Monday, 29 September 2014

Pan-species Listing

So today I managed to bring 700 species up on my pan-species list with a pair of spiders around the house. One was a bolt from the blue. Well actually from the brown bin where we recycle the vegetable matter from round the garden. And the second was a couple of spiders on the garage door which I have been meaning to look at properly for ages.

The Rabbit Hutch Spider Steatoda bipunctata was on the bin and is one of the native false widows (and not the introduced scare spider S. nobilis). A very smart spider showing the distinctive dimples on its abdomen.

The second was the Missing Sector Spider Zygiella x-notata which came out just before dusk. ID was thanks to Africa Gomez who managed to set me right. Number 700.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Masked Shrike!

Finally got away to see this late on today and had great views as it worked the hedge with a couple of Redstarts. Terrible photos but some bad video as well!

A bonus Redstart messing about below. I also managed very brief views of the Red-breasted Flycatcher.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ulrome and Barmston

Yesterday I went out for a wander for the first time since a bit of minor surgery and rather gingerly meandered round the patch. A thin scattering of passerine migrants was obvious with squadrons of swallows and finches heading south and the odd Chiffchaff in the bushes. A couple of Wheatears around the wader flash were nice as was a Grey Wagtail heading north. A Grey Heron heading south was a patch year tick.

The drain revealed a couple of Kingfishers and a Sedge Warbler . The plantation wasn't filled with migrants but a Goldcrest could have been either fresh in or a local breeder. Who knows? A decent way to pass a few hours. Plenty of drift going on ATM so hopefully I'll get out this weekend and find something better.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Little Stints at St Mary's

I managed to add plenty to this years St. Mary's Island list over the last couple of weeks with headlines of Little Stint as featured in the video below. Two of them were pottering about with the waders in the South Bay on Monday evening. I have also managed to add both Grey and Yellow Wagtails, Water Rail and some other common stuff taking the yearlist on to 98 species and 120 patchwork challenge points (only 13 behind Barmston). Also features below is a bad video of the Prestwick Carr Woodchat Shrike.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Cheeky Seawatch

So today I decided to sleep in, do nowt and then play away from home with a trip to Flamborough. Old fall flash revealed nowt so I went for a seawatch between 1520 and 1930. Aside from a sore back and cold arse I managed a few decent birds. First up was a dark morph adult Pomarine Skua giving a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull hell. Aside from that very little was doing other than triples of Arctic Skua and Manx Shearwater. Craig Thomas then found a Caspian Gull on the sea in front of us. A very sexy juvenile and a much overdue Yorkshire Tick...

Then Brett came along and 2 different Cory's Shearwaters went north. It is almost five years to the day since my last Yorkshire Cory's in the same place. Below is perhaps the worst picture of a large shearwater ever... In my defence it was about 2 miles out.

Both birds tracked north slowly and were on show for 15 minutes each although the second bird kept putting down on the water. All said a successful day!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Stilt Sandpiper

I managed to catch up with the Cresswell Pond Stilt Sandpiper the other week. This bird gave me the run around with a dip early on in its stay followed by it going missing for 45 minutes whilst we were at Cresswell. My photos are crap so I have just stuck the video up here. It was found roosting between a Lapwing and a Redshank which were stuck together. Sneaky bugger.

Also knocking about were plenty of other waders including Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper and lots of Dunlin. The Stilt Sandpiper was UK tick 348 - can I get to 350 this year?

Bonkers at Barmston

I came home from work yesterday after surveying in D&G. Ma famille are in Spain so I went for a seawatch. It was bonkers. I watched from Ulrome and the whole of Bridlington Bay was full of terns and gulls. A Manx Shearwater early on was not a portent of a big movement. Instead it was the commic terns and Sandwich Terns which were the stars. My first Barmston Arctic Tern was followed by loads more... A juv Black Tern was amongst the Sarnies with its headphones on. The first of three Arctic Skuas was nailing terns out in the bay and the second, a dark morph, flushed plenty of gulls including three Little Gulls. After this Little Gulls seemed to enter the bay in huge numbers. Several hundred were noted in all directions and distances. One even managed to evade the third Arctic Skua by doing tight circles and rising higher. The skua gave up, mobbed a Kittiwake which eventually disgourged its fish only for another skua to snatch this. The Arctic got on its bike and chased the second skua which was a light morph obviously, 4/5 the size of the Arctic and with a single long tail streamer. Long-tailed Skua! Brilliant. Late on an obviously brutish juvenile gull with a white rump and a masked head went past. My first Barmston Yellow-legged Gull. Sadly the camera was charging so I havent got any shots. The YL Gull, LT Skua and the Arctic Tern were all full patch ticks.

This morning at Ulrome was also pretty productive. The bay still had some terns and Little Gulls as well as plenty of larger gulls. Not a lot was passing though and so I started looking at the bushes. A Yellow Wagtail  was expected year tick and a number of juvs flew over. A small bird was calling from a sycamore - naked eye views suggested a warbler and the sound recalled a swallow or pied wagtail. I got the bins up and it had disappeared. It called a few more times but never showed and the incumbents of the caravan and tent started giving me grief so I gave it up. Potential Greenish Warbler binned. Aside from a few more wagtails there wasnt much more until I got to Barmston drain. Here an adult looking Cuckoo sat in vegetation before flying north. I managed to rattle off some shots and got one that showed mealiness on the upperwing showing that the bird was a juv.

As I walked along the drain a Greenshank flew over calling. My second record for the site after one migrating north in 2013 along the beach. Some kids playing in the woods at Barmston ensured there were no migrants resting up there as they had stick fights but the sight of 6 Buzzards circling overhead indicated that it was a successful breeding season here. The rape had been harvested around Barmston and birds were busy feeding in the margins of the field. Amongst the Tree Sparrows, Mistle Thrushes and Blackbirds a smaller bird worked through the ivy adjacent to the methodist church - a Lesser Whitethroat. Yet another patch tick! Rain was starting to threaten so I pegged it back to Ulrome but not before I picked out a juv/1st winter Yellow-legged Gull amongst the large gulls. It is seemingly the same bird that was at Flamborough over the last few days. Now if I could get one of their Caspians it would be good... This slightly crackers run of 9 patch year ticks including 5 patch ticks takes me on to 109 species and 133 points for Patchwork Challenge. Last year I finished on 121 species and 155 points and by the end of August I was on 111 species and 136 points at the end of August so still a chance. It is the first time this year I have been within touching distance of last years score and the low effort level from the autumn means I am in with a chance of beating the 100%.

Ornithological Idiocy

How brains and birds become mutually exclusive