Christmas Day dawned with beautiful clear blue skies and strong sunshine. So with an hour spare before the festivities kicked off I took the chance to have a look at Wykeham Lakes. Pretty quiet there with a drake Goldeneye and a few Tufted Ducks the only interest. Continuing around to the west side of the lakes, I paused for a smart male Brambling at Hutton Buscel Carr and enjoyed some nice views in the bright sunshine. A bit further along the road some greyish brown blobs in a bush attracted my attention and on raising my bins I realised they were in fact a flock of nine Waxwings. Always a treat they lingered long enough for me to get a few pics before they flew off towards Ings Bridge. An unexpected and very welcome treat on a Christmas morning.
Also from the Christmas period a pic of a Mediterranean Gull which as usual can be relied upon at the Holbeck car park on the south side of Scarborough. One of five birds present just before Christmas.
As we near the end of 2013 here is a selection of the more memorable birds I have seen in 2013. Or at least those that I managed to get decent photos of!
On Tuesday I spent a day in the company of Frank, a visiting birder from Philadelphia. In lovely sunny and fairly calm conditions we visited a range of sites in the Scarborough area with the aim of finding a wide range of species and hopefully finding a few new birds for him. With the short winter day offering under eight hours of birdable light, we began on The Carrs at Flixton just after 8am. Here, as the sun came up we were treated to nice views of a Barn Owl hunting over the fields. The River Hertford hosted a few Teal, Moorhen and a briefly seen Water Rail, whilst a Little Egret cruised west overhead. Flocks of Lapwinsg and a few Curlew were flying about in the distance. As we returned back towards the village it was evident that there were good numbers of Blackbirds present, with a notable count of at least 60. A few Redwings posed nicely - a new bird for Frank. A Lesser Redpoll and a few Goldfinches and Tree Sparrows were also seen well before we moved on to Flotmanby. Here we had distant views of some Eurasian Wigeon, but there was little to detain us.
At Ganton we worked some fields where crops have been sown for the benefit of finches and buntings. Here there were at least 57 Yellowhammer, ca 15 Reed Buntings, plus small numbers of Tree Sparrows, Chaffinches and nine Lesser Redpolls. An sizeable flock of Fieldfares numbered at least 140, whilst other species of interest here included Stock Dove and some more flocks of Lapwings. Cockmoor Hall near Snainton was our next stop and here we were treated to some wonderful views of Bramblings along with a variety of commoner tit species and three Treecreepers. Our drive through Troutsdale yielded Bullfinch and then the Forge Valley feeders produced close views of Nuthatch and Marsh Tit plus a Great Spotted Woodpecker. After grabbing a hot drink and a quick bite to eat we visited Wykeham South Lake where White-fronted Goose, Goldeneye, Pochard and Common Buzzard were the main items of interest.
The afternoon was spent along the coastal strip where a quiet Long Nab produced Skylark, Red-throated Diver and our first Grey Heron, Redshank and Oystercatcher of the day. At Scalby Mills we enjoyed getting close up views of the Eurasian Wigeon whilst the commoner gulls were also present in good numbers. Our final stop of the day was the Holbeck car park on the south side of Scarborough. Here as expected we soon located several Mediterranean Gulls, whilst on the calm seas we could easily pick out Common Scoter, Shag, Cormorant and a distant view of the Great Northern Diver that has been present for a few days now. With a respectable total of 70 species seen during the day, including a good number of life birds for Frank, it had been an excellent and most enjoyable exploration of the Scarborough area.
Freelance ornithologist and tour leader based in Scarborough, N Yorkshire.