Saturday, 12 May 2018

12th May


The year list continues to slowly grow. I had Swift over the river last weekend and the first ‘screaming’ ones yesterday evening with about ten birds over the house. This Garden Warbler was singing by the river at Morton last Saturday…


They are a scarce breeder in the parish and seem to be almost exclusively confined to hawthorns by the Swale.
The Yellow Wagtail is one of my favourite summer visitors. Nationally they have declined significantly but they keep a toe-hold in the parish, mainly in the sheep pasture along the river. Like a lot of birds they have been late in arriving but I had a pair today…



And I also added Common Sandpiper, although it was so flighty that I only managed this single very distant shot…

Also along the river I had six Cormorant, a Little Egret, four Oystercatchers, four Corn Buntings, three singing Reed Buntings but only two Whitethroats and a single Willow Warbler…


As well as a few common Birds of prey with eight Buzzards..


four of these were in a ‘kettle’ with a Sparrowhawk and Kestel…


Sunday, 6 May 2018

6th May


Another beautiful day today, with light south-easterlies I really expected a significant arrival of summer migrants but still no real sign of this. Highlight was this cracking Tawny Owl roosting pretty much out in the open in the Magic Garden.


Yesterday John and Beryl came and set up their mist nets in the Garden. This reinforced the view that birds are very late with only a single Whitethroat, three Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs  and three Willow Warblers representing the summer visitors. This Willow was carrying a ring which wasn’t John’s so will be interesting to see where this has come from…


Two of the Blackcaps were ringed here last year…


In fact there were about a dozen re-traps in all, including three birds caught in succession who were carrying sequential ring numbers from last year. Not sure what the odds on that would be!
But this Treecreeper was unringed…


As was this Goldcrest…



In the end it was an early finish as a breeze blew up and turned the nets from virtually invisible…

To impossible to miss…

I can’t talk about yesterday without mentioning the Tour De Yorkshire which came through the village yesterday.  what a fantastic event…





Sunday, 29 April 2018

29th April


Summer migrants continue to dribble in. I had the first Whitethroat, and four singing Lesser Whitethroats, down Greenhills Lane yesterday and my first House Martin over the garden this morning. The church Swallows are now back but numbers of most species are still mainly noticeable by their absence.
There are no waders on the move either which is a pity as there is a short window where the parish flood pools look optimum for drawing birds in. As it was two pair of Shelduck were the only birds on there along with a couple of pairs of Lapwing…


David, the owner of the Magic Garden, was given a trail camera for Christmas and I have finally got round to setting it up for him. Having seen all those wildlife documentaries where they use them to rediscover rare species there was a real sense of excitement when I first plugged it in. Not exactly some elusive big cat but interesting nonetheless and shows the potential for discoveries.




Sunday, 22 April 2018

22nd April

Despite a week of warmer weather summer migrants are still slow to return. Only Chiffchaff have arrived in any numbers…


With barely a handful of Willows so far singing in the parish…


…Together with a smattering of Blackcaps. Although Swallows have been seen intermittently since early April any local nesting birds do not seem to have made an appearance before today when a pair of birds were twittering around the stables. Other arrivals today included Lesser Whitethroat, with at least one bird singing down Greenhills Lane, and Chris had Garden Warbler near the river.

Butterflies are also starting to show with Small Tortoishell, Comma and eight Peacocks seen in the Magic Garden including this ragged one…


Yesterday I went to Langton Bridge to see the fascinating, if slightly unnerving, sight of Lampreys spawning. Just on the upstream side of the bridge were a total of about 75 individuals. You could see some suckering on to stones and turning them over. Unfortunately photography was extremely difficult with my cheap camera (and without a polarizing filter) but you can just about make them out…



There was also a large trout here, a Barbel and a small shoal of what I think were young Grayling?

Friday, 6 April 2018

6th April


Large areas of floodwater south of the village again this evening. Birds on here included a record count of 22 Shelduck…


These flying birds included calls I have never heard before, high pitched almost passerine like.
I also had only my third parish records of both Gadwall (four birds) and Shoveler, a drake and this female…


A pair of Teal and eight Tufted Duck…


Plus Two Little Egrets…


Six Curlew, 120 Fieldfare and around 150 gulls including 40+ Common Gulls…


This gives just a small indication of how good the village must have been when it had managed flood meadows here and there were wartime reports of large numbers of wildfowl on the floods.



Sunday, 1 April 2018

1st April

Birding can be a cruel hobby. I had a text from Tracey and Russ Palmer that they had three Hawfinches on their bird table. I dropped everything to run across but the birds had just departed. And to show it wasn't an April fools trick he had managed these photos through the kitchen window...




Great addition to the parish bird list but I am very jealous!

Friday, 30 March 2018

29th March

A good walk along the river today from Morton bridge along to the spinney on Potter Lane and back through Langlands to home.
No Sand Martins yet but I did see my first Mute Swan of the year (photo-bombed by a Goosander!)


And also my first Red-legged Partridges with a pair by the river and one in the Potter Lane fields…


Other birds included what looks like a nesting pair of Grey Wagtails near Morton bridge, two displaying Curlew, a pair of Grey Partridge, a total of 21 singing Skylarks, five singing Corn Buntings and 22 Yellowhammers (five singing birds)…


But on such a bright day a single Buzzard was surprisingly the only bird of prey seen and, apart from two pairs of Oystercatcher and one pair of Lapwing, there were no waders attracted to the excellent (temporary) flood pools.  
I also saw at least six hares (including three boxing)…


And this Roe Deer sitting in the hedge bottom…


Before emerging to graze in the field.




Sunday, 25 March 2018

25th March

A glorious day today and a real feel of spring with the first (unidentified) Bumble Bees, a loud chorus of toads in the Magic Garden and  lots of birds in song including Chiffchaff (with one in the garden too), Curlew, my first Corn Buntings of the year and at least three Reed Buntings…


A flock of Yellowhammers were feeding near a pile of old pallets…


I would have had some better shots only as I took this one a bloody great rat appeared below it so that was the end of that session.
Other birds today included Grey Partridge (first for the year) Little Egret and three Snipe in the Bottom Fields, three Buzzards over Greenhills, a group of 40 Redwings in the Magic Garden and around 60 Fieldfares feeding around the remnant flood pools.


If these pools last into April they should really attract some birds but today the only waders were four Oystercatchers and a handful of Lapwings.
As I walked along the ‘avenue’ on Greenhills Lane there was an exceptionally loud metallic noise, it turned out to be this…


This Great Spot was using the mobile phone mast as its drumming post. Fantastic noise but the forces acting on its head must have been phenomenal.  

Sunday, 18 March 2018

18th March

Despite the really bitter cold definite signs of spring today with two Chiffchaff in the Magic Garden. This is the best shot I could manage in the almost pitch black of the ditch they were favouring…


This capped a week of very poor weather but at least it brought the floods out. Both the Bottom Fields and Langlands were well flooded…


Pick of the sightings were these three distant Tufted Duck, my first of the year…


Unfortunately the radical clearing of the ditches means the water rarely stays around for long and the area that was deep enough for the Tufties to dive was dry by the following morning.
Other sightings on the floods included three Little Egret together, four Shelduck, seven Teal, 21 Mallard, two Oystercatchers, 70 Lapwings, a single Golden Plover and 12 Curlew. Gulls included around 200 Black-headed, two Lesser Black-backed, eight Herrings and my year’s first double figure count of Common Gulls.
March is the month for Commons through the Vale of Mowbray and the parish always picks up a few at this time of year. Back in the 1990s the numbers were much higher (I have had counts of up to 2000 birds) but whether this reflects generally lower numbers or a different migration route I don’t know.   
Yesterday I popped out between blizzards. Very quiet but I did at least get to photograph this obliging Treecreeper in the Magic Garden…


Less happily I was disappointed to see yet another little piece of good habitat going, this damp corner near the school was great for winter finches and thrushes as well as the odd wader.



Sunday, 11 March 2018

11th March


Other commitments today meant very little opportunity for birding but I popped down to the Magic Garden this afternoon. A surprise find were a pair of Goosander on the lake…



The first I’ve seen on here.
The Little Grebes  and a pair of Canada Geese(my first of the year)  were also on, presumably the breeding pair of last year…


On the floodwater there were another six Canadas.
Yesterday’s heavy rain was equally unconducive to birding but I walked briefly along Warlaby Lane in the gap between the showers. Very quiet (and murky) along here but the first Lapwings were displaying and a small flock of Linnet were in a ploughed field.
On the flooded area there were a pair of Shelduck, my first of the year, and they aggressively drove off another group of four that attempted to land…


A total of six Herons were dotted around the edge…


The only other birds here were 150 Fieldfares, a handful of Mallard, 19 BH Gulls and this pair of Herring Gulls…


These two have been together in and around these fields all winter. I didn’t think they stayed in pairs in winter but there you go…