So today my family decided to have their family day out at Bolton Abbey. I was not optimistic for finding anything for my yearlist, but I knew it would be a nice walk, and that I would see some lovely stuff. We wandered up the river and at the first loop I spotted a drake Mandarin, my first proper view of the year, though I have seen them before.
It was in this area that I began to notice the number of buzzards overhead. I got to watch many of them drifting over, though I only got silhouettes. I kept my eyes open for rarer raptors on passage but I could find none.
But as I watched, I spotted another bird that was deffo not a buzzard due to the wing and tail shape being wrong. However, Having looked at the possibilities I thought it was an Osprey only the tailed looked too long. However, a quick plea on the Calderdale blog and reliable sources have agreed with this bird being an Osprey, so I will happily go along with that. So there we go then, another smashing bird seen today, and today's year-tick. It is also the first time I have ever seen Ospreys on passage. It is just unfortunate that I could get no better shots of what would have been a stunning bird.
--I re-analysed the photo and I am not happy with the Osprey school of thought and now think that it is a Marsh Harrier. The photo when tortured to bring out a wing features lacks the patterning of an Osprey but the dark patches match better to Marsh Harrier--
I spent quite a while watching the raptors, but then my attention was drawn back to the river, where an unusual plumaged form of a reed bunting. I think it was a young male coming back to summer male, so its possibly the first time I have seen one like this.
At the same point there were a few waders going overhead, a trio of Oystercatchers and a Curlew, making for a nice addition to the day list. The Curlew flew right overhead, which gave me a great view, though I tried to take photos rather than watch it, which I would probably do If I had the time again.
A little further up again between watching the raptors there was a patch of scum in the water, where there was a pair of mandarin feeding. They looked really nice, and I managed to get pretty close to them, allowing me to get some decent shots for the year photo album.
The walk through the wood provided nothing much, but there was a Dipper and a Goosander on the river, as well as a buzzard on the hill behind. On the small birds in the wood there was very little, just a Long-Tailed Tit on one of the trees. There was also a Wren near the visitor center, as well as a Grey Wagtail.
The way back passed without incident until the same area where it all happened on the way up. There I spotted the Mandarin pair on the grass grazing. I was not able to get very close but I was able to get some good views, and of such lovely birds.
So overall it was a really nice walk and saw some great stuff, the highlight being the mandarins which seemed to have increased so much since the last time I was there. The only thing left to do is to give a full run down of all the species seen today