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December 2006

1st - A Treecreeper seen in the garden today.

3rd - A blustery start to the day with some gale force gusts.

North Cave Wetlands - Another average morning, on a blustery day which had begun quite wet and with gusts up to gale force. Gadwall still around in very good numbers, with about forty seen around the reserve, and Shelducks also seen in numbers with a total of at least 25 birds seen. Other notes this morning included numerous Greylag geese, 20 Canada Geese, 28 Pochards, 25 Redshanks, and lots of Goldfinches on the rough fields.

4th - Very mild today, up to 14 C.

7th - The Grey Squirrels are proving quite an annoyance at the moment, but more welcome are good numbers of titmice about, especially Blue tits. Also more larger gulls are about, with observations of Herrings, & Black backs, this probably due to  the recent stormy weather. Mistle thrushes still about the local area today.

10th - A grey, damp, and dull day, though mild at 13 C.

North Cave Wetlands & Deepdale (Calliswold) - Went out with Uncle David and June this morning, popping in at North Cave Wetlands briefly. Very quiet again, and with overcast skies and spits of rain it wasn’t the most attractive of days, and so we didn’t stop long. The few sightings we did make included Shovelers, Shelducks, Teal, Mallards, Great Crested Grebes, & Little Grebes. From North Cave we drove up to Calliswold above Millington, and went for a walk around Deepdale, the weather improving all the time. A few good observations made this morning too, including a Buzzard, Fieldfares, and a Bullfinch. A Roe deer was also seen in the valley. A jolly pleasant walk.

12th - A female Blackcap seen in the garden, and a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was also seen, the first male I’ve ever seen in the garden.

13th - Eleven Chaffinches seen feeding on the lawn today. Still very mild, and especially mild overnight with a low of just 9.4 C.

14th - Robins singing widely at dawn, and later a single Redwing was spotted in the Hawthorn. Observations of Redwings have been sparse so far this winter. Still remarkably mild (14 C).

15th - A Bat was seen along Long Lane this morning, very late and a testament to the recent unseasonable warmth. A male Blackcap was seen in the garden today, on what was a dull, and damp day. Also less mild than recently.

16th - In stark contrast to yesterday, today was a lovely sunny winters day.

17th - Another bright day with a frost overnight (-1.2 C).

North Duffield Carrs - Visited the reserve at North Duffield Carrs for the first time, which is a reserve which overlooks the Derwent floodplain between the villages of Bubwith and North Duffield. It is also just a few miles down river from Wheldrake Ings. It looks like a very good reserve and is particularly good for wildfowl with observations including twenty Mute Swans, Greylag & Canada Geese, abundant Wigeon & Teal, which together fill the area with their calls, a few Pochards & Shovelers, Golden Plovers, Redshanks, and Winter Thrushes. However the big highlights were a couple of Stonechats, and a lone Peregrine Falcon, the Stonechats seen just outside the hide while the Peregrine was seen distantly on the river bank. A good mornings birding with a total of thirty six species seen around the area.

18th - Very white and frosty this morning, especially down at Swinemoor where it was also a little misty. Down there a Barn Owl flew right over my head, and Golden Plovers were heard over the floods, and a few Teal were also seen in the smaller pools. Indeed there is quite a bit of water now on the common. In the garden the Blackbirds are starting to eat the Cotoneaster berries, and a Robin was singing throughout the day. Another frost overnight.

19th - Foggy this morning and quite chilly today, with a high of just 2.6 C. Overnight the temperature fell to -2.6 C.

20th - The Robin & Song Thrush continue to sing. Frost persisting in the shade all day today, with a high of 2 C. Overnight another frost with a low of -4 C.

21st - Very white and frosty this morning, like snow where it has accumulated over the past few days. The temperature only reaching 1.7 C today. Despite the wintry conditions two female Blackcaps were seen in the garden today, and about fifty Wood Pigeons were observed in the Sycamores in late afternoon. Becoming foggy in the afternoon, down to 120 metres around 3pm. Clearing in the evening with another frost overnight.

22nd - After a frosty start becoming milder today. Pressure at 1043 mbar at one point.

23rd - A Treecreeper seen in the garden today, and a female Blackcap was also seen.

24th, Tophill Low - A great morning here at this varied and large reserve, with the undoubted highlight my first ever wild Smew, which was additionally a drake rather than the usual ‘red-head’. It was actually seen on the Watton Lagoons, an area which often has the best sightings to be honest. Other good observations on this Christmas Eve morning including abundant Wigeon, many Gadwall, numerous Teal, many Tufted ducks & Goldeneyes, a few Ruddy duck, a Curlew, twelve Redshanks, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, many winter thrushes, a few Mistle Thrushes, a Treecreeper, and a couple of Yellowhammers. In total twelve species of wildfowl were recorded, and as we left the reserve there was a report of an American Wigeon, but we didn’t have time to go and check it out. A jolly fine winters day birding.

25th - A cloudy and grey Christmas day with a high of 6 C.

26th, Watton Lagoons - We visited the hide at Watton Lagoons for the first time, on a grey boxing day, hoping to get closer to the Smew we saw at Tophill Low on Christmas Eve. Thankfully the Smew was still present and indeed it showed itself well and both Dad and I were able to get good photos of this handsome and strikingly white small duck. There were other good observations too though, including a Grey Heron, many Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted ducks, a few Goldeneyes, a hunting Barn Owl, a couple of Kingfishers, and winter thrushes. A jolly pleasant way to spend the morning after yesterdays excesses.

27th - Six days without any sunshine now.

28th, Rutland Water - Dad and I travelled to Rutland today, to visit the man made area known as Rutland Water, a location which has become increasingly popular with birders over the years. There are two reserves at the reservoir, though as one of them was closed we visited the Anglian Water reserve at Egleton. The reserve was surprisingly quiet in terms of visitors, but the birdlife was far from it and we were impressed by the numbers and diversity of water birds. Indeed we even saw a Bittern, though the view was very distant and would have been easily overlooked without the help of a fellow birder.

Wildfowl was around in particularly good numbers, with fifteen species seen, including Pintails, Goldeneyes, Red breasted Mergansers, Goosanders, & Ruddy ducks. We also had a couple of views of Water Rail, the first just metres in front of us in the hide. You truly couldn’t hope for a better view of this shy and elusive reedbed bird. As the reserve is also quite wooded there were good numbers of passerines about, with twenty four species represented, including winter thrushes, Goldcrests, Bullfinches, a single wintering Chiffchaff, and most notably a little flock of Redpolls. A great day of birding, indeed the best day count I have yet had with sixty one species recorded. I’m sure we’ll return here again in the future, and it’ll be interesting to visit at a different time of year too.

29th - An unsettled day with blustery winds and heavy pulses of rain. Mild too (13C).

31st, North Cave Wetlands - Visited North Cave Wetlands for the 18th and last time this year, on a cloudy New Years Eve. Still quite quiet but plenty to see, with wildfowl remaining the main interest, with Greylag & Canada Geese, twenty five Shelducks, a lone Wigeon, many Gadwall, Teal, & Mallards, five Shovelers, a few Pochards, and good numbers of Tufted ducks. Other sightings included a few Golden Plovers which flew over head, Curlews, many Redshanks, and up to four Bullfinches, though only one of them was male. A nice end to a great and interesting year, and hopefully 2007 will be likewise full of fascinating and varied spectacles.

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