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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Braving the blizzards. Ogden

            1 Lesser Black Backed amongst the small gulls.
       A pair of Goosander were present way up at the North end.
                                      1 pair of Tufted around the SE corner.

                                          Bad hair day
  Imitating a Ring Necked duck with the bump
                                         on its head.

1500 hrs and with some seriously heavy snow blizzards moving across the area I thought it best to stick near to base so a check on Ogden was the session of the day.
                                                                      The target bird, Whooper Swan ,was once again not to be
and the area was otherwise quiet with the highlights being a pair of Tufted in the SE corner amongst the Mallards and 2 Canada geese whilst a pair of Goosander were sticking near to the banking at the northern end. Around 30 Black Headed gulls were on the water along with 3 Commons and 1 Lesser Black Backed.
                       A single Moorhen was rummaging  about under the overhanging trees near the duck feeding corner but no sign of the second bird. Just a Grey Wagtail was down in the sluice gate area whilst 6 Chaffinch flew from the Lodge House into the trees behind the info centre.
                                                       Looking out of the window whilst I am typing this blog the horizontal snow is coming down thick and fast making tomorrow mornings session look a bit grim.

                                     Across to Chapel Lane

                                                Looking over Foxhill Park


Friday, March 16, 2018

Whooper Hunt

With a report of 25 Whoopers over Skircoat Green at 1400 hrs today heading >N, SB via the grapevine, and dense fog over the tops I thought it just possible the birds may have dropped onto one of the local waters for an overnight stay.
                                                               With thick fog still present up here in the gods Fly Flatts and Cold Edge were out of the running so it was a re run of yesterday to check Ogden and Mixenden.
                                                             Ogden was just in the cloud base but, unlike yesterday, visibility was just possible across the water. No Swans here, just a few small gulls, 1 LBB gull, 1 Moorhen and the usual Mallards. On  then to Mixenden reservoir which was just below the cloud base giving full but hazy visibility of the whole of the water.
This photo had high hopes of showing 25 Whoopers but not to be, just a couple of pair of Mallards out on the water and a single Cormorant present. So, either the Whoopers kept going through the area or have dropped off at one of our reservoirs further west which will unfortunately all be fogged off.
                                                      Tonights drop in temperatures should move the fog on so at least we should be able to see tomorrow but whether we can get out for the promised snow is another matter.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fogged off / bring back the winter weather ! Mixenden

                                        A foggy Mixenden west bank

  A good muddy area where the streams enter the reservoir
                                           Looking out to sea
                                          Not perfect visibility
                                                   South banking in the gloom

A real horror of a day up here in the highlands of Queensbury with visibility down to 20 yds after an early morning start of heavy rain.
                                                     In a bid to drop below the cloud base and check for Whoopers being brought down in the murk I headed for Ogden which on arrival, and a quick walk down to the promenade, was obviously a no go with the fog just as thick and nil visibility out onto the water so rather than waste any more time there I quickly moved on to Mixenden.
                                                     Conditions here were very near as bad with visibility about one quarter of the width of the reservoir and no overhead visibility at all.
A walk along the west bank checking the shoreline disturbed the Moorhen which swam out into the fog whilst 2 Mallard were on the mud where the streams join the reservoir and that was it, a major fog off. Hopefully the promised winter weather will return at the weekend and put an end to the fog.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A breezy Fly Flatts

                                                  Battling the high seas

                                            Tides in

  Told him not to park there. Another Fly Flatts victim.
                                       Goldies at Nolstar

A free afternoon so where else to spend it other than Fly Flatts. 1315 hrs with a strong SE>5-6 but good visibility and 90 % cloud cover.
                                                         Due to the strength of the wind and roughness of the water things were much quieter than yesterday with birds sticking on the ground out of the wind. The Canadas did,nt seem bothered with the water or wind and just carried on about their business as usual with several now starting to settle on the moor ready for breeding.
                                                           No Redshank today and only one distant Curlew though bird calls were out of the question  with the noise of the wind.
With the SE blowing I thought we were in for a Whooper Swan move but checks on Mixenden and Cold Edge at 1300 hrs and again at 1545 hrs found nothing although there was a grapevine report of 13 on Cold Edge at some point in the afternoon but these must have been short stayers and left >W rather than >N otherwise I would have picked them up over Fly Flatts.
                                                          A small group of 7 Golden Plover were in the Nolstar fields but 5 fields lower down. For some reason they are avoiding the usual field where the Dotterels were.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fly Flatts p.m. visit

                                  Canada numbers building again.

     2 birds well over the moor >SW but Big Bertha
                          had them sussed.
  For newcomers, Big Bertha is my main birding rig
comprising of a Canon 7d Mk 2 with a Sigma  Sport 150 - 600 mm
 zoom lens making it 2ft long and weighing half a ton
but an amazing piece of tackle.

                                  Redshanks return. Checking this bird out,
             very grey collar and mantle with stubby short bill.
                                              Well over on the east shore.
                                       Curlew on the flat moor

1500 hrs at Fly Flatts on a stonking afternoon with 40 % cloud cover and sunshine with a W>4.
Could have done with more cloud cover but the sun was getting low in the west so was,nt a problem to me.
           The area was alive with the sounds of spring with calling Curlew, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Red Grouse and Snipe with most of these being to my south on the flat moor. At one point everything went up briefly revealing around 40 Golden Plover which became invisible when back on the deck.
                                                         A single redshank was on the far shore showing lots of grey around the collar and mantle with a very short bill. Probably a first year bird but will have to look into that one. Lesser Black backed gulls are already quartering the moor and harassing the Lapwings before they even start breeding whilst 2 Raven went noisily over the moor, these birds will have probably bred by now being one of the earliest breeders.
A great hours birding.

2 Red Legged Partridge
6 Curlew
c40 Golden Plover
36 Lapwing
1 Redshank
1 Oystercatcher
58 Canadas
11 Mallard
sev Red Grouse
2 Raven
2 LBB gull
8 Meadow Pipits

The Redshank is another case of the Mixenden Dunlin where we are not used to seeing them in winter plumage. The short bill is an illusion with the dark tip  being lost against the background.
Another mystery solved.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Fly Flatts, we,re on our way,

        Ice free water was a surprise after yesterday

                                    The area a Dunlin flew from.
       Looking west to Winny Stone beyond Tatty Pie Hill
                                           Nice bit of shoreline in the boatyard
                                               A waterlogged track
                                          SE corner
                                   1 lonely Mallard
    Water gushing down the overflow

                                          Clear water across to the Nab.

1500 hrs and kitted up ready for the off but with a text from DJS saying he had covered Mixenden and Fly Flatts was fogged off it was a matter of all dressed up and nowhere to go.
                                                          As a last resort I set off for Ogden but on route I could see a break in the cloud to the west with the fog just above the wind turbines so a quick detour took me to Fly Flatts.
The fog had lifted but the rain was heavy throughout, blown down from The Nab on a NE>5 but surprisingly the solid ice reservoir from yesterday was completely thawed and the drifts across the track were now low enough to drive through with ease. At last we,re on our way.
                                                       A check of the boatyard area to start with produced 4 Meadow Pipits and a pair of very mobile Stonechats along with a low count of Canada geese and a single drake Mallard.
As I started to scan the shore along the front of the clubhouse a Dunlin lifted from behind a clump of reeds and flew low to drop down onto the moor in the SE corner making it a early returner rather than a passage bird.
On then to get some seed down with an increase in wind and rain along the west bank but 3 Curlews were up over the moor along with several noisy Red Grouse.
                                                                On the way back up the track a brown Peregrine skimmed low towards the flat moor then away over Slade.
                                                                   Nice to bump into 2 new faces up there, Sailing club members William and Kate.