Sunday, 26 April 2009

A Weekends Worth of Holywell

Sorry for the lack of updates recently the Outdoors is starting to take a backseat and revision taking over, I need to get three C's to get into the Wildlife and Media degree at Penrith so I'm really starting to hammer the revision.
Friday the 24th April finished school at half 12, so I took the afternoon off for an hour at Holywell. Got down there at about 14:00 and it was warm and sunny. There was another local birder already in the hide, the usual question 'Much about?' and a reply of 'Yes, a Goosesander' sure enough there was a female Goosesander floating around the island, adding another patch tick for the year. I hadn't taken my camera but thankfully I was sent some pictures.
Also on the water was, 1 Great Crested Grebe, Pair of Wigeon, 2 Cormorant, 14 Tufted, 8 Greylag, the Canada X Greylag, 3 Grey Heron, 2 Canada, 2 Little Grebe, and 3 Mute Swan. 2 Stock Dove flew over the pond, a Male Kestrel was hunting to the east, 6 House Martain and 2 Swallow were skimming the surface of the water, 2 Chiff chaffs and 1 Willow Warbler, were heard singing in the North Wood. A group of retired women entered the hide so we fled to the Public Hide, this was a good choice as the first bird picked up was a Drake Garganey just to the right of the hide, again I was kindly sent some photographs.

Also at the Public Hide was a lone Redshank. Biked back to pick my lil sister up at about 15:00.

Saturday 25th April, been to help dad at work in the morning so another lunch time visit, before I left I heard my first Willow Warbler form the house. Got to the Hide at about 13:00, again another regular was in. On the water, 8 Mallard, 15 Tufted, 7 Pochard, 2 Pair of Shoveler, 5 Cormorant, 2 Mute Swan, 4 Grey Heron, 2 Lesser Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Coot, and Moorhen. 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiff Chaff and 1 Blackcap (patch tick) were singing in North Wood. 1 Sedge Warbler (tick)was singing to right of members hide, first of the year. A female Kestrel and a Female Sparrowhawk were seen up in the thermals to the NE. Also seen, 2 Long Tailed Tits, Reed Bunting, Feral Pigeon, Pheasant and a male Great Spotted Woodpecker. At the Public Hide another Sedge Warbler was singing, the lone Redshank still, and the Canada X Greylag with 9 Greylag.
From the Public hide I went into the East fields 5 Wheatear (tick) were in the cow field just East of Pond, 1 Whitethroat (tick) in gorse on backtrack, a Lesser Whitethroat (tick) in Scrub land heading towards West Hartley Farm, another Male Wheatear in field by the farm and a pair of Grey Partridge (tick) in the field by Obelisk.
On the way back home I picked up 2 Linnets and a Grey Heron in Red House Farm by the Pond.

Today, 26th, Warm and sunny, got a puncture last night so I walked to Holywell this morning, left at about 10:00, went through the fields to see what I could find. First a Skylark was heard just off the car boot, I continuously heard this species right up to the hide which I was quite pleased about. 1 Whitethroat was heard just before I crossed the Beehive Road, and a Female Sparrowhawk overhead once I got to the other side. There was a couple of small flocks of Linnets, and a single Yellowhammer until I entered the boundary of my Holywell Patch.
Following the hedgerow I picked up 4 Whitethroats, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, Pair of Yellowhammer, 2 Grey Partridge, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch and 1 Meadow Pipit (tick).
I got to the members hide at 11:00 opened the shutters and was welcomed by a female Ruddy Duck (tick), I noted 8 Greylag, 2 Canada, 1 Curlew and then I heard the whirring of a Grasshopper Warbler (tick) to the right of the hide. A pair of Shelduck landed on the pond and then a Female Marsh Harrier appeared to the left of the hide (11:15) in quartered the ground for 21 minutes, occasionally being mobbed by a local Corvid, it landed 3 times for no longer than 3o seconds, and it also began mobbing a cormorant which was fishing around the posts in the water. It landed for the fourth time just out of clear view from the hide at 11:36, it was not seen again. I got some pretty poor photos as it was still a long way off for my 200mm lens.

I really enjoy watching Marsh Harrier's, I enjoy watching that characteristic quartering technique that quite a few Birds of Prey use, but the Marsh Harrier seems to add its own personality to the hunting technique. The boldness of this bird was also interesting, 3 Mallard flew under it and it put a quick stoop in. A couple of years ago I was filling the feeders up and a female Marsh harrier was busy hunting just across the water, it dropped down into the reeds and came back up with a Coot, showing these birds will have a go at anything if they have a fair chance.

Whilst watching the Marsh Harrier, I saw a Common Buzzard being mobbed by a Carrion Crow in the distance, and a female Kestrel hovering to the West.

On the water were, 10 Pochard, 4 Cormorant, 4 Grey Heron, 1 Mute Swan, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 19 Tufted, 2 Black Headed Gull, 1 Lesser Black Backed Gull, 8 Mallard and 3 Little Grebe. Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff and Blackcap were singing in North Wood. Down at public end a Weasel was running through the rough stuff, 5 Shelduck were sleeping, 2 Stock Dove drinking and a Sedge Warbler singing.

Over the three days I've seen Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, and Small White.

Off the patch to round it up took the dog for a walk along the beach at Cresswell, a Juv Red Throated Diver was just off shore, along with Sandwich Tern and Sanderling on the shoreline.

In all a good weekend with 11 new species seen, bringing my patch list to 95 for the year.


  1. Sounds like you've had a good weekend and a break from the studying. Some top birds there. I agree that Harriers are wonderful birds to watch in flight. Sounds like there are plenty Whitethroats around now so I best get out and look. :-) Cheers Brian

  2. Hi i went to the hide for the first time this evening (new member of NWT) opened the shutters and the first bird i saw was the Marsh Harrier which stayed around for the two hours i was there. It landed on the opp bank and sat in the reeds for 30 min, fantastic.

    Hope to catch you there some time i have been following this blog for a while now.