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REDPOL, BANK ISLAND

It was just one of those days not much happening, overcast, misty, and very muddy. Then all of a sudden redpoll! Not much els to say really. I like Redpol !!! Poor quality shots, sorry. I would like to say it was the excitement of seeing them but its just poor camera work.
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From Church Bridge to Redhouse Lagoon

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We left my home at 7:30 in the morning, light was just breaking and Church Bridge is just 30 minutes away. As you arrive at Church Bridge you can park up on the right near the gateway, as predicted the light was just breaking through. Having only been to church Bridge a few times it never ceases to amaze me, it’s a fabulous place to bird. Now, you can go one of two ways, East takes you to a small lock and a few hundred yards of reeds and rushes.

This is an excellent birding area, the reeds hold many warblers and the land beyond holds raptors including the occasional hobby. As you walk with the lock on your right the river joins you to your left. You can walk the Pocklington canal for many miles from here, visiting villages like Melbourne and if you’ve got the legs for it Pocklington itself.

Alternatively if you head west, this is the start of the Melbourne head which is still part of the Pocklington canal network. If you continue you will eventually come to Storwood on the edge of the Wheldrake nature reserve and the wider area of Lower Derwent Valley.
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We didn't see very much at Church Bridge but the sounds were beautiful. We as humans really do take sound for granted, that is until we cannot see. I often listen to things with my eyes closed, this intensifies the way we hear, closing your eyes, if you do it for long enough changes the way you hear. You develop sharper, more acute hearing even over just a short period of time.

It's amazing how the sounds you did not hear moments earlier become louder and more in focus, and your brain builds pictures, detailed reconstructions of the soundscape you can hear. With practice these soundscapes are so detailed and associated with your knowledge, that all you need is the sounds and you have the pictures, identification complete.

Below: Can you spot the winter plumage Goldeneye, when you do, it becomes all you see in this rather drab Goose and Duck scape.
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We walked and walked up and down Church Bridge and the Pocklington Canal, we heard plenty but in the drab monotone day we saw very little. The light was so bad and the forecast so discouraging, that we nearly gave up and went home defeated by our own thoughts, but we are stronger than that. After Phil called me names, told me I was a defeatist old git and said he was never going birding with such a miserable t**t again. I drove us to Redhouse Lagoon on the opposite side of York, at least I could get warm, for now anyway.

Earlier in the week I had remembered a email from Peter Watson of York Ornithological Club to all members, Mergansers at Redhouse Lagoons, where the hell is Redhouse Lagoon? Google will give me the answer! And it did, but although the road to Redhouse was public the land around looked private. Now if I email Peter will he say "Who are you?" Sod off. Peter was a perfect gentleman and emailed me back and gave me his mobile number.

Peter then gave me detailed information about the woodland around and detailed directions as to the best way round and even what time and what to expect. Fantastic, and we followed his instruction almost to the letter and we were glad we did.
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The first birds we discovered were a Siskin and a Redpoll, tick, tick. I'm trying very hard to see 200 birds in a year, well 200 species anyway. The #mybirding200 is a magazine challenge and last year I got 191 species and the year before a tantalisingly close 196.

As we skirted the edge of the woodland we were watched very closely by some beaters, there was a shoot going on. I can be very vocal and sarcastic and have before now challenged their manhood whilst they hold there loaded weapons. On one occasion I harassed a group of shooters so much that they packed up and went home. They were shooting Wigeon over open water that they had no intention of bringing in.

I think these beaters were just ensuring we were safe, they walked down the woodland as we walked up, away from harm and the noise.

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Marsh Tits, note the while spot on the upper mandible and the brownish hues.
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We heard a call but couldn't place it, again and again we followed the sound but without sight neither of us could make a positive identification. Then we managed to see it, a Marsh Tit, now Marsh and Willow Tits can be extremely hard to tell apart and sound is crucial to identification. However, the sound we heard was not the truly typical call, of either of these species.

When in doubt turn to the world authority that is "Birds of the Western Palearctic" and read and read and read. I don't want to bore you but there is argument and counter in all writings in all the books, but the writings and understandings of Broughton,R.K.(2009) and Johansson, U. et al. are very important to Tit Identification.
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Below: Siskin and Redpoll
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Above: Siskin

Below: Redpoll
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Above: The Great Black Back Gull
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Above: Both male and female Mergansers from Redhouse Lagoon. With the light fading they were getting difficult to see.
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On the walk back to the car in the fading light, the unmistakable sound of the Yellowhammer.
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