Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A two owl day

The grand tour of Scotland and England was mainly a family trip but I managed to squeeze in a couple of half days in the field. The ferry across produced a lot of Manx shearwater, gannet and guillemot. Scotland was as expected but produced some nice views.



The Kelpies

Falkirk Wheel
Druridge Bay and Widdrington
On Saturday July 8th I went looking for spoonbills at Widdrington and little owls at Druridge. Anything else was a bonus. Cresswell was too high for waders and I moved on to Druridge Pools and got whooper swan, wood sandpiper, little ringed plover and blackwits. The owl site at Druridge gave three good birds but no owls. There was however a juvenile green woodpecker sitting on a fence where the owl was supposed to be. Then I checked the field behind me and had two red-legged partridge in the wheel tracks of a large barley field.  A check on another owl site produced a bird on the wall which turned out to be a yellow wagtail. The spoonbills were a no show at Cresswell, Druridge and Widdrington, and appeared to have moved on as I also checked these sites the following evening at dusk. I also saw yellowhammer, skylark, whitethroat and sedge warbler in a list of 56 species. It is some time since I have birded this area in summer so it was a nice change to sit in the heat and have long clear nights.
Saturday also saw a quick visit to the all singing all dancing new Hauxley reserve which seems to have become goose central, they really will have to do something about the sheer numbers of greylag and Canada geese. I had a quick look round and was glad to see new feeders close to the centre, but had no time to walk the new circular route.
Sunday saw a quick trip to St Mary’s lighthouse which had a flock of 25 golden plover flying in off the sea. I then decided to try Druridge again at dusk having had advice from Bird Forum as to where I should be looking and BINGO – two little owls showing well as they say. Thanks to the two other birders who were there and helped me along even though I spooked one of the owls as they were trying to photograph it. I said I would go on to Cresswell and try for the barn owl only to be told it was flying around the fields behind me!! BINGO – a two owl day!!
Clearly I need to visit again in the summer as I added 5 birds to my NE list – little owl, wood sandpiper, green woodpecker, red-legged partridge and yellow wagtail. I have a very clear memory of going to Cresswell in 1994 to look for yellow wagtail rather than watch the World Cup final between Italy and Brazil. I didn’t miss any goals as it was a 0 – 0, but I didn’t get the wagtail either. Never mind, 23 years later it’s in the bag and on the list.
The plan was to look for honey buzzard at Clumber Park but they haven’t been seen there recently and appear to be no longer breeding. The park itself is wooded and pleasant but the main area round the house was wall to wall people and huge numbers of Canada and greylag geese. Like Hauxley – they have a problem.  A quick about turn took us to Potteric Carr a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve on the outskirts of Doncaster with breeding bittern. Like so many urban reserves it is an oasis in a sea of concrete and is well worth a visit if you are in the area. You can take as long as you like as there is an exit system operating once the reserve closes – remember to leave your car outside the car park which is locked. We managed a couple of hours in late afternoon and were rewarded with marsh harrier, green sandpiper, avocet, singing chiffchaff and black-necked grebe. 

Nothing untoward in Bolton but I had a look at my list when I got home and discovered that in seven years of occasional visits I have not recorded peregrine, curlew, house martin, rook, grey wagtail or meadow pipit!! Some of these are probably omissions others need to be looked for. Either way I need to get out more instead of playing with the grand children – only joking Freddy.
Belfast RSPB and North Down  unsurprisingly report no change.


192: Manx shearwater

193: Yellowhammer

194: Skylark

165: Green woodpecker

196: Red-legged partridge

197: Little owl

198: Barn owl

199: Black-necked grebe

Bangor West
66: Raven
Belfast WOW
88: Wood sandpiper

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