This morning, when the alarm went off at 6.45 I questioned my own sanity. The wind and rain were lashing at the windows, and a slight ache from a couple of pints at a family birthday party on Friday night was niggling at my head. I had an hour and a half journey, on three modes of public transport, to a damp field on the outskirts of Mexborough to look forward to… what was I thinking?!
You’ve probably guessed the reasons were birdwatching-related – I was off to see a pair of Bewick’s Swans that have taken quite a shine to a single field on Sticking Hill near Manvers, where they’ve stayed since Christmas Eve. And sure enough they were there waiting for me this morning – a local rarity and the first lifer of 2010.
A trip to Old Moor, meeting up with Dave Simmonite, followed, and good birds were everywhere despite the drizzle and still-icy conditions. A whooper swan at Wath Ings, along with the usual mute swans, completed the swan triumvirate, and other wildfowl around included goldeneye, goosander, wigeon, teal, pochard, shoveler and a single pintail. From the “Tree Sparrow Farm” viewing screen I picked up a year tick in the form of, um, tree sparrow, and another in yellowhammer, many of which were feeding on the stubble there.
The birds kept on coming with a distant, but showy green woodpecker, an overwintering green sandpiper by the Field Pool Hide, a wonderful hunting barn owl, and a water rail scurrying through the reeds at Wath Ings, plus slightly more mundane year ticks in the form of linnet and stock dove.
A brilliant day in all – well worth dragging myself out of bed for!
A whopping 54 species seen today, with 11 year ticks. Full list below, year ticks in bold.
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull