Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Brilliant Blacktoft!!!!

On Sunday we took a visit to RSPB Blacktoft Sands in hope of seeing the drake Ring Necked Duck and also we wanted to see the Montagus harriers again. We were hoping to get slightly better views of them.

We arrived about 2ish and then we started our walk round the reserve but before that I managed to find a Robin nest next to the reserve which is my first one so I was very happy! It had a total of 5 eggs. As soon as we entered the reserve we went straight to the Xerox Hide as this is where the Ring Necked Duck was viewable from. As soon as we entered the hide we spotted it next to one of the islands, it was pretty easy to spot as it was the only black and white duck on the water. It was quite distinctive with its different shaped head and the markings on the bill, it was quite a bit different to Tufties, a very nice bird to see! After a while of watching he made his way onto the island and went to sleep. After a bit someone shouted theres the male Monties, we spotted it quite distantly but suddenly it came right towards the hide and it came pretty close well at least a lot closer than last time!

Ring Necked Duck

Montagus Harrier
After we went to Marshland Hide well I think that was it called, from there we didn't see much other than plenty of Black headed Gulls, many of them had chicks also there was a Little Grebe on the water. We then went to the Reception area where the staff told us there was 2 Spotted Redshanks from the hide next to the First Hide so that is where we went next where we managed to spot the Spotted Redshanks plus with them was a Greenshank which was also very nice to see. We then went to the Singelton Hide where we saw the Male Monties again but from a distance also there was tons of Marsh Harriers. In front of the hide there was a couple of Sedge Warblers flitting around.
After a top day with 1 lifer and 2 year ticks it was time to go, it was a very enjoyable day!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Springwatch Extra!

On the 2nd of June I got invited to go on Springwatch Extra, as you could imagine I really couldn't wait, I was so looking forward to it. I was a tiny bit nervous but all the excitement took that away! The drive down to Minsmere was about 4hours but that didn't really matter as it was all completely worth it! We arrived about half twelve and we went straight to the BBC area where we arranged to meet up with Libby Prins and Lindsay Chapman. Once we had found them they showed me round the whole studio and all the cameras. They showed me basically what was going to happen in the show and which photos they wanted me to show.

Afterwards me and my Dad were allowed to look round the reserve for an hour. We headed off in the direction of the Bittern hide. We took a look in the Bittern hide but unfortunately we saw no Bitterns, we then moved on to the Island Mere where we saw all the cameras which were focused on the sticklebacks where we even saw Spineless Si! From Island Mere we saw a cracking Hobby which hawked at lightening speed across the reeds hunting Dragonflies as it did, a great thing to watch!

Then it was time for the show! We rushed back and got all set up and I was ready to go. Once on all the nerves dropped and from the first question I really enjoyed it, it is one thing I will always remember. I hope from everyone who watched it enjoyed it and I would just like to saw a massive thanks to the whole Springwatch team for having me and allowing on the show. But it wasn't over as I got to go on Springwatch Unsprung that night too!! But before all that we had a few more hours around the reserve. This time we went in the way of the East hide where we were hoping to see some Little Gulls. The scrapes from the hide were packed with birds. There were tons of Gulls and we thought we would never spot the Little Gulls in this but thankfully I spotted 2 of them on the back end of the scrape! they were very distant but still nice to see. Also around the hide we spotted Barnacle Geese, Oystercatchers, Little Egret, Avocet and we saw another Hobby.
Little Gull

Barnacle Geese
We then carried on our walk to the sea wall where we saw Green Woodpeckers and we had a brief view of a Bearded Tit also we saw a Moorhen nest where all the chicks had almost certainly just hatched, possibly in the last hour or two.
After we went back to the studio to watch the live Springwatch show and then after when that had finished we headed moved into the audience of the Springwatch Unsprung show which was great to watch live. It was great hearing about different Reptiles in the UK especially about Sand Lizards, I haven't seen them in the UK before but it is one species which I am hoping to see soon! After we left and began the 4hour journey back to York but what a great time we have had!  

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Scotland Trip 2015!

On the 22nd of May we went on holiday to Scotland, we stayed near Inverness and we weren't far away from many bird filled sites, I couldn't wait to get there! I look forward to this holiday every year as sometimes you just don't know what you will see and in the past I have had many great surprises!

Day 1
Most of this day was driving. Yay... To be honest I was not looking forward to the 6-7hr drive but once we were through the highlands it got a little better as two Ospreys passed straight over the car! A very nice start to our holiday. Once we arrived we had a little time down at Loch Killin where we found a 2 Common Sandpiper and an Oystercatcher nest!

Day 2
This day started of quite well with a Black Grouse lek just down the road which involved about 10 birds which was very nice to see. We also had a couple of Stonechat by the road and a possible Mealy Redpoll but we didn't get a good enough look to be certain. Later on in the day we had a walk to a little place called Foyers where we saw lots of Buzzards, Siskins and a Lesser Redpoll.

Day 3
Today we went to Loch Garten in hope of seeing the Ospreys, Odin and EJ but we had no luck with either but on and around the feeders we saw lots of Siskins and a couple of Wood Mouse.

Day 4
Today was a very productive day as in the morning we started of at Loch Tarff where we found 2 cracking summer plumaged Black Throated Divers!! They were amazing to watch. Around Loch Tarff we also found another Common Sand nest plus a Song Thrush also we saw a Cuckoo, a Dipper and a Stonechat. We also found 3 Common Gull nests, by the end of the holiday this total raised to 8! After we went to Loch Ruthven in hope of seeing the Slavonian Grebes. On the way we saw about 10 Hares which showed very well by the side of the road! we saw about 4 Slavonian Grebes in total but all quite distant but still great to see and in the car park we had an Osprey which circled the car for several minutes. We then moved up to Tomatin in hope of seeing some Eagles but despite waiting a couple of hours we didn't see any but we had another Osprey which sat amazingly in a tree where it gave brilliant scope views also we saw a Spotted Flycatcher.
Black Throated Diver
Black Grouse


Slavonian Grebes

Day 5
Today we had a little drive into RSPB Corrornmy where we didn't see much other than a Cuckoo and several Hoodes Crows also we went to Foyers and Loch Tarff where we saw Dippers, Grey Wagtails and a Whinchat
Day 6
Today was another fairly quiet day where we saw tons of Red Deer, we also checked all of our nests plus at Loch Killin we had amazing views of a Common Sandpiper.

Common Sandpiper
Day 7
Today we went to the Cairngorms!!!! I really couldn't wait! On the way we spotted 4 Reindeer by the road and they all came very close and all were great to see. Once we had parked we started our trek up to the summit but once we got about half way up the weather just got absolutely horrible and people coming down said it was just getting worse and worse, it was snowing, hail stoning and really strong winds and we just thought would anything be out in this weather? After getting a few more bad messages from some other people we decided to come back but thankfully we did see some Ptarmigan!! Also at the bottom a Male Ring Ouzel gave fantastic views, definitely the best I have had!

Ring Ouzel
After we came down we picked up my Mum and my brother who looked around Aviemore as they didn't want to come up the mountain and they told us they had a look round a little reserve nearby, I couldn't remember what the name of the place was but they said they had seen Wood Warblers there so after that I was straight over. After only about 5mins around the place we heard the distinctive call of the Wood Warbler and soon enough we then found it! It showed very well at times also we saw Tree Pipits including a recently fledged one which showed quite well. We also saw a Peregrine, Lesser Redpoll, Spotted Flys and a few Willow Warblers.

Wood Warbler

Tree Pipit
When we left we found a pair of Oystercatchers feeding 3 chicks just outside a big hotel, it was a great watching them all.

Day 8
Today was one of my favourite days of the holiday as we had a day trip to Mull!! To be honest the drive plus the ferries felt like about 3hrs but it was all completely worth it. On the first ferry I managed to spot a Bottlenose Dolphin which was very nice to see. We then drove down to Iona in hope of seeing a bird which is probably one of my most wanted birds, the Corncrake!! On the way we saw plenty of Buzzards, a Cuckoo and tons of Hooded Crows. We managed to get the ferry to Iona after just missing one but thankfully we got across to Iona. We were told that they could be seen from a field behind the Fire Station so that's where we headed but unfortunately we heard nothing or saw nothing. Meanwhile me and my Dad went off looking for them and we left My Mum and my Brother behind to look round. Me and my Dad didn't see much other than a group of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and an Eider. After a while we started to walk back and anyway my Mum was calling me over saying she had heard a sort of croaking sound and she said she saw something what looked like a skinny chicken! We knew almost instantly what it was and then she took us straight to the spot and straight away we heard the call and then 2 Corncrakes ran out of the long grass!! Yes!! One went away quite quickly but the other one stayed long enough for us to get a great look at such a cracking bird. From that day on my Mum has been bragging about how she found them, mostly every day she has mentioned it! but anyway well done for finding them Mum!

We then left Iona to have a drive round Mull in hope of seeing some Eagles or something out of the ordinary. We took a scenic route back to the ferry where we saw our first Raven of the year, a Buzzard and a male Stonechat plus we found 2 other Oystercatcher nests both with 3 eggs. On the back to the lodges we took two ferries which would cut at least half an hour of the journey. On the last ferry, while waiting to get on I saw a Black Guillemot fly past and it looked like it had landed round the back of the boat so I was hoping to get on and get a quick photo of them. Thankfully I managed to get to see them and there turned out to be 4 on the water and I just said I wonder where they would be nesting and more or less straight afterwards my Dad said there nesting on that bridge, there was about 10 other birds nesting in these little boxes on the side of the bridge which was fantastic to see!

Black Guillemot
Also on the way to the Ferry we spotted a pair of Red Breasted Mergansers which were great to see and nice to see up close.

Red Breasted Mergansers
That is the end of our Scotland holiday and what an enjoyable one it was with 2 great life ticks and plenty of year ticks, my highlight was seeing the Corncrakes but I enjoyed every bit of it! I really cant wait to return next year if we do!