Monday, 28 January 2008

03:28 tick

January 28th
It is not often that you get a patch year tick while tucked up in bed at 03:28 in the morning so today was an exception; I know it was 03:28 as having been woken up by the obviously close passage of a flock of noisy Pink-footed Geese I thought it wise to record at just what time they had passed by! Later in the morning at least three skeins moved west up the Humber involving in excess of 600 birds no doubt en route to Martin Mere from Norfolk. Overnight and morning fog on the coast and further south may have been responsible for a deviation in their normal overland route to the west coast bringing them high over the Humber. So with the last obviously missing species now added and 105 on the January list we need some cold south-easterlies to bring in some scarce grebes and wildfowl if the February progression is to be anything other than very limited!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Long-tailed Duck info

the two long staying female Long-tailed Ducks on the pits were a bonus year tick as the species is often only recorded on the Humber in November gales when encounters are typically brief; there have been a few other birds on the pits over the years; one of two females seen on January 1st 1989 stayed through to April 8th; the drake shown above was on Waters' Edge from April 10-11th 2003; it had this strange habit of standing up in the water and twisting its head around on a regular basis; In the most recent 15 years I have recorded LTD in only eight years.

one more for January

January 26th

After two days of howling north-westerlies there seemed to be a chance of a displaced Iceland or Glaucous Gull; the spring tides produced good gull feeding on the foreshore but after 4 hours all I could managed were 8 Herring, 9 Great and one Lesser Black-back amongst the 200+ Common and 150 Black-headed Gulls; not even a Med again! But what did appear over the Humber was a flock of eight ducks, two Wigeon and six Pintail an outstanding species taking the tally to 104 for the year. The Red-throated Diver, above, was on Hotel pit for a while along with the Smew but otherwise it was best described as a quiet day.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Lesser Scaup time

with the end of the shooting season fast approaching there should be more diving duck appearing on the patch and the chance of an oddity; on February 13th 1995 the first Lincs Lesser Scaup turned up on pit25 and was seen on three successive evenings coming in to roost with large numbers of Pochard and Tufted Ducks which feed on the Humber off New Holland; amazingly there have been two Lesser Scaup on the patch as this fine drake spent a couple of days on Waters' edge from April 28th - 30th 2004
On April 10th 2001 I bumped into a singing male Penduline Tit on Waters' Edge; the above is a poor copy of a poor slide from the pre-digital era; we have plenty of reedmace available for a repeat performance but no sound from any so far this winter and with a countrywide shortage the chances seem a bit low

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

viewing area pond

the small pond immediately east of the Humber Bridge, known as the viewing area pond! is an odd spot but has the distinction of having produced patch records of singing Marsh Warbler, a singing Wood Warblers and an autumn migrant plus spring Pied Flycatcher and autumn Redstart in addition to a late autumn Firecrest and the latest ever Lincolnshire Willow Warbler present from November 10th - 13th 2000

the years good ducks

Smew and Long-tailed Duck stand out as valuable year ticks in 2008 but looking back Smew has actually been recorded in every year except 1993 so it is maybe to be expected whereas Long-tailed Duck has been noted in eight of the previous 15 years making it a more useful addition statistically; here are the two female Long-tails present at the moment

archives etc

as there will inevitably be gaps in new species being added to the year list I will also be adding a variety of bits of archive info from the patch and posting pics of some of the habitats and past rarities etc;

As I have been keeping track of my patch year list for 15 years a few stats come to mind such as:

Of the 255 species recorded from the patch I have seen 247 over a 37 year period with 240 being seen in the 15 years 1993 to 2007 inclusive;
the pre 1993 species being Great Northern Diver last seen 1991, Little Bittern 1977, Kentish Plover 1990, Laughing Gull 1984, Golden Oriole 1977, Hooded Crow 1984, Hawfinch 1983

in spite of seeing 240 species in the 15 years the maximum year list is 181 attained in 2001;

only 121 species have been seen in all 15 years but only 22 have been seen in just one year

where is the patch

basic question so I have put up a map of the patch with a few annotations and the patch in a wider UK context

Jan 23rd the last thrush

After a day of wader counting there was only 90 minutes of fading daylight left so I set off down East Marsh to check out the flock of thrushes seen going to roost in the distance a few days previously; there was always an outside chance of a hunting Short-eared Owl as well, albeit a very small chance given how rare the species has been this winter. The flooding in the stubble fields looks good for a Water Pipit should there be one in the vicinity. Then there it was sitting on the wires across the field a single Fieldfare number 103 for the year after 23 days on the patch. This must now be an unassailable January total given the very mild winters which means that all the scarce winter wildfowl are almost a thing of the past.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

ton up Jan 22nd

The torrential rain cleared overnight and the day started out bright-ish. First port of call was Waters’ Edge where I had some bread to get rid of in the hope of pulling in a decent gull. From the car park a glance up at the south towers of the Humber Bridge revealed an adult Peregrine launching itself off the tower, flipping round the other side and neatly despatching a largely whitish bird, either a gull of a white feral pigeon. It then carries its prey onto the top of the main support wires and proceeded to balance and eat as hundreds of motorists passed below oblivious to its presence. 97 on the list and surely nothing could stop a record breaking 100 in January now? The sailing pit produced its two Long-tailed Ducks and for some odd reason I decided to walk the extra 600m to pit25 to check for who knows what. My judgement must be looking up though because there after a new year’s absence was the Red-throated Diver possibly feeling guilty about depriving me of a patch year tick; 98 on the board. Two of the three Snow Buntings reappeared on my long return walk to the car park but there was no Med Gull and still no Fieldfare! But as I was photographing the bunts there came a distant che-chink or was is it a chizick two calls later and it clearly was a Grey Wagtail which duly flew right over my head; what a morning 99 now and equal to my highest ever January patch list. Early afternoon I decided to have a look on the edge of the Wolds, part of the inland side of my patch, in case there was a Corn Bunting or Fieldfare and the odd partridge. The stubble field I went to look at had been ploughed so no buntings but in the adjacent oilseed rape field was a superb male Merlin eating its lunch; what a cracking bird and a great patch addition. 100 up with 9 days still to go. I found a flock of 48 Redwing, still no Fieldfare and then a covey of Grey Partridge and one of Red-legged making the tally 102 by the day’s end.

21st Jan

What a day! Rain, rain, rain and then cloud and a cold wind. I ventured out mid afternoon as the rain stopped for a couple of hours with the thought that there might be a Peregrine coming in to roost on the Humber Bridge or maybe a Med Gull flying past with the stream of Black-heads and Common as they moved to their roost at Read’s Island past the bridge. Well a strange lack of passing gulls of any species and an even more impressive lack of Peregrines suggested a move was in order so as a last ditch attempt to save the day I headed for East Marsh in case there just might be a hunting Barn Owl and amazingly there was! So that made the January tally 96 species with no partridges, no Peregrine and still no Fieldfare.

January 20th

After five days in the Camargue and some appalling weather and man flu another rather inaccurate weather forecast was fortunately ignored and I ventured round the pits for the whole day. A total of 7 Goosanders during the day was most unusual but the first year tick was a fortuitous encounter with a party of five Bearded Tits by the shore hide where I was searching for a white-winged gull to no avail. The two males and three females were seen well low in the foreshore reedbed which was somewhat surprising as none had been seen around the pits for several weeks. The next surprise was the sighting of an adult Little Gull feeding over the fields by Chowder Ness with Black-headed Gulls. This bird had apparently been seen the previous week in the same place. Buoyed by this success a search for Jack Snipe on their favoured wet meadow seemed a good idea and three Jack Snipe later it seemed an even better decision! With the ball rolling I walked down to have a listen for the Bridge pit Cetti’s Warbler and was shocked to hear it immediately on the other side of the road where it rattled and called several times in 20 minutes. A long afternoon vigil at Far Ings produced an unexpected drake Scaup plus excellent views of the drake Smew displaying to his female Goldeneye along with a fine drake Goldeneye, a roost count of 58 Magpies and at 16:37 a Bittern eventually flew all of 10m before dropping in again in the gathering gloom. So with 11 days still to go the list reached 95 species equal to that achieved in January 2003, just one behind the 96 seen in January 1996 but still trailing the 2002 record January total of 99 species.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

January 8th

Nothing moved on until the 8th when a walk around the eastern pits started out well with a calling Green Woodpecker on Barton Broads and Waters’ Edge followed quickly by a Lesser Redpoll flying onto Waters’ Edge and a Treecreeper in the garden on the other side of Pasture Road. 86 on the list; a Black-tailed Godwit on the foreshore with two different Marsh Harriers over Far Ings, where a drake Goosander dropped in briefly, saw the list move on to 89 hopefully in sight of the 100 before the end of the month for the first time ever.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Jan 2nd

The foreshore east of the Humber bridge produced Turnstone and Knot in the morning with the Snow Buntings still present. Having a station pick up to do at Barnetby mid afternoon I ventured up the Wolds; it was windy and cold and sometimes damp. Sitting talking on the phone the ash tree which had hosted a Little Owl in December suddenly revealed that it had a hole in the bole and the owl which had eluded me the previous day suddenly appeared in full view; a Kestrel nearby and a Common Buzzard near Kingsforth, though, added five species to the list which moved on to 83.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

January 1st 2008

The start of the new year dawned dull wet and miserable and it stayed that way throughout the day with the rain sometimes heavier and sometimes lighter! Starting out on the west side a good collection of waders was apparent from calls at Chowder Ness with Ringed Plover and Snipe the most difficult but Kingfisher seemed a good tick although several were logged through the day. There was no obvious Bittern at Far Ings and the Smew seemed to be absent as well but my poor imitation attracted a Tawny Owl which perched in the tops of the trees at the northern end of first quarry. Tree Sparrows at Far Ings plus a male Stonechat at Chowder Ness where Meadow Pipit was also a useful addition spurred me on. On the east side the Long-tailed Duck remained on sailing pit but the Red-throated Diver seemed to have moved on at a most inappropriate time although thankfully the three Snow Buntings were still around on the foreshore, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was a good January tick and the Pasture Road Willow Tits obliged but the Cetti’s Warbler remained stubbornly silent and during the day all three birds refused to emit even a single call in spite of several attempts to hear all three! A walk on the Middle Lagoon island at Waters’ Edge duly produced three Woodcock and a second attempt at Far Ings nailed the drake Smew to end the day on 78 species which was not bad considering the weather