19 January 2009

Suffering with the wind...

Once again, the weather Gods looked after us on Saturday and the rain that had been forecast for the Humber area stayed away. In its place we had strong winds, very strong winds! I spent much of the day trying to make sure the wind didn’t whip my baseball cap off my head - if it had, then I’m sure it wouldn’t have landed until it reached Holland!

Far Ings Nature Reserve was our first port of call and in the three hours spent there Lynda and I located a total of 42 species. It wasn’t a huge species count but it was certainly worked for - the near gale force winds meant that most of the birds were tucked away well out of sight. The more (fool) hardy birds that did show well included 16 Shelduck, c100 Wigeon and 14 Common Redshank out on the Humber Estuary. The more sheltered pools held 3 Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 14 Gadwall, 24 Teal, 14 Shoveler, 35 Pochard, 8 Goldeneye and 1 male Goosander. A male Sparrowhawk caused panic amongst the wildfowl on a number of occasions as it made low level passes over the water.

Four species of gull were seen as we battled our way along the riverside path, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Black-headed Gull. The two reserve feeding stations provided the best/easiest birding of the morning due to their location being such that it kept much of the wind off the birds. A total of 12 different species could be seen on or around the bird feeders with Willow Tit, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch and Tree Sparrow being the pick of the bunch. The very last bird to be added to our site list was Curlew; a single bird flew low over the road just as our coach was pulling out of the car park. A pleasant enough morning’s birding but it could have been much better, and warmer, without the mini-hurricane blowing!

A little under an hour after leaving Far Ings and we arrived at Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve. Far Ings may have been a little quiet but, on Saturday, Blacktoft was positively sleepy. Having just loaded all of the birds seen onto my sightings database I think it would be more fitting to say that Blacktoft had fallen into a coma! In total Lynda and I came up with the grand total of just 28 species.

Even on such a quiet day there is always going to be at least one high point and on Saturday it had to be the Marsh Harriers. At least 5 harriers could be seen at any one time and on numerous occasions up to 3 birds were to be seen very close to the hides. During the rare moments that the harriers weren’t close at hand then the 3 Black-tailed Godwits that were feeding in front of Singleton Hide kept us entertained.

Other than the harriers and the godwits there really wasn’t much else to write home about... 5 Shelduck, 7 Wigeon, 8 Shoveler and 1 Common Snipe. With the aid of a ‘scope, Lapwing and Golden Plover could also be seen but they were in flight and a long, long way away. Much farther away and they could have joined my wind-blown cap in Holland!

By 4:00PM Lynda and I, and a number of others in the group, decided that the excitement was all just a little too much and we headed back to the relative warmth of the coach. In true birding fashion, the best bird of the day put in an appearance minutes after we left the hide - a superb male Hen Harrier (so I’m told!) was seen flying over the reed bed by the few brave souls that stayed in the hide until just before the coach left for home!

The plan for this weekend is to get back out in my 10-Mile zone for some real birding. Weather permitting that is!

1 comment:

  1. Do you think some people just wait for the moment a group returns to the coach so they can say they saw the most magnificent such and such? Still...glad you were able to add a few species to your list. I hope the weekend is good to you.

    Sarah X