Tag Archives: Velvet Scoter

Velvet Scoter and Otter at Tophill Low NR

A female Velvet Scoter was found by Lee Johnson on D reservoir at Tophill Low NR on 23/12/14 [see here]. Not a site tick for me having seen one in the 90’s but the first since then. First tried for it late on Christmas Eve with RL but couldn’t see it. RL caught up with it on Christmas day but was never there when I looked for it including on New Years Day [see here] when with just missed and again on the 4th when I played it too cool and did D reservoir while ML and RL were relocating back on O reservoir and it flew, probably flushed by a light aircraft, before I got there.

So when I arrived at Tophill Low NR with JH on the morning of the 11th, seeing as it hadn’t been seen for a few days, I again went to car park hide first to have a hot drink and look over D reservoir. Quickly had the drake Red-crested Pochard.

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Drake Red-crested Pochard-Tophill Low NR on D res-RL

Thought it best to go south next and check O reservoir. No sign from the viewing screen so I headed for L-shaped hide while JH headed to Watton NR where Otter had been giving a good show in recent days [but not for us!]. The problem with L-shaped hide is that O reservoir is currently low so a large area of the water is hidden behind the reservoir wall and thus many birds are out of view. Therefore I didn’t have much faith as I started scanning. The birds were very flighty usually for no reason but on one occasion due to a low Common Buzzard. Maybe because of this a few more ducks became visible and amount the Tufties was a larger big billed brown diving duck. Rigging up my scope I confirmed it as the Velvet Scoter. Texted JH but he was enjoying an Otter [site tick for him] so after filling my boots went round to Watton NR where the Otter was still showing well before swimming out of view into the northern corner of the pit.

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Otter-Tophill Low on Watton NR

Went back to L-shaped hide but couldn’t see the Velvet Scoter but found it again from the viewing screen providing a 2nd site tick for JH.

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Female Velvet Scoter-Tophill Low NR on O res

Had received a text from RL that a mutual friend and long term Tophill Low birder had just had a large red-billed tern, consider a Caspian, with Black-headed Gulls in a field near Bielby but it had flown. Thought our best chance to get it on site was car park hide. Was a bit early for gulls so after lunch I headed north. Had several brown tits on the feeders, likely of both species, but only was certain of Marsh.

Returning to car park hide late mid afternoon the gulls were starting to arrive on  D reservoir but it wasn’t a big night with under 4000 gulls but including 2 Meds.

Mediterranean Gull D res Roost Tophill Low 050115 RL

 

Adult winter Mediterranean-Tophill Low NR-D res-RL

Did manage to re-find the long staying female Scaup though.

Slavonian Grebe and two Bittern seen at Hornsea Mere today. For more recent news check here.

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Filed under Birds in East Yorkshire, Nature in East Yorkshire, Tophill Low NR, Uncategorized

Quieter day but a new moth.

16/10 Received news via NP that a Great Grey Shrike had been photographed on Wednesday from the disused railway south of Swine so headed that way with RL this morning. Fortunately met a dog walker along Hornsea Trail who had actually seen the photograph and was able to show us exactly where it had been seen. No sign this morning though. However still nice to see good numbers of Yellowhammers and Skylarks as well as Redwing sat out rather then just in flight.

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Redwing-Swine-RL

From there went to Hornsea NCBY, one of our migration hotspots. Plenty of Robins by the caravan park but the only obvious migrant was a Reed Warbler. Walking the ditch north of Atwick Gap RL flushed a micro moth. Got it in my bins but not immediately able to ID. Went for my camera but lost track of it. Didn’t need to worry though as we later flushed several more and managed to get a few shots good enough to ID. Looked to be one of the Udea genera and later confirmed as Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis , a common migrant particularly on the coast. New moth for me.

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Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis

I continued on the Atwick while RL drove round. Checked the fields to the north of Cliff Road where we used to get Jack Snipes before it had been “improved”. This field has always been good for Stonechat and didn’t let me down today with a nice male.

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male Stonechat-Atwick

Finished at another one of our hotspots, Atwick churchyard. On arrival it was obvious, as on the coast, that there were a lot of Goldcrest which gave hope for something better. However the only migrants found were a female Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler. However the Chiffchaff looked very drab but didn’t get enough on it to confirm it as Siberian. The Willow Warbler was also quite grey suggesting a true northern migrant. Had a few fleeting glimpses of Yellow-browed Warbler-type bird but never confirmed.

Not surprisingly as elsewhere in the country the Grey Phalaropes had disappeared overnight at Hornsea Mere but the 3 Slavonian Grebes, Red-necked Grebe and a Little Gull were still off Kirkholme Point as well as a female Scaup which I’ve yet to connect with. The Velvet Scoter wasn’t reported which may suggest it wasn’t the returning bird from last winter although it did prove elusive earlier this year so my still be around. For more from Hornsea area check here.

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Filed under Atwick, Birds in East Yorkshire, Hornsea Mere, Hornsea Northcliff Boatyard, Moths, Nature in East Yorkshire, Swine

A good day at Hornsea Mere

15/10 Went out with RL on Monday afternoon. Went first to Swine Moor, viewing as usual from Weel Road opposite Corporation Farm. On Sunday afternoon I had found a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper with Richard Jennings. Also had up 7 Ruff and 6 Dunlin along with the usual flock of Wigeon and Teal. Also that day had the 1st 10 returning Whooper Swans north of High Eske NR on Arram Carrs but didn’t see the Common Crane, Had hoped to get back to Swine Moor earlier but the weather on Monday and Tuesday had not encouraged me. However this afternoon the area was deserted with just the regular Little Egret of note.

Went to Hornsea Mere starting at Wassand Hide. Met MR on the way down. Had had the 2 Slavonian Grebes off Kirkholme Point and a 3rd bird towards the west end. Also found a Red-necked Grebe and had seen a dying Gannet on “tree island”. Not long after getting in the hide MR picked up a grebe which turned out to be the 3rd Slavonian Grebe presumably pushed into Decoy Bay by a boat.

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 One of the Slavonian Grebes from Wassand Hide-5/10/14 

Also a female Marsh Harrier still present.

Next went round to Kirkholme Point. Scanning the edge of 1st field, where the other 2 Slavonian Grebes had been seen, picked up a female Velvet Scoter, possibly the same bird seen over the previous 2 winters.

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 fem Velvet Scoter from last winter but likely the same bird as today

Scanning further east I picked up the 2 Slavonian Grebes, then the Red-necked Grebe.

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Red-necked Grebe

Moved to get closer t0 the latter and had a moment of self doubt when I picked up a Little Grebe. However scanning to the right picked up the Red-necked Grebe again. Also 3 Little Gulls, an adult and 2 1st winters. Had texted MR about the Velvet Scoter but before he got to us it was flushed by a boat and we lost track of it. MR had been delayed by a Yellow-browed Warbler calling unseen near Wassand Hall.

Finished the day in HVWG Hide. Had the Gannet on tree island.

Gannet and Juv Mute Hornsea Mere 151014 RL

 Moribund Gannet-RL

Didn’t look too fit but to quote John Cleese it hadn’t yet “fallen off it’s perch and joined the choir eternal”. Started checking the gulls roost and picked up 3 waders in flight. Pale grey with a strong white wing-bar and was thinking Sanderling or Dunlin when RL reminded me that several Grey Phalaropes had been reported by RBA today. The penny dropped and not long after they landed and there identity became obvious. Tried contacting MR but his phone wasn’t on. For the rest of the time we were in the hide they remained on the water mid-mere and with the fading light would have been very difficult to pick up if you weren’t sitting with us.

For more recent sighting in the Hornsea area check here.

Seems to be an influx of Jay at the moment with bird seen coming in on the coast and evidenced myself by Jays around Cottingham and Willerby this week. Seen at Hornsea Mere today but my been just resident birds.

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Filed under Arram Carrs, Birds in East Yorkshire, Cottingham, High Eske NR, Hornsea Mere, Swinemoor

Kumlien’s grip back at Tophill Low NR and other late February highlights

23/2 Started Sunday morning at Paull. Just as RL and I got into the “fisherman’s car park” Nick Morgan pulled up beside us. He was short of counters for the Estuary Counts so RL volunteered to do the section covering Paull Holme Strays. In fact this just meant forwarding numbers from the the count we planned to do anyway. Positioned ourselves behind the old lighthouse near the western inlet to the the Strays which provides surprisingly good shelter from the strong wind. Our counts were:- Teal 40, Golden Plover 6600, Wigeon 682, Shelduck 234, Grey Plover 37, Lapwing 930, Oystercatcher 3,  Bar-tailed Godwit 400, Redshank 52, Dunlin 892, Ringed Plover 20, Curlew 66 and Turnstone 5. More Paull area news here.

Went to meet JH at Hornsea Mere early afternoon. Had an adult Little Gull as well as the usual Scaup and female Velvet Scoter. Again no sign of any Great White Egrets. I’m not aware of any sighting for c2 weeks.

Went to Tophill Low NR with RL late afternoon to do the gull roost on D reservoir. For a change we had Middle Hide  to ourselves. RL picked a winter adult Mediterranean Gull, probably the same bird we had on Friday.

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Adult winter Mediterranean Gull-RL

While watching it RL called out an assumed Kumlien’s Gull. Only saw it briefly before it flew south and was only able it say it was an immature Iceland-type. Fortunately it only flew a short distance and it slowly drifted back north and closer to us over the next hour and a half and we were clearly able to tell it was a 2nd winter Kumlien’s Gull -although paler than the last time I’d seen it well- and most likely the Barmston bird. Most of the regulars on site managed to see it but only from Car Park Hide so didn’t get the close views we eventually got.

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2w Kumlien’s Gull

Having been seen late last year and then again on Monday we were relieved to grip it back. It eventually flew off near dark. While watching the Kumlien’s Gull I picked up a second, near summer plumaged, Mediterranean Gull. Also again had 2 Little Egrets flying south at dusk. For more Tophill Low NR news check here.

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Little Egrets flying south over D reservoir

25/2 On Tuesday afternoon went to Welton Waters. Again very little wildfowl with only 16 Tufted Duck and 11 Goldeneye on the 2 larger pits.  Presumably due to the mild winter. With few Smew in the area and the previously regular drake not at Far Ings it’s looking unlikely one will appear this winter. However with a Long-tailed Duck at Barton-on-Humber GPs there is still the possibly of something interesting before spring. As usual ended the day overlooking Brough airfield marsh. Yet again no Short-eared Owls but did have an immature male Marsh Harrier coming in to roost. 

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Roe Deer-floodback by Brough airfield marsh

27/2 Went to Hornsea Mere with ML and RL on Thursday morning. Again had 8 Scaup, including 2 drakes, and the female Velvet Scoter, all from the HVWG hide.

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Greater Scaup

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Female Velvet Scoter-RL

Moved round to the Kirkholme Point where ML picked up the long staying Long-tailed Duck, feeding close to Swan Island. First time I’ve seen it this year but ML and RL had seen it on Saturday. For more news from Hornsea Mere check here.

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Long-tailed Duck-RL

Went to High Eske NR late afternoon. Like Welton Waters, wildfowl numbers are well down here. Still c200 Wigeon but that’s low compared to previous years. No Tufted Duck. Great Crested Grebe had increased but still only 6. 13 Goldeneye was respectable but lower than in the past. Only 6 Gadwall and even Mallard numbers were low. The breeding pair of Oystercatcher have been back since the 17th with one on the 3rd. Walked to the north of the pit to look for swans. Had seen a juvenile Whooper Swan, presumably the bird from December, with Mute Swans and a Black Swan on Arram Carr twice last week [both bird in the top image but too distant for a better shot]  but today only had a few Mute Swans. Didn’t have time to do Leven Carr but had seen a male Hen Harrier on Monday, presumably the bird seen recently at Tophill Low NR  [see link above]. Usually had several Little Egret flying towards High Eske/Pulfin NR late afternoon, with 7 on Monday, but saw none today. Previous winters Little Egrets have roosted at the south end of High Eske NR but this winter I haven’t seen any actually roosting. Had a look at Pulfin NR where a regular Barn Owl was hunting but couldn’t get close enough for a picture. A Little Egret, the only one seen tonight, flew over from the south but I couldn’t relocate it roosting nearby. Walking south from Pulfin NR kept pushing a small bird which I assumed to be a Robin but when I finally got a clear view turned out to be a Stonechat, my first here for a few years. The light was fading but I had to try for a photo. Kept moving and was usually obscured but I fired off a few shots and miraculously got one reasonably clear shot.

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Stonechat

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Filed under Birds in East Yorkshire, High Eske NR, Hornsea Mere, Nature in East Yorkshire, Paull Holme Strays, Tophill Low NR, Welton Waters

7/2/14 Hornsea Mere + the coast

Went to Hornsea Mere on Friday morning with RL. Started at Kirkholme Point. Brian Wilson had just had the Great White Egret but it appeared to have walked into the reeds. Went round to the hide. Eight Scaup were close, but the no sign of the ninth.

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Greater Scaup [male+2 females]

The drake Red-crested Pochard was also close in but like the rest of the ducks was having an early afternoon siesta. Four female Pintail were new in, a scarce bird this mild winter.

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Didn’t see the female Velvet Scoter but Mark Robinson had it later. The Red-necked Grebe was seen again at the west end on Tuesday. More news from the mere here.

Went to Barmston early this afternoon. Had the Kumlien’s Gull in flight distantly to the north of the caravan park. In common with the rest of  our coastline today only a few Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes on the sea. At our next spot, Ulrome, RL picked up an immature Shag, a rare sight south of Flamborough Head. Also I had a few Guillemots flying north off Atwick as well as five Sanderling on the beach.

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The regular Far Grange hybrid goose with Mallards

Three Pink-footed Geese and a Barnacle Goose were with the Greylags by the pond at Skirlington.

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Pink-footed Goose

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Barnacle Goose [of unknown origin]

A male Hen Harrier was seen over Tophill Low NR late afternoon.

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Filed under Barmston, Birds in East Yorkshire, Hornsea Mere, Nature in East Yorkshire, Tophill Low NR

2/2/14 Paull and Hornsea Mere

A Firecrest was found by the Martin brothers near Fort Paull on Saturday morning. RL and ML looked for it early afternoon with out success but it was found again after they left showing well along the moat on the south side of the fort. I went back with RL but by then the wind had become too strong and we couldn’t relocate it.

Went back to Paull with RL and ML on Sunday morning and joined JH, the Martin brothers and Pete Scott looking for the Firecrest. Wind much lower and we could actually hear birds calling. Shortly RL located it at the top of a tree west of Fort Paull. Unfortunately flew but I relocated it just a few metres away and eventually everyone was happy with their views.

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Firecrest near Fort Paull-RL

For more news from the Paull area check here.

Went to Hornsea Mere this afternoon. Mike Jackson was already in the hide and had located the Scaup flock. The full nine present including the two drakes.

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Pair of Greater Scaup with Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Wigeon

While watching them I found a nice drake Red-crested Pochard, the first for a few months.

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Drake Red-crested Pochard

Also had the female Velvet Scoter.

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Female Greater Scaup and Velvet Scoter-RL

Mike had had the Great White Egret yesterday [see here]. With the unusually bright conditions compared with the recent times and with the bird quite close we got some of our best pictures [I hope!] for a while.

Had a walk past Wassand Hall later but a Jay was the only bird of interest.

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Looking over Hornsea Mere from near Wassand Hall.

A lot of trees have been felled at the west end of the mere but many saplings have also been planted

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Recently felled timber

Check here for last week at Tophill Low NR including a Bittern on North Marsh.

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Hornsea Mere and the coast


On Sunday morning went to Hornsea Mere with ML and RL. JH had seen nothing of note from the hide so went straight to Kirkholme Point. Immediately saw a Great White Egret sat in a tree north of the car park with several Grey Herons.

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Great White Egret with Grey Heron off Kirkholme Point

The second Egret was more distance in Decoy Bay. Also heard, then saw 39 Pink-footed Geese flying south. The Danish ringed Black-headed Gull was again around the parked cars.

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Danish ringed Black-headed Gull

Moved to Barmston. Tide well out and a lot of people on the beach. No sign of the Kumlien’s Gull there or in the fields north of the caravan park. Later found the Kumlien’s was on Bridlington North beach all day. Interestingly it had been seen there this time last year. Also at Barmston 7 Little Gulls and 35 Snow Buntings had been seen this morning.

Did a sea watch off Ulrome early afternoon. The highlight was at least 4 adult Gulls as well as a drake Goosander, 6 Red-throated Diver, 12 Guillemots, 4 Goldeneye, 12 Shelduck and a Pink-footed Goose that flew north overhead.

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Erosion at Ulrome caravan park

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Failed coastal defences at Ulrome [Man Proposes, God Disposes-Landseer]. 

Finished the day in the Hornsea Mere hide. Again no interesting gulls but had the female Velvet Scoter and a least 7 Scaup. Saw one of the Great White Egrets flying west to roost late afternoon.

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Female Velvet Scoter

Scaups and Coot Hornsea Mere 050114 RL

Greater Scaup with Coot and Wigeon-RL

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Filed under Barmston, Birds in East Yorkshire, Hornsea Mere, Nature in East Yorkshire, Ulrome

Getting the year started

2014 started much as 2013 ended with strong wind and heavy rain. With this in mind RL and I started out in Hornsea Mere hide. With the gate at Kirkholme Point shut and the weather too much for even the Merebirder diehards we had the place to ourselves. Had both Great White Egrets distantly by Kirkholme Point. Went to Barmston. The tide was well up and there was no sign of the Kumlien’s Gull on the beach and it was too foul to look for it in the fields north of the caravan park. Last reported on the 28/12/13. Had a drive round the caravan incase the recent Black Redstart was still around

Went on to Ulrome where we could sea-watch from the car. Managed 5 Common Scoters, 17 Fulmar, 1+ Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull, 10 Teal, 3 Shoveler and a Red-throated Diver. The coast had suffered badly from last years tidal surge.

On a whim we decided to finished the day back at the mere hide. Just north of Hornsea we had a flock of 117 Greylag Geese with one Pink-footed Goose. Back at Hornsea Mere our decision paid off when I located the female Velvet Scoter, as usual between us and Swan Island. We also managed 4 little Gulls. Could have been more but all the small gulls roosted close in to the south side and were difficult to differentiate in the conditions. Leaving we had both Great White Egrets roosting at the bottom of the cormorant trees close to Seaton Road.

Thursday by contrast was like a spring day. Started at Welton Waters. This area had been badly effected by flooding from the Humber before Christmas. A lot of debris but no sign of any serious damage. Presumably all the fridges etc that had reportedly been floating in the pits had been removed. Wildfowl numbers were low for this time of year. Whether this was a consequence of the flooding I don’t know. However a total of 8 Little Grebes was better than recent winters. On a positive note, although we didn’t see one, an Otter had preformed well on watersports pit earlier. The first report since the herbicide treatment which seems to have put off the birds. Continued to the airfield. A section of the flood bank just west of Brough Angling Complex had been scoured out by the floods.

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Brough airfield marsh

As expected the water level was up on airfield marsh but again little wildfowl although 4 Pochard was new for the day. Scanning the marsh I saw a large brown bird flying from Brough Angling Complex. Common Buzzard and Short-eared Owl were eliminated and I realised it was a Bittern. RL get on it before it dropped into the marsh. Had a few previous records but not an easy bird anywhere.

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Some of the detritus removed from Brough airfield

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Debris on Brough foreshore

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The recent flood defence improvements appear to have saved BAE

Continuing on to the Haven I had 100+ Teal. Checked through them but the Green-winged Teal was still at North Cave Wetlands so didn’t have much optimism. Also had a female Marsh Harrier to the west.

Went on to Tophill Low NR. I had a quick look round the south end, with only a Barn Owl behind Watton NR of note, then joined RL in D reservoir middle hide. RL found an adult Mediterranean Gull. I had a frustrating egret flying south near dusk. Looked too big for a Little but couldn’t clinch it as a Great White. Disappeared over trees before anyone else could get on it. One that got away but neither species is a big deal nowadays. For yesterday on the reserve check here,

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D reservoir at dusk 

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Black Redstart at Barmston

JH wasn’t with me when I had the returning Kumlien’s Gull at Barmston 3 weeks ago, so on Sunday morning we head up there. Unfortunately it had been seen flying south earlier so satisfied ourselves with a showy Black Redstart on the cliff face below the car park.
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Black Redstart

Came onto the cliff top but was seen off by a Robin and moved out of view.

Went to Hornsea Mere, starting at Kirkholme Point. Not surprisingly with the Ivory Gull still at Patrington Haven there were a few unfamiliar faces. Unfortunately the Grey Phalarope was distant again. Kirkholme Point seems to be the coldest place in East Yorkshire so quickly moved to the relative shelter of the hide. I found the Velvet Scoter, as before spending most of it’s time between us and Swan Island so tricky to see from Kirkholme Point or the south fields.

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Female Velvet Scoter

Later JH picked up 7 Scaup which had moved into our bay unseen. The Grey Phalarope was visible briefly late afternoon from the hide, near tree island. Both Great White Egrets had been seen earlier but we only had one hidden in the reeds distantly in Decoy Bay. Also seen by others today were the Long-tailed Duck, a female Common Scoter and a Slavonian Grebe, the latter 2 new for today. Also frustratingly a 2nd winter Caspian Gull was seen after we left.

Steve Routledge covered the same ground. Check here for his finds.

For more recent sightings from the mere check here.

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Hornsea Mere-Grey Phalarope and Great White Egrets.

After “tick and running” the Ivory Gull at Patrington Haven with ML and RL on Saturday morning spent the afternoon in Hornsea Mere hide. The Grey Phalarope was still present but again distant, feeding along the edge east of “tree island”.

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The Grey Phalarope was seen in the area to the left

Both Great White Egrets were still around, seen several times in flight above the trees opposite Kirkholme Point then flying to the west end, again taking a route that passed close in front of the hide.

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Great White Egret

One returned to Kirkholme Point, feeding in the north east corner. The second bird could be seen roosting low in the Cormorant trees from Seaton Road as we drove home. The Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck were seen in the morning but didn’t show for us.

The Kumlien’s Gull was still at Barmston on Monday.

2 1st winter Mediterranean Gulls at Tophill Low NR this afternoon. For more news see here.


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Filed under Barmston, Birds in East Yorkshire, Hornsea Mere, Nature in East Yorkshire