Saturday, 7 January 2012

Race day contenders

Those of you in local birding circles will likely be aware that the Mike Clegg memorial charitable bird race is running tomorrow across the county. We’ve already had some interest from prospective listers so hopefully todays sightings will be of use.

The big highlight has been an adult iceland gull on the D res roost tonight – confirming finder Martin Hodges thoughts that this is ‘the best gull winter ever.’ In addition a 1st winter mediterranean gull was also in attendance with a fine drake goosander all day.

The northern reserve also saw a presence of the short eared owls again albeit only early afternoon – check out Alan’s pics on Flickr here. Barn owl too has been delighting observers along with the usual north marsh kingfisher and car park siskins. David Ware as he writes here also had a ring tailed hen harrier on Hallytreeholme (East Hull bank) rough grassland yesterday.

As has been the case all winter you then need to turn to Watton NR at the other extremity for the rest. White-fronted geese continue to fluctuate between 2 and 100 depending on the luck of the observer – presumably the greenland race is amongst them somewhere. Apparently green winged teal showed after finally being flushed out by a passing peregrine late morning but was not easy. 2 red head smew have now made a welcome appearance along with a fine drake pintail, egyptian goose – chased by a swan here – photo by Andy Marshall:

Garganey was seen yesterday – not sure is anyone logged it for today. 3 black-tailed godwit were also present, and the rest of the week has seen them with a ruff and up to 12 redshank too. The last bittern sighting was on the 4th here too; so hopefully a good range for any competitor.

If it were me…

I would aim to arrive at Tophill mid-afternoon and hit the site late in the day. It’s a difficult choice which way to go – but I would perhaps go north first if you needed short eared and barn owl and potentially a lucky hen harrier – stopping to look for the reliable willow tits on the D woods feeders and hope for a kingfisher on North Marsh.

I would then strike out for Watton NR – hoping the wildfowl is playing ball and readily visible. It is then a choice – stay for the bittern and little egrets roosting and try for a med on O res at very last light / or return to D res for the main gull roost in the hope of something more exotic and a likely goosander.

Tawny’s are easy to hear if not see after dark, and if you are really keen you could always sit next to Scurf Dyke in the hope of a hunting long eared…

Best of luck to all competing!

Now we may yet re-schedule – but I am assured that the Tophill Low otter featurette on BBC InsideOut will be airing on Monday night – but we’ll wait and see!

And finally I found a bit of time to edit together this taste of last summer – not long to go now…(Oh - and presumably it is the same in the video as the field - you may need 'young ears' for this!)