Sunday, 27 March 2011

New Binoculars and 6 Year Ticks - what a day!!!!

I haven't had any new binoculars for the last 14 years, so, with a big birthday coming up in April this year, Jayne offered to get me some as a special treat. Thank you darling!!

We decided to go to RSPB Old Moor to have a look and take advantage of my volunteer card that gets me a 20% discount off their own brand optics. I'd already read a few reviews of their HD bins and so decided to give them a go. It was only when I looked through the new bins that I realised just how old and filthy mine were!!! Anyway, to cut a long story short we decided to go with the 8x42 bins and set off around the reserve to put them to good use.

Me and my new bins!!!

First stop was Wath Ings Hide where a stunning male Pintail (1st year tick) was busy feeding just in front of the hide. This type of duck is known as a dabbling duck and feeds by "upending" and sieving small insects and plant material from the water. Just like this!

Pintail "upending"

Other waterbirds present on the reserve were Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Shoveler, Goosander (3 females), Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Moorhen, Coot, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Black-headed and Mediterranean Gull, Gadwall and Pochard. 

Small birds (passerines) feeding in the garden and on the "Tree Sparrow Farm" included a male Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Collared Dove. A Green Woodpecker (2nd year tick) was seen from Wader Scrape Hide.

After a spot of lunch in the cafe (stuffed pepper and all the Sunday lunch vegetables, lovely!) we headed over to nearby Wombwell Ings (also an RSPB site and part of the whole Dearne Valley project) where a pair of Garganey (3rd year tick) and several Little Ringed Plover (4th year tick) had been reported. Both species were seen, although the Garganey were quite distant and fast asleep! Here's my best effort, photowise.

Garganey (male)

Also present here were a pair of Shelduck (5th year tick), 2 Dunlin and the usual waterbirds.

Back at home I decided to drive up to Leash Fen again in search of a Great Grey Shrike (6th year tick) that has been present for several weeks. The luck of the new binoculars was still with me, and thanks to a couple from Dronfield (thank you very much if you're reading this) we managed to locate the bird on Ramsley Moor. Although pretty distant, it was sat on the top of a tree in unmistakable Shrike-like fashion and I just about managed to get this shot. Pretty awful I know, but better than nothing!

A very distant Great Grey Shrike

A super day and to misquote a famous TV cookery judge "Birding doesn't get any better than this!!!" see you again soon.

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