Monday, 21 March 2016

Saltholme RSPB and Hartlepool

So today I decided to take a short break from my patch at Soil Hill and go on a little adventure to the North-East to see if I could put to bed the demons of Penduline Tit and green-winged teal. Being in Halifax the public transport options are more limited but in the end I only lost an hour from Sheffield and I arrived at Saltholme RSPB at around quarter to eleven.
Within minuets of getting off the bus I had eyes on the Penduline Tits. They were distant but the sun was out and in the light they looked really smart. They would be up feeding on the Bull-rushes for about 10 minuets before they would drop for another 10 and then repeat. They showed really well when they were up though, if a little distant. I tried to get some decent photos but the distance made it difficult, still I managed some nice record shots...
-Penduline Tits
I was thrilled to have got them on the list having dipped them on their first day. Given their pattern of showing I decided to move on after an hour of watching them. I headed into the reserve in the hope of finally seeing a green-winged teal. I can safely say now that green-winged teal is my bogey bird, as once again I did not see it. This is the fifth time I have dipped this species...
I did however see plenty of common teal, including a large group of males which were displaying, something I can't remember seeing before and was really nice to watch. I also saw the female Smew again and had year-ticks of Black-tailed Godwit. The Smew was badly against the light so I was unable to get any decent photos. There was a nice Little Egret from the wildlife watchpoint though which I grabbed a couple of photos of to compensate.
-Little Egret
By half 2 I decided to call it time on my hunt for the teal, which was not reported all day, and get on with my day. I got the bus off the reserve at half 2 and headed up to Hartlepool. The next stop for me was Ward Jackson Park to have a look at Hartlepool's resident population of Ring-necked Parakeets. I have no shame in this, its a species I have not really had the chance to photograph and have hardly seen at all to be fair.
As soon as I arrived at the park I could hear some calling but it took a while to pin them down, and then again to find one that was in a suitable position for a photo. When I eventually got a few in a photogenic position thought they were very obliging, and I was able to get a few nice photos in the late afternoon light.
-Ring-necked Parakeet
There were not many other birds in the park, but there was a very tame Gadwall on the pond, that was willingly coming to bread with the mallards. I had to suspect its origin but could see nothing so would have to assume that it is a wild bird that has become familiar with people. Either way it meant I could get some nice shots of it...
By four I had wrapped up in the park. I could have gone home then but decided to endure the long trek to the headland to see the Shore Larks again. It was some walk there and by the time I arrived I never wanted to walk again.
The larks took some finding but this time I was able to pick them up on the deck rather than flushing them as before. They were more distant this time and I did not try to get too close. The light was much better this time, and in the early evening they looked fantastic. I mean they are Shore Larks, so they look fantastic anyway but when the conditions are right they really look the business. 
-Shore Lark
By the time I left the larks the sun was well on its way to setting. What a fantastic days birding, with a lifer and a host of other goodies. And all by public transport. All very nice indeed.

Species List:
Traveling: Common Buzzard, Jay, Little Owl, Grey Partridge, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Feral Pigeon, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Collard Dove, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Skylark, Kestrel, Rook, Starling, Chaffinch, Jackdaw,
Saltholme RSPB: Penduline Tit, Smew, Blue Tit, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Wren, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Little Egret, Great-crested Grebe, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Redshank, Meadow Pipit, Coot, Little Grebe, Shoveler, Shelduck, Lapwing, Gadwall, Common Snipe, Curlew, Pintail, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Greylag Goose, Stock Dove, Barnacle Goose, Chaffinch, Lesser Black-backed Gull,
Ward Jackson Park: Magpie, Treecreeper, Gadwall, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Tufted Duck, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Chaffinch, Ring-necked Parakeet, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Feral Pigeon, Herring Gull
Hartlepool Headland: Skylark, Shore Lark, Meadow Pipit, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Carrion Crow, Herring Gull, Sparrowhawk, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Magpie

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