Monday, 30 June 2014

Potteric Carr YWT

Back in Sheffield to move stuff over to the new house gave me the chance to try and pick up some more year-ticks in the South Yorkshire area. I analysed the sightings and the possibilities were between a pair of spoonbills at Fairburn or green sandpiper at Potteric Carr. Having thought about it I decided Potteric was probably better as it cheaper and the bird seemed more likely.
I made my way over late morning on a really lovely day, looking forward to seeing what was on the site. I arrived in good time so had plenty of time to try and see something on the site. I headed down the main way through the reserve same as before to make my way up to the West Scrape where the green sands had been reported over the last few days. On the way up I picked up good numbers of insects including damselflies and brown butterflies: Ringlet and Speckled Wood.
Near the end of the road I picked up Banded Demoiselle which was looking lovely in the sunshine. However, there was a female and a male, but the female was much harder to track down and was not as easy to get a photo of.
-Banded Demoiselle
While I was trying to get some shots of the demoiselle I flushed a Southern Hawker, an adult male which actually spent a lot of time landed, so I was able to get some photos of an adult Southern Hawker landed, which had been eluding me. I was initially reluctant to try and get close, but soon I was able to get great views and photos of it.
-Southern Hawker
I moved onto the Piper Marsh Hide which is where the Kingfishers were, but there was nothing there except for a Pochard. I waited about 5 mins, but just as I was setting off the Kingfisher flew past the hide, but it did not stick around so I was unable to get any photos or anything.
I moved onto the West Scrape Hide where the green sand was meant to be. I moved in, possibly there being the most birds there I can ever remember being there, so things were looking up. The majority of birds were Black-Headed Gulls and Lapwings. I waited about 5 mins before the bird of the hour appeared on the near mudflat. Thrilled would not cover it, it was such a good view. And as a result I decided to watch the bird, which turned out to be a big mistake as the bird did not stick around. As soon as I raised my camera to take some photos the bird flew off. I grabbed one photo, and its out of focus, but the view I got of the bird flying off was very striking, clearly distinguishing it from common sand by its bright white rump.
-Green Sandpiper
I waited around for the bird to return, but it took significantly longer than I had anticipated. I ended up waiting a whole 2 and a half hours. And in that time I only managed another minuet with the bird, and again I decided to watch the bird rather than photograph it. And so for the moment my record shot remained the one poor quality photo.
There were a couple of other birders there, milling in and out. The original birders mentioned that there was a pair of Godwit around, which we identified from his photos as Black-Tailed. We also found a few Wigeon, and a juvenile Little-Ringed Plover, which had been around for some time and a Marsh Harrier and Buzzard, which frequently sent the gulls up. After a bit the Godwits re-appeared, though we don't really know how they appeared from, as they somehow moved from one side of the lake to the other without flying.
-Black-Tailed Godwit
-Little-Ringed Plover
After 2 and a half hours I decided enough was enough and that the bird was probably lost. I had seen it, got great views and the only thing that was missing was some good photos, but it just did not seem like it was going to show again.
I carried on round, not picking up many birds but I got great views of insects. The undoubted highlight was a Devil's Coach-Horse Beetle, a lifer for me. However, as I found frequently through the day, the wrong lens was on the camera and despite my attempts to keep the beetle occupied by keeping it on the path while I changed the lens, by the time I had managed to change the beetle had scurried under the grass and I was unable to re-locate.
I also picked up Emperor Dragonfly, Four-Spot Chaser and Black-Tailed Skimmer. There was also Ringlet butterfly in large numbers. However, that was the good side. On the bad side there was a Wasp, which decided to randomly sink its stinger into me, although having analysed the mark I think it may be a bite mark rather than a sting mark. I also accumulated about 20 mosquito bites, along my legs over the course of night.
In the main Duchess Hide there was not much happening, so after a short while I continued along the path, but I decided to return to the West Scrape Hide to try and see if the Green Sand had returned. Along the way back I picked up Red Admiral Butterfly, the positive, and Mink along the top of a drain, the negative.
-Red Admiral
Back in the West Scrape Hide I decided I would wait a little while, about 10 mins and see what happened. As it turned out, going back was a wise decision as the bird was showing again. As soon as I wandered into the hide it was on the near shore, but once more I had the wrong lens on. I grabbed a few shots with the 300 before trying to change, during which time the bird decided again to move out of sight. Brilliant!
I waited a little longer, but not too much, but it proved worthwhile as the bird did make another appearance, looking mighty fine, though initially behind the reeds, but soon it was out in the open enough to grab some decent record shots finally, so that I would not be left with a terrible gap in my collection.
-Green Sandpiper
While I had waited the Godwits that were still around had taken flight and given good views as they circled around the lake. They did not stay airbourn for long, but I got great views of the wing pattern, proving beyond doubt that they were Black-Tailed.
-Black-Tailed Godwit
After the green sand had gone I decided to head back, as it could be quite a walk back. Along the wooded edge of the main marsh I found quite a surprise species when I spotted a Willow Tit among a mixed tit flock. I was unable to get any photos, nor was the view particularly good but there was no mistaking the identity of the bird, a really nice surprise to have found.
I decided to call in at the Willow Pool Hide to see if there was anything on the feeders there, the initial willow tit putting me in the mood for more. However the feeders were dead, probably due to the presence of a pair of grey squirrels that were making the most of the bird food on offer. However, the limited birdlife did not seem interested in the seed put down, the only bird being a young Blue Tit that was pulling the seeds off a bulrush, slowly making its way round the head, leaving it bald. It was a great stand to get some photos from, and the positioning of the bird was not bad either.
-Blue Tit
Finally I had in mind to check the Loversall field to see what was about on there. In the past there were good numbers of Dragonflies on there, and I had in mind to try and track some down. On the way there I got a nice surprise when I spotted the tail of a Grass Snake disappear into the undergrowth, a poor and brief but very nice view.
The ponds were quite quiet, lots of Blue Damselflies but not much besides. There was one Four-Spot Chaser on the pond, which kept landing on a stick obviously left for it, but highly inaccessible without crashing through the poolside vegetation. 
It was here that I stumble across my first Emerald Damselfly of the year, resting deep in some sedge, making it difficult to photograph, but not impossible so I was able to grab some record shots of the individual. It made a nice addition to the days list. 
-Common Emerald Damselfly
And that was the last action of what was a very rewarding and productive day spent out in the sun. As I type this up this evening I am now nursing a very sore leg from all my insect related injuries sustained from today. But was it worth it? I would say so...

Species List:
Potteric Carr YWT: Starling, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Blackcap, Great Tit, Robin, Black-Headed Gull, Wren, Mallard, Jackdaw, Mute Swan, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Coal Tit, Treecreeper, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Collard Dove, Lapwing, Long-Tailed Tit, Moorhen, Coot, Little Grebe, Great-Crested Grebe, Song Thrush, Jay, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Common Teal, Pochard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Kingfisher, Reed Bunting, Wigeon, Willow Tit, Chiffchaff, Little-Ringed Plover, Sand Martin, Willow Warbler, Canada Goose, Graylag Goose, Little Egret, Black-Tailed Godwit, Marsh Harrier, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Swift, Green Sandpiper, Common Blue-Tailed Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Common Emerald Damselfly, Banded Demoiselle, Black-Tailed Skimmer, Four-Spot Chaser, Emperor Dragonfly, Southern Hawker, Common Darter, Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Large White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Rabbit, Grey Squirrel, Grass Snake, 

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