During half-term week I squeezed in a quick three-day trip to Yorkshire to visit the family. It was a quiet time for rare birds in the area but it is always enjoyable to see species that I have not seen for a while. Luckily the cold and snowy weather had not yet arrived and it was dry and bright most of the time, although the wind was still icy and stung the cheeks. One thing I always look forward to is looking out of my sister's kitchen window in the Yorkshire Wolds where there is always groups of Tree Sparrows visiting their feeders.
We made the most of the dry conditions to take a visit to Tophill Low on 22nd Feb. In all my years of living in Yorkshire, I had never visited this site, so my sister was keen to show me around as she had been a couple of times last summer. There were plenty of birds in the trees and coming to feeders and I especially was pleased to see Coal Tits and Siskins. Flocks of duck were spread out on the reservoir and there were some terrific Goldeneye in amongst the Tufteds, Pochards and Wigeon. On the distant far wall, I picked out the Glaucous Gull that had been seen here in recent weeks.
On the way back to the car park I looked in at the main hide and saw that the Glaucous Gull was a bit closer from here, having moved further down the wall. As I got my camera out for a few 'record shots' it took flight and I managed a couple of decent pics as it circled the reservoir before settling back on the wall.
We had our lunch in the lovely Old Star pub in Kilham village in front of a roaring open-fire. As we went outside, I crossed the road to look at the church and a superb Barn Owl appeared in front of me, swooped through the churchyard, and crossed the road. Excellent views and quite a surprise in the middle of the day.
On my final morning I went for a walk round Swillington Ings, my old patch - although it is almost literally a different place nowadays with all the work done there. There wasn't a great deal around, especially without a 'scope, but I had a nice walk in the sunshine right across the site from Great Preston to Woodlesford. Wildfowl were the most notable birds - a Pink-footed Goose with the Greylags, and some nice Goosanders showing very close on the river. As I stood on Fleet Bridge a Peregrine came very close and circled a few times before heading off to harass some pigeons. A pleasant bit of nostalgia before heading home to Guernsey.