Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Tuesday 31st August 2010

18:30 > 20:00
Sun then sunset, calm. 20c to start then cooling.

I hadn't intended visiting the site today but a beautiful late summer evening was too good to pass up given what we've had recently. The highlight was a pair of Spotted Flycatcher, my first at the site, along the riverside walk but the my bird of the day was the Kingfisher. I was lamenting not so long ago that I had not seen seen one since New Years Eve, pre the big freeze then a flash of blue from a juvenile along Back Brook gave some hope that they hadn't been wiped out in the valley. Well this evening in true London bus style I found three. A pair along the River Ouse at the eastern end of the site by the viaduct on arrival then late on a single at the other end a matter of yards from the 'Iron Trunk' aquaduct. Perhaps with the water level in the river dropping they are making hay fishing wise after what must have been a struggle the last few days. A very welcome sight indeed. I understand my East Yorkshire reader is most pleased. ;)

The reedbeds and waterside bushes were alive with migrants once more and there has been a small influx of waders too. At least three Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper and a single Common Snipe could be found in the newly flooded area. A single Common Tern and two Little Egret were also noted.

I hung around till sunset when the pre-roost of gulls and built up to around 600 birds. Autumn is definitely on its way and the site is starting to give me hope once more. Looking back on last years records they are not so very different.

Spotted Flycatcher - Birdguides
Spotted Flycatcher - BTO
Spotted Flycatcher - Wiki
Spotted Flycatcher - RSPB

Monday, 30 August 2010

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Saturday 28th August 2010 - Morning

8:30 > 12:00
15c sun, cooling NW breeze.

Following on from Paul M's text (see below) I made my way to the Farm with the intention of photographing the Common Redstarts. They took some finding but after an hour or so a single female was found along the Ridge path leading back to the canal not far from Pauls original instructions. Indeed only a matter of yards from where last years birds were found. If it wasn't for the textbook dropping down from cover picking something off the grass then shooting back I could have well  have walked right past it. Despite it being on the wrong side of the light I managed to get a couple of (not that brilliant) shots in but then as if it knew it was centre stage it got in prime position in the spotlight only with me now on the wrong side of the fence, see pics.

Well hidden...

Also on site two Yellow Wagtails over and a smattering of migrants in the reeds and bushes along the river and brooks. Briefly a single Golden Plover dropped in to one of the new pools alongside two Green Sandpipers. Seven Teal also put in an all to short visit. Three Common Terns lingered for a while in the sun as did a single Oystercatcher on one of the flooded pools in the new workings. A flock of forty Lapwing flew over while six could be found down on the mud at waters edge.

As things warmed up out came the dragonflies and butterflies. Nothing unusual on the butterfly front but not knowing a hawker from a chaser who knows on the odonata front, more pics later.

And finally a Common Buzzard made the day photo wise, given some cracking shots in the light.

Common Redstart - Birdguides
Common Redstart - BTO
Common Redstart - Avibirds
Common Redstart - RSPB
Common Redstart - Wiki

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Saturday 28th August 2010 - Early Morning

Text from Paul M (with Rob N) at 7am reporting two Common Redstarts, three Yellow Wagtails, a Green Sandpiper and a probable Greenshank with a Common Snipe through the site. See link to Robs report of visit below.

Robs Report

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Thursday 26th August 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 18:30
13c, wet cold, miserable. NE wind.

That cross between mist and drizzle (mizzle?) that lands on the grass like dew but soaks everything right through, (copyright Peter Kay) but I was wet already so had a wander through the site. Just a single Green Sandpiper of note but the place was awash with hirundines forced low by the weather. On the appraoch road around fifty or so Swallows darted about while over the river area at least double that number of House Martins were acrobatically performing and flying within inches of passers by, which given the rain was just an odd jogger and muggins here. (Poor quality video due to weather but you get the idea)

The rain has formed more pools though and there is an ever increasing ribbon of water forming the length of the new area.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Tuesday 24th August 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 18:00
17c cloud, westerly wind.

Lapwing numbers have increased to around a dozen now with three juveniles in tow. With my doubts about good wader habitat gone now with the new landscaping it was good to the three Green Sandpipers on site but i'm not holding my breath just yet for anything more substansial this autumn. Two Teal dozed in the inlet and that was about it.

Noticable however was the rise in levels on the moving water on site. The River Ouse is I would guess around a foot or two higher than it normally is this time of year and while the pools on Back Brook are gradually filling 'Front' Brook is now flowing at a depth of a foot or so along its entire length.

Tuesday 24th August 2010 - Early Morning

6:30 > 7:00
Sun, calm 14c

A quick pre-work visit to check if I had missed anything on my binless visit last night (see below). Not a lot it seems. Around 200 gulls around the two spits but on the whole vitually all Black Headed. Amongst them six Lapwing slept. Out on the water a lone female Gadwall with a smattering of Canadian Geese. The first Cormorant in a while flew over while on the top field were six newly arrived Mistle Thrush. Finally a couple of Whitethroat could be found along the ridge.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Monday 23rd August 2010 - Evening

18:00 > not very long...
18c breaking sun after heavy downpour, freshening westerly.

So what's the first rule of birdwatching? Yep don't leave your bins on the kitchen table, something I managed to do yet again this evening.

After the heavy rain of the day and with the sun finally breaking through I thought I'd pay a visit on the way home and things certainly look better than they were with new pools formed from the last few days downpours.
And certainly there are birds out there amongst the multitude of gulss but when I reached in my rucksack I realised my mistake. Damn!

On trudging back there were two Green Sandpipers yet again on the Top Pool but little reward given what might have been.

Oh well tomorrow...

Friday, 20 August 2010

Friday 20th August - Afternoon

Hanging in there - Green Sandpiper - Manor Farm
13:30 > 14:30
23c warm, muggy, broken cloud, strong SSW wind which had caused a dead tree in the top field to finally topple and split.

A somewhat disappointing visit once more. Of course things will improve with time but at the moment the site looks more like a public park boating lake in the making more than anything more 'wild' and the birds are not being attracted in. Futher work on the inlet which now has its sides (home to a multitude of Sand Martin nests a couple of weeks ago) levelled and sloping towards the water. The depth has also been increased so bar a small area at the western end which held two Green Sandpipers there are no gravel scrapes that held waders into double figures only a week ago.

A party of eight Grey Herons herons was noticable in the lower field at the western end, below the canal embankment as were yet another Green Woodpeckerfamily group along the hedgrerow but the bird of the day was an acrobatic female Sparrowhawk atacking the ever growing Goldfinch flock.

To be honest though at the moment I would not recommend anyone particularly going out their way to visit the site just yet. I am passing every other day so I will keep all posted with improvements (hopefully).

This time last year... Dunlin remains
Sparrowhawk - Birdguides
Sparrowhawk - BTO
Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Wiki
Sparrowhawk - RSPB

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Thursday 19th August - Evening

18:00 > 19:00
17c Rain, then heavy rain, then heavier still (do you get the picture?)

Water level seems to be a little higher and further work around the inlet area seems now to have made it part and parcel of the new flooded area. In this area a single female Teal fed while out on the expanse a pair of Gadwall did the same. Apart from a single Lapwing on the mud the only other wader seen was a Green Sandpiper over then at the Top Pool, probably the same bird.

Apart from that it was gulls all the way. Circa 400 on the two new facing 'spits'. predominantly Black Headed but a fair smattering of Lesser Black Backed, including three juveniles.

This time last year... Early Common Gull
Gadwall - Birdguides
Gadwall - Wiki
Gadwall - RSPB
Gadwall - BTO

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Tuesday 17th August - Evening

17:30 > 18:00 Cloud, sun then heavy burst of rain, 22c, westerly breeze.
Manor Farm - Top Field 17/08/10

More groundwork around the inlet, some clearing of mounds and opening up the end so its a clean flow through again to the main body of water. Certainly gives more a view from the hill, especially along the ridge, but downside is the inlet was devoid of the waders that have been there the last couple of visits. Indeed the only waders found on site today were three flyover Lapwing that did a circuit then thought better of it.

Apart from that nothing really of note. A fall of gulls circa 300 after the rain but virtually all Black Headers.

Some moody sky and a rainbow made up for things though (see pics). And picked out in the sun against the black sky a resplendent pair of Lesser Whitethroat in the old fruit trees around the farm itself rounded off the visit. Alas wrong camera for what would have been cracking pics given the conditions.

Click on pics for full size..
Manor Farm - Top Pool 17/08/10
Manor Farm - Rainbow! 17/08/10
Manor Farm - Farmhouse 17/08/10


Sunday, 15 August 2010

Back Brooks own Serengeti...

Pike - Back Brook - August 2010

There’s a mini drama waiting to be played out along Back Brook. Every summer as water levels subside small isolated pools are left along this length of its run. Without wishing to sound too much like Jack Hargreaves, in years gone by the large pool down by the stone bridge where the Back and ‘front’ Brook joins before going the last 100 yards or back into the Ouse was a favourite fishing haunt and it was a real feather in your cap when the farm was occupied if you could fish this without the Farmer seeing and doing his ‘Gert orf my land’ bit. As fish gravitated towards the deeper pools as the levels dropped it was a bit of a fisherman's haven and still today there’s some sizable fish in there but I have not seen anybody fish it in a couple of years.

The old fishing hole this week

Mostly the other pools would gradually diminish, Herons and lately Little Egrets would move in to pick off any stranded fish and by midsummer dragonflies would be the only life ruling the roost. Not this year though. Whether it was a quick drop in levels or a flash flood that caused it I don’t know but there in still one more shallowish pool where a shoal of Perch, a shoal of Roach and centre stage one single Pike. You would think it would be a fox in a chicken house scenario but no. On a couple of occasions I watched the Pike glide through the shoals of other fish with them barely batting an eyelid (if fish have eyelids).

The predator is not on the big size, a youngster maybe a foot in length at most and I thought maybe it was just a question of the other fish being too big for dinner but a fishing friend informs me that pike with take on anything two thirds their size. Certainly nearly all the other fish come into its eatable range, so what’s stopping it?

Well you'd like to think that its the Pike's cunning, knowing it has a limited food source that has to last until the brook is flooded through and he can return to the Ouse to hunt at will. Clever fish imposing a crucial bit of rationing...

But then again if truth be told he's probably just full to the gills already!

Pike - Wiki
Perch - Wiki
Roach - Wiki

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Saturday 14th August 2010 - Evening

Viaduct -far east end of site.
18:30 > 20:00
18c cloud then fine warm sunny evening with rain holding off, just (see 'storm' below)

Entering the site from the Haversham end this evening I was somewhat suprised to three grown men shoes and socks off, paddling under the viaduct. Not to much sun or one too many in the Greyhound, they were fishing by hand it seems for Signal Crayfish that can often be seen in the shallows here.

Along the path between the silt beds and the gravel mounds after the heavier rain earlier in the day the number of large light brown and and almost orange in some cases 'Black Slug' was also noticable. Not a true black one in sight but a few dozen of their different coloured brethern.

As for the birds well the inlet was once again the centre of activity with five Green Sandpipers, a lone Common Sandpiper but more noticably three female Teal, new arrivals to the site.

Along the pollarded Willows of Back Brook a Little Owl was flushed whilst a Common Buzzard once again roosted in the trees at the bottom of central field. Late in the evening a single Barnacle Goose, no doubt of dubious origin, flew in and honked till the one hundred or so resident Canadian flock joined it on the water.

The weather was the real star tonight though. Standing on the ridge above the valley in warm evening sunshine on my way home it was somewhat surreal stopping to watch the dense black mass of a huge thuder storm, with a quite impressive lightshow to boot, off in the distance over Northampton.

Signal Crayfish - The Telegraph
Teal - Birdguides
Teal - BTO
Teal - Wiki
Teal - RSPB
This time last year - Dunlin

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday 13th August - Afternoon

The Inlet Manor Farm - Aug 2010
14:00 > 16:30
14c Heavy rain giving way to sun then odd shower.

As the last of this years cattle are carted away for the dinner table it means once more it is safe to go and view the inlet from the west end, and it came up trumps with seven Green Sandpipers, a papir of Common Sandpipers and two Litte Egrets. The Sandmartin colony still holds a few active nests here too with parents darting in and out every second. Also in this area quite a few Common Blue butterflies a pair of Bullfinch and a Whitethroat.

Along the river quite a few Willow Wablers, Chiffchaffs, Sedge and Reed Warblers were noticable amongst the tree and vegetation along with a smattering of the the more common Tits. A Sparrowhawk darted here and there paying close close attention to any movement from cover.

Up on the 'high plain' the pool behind the farm buildings a further two Green Sandpipers could be found.

Out on the main area itself 14 Lapwing hugged the banking in the deluge alongside fifty or so Black Headed Gulls. A handful of Lesser Black Backed and a couple of Herring Gulls could also be found later in the afternoon.

And finally whilst we might curse the low flying Chinooks overhead, there was another one on Friday scattering everything, you cannot help but look up in awe at the low flying Vulcan Bomber (is it the last one?) flying low over the valley at around four o'clock.

Sand Martin - Birdguides
Sand Martin - BTO
Sand Martin - Wiki
Sand Martin - RSPB
Common Blue - UK Butterflies
Common Blue - Butterfly Conservation
The Last Vulcan

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Thursday 12th August 2010 - Evening

18:00 > 19:30
14c Heavy rain breaking to sun, NW breeze.

At last a Kingfisher! Having not seen one at the site since the last day of 2009 just before the big freeze set in I was starting to think maybe the birds that were almost daily sightings, especially along the river, had succumbed to the cold. But no there was the azure flash this evening of a juvenile making its way along Back Brook.

Other birds of note, waders numbers building, at least three Green Sandpipers including on on the top pool south of the farm buildings. A very pale Common Redshank respledent in the late sun and a single Common Sandpiper. Two Little Egrets also around the confines while geese numbers continue to rise, now around 150 Canadians up on the slopes with their single confused Greylag mate.

Fifty or so gulls, most Black Headed but a handful of Herring and Lesser Black Backed. A youngster of one of these species (don't even ask me to start decoding the plumage) was the star of the day, circled a few times then made half a dozen dry runs to join the other gulls on the mud before taking the easy option and diving head first almost Gannet style into the water in a none too graceful landing. None the worse for the experience though.

This time last year - Greenshank
Kingfisher - Birdguides
Kingfisher - BTO
Kingfisher - RSPB
Kingfisher - Wiki

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Tuesday 10th August - Evening

One of last years Northern Wheaters
17:30 > 18:00
18c drizzle, dull, calm.

At last some waders have returned after the partial flooding. A Common Redshank and a Green Sandpiper were in Godwit Corner while a pair of Common Sandpiper picked around in the shallows of the inlet. A single Lapwing was harried at every occasion by an immature Magpie for whatever reason I don't know. Kids eh?

Also on site at least three Little Egret and a pair of Common Tern. Birds of the day however were two Northern Wheatear. In the new secondary shingle and mud banking at the bottom of central field a rather shabby looking female was found whilst a few yards away a juvenile gave good views.

Things gradually looking up but it still looks a little too manicured at the moment. Early days.

Looking back on last years records its a day later (11th) for the Wheatears when a juvenile was the first returning bird last 'autumn'.
This time last year...

Other links:
Northern Wheatear - Birdguides
Northern Wheatear - BTO
Northern Wheatear - Wiki
Northern Wheatear - RSPB

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Mayfly - Photographic catch up

Pics from earlier this year that i've not had time to process till now.
Mayfly in ermmm May!
Click for full size.

Manor Farm - 28th May - Mayfly rising...
Mayfly - Bug of the Month

Water, water everywhere!

Well not quite but here's some pics of the new flooded area. Click on each pic for a larger version.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Friday 6th August - Early Morning

6:45 > 7:15
Calm, sun.

No new arrivals in fact noting of note at all. 50 or so Black Headed Gulls doze on one of the earth mounds while grazing up on the hill the Canada Goose flock (plus their single token Greylag companion thats been with a small group of Canadians all summer arounf the site) now numbers over 100 birds.

Canada Goose - Birdguides
Canada Goose - BTO
Canada Goose - RSPB
Canada Goose - Wiki
Canada Goose - Avibirds

This time last year - Gulls, gulls, gulls!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Thursday 5th August 2010 - Evening

17:30 > 19:00
20c broken cloud, sunny spell, nw breeze.

Water, water everywhere (and even a Yellow Legged Gull)
A lot sooner than I expected (see below ad naseum) they have started to flood the landscaped area i.e. what was the main body of water and the gravel island area in a previous life. Indeed it was water being held back in an ever deepening inlet that has been relaesed by a small channel cut into the wall and what an area it has created (pictures tomorrow hopefully).

There is anow a large figure of eight are covering probably a fifth of the area here (and yes 'Godwit Corner' was one of the first to fill) and i'd expect it to go up more in the coming days. and for the grand opening in amongst 80 Black Headed Gulls, 22 Lesser Black Backed Gull and a single pink legged Herring Gull was its southern cousin a clear cut Yellow Legged Gull. It was a camera opportunity missed, all three species side by side in the evening sun.

Oddly seeing the range of waders that were being drawn into what were little more than puddles lately the ever growing expanse of water and shoreline not a single wader was seen but surely that will change in the coming days given how the place looks.

In the pools left in the draining inlet a handful of Grey Heron were having a feast on trapped fish joined later by two Little Egret. The Sandmartin colony must have been wondering what was happening, a few feet of water outside the front door on Tuesday, today an inch or two. Along the river, where clearance of the temporary banking now gives clear close up views from the north side, were both Greater Spotted Woodpecker and a family group of Green Woodpecker.

On leaving a very Arctic looking Tern dropped and settled by the shore in but im not 100% on ID due to range.

Things are definitely looking up.

Yellow Legged Gull - Birdguides
Yellow Legged Gull - BTO
Yellow Legged Gull - Wiki
Yellow Legged Gull - RSPB

This time last year...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Tuesday 3rd August - Evening

17:45 > 18:15
22c broken cloud then sun, westerly breeze.

Alas the wader pool is no more! The landscaping has gone on apace the last couple of days and the area that drew in the likes of Greenshank, Sanderling, Black Tailed Godwit and Dunlin, not to mention all the 'regular' waders has now been consigned to history under six foor of soil.

Also gone are the new developing pools on the northside, favoured by the Common and Green Sanpipers of late. All we have now is a couple of acres of undulating manicured mud. Eggs and omelettes though, its not as if all this is going to be buried under concrete. I expect now its a matter of waiting for this new layout to be flooded, as and when who knows?

As for the birds well a single Green Sandpiper circled a couple of times as if to say well it was here yesterday and that was about it apart from a few hundred Jackdaw, Crow and Woodpigeon on the freshly turned earth.

The inlet, where around 30 Black Headed Gulls were congregated, now remains the only bit of standing water at this end of the site (there are still the silt beds far to the east) but the inlet itself looks as though the level has been raised, a sign of things to come, we'll see.

This Time Last Year - Butterflies

Black Headed Gull - Birdguides
Black Headed Gull - BTO
Black Headed Gull - RSPB
Black Headed Gull - Wiki