Sunday, 17 October 2021

Taiga, Taiga, burning bright...

Up early, I caught a train over to Scarborough to help out with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust AGM. During the day, I met a lot of lovely members and did a guided walk along the seafront south of the Spa, which was very enjoyable. After my walk, I checked my phone and was stunned to see that the Red-breasted Flycatcher that had been reported from Flamborough earlier on, had been reidentified as a Taiga Flycatcher! Yikes! Colleague and top Yorkshire lister, Andy Gibson was also working, so I quickly showed him the message. Fortunately, Andy had a car and was shortly heading back to Hull, so a little detour to Flamborough seemed apt. We piled in and headed south. 


The bird was showing on arrival just down from the seawatching spot below the fog station. About thirty birders were precariously balanced on the clifftop with some further down. It flicked around the chalky clifftop, occasionally dropping on to the grass. Facing away, the deepest jet-black uppertail coverts overlay the dull black tail feathers, a diagnostic feature. It also had an all black bill and no hint of buff in the tertial edges and greater covert bar.  

I had seen my first Taiga Flycatcher at Trow Quarry this time last year - see here -and this bird looked identical. In the dull light, it did look decidedly greyish and drab compared with the Red-breasted Fly I saw a week or so ago. Nevertheless, a charming little dude, restless and diving around the cliffs, constantly alert for a passing insect. 

My good fortune continued, as I bumped into York birder, Paz, and he agreed to give me a lift back to the railway station so I could cycle home. We did the Old Fall loop back to his car, which was deathly quiet. And then the news of the Spurn Two-barred Warbler came through....eek!

Long-toed Stint: Another Yorkshire Mega!

 

Yorkshire is having some year, so when news that a Temmick's Stint at St Aidan's had been reidentified firstly as a Least Sandpiper (very rare) and then again as a Long-toed Stint (uber rare) I was in somewhat of a panic, given I was in Norfolk! Fortunately, this tiny wanderer stayed around for eight days, allowing many birders to see this fantastic Asian wader. A really interesting bird, with a unique jizz, perhaps a little like a diminutive Pectoral Sandpiper.

 

The bird's long, dull-yellow legs and crazy long toes set it apart from other peeps. As it fed, it leant forward, probing the mud just in front of its longest (middle) toe, which was quite interesting, and there was quite a bit of leg visible above the knee (well, the ankle really), before the belly. The upperparts seemed to have neat dark centres to the scapulars and coverts, with a hint of pale tramlines on the mantle, and yet the tertials and primaries seems dull brown and quite worn. The head pattern was distinctive, with the dark crown reaching the bill, split on either side with a white stripe, before a broad white superciium with a dark upper border, and a fine dark loral stripe extending beyond the eye on to the ear covers. The bird's bill was short and dainty, with a fine tip. Strangely, the bird would occasionally tuck up one leg and hop about whilst feeding (see videos) and at other times, would walk about normally. 

 

The bird really didn't look like a Temmick's Stint, but this was such a huge call, being the first in Britain since 1982 (ignoring the bird in Ireland in the 90s), that I am not surprised the observers erred on the side of the more likely species. An absolutely amazing find and something I never expected to see in Britain, let alone Yorkshire!


 


Team Birdo Norfolk Weekender 2021

The legendary (not really) Team Birdo weekender was held in North Norfolk last weekend. Sadly, the team had dwindled to Dunc and myself, as Ben was in Scotland, Mark was sadly ill and Simon was knee-deep in nappies. The weather had a slight easterly feel in the wind, though we were perhaps clutching at straws a little. Well, a lot, as it turned out. After two cracking days at Flamborough, I headed south on Friday, my first destination the sprawl of gorgeous dunes at Holme. I used to work here from time to time, back in my Norfolk Wildlife Trust days, so I was intrigued to see how it had developed. 

I took a walk from the pines all the way back towards the entrance through the dunes. It is a beautiful place, with stunning areas of lichen-clad dune slacks, large banks of Sea Buckthorn and Elder tangles. I passed the bushes where I had lucked out with a Red-flanked Bluetail about ten years ago - see here - they still looked good! Today, however, it was super quiet. I pished a couple of Blackcaps out of the bushes and had a Brambling fly over, but that was about it. The path was strewn with basking Common Darters and a few Painted Ladies bounded past, but otherwise, it was quiet. 

On to Titchwell, I spent a relaxing few hours grilling a close Golden Plover flock looking for a Dotterel or rarer Goldie, but sadly there wasn't anything of interest. A fine first-winter Mediterranean Gull was loafing with the Black-headed flock and a Little Stint added a bit of wader interest. A Black-necked Grebe on the sea was a pleasant surprise but best of all were the Bearded Tits in the reedbed close to the path. It was a very calm afternoon, and the pinging of a multitude of Beardies could be heard. One male showed beautifully feeding in the tops of the reeds giving me the chance to really soak up his hirsute handsomeness in the scope.

Quite a few washed-out, faded looking Golden Plovers, like this one in the bottom pic. One or two birds only had traces of their black belly feathers, remnants of their breeding plumage.



I just love first winter Med Gulls. They have a certain charisma that just kicks ass.

Male Bearded Tit/Reedling/Parrotbill/whatever.

Met up with Dunc then headed for some pints of Ghost Ship and birding tales at the Golden Fleece in Wells. A good start to the weekend. 


Saturday

We headed out early to Cley beach car park, in order to walk to Blakeney Point, ignoring the tantalising news of Britain's third Long-toed Stint which had been identified in West Yorkshire, as best we could.

It was a gorgeous, if gruelling, walk along the shingle. Several Red-throated Divers were fishing close in on the sea, but there was little in the way of migrants, except a handful of Song Thrushes and a Wheatear. We trudged on to the end dreaming of Sykes' Warblers and Alder Flycatchers, and were pleased to find a few migrants in the plantation, though nothing quite so rare: two Bramblings, two Chaffinches, two Blackbirds and a handful of Redwings. It was a long walk back, with little to show for our efforts, but it had been great fun nevertheless. 

Dunc at the infamous Halfway House

Tired Brambling, 'fresh-in' Song Thrush and Red-throated Diver.


Sunday

Up early again, Dunc picked up two adult Med Gulls in the field across from our cottage in Wells through the steamy kitchen window whilst we were sorting breakfast. Nice work.Today we walked from Lady Anne's Drive, Holkham, along the line of pines and through Burnham Overy Dunes to Gun Hill. Another site with an impressive record for rare birds, but not today. Again, very quiet, with three flyover Lapland Buntings the pick of a tiny bunch, that included two Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs and three Redwings. It is hard to believe walking through this area in early October, without a single call from a Yellow-browed Warbler. Strange times!

After our long walk, we headed to Titchwell, which yielded much the same as Friday. Additional birds included a Cattle Egret loafing with the gulls and a distant Arctic Skua chasing a Common Gull out over the sea. Dunc, who was made of tougher stuff than me decided to continue birding for the last couple of hours; I decided to call it a day and head back north. So long Norfolk, til next time!



Thursday, 7 October 2021

Yellow-browed at last!

Headed back to the Cape again today. The wind had swung back to southwest and with clearing skies, it was unlikely that there would be a repeat of yesterday's sublime scenes.

I headed round the Old Fall loop. Two Jays bounded along the hedge and away, followed by two Chiffchaffs and to my delight, a Yellow-browed Warbler! It flicked up into the top of the hedge then flew straight towards me and into the Hawthorns next to the car. It is always a good day if you see a Yellow-brow, so this was a good start. Down at the plantation, there were more Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap, followed by a Spotted Flycatcher, possibly Johnny's bird from yesterday (pic below). Another Yellow-browed Warbler was calling stridently from the lofty green heights of the Sycamore canopy, giving only tantalising glimpses. A few Goldcrests moved through too.

There was no sign of the Little Bunting at the Motorway, in fact, there was no sign of much at all. A couple of Song Thrushes burst out of the hedge and plenty of Skylarks were blogging around Cattlemere, but it felt quiet.

I didn't have as much time left, so after completing the loop, I nipped over to Bempton to see the Barred Warbler. After a few minutes of enjoying a dapper Lesser Whitethroat, the East European hulk jumped up into a willow, dwarfing its cousin. As Barred Warblers tend to do, it dropped back down into cover and vanished. Nearby, my third Yellow-brow of the day was flicking around in the tops of the Willows near the Visitor Centre. Another good day, but with a different feel and a different cast to yesterday. Now to Norfolk...



Some days are better than others

Green Warbler, Pectoral Sandpiper and Minke Whales aside, it has been a pretty quiet autumn round here. There has been far fewer birds around than normal, with even common migrants being scarce, which all seems quite sinister. The continual westerly wind probably hasn't helped.

The forecast looked promising mid-week, so after a pretty stressful few weeks at work, I decided to make my long weekend even longer, by taking Wednesday and Thursday off too. Hopefully, a change from the normal wind direction combined with some rain, might just drop a few migrants along the coast.

I was planning to start by seawatching but it looked like the visibility was rubbish, so opted for the bushes. Arriving at the top of Old Fall Hedge, Flamborough, the conditions were grim and I could hear the fog horn; very strong northwesterly winds, low cloud and heavy drizzle blowing horizontally. Wet legs were assured! This wasn't a good time to discover the zip on my coat had broken...

As soon as I set foot out of the car, a Redwing dropped out of the sky and landed on the hedge: my first of the autumn and a great start! I headed down the hedge, with flurries of Redwings blowing over and others erupting out of the hedge in front of me. As I arrived at the plantation, groups of Bramblings wheezed overhead in the murk and a Great Spotted Woodpecker bounded in, seemingly straight off Bridlington Bay. The wind made the plantation very difficult to watch, though I could hear thrushes and Bramblings up in the canopy. I continued the loop. Two Ring Ouzels and a Fieldfare were in the hedge south of the plantation and a tired, wet Wheatear hid behind a thistle clump in the sheep field.

By now, my trousers were pretty wet but the quality of the birding meant I barely noticed. The visibility picked up as the rain eased, and as I arrived at the lighthouse, news came through of a Great Shearwater past the seawatching hide. Time to get my scope and a bit later, I arrived at the busy hide. The sea was impressive, with huge foam-topped waves piling south as the strong wind continued unabated. Good numbers of ducks were passing, although I was really getting the tail-end of things having missed the early morning hiatus. Nevertheless, Wigeon, Shoveler, Common Scoter and a Red-breasted Merganser were all seen. Sooty Shearwaters powered effortlessly north into the wind as if it was a gentle breeze, whilst Bonxies cruised past in the other direction. A shout went up from Brett Richards and I got on a stunning Great Shearwater, gliding past at close range. Strangely, like the first one, this bird was also heading south, so perhaps the same individual that had gone south earlier, which could have gone back north undetected. Either way, always fantastic to see this king of shearwaters off the cape.

By early afternoon, things had died down, so it was time to grab food and head to the northside. Holmes Gut was quiet, with just a few Redwings and a Bullfinch. I walked round the clifftop and down towards the camp. On to the mound and a few Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler seemed to be feeding in the shelter of some Holm Oaks and Willows. Shortly, a dry trill announced the arrival of a Red-breasted Flycatcher that zipped past in front of me flashing its white tail sides. 

It landed out of sight, but I could still hear it calling, so I rang Andy Malley and Phil Cunningham who I knew to be nearby. They arrived just as the Flycatcher reappeared - good timing! It fed along the bottom of the hedge, before flicking into the garden and out of view. Corking!

 

This gave my flagging energy levels a big boost, so I decided to head back to the southside and do the Old Fall loop again. It was quieter now, the thrushes and finches having mostly headed off inland. A Yellow-browed Warbler had been reported in Old Fall, so I hung out with Johnny Mac for a bit, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and listening for the little Phyllosc. Johnny had seen a Spotted Flycatcher round by the Gorse Field, so after a bit, I decided I would head round. 

 

Sure enough, the pale shape of the SpotFly could be seen sitting in the sunshine on the southside of the hedge, occasionally dashing out to catch a fly. I always like the long grass of the lighthouse field, so I headed into it, parallel to the Motorway Hedge. Within a few metres, a small bunting flew out and landed inside the nearest bush. Before I raised my bins, I just knew this was going to be a Little Bunting, as it just had that 'feel'. Through bins, a beady eye peeped out of a neat white eye-ring amid fiery red cheeks, watching me suspiciously. An absolutely belting Little Bunting - get in! I quickly fired off a few shots with the camera, though I was looking into the sun, so I knew it might be fruitless. After drinking it in for a minute, I rang Johnny and then put the news out on the WhatsApp group. I carefully walked round to the otherside of the hedge to get better light, but in doing so lost the bird - doh! I checked my camera and was relieved that you could identify the bird from the image- see below.


I had to go as I had promised to be back for tea, so after twenty minutes and no further sign, I traipsed off through the grass. I flushed a Common Snipe, which should have been a Jack or a Great, but sadly was neither and another 20 Redwings from the hedge. Nice. I arrived back at the car, weary but happy.  Some days are better than others, and this was one of the best. 

A little later Johnny sent me some fantastic pics of the little stunner, which he has kindly let me post here:

Little Bunting pics by John McLoughlin



Saturday, 2 October 2021

Squizzle!

Fantastic views of a Red Squirrel gathering Hazel nuts around the Wild Ingleborough office at Selside in Ribblesdale on Wednesday. This is frontier country for squirrels, with Reds clinging on against the march of the Greys just to the south. The Reds are holed-up in the large spruce plantations in the area and occasionally venture along stone walls into the tiny fragments of native woodland on the slopes of Ingleborough. 

One of the ambitions of the Wild Ingleborough project that I am working on, is to join up these fragments to enable the Reds to move around more easily and flourish in the area. We just need to be vigilant for Greys moving in.




Saturday, 25 September 2021

Flash Caspian

I've been plugging away at Acaster Airfield flash as often as I can, but the hoped-for scarce wader hasn't rocked up yet. This morning there were c50 Lapwings and a single Golden Plover in the field and absolutely zilch waders on the flash. A few gulls were loafing, including about 20 Lesser Black-backs, a couple of Herrings and, to my surprise, a stonking adult Caspian Gull! This really was a nice surprise. I have been checking for Yellow-legged Gulls which are a late summer feature in the area, but I wasn't expecting this. 



Pectoral Seconds

Went up to Wheldrake on Thursday night with my sister. The Pectoral Sandpiper was showing well on the pool, along with a single Green Sandpiper and about 80 Teal. The dull evening light didn't improve my ability to phonescope the Pec, but it was great to enjoy good views at leisure.


 



Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Catching the Pec Wave

There has been a big influx of Pectoral Sandpipers into the UK in the last couple of weeks. There have been a handful of records in Yorkshire and I was very hopeful that one would turn up. Today, Adam Firth found one at the pool at Wheldrake Ings, so I shot down at lunchtime to see it. The bird was still present on arrival, a very smart juvenile. This is the ninth record for the York area. Also noted, one Green Sandpiper, eight Snipe and one Little Egret. 


I was in a bit of a rush and the strong sunshine was creating a bit of a haze, so my pics don't do this smart bird justice. My smartphone adapter went wrong too which didn't help, which is why the video is a disaster!


 

York Guillemot

As mentioned in an earlier post, there has been a large wreck of auks on the northeast coast, largely Guillemots and Razorbills. Corpses have been tested by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, but at the time of writing no cause has been identified. It seems the birds are emaciated, so possibly a lack of food could be the issue, although fish do appear to be abundant right now. Disease could be a cause, although avian flu has not yet been detected. Many of the auks are loafing close inshore or even entering rivers which is clearly out of character. Recently (11th September), this poorly Guillemot was discovered on the River Wharfe upstream of Cawood. It was only viewable from private land and the farmer only allowed access for a small number of local birders. Unfortunately, the bird was not present the next day so presumably died. 

Guillemot, River Wharfe. The first live record in the York area since October 1997. One was found dead in 1999. 




Sunday, 19 September 2021

Check your pics

Minke Whale off Staithes Harbour, photographed from Cowbar
 

A quieter day out at sea today, with five hard-won Minke Whales preceded by one feeding close inshore mid-morning. The five Brents were still in the harbour and later, they flew over us heading north, presumably returning to Northumberland. The weather was lovely - too lovely for seabirds really - but we had a great day nevertheless. A flock of six Shovelers heading south was a nice surprise. Later, one of our clients, Matt (@msteaneLUFC), checked his pics and noticed that the lead bird was a Pintail! This one slipped through in the field, reminding me that it is always worth checking your pics!

Shovelers and Pintail
Sleepy Grey Seal
Gannet
Two of our Minke Whales


Friday, 17 September 2021

What's going on with the auks?

I had an enjoyable day leading a Yorkshire Coast Nature Whale and Seabird pelagic out of Staithes today. The day started well, with five Pale-bellied Brent Geese in the harbour, and rather randomly, a Nuthatch in weeds on the clifftop, followed by a Wheatear at Cowbar. Out to sea, we got great views of up to 11 Minke Whales, one Harbour Porpoise, a possible Osprey (very distant), Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, Teal, Wigeon, Common Scoters and Red-throated Divers. 

One of the Minkes, named Finbarr by Skipper Sean, had a stumpy fin. On checking the pics, it seems it has had the top cut off, presumably by a ship's propellor. A lucky escape as otherwise it seemed fine.

Two of today's Minke Whales off Staithes. The top one, Finbarr, with his damaged dorsal fin, and the lower image of a whale with an undamaged fin.

Sadly, a feeling of melancholy remained with me during the day due to the sight of dozens of dead Razorbills and smaller numbers of Guillemots, a Shag and a couple of Herring Gulls. I am not sure of the cause of this, but I presume it is avian flu. It was really sad to see.

Alive and dead Razorbills.
A small skein of Teal whipping south across the sea.


Thursday, 16 September 2021

There goes the Fea!

 

A couple of weeks ago, there were great conditions for interesting seabirds to be found in the North Sea. 

A big high pressure system was spinning birds out of the Atlantic and into the mouth of the North Sea, where the northerly wind pushed them south and onto the Yorkshire coast. Among the commoner species, lots of Long-tailed Skuas and Sooty Shearwaters were picked up by seawatchers as they headed back north, reorientating themselves back to the ocean. Among the movement, Fea's-type Petrels began to be seen. Ever since seeing Desertas Petrels in Madeira last September, I was hooked on these charismatic Pterodroma petrels. Their aerial prowess, great rarity and charismatic looks are a package to excite all seawatchers and the chance to see one close to home has caused me many sleepless nights, fantasising about picking one of these up as it carved north past Flamborough Head. 

In the North Sea, birds are currently recorded as 'Fea's-type Petrels', as distinguishig the three closely-related petrels (Zino's, Fea's and Desertas) is very difficult without really close views and lots of experience. Throw into the mix the Soft-plumaged Petrel from the South Atlantic which proved its occurrence in Yorkshire waters earlier this year, and you have a complicated identification puzzle. This is why most are simply classed as 'Fea's types'.

So, to the first episode in this tale...

One morning in the middle of this northerly spell, I was busy doing chores at home and suddenly noticed a message that a Fea's-type had gone north past Flamborough Head late morning. Blimey, if I left now, I could head to Cowbar, near Staithes, along a very familiar route and possibly intercept the bird. I didn't have much on that day, so checking I hadn't overlooked any family commitments, I got the green light, grabbed my gear and scrambled for the car. Birdo mate Mark Hawkes checked out timings and trajectories and said if I got to Cowbar by 1.30pm I should be there in time to see it fly past. This was going to be close, but I had to try.  These birds pass by so rarely that I was never ever likely to be present when one was found, so attempting to twitch one seemed the only option. 

Off I went. To sum up the journey to Cowbar is easy: it was a nightmare! Roadworks, caravans, sheep on the road, ice cream vans; you couldn't make it up. Nevertheless, the abbey at Whitby hove into view before 1pm, so there was still a chance. I arrived on site at 1.25pm and ran to the cliff edge, where I found another dozen birders already in position. Many had become distracted by an adult and two juvenile Sabine's Gulls in among  a large flock of Kittiwakes feeding offshore. This was understandable, as they are scarce birds in Yorkshire and pretty lovely too. They would have to wait however, as the Fea's was due any moment. It had been reported from Bempton and then Filey after the first sighting, so it was maintaining its trajectory, hugging the coast. Worryingly, there was no report from Long Nab at Burniston, another great seawatching site. Was it still heading this way? 

Then, at 1.40pm the message came that it had been seen heading north at Old Nab, Staithes. This was the other side of Staithes harbour, the south. Birders there must be looking at the same patch of sea pretty much. The crowd went silent. All scopes swung south, scrutinising every movement, every bird that appeared over the sea, the Sabs Gulls forgotten. Surely, with all these birders looking, the Fea's couldn't get past undetected? But it did. Tense seconds turned into minutes and then quarter of an hour had passed by. We had missed it. How was that possible? If I'd been on my own I could have understood it - there was a lot of sea to look at. But somehow, it had shot past without anybody seeing it. I felt dismayed and distraught. So close....the news came a little later that birders at Hartlepool had seen it and then reports started to rain in from further north as the bird powered into the wind. I was gutted not to have seen it. But I had learnt that it was possible to intercept a Fea's, or indeed any rare seabird, from York.

 .....

Roll forward to Sunday 12th September. I had had a fantastic day leading a York Birding Club trip around Flamborough. An early seawatch from the fog station had yielded two cracking Pomarine Skuas, c30 Red-throated Divers, Sooty Shearwaters, Bonxies and Arctic Skuas. The Old Fall Loop was quiet, but we pulled out a Redstart and Garden Warbler in the Bay Brambles, which was something. On to Bempton, we headed along the clifftop to Buckton, where after a while we managed good but brief views of the Green Warbler - cracking! I had a top laugh with the gang, including Steve Farley, who had me in stitches throughout most of the day. A couple of the group went off to look for the Black-browed Albatross, which hadn't been seen since early morning. We headed over and shortly, Duncan Bye refound the bird as it flew back in to Staple Newk. He was made up as he hadn't seen the bird before. We got some nice views of the albatross as it circled the arch before landing on the cliff out of sight. After a while, I decided that this had been quite a remarkable day on the Yorkshire coast, so it was time to head home.


 I got as far as Bridlington. In a traffic jam near the 'Hume's Lights', I checked my phone and to my amazement, read that a Fea's-type Petrel had gone north close in (!) past the fog station at Flamborough, only moments ago! Oh no - if I had only stayed at Bempton a little longer. Earlier on, after seeing the Green Warbler, I had even considered going back to the fog station for another seawatch as the wind strength had increased... Anyway, nevermind the 'what ifs', I made a snap decision to U-turn out of the traffic queue and head north for Scarborough. Seeking the advice of good birding mates (thanks Mark, Rich, Dunc) I decided to go to Long Nab, as it seemed the birders there manage to connect with most good seabirds that go up the coast. No further reports came through as I headed north; nothing from Bempton or Filey. Had it gone back out to sea? The Sunday afternoon traffic was a nightmare, only adding to my stress.

 

I pulled into the car park just behind a pair of dawdling dogwalkers, who I had followed closely from the village. I greeted them as pleasantly as I could, tumbling out of the car, all coats and optics. They just looked at me bemused. I raced off down the track to the clifftop where I could see another birder already in position intently scoping the sea. It was Chris Bell, and he informed me that there was no sign of the petrel so far. I started scanning the sea, primarily looking far out. A few Red-throats flew south. 

After a bit I picked up a low-flying dark bird, heading rapidly north. To my surprise, it suddenly cut a big tightly curved arc up over the waves and down again - this looked really interesting and the adrenaline rush hit me like a train! I told Chris what I had seen and a few moments later, he suddenly announced 'there it is', as the bird arced up out of a wave trough again. Surely this was the Fea's? It was really distant, but that flight just screamed Pterodroma. We hadn't managed to see a white belly, or indeed any other features, but that flight style was just super distinctive and it just felt right. We lost the bird. I swung my scope north to try and catch it again, but that was it. I briefly saw a bird low down over the waves, but again only briefly. I felt hollow and a bit perplexed. I talked to Chris who agreed that this was likely to have been the bird and so I decided to put out a message to give encouragement to the birders stationed further north. I desperately wanted to see this bird and had to tell my brain not to insert things I hadn't seen into my memory. It had been a distant, brief view of what might have been the bird. That was all. But it was still an electrifying moment. This had been an exciting and tantalising end to a fab day on the east coast and I couldn't possibly feel disappointment, just shattered at the emotional strain of it all. The bird had flirted with me, just enough to keep me interested and left me desperately waiting for the next chapter.

Shortly, Long Nab birder Nick Addey turned up. It was great to meet him, and Chris for that matter. I left them to it, and headed home.


All pics are Desertas Petrels taken in Madeira last year.

Also, it turns out that 'Fea's' is pronounced 'Fay-ers' as the species is named after an Italian, Leonardo Fea, so my play on the Doves song, 'There goes the fear', in the title of this blog, is phonetically incorrect! And I also pinched this pun from top mate Dunc Poyser, so it is all his fault really -only kidding man. I do pronounce it Fears myself!!