Saturday, 30 April 2016

30th April

A glorious day but evidence of the recent hard weather was still visible on the distant Pennines looming above Pen Hill.

On the river I added a pair of Common Sandpiper to my year list...

And by the railway crossing I had my first Whitethroat of the year (it is one honestly!)

The muck heaps are no more but the fields here turned up another couple of Wheatear, two Yellow Wagtails and a handful of Skylarks. One of the latter unusually stayed still long enough to be briefly photographed…

As I crossed back over the railway I saw two Rabbits chasing a Stoat along the line. It ran almost to my feet before veering off into the brambles.

On Thursday there were at least seven Wheatears in a single ridge-and-furrow field down Green Hills lane (a record count for the parish). These birds were interspersed amongst 26 tardy Fieldfares. I wonder if the thrushes will make it into May?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

24th April

I obviously spoke too soon last week and the cold weather has slowed migration to a trickle again. Swallows are still in short supply and no sign of Whitethroats etc. but a Common Sandpiper was on the river by the railway bridge today and I photographed my first Yellow Wagtail in Morton yesterday.

The large Sand Martin colony has continued to expand with around 200 birds now here.

On Friday there were still 30 odd Fieldfares in the village, one of the latest dates I have seen them in the parish. Last week a large group was still feeding in the Green Hills fields.
I photographed part of the flock when it flew off, have a guess how many in this shot (answer at the bottom!)

Today I went looking for Lampreys with an angling friend. Late March/early April is the peak period but the rains at that time meant the river was too coloured to see them. Unfortunately we were too late but you can clearly see the spawning areas which show as large pale areas on the river bed. This is because the Lampreys turn over the rocks to lay their eggs exposing the clean undersides of the stones.

[I (rather sadly) counted 259 Fieldfares in the picture]   

Sunday, 17 April 2016

17th April

Dare I whisper it…Spring seems to be definitely here. This is in marked contrast to yesterday’s surprisingly cold conditions (which nevertheless saw good numbers of Willow Warblers arrive with at least four birds singing in the Magic Garden alone).

Today was bright and warm and birds have flooded in with Blackcaps and Willow Warblers seeming to be everywhere. A dozen Swallows were swooping low over the muck heap field and there were four cracking Wheatears on the old paddocks here.

On the river Sand Martins were now in their hundreds and there was frenetic activity at one of the nest sites. The technique appeared to be that the one bird would excavate and then seemed to pass something to its mate, was it getting rid of the spoil or was the one bird feeding the other? The burrowing bird would also repeatedly ‘belly flop’ into the river presumably to clean off the mud from its feathers.

To round off an enjoyable couple of hours there were no less than three Barn Owls hunting in the bright sunshine in the rough field by Morton Bridge.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

10th April

A beautiful, warm day so I anticipated a few more arrivals but nothing added on the summer migrant front (although I did see Wheatear by the muck heaps on Wednesday). On the Manor Lake a pair of Tufted Duck have returned.

I assume this is the pair that bred last year, although they lost all their young (most likely to Mink or Pike).
The Canada’s are nesting, with the female sat picturesquely amongst the daffs on the little island. The male drove off a pair of Greylags that looked to be prospecting the lake.

On the Greenhills pool the pair of Shelduck look well settled. But there were no waders on here other than the resident Lapwings and a pair of Oystercatchers but a flock of 14 Golden Plover east over Ainderby this afternoon were unusual for this time of year.

A few more butterflies are now around and I saw my first Peacock yesterday. Talking of insects this willow was absolutely humming with Honey Bees. I think willows are particularly attractive to bees in spring because they are one of the few trees that produce nectar.

This evening I spotted a distant skein of around 65 geese heading north. April is a good month for spotting Pinkfeet as they head back north to their breeding grounds but zooming them up on the camera showed they were 'only' Greylags. A fine sight nonetheless.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

3rd April

Spring creeps closer with Swallow over Ainderby yesterday and Chris Knight found Wheatear in Morton today. This evening I also saw my first bats of the year, two Pipistrelle over the Manor Lake.
A pair of Nuthatch have started visiting the garden again and the male was singing in the apple tree this evening.

Earlier I had at least five Corn Buntings singing down Potter’s Lane.

There were none here yesterday. Do they arrive en masse or does it take one to start singing to trigger all the others?
Otherwise it was a very quiet day, the only bird of note a Ringed Plover I heard in flight but couldn’t locate.
The owner of the Magic Garden has very kindly built me this rather splendid rustic viewing screen

It overlooks the reed bed so I am fully confident of finding a goodie this year (Moustached Warbler anyone?) 

Friday, 1 April 2016

1st April

I only had time for a quick walk along Greenhills Lane today. In the ‘avenue’ here there were still around 60 Tree Sparrows in the hedges (I’m not sure when these birds will pair up and the flock disperse?) and they were now joined by around a dozen Lesser Redpoll and a few Yellowhammers.

In the large arable field at the end there were good numbers of gulls with Herrings now predominating. I saw a distant hirundine hawking over this field. Despite the rather cold, overcast conditions I thought it might be my first Swallow but it ‘only’ proved to be another Sand Martin. I also saw a fine Stoat racing across the plough, my first sighting for over a year.
Overhead little groups of chak-chakking Fieldfares were still evident but it has been a couple of days now since my last Redwing sighting.  
My first Shelduck of the year (a pair) were on the field pool here. Typically aggressive they would periodically chase off the larger gulls.

I wonder if these are the same birds that spent last spring on this pool?

Over in the next field This flooded hollow is my great hope for this year.

In the past it has attracted one or two birds (including a pair of Little Ringed Plovers) but it is the highest I’ve seen it for this time of year. With a bit of luck it will retain water through the spring and prove an irresistible magnet to waders! It’s about time we added Avocet to the parish list…

Year list to end of March 86 species