Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Flamborough PWC

This morning I made my first visit to Flamborough for a few weeks and a special effort was made to catch up with the flock of Lapland Buntings which have been showing to all and sundry over the last week. There was nowt doing initially but I added Great Crested Grebe, Yellowhammer, Goldcrest, Goldfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker to my #PWC2017 efforts. West of Booted Gully produced a few Skylarks and Linnets as well as a Corn Bunting which flew west out of the field and then alighted on trees at South Landing before continuing towards South Dykes.


I relocated to the field east of Booted Gully and a couple of littoralis Rock Pipits were foraging in the ploughed field, one of which showed a nice pink throat. Eventually a single Lapland Bunting called and then circled the field, presumably looking for the remainder of the flock before disappearing beyond the brow of the hill. I moved onto North Landing to check out the Pochard/Tufted Duck combo which have been in residence, both of which should be tricky to catch up with. There was also a bonus pair of Shelduck ensconced although these weren't needed for the year after a quintet which flew north in January.



So I borrowed Pete's new camera

Pete needed showing how to use his new camera...





Saturday, 11 February 2017

Double dish

Last Friday I was doing some work in Druridge Bay on a realignment site. It was blimin' chilly and I was glad of the conclusion after seeing very little. Afterwards I thought it would have been rude not to check out the Pacific Diver at Druridge Bay country park. The light was appalling but despite this I picked it out at the Eastern end by the outflow from the lake and made my way round. There was a small crowd as it fished constantly between the reedbed and outflow giving great views of its distinctive jizz and more subtle fieldmarks. It showed a definite routine of stick its head up above the water post dive and then slowly bring the body to the surface, followed by a brief cogitation followed by some odd angles with the head and then a half leap of a dive.


This was my second Pacific Diver after the first record at Knaresborough and whilst the weather was grim and the excitement didnt really reach those levels, the views were much closer meaning that a better assessment of the bird could be undertaken in the field. The bird is still present as I type so I may get another chance to view in better light. Hopefully it moults into the outstanding summer plumage whilst present.



I shot off home realising that if I was sharp I may have a shot at the Pine Bunting in Dunnington, near York. A reasonable journey time gave me a two hour window at the bunting. I was initially with a crowd of perhaps a dozen at the south end of the paddock which contained approximately one million Yellowhammers but no icy version. Those surrounding didn't seem overly bothered but I could see a couple of birders at the north end looking intently so I relocated up there.

One of the birders was Chris Gomersall who found the bird inbetween scouring the tip at Rufforth for Caspian Gulls. Chatting to him he thought the bird had a routine and had been seen twice already in the willows at the north of the paddock and he was confident it would again. Plenty of passerine interest was present with Brambling and Siskin amongst the yammers but the larger flock stayed distant.

Time ticked by and confidence ebbed with the other birder, wandering into the next paddock. Dusk was just minutes away when Chris yelped - 'its just landed in the tree, its the only bird'. We got about 20 seconds of excellent views before it disappeared, presumably to roost with its citron brethren. This was a new bird and I was delighted that perseverance paid. It was number 313 for Yorkshire which is ok I guess and a goodie for sure.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Cattle Egret at Huntspill

With this years influx of Cattle Egrets I have been looking out for one with the Little Egrets that roost around Huntspill since the autumn. Pete got lucky on our last visit with a flyover bird at Combwich in January after he found a bird in Devon late last year. I finally got lucky yesterday as an egret flew across the A38 at dawn and its mechanical, quick flaps and awkward shape attracted attention and as it came out of silhouette an obvious yellow beak was seen. Pete was in the passenger seat and we both jumped to the same conclusion after the I pointed the bird out.

Largely forgetting about the Egret I cracked on with my survey work near the Huntspill sluice and I was joined by a couple who were trying to get photos of the Avocet flock. After an hour in which they were only rewarded with Redshank and Dunlin on the closest bit of mud I heard some tinkling trills of a passerine which I instantly knew was the Snow Bunting which has been doing the rounds between Burnham and Huntspill. The bird dropped in 10 yards up the path onto the rock armour and posed briefly before crossing the track and foraging for over and hour in the margins.



On leaving we noted a load of egrets in pastures which prompted a quick scan and the second bird had a blunt yellow bill. Sadly we had a queue of cars behind us so no time for snaps but it was seen by a number of locals in the afternoon.

Paul and myself moved onto Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall hoping for a few new bits and pieces. In the car park I bumped into the photographers who I saw earlier in the day and mentioned the Cattle Egret to which the woman of the couple said she had some photos and promptly found the bird amongst the throng of its Little Egret relatives in the pictures. Kicking about the reserve we failed to connect with anything of interest aside from five Great White Egrets.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

#Snowmaggedon 2017

Yes, we too had 1cm of snow which rocked our world in East Yorkshire. The screaming North-westerlies however offered seawatching potential but alas access to the head was limited by powerlines that were down over Lighthouse Road. I headed to South Landing instead, looking for sheltering birds and hoping for a white-winger or two. Arriving mid-morning there was already a mixture of birds present but there was very little passing - perhaps too soon after the blow started?

The Seawatching Pod
When it comes to the birds it wasn't sensational but there was plenty of decent stuff hiding away. Headlining was a Great Northern Diver which roamed between the dykes and South Landing. Also out there were 19 Common Scoter, a drake Eider and a plethora of Shags, Cormorant and five Red-throated Divers as well as my first Razorbill from three visits. My score marched onto 56/66 for Patchwork Challenge.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

From Russia with Love

European White-fronted Goose
 Today I had a couple of visits to Flamborough, the first to South Landing with my kids as we went for a walk. The aim for me was to add the common woodland species whilst for my eldest Isabelle it was all about her first steps in birding as she ticked away with gay abandon. Her spot of a Treecreeper was handy although these are reasonably common. We just saw the commoner species although a couple of Rock Pipits were a bonus. We also had two Curlew over the wood and a few Turnstones on the beach. After a trip to the living seas centre so the girls could get their colouring fix we returned home. I was granted a pass for the afternoon and made for Thornwick Bay and North Landing.

Pink-footed Goose
First off I headed to Thornwick Pools where a Song Thrush was in sub song. On the pools there were a few Teal and Moorhen plus a single Coot. I decided to head round to North Marsh before I lost too much sun. A Stonechat at the seaward side of Holmes Gut was a useful addition but there were no Meadow Pipits or Skylarks. Before I reached North Marsh after a somewhat muddy trek round I bumped into the feral geese. This was what I was hoping for a quick search through them revealed six European White-fronted Geese plus a single Pink-footed Goose. These were much wanted PWC ticks and I was particularly happy with the White-fronts. I moved onto North Marsh to see if anything else was present.

White-fronted Geese amongst Greylags

After adding Peregrine and Grey Heron on my approach, both easy enough here but enjoyable to catch up with. A few Wigeon, Mallard and a flock of Teal were present but nothing rarer. A helicopter went over flushing the geese and the flock flew into the field north of North Marsh. I got a few pictures before a small plane came in and flushed just the White-fronts, which had increased in number ot eight, towards the village where they put down, seperate to the goose flock whilst the Pink-foot stayed put. I headed back, pleased with my endeavours and I now move onto 47 species and 54 points for Patchwork Challenge 2017.

White-fronted Goose
Last week I was down in Somerset doing wader surveys on the River Parrett. Whilst I cant post details of that I did manage to get the year list away with highlights such as Merlin, Marsh Harrier and best of all a couple of flyover Waxwings which were a survey tick for me.

White-fronted Goose

The final view.

Monday, 2 January 2017

#PWC2017

Barmston is dead, long live Flamborough. Four years of envy of them up the road who block my migrants was enough. I had ploughed my own furrow for long enough and I actually fancied seeing some birds during patchwork challenge so this year I am having a bash at Flamborough.


I have joined the observatory and made a fleeting visit today for a dusk seawatch. Nowt too flash as the Glaucous Gull is in care and the White-fronts had flitted back to North Marsh before I arrived. An hour from the seawatching spot below the foghorn provided a smattering of common seabirds including an orange colour-ringed Shag. A mere 19 species for 24 points. Onward!

Ornithological Idiocy

How brains and birds become mutually exclusive