Friday 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everybody.
Had a few bits round Bishopthorpe in the last week:
Jack Snipe flushed from floods, Woodlark flew over calling on Wednesday and this morning a Water Pipit was flying around near the sewage works.

Sunday 4 December 2011

York area birding - Sunday 3rd December

18 White-fronted Geese were still present with Greylags and two Egyptian Geese just north of Elvington this morning. Also, 14 Whooper Swans flew over high south. Nearby, a male Peregrine flew south at Wheldrake Ings, where three Whooper Swans loafed, plus ten Pintail on the pool. Still no floods! When will it rain? On to Castle Howard, c20 Goldeneye and a Brambling were the only birds of note.

Saturday 3 December 2011

West Yorkshire Birding

Headed west with me Dad this arvo and started by dipping the Mirfield Ring-billed Gull for the second successive winter. I later found out that it is usually only here first thing. A drake Mandarin was the only bird of note, plus a Little Grebe on the river. Highlight was too guys who did an amazing powerslide round the corner in a big BMW and nearly ended up in the river.
On to Anglers CP to look for the reported Lesser Scaup. No sign of this, but we did bump into a fine American Wigeon, presumably the same that has been at the nearby Wintersett Res recently. A smart drake. Also present, a slightly nervous-looking Ruddy Duck (wondering where all its mates have gone) - the first I have seen in ages, 11 Goosander and several Goldeneye.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Tundra comes to Elvington

After another disappointing visit to Castle Howard yesterday morning, whereby the highlight was covering the car in mud, a gratefully-received text from Russ Slack lightened my mood as it proclaimed he had found 2 Tundra Bean Geese in a field near Elvington, with 2 Pink-feet and a White-front.

After lunch, we headed up there to find a huge goose flock feeding in winter wheat near the waterworks. I soon picked up a family group of White-fronts in the nearest Greylags -nice - and then more. So, some more birds had arrived! Two birds sleeping at the back of the field looked good for the Tundras, but they were facing me, so I could not be sure. I continued to scan, picking up two Pink-footed Geese and two Egyptian Geese among the hordes of Greylags and Canadas. Failing to find any more likely candidates, I switched my attention back to the original suspects. After a few minutes, one bird suddenly stood up, revealing smart white edgings to tertials and scaps, a fairly long orange bill and best of all, bright orange legs. It's mate woke up too and soon the pair started to wander about grazing the crop. It was really interesting to compare these Tundras to the Taigas which in the last few years I have become far more familiar with. The birds were clearly smaller and shorter-necked, with smaller bills. Altogether the appearance was of a dark, brown Pink-footed Goose, with orange bare parts, and browner plumage, with the white fringing to the upperparts being quite distinctive. Certainly nothing like the big, bulky, long-necked Taigas of the Yare Valley. So the total count was c300 Greylags, 100 Canadas, 2 Tundra Bean, 2 Pink-footed 13 White-fronted Geese and 2 Egyptian Geese.

Below: Tundra Bean Geese (top) and White-fronts.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

More Fog

Went to Castle Howard Sunday morning, but annoyingly the pesky fog stayed all day so the hordes of geese I was looking for stayed just out of view in the murk. Saw a handful of Bramblings feeding on mast under the beeches and several Goldeneye.

Thursday 10 November 2011

The Fog

Worked at Spurn in the morning, covering the gate for a few hours. Lots of migrants heading south early on, c100 Tree Sparrows, small parties of Chaffinches, one Brambling, and four Mistle Thrushes heading north. Two Chiffchaffs around the Warren, one of which looked very brown and grey, a bit Tristis like, but my views weren't good enough to be anywhere near sure. Barry and Toby appeared with a fine imm male Sparrowhawk at one point they'd caught, which was nice to see, apart from when Barry just let go of it without warning and it nearly took my head off!
The fog rolled in late morning and migration stopped. Had a quick walk at the point at lunch and saw the Woodlark feeding with Redwings and Chaffinches on the football pitch, looking a bit dishevelled, but a fine bird nevertheless. Lots of Robins on the road on the way back to the Warren and plenty of Blackies on the road around Kew.

Saturday 5 November 2011

To twitch or not to twitch

It is always a shock to find several text messages, missed calls and emails on my phone late afternoon, and once I had had a look I realised that Andy Gibson had found an Isabelline Wheatear at YWT Spurn. Doh! No chance of me getting there before dark, so will just have to change my plans for the morning and head down the Humber. During the evening I began to get real pangs of doubt about going for this cracking Yorkshire rare. I had planned to go to Flamborough in the hope of finding a Sibe Accentor. Joining the crowds at Spurn certainly wouldn't help this.

Anyway, by the time I got up at 6am, I had decided that the Izzy was a bird I really should make the effort for. Shortly, I arrived at a murky Spurn and was ushered into a space by Andy, who had already texted me to say the bird was still showing along the Humber shore. I bumped into Tony Martin with his mate Mark, and we strolled up the road. We soon arrived at the scene, spotting Tim Jones and Chris Gomersall who I had planned to travel with already watching the bird. We quickly got on the bird, which was feeding energetically on the beach. What a cracker!

Even at a distance and in the early morning light, this bird looked great, very pale, upright with a stand out black alula, pale wing coverts and tertials, white fore-super and amazingly long black legs. The tail which was mostly black with white base-sides, was wagged forcibly, a bit like a Pied Wagtail. After a while, the bird took flight, looped round the line of birders on the beach and landed nearer the Warren. We moved position and the three of us on a hunch decided that if we hung way back from the line of advancing scopes, if the bird was flushed it may well return to where it started. A little while later, a car flushed the bird from between the opposing ranks of birders and sure enough, the bird looped round over the saltmarsh - underwings and general overall bird looking very pale in flight against the dark Humber mud and dropped on the shore 20 metres away, where the three of us got our closest views. Soon the other birders arrived and the Wheatear moved further up the shore again. It seemed this cat and mouse game would continue, so having had some belting views, we decided to go off and look for our own stuff.

My temporary 'scope aint that good for digiscoping! Also, I managed to bust my bins today too. What is it with me, Spurn and optics? Some awesome shots were taken by Ian Smith yesterday - here

Hordes of Redwings, Fieldfares and Blackbirds were coming in off, along with several Woodcock, a couple of Snow Bunts and a Brambling. Others reported Twite, Lap Bunts and a Short-eared Owl. A walk round the triangle was enjoyable and full of birds, but no other rares showed up. Tony and Mark headed for Sammy's Point, and I did a spell on the gate. At 11.20 I decided I best get back, so despite the fantastic birding to be had, I headed back west, to York.

 Redwings. Everywhere.

Friday 21 October 2011

Wheldrake, I've missed you

Work visit to the Ings today with a potential funder. No water yet, so 14 Whooper Swans on the Refuge was a nice surprise. A huge flock of c500 Fieldfare near Swantail, plus a Willow Tit. Not much else going on.

A visit to Filey last weekend revealed very little except 14 Purple Sands on the Brigg and a late Arctic Tern.

Oh and I am glad I went for the Castle Howard Fudge - it left the following day and presumably is the bird that has turned up at Calder Valley.

A Stonechat at Spurn.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Nyroca rocks

Twitched a Ferruginous Duck found by Dave Richardson at Castle Howard this afternoon. A fine drake, with pure white wingbars and undertail coverts, pale eye, nice black bill nail, solid dark upperparts and rich chestnut head and breast, concolorous with flanks. Dark rear border to flanks setting off white undertail nicely. White belly patch noted when the bird roll-preened. A smart bird, though very active which made it tricky to pick up at first. Also noted, Russ Slack and Ollie Metcalfe, plus c30 Tufties, c50 Wigeon and a Chiffchaff. Despite Russ giving me a go with his scope - I'm using an old Kowa at the mo - I failed to get any decent pics, though one does illustrate the wingbars nicely.

Saturday 15 October 2011

Go East

So whilst everyone else was dipping the Rufous-tailed Robin, we packed up the kids and headed east to Filey.

The day was stunning and we had a great time exploring the rockpools on the Brig. Not many birds present though a late Arctic Tern was roosting on the Brig, along with 14 Purple Sandpipers. Up Long Lane I could only find a Chiffchaff, though a Sparrowhawk nearly took my head off and nailed a Blackie literally feet from me, which screamed horribly.

Last night was Autumnwatch at last. The team had done a great job and Spurn looked fantastic. My moment on national TV was slightly surreally pishing into a heligoland trap...

Thursday 13 October 2011

One good bird...

A fun few days spent at YWT Spurn with the BBC Autumnwatch team. The obvious benefit of this was I got to spend a fair bit of time at Spurn, in peak season. Don't forget to watch - 8.30pm on BBC2 this Friday.
Here are the highlights:

6-7 October
Not much going on though 6 Barnacle Geese in from the north along with hundreds of Pinkfeet was nice. A Barn Owl was a Spurn tick for me, plus a couple of Bramblings.

9 October
Not sure what influence the weather had as the wind was still southwesterly, but the appearance of low cloud and occasional spots of rain really upped the migrant stakes, particularly in the afternoon, when hordes of Skylarks, Redwings and Song Thrushes, plus a few Blackies and Fieldfares came in off the sea. An Arctic Skua and Short-eared Owl also put in appearances at the Warren. Sadly, the Red-throated Pipit that flew over Chalk Bank late morning didn't stick. Disaster however struck when my scope blew over and broke the tripod fixing and damaged the zoom. Oops! Shortly my spirits were raised when the Obs trapped a stonking Hawfinch at Kew and I managed to scramble the BBC crew in time to film this monster. My second east coast Hawfinch in a week.

Better was to come though! Andy and me accompanied part of the team with Michaela Strachan to do a short piece of film near the lighthouse. We parked up and walked north to meet them.

As we walked through the marram, a bird got up almost at our feet. It called once explosively "pseee"- I shouted "Red-throated Pipit!" and to my relief, Andy immediately agreed. The bird looped round showing white, boldly striped underparts, and then landed on the ridge next to the road. Andy put the news out on the radio, but got no response. Surely somebody was still on channel?!

Michaela came over and was keen to see the bird, so we walked down the road to where it landed. I set my camcorder running just in case and walked towards where we thought it had dropped. Sure enough, the bird took flight again at close quarters, called once and headed south towards the car park where it dropped again into the marram. Amazingly, I managed to capture the bird on film and even better, you can hear the call!

Shortly, a convoy of cars screeched up unloading many of the Spurn locals, to my relief. After a little walk the bird showed again in flight, this time calling several times, before returning to it's original location. This was a Yorkshire tick for me and even a Spurn tick for some of the gathered birders, so all went away happy.

And here is the video - look and listen carefully. The wind noise makes the call a little harsher than it sounded in reality, but you can just about make it out.

10 October
Not much of note!

Lastly thanks to Andy and Reenie for putting me up, and to all the Spurn guys, especially Ian, Paul, Adam, and Andy et al for all their hospitality.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

East Coast Weekender #5: Birthday boy

Up and at 'em early - it was my birthday - and was soon enjoying a beer on Chalk Bank for breakfast. Following this, the sky filled with Wheatears, as a fall happened. We counted over 50 around Chalk Bank, including 14 sitting on one patch of rocks on the beach and six in a line on the telegraph wires. Crazy!

We then went to Sammy's Point where yet more Wheatears greeted us, with at least 32 in the horse paddock and 12 in the adjacent field. I checked every one, but sadly the Black-eared wasn't playing ball.

After a snack, we popped into Canal Scrape, which lasted literally two seconds as the radio crackled 'Whiskered Tern off the Narrows'. Yikes! We scrambled into the car and shot down there. I was soon on the Little Gull flock and picked up a Black Tern. Reg then had a look through the scope, and we both decided we couldn't see the bird so headed up the track to see if the others were on it. After a bit of confusion it turned out the 'black tern' was the reported Whiskered. The views were not great against the bright sky, but the bird looked all dark, with white ffrom the throat down the belly and round it's neck. This didn't look like a Whiskered, but also looked wierd for Black Tern. Then Adam Hutt cleared it up stating 'it's an American Black Tern!' Soon an Arctic Skua barrelled in flushing the flock high into the sky. Although they returned, the tern never came as close, being very distant, so I couldn't get any more on it.

This was quite a surreal end to a fantastic four day weekend. The Sandhill Crane never did fly on to my list, but great birding in great places with great company more than made up for it. Thanks to Richard at Flamborough and Andy/Adam at Spurn for sorting us radios and Kat and Craig for putting us up/up with us!
And a good bird finally came my way...

East Coast Weekender #4: Spurn

After an awesome time at Flamborough, where else could come up to the mark? Spurn, of course. We headed south, taking in the delights of Hornsea Mere, where we failed to connect with the lingering Pec Sand, making do with a sprightly Common Sand with surprisingly yellow legs...

Arriving at Spurn was something of a culture shock. Birders were everywhere, along with cars, radios and sea buckthorn. Had a mooch round Chalk Bank away from the crowds, but failed to see anything other than three confiding Bramblings. The news was that the Spurn Pallid Swift had been trashed on photo analysis. So how soon til the same happened to our bird? Surely not!

A recovering Reg and me smelt pie on the breeze, so soon found ourselves in the Crown and Anchor for tea. A few pints later and back to the obs for sleep, or in my case lying on my back in a smelly dorm listening to competitive snoring.

East Coast Weekender #3: Eyes on the Skies for the Prize!

Dawn came round too quickly and I found myself pointing and muttering 'Hawfinch' to anyone listening. An excited Craig Thomas saying 'where, where?' woke me up and we soon enjoyed cracking views of the brute sitting atop the Old Fall hedgerow. A fine start!

Migrants were much in evidence, with four then two Crossbills flying west overhead amid the cacophony of Siskins and Redpolls. Chiffchaffs flitted ahead of us along the hedge and Redstarts scolded our progress. The Yellow-browed Warbler gave itself up more quickly, this time on the northside of the plantation and showing for several minutes. A smart, if dull bird, with little tertial edging, but a couple of fine wingbars and a whopping supercilium. On round the head revealed a Whinchat and a Wheatear perched in the so-called motorway hedge. Then unforgettably, Craig said 'get on this swift'. I lifted my bins to see two swifts coming across the field in front of us sunlit against a dark sky. The first, remarkably was sandy brown, with two tone wings, a dark saddle and huge white throat patch. Blimey! I said 'this has got to be a Pallid!' Reg came running back saying 'that's a Pallid Swift'. So we were all in agreement. The pair came past at close range, fairly leisurely, allowing us to check the features off one by one, with the added bonus of a Common Swift close by for comparison. After a minute or so, they headed off high into the bright sky over Bridlington Bay, leaving us shocked and elated.

After a brief conflab, Craig tried to hail the others on the CB, but this didn't work, so he legged it over to the fog horn station to alert the seawatchers. On his way to the head, he bumped into Ashley Saunders who apparently had independently seen the bird and agreed with the identification. Fortunately, the two swifts reappeared in front of the swelling throng and performed well for the next hour before being lost to view at 11am, during which time I managed a little bit of poor video. Meanwhile, news came through that another Pallid Swift was at Spurn...

Craig had to dash off to chair a meeting - unfortunate timing. Reg and me celebrated with a cup of tea and then decided to do Holme's Gut. Even more birds than yesterday for sure, but still no rare.

It was time to head for Spurn...

East Coast Weekender #2: Reg got leathered

No sooner had I been dropped off in York, than Kat was picking me up to take me back out there. This time to Muston, where we had a fine curry with friends. Reg had arrived 15 minutes early and had sunk three pints of strong cider on an empty stomach. Sadly, his fine curry was enjoyed more than once, much to the surprise of our hostess. Reg decided air was called for, only to be returned by the neighbourhood watch 20 minutes later, having been found lying in an alley. This maybe the most exciting thing to happen in Muston in ten years. Unfortunately for Reg, he had done his shoulder in whilst falling over, limiting his bins wielding activity for the rest of the weekend.

On to Filey Dams, a YWT reserve which had changed a lot in the last 15 years, where a Bar-wit (good record?) and a couple of Ruff, sadly were not hanging out with a Solitary Sand today.

Flamborough beckoned and we were soon enjoying the cover in Old Fall, where the Yellow-browed Warbler still evaded us. A Pied Flycatcher and Redstart encouraged us to linger, and shortly the Phyllosc started calling like a mad man, allowing us to finally locate it in the southern willows. Smart. Interestingly, this bird would intersperse it's usual call with occasional monosyllables, which heard alone could have been confusing.

At lunchtime, Redwings started to drop in out of the sky; wierd on such a fine day. It is exhillarating to see these flocks come in off the sea and pitch up in a hedge. You can almost feel their relief and joy at having survived crossing the North Sea non-stop and being greeted by fine weather and berry-stuffed hedges. Great! A Pied Fly was new in by the lighthouse too:

We hooked up with Craig Thomas and headed round the northside. Whinchat and Wheatear near Thornwick, plus a plethora of Redwings and Song Thrushes in Holme's Gut suggested better was to come, despite the heat. And it was; the Rose and Crown, for fine ales and chats.

East Coast Weekender #1: Wild crane chase

Friday 30 September 2011:
Like many birders, I took an emergency day off with the prospect of a migrating Sandhill Crane following the Yorkshire coast. Sadly, the crane took exception to the vampire activity in Whitby, and flew west in a hurry, to escape the wierd goth types. The bird then flew straight over the cracking new YWT hide at North Cave Wetlands*, over the whale-fest that is the Humber, straight round Lincolnshire, across Dudesville, sorry, Norfolk and into Suffolk, where it decided to ditch (*probably). Anyhoo, had a lovely morning with Birding Dad Senior, dipping Craig Thomas's Old Fall Yellow-brow, but pulling out a Redstart instead. The weather was burgeoning on tropical, the scenery of the Great White Cape stunning and the company great. A sprinkling of migrants around, notably six Lapland Bunts at North Marsh and one at Old Fall.

The Great White Cape

Monday 26 September 2011

More buzzards

Spurn with work, highlight being a fine Clouded Yellow by the Warren. One Wheatear came in off and thanks to the Obs guys, nice views of Lesser Redpoll and Tree Spug in the hand. A couple of Buzzards seen, with the lads having 10 over Sammy's Point at lunchtime.

Saturday 24 September 2011


Two raptors spiralling over the estate this morning got me running for the bins mid-child-dressing, and shorly I was enjoying two common buzzards thermalling. Sadly not honeys, but a nice garden tick. How times have changed. I don't think I saw a single Buzzard in the York area in my first 19 years of birding round here. They are all over the place now.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Birding is cool

Just been reading Richard Bonser's blog post where he worries that birding is less cool than surfing. You're so wrong mate! Birding is incredibly cool. What other pursuit can you do wherever you are (obviously outdoors) and whenever? You need little equipment, little skill (though increasing both definitely increases enjoyment for some!) and absolutely no neoprene. Also, birders tend to be massively less pretentious, though I suspect true surfers are too busy surfing to worry about their image and it's the wannabes that let the side down. In reality, surfing and birding have a lot in common. Surfers waiting for the perfect wave are no different from birders seeking the big rare find. Keen birders hang out in fantastic landscapes all over the world - just like surfers, though we go for much more diversity. And we all get drawn to the coast at certain times of the year and in certain weather conditions!

The issue with birding's 'coolness' is that whereas all surfers are seen by non-surfers as 'cool', all birders tend to be regarded as old men in khaki hanging about in wooden boxes. This is a myth perpetuated by the media and also not helped by birding's self-appointed spokesmen who do the reputation of birders and birding no good whatsoever.

When I read a lot of the 'cutting edge' birders' blogs etc and hear the stories of the older generations exploits when they were young in search of birds and new birding, they can only be described as cool, and very comparable to, and possibly even cooler than any surfing tale I've heard. In reality the vast majority of surfers are the equivalent of dude birders or beginner birders who claim to be surfers, but perhaps only do it every now and again. I doubt many have taken the whole lifestyle choice, particularly in this country, although a lot of wannabe surfers would like you to think they have!
Birders - and by that I mean serious birders out there patching, exploring, finding stuff - are the most committed people I know and many of them live their dream. For the rest of us though, who have opted for/been lucky enough to secure job-mortgage-marriage-kids, we live the dream in our minds and on the occasions where we can escape the shackles of the day to day life, rekindle our birding passion. Nevertheless for those of us in this situation, we are still absorbed in this passion round the clock one way or another - writing blogs for instance...

But why is birding cool? As birders we share many things, we find ourselves..
  • Hanging out in stunning, remote locations, often by the coast. 
  • Sensing the weather. 
  • Being in tune with the patterns of nature, the intricacies of the lives of thousands of species. 
  • Living in rough conditions. 
  • Being switched on to environmental and nature conservation issues.
  • Travelling light. 
  • Sharing the killer moment with your mates. 
  • Feeling immense cameraderie with our mates, yet thriving on solitude. 
And birds are inherently cool too!

It just depends whether you give a shit what other people think of you. If you are happy and birding gives you a buzz, however much you do it, or are into it, then it is cool. If you worry about what others think of you and worry that the hobby you have is uncool, then it is maybe because you are uncool! Richard, although I suspect you will never read this, please read back through your blog. Sleeping in barns, seeking windblown Arctic waifs, oozing enthusiasm, living your dream. That is pretty cool in my book mate and if others don't think that, more fool them.

And if all this fails, simply grow your hair and go birding in a wetsuit.

p.s. I blatantly borrowed these pics off the t'internet. If you want me to remove them, let me know.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Mere Birders

Enough of the Azure inspired craziness, check out the new blog from Mere Birders - Hornsea inspired bird action from the East of the county from Tony Martin and crew

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Castle Howard ain't Grafham Water

Spurred on by the report of two Grey Phals and a Sabine's Gull at my old patch of Grafham Water, I grabbed the lad and headed over to Castle Howard, the only decent bit of water in the York area. I was overwhelmed by the lack of seabirds grounded on the lake, though two late(ish) Swifts and ten Wigeon were nice. A fine gathering of all three common hirundines over the water and a couple of Buzzards was all I could manage. Popped into Hes East on the way back, where someone was walking around the western scrapes = no birds. Nothing doing at the east end either. Just need to see if this Sooty Tern gets pinned down this afternoon in Durham...
Grey Phalarope at Grafham Water in November 2001

Friday 9 September 2011

I love waders me!

I just love waders me. Following droolingly-close passage waders (esp stunning Curlew Sands, which seem to have had a bumper season - lemming year anyone?) in Norfolk during the week, I today had chance to check out a bird I'd only seen in Australia previously.

Shot up to Greatham Creek mid-afternoon loaded on Haribo Gold Bears. and was soon watching a cracking adult Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, despite nearly having a heart attack when the departing Tim and Ollie told me it had flown off towards Saltholme! The chest pains continued for a while, but I think it was an overdose of gummy bears. The Sharpy was a really smart bird, often hanging out with the Dunlin flock, but sometimes doing it's own thing. Size, shape and behaviour like a Pec Sand, quite stealthily picking it's way around the muddy edges of the pool. Heard to call, very different from the Bee-eater-esque Pec, with a plaintive, though pleasant 'peep'.

General impression was of a rufous pec with a well marked head pattern, consisting of a distinct midbrown-rufous cap streaked with black, set off by a bright white super, which was buffy on the lores and where it ran onto the heavily black-streaked nape. Throat off white, before a complicated set of breast streaks over an orangey buff background. Buff breast quite demarcated but black barring and streaks extended on to white lower breast and down the flanks in apparently typical chevrons. Upperparts striped like a Snipe on the mantle, only really noticeable when the bird facing away. Upper scaps and tertials, black with orange edges and lower scape more worn, greyish with pale buff edges. Short primary projection. Yellow legs and short downcurved dark beak. Pale eyering less obvious an clear-cut than I would have expected. However, Adelaide summed it concisely, "a scraggy sparrow".

Check out some shaky videos here This was due to the wind, not the Haribo bears.

Kinda makes up for not being anywhere near the Little Bittern that turned up at Titchwell today, found by none other than the legend Kev Durose - nice work Kevin!

Thursday 8 September 2011

Great weather for Ireland

Just back from our week-long hol on the Northwest Norfolk coast. The day before I went, I twitched Tim's Little Stint at Hes East, although I think it was stuffed as it did not budge in the 15 minutes I watched it.

A fab week had, mainly indulging in family stuff, and meeting up with old friends, but a little birding done where possible. The birding started with a little madness, whereby I dashed to the nearest bit of sea to look for the Kilnsea Albatross. Sadly, it didn't fly past Titchwell before dusk. It didn't fly past anywhere else by the sounds of it. I did manage several Arctic Skuas and one distant bird that landed on the sea looking very like an adult Long-tailed Skua, but sadly I couldn't nail it.

The following day started well with Philip finding a Wryneck in the dunes at Holme at the same time as one was trapped at The Firs. 'Our' bird was very flighty which made it impossible to get a photo. A smart bird, which at one point perched atop a reed stem like some kind of freaky Reed Bunt. Not much else doing at Holme, apart from a fine Hobby, a Peregrine, Turtle Dove and several Lesser Whitethroats. A spectacular high tide roost was going down on Gore Point, with several thousand Bar-wits and Knot, some still in fine plumage. Later that day, we hooked up with Reg at Cley, for fine views of c15 Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stints, Spoonbills etc.

Juv Curlew Sand. A fine bird.

The next day, the wind went heavily to the westward. Reg got excited as this was perfect timing for his Bridges seawatch trip. I, on the otherhand, got a bit depressed! Not a lot else seen all week, apart from more Spoonbills, lots of common waders, Little and Yellow-legged Gulls, and a few Wheatears. As we headed home today, got the gutting news that a Citrine Wag and Cattle Egret had appeared at Cley and a Buff-breasted Sand at Titchwell. Would have been nice to see these, but nevermind...

Little Gull, Simmond's Scrape.

Monday 1 August 2011

Year ticks

I haven't had a year tick for ages and then I get two in a weekend: Hobby over the garden on Saturday and a Spotted Flycatcher by the church in Copmanthorpe yesterday.
Sweet! Bit tempted by the SemiP at Saltholme, but sadly I was in a football match tonight, so couldn't go. Tomorrow????

Sunday 24 July 2011

More waders

Full-family outing to Blacktoft this arvo. Very enjoyable, highlights being Adelaide hiding in the cut grass on the floodbank, the Marsh Sand again on Ousefleet, a moulting adult Curlew Sand, 178 Black-wits, 2 Greenshank and 10 Spotshanks.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Twitching Dad

Very little birding done recently; been away a lot and training for my 10km run during the week. In Norfolk last week, where the Pacific Swift failed to turn up, though it was a bit of a long shot. Did see an Eagle Owl on a streetlight in Hunstanton, and a showy Gropper at Brancaster. Checked out the Titchwell air terminal (the new hide) which was incredible, and saw a Hobby take a House Martin over the campsite at Burnham Deepdale. Yorkshire has gone Quail-mad, though all I have seen is c50 Crossbills at Dalby Forest yesterday.

Finally got my self into gear and nipped down to Blacktoft Sands for the afternoon. The adult Marsh Sandpiper gave me the run around a little before being grilled on Ousefleet Lagoon. Whilst trying to relocate it, I did hear a Gropper, and saw 15+ Spotted Redshanks, most of which were moulting, but a couple retained quite a lot of black summer plumage. Also present were two Spoonbills and four Little Egrets on Townend Lagoon, c100 Icelandic Blackwits, a Greenshank, three Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, c40 Dunlins and two juvenile Bearded Tits.

The Marsh Sand seemed to be a moulting adult. Typically white, particularly on the face and throat, with grey barring on the crown, ear coverts, nape and sides of neck. A few arrowhead black marks under legs and vent. A white rear-eyering and a dark mark behind this, making eye stand out. Most of the back fresh grey non-breeding feathers, with only brown feathering on the wings, which seemed quite plain, though with some black and buff barring on the tertials retained breeding plumage. Primaries in line with tail end. Body shape recalled a small Redshank, being quite dumpy. Legs long and yellow-green. Bill characteristically long, straight and needle-fine. Quite a smart Yorkshire tick.

Marsh sand, feeding with Ruff and Redshank.

Marsh Sand with a spanking Spotshank

Spotshanks. Fresh in from northern Scandinavia.
Spooners in usual pose. They did wake briefly.

Sunday 3 July 2011

Wot no birding?

Not much birding done recently. Popped into Hes east this morning. Several Lapwing chicks seen, plus my first Green Sandpiper of the autumn.

Saturday 11 June 2011


Avoiding dancing drivel on telly, I went for a nice walk down Wheldrake. Little going on, but the meadow looking cracking; lots of Great Burnet flowering. A smart Snipe on a fencepost posed nicely for a photo and a singing Corn Bunting in front of tower hide were the only birds of note.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Third helping of Poms

All photos taken of the 27 strong Northton flock, by Martin Batt on 18 May 2011. First seen resting on the sea, they then took off, flew around a bit before heading off over our heads, cutting across the peninsula.