Monday, 18 February 2008

Anything for the weekend sir?, A Dipper and a Ferret!

Starting early( Circa 5.45am) on saturday morning in sub zero temperature's,myself, Mark Skevington and John Hague ventured out for a birding trip to North Nottinghamshire and the Socialist Republic of Greater Yorkshire.
Our first port of call was Clumber Park to look for Hawfinches, which are normally around the chapel in the centre of the park.

Leaving the car in minus six temperature's we wandered around the grounds next to the chapel, taking the odd photo in the very atmospheric landscape of freezing fog and heavy frost. John then picked up a male Hawfinch singing on top of a nearby conifer tree. After John and Mark had taken a few distant shots of the bird with there new toys, the bird promptly flew off. The bird then showed again briefly in nearby trees, before flying off towards the nearby car park.
By this time, we were all feeling a bit peckish so decided to have breakfast at the greasy spoon opposite to the entrance to the park.
I would recommend the bacon and sausage cobs at this site, as their were the best breakfast cobs I've had for over the last six months!

Our next port of call for the day was Potteric Carr nature reserve, near Doncaster. This reserve is probably the best place in the UK to see wintering Bitterns.
The day before, the Bitterns had been seen from Piper Hide, so we headed to the hide first.
Looking out of the hide,most of the surrounding water was frozen, with the majority of the bird life sitting on the ice. Over the next hour we scanned the reedbeds, but the Bitterns refused to show. The only notable sighting we had was a fox cheekily checking out the ducks for the comfort of one of the reedbeds.
Moving on from the hide, we checked the feeding station out, were had excellent views of a feeding Water Rail underneath the feeders. As you can imagine John and Mark took a number of shots of the bird.
Following a quick coffee break at the field study centre, we checked out the rest of the reserve.
The only highlight we saw before returning to the car, was a couple of Willow Tits in the south part of the reserve.
The main reason for this trip was that John had never seen a Black-bellied Dipper, so the chance to see one not too far from Potteric Carr was too good not to miss.
Arriving at Watton, we checked out the brook were the Dipper had been seen earlier in the morning, but after a fruitless walk along the brook into the nearby wood, there was no sign of the
Maybe John had dipped the Dipper?!
Walking back towards the Mill House,the bird then suddenly flew along the brook in front of us.
Although the bird was wary of our presence, John and Mark did manage to get a few record shots of the bird.

Our final destination of the day was Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve for the Raptor roost.
Although the best hide (Singleton Hide) to watch the roost was closed because of a guided walk, we soon settled in the next hide along the path.
Sightings we saw from this hide included two Short-eared Owls flying over the large reedbed, at least four Barn Owls hunting over the reedbed,and up to at least eight Marsh Harriers roosting in the reedbed.
An adult Whooper Swan on a nearby pool was also nice surprise on the sighting front, and a year tick to boot.
Sadly we missed a roosting ring tail Hen Harrier as it was out of sight from the hide, and a Bittern which flew low over the reedbed, as the birder who found it,his directions were pants, and most people in the hide could not get onto the bird.

As it was dark by now, we decided to call it a day, and drive home to Leicester.
Dropping off John at his home, the final sighting of the day was quite strangely for myself and Mark, a White Ferret running along the main A6!?
Maybe there is feral Ferret population alive and kicking in Birstall, or some halfwit has lost there prized pet, answers on a postcards please?!?
thanks to Mark for some of photos!

Post a Comment