Saturday, 25 February 2017

Post 459 - A Happy Half Term Bunting Hunting :-)

Quite a way to start the day - a wonderful
view of Waxwings
Hey everyone, post 459 today and a little run down of what has been a great half term. It's always interesting to see how the weather turns out this half term. Sometimes I've been able to go sledging. Sometimes I've been able to go paddling in the sea at Whitby in t-shirt and shorts. It can be very varied but I particularly remember that about this time of year as it was my birthday this week. It was a relatively big birthday too as I'm now a teenager!

Well it's always nice to have time to spend going for walks and exploring. I managed to fit in quite a bit already this week and I've still got another day tomorrow to see what else I can see. So where have I been this week?
Russian White Fronted Geese peeking out of a ditch.

As you may have seen I did a little post about my first trip out to to Upper Teesdale on the first day of the holidays.

After that we stayed with the area north of me as there were some reports of birds that I hoped to see. On Monday we headed to RSPB Saltholme. There were quite a few reports of things I haven't seen including a Long Eared Owl,  Russian White Fronted Geese and some other things we hoped to pick up on the coast on the way home.

A wonderful view of a gorgeous bird - Snow Bunting!
 Arriving in the car park at RSPB Saltholme the day got off to a promising start. As soon as I got out of the car I caught sight of 5 Waxwings. The light was great as well so I got a few nice photos of them (for a change!). Going into the reserve we heard that the Long Eared Owl had been driven from its usual roost further into the scrub probably as lots of people were very pleased to see it and photograph it. Still Dad and I had a great walk and saw lots of great birds including Pintails. Teal, Wigeon, Curlews, Lapwings, Reed Buntings and more Shovelors and Shelducks than I've ever seen in one place before.

A Rock Pippet at Skinningrove
On the way back we looked along the road for another bird we knew was hanging around. When we saw a few Greylags we pulled over and had a look around. It was the right decision as we soon picked out the heads at least of a few of the Russian White Fronted Geese that had been reported. Not the best views I've had of a goose but still nice to see.

Another stop off point on the way home was to Redcar where we knew there were reports of Snow Buntings. After parking up and having a short walk towards where we'd spotted someone with a telescope we soon saw them. What a lovely bird! One of the prettiest little birds I've seen for a while. They were very happy flitting about, perching on the posts of the groynes and generally hunting for things to eat and posing for photos.

And an Eastern Black Redstart!
Well after that we headed home only to find out if we'd checked our phones that we could have walked a bit further up the beach and seen a Lapland Bunting too! Never mind, that's for another day.

A colour ringed Herring Gull
After some successful bunting hunting we decided to head out on Thursday, in spite of storm Doris, to see if we could see a few birds that were hanging around York. The first was the Pine Bunting. It was quite easy to find the site where it had been seen. It was quite easy to see the flock of Yellow Hammers it was hanging around with and thanks to someone close by doing a bit of drilling now and again it was quite easy to see the Pine Bunting as I had a good few chances to see the flock moving backwards and forwards to the scrub. Sadly all my photos were too blurry to make anything out due to the wind and rain :-(

Next up was the Great Grey Shrike that was on the other side of York. Well, sadly I am going to have to find one another day as it was seemingly taking shelter as I had a good look with no luck.

A very accommodating Turnstone
Friday saw us return to the coast, really just as the weather was much brighter and also as it was still a bit stormy and it's a fantastic coast to see when the waters quite rough. Our first stop was Skinningrove to see the Eastern Black Redstart. It's been there all winter but last time I went to see it the weather was terrible, but it was New Years Eve. So it was nice to see it in better light at least and I managed to get some nice photos. Hoping around the rocks too were Rock Pippets as well as a few Robins and a Wren. The cliffs had more birds along it than last time I visited too and Fulmars are starting to fill up all the nooks and crannies.

And a few more!
From Skinningrove to Whitby is a lovely coastal route with some fantastic views. The sea was still quite wild even after Doris had done her worst and the waves were crashing in and spraying the road. Whitby was our dinner stop for Fish and Chips, which were fantastic as usual. A little walk around the pier was well worth it too. Apart from many Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gulls and Cormorants I came across a flock of very accommodating Turnstones. I love watching these birds patrolling the tideline, exploring all the stones and debris for food. As the tide was in though and as there was nowhere to go they decided to sit up on the pier wall and scavenge crumbs dropped by all the visitors, great for me as I had my camera.

So, it's been a great half term so far and I've still another day to go. Not sure where I'll go tomorrow but hopefully I'll find something else interesting!

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Lovely photos here Zach, the snow bunting is a real joy to see! - Tasha

    1. Thanks Tasha, one of the loveliest birds I've seen this year :-)