Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Elland Gravel Pits

Remember the Scaup I dipped in January? The day I saw the GND? It stayed all winter and into the spring, developing into a stunning adult male. Since I had been at uni, there was not much I could do about this, but it remained until I came home on Friday, so today I decided to go down for it, and see what else was around. 
I got dropped off by my dad at around 9.00 in the morning and immediately began my scanning of the fishing lake, its rumored favored spot. I was unable to track it down but was unable to get a decent view of all the lake.I tried to get a good view from all angles available, as access was forbidden. I would usually just go in, but a fisherman had taken up residence right next to the gate.
I decided to go up and scramble down the back near the Italian restaurant where there was not a fence and hopefully no fishermen to observe my entry. Don't do this at home kids, trespassing is strictly forbidden. On the way up, from the road I overlooked the lake and there, sat smugly in the middle was the scaup, sat asleep with a pair of Great Crested Grebes.
At least now I had located it, and had seen it. I watched from the road for a few mins, before continuing on my quest for entry. I made it up and scrambled down the bank into the fishing area. I was in. I made my way round to where the scaup was, passing several fishermen who did not seem to care and set up my gear to watch the bird. I spent about an hour watching it drift around the lake. It mainly slept, but also fished, preened and washed while I watched it. This is the best way to get a lifer. 
-Scaup with Great Crested Grebes
-Drake Scaup
About half an hour into my watch I hear a familiar twittering overhead, and looked up to watch my first swallow of the year fly overhead. It moved quick, as they tend to do, and I was unable to get any real record shots. However, after I left the scaup for a look around the site I found a group of about 5 on the canal, so I picked up some record shots of my first swallows of the year.
Also along the canal towpath there was a male Blackcap singing. Its the first time I have heard this species this year, so that was nice. He gave very good views too, allowing me to fully appreciate the beauty in the song.
-Male Blackcap
I arrived at my destination, the feeding station, with having only picked up goosander not on the towpath. At the feeding station it was much quieter than it was the last time I was hear over Christmas. I was treated to a 10 min stint by the Bullfinches, along with the great and blue tits and chaffinches. I got great views of the bullfinches, really lovely birds.
-Male Bullfinch
After my appearance at the feeding station I decided to return to the scaup. It was still there and I was able to spend a while watching it, though there was little additional behavior. My time then ran out, as I was asked to leave by one of the bailiffs. He said that for him I could stay but the head bailiff was lurking and that he would not share this opinion. He said to return after the head bailiff had moved on, but I diddnt having already got the most out of the scaup.
-Drake Scaup
So thats how I got my third lifer of 2014, a stunning male scaup. I was well pleased with finally settling this score, a species I had previously dipped 3 times. All that's left to do is give a full species report for the day...

Species List: Scaup*, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Swallow, Blackbird, Blackcap, Great Tit, Robin, Wren, Mallard, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Goosander, Treecreeper, Cormorant, Long-Tailed Tit, Coot, Great-Crested Grebe, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Chiffchaff,

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