With me on coaching duty in Leeds for yhe first part of next week, I decided to head to midlands (if you are from Scotand, every where in engerland is South) and twitch the Pine Bunting that has been wintering just south of York.
The trip started well, with a Barn Owl on a roadside tree along the M50.
A short stop just before York for a coffee and to check my directions, meant I pulled into Dummington about 8:30, with no wrong turns, or missed junctions (who needs satnav?). On arriving at yhe site of yesterdays sightings, I met a local birder who informed me he'd just been watching it about 3-4 minutes earlier. Great, hopefully this won't take long, I thought. Plenty of Yellowhammers were flitting in and out of the stubble field and adjacent hedgerows, but no sign of their Sibe cousin. Tree Sparrows and Stock Doves were added to the year list as i scanned the feeding and resting buntings.
2 hrs later and still nothing. 3 others arrived and we decied to split up as the flock was now slight closer to the othrr end of the field. Myself and another bloke, who had seen it briefly yesterday evening, headed to through the village to the other side of the field. On arrival, the flock had all but dissapeared. After about 15 mins we decided to head over the the field where it had first been found. On arrival we noted a togger wandering round the stubble field, whilst a number of finches and buntings flited along the headgerow. We slowly made our way along the edge of the stubble field (the farmer had given permission for birders to enter this field when the bird was found).
There were good numbers of Yellowhammers in the stubble but they were difficult to get onto whencthey were on the ground. Suddenly a paler bird flew across and dropped into the stubble. We both saw it and we were both convinced that it was the Pine Bunt'. It didn't take long for it to fly into the hedge, where it showed well. Panic ensued as i could not get my scope onto it and before i could regain a fix, it flew off into the hedge further along. This time it sat right on the outer edge of the hedge giving great scope views (photo to follow).
Following the success, I decided to head over to the RSPB reserve at Fairburn Ings. This was a reserve I'd wanted to visit for a while, but hadn't realised it was so close to Leeds. I enjoyed a wander round this wetland reserve, with a couple ofckey targets in mind. A pair of Smew had been in residence this winter, and 3 White-fronted Geese were also on site. Both species were found, though both were a bit distant. More distant were two Grey Partridge, feeding under a distant hedge. Willow tits were heard and eventually seen.
Finally, driving into Leeds I picked up 3 Red Kites, my first of the year.