Friday, 11 November 2016

Waistcoat Wearing Crow

Hooded Crow - Barmston
After distant views a fortnight since I managed some close views of the Barmston Hooded Crow this morning as it fed just north of the caravan park. A few commentators noted that perhaps a hybrid couldn't be ruled out from the distance it was viewed from initially. Whilst I didn't have too many doubts it was certainly nice to get close views and some workable photos. The bird was silvery grey although the tone is hard to work out in such strongly lit shots. The crow also didn't show any flank streaking or in the UTC's thankfully.

I caught up with the crow just as I was leaving. As I arrived on the beach however I was surprised to see a large, all white gull. It was a beasting 1st winter male Glaucous Gull which was just my second record for the site after a second winter from before I visited regularly. Sadly this slightly skanky example of hyperboreus decided it liked being between me and the sun so there are no photos. Anyhow thats quite enough for today. Onward!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Patch Seawatching

Over the last two weekends I have managed to get three sessions of seawatching in at Barmston which has been awesome. It has been really rewarding with different conditions on each occasion leading to different assemblages of migrants.

Pomarine Skuas
Today I was allowed out at the last minute for the afternoon and as it was blowing a NNE 5-6 with loads of rain I headed to the car park to hide between the unused caravans. Straight away it was obvious Kittiwakes were moving and in total 893 went north in just over 2.5 hours. Allied with a steady movement of Guillemots and a sprinkling of Razorbills I was hopeful of a few Little Auks. Alas there was just one but it was my first here for a few years (more than a few actually...) as it threaded its way north through the breakers.

Arctic Skua
Out harassing the Kittiwakes were a few Poms and the three groups I saw all started way out in the bay before coming inshore to work north. They totalled 10 birds in groups of 2, 4 and 4 with the middle group also containing an adult Arctic Skua which was trying to keep out of the way. The Bonxies were not playing ball and 6 of the 7 headed south. There was little in the way of wildfowl movement with just a few Wigeon, Mallard, Common Scoter and Goldeneye.

Four Poms
Yesterday was a similar set up with a watch from Barmston car park but this time it was during the morning. The wind was from the north with perhaps the merest hint of west in it. Again squally it was much better for wildfowl. The highlights were two Brent Geese, one each of Dark-bellied and Pale-bellied. There were single Great Northern and Black-throated Divers north and a good number of their commoner Red-throated breathren. One that seems to have got away was a small gull that flew through. Initially reminiscent of a 1w Black-headed Gull it had a more compact look and had an all white underwing with a black trailing edge. I didn't have my camera but I think I jibbed a Bonaparte's Gull. Interestingly there was a similar issue with this species at Flamborough earlier in the week. Perhaps it will get pinned down close by.

Last weekend I was out on Sunday morning for a vismig watch but with little happening over the land due to mist I contented myself with an excellent duck passage offshore. As I rolled up I could hear Pink-footed Geese trundling south unseen overhead. My first patch Fieldfare of the year managed to make it to land but only just. It 'rested' on the sea just 50 yards offshore before struggling onto the sand with four Herring Gulls who tried to eat it before it put down on the beach. I went to rescue it before it became gull fodder however it was no damsel in distress and as I went in for the catch it flew to the cliff face where it recovered in safety. Ducks were numerous and none more so than Scaup which made its patch debut with no less than 21 birds passing by. Amongst the chubby Aythya were a couple of its sleaker cogeners with single female Pochard and a male Tufted Duck. The Pochard was a patch tick as well.

A Little Egret flying north was the first this year and my second all said on patch. A small party of 5 Golden Plover made their way south along the cliff top and a Woodcock came in off and nearly took my head off. Finally a Shoveler flew south with some Common Scoter to complete the year ticks for the patch. Hopefully more wildfowl will be in evidence as the year comes to a climax.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Please Object to the Proposed YWT Spurn Visitor Centre

Some folks may be used to my usual inane witterings but please take a moment to consider objecting the Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts visitor centre at Spurn which they have submitted for planning consent to EYRC.
It may seem like something I would support but this development will destroy habitat, displace users and be an eyesore out of keeping with the Holderness coast whilst being at risk of flooding constantly in order to monetize one of the most special places in Yorkshire.
The project is a work of ego for Rob Stoneman of the trust and whilst I am a member I object whole heartedly. I want a visitor centre at Spurn but not this design in this location. I like a latte as much as the next person but it should be in a suitable development, working with stakeholders not alienating the anglers, birdwatchers and residents of Kilnsea.
Please take a moment to object as consultation ends on the 11th November and the trust continue to whitewash those of use who care deeply about the area.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Shorely Not

Shorelark - Jim Welford
After being gripped by the bright blue bluetail at Spurn yesterday I decided to use my day off to go birding on the peninsula. I knew the winds were going South-west but still. In it to win it etc... I didnt get off to a particularly prompt start and only arrived at 11 when I bumped into Geoff Dobbs. I decided to yomp down to the point for the Stejneger's Stonechat that is knocking about. It was evident that a few migrants were still about as knackered Goldcrests fluttered through the buckthorn and a sad looking female Siskin could barely lift off the road. Common diurnal migrants were very much in evidence as birds filter over the Narrows. At Wire Dump I bumped into Jonny Holliday who had managed to see the Stej and later found the Shore Larks at the breach. I pushed onto the parade ground where a duo of Black Redstarts were giving a good show.

Jim Welford was waiting for me at the Green Beacon when I finally arrived and we had a wander round to the Stejneger's Stonechat which was 200m or so away on the Humber side. I was struck by how bright the bird was - very orange and the fact it had a matted head made it look very contrasty. The bird was flycatching and generally stayed more than 50m away. Eventually good scope views were attained and we moved on.

We mostly gabbed on the way back, interrupted by a Blackcap here and Fieldfare there. Crossing the breach we heard that two Shorelark were kicking about. I took the tideline on the seaward side while Jim covered the beach. A false alarm over a Wheatear was soon forgotten as we got fine views of two adult Shorelarks, horns and all with fab light. This isnt my closest shot but it is my favourite.

As we were leaving a dozen Whooper Swans were seen flying south so we took a peek only to see them floating about half a mile or so offshore. A decent end to an enjoyable day!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Bittern by the Bug

On Tuesday, due to a late flight to Somerset for work, Pete and myself had a day of birding in Northumberland. We started by hitting St Mary's Island. Despite looking through a horde of migrant Goldcrests we failed to uncover anything exciting. A perfunctory check of the wetland gave us the usual ducks when Pete shouted 'Bittern!'. Hiding in the juncus was a very smart, poorly hidden Bittern which was evidently fresh in. Much merriment followed as it played hide and seek before we relocated round to the screens to the side giving superb views. This bird is probably the first record for the site.

After we had our fill of the Bittern we had a crack at the Prior's Park Dusky Warbler. After drawing a blank initially we started to leave, despondent at the high winds that made searching next to impossible. Just as we got away from its favoured hedgerow it started to call vigourously. Pete soon had a brief view but I was struggling. Both hoping for better we got to the end of the hedge where it was seen badly on occasion. We were joined by Pete's mate Toby who was convalescing at his Mum's nearby post broken leg and he hobbled over to greet Pete. At this moment, with Pete's back turned, the Dusky did the decent thing and climbed to the top of the hedge to show beautifully for a few seconds before resuming its skulk. Perfect views for me but alas Pete didnt manage to see it any better than the glimpses through the bottom of the brambles.  

After a hearty soup we headed to Druridge Bay hoping for some migrant action. We struggled a little on that score aside from yet more Goldcrests but a trio of Swallows were decent recompense at Druridge Pools. We started at Cresswell and a Jack Snipe flushed with a small flock of Snipe whilst we were in the hide. The usual assemblage of waders and wildfowl abounded but there was a smart 1w drake Scaup with a couple of Tufted Duck.

We soon moved onto Druridge Pools and it was very samey with a Chiffchaff and two dozen Goldcrests. Plenty of Black-tailed Godwit were seen from the Budge Screen. We headed down to the hides and no otter was observed but a small selection of duck and a brace of Grey Partridge. In the middle of the pool was a rather smart Common Scoter which whilst common offshore isnt overly common on freshwater.

We moved onto East Chevington and soon were at a trio of seaduck as I plucked a Velvet Scoter from the back of North Pool which was a cracker. A handful of Pink-footed Geese were knocking about and a few Pintail were amongst the Shovelers. Out on the island there were a couple of Snipe and a smaller wader which eventually transpired into a Little Stint which we couldnt turn into something rarer.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Starting to look like Autumn

I got released from parenting duties this afternoon to ramble round Ulrome. There were obviously loads of birds knocking about. Goldcrest flocks were a new addition and thrushes and Robins remained very much in evidence. The star was definitely the 1w/female type Redstart which was my first for the patch. It was hanging around in sycamores close to the bush of dreams and after playing hard to get eventually settled infront of the camera. A greyish but standard Chiffchaff wasnt weeping.

A ramble round the southern half of patch failed to turn up anything else of note and I returned home a happy boy. This is patchtick 165 and also takes me on to 150 points this year for Patchwork Challenge. My best ever is 126 species and 156 points and I still have some low hanging fruit to aim for so fingers crossed.

Accent-uate the Positives

Courtesy of Jim Welford
I arrived at Easington half an hour before dawn and already a scrum had formed on Vicar's Lane. I decided to take a different tack and got a position along the lane where I could see the hard standing which the Siberian Accentor had been seen on the day before. As the light started coming up a few others had similar ideas but I had prime position when just before sunrise a bird hopped up on to the edge of the skip outside someone's house. On the bins and yes, it was the bird. On the scope and it gave lovely views before dropping into the skip. Like a Dunnock.

Courtesy of Jim Welford
A two minute wait was punctured by it reappearing head on and the light had improved. The throng massed through the trees at this point seperated by a chainlink fence. Sadly this prevented my digiscoping efforts but I have managed to borrow an image from Jim Welford. The stripey headed dunnock shot off to the left and only a few could still see it. At this stage a queuing system was initiated and I decided that rather than hang around 400 blokes in the gloom that I would go birding. As I left Bramblings and Goldcrests were providing the ambient backdrop.

The Throng 30 minutes before dawn
I headed to patch at Barmston determined to turn something of my own up. I had little success but a Kingfisher in the reedbed, 3 Pintail in a flock of Wigeon and a Dark-bellied Brent Goose on the beach provided compensation. Sadly work beckoned and I abandoned my sibe hunt but a bloody decent morning was had. Just a shame the Paddyfield did one!

Ornithological Idiocy

How brains and birds become mutually exclusive