Can't believe it is about three weeks since our last post, but it has been quite quiet of late and also Mick is now back at work so he can't get out as much. We did however manage to take a trip up to Crookfoot Reservoir today where we located the Red Head Smew in the distance and then had a fly by of a Peregrine which kept putting up the Teal. We then headed down to the Headland where the Med Gull was in it's usual location on the rocks and lots of Common Scoter were near the sea wall. At the Marina the Black Throated Diver was showing well.
Went on the local RSPB trip to Leighton Moss on Sunday, arrived at 1030 which put paid to seeing the Bearded Tits which usually move away from the grit trays before then. Walked from the RSPB centre to the Eric Morcombe hide but it was fairly quiet here with Spotted Redshank showing in the distance, Merlin passing through, although plenty of Pintail and other commoner species here. Back at the Centre, the hides were overcrowded and difficult to see much. Left the area at 3.30 and that was about it for the day. Nice coach though!!
The Waxwing invasion has reached our area with regular sightings. The birds are not settling as well as they have done in past years but the numbers are far higher than we have seen for years. Have been checking the flocks for leg rings but up to date have not found any as yet. The feeding habits of one our local flocks is a bit strange too, the birds appear to be feeding on sap around leaf buds rather than eating berries.
On Saturday when we were having a trip to Helmsley we came across a Jackdaw with white markings on its neck suggesting it is of the Nordic variety.........only had the standard lens on the camera at the time but did manage a couple of shots. The North York moors have big numbers of Fieldfares feeding on worms in the upland fields. The local Red Grouse population has also grown their white winter 'socks' ready for winter.
Got the chance of a trip to see the Bee-eater today (thanks Col), when we arrived the magnificent bird was sat in a tree at the road side giving outstanding views in the drizzle. The bird only moved when feeding on a diet of wasps which it expertly caught and devoured, eating at least 10 in the time we were there.........definitely won't be going hungry. We then tried for the Little Bunting at Houghton-le-Spring but no luck and the heavy rain stopped play. On the way home we managed to spot about 40 Waxwing at Holy Trinity Rosehill school within 2 minutes of my home...........looks like a big movement of these into the country.
Headed over to the North Tees area today, Marsh Harrier (fem) and Merlin in the area and Pintail on Dormans pool. Saltholme was quiet with a lone Redpoll in with a flock of Goldfinch. The Zinc Works road was devoid of any interesting birds. So.....we decided to call it a day and head off home, this was a good move as 'en route' home we discovered 3 Waxwings near to our home.
A much improved day weatherwise and it was good to get out for a walk on a calm day without the strong wind. We got out early and found a Short Eared Owl sat on a fencepost at Holme Fleet with another flying close by. A Kingfisher flew past and a male Marsh Harrier was also over the marsh not far away. The Great Grey Shrike was showing well along Greatham Creek, although always distant. Two Barn Owls were perched on the box when we arrived but soon disappeared into their home. The Buzzard was also around but it too was always distant. A Sparrowhawk did a fly by for us. On seal sands there were good numbers of Grey Plover and Red Breasted Merganser.
Short Eared Owl
Great Grey Shrike
Couldn't resist taking a picture of this flower making the most of the sunshine on such a cold day along Greatham Creek.