The obligatory snow post…

Loxley Valley

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that’s it’s been a bit of a snowy weekend. Yesterday I went for a walk on my much-neglected patch, hoping that the cold snap would mean a few more unusual birds would be showing themselves.

Starting at Stacey Bank a lapwing was wandering round the fields, 60 starlings were loitering (a good count for the area), and the usual dipper was under the Damflask “steps”. Moving on to an iced up Old Wheel Dam nothing too interesting appeared to by around, but while I was counting the Canada geese (a mighty 102) and moorhens (an unusually high 2o) I noticed a medium-sized wader briefly take flight, and looked on the opposite bank to see two snipe milling around – a first for me in the Valley.

Spot the Snipes...
Spot the snipes…

The ice also brought the dam’s coots to the bank, and the now resident mute swan was bashing into the ice and smashing it up like an icebreaker.

Coot on Ice

Mute Swan

As I was leaving the dam a drake teal flew on to the water, but nothing else stood out for the rest of the walk, bar a good count of 7 pied wagtails at Old Wheel Farm, and a typically Christmassy robin which posed nicely near Olive Dam.

Robin

If I don’t update again before, have a great Christmas!

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Mission Incrossibill

All year I’ve had trouble finding crossbills, despite venturing to some hotspots at various times. So today I had a trip to the Broomhead area, with fellow-SBSGer Andy Hill, who’s had much better luck than me finding them – I was hoping some of his crossbill-finding mojo would rub off!

After a fairly uneventful walk to Broomhead, we walked around the general Wigtwizzle and Canyards area, occasionally hearing crossbills and eventually getting a brief flyover. Finally we got cracking views of a flock of around 30 in a patch of conifers.

Crossbill

Crossbill

Crossbill

Crossbills

Elsewhere a female brambling was among some chaffinches at Canyards…

Brambling (honest!)

…plenty of redwings and fieldfare were about…

Fieldfare

…and there small flocks of siskin, a few great spotted woodpeckers, and four goosander on Broomhead Res.

Yesterday I also had a quick trip out round the Loxley Valley, quite quiet except for a grey wagtail at Old Wheel Farm, a large count of 103 Canada geese at Old Wheel Dam, a mute swan, and a flock of 20 greenfinch and a great spotted woodpecker on Low Matlock Lane.

Wakey, Wakey

Sorry I’ve not updated for a while, I’ve not had chance to get out birding for a couple of weeks, but more than made up for it with a trip to a few sites in the Wakefield area.

The first stop was Pugney’s Country Park, where the two recently reported targets were picked up, firstly a very brief view of the Cetti’s warbler that is lurking there, which gave a characteristically unshowy view as it shot under the reeds and called a few times. Not amazing views, but good to see one, albeit fleetingly.

Secondly we found the ferruginous duck from the hide, which despite being reported close to the hide was out in the middle of the nature reserve lake and very hard to pinpoint.

A trip to nearby Angler’s Country Park was next, where from the hide we picked up a bird I was hoping to finally catch up to today, with four female scaup milling about the opposite bank. Other ducks around included shoveler, teal, goosander and some gorgeous goldeneye.

Goldeneye

A walk further on turned up a fairly large flock of lesser redpoll, and great views of our other target great northern diver, which we watched and photographed for ages, and more than made up for the distant silhouette we got at Carsington last month.

Great Northern Diver

Great Northern Diver

A quick peek at Wintersett Res turned up the female red-breasted merganser that’s lingering there, but sadly no sign of Wintersett’s own Cetti’s.

At the end of the day we had a quick look at Pugney’s again. Sadly the Cetti’s wasn’t playing at all this time, but the ferruginous duck was being a lot more showy, at first asleep in front of the hide before going for a bit of wander.

Ferruginous Duck

Ferruginous Duck

Some excellent winter migrants seen today in one of the most landlocked of counties! I’ve also reached my desired landmark of getting past 200 species in a year. I’m sure you’re all thrilled to know that!