius.

Badger Corner Lake.

Blue Tit collecting nest material.

Hoverfly sp. Syrphus torvus.

Melanistic Rabbit,Prison Lakes.

Willow Warbler,Ten Acre Lake.

Female Adder.

Female Adder.

Female Large-red Damselfly of the form 'Typica',Ten Acre Lake.

Common Storksbill,Dragon Pits.

Little Owl,Boston Park.

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 world....no 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 etc...it 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 F.book 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 it 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.