Its certainly been an interesting last few days here along the Humber with as usual plenty to discover and plenty to ponder! And although our wetland birds have been fantastic as have our birds of prey it seems that its been the passerines that have just edged the headlines. Judge for yourself.
At this time of year there's often a few water pipits around site with at least two on Saturday one of which was feeding alongside the reserve where the arable field had flooded, it was joined by about 40 chaffinch, a brambling and 35 linnets. Not easy to photograph against the brown of the field.
You can just make out the features here!
The water pipits (a full species) mainly come from the Alps and Pyrenees Mountains but are very similar in winter plumage to Scandinavian rock pipits (a race of rock pipit) which I discovered on Saturday afternoon when I went over to Alkborough to undertake the Wildfowl counts for Whitton Island. While standing on the river bank I managed to take some distant shots of two pipits, not the best of shots but one of them showed a colour ring as you can see (apparently they have a code on but it was too far away to see).
After a bit of detective work this morning it was great to have quick replies from both Scottish and Norwegian ringers that confirmed that this particular pipit had been ringed on the Island of Makkevika at Giske OS which is a coastal reserve in Norway. Apparently the only place that uses the orange ring, the bird was ringed this year then travelling about 660miles to the Humber!
A rough map
And location of the Island where the bird was ringed
So if you do see a water pipit on site, please look closely just in case its a Scandinavian rock pipit! Just to complicate matters! Why not have a read up on identification and see how to separate the two species.
And its not often house sparrow draws your eye, but they are a rare bird on the reserve so this one at the feeders was notable on Saturday! It wasn't there this morning as per usual with the house sparrows that occur on the reserve, here today and certainly gone tomorrow!
This house sparrow looks huge!
And not sure about this pied wagtail that was at Ousefleet, maybe its just the light that makes it appear almost white wagtail like? I've been scratching my head!
Other small birds of note around site include kingfisher, chiffchaff, plenty of fieldfare and a few redwing, also I'm pretty sure I heard a faint call of waxwing this morning, probably flying over with the starlings, but I couldn't locate it to confirm. Also bullfinch, a renewed passage of siskin and yellowhammer, at times a few stonechat in front of the hides bullfinch and great spotted woodpecker around the scrub and plenty of tree sparrows. A couple of bearded tits showed weak sign of irruption along the riverbank, its getting late now for this behaviour, otherwise they've been very quiet in the rainy conditions.
Stonechat in front of Ousefleet
And this robin seemed to take exception to its being in its territory!
Nice to see 20+ corn buntings on my way into work at the weekend between Eastoft and Luddington, as per usual in wheat stubble undersown with oilseed rape.
Other great news is that our barn owl family are despite all the rain going strong with the young now able to fly out of the box although still being fed by at least one of the parents! Amazing to think that we are not too far away from December!
Adult with food
Youngster out of the box
Up to 15 marsh harriers coming in to roost but no recent records of the hen harrier, lets hope it returns and with this cold hopefully joined by one or two more.
Marsh harrier with starlings
It seems that most of the waders and wildfowl are out along the river and on our Island refuges at Whitton and Reads Island where I counted 22,000 waders and wildfowl at the weekend but also notably 17,000 roosting gulls including 282 great black backed gulls amongst the thousands of black-headed and common, interesting there was Mediterranean gull feeding in fields near to the reserve at the weekend.
Gulls and waders at Whitton - the gull roost was amazing! Funny how we forget about gulls as important wetland birds especially as the UK is so important in their conservation. Ever been to places like Sri lanka - there's almost no gulls!
Waders and duck at Reads Including 10 hardy avocets - all from the pub car park!
Waders at Whitton
There is a scattering of waders on Site at Blacktoft with 4 ruff this morning in front of Ousefleet hide, also 40 curlew out on the marsh and a scattering of lapwing and at times the odd redshank, but with all the fields wet the waders just don't seem to need to feed on the marsh when there are plenty of juicy worms on the arable.
Ruff, lapwing and teal
Duck numbers too are relatively low but still a scattering teal, mallard, wigeon, shoveler, goldeneye, shelduck, and gadwall, but with the high pressure and cool there has been a renewed passage of whoopers with small groups south over the last three days. Just a few pinkfeet, they are going out of roost very early and returning late and by the looks of it aren't being disturbed where they are feeding - which is good news!
Whoopers this morning
At this time of year it sometimes seems slow birding but as you can see, with a bit of effort you can really get some reward, and at least today the sun shone and the rain stopped if only for a while..........
20 marsh harrier and hen harrier in to roost tonight, thanks to Jason for the info
Just a quick heads up that on Wednesday the team will be fitting new windows to Singleton hide, the hide will therefore be closed but only until 3pm when it will re-open for anyone wanting to watch the harrier roost.
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