Monday 27 December 2021


Up before dawn, I headed for Wheldrake Ings and immediately had second thoughts - it was blanketed in thick fog! No worries, it would be nice to have a wander after a couple of days cooped-up eating and drinking too many Christmas treats! 

I was hoping to see the six Smew that Duncan Bye had found yesterday, but I would have to wait until the fog lifted. A Barn Owl flushed out of Tower Hide as I walked past; a nice start. Walking down to the far end, Pintail, Wigeon and Teal could be heard calling, unseen in the murk, whilst a few Curlews and Golden Plovers called among a large roost of Lapwings on the refuge. 

I scanned through the ducks I could see from Swantail Hide, but there was no sign of any Smew, but I could only see about 50 metres, so I wasn't too surprised. Shortly, a weird noise drew my attention to the reedbed in front of the hide. It sounded like a 'sneezing' Starling, or at least, the sound that Starlings occasionally make which I have always assumed was a sneeze but may well be just an odd call! Strangely, it repeated this regularly and from within the reedbed. I was a bit puzzled by this, although could not think that it could be anything else. I decided to go outside, where I could hear it better. Outside, the bird was still calling from low in the reeds but I couldn't make anything else of it. It must be 'just' a Starling behaving oddly. 

I then noticed a sharp 'tak' from further back. It sounded like a Dusky Warbler! Surely not. But it was, I just knew it. It was calling repeatedly but was too far through the reeds to have a hope of seeing it. I had a quick listen to Xeno Canto on my phone just to check I wasn't going mad. A small dark bird immediately shot straight towards me and into a nearby Willow; a stonkingly-drab Dusky Warbler! Absolutely no way! I quickly switched the video on to see if I could get a sound recording and to my amazement, the little skulker hopped out into the open. Quickly checking my phone, it had recorded the call quite clearly and a bit of the bird - fantastic. I got the news out and did a little dance on the boardwalk.

This was just mind-blowing. We'd all mused about a Dusky turning up in the reedbed here, but never thought it would actually happen! Just then, Stuart Rapson walked round the corner to see me beaming like an idiot and pointing at the reedbed. He'd not heard the news as yet, so was slightly amazed when I told him that there was a Dusky Warbler six feet away. To my relief he heard it straight away and then it showed too - phew! We watched it for a while as it flicked about in the reedbed tacking away, occasionally appearing quite close to us on the boardwalk.

Shortly, Duncan and Adam Firth arrived and I was relieved the bird was still calling frequently as it made it easier to keep track of. It was pretty mobile and headed through the reedbed towards the footbridge. As Jack Ashton-Booth and Chris Gomersall arrived, it moved into the Willows along the path from Pool Hide and then flew across into some bushes on the refuge. It was barely audible and couldn't be seen. Thankfully, after a bit, it flew out calling back towards the footbridge and we all got on it again. Five Goosanders flew over. Nice. It melted back into the reedbed and silence descended.

Several more birders arrived, so still buzzing, I decided to head home for a celebratory mince pie.  Oh, and the weird noise was a Starling; I saw it fly out of the reedbed whilst watching the Dusky.

A full fat first for York, an unexpected end to what has been another good year for local birding here in York. 

I heard later that the Dusky was showing most of the day, off and on, which was great. Joe Fryer managed to get this pic of it - nice work Joe! Hopefully it will linger longer, allowing other locals who are away for Christmas to catch up with it. Dusky Warbler at Wheldrake. Unbelievable scenes!!

Christmas Eve Diver

Stopped off at my old patch of Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire, on the way to the in-laws for Christmas. With some gen from old mate Mark Hawkes, I gently encouraged the family to take a wander down the dam. Fifty Goldneyes were loafing off Marlow CP and after we'd reached the water tower, the reptilean form of a Great Northern Diver hove into view. It was casually feeding, whilst drifting closer across the glassy surface of the reservoir. I only had my bins and phone, so this was the best I could do in terms of recording a bit of video. A nice early Christmas present!


Thursday 23 December 2021

BK Whopper

Dawn found me standing at the top of a wooded riverbank somewhere near Preston, Lancashire, squinting through the branches of the trees lining the River Darwen. As the light increased, a Common Kingfisher whistled as it headed upstream, unseen. But our target had a different call. We strained our ears, and minutes later a dry rattle could clearly be heard from below us: the Belted Kingfisher was still here and awake! 

I had picked up Philip from some random car park near Bolton and now we joined a hundred or so birders eager for an early Christmas present, standing at the edge of a muddy field, overlooking the river below.


After a few tense moments, both Philip and me saw the unmistakeable bird flap across the river and up into a tree. Sadly, it was now out of sight. Chaotic scenes ensued; only one birder had actually managed to get his scope on the perched bird. Birders scrambled around in the mud trying to get a good angle through the trees and down the slope, which was not easy. The monster kingfisher moved and more birders managed to lock on, but my view was mostly obscured. Fortunately, a couple of kind birders demonstrating fantastic Christmas spirit let me have a look through their scopes - awesome - thanks lads!

I now had an idea where the bird was and shortly, Philip managed to locate the bird with his bins and after a bit of an explanation about which branches to look through, I managed to get on it. What a cracking bird! All slate-blue and punk. The BK casually sat, surveying the scene from the edge of an oak, occasionally cocking its tail and swivelling its head. The white collar and belly stood out against the dark, woody backdrop. Lovely!


Repaying the kindness shown to me, I gave arriving birders a look through my scope before taking a bit of video and a pic or two. The bird seemed to favour this particular perch as it returned frequently, after dives and sorties up and down the river. By 9am, we decided to make tracks, and slopped off through the mud and the murk, beaming madly. 

Chrismas twitch

Present since early November, this male Belted Kingfisher had been playing hard to get, evading many twitchers and local birders, for weeks. It has been mobile, being seen along the Ribble the local canal and now the Darwen. Lots of the area is private and difficult to view but in the last couple of days it decided to settle along this quiet stretch of the River Darwen, near Roach Bridge, allowing birders to catch up with it. 

Seeing this bird eased the pain of dipping the 2005 bird in Staffordshire. Back then, and once we had realised it was not an April Fool's joke, Mark Hawkes and me discussed going for it that evening after work. I was doubtful that we would get there before the bird went to roost, and so we settled on dawn the next day. Sadly for us, the bird showed until dusk on the Friday and we would have made it. My bad! The following day we waited in vain - the bird had decamped to Yorkshire! We all piled north and missed it again; it had flown off hours before we got there. A couple of days later, the bird was relocated near Aberdeen but I didn't have the chance - or motivation - to go all that way to see it. Apart from a one-day bird on the Scillies last year, this has been the first since. A cracking bird to end what has been a pretty amazing year for rarities in the north of England. Just a shame it was in Lancashire!


We popped into Preston to check on a Ring-billed Gull in the marina, but to no avail. We headed south, I wished Philip Merry Christmas and then headed back east through the worsening weather.

Sunday 12 December 2021


 I have had three visits to the Lower Derwent Valley in the last week, two guiding for Yorkshire Coast Nature and one alone. Storm Arwen's wake brought the first real flooding to the valley, with a rise in the number of birds. The highlight was two Otters under the bridge at Bubwith, but there have been plenty of avian thrills, including at least 85 Whooper Swans, three White-fronted Geese, hunting Peregrines and Marsh Harriers, a sleepy Tawny Owl on 'my Barn Owl box' and last but not least, a lovely redhead Smew just outside the LDV at Hes East. Local birding ain't bad!

Iceland's finest, Whooper Swans; Tawny Owl at Wheldrake, White-fronts at Ellerton.

Smew, Hes East.

Monday 29 November 2021

Storm Arwen

The first named storm of the year, Arwen, came charging in from the north. She was not gentle, like her namesake elf, but an Arctic-born fury of galeforce winds, icy temperatures and heavy snow showers. York got off lightly, but elsewhere, powercuts and treefalls were commonplace and a large dump of snow happened across much of Yorkshire. 

An icy start.

I headed east to check for displaced seabirds at Flamborough Head and wasn't disappointed. The roads got worse as I climbed out of the Vale of York on to the Wolds. It was minus three degrees and the roads were snow-covered. I crawled into Bridlington in a heavy snow shower and with white-out conditions I almost turned round. I am glad I didn't as Flamborough was enjoying a different climate, being a balmy two degrees and largely snow-free. 

The seawatch started badly as a White-billed Diver flew north as I was getting out of my car. If my journey hadn't been hampered by snow and icy roads, I would have been in the hide with the other birders when it flew past. Bugger.

Anyway, not to be disspirited, I shivered through six hours or so, watching the heavy sea as birds headed north into the still-strong wind. The sea had abated largely since the biblical scenes of the day before, but it was still impressive. One of the Little Auks that landed bobbed like a cork and this was the only way it was managing to survive on the mountainous sea. 

The Seawatching Obs in a snow shower.

Divers were much in evidence today, with dozens of Red-throats heading north, or dropping in to feed. A single Black-throated, sporting a nice white flank patch passed by not long after my arrival and I saw seven Great Northerns lumber north during the seawatch. Sadly, the banana-billed behemoth failed to reappear. Several Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew past, one of which as totally puzzled as to its location and spent most of the day flying north only to turn back south minutes later, before repeating the whole performance. Some smart Long-tailed Ducks and Velvet Scoters were notched up, but eyes really were focussing on the auks. 

 Scoter flock. Spot the Velvet!

I saw ten Little Auks during the day, missing others that flew past unseen by me. We all tried hard to pull out a Brunnich's Guillemot from the hordes of Common Guillemots and Razorbills going past and on the sea, but we failed. A surprising number of Common Guilles had breeding plumage and I do wonder if this is what some of the reported Brunnich's actually were. I wasn't expecting so many in this plumage in late November, but then, I don't often seawatch this late in the season. Another surprise was the number of Puffins; I saw at least 20. A Snow Bunting and a couple of Starlings came in off the sea. How they survived a crossing in this weather I have no idea. 

Part Little Auk, part cork.

I checked South Landing for loafing auks without success and then headed back west, enjoying the clear roads thawed by the weak late-autumn sun.

Sunday 21 November 2021

Biking Local

 Swantail Ings

Sunny skies and occasional showers with a keen northwest wind today, blowing in much colder air than we've been used to. I headed out to Wheldrake by bike in an effort to start reducing my birding carbon footprint. 21 Fallow Deer near Crockey Hill along with a couple of Grey Partridges were reward enough for my efforts. Bank Island held three adult Whooper Swans which headed off south down the valley a little after 9am, leaving 120 Wigeon, a drake Shoveler, two Pintail and seven Shelduck. 90 Lapwings hosted two Ruff and there were plenty of Redwings flying about. I walked down to the Ings, but all was quiet, with little of note on the Pool. A Marsh Harrier was quartering the grasslands, flushing c200 Lapwings and another three Ruff. I walked back to Bank Island in a rain shower, watching a Red Kite circling slowly over the refuge. The cycle back into the northwester' was hard work, but invigorating. A little later I met my Mum for a walk round Askham Bog, which yielded 85 Siskins feedling busily in a large Alder, twittering away. 


Monday 15 November 2021


With the day off, I headed back to Flamborough Head, across the Wolds beset by thick fog. I descended onto the headland and the murk cleared somewhat, which was a relief. I spent some time with the Pallas's Warbler at the Golf Course bushes, which showed beautifully mid-morning, but always at a distance. After doing the Old Fall loop, I returned for another look and after almost giving up - it had become more elusive - the sprite suddenly appeared in a nearby bush as I ascended the steps. Sadly, my photography skills let me down, but through the bins, views were incredible and brought clear collective joy to the small group of birders present. 

Pallas's Warbler, with just a hint of lemony rump showing in the lower photo

The loop was rather quiet, with a Snow Bunting bouncing around over Cattlemere, a flighty Blackcap in the hedge nearby, 21 Curlews dropped into the sheep field and six Golden Plovers came in off the sea.  Yesterday's Long-tailed Ducks were still present off the cliffs, now escorted by two Velvet Scoters. One Woodcock departed the plantation, leaving it to four Goldcrests and a noisy Great Spotted Woodpecker , which moved up the hedge all the way to the steps then flew off towards the lighthouse. 

Velvet Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks. The left hand LTD is an adult female; I think the other is a first-winter female.

Ten miles, fourteen stripes

Sunday, 14th November

I walked a long way today. Ten miles, mostly in wellies is a bit of a killer, but it was well worth it. And that is nothing compared with how far most of the birds I saw had flown. Though none of them had wellies on. With more than a whiff of easterly wind, I started off at YWT Holmes Gut, Flamborough, which was hooching with birds. Four Woodcocks exploded clumsily out of the undergrowth, Fieldfares chacked from the Hawthorn bushes, whilst others hunted worms on the cattle-grazed pasture, with dark-beaked Blackbirds for company. Redwings accelerated out of the Gut and headed inland in flocks. Three Bramblings wheezed overhead.

I headed round the clifftop and into Thornwick Camp. It was a bit quieter, with a couple more Woodcock, a very flighty Chiffchaff, only two Goldcrests and some showy Bullfinches. I checked the bushes, trees and hedges thoroughly. And then checked them again.

I bumped into Johnny Mac, who was heading to the Outer Head across the fields, I hooked up with him and off we stomped. 

As luck would have it, two Pallas's Warblers, the iconic Siberian sprite were found as we approached the Outer Head and we were treated to great views of both birds, sporting the full fourteen stripes (crown stripe, two eyebrows, four wingbars x2). One of the birds was surprisingly vocal, perhaps it was a bit anxious by the presence of a couple of Chiffchaffs which were also calling frequently (or us, more likely). Pallas's Warblers seem to be much quieter than some of the other stripy Sibes. Yellow-browed Warbler, for instance, tend to call frequently. I have been lucky enough to many Pallas's Warblers over the years, but each one gives me the same thrill as the very first I saw back in the '80s at Cley. They are energetic balls of delight, zipping around the trees like miniature fireworks. Just gorgeous.

At the light faded, we headed round the Old Fall Loop, which yielded two Long-tailed Ducks with a Velvet Scoter on the sea, and half a dozen Goldcrests in the plantation.

Sunday 7 November 2021

A Tale of Two Flycatchers

Following last month's super record of a Taiga Flycatcher on the cliffs at Flamborough Head, it seemed incredible that a second bird had been found on Thursday last week, nearby at South Landing. Initial analysis of comparison photos seemed to indicate that this was the same bird, which on the one hand would make sense, but on the other also seemed remarkable. Firstly, where had the bird been hiding for the intervening 19 days, on a headland with not a lot of cover and a good number of very sharp birders? Also, it would seem very strange that an Eastern vagrant such as this would linger for this length of time in the peak of autumn migration. With another bird in Norway at the end of last week, it seems more likely that this is a second individual and whilst similarities can be found between comparison photos, some differences can also be found. We may never know the truth and either way, the tale of these two flycatchers is truly remarkable, and Flamborough Head has become the place to see this smart vagrant in the UK.

After a very busy week at work, the discovery of a Red-flanked Bluetail literally one hundred metres away from the flycatcher at South Landing proved too much of a temptation for me to bear. With the afternoon off, I headed east to Flamborough. A dozen or so birders were lined up on the path, grilling anything that moved on the woodland floor. It turned out that the Bluetail was really the only bird present here and it became clear that it was working a circuit, dropping on to the ground to pick insects from among the leaf litter, usually from the low branches of the trees. Very occasionally when spooked, it would fly higher up, before descending once trouble had passed. Viewing was tricky at times as the bird seemed to favour the far edge of the copse, although with patience and by kneeling down, the bird could be viewed easily. Dapper as ever, my hunch was this was a first winter male, as the cobalt tail and ample blue rump was much brighter than the bird I saw last year at Whitley Bay. At one point it was chased by a Robin, and it flew up high into a sycamore, calling once in alarm, a quite plaintive short whistle not unlike a Siberian Chiffchaff. 

Johnny Mac and The Bluetail!

My first Flamborough Bluetail. Gorgeous!

After enjoying the Bluetail, I wandered down the path to see if the Taiga Fly was around. There were a few birders looking but it hadn't been seen for a while. I headed round to the east side and had a chat with Johnny before deciding to head over to Old Fall for the last hour of light. As luck would have it, I bumped into Keith Clarkson and stood for a few minutes' chat. As we did so, the flycatcher suddenly appeared at eye-level right in front of us, allowing lovely views. It flicked up after an insect and was gone.

On to Old Fall, the path along the hedge was littered with Blackbirds, all busily feeding. Blackbirds and Redwings erupted out of the hedge as I made my way along. Some flew off high west, whilst others just moved along the hedge towards the plantation. This was really cool and an absolutely enthralling end to the week. A Woodcock exploded out from the plantation boundary as I made my way round, passing my face within a metre allowing us to catch each other's eye.  The darkening trees were alive with the chuckles of unseen Blackies and the Tseeping of hidden Redwings, preparing for the off. After soaking up this marvellous spectacle, I wandered back up towards the road, flushing another explosive Woodcock, waves of Blackbirds heading west overhead, high into the final rays of sunshine, flying inland on the next leg of their migration. 


As I finish writing this, news has come of the passing of birding legend DIM Wallace on Thursday. I had the good fortune to meet Ian a couple of times at Birdfair where he would always indulge me in discussions of migration or the east coast -or both. His writing was a great inspiration to me as a young birder and his musings are always a regular conversation topic with birding mates- and always will be. I loved his monthly articles in Birdwatching mag back in the day; perhaps somebody could scan all those in and put them online as I would love to read them again. I think DIMW would have enjoyed the dusk walk along Old Fall on Friday afternoon. RIP DIMW.

Wednesday 3 November 2021

Village Fall

As I set out on my early morning dog walk under a leaden sky, I could feel a cold north wind and from the look of the glistening pavements, there had been early morning rain. Perfect fall conditions. If I lived on the coast...

Birds were on the move, with high tseeps of Redwings in the gloomy sky, and small flocks of Wood Pigeons cruising south. Three Fieldfares chacked overhead, the first I've seen locally this autumn. In fact, I have only seen one other Fieldfare, at Flamborough back in October. More Redwings came over, one flock accompanied by a couple of bulkier Song Thrushes. Dark-billed, skulking Blackbirds littered the cycle track south of the village.

I made the approach to home and noticed two bulky finches flying up out of the trees at the end of our road- yikes! Hawfinches! Surely not? They flew straight over, offering insane views, and to my surprise, looped round just above rooftop level as if looking for a place to land. I dropped the dog lead and fumbled for my phone. The birds came back over and I hit record; they came back, over towards the paddocks and then back again. Was this happening, here in the housing estate?! To my astonishment, they landed in the bush across the road from where I was standing - absolutely nuts! 

After a few moments, they were off again, low down. Once again, they looped back round and landed somewhere in the trees near Red House. Fantastic. 

Hawfinches, junction of Keble Park South and Acaster Lane mega.

Hawfinches used to be an occasional winter visitor in the Bishopthorpe area back in the 80s and early 90s, feeding under the large Hornbeams around the Archbishop's Palace Grounds and also to the north, in Knavesmire Woods.  Since then, they have become much rarer and have disappeared from many former haunts in the county- until a couple of years ago when there was a big influx into the UK. Since then, some of those traditional Hawfinch sites have been frequented again. Nevertheless, this was a stonking record for a suburban housing estate!

 Hawfinch phone-video grabs

At home, I looked out of the back window and to continue the excitement, the first Tree Sparrows of the year were on the feeders - three in all, my biggest count in ten years! They never seem to hang around long, but hopefully they might return. 

Tree Sparrows, rocking the cheek spots. So 2021!

Sunday 31 October 2021

"Jono! Get on this diver!"


Monday afternoon, I found myself staring into the Willows by the golf course at Flamborough Head. A couple of Blackbirds skulked low down, including a dark-billed first-winter male. These birds had just arrived over the sea. And then the calm was shattered by an ear-splitting shout from Dunc...

Joined by my old mate Dunc Poyser, we had spent a fantastic five or so hours seawatching that morning, combining a great movement of ducks including 45 Pintails, Red-breasted Merganser and Goosanders, with a steady arrival of passerines over the sea. Birds coming 'in off' included a Woodcock, lots of Starlings, Redwings, Blackbirds, Skylarks and Siskins, with smaller numbers of Song Thrushes, Chaffinches and Lapwings. This was migration at its best and incredibly exciting. One poor male Blackbird drew the attention of one of the local immature Peregrines, which flew out to 'greet' it. A truly terrifying Yorkshire welcome. After several stoops, the Blacky ran out of energy, and the Peregrine deftly plucked the bird out of the air, reached down to kill it with its beak and then flew back inland to enjoy its breakfast in peace. 

Occasional small groups of Little Gulls moved north, some spanking adults flashing dusky underwings as they went. Red-throated Divers were accumulating to fish along the Flamborough Front, where the currents mix, providing an upwelling of nutrients, attracting fish. Their occasional wails and chuckles could be heard in the calm morning air. Two powerful Great Northern Divers were seen, one heading north, the other south; heavy pied divers with gleaming silver bills, looking pale in the strong sunlight. One landed among the Red-throats, dwarfing its cousins. Reports of White-billed Divers further north got us speculating about a sighting of one of these even more majestic beasts...

By early afternoon things had quietened down and after five hours I was keen to go and have a look at the bushes. There was clearly a lot of stuff arriving and it was worth a look. We didn't get far. 

Rock Pipit

At the Golf Course Willows, we split up. Dunc stayed on the GC side; I wandered up the path. Suddenly a deafening shout of "Jono! Get on this diver!"  smashed me in the face - I just ran, straight down the path. Dunc was looking in his scope. "White-billed Diver - heading towards the fog station" What the ...? 

I put my bins up and sure enough, the lumbering shape of a large diver was flapping towards the fog station. I made out brown upperparts merging into white underparts, totally unlike the clear-cut pied Great Northerns we'd seen earlier. As I focussed, the white edifice of the fog station hoved into view and blocked out the diver, as it headed south behind the building. No way! 

Dunc was in a state of shock. I confirmed I had got on the bird and agreed it looked great for White-billed, though I couldn't really add much to a description. I quizzed Dunc and what he'd seen. He had picked it up through the bins and got straight on it with his scope, which is when he'd screamed like a banshee. He had seen the full features, bill and everything and had completely nailed it. Absolutely brilliant! I felt stoked for Dunc, but a bit disappointed that I'd walked away at that particular moment. Well, that's birding. After sending out a quick Whatsapp message to the local birders, we shot back up the steps and Dad-jogged down to the fog station just to check if the birder we'd seen up there earlier had seen it (he hadn't) and to check the sea to see if the diver had landed (it hadn't). After 30 minutes it was clear the bird wasn't coming back, so we decided to continue our walk round Old Fall, beaming like mad men. 

Old Fall was relatively quiet, but there were about 30 Blackbirds in the hedge and plantation, plus a handful of Goldcrests, Redwings and Song Thrushes. Nothing more interesting materialised, so as teatime was approaching, we decided to head home for a celebratory pint.

Sunday 24th October

With a strong southerly wind, I wasn't convinced seawatching would be any good at Flamborough Head. I settled in the hide and one of the first birds I saw was a smart first-winter Caspian Gull. I quickly phonescoped it before it drifted past the head and out of sight. A little later, a black and white bullet shot north, a Little Auk, no doubt the remnant of yesterday's impressive passage. It hurtled north and away. Plenty of Teal and Wigeon were heading south, along with a dapper Goldeneye, a handful of Tufted Ducks and best of all, two female Scaup, complete white white face-blazes. A few small flocks of Starlings were arriving 'in off' and shortly I picked up a small dark wader, coming in quite high. Zooming off I was surprised to see a Jack Snipe! I managed to grab a few seconds of phonescoped video. Things quietened down, so I walked the Old Fall loop, which yielded little, besides three Goldcrests and three Blackbirds. 

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!