After being in the doldrums for a while, Marston has picked up a bit of late. A few waders have made things interesting, though the scrape just will not drop sufficiently to draw birds in. The level falls a bit during hot weather but the moment it rains, fills up again. There have been up to five green sandpipers. On the surrounding fields maxima of 18 curlew and 50 lapwings can be seen. The oystercatchers have one surviving chick which is doing well.
Pied and yellow wagtails are around in numbers, both look to have had a good breeding season in the area with many juveniles recorded. They sometimes gather on the turf fields in the evenings, my best count being c85 pied and c50 yellows. A couple of grey partridges were the first I’ve seen for a bit.
A turtle dove came to drink from the scrape one evening, what a joy! A barn owl (or two) shows occasionally late on. Odd hobby and red kites regular. Last week the Lake Windermere ringed greylag goose PZB put in an appearance for the first time since Feb. Heaven knows where it gets to.
On the 20th I was watching a buzzard when a small falcon came into my bin’s field of view. Merlin! Wow! I watched it for a good few seconds thinking to myself ‘am I sure?, its bloody early!’, but yep, it’s jizz, behavior and appearance left me in no doubt. It was lost to view as it went over the fields, putting up a small bird, twisting and turning. It was an all brown bird, juvenile or female.
Yesterday evening I stopped off at Barkston picnic site and walked along the river towards Syston. A field was being ploughed and lots of gulls had homed in on it. I had been expecting them in the area as lots have been seen at nearby Kilvington. They were fairly distant but four yellow-legged gulls were picked out amongst the many lesser-black backs, common and black-headeds. I had been hoping to add ylg to my Marston account for the year so headed off there. On arrival I was gobsmacked-loads of gulls were loafing on the car park field. This was a great treat, they stayed here resting and preening until it was almost dark, before heading off in the direction of Kilvington Lakes. At least nine yellow-legged gulls accompanied around 650 lesser black backs. Interestingly a couple of little egrets flew in and joined the gull flock.
Trev Lee arrived to watch the gulls and we finished with a look in the hide, it was almost dark but we could see some bats flying. They were quite large and appeared to be moth catching above the poplars and over the fields.
It was raining as I arrived, that fine stuff that somehow seems to get you wetter than the heavier stuff! Loads of sand martins had been pushed in, must have been 250-300. There were lots of juveniles amongst them, great to observe as some perched on barbed wire to preen and rest. Such cuties. Got quite a few pics.
Three very smart ruff showed well from the hide, along with a ringed and a little ringed plover. Two families of Egyptian geese were doing well. A summering wigeon was here and odd common terns, presumably from the nearby Kirkby colony, kept coming and going. A hobby dashed low across the far end of the reserve, a fox ran across the old runway. I saw two different marsh harriers within a couple of mile of here.
Aptly, a Lancaster bomber and some spitfires came over the site. Prince Willy was at nearby Coningsby for a memorial event. I promise this is the only non-birdy photo. They can fly but they don’t sing and they ain’t got beaks!Kirkby on Bain demanded a look. Breeding birds looked to be doing well, with avocet and common terns, along with other water birds having young. On the tip there were hundreds of large gulls. Despite a good look through I couldn’t find a single yellow-legged gull. There must have been over 1,000 herring gulls. Lesser black-backs approached three figures with perhaps 20 great black-backs. A buzzard was scavenging at the tip also.
I made my way home via Ancaster. Regular followers will know about my interest in aberrantly plumaged birds and I found another as I drove through Sudbrook. It was a striking looking collared dove-one of those ‘creamy coffee’ leucistic types you very often get with birds lacking colour pygments. Collared doves are quite pale birds to begin with but this individual immediately caught the eye. I think it’s quite rare in pigeons, I havn’t seen many. My pics don’t really do it justice, they are over-exposed. The light was very poor and my camera was wet. It was a cracker in real life. After watching it for a while, (local residents were wondering what the hell I was doing) another ‘normal’ collared dove flew in and copulated with it.
A quick look at Ancaster pits resulted in not a lot, but a hobby was hawking nearby.
Came across this kes yesterday, she was carrying an injury to the wing, but was still flying short distances. I suspect that hovering and hunting from the air is difficult so she’s spending time on lookout posts and trees. Found her again this morning down at the works where she allowed me even closer approach. Looked pretty healthy in other respects so hopefully will be ok. Beautiful creature.
Marston certainly seems to have picked up a bit just lately. I saw seven different raptor species over the weekend. A couple of hayfields have been baled and there is a good supply of small mammals. Five red kites were seen from the hide. A few waders are coming in now, green sand, 10 curlews, 31 lapwings, as well as two pairs of oystercatchers. Four little egrets this morn, and kingfisher.