Despite last night’s wind I had a good nocturnal trip to Wharncliffe Heath, where woodcocks somehow managed to keep on roding despite the gales, and a churring nightjar was a welcome noise. Another highlight was this tawny owl chick – it’s a terrible photo taken in the gloom, but hopefully you can still make out what the ball of fluff actually is!
I had a short visit to Bempton Cliffs on Saturday. The usual suspects were present, including guillemot, razorbill, fulmar, kittiwake and of course gannets. Puffins were present but much more difficult to find – you have to work for your puffins at Bempton, and sadly I didn’t manage any pics of them.
I haven’t got a huge lifelist, but it’s got to the stage now where new birds are pretty few and far between, and the times when I could easily get 30-odd lifers a year is, unless I start twitching a lot more, over. However yesterday I managed to get two lifers in one day, which wasn’t bad seeing as I wasn’t really expecting either of them!
The first was least expected, with an unusual raptor revealing itself to be a honey buzzard. We picked it up getting mobbed by crows, along with a common buzzard, but this bird was clearly a different species – striking us as a “bit odd”. This bird’s flight was floppy, and it held its long wings in a horizontal to droopy position (appearing almost gull-winged at times), plus had the typical small head and long neck appearance of a honey buzzard, and a longer tail than a buzzard. We tried hard to turn it into a more common species – going through kites, harriers and osprey with no success. Sadly it was silhouetted against the sun, so we could not pick up plumage detail, but on structure and behaviour we left sure we had a honey buzzard, and a cracking bird it was too.
Then there was news on BirdGuides that the Temminck’s stint had returned to Boston Lake. I’d seen reports of it the day before, and had presumed it would have had moved on, but sure enough it was showing well, giving brilliant scoped views.
And of course Ten Acre Lake’s red-necked grebe was still there!
Other birds around on the day included corn bunting, turtle dove, grey partridge, little ringed plover, yellow wagtail, garden warbler, cuckoo and reed warbler. It’s a brilliant site that always delivers good birds!
On the way back we stopped off for a quick look at Edderthorpe Flash, a site in the Dearne Valley where you can pull up the car and be watching good birds in minutes. Yesterday was no exception, with us managing wood sandpiper, avocet, ringed and little ringed plover, redshank, cuckoo, grey partridge and a particularly showy lesser whitethroat in a brief twenty minute or so visit.
We managed a rather impressive tally of 71 birds over the course of the day, which is great considering we were never more than 45 minutes or so from home.