3 Amigos go wandering & no Ivory Gull!

Spadgebirder, Dave R and I arranged to go out for the day yesterday 17th Dec as I had my last days holiday to waste! Should we go to see the Ivory Gull, we are not ones for massive crowds really, especially Spadge & I so we happily moved to plan B.

We decided to start at the Budby Common, Notts to see if we could catch up with the 12 or so Parrot Crossbills that are in the area at the moment. From there we would decide where to go next.

We arrived and parked up at the designated roadside pull-in at around 8.40am, only 4 cars were there cool not many folks here then, had a brief chat with a fellow birder and photographer Ray who had a stonker of a lens attached to his camera, I was not envious at all 🙂 , we followed a lady birder who was striding out in a fashion that appeared she knew exactly where to go to see the rare birds – so off we went a Crossbill hunting!

A 15 minute walk with our eyes (Dave’s really as he is the spotting specialist) and ears (Spadge’s really as he is the listening specialist!) ready. We did not see a lot of anything on a gloriously sunny morning and eventually came across a small group of 5 or so birders awaiting near the reportedly favoured spot for the Parrot Crossbills to feed, roost and drink.photo11Our view awaiting the return of the Crossbills, my camera all poised and the shadow of the 3 amigos visible too!

About 500 Pink Footed Geese passed over heard in large 2 skeins, another lifer for me, never seen these birds at all before, so that was nice!
BudbyPinkFoot171213We soon got the low down and learnt the Parrot Crossbills had been and gone, we waited split up for a look around got back together in a group and waited, the lady birder shouted ‘is that them?’ we looked to the direction she pointed and sure enough the birds were at the top of a tree some 100 yards back towards where we parked the car, off we went to be greeted with a decent birder group of around 25 people admiring this lovely sight. We got as close as we could and i managed to get a couple of record shots (they are this time Dave 🙂 ) from a bit back before the birds decided to offski and move around the large expanse of Budby Common, 2 pics I got before they went are seen below.BudbyParrXbill171213 BudbyParrXbill171213bWe went back to the original part of the common we camped out at and again waited after sometime we decided it was time to move onto the next target, the Bassingham Great Grey Shrike, we asked about the Shrike on the common we were at but were given directions that were in polar opposite directions on the common to one another!! Whilst walking back to the car, we mused about Spadge and I getting a brief but enjoyable view of a ‘lifer’ but then we heard the call of the Crossbills in the air moving back towards where we had just been, right! we joined the rush of other birders merging from different areas into one single line to meet the now large group of over 50 birders dotted around the large tree the photos above were taken. We got into place I was just about to get a spot at the back of the group and someone in the front (a photographer me thinks!) tried to get too close the birds that had come down to drink and offski the birds went again this time in a large loop into the sun and then out of sight, bugger! A potential lesson for me on etiquette at a ‘twitch’ for me there, do not get to close to the subject matter which I don’t think I do anyway 😉

It was pleasing to have seen these birds for the first time so all was not lost eh?

We then moved onto Thrulby after Dave suggested it as the next hit for us as I had earlier suggested ending the day at Hawthorpe for SEO’s Thurlby was a place neither Spadge nor I had been to, whacking great areas of water with Dave seeing 11 types of ducks via his scope.photo_12Here Spadge spotted a fine male Bully that i crept up on as best I could using the shrubbery between us and got this shot.ThurlbyBully171213So onto Bassingham for the Great Grey Shrike it was then. We arrived and had a good look around but nothing was seen sadly, so a dip out never mind lads onto Hawthorpe it  was.

We got to Hawthorpe in plenty of time and with the sun just starting its decent into the night, how many SEO’s would we see and what else to the matter. 1 car was there already with 2 Sleaford birders called Derek and Derek, we had a great chat talking about our days and the 2 D’d supplied us with local knowledge on the Hawthorpe area. Mince pies were passed around to bring in a little christmas spirit too!
HawthorBirders171213
Derek, Derek, Spadge & Dave enjoying a birding day out!

1 of the Derek’s saw a low flying Red Kite and better still Spadge spotted a distant male Hen Harrier which capped our day of nicely thank you very much! I got a distant record shot of the male and we saw him again around 90 minutes later in a low field in even lower light.
HawthorHEnHarr171213
Only 2nd time I have seen a wonderful male Hen Harrier – WOW!

I walked down the road to see what was happening in the lower fields and soon caught a glimpse of a Buzzard being shooed off by a lone SEO, photo below …
HawthorSEO171213B
At the same time above the same field but to the right were 2 more SEO’s battling over territory as you see them do with the odd call being made also.
HawthorSEO171213d
A couple more cars appeared in the distance and also 2 more birders, one a Grantham lad, Alan came to our areas to watch the growing number of visible but distant SEO’s we saw 5 in total, nice. SEO’s were seen eating prey on posts afar in the set-a-side fields.
HawthorSEO171213c
The light fell away but we were all having such a good time we stayed and stayed, we saw 60 plus Fallow deer working along the edge of temple Wood too, what a place this is!
HawthorDeer171213b
photo_14
The never say die birders!
There was a lovely sunset that night too as shown be the last pic in the post below.
photo_15I have not covered it all in this post but the 3 amigos had a great day out, who needs a mega to make it a great day? We certainly don’t I am sure Dave or Spadge will let you know about anything I have omitted, like the Great Spotted Woodpecker that flew directly above us all at about 30 feet for example or indeed the Tawny Owl that buzzed the car on the way home near Boothby Pagnell 🙂