This didn’t happen today, but I thought I’d post it anyway. On Saturday (3rd) I went for a wander around Welton Waters with my dear old dad. Saw at least four Herons, ten Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, 4 Dabchick, 8 Goldeneye, and a flock of forty-odd Fieldfare. Star of the show, however, was a female Merlin that popped out of the reeds and flew along the side of one of the pools. Because we were up on the embankment, we got en excellent view of the upperside of the raptor, before it dropped into some bramble and out of view. My dad has now seen two raptor species that Robert has yet to see. Poor Robert.
More recently, I went to Donna Nook with my dear family. Seals abounded. In fact, there were so many seals that within minutes I was getting distracted by birds. It’s not that the seals are unimpressive or anything, but they are easy to see. When a seal pup is laid on its back less than six inches from your feet, you get familiar with them very quickly. When a bird flits over you and drops into the buckthorn and you’re not sure exactly what it was, then you need to spend a bit of time trying to find out.
I’d heard that a few days previously a tidal surge had disrupted the seals and drowned some of the pups. Obviously, I had brought a knife and a stout bag in case there was a chance of adding a seal skull to my collection (You promised me that head, you dirty turncoat), but unfortunately the fence put paid to that. I did see at least four dead seal pups being eaten by Great Black Backed Gulls, and I will put a very bad picture up here soon.
We didn’t stay that long overall. As my dad pointed out, with the other three or four hundred people there up against the same fence, it was very much like being at a zoo (Zoos tend to clean up the dead ones though). Here follow obligatory seal photos:
Instead of heading straight home, though, we went to Cleethorpes. Cleethorpes, for those that don’t know, has a wonderful marshy area pretty much opposite Spurn Point, so it is always worth a look for anything interesting. In this case, it held hundreds of Oystercatcher, a Grey Plover, several Turnstone, plenty of Dunlin, a few Godwits (too distant to say which species with any confidence), a plethora of Curlew, a single Heron, and a Little Egret in perfect ‘plastic bag’ camouflage.
Cleethorpes also has a boating lake which is home to feral Greylags and about thirty (forty?) Barnacle Geese. Today, though, the Barnacle Geese had wandered off to feed at the side of the road near Pleasure Island. A shame, as usually associating with them is a Ross’ Goose x Barnacle Goose Hybrid, which I first noticed in April of this year, though it has been round this area since at least 2009, as shown by a photo on this blog. This individual is different to the other Ross’ Goose x Barnacle Goose Hybrid that I mentioned in the last post.
Instead, the boating lake held about six Pochard, and these were the most confiding Pochard I’d ever seen, getting within feet of the edge of the water where I stood. Also on the lake was a White Fronted Goose x Greylag Goose Hybrid, which I had also first seen in April of this year. It can be identified as a White Fronted hybrid, rather than just a Greylag, by the white mark above the beak, the black speckles on the belly, and its higher pitched voice.
I decided to walk down to where we had seen the Barnacle Geese feeding as we came in to try and see if the hybrid Ross’ was amongst them. As soon as we left the lake, however, we noticed them feeding at the other end of a nearby carpark, near a group of Black-Headed Gulls being fed chips from a car. No sooner than they had been sighted, something must have spooked them, and the flock took off, flying straight over our heads and out towards the marsh. I did manage to pick out the Ross’ hybrid amongst them though, but was unable to obtain a photo. I do have a photo of it from April, which I will post here for your amusement.
Back at the boating lake, a large flock of Greylags had landed whilst I had been off looking for Barnacle Geese. I had a half-hearted scan through, and spotted a single Barnacle Goose near the back of the group. Next to it swam a very odd looking but familiar goose. It looked like a Canada x Greylag hybrid, but it was smaller than a nearby Greylag, daintier in action, with a neat little beak. It also had a pale forehead mark, something that Canada hybrids tend to lack. I was pretty confident that this was a Barnacle Goose x Greylag Goose Hybrid, and the first of this sort of hybrid that I had ever seen. Well done, I thought. Well done.
As I drove back up to Scarborough, I popped into Tophill Low to try and see the Greenland White Fronted Goose that had been hanging around with the Eurasian White-Fronts. Unfortunately they led me on a merry dance, flying from the fields to D-res just as I got to the corner of D-res, then back to the fields as soon as I got into a hide, then over D-res and off into the distance as soon as I left the hide, then back to D-res as I was walking between hides, where they chose the furthest end with light behind them. In the end I had to give up. They weren’t playing ball, and my optics weren’t up to the distances involved. I left Tophill Greenland White Fronted Gooseless, sadder and wiser.