Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Twas a few nights before Christmas

Seasons greetings, my Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk. Have a wonderful christmas and a productive new year. All the the best.

James

p.s. checkout the new link for Green Withens.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Finding ones self

I have been thinking and after the pain a thought struck me. Now im near the coast i could concentrate on finding my own birds. So next year im gonna try and keep track of a self found yearlist. I will still be chasing lifers but hopefully the focus will be on finding my own birds (he says after commintting to the Yorkshire forum lets-start-our-year-list-off-in-style-despite-not-being-near-the-sea meet). Areas i intend to work are basically Flamborough head and its surrounds. Not gonna have a local patch per se just want to get back to a bit of grass roots birding. Some of my most enjoyable times this year were aimless wanderings around old fall so that may become a feature.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Gone for a Potter

Had a fun dudey day with my olds to show them some birds and year tick bittern and life tick caspo gull. Succeeded on the first count and failed on the latter two. No woodies toady. Or bitterns. Or jays or Redpoll or Caspian Gulls. Did find a perched up sprawk and see Buzzard, Willow Tit, Kingfisher, Water Rail, Golden Plover and got good views of Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Bullfinch and Redwing for my parents. Also saw Lawts - hope your cold has improved mate. All said a fun day perforated by Bacon Sarnies.

Yesterday I volunteered at tophill, roping off a LRP island and cutting down Willow. Only bird of note was a Water Rail at the feeding station.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

He he - im a published author! True I only wrote a paragraph of it but I was the stooge involved. In the Bioscience Education E-journal (ooh the prestige!) is the very very soon to be published

Scott, G.W., Turnbull, S. & Spencer, J. (2008)Promoting & Engagement: Using species action plans to bring together students and conservation professionals, Bioscience Education e-journal, 12(5)

http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/journal/vol12/ - no link to the full article as yet but only a matter of time.

Sorry to bore you with that but as a lonely student (currently avoiding doing any work) im a smidge proud. But pride before a fall and all that...

Monday, 8 December 2008

Punctured Dreams

Went down to Tophill to do some work on my disertation. The car felt a bit all over the place on the way down but when i checked it out it looked fine. Had an amble about but it started pouring down on the reserve so i turned tail to come home without garnering any results only to find that the rear nearside tyre was flat as a fart. Half hour of grubbing around in dirt to put it on made worse because my spare isnt in the boot but under it and further messing about in the mud ensued. The couple of woodies and treecreepers i saw did not warrant that! Happy birthday to eBirer, Marcus Conway who turns 30 today (you old bugger!). Check out his site for some truely magic pictures.

p.s. im on commission

Hit the rails

Water Rail - Year tick 256. Was under the feeders at Tophill on an icy saturday lunchtime.

Friday, 5 December 2008

White Noise

Not been out birding for a bit - its snowed here this week. A lot. After getting stuck on Garrowby Hill on Tuesay night as they closed it it got much worse. The 34 miles home on Thursday morning took 160 minutes. Thats nearly triple the normal time. My clutch stank as i had to sit on it far too often as eejits in 18 wheelers tried to negotiate the 1 in 5 garrowby. Snow covered the roads and the ineffectual snow plows were a joke. As was the woman using maximum revs - how i laughed at that one - i drove straight past as she slithered everywhere. Had to cancel my night thursday night and hand my uni work in via the internet. Which would have been a problem if that didnt come online this morning. All said the worst snowfall i have ever seen. I have not had the pleasure of seeing drifts before or making long journeys on snow covered roads. I enjoyed it but wouldnt repeat it as far too many were left in ditches.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Hurt

Have you hear Johnny Cash's take on hurt - it speaks to me, especially the part about tearing a hole in your skin because thats what i spent all of sunday afternoon doing. There were 8 of us loons taking down a hawthorn copse that was infilitrating a reedbed. I managed to get under one particularly spikey bush to cut it down only for it to collapse on me. Yowser! Only birds of note were a Little Egret, Peregrine and a few Curlew plus one of the regulars was trying to string a LBBG 4th winter as a YLG 3rd winter. Which was nice.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

What on Earth posessed me?

Why did I do it?? For my disertation I had chosen potentially the coldest experiment on the world. Regular sets of 2 hours sat on a freezing beach scoping waders. Inactivity & windchill. Fortunately the icy blasts have caused my subject Ringos push off and the whole thing has been transplanted to Teal on inland waters. Much warmer. And a hide.
Anywho my bumbling about on Barmston beach just after 8 on tuesday morning did produce a few birds of note. Some Blackbirds - looking like cold weatehr migrants from Scandinavia were feeding around the holiday camp. A Jack Snipe in off, single Purple Sandpiper on the collapsed road at the foot of the cliff and numerous Sanderling up and down the beach. Nothing of note offshore. A quick trip up to Flamborough saw the Hooded Crow west of Danes Dyke on the Bempton road. 257 for Yorkshire now but still 4 behind Mike and 5 behind Marcus. So close. May be headed back down to Lincs for the Steppe Shrike again on Sunday.
On Monday I had a trip out to see the Rough-legs at Pocklington - managed to get great close views of an adult female and 1 juv plus a couple of Red Kites, Common Buzzards and single Sprwak Merlin & Keza. Super raptor watching.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

6 Shrikes and im out

Scored my 6th Shrike species for the Year today, all UK (unless you split steppe and southern grey) with a stunning and easy to watch Great Grey in Wykeham forest. Dipped on the LT Duck, GND, Iceland and Med Gulls in S'boro but on my way to Wykeham, whilst watching the coppers close the A64 i saw a massive raptor circling over Seamer/Ayton sort of area. Proper huge it was. Bear in mind I was at the bottom of Staxton Hill so quite a way away.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Tophill on Sat

started my volunteering/placement at Tophill on Saturday. For mileage purposes i have found that the reserve is a startling 14.4 miles away despite being 7 as the crow flies. Oh well its more petrol money to claim from uni.

Rolled up at 10am and had a coffee with Richard who was outlining the direction the reserve is going in (upward!). I gradually came too, as my caffeine fix permeated my veins. The grand plan for the day was to dig out a diesel sump which had become choked with vegetation and stagnant. We were cleaning it out so that dragonfly nymphs could thrive in future in the sump. Tophill has a decommisioned sit on lawn mower as a tractor impersonator and i was allowed several goes on this across the day. It beats walking. We cleaned the sump out surprisingly quickly with only the phragmites proving tricky to remove. It stunk and my left wader leaked a little but i wasnt disheartened. The only pain in the bum was as i got to lunch i noticed my left arm had been leeched! Barely clotted blood dripped down but it was all good.

Further coffee for lunch with a Kitkat and i was raring to go but not before seeing a Sprawk buzz the feeders. A few coal tits buzzed about but nothing much else was doing. In the afternoon we were clearing the willow scrub that had surrounded the sumps. Many small to medium sized woody trees were cleared and the whole area became much more open. Shame about the massive bramble tangle that we came to. We also managed to remove most of the willow that had started to invade the reedbed (we were on South Marsh for those that know!). Birdwise we had a good passsage of Curlew and numbers of Redwing roosting in the pines that previously held Amur Falcon. Not a lot else was seen bar the odd coot or moorhen but all said a thoroughly enjoyable (and tiring) day.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Some things in football are just down to pure physics

If you like a bit of footy and some humourous banter (one way unless for the 1,057th time you want to get involved) get subscribed to the Guardians (big paper) tea-time email the Fiver. Ruddy hilarious topical stuff, daily to your inbox about the funniest sport out there.

Expect linkage like this :
Expect assorted Portsmouth players to be scoring belters like this (http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBJGbWMAY30QpAe9jDF$eZ6Y1Lq/fvr26 ) now that NottinghamForest legend Johnny Metgod has been appointed first-team coach atFratton Park.

And comedy values like this:

The FA has asked Joe Kinnear to explain his comments after brandingMartin Atkinson a 'Mickey Mouse' referee. We're not sure which bit ofJoe's critique is open to misinterpretation either - perhaps Atkinsonhas particularly large white hands and eats a lot of cheese.

Here is the link for subs:

SUBSCRIBE TO THE FIVER You can subscribe and unsubscribe at
http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBJGbWMAY30QpAe9jDF$eZ6Y1Lq/fvr34

Big fall in East Anglia

Monday, 10 November 2008

A Good Day

Had a bit of a mental twitchathon yesterday which left me falling asleep at my computer last night writing an essay. First stop was Bilsdale, 15 miles north of Helmsley. A cold walk up hill with Andy after bumping into him and his friend Dave. A two hour freezathon with everyone looking at the wrong feeder was enlivened by some tres bizarre birders and the gypsy king himself. All of a sudden the bird was in the farms front garden and bosh it was there for all to see. And boy did all want to see it. Despite the melee it was all very good humoured, like when the guy elbowed me and when i got pushed in a bush. All smiles. Thing is im a mild mannered 26 year old but next effing tosser to elbow me at a twitch is getting knocked out. Fact. It'll be some fat balding 45-50 year old prick anyhow. So theres the warning! ;)
A quick 90 minute jaunt to Filey ensued arriving just behind the red Kia which is the gypsy king mobile currently. The paddy white arse was over the cliff and then whoosh it was flitting round the holiday camp with many people in pursuit. 2 rares one morning. Just to top it off 3 Tundra Beans in a field up the way at Buckton made it a 4 lifer weekend feeding round a puddle with 6 y-fronts. Nice.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

One Steppe Beyond

Steppe Grey Shrike down to 2 feet. And no, i didnt chase it - used a crazy thing called fieldcraft. Unlike the stupid woman who walked towards the bird when it had flown away - its not like when it chose to feed it was distant. Got an unuploadable (decentish) pic. Was fecking freezing and blowing a gale. The bird was a very sandy grey mantled with a similar tone underneath. Was joined by john sadler for the trip. Nowt much else on site. A quick pop down to Donna Nook produced a Glonk with a Gammy Leg, a lifer for John. A single greenland Wheatear was on a post. A flock of very Twite like finches failed to let themselves get pinned down. Arse. As we were headed back too late to do owt about it a female Pied Wheatear came out at Reighton. Looks like tomorrow is gonna consist of a twitchathon with 2bard-xbill, canvasplac & the aforementioned wheatear. Hope i get 2 from 3.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Sibe chiff

Met up with Marcus this afternoon for a bash on flam. We failed on Dusky at South Landing and there were very few birds about. Went onto old fall where we had a Sibe Chiffer trying to convince us it was a Radde's Warbler in the gloom and loads of thrushes and goldcrests new in as mist descended. Other bits included a pair of fresh in Blackcaps, a sprinkling of Bramblings and a single Waxwing sat on the hedge. Perhaps another 15 Waxwing were tagging along with a big Fieldfare flock. Bizarrely a flock of 20 or so Common Scoter flew over one of the fields seemingly cutting across the head in the near dark.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

F*&%ing Freezing

Spent today on the east coast reaping the benefits of this late autumn fall. Started off at old fall plantation where a very showy juv RBFly gave views down to point blank (especially as I walked past it to check the bottom of the plantation, much to the chagrin of the assembled throng). Umpteen goldcrests streamed through and a single Waxwing bathed at our feet in a pool adjacent to the hawthorn it was feeding in. A lesser whitethroat passed through with a couple of chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers. A male Brambling flitted about and bam a warbler comes out of the Sycamores flies past my nose giving me ample opportunity to see its yellow rump and striking head markings. Pallas's Warbler - a bit of a bogey for me. It felt like it was all happening. The bird showed well at times but went missing for periods and suddenly when i refound it there were two in my bin view - Self found Pallas's! Me and Jim from Bf (who arrived to the salutation - theres a Waxwing over your head) then ambled past the assembling throng flushing the RBFly in the process - no choice really! If soon reappeared but we got serious glowers. We saw Merlin, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk sparring to the east of the plantation, all with full crops, no doubt migrant birds. Nothing else of note around old fall and news of a Hawfinch in a garden appeared as well as a brief GG Shrike on old fall hedge which was long gone when we got on the scene.

We saw next to nothing as we went around the head and quickly headed to Reighton. Where we saw nothing. And then to Filey where a couple of Goldcrests in Arndale were the sum passerine total. On the brigg were a couple of purps and a sand blasting. We managed to get a position up on carr naze that offered plenty of shelter and jim got on a large diver flying north which i didnt manage to get on. A bird i did but confused me massively was a distant single female Velvet Scoter which took ages for me to pin down but eventially gave itself up (was Very distant!). We heard of the reappearance of the Subalp at Bempton so went for a gander. It was freezing and the bird wasnt showing so we decided to try and find our own scarce. Unless Goldcrest is scarce we failed miserbly although we flushed a Peregrine in the field to the south east of the visitor centre.

In summary, very cold, some very good birds. Lovely. Oh and Velvet Scoter was number 250 for the year.

Friday, 31 October 2008

East Coast Fall

Managed to see the rather smart Subalpine Warbler at Bempton this pm. Only got there at half 3 so views were tricky. Managed to stand under a tree with 5 wawings in, here em but not see em. Oh well!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Barmy

Was a chilly afternoon today at Barmston. An hours seawatch produced a single Grey Phalarope south, 3 Gannets North, single Great Crested Grebe plus 40 Wigeon on the sea and a single Common Scoter North. A roost about 40 metres offshore of several hundred Common and BH Gulls failed to produce anything more interesting than single GBBG and Herring Gull. My innovative seawatching method involoved parking the car sideways in the car park, opening the door, winding down the window and leaving the hot blower running. Toasty. Well it wasnt but hey...

Monday, 27 October 2008

North Cave Wetlands - Major Twitch

En route to uni today I called in to North Cave to *ahem* twitch Egyptian Goose, a bit tricky in Yorkshire although a few individuals float about. On arriving I noticed the water levels were quite high and I imagined that the gypo was probably on island or reedbed lakes. Amongst the throng of Common/BH Gulls on island was a fairly chunky intermedius LBBG. As i walked round to reedbed I flushed a Green Woodie. Its about the most reliable spot locally for these. Redwings seeped as they flushed from the hedge. Scanning into the sun at Reedbed produced little bar a redshank and the usual ducks. I then scanned through the resident Greylag flock which usually contains a few monstrosities and sat own with its head tucked in was the tan form of an adult Egyptian Goose. Yorkshire tick 251. Magic. I paddled round the rest of the reserve with the highlights being a handful of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin in the alders. Tomorrow morning im gonna get those pesky twite!!!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

East Anglian Jaunt

Whilst my beloved was jetting off to new york, I headed to Cambridge to visit my brother. A night of much drinking and me being a bit of a prat was had on the friday. In order to walk off the subsequent hangover I suggested Lynford Arboretum. We tooled about there all afternoon seeing a few bits and pieces including plenty of Siskin. We didnt manage to see any Hawfinch around the paddocks BUT my brother (as a non birder) managed to flush 3 across the Halls backgarden meaning i only got flight views. In flight they immediately recalled Redwing to me and the black and white in the wing was very obvious. One of my big bogeys knocked off, I was well chuffed.

When we got back we had a bash at bowling - bear in mind we both used to be quite decent, regularly going over 160 it was awful. I got whooped 2-0 (there was a 110 all draw) and I only managed 99 in my other 2 games. Tom managed a 141 but his other game was nearly as shoddy as me with a 104. Loved it mind! A few pints were had in various drinking holes in Cambridge followed by a visit to Tommy Tuckers - a genius fast food place, half chippy, half kebab house. Magic.

This morning we went down the driving range and I celebrated getting a few shots straight and over 150 yards whereas my brother revelled in drilling it ff the back fence of the driving range - in the region of 300 yards. Sickening.

After leaving I figured it would be rude for me to come to East Anglia and not see one of the famous reserves so I had a paddle around Wicken Fen, not far from Cambridge. Not a lot of birds bar the masses of Redwings buzzing about. A single Barn Owl, a couple of Green Sandpipers were the pick plus plenty of heard only Cetti's Warblers. A nice if slightly expensive reserve (flaming national trust). Back home and amazed at the siberian and nearctic goings on (Northern Flicker, Green Heron, Sibe Thrush and now Brown Shrike!!). Lovely.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Sovern

Heading to my brothers in Cambridge tomorrow. Hopefully gonna get some crazy arse east anglian birding in over the next few days. Fingers crossed for Hawfinch. Minimum.


Minimum.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Mega Alert - Amur Falcon, Tophill Low

Thats right - it isnt a red foot but the UKs 1st Amur Falcon. Not present today of course. Gonna be mad there tomorrow. Might have to take a look.

Tophill High

A further trip to tophill (again!?) meant that I finally bumped into the warden - and i can confirm exclusively that I will be having a work placement there this sutumn. Massive news I know! Further grass snake action today with another very cold and slow individual lolling on a hay bale. Bird wise very little about - most of the ducks seemed to have cleared out and i failed to see the slav but a Buzzard circled over the car. Thanks to mike who upon getting the picture message of the grass snake from me promptly replied "Is that a dog?". Brilliant. The pic unfortunately is stuck on my phone as my cable to link computer and phone appears entirely useless.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Snake in the Grass

Went to Tophill (again) today to try and catch up with the warden. Further failure but i did at least get hold of his mobile number. It would have been rude not to have a look about whilst I was there so I duly tried and failed on the falcon. A look at the hay bales produced a cracking dark Grass Snake, probably female as it was quite large. A reptile lifer it may be worth noting also - just Slow Worm, Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake to go! I imagine its the same individual as is on Marcus Conways blog. Birds of note were a single Buzzard, a group of 7 Goldeneye including 5 eclipse males and plenty of Pintail on D reservoir. A Kingfisher whizzed past my head in the middle of a wood which was a little incongruous and a Grey Wag went over calling. Hundreds of Redwing passed through the reserve at various altitudes from floor to bush to several hundred feet up. The Slav was still present but VERY active so was hard to pin down and somewhere in the region of 10,000 gulls roosted on D. Mostly Common but a few scandi looking LBB and a large scattering of BHGs and GBBGs.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

My portfolio- hehe


The start of my portfolio! Marcus went for a pee so I commandered his camera and produced this (ahem) beaut!
Final pic of the Alder fly twitch of the bird being recovered.

Pics from the Alder Fly/South Devon


Some great shots kindly provided by Marcus Conway of our trip to Cornwall for the Alder Fly


































In the net! - the bird flew straight into the net after the ringers left the area. Who said americans were dumb?
nb. it wasnt me!!

















A super tarts tick - this juv Dartford really showed as well as the pics indicate.


Friday, 10 October 2008

I love a good tart

As a newish birder from a northern county, the range restricted species of the south west were pretty appealing as i had none on my list pretty much. Back to the hostel...

Woke up to the smell of meaty farts as 2 men with digestive eastern promise quickly polluted the surroundings. A quick escape was called for and by 7 we were on our way to a top secret location for some Cyril Buntings. First all we heard were Chiffchaff and Siskin but gradually we saw some birds and working the ploughed field by a distant hedgerow were up to 15 Cirls. Lifer. A few were males in good plumage and they provided a bigger thrill than the Yammer lookylikey fems and juvs.

A quickstep to Exminster marshes saw the addition of Little Egret to the trip list but this wasnt why we were here. I needed Cetti's Warbler (oh the shame). All the usual spots Marcus gave failed and it was only a distant explosion as we walked the canal bank that gave a bird away. Repeated traipsing past a bush gave rubbish views of the bird after it exploded (into song!)randomly but enough to be sure of its ID - being the bird that was singing. Trying to conjure up an Osprey proved fruitless and an bar a Black-tailed Godwit Bowling Green Marsh was too.

Our last stop was at Aylesbeare Common for a Dartford Warbler or 4. We got there eventually, the god of SATNAV is rubbish, and immediately got onto the birds we wanted but the views were fleeting. After half an hour we both saw adult and juv and Marcus took some shots of a juv that showed beautifully. It was time to head back.

3 Tarts down. Many more to go. This was an incredible journey/decision/effort/experience and hopefully one to be repeated. Aside traffic issues we were done. Next stop Yorkshire.

Toasted

Thats how I feel right now. Absolutely beat. News of an Empidonax flycatcher at Nanjizal had both myself and Marcus conway drooling. It was not a suite of birds that I knew well but i knew it was a first for Britain regardless. Me and Marcus on spec decided to go - neither of us had done a twitch quite like this before and it was crazy. A stopover at his house with a 6am set off was decided (if the first news was negative the next day we could turn round at Birmingham and have only dented pride!). As it was it was positive news and we became more and more excitable. Birds of note on the trip down were a shedload of Buzzards and plenty of Jays crossing the motorways. As we got into the southwest a few Ravens were noted loafing but we were keeping an eye on the state of play. No new megas as we had hoped in the area and little else of note. Nighthawk and Grey-cheeked Thrush had cleared out so we were left with only the target bird.

Cornwall arrived. Penzance went by and we hadnt heard any news since 10.30. It was 13.30 by now. We got on site at about 14:10 after a few minor cockups and motor down. There it was!!!!! Alder/Willow Flycatcher. We both had a good look and some record shots were taken (to be added asap). Oh and whats going on? theres ringers coming to catch it. The nets were set up round its favourite bush and it came lots closer to the assembled throng and showed a treat. A decent eye-ring was evident and me and Marcus bet a quid on its ID. I landed with Alder. Whoosh the bird shot back to the bush and the net as soon as the ringers retreated - this bet was gonna be settled quickly. After ten minutes or so the bird was released and whilst initially sitting down soon became visible again - no shrinking violet this one! And then the pagers go as one - ALDER FLYCATCHER - 1W MALE NANJIZAL. Oml!!! A quid better off we moved to go as the TV presenter tripped on his lines over and over trying to tell the general public about this transatlantic waif. Marcus high-fived and a funny call over a flyover passerine with the shout of Merlin had us all turning round. It was a Snow Bunting being pursued and it was very lucky. Escaped by very little climbing in tight circles keeping the falcon behind.

As weleft heard a juicy bit of gossip about the 'MEGA' that came out in the morning. Quote the random '...and he said theres the (Yellow-throated) Vireo! And I replied, "where in relation to the grey wag is that...'). Naughty.

We dashed to Porthgwarra (a mere mile away) to get one of Marcus's tarts & fill up on coffee/cornish pasty. I quickly pulled out a distant Balearic Shearwater. In reply he pulled out a very close bird and I got best ever views of this species and he got a self found tick. We bashed 60 foot cover (to no avail despite loads of squeeks and peeps) and had Peregrine float over us. At the watchpoint a Raven was very close dismembering a dead rabbit.

We decided that the trip to Yorks would be too much for us and we overnighted in Torquay. A flavoursome (msg??) Dopiaza was had plus a few jars with a stay in Torquay international hostel, at £12 a bargain. We settled happy bunnies. Alder flycatcher, eh?! The next day we were to catch up with some southern specialities.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Slavering

Tophill was literally buckling under the weight of semi-scarce grebe action today. A whole 1 winter plumage Slavonian Grebe showed very nicely on 'O' Reservoir with many Great Crested Grebes. Not a lot else doing but it was only a flying trip to try and catch the warden (total failure on that score).
Also met Michael Flowers, he of birding with flowers local fame and had a very nice natter whilst he had his lunch during a guiding visit. Thanks for the calender! Check out his birding blog and associated courses which seem very good (I bumped into one a couple of weeks ago). Check his stuff out here

A forgotten one

A song that i had long since forgotten just popped up on tele and in order to remember it im putting it here!



Race for the prize - The Flaming Lips

Monday, 6 October 2008

Some Good Choons

Not been doing a lot of birding since the winds went rubbish (in an east coast context) but have been listening to a reasonable mount of alternative music. Here are a few pop pics chaps and chappesses



The White Lies - Death. Had to get the live version as am not allowed to embed the full video



Majuva - Township Funk
Cool african house music



The Airborne Toxic Event - Sometime Around Midnight
Just cool

Friday, 3 October 2008

Some stuff from the east midlands

Please visit Rob Fray's Shetland Blog as its humour on a stick. Also available is the Leicester Llama from the East Midlands( 90's twitching in a postmodern context (just using these words makes me a prat!))

nb sorry if you saw this pre-edit, half a bottle of southern comfort had lowered my ability to censor myself

Big Weekend

This is an important weekend in my calendar and unfortunatly it has fuck all to do with birding. No this is family pride. Who can gloat at family get togethers? Is christmas going to be a long merciful ribbing? And i cant win! My outlaws are Hull City fans. Who beat the arse last week (hurrah!!). And who are playing spurs this week (those that are familiar with me from BF may realise my tag name is Hotspur. As in Tottenham. Derr!). If we win, the lines my father in law will use are 'it was to be expected' and 'we are only a small club'. If Hull win i can expect ritual humiliation in front of uncle dickhead until the sun fizzles out. Shit. Oh well, saw the 3 Pec sands or pseudo vagrants as the punks call em (wonder how many pairs breed in uk and europe now??) in the sun (as in the star) oh sit (no not the low brow red top - the big burning thing in the heavens). So as to be sure it wasnt rain on my lense or madness that told me id seen one the other day. Now skint. Birding plans - minimal. Odds on a mega - higher than if id have had money. If i get out a Yorkshire Pom would be appreciated or an LTS/Leach's.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Plural Yank

A right touch today! Had been meaning to pop down to Swine Moor fo the last week whilst the 3 Pectoral Sandpipers and today seemed the prime time to have a look see as I was enroling for my third year at Hull Uni. Unfortunatly it was absolutely pissing down all day. On my trip back i thought blow it - lets have bash. I pitched up and bang the first wader i get onto is one of the Pecs. There were loads of Lapwings about which were dead jumpy - undoubtedly due to the big female Sparrowhawk that floated past. As things settled out I got onto 2 Pecs and a couple of Ruff. The Teal were busy chasing the big group of snipe probing almost unseen until they flew. I may have seen all three Pecs BUT i didnt manage to be sure to nail them down simultaneously but a definite 2. The rain picked up and the scope started steaming up so i bugged out pretty quickly to return to a parcel. Burnout Paradise is magic...shame Im barely allowed near the HDTV.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Ringing & a Radde's

Ringing today at our site near Filey was rubbish, we caught a mere 3 birds - singles of Blackbird, Dunnock & Chaffinch. Lots of Vismigging while we were there though and how we didn't catch hundreds of birds i don't know - loads about. Overhead we had Siskin, Redpoll, Song Thrush, Redwing, Blackbird and Skylarks (at a great height). Went up to filey for a quick stomp on the tip and parish woods with a single Whinchat the highlight although we did have a very dark looking Tree Pipit that flew off high inland before we got a handle on it.

News of a Radde's and possible Serin at South Landing had me heading there. No sign of the Serin when i got there but the Radde's was there although very difficult to pin down often grubbing about for 10 minutes at a time. Brief views as it alighted on the fence or surrounding bushes before heading back up into the canopy for a while. Bit rubbish really but another Yorks tick - 1 more for 250.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Brown Shrike

As I was getting ready for work last night I got a text telling me of the first Brown Shrike for mainland Britain. At flam. It was too late to go there and then but I was bricking it hoping it would stick. The only thing to do was to stick the scope in the car and hope. Night shift dragged and I was away at 7.15 headed for old fall. The bird was playing hard to get, with only a Red-back Shrike juv showing on arrival. Somebody made a right good call with it sat in shade and bang -ther was a distant adult male Brown Shrike in my scope turning its head so the sun caught its super and mask. Woohoo! 2 Shrike field.

The twitch was very busy with the great and the good turning up en masse. Saw a couple of familiar faces down there but missed most of the Bf boys - only Schiffornis (Andy) in passing. The bizzies decided to close half the road as mental drivers nearly killed half the UK400 club. In all the commotion I decided to have a wander down to old fall for some YB action. Not to be dissapointed between 4-10 of these beauties kept leaping into my bins and then out. Again. Kertick (year). A brief view in the middle of the plantation of the juv RB Fly was a bit sexy as was the flyover of a few Lapland Buntings. Missed the Dick's Pipit but I was shattered.

Headed back up to the shrike for second helpings and it showed beautifully if at a mental distance, feeding vigourously on the hedge at the far end of the field next to the golf course. Very happy. Plus with all the other megas going off between 11 and 1 all I can hear in my head is RBA mega alerts.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The Tops!

First of all I'd like to thank my 3,000th viewer from Inverkeithing - the readers keep me blogging even if half of those hits are my own :). After no further ado - today.

I was going on my first Birdforum mett in a while after missing the last 2. During these i'd missed Black Kite, Shore Lark and Little Tern - 2 lifers and a Yorks tick. Today iscored none of those things but had a great time. It was good to meet Pete (NaturePete) and to reaquaint with Julie (Jay-jay) and see the rest of the usual crew (skink1978,bitterntwisted, marcus conway-ebirder, birdieboy123, keith dickinson, lawts & unclelawts) and a shame to miss Mark who slept in. Today we were off on the Yorkshire Belle scene of the Great Shear last year. I also nearly missed the boat when i slept through my alarm only to be woken by Julie outside my house.

I race off and a McD's does the trick to wake me. The cruise itslef was anticlimactic with 7 Bonxies a couple of Arctic Skuas and singles of Sooty and Manx shearwater. Other bits included a couple of Little Gulls, lots of Porpoise and some Common Scoter, all fairly standard. Upon landing and fish and chips most decided to go to Tophill Low.

Landing at Tophill we immediately see a birder on something. A Hobby it turns out and we get good views of 2 birds. There had been no sign of the RF Falcon in the morning and we duly went elsewhere first seeing a Spotshank and a few Ruff and single Dunlin at Watton Borrow Pits. Sat on the pylon was a Common Buzzard. The azure streak of a Kingfisher zipped by and we made our way to South Marsh, where bar a few teal there was nothing. Until a Falcon appeared over the trees. Slate-grey all over and red vented with red boots. We all got flight views followed by it preening in a tree. In order to get better views we moved round to the side of O res but it failed to show. An adult Hobby zipped through but that was our lot. A check on D res revealed the BNG distantly plus a Sparrowhawk over and a Fox in the fields. Very excellent.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Unexpected Bonus. Poor Result

Was at work this morning when at half 6 my phone goes off - do i fancy an afternoon out birding for the Wilson's Phalarope at Alkborough, North Lincolnshire. Of course i said once i was rested i would be free and easy. Arriving at Alkborough i was very impressed with the place. Formed by a breach of the river bank, its a great wetland where we saw Knot, Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin plus a number of Little Egrets but no Phalarope. It was low tide and it seems that determines whether the bird is present. After this dip we headed up to Tophill Low to see the male Red-footed Falcon plus i could clear up a bit of a bitch tick in the form of Red-crested Pochard. As it was the only falcon we saw was a male Merlin flushed on the approach road which then sat in the top of the tree. Very nice. Upon arrival we managed to not see the falcon or the hobby that was kicking about with it. Checking D reervoir we managed 5 Red-crested Pochards including 4 males in various stages of eclipse with one nearly in full summer. Also knocking about was a Black-necked Grebe in winter plumage. Off on the seabrd cruise tomorrow- could be quiet, fingers crossed we get something.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Flushers!!!!!

Much indignation is being shown on Birdforum about the flushers! Especially directed at one person who has been suitably reprimanded - Dan your a bad lad! However its the selfish gits that entered the field to locate the bird first thing yesterday that ruined it for everybody and i hope they dip everything they go for. Private Land is private land and there is no right to roam. I hope this doesnt lead to things being suppressed but rather think it will. As for me - my birdnews provider has gone haywire and im struggling to find out about stuff. Which aint best.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Great Big Massive Snipe!!!

Having been on nights I was fast asleep when Mike rang at 12 today. 'There is a Great Snipe at Speeton and they are gonna flush it at 2'. This took a while to sink in as I had been fast asleep but I quickly got my wits about me and got up to the site. I was one of the first to arrive and probably 80-100 people eventually did turn up including Mike(skink1978), John(birdieboy123) and Dave Tucker. We formed a (dis)orderly line as the scrub was walked by some local birders. Nothing. We walked the entire top half of the field where the bird had been seen previously. Nothing. Then Mark Thomas and a few other birders walked the adjacent scrub in the next field (he had permission but nobody else did). A snipe shot along the small band of set aside but I didnt see it as somebody jumped in the way. Some people got the white in the tail and the wing bar but it was decided to try and flush the bird back into the field that had access. It was walked from the other direction and gave a magic flyby showing all the features and generally being about as big as a Woodcock or so it felt. Mint. Fingers crossed Lawts gets it later as it turns out the one on Saturday was a common...

p.s. on drive to work last night finally caught up with Tawny Owl with a flyby at Little Driffield.

p.p.s Had a good research round the Warbler at Flamborough and am now happy it was a Booted.

Monday, 15 September 2008

RB Flicker

I agree its a dumb nickname but its a cool looking bird, especially a sum plum male like the one I saw today at the blow hole on Flamborough. Also a nice selection of Whinchats, Pied Flys and Redstarts including a flat one on the road. Included is a terrible photo of the flycatcher

Sunday, 14 September 2008

PG Nightmare

Woke up to the news of GWE on my old stomping ground at Bank Island. Gonna hopefully pay homage over the next few days. As it was I headed to a flash near Lissett to dip Curlew Sandpiper (looking into the sun so couldnt pick em out) when Dan Pointon text to tell me of a Savi's Warbler at Flamborough. Off i trotted only for it to be re-id'd as a Reed Warbler upon my arrival. As I was landing I'd got wind of a PG Tips at Spurn - I tried to set off but my starter motor wasn't playing. A further bird around the head produced Redstarts, Spot Flys and Whinchats but nothing rarer. For the second day running Id failed to get a handle on a passage Honey Buzzard which are passing down the east coast in large numbers. Also looks like ive missed a Red-footed Falcon at Tophill. Spurn tomorrow is sounding inviting at the moment!!

Pics from flam


Very Obliging Little Stint

One of a couple of Wrynecks showing at Bay Brambles

The Booted Warbler, or is it a garden warbler? amorphous blob? This could have been the bird but it and a garden warbler hunkered down and fed when the mist rolled in and you could only jut make it out, could have been either.

~Hmm...

What an afternoon!! I got up at 3 after my night with the intention of catching some late aftenoon birds up at flam. Wife tells me Marcus (ebirder) has text saying there is a great snipe at flamborough. I ring and find out that i have missed the organised flushes. I get in contact with the boys on the ground (Lawts and Mike) who tell me about loads of common, potential for scarce including the most showy Little Stint in the entire world.

I land scoring some half decent shots of the stint being interupted by a phone call from mike - apparently Bay brambles was holding 3 Wrynecks - a much needed lifer (dont know how ive missed em before). When I got across I quickly get a couple of out of focus shots on the closer of the two that is showing and a good look at a better marked individual that is a bit further away. Then my phone goes again - Lawts who has slipped away is chasing a guy who has told him about a Booted Warbler near Old Fall. We peg up there and quickly get on the bird but no ID is nailed down (milky tea coloured small, slight hippolais with a weak bill, distinctly concolourous, pale below and light brown above, pumping its tail slowly and deliberatly occasionally (as opposed to the 2 garden warblers it was knocking about with)). Rumour circulates that it is an eastern olly or a garden warbler - it goes out on the info services as both but it was definitely not the common and may have been the rare - im not qualified enough to say so. Some images were taken by the guy who runs the Buckton Birder blog and hopefully the ID can be cleared up. Got some stick on BF from ppl not on the scene and they can stick it - It was not a Garden Warbler, that much I know. Some people going on 2 bird theory which works for me as there were in fact 3 birds in the hedge. At the twitch a few people were moaning that all they could see was garden warbler but this was due to the fog rolling in at 5.15 putting all the birds into the bottom of the rambles with only the odd tail or wing showing.

Naturally I will put my shots of the Wryneck and Stint up asap but it was too dark to shoot the warbler.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Modern Life Is Rubbish

Sorry to steal a title from Blur but they are right. The collapse of the free market as we know it, the resurgent Dollar (how - it was their fault and now we pay the price) and predictions of financial meltdown in Germany, Spain and the UK all have absolutely nothing to do with the reasons i'm skint. But i am and this means sitting around doing not a lot on my days off. Every day I intend to go birding but i wake up too late - am I fazing? I dont think so - I still twitch new local birds and delight in finding something new when I do go out. So whats the reason for my malaise? Call of Duty 4 - im rubbish at it but i cant kick my addiction. Hours i prat about on it and get blasted to smithereens by 12 year olds from massachausetts. What a monumental waste of time. But i love it.

On the birding front - an untwitchable Barred Warbler at Old fall being the only bird of real note (although some Spotshanks a Swine Moor continue to put that place on the map). This weekend looks pretty shit hot on the east coast, probably Yorkshire north again.

P.s. England are winning in Croatia as i write this - im sure that wont have lasted by the time you read this but it is making me smile a little more.

p.p.s. Lance Armstrong - you wont win anything especially if you cant take your 'supplements'.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Double D

Thats D for Dip. Nothing too mega just an icky & rb fly. But a bit of a pain seeing as a tour of several likely sites had me hoping for self found scarce. Not to be - a flyover Redwing was a nice early surprise.

No early morning start as ange had organised for me to sit in for a workman to pre-assess some work on making our washing machine gap big enough for a washing machine. Stupid fucking builders. First up at 11 was Speeton church yard. Scored diddly. Moved onto Hoddy Cows scoring little more bar a couple of Willow wobblers and sngle Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler ( it was as i left here that the Redwing over flew). Stopped on at Bempton checking the Dell with the results a paltry single Chiffer and a brace of Goldcrests. Rubbish. Had a much needed Magnum to lift my mood and checked the birdnews. Apart from the Brown-headed Cowbird (wtf?!?!) there was a RB Fly and an Icky in Old Fall.

Rocked up scoring Redstarts by the gallon. A dude tour was busy stringing these as the RB Fly but that was sadly absent. The hedge produced further Redders and a millions of Wheatears were on the field with a scattering of Whinchats guarding the posts. The plantation held a year tick in the form of Paddy Fly (couldnt be arsed to visit Bolotn Abbey in spring) plus even more redstarts and some Spot Flys. Infact after the first pied fly it started shitting em - they were all over. Nothing any more interesting than that unfortunately but not a terrible day.

Maybe tomorrow - especially if that cowbird gets nailed down...

Sunday, 7 September 2008

It looks like a cat

Apparently. So my wife said of the Long-eared Owl that was sat sleeping in a hedgerow at Tophill Low this afternoon. My best views of this difficult to pin down species after an earlier dip this year at Fairburn. No pics unfortunately as the camera only wanted to focus on the branches in front of it, stupid lack of manual focus.

I was on nights last night so was pleasantly surprised to find my wife suggesting a walk at Tophill. I had obviously checked my bird alerts and was well aware of the presence of Garganey, BNG, Little Gull and the aforementioned LEO. Unfortunatley the Gulls had cleared out and we didnt have time (and my wife lacked the inclination) to scour D res for the Grebe and Garganey but I have seen plenty of each this year. Only other birds of interest were a Common Sandpiper and Snipe on South Marsh. Still no Green Sandpiper this year. Also Tophill Low news worthy is the discovery of roosting Nauthusius Pipistrelles amongst the Soprano Pips in the visitor centre (a bat detector and a ninja suit may need to be procured for some underhand batting).

Amir Khan got stuck on is arse twice in 54 seconds and still the new Audley thinks he is gonna win world champs - not unless you've got a hell of a defence because with a glass jaw like that you aren't gonna win shit. England football team = gutless wankers. Nuff said.

Here for your delectation is the funniest and most impressive thing i have seen in ages.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Scarewood House

Now I know thats a terrible title for a post on bats at Harewood House but im under inspired today as it was a long (but good)evening. We scored 4 bat species Common and Soprano Pipistrelle - the commons in the woods and the soprano's around the waters edge plus we had some Natterer's Bats in a group of mixed Myotis bats over the lake - but we couldn't be sure of any Daubenton's or Whiskered Bats. The final species was a couple of Brown Long-eared Bats which fluttered around a conifer. The bat detecters picked up a Leisler's Bat but that pushed off. We had been told to expect Leisler's as they are a Harewood speciality which feed around the lake margins at sunset. Unfortunately the introductory lecture which was a little dull, dragged on for the best part of 75 minutes and we missed them, as they apparently get displaced by the Soprano Pipistrelles. The only other disappointment was the lack of any Noctule Bats but this was compensated by finding out they are the only audible bat and my ex used to moan about the bats being very loud at hers and askig me why I couldn't hear them - Ker(mammal)tick. All in all this increased my bat list from 2 (Common Pipistrelle & Daubenton's) to 6 species. Very chuffed.

On the way back me and Mike tried for some Daubenton's over the Wansford Canal but no such luck. A couple of glimpsed Barn Owls being our reward. We do have a public access place for Leisler's Bats now though and we reckon we should see these beauties soon.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Alpine Birds

Check out Dale Forbes's blog Alpine Birds. Some cool stuff from the roof of Europe.

Tonight I'm off batting, not the cricket related activity but on a bat walk at Harewood House with a couple of mates from BF, Mike & John. Heres hoping we get some good stuff. Obviously the results will be here tomorrow.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Barmston

Went for a paddle out today seeing as Ive done next to no birding all summer. Decided to visit Barmston, scene of a Little Auk mega feast last year (1000 bird day!) as a presumed juv Kentish Plover had been seen there yesterday. Nearly had a last minute change of mind when a GWE pitched up at long nab but it pushed off pronto (and was later seen flying over Scaling dam). I held no great hopes for relocating this but its a nice spot for a seawatch and a wander. Plenty of bits and pieces moving including a gorgeous summer plumage Red-throated Diver preening on the sea. Also a bit surreal were some Shelducks sat about 300m out plus Great Crested Grebe. Passing by 50ish Shoveler and 100ish Teal were expected fare. No shearwaters or Skuas and only a handful of Common and Sarnie Terns. Very little on the passerine front with Pied Wag, Linnets, Sand Martin and Swallow. Not so much as a Wheatear so didnt thrash the marsh too hard due to total lack of enthusiasm. Grilled the waders on the beach which were mainly juv Ringos with a couple of sum plum Sanderlings and a sprinkling of black-bellied Dunlin. A detour via Hornsea Mere home brought a few Little Gulls and some other dross. Was good to be out and the Little Gulls pushed the year list onto 225.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Cornwall Birding

Just flagging up a new link for expatriot Yorkshire man Paul, the proprioter of Cornwall Birding. Its a cracking website full of rare details, pics, gen and all round goodness with a cornish slant. Make sure you have a look.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Is that a crow?

No you dumb fuck, thats the Black Stork. You know the fact it was black and white and 3 times the size of the attendent crows gave me a hint but some dumbass got terribly confused. Admittedly it was at about half a miles distance so not optimum views but not bad. A bonus Pere and Buzzard with a Greenshank giving the Pere the slip. Just. Was a pleasant start to the day. But. The Ibis came back on the pager at Swilly just as I got home. Fucker. And. And im not on the west coast of Ireland which if not literally sinking under the weight of yankee warblers (they dont weigh much) it is metaphorically. 2 Yellow Warblers and a Northern Waterthrush sound good to me. Mind you the yellow warbler wouldnt be a lifer and as I dont count Ireland as UK then it'd only be a WP tick. That and I cant afford the flights (need to justify it somehow!).

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Black Dog

Mass apologies oh sacred readership. Im sorry Im not posting regularly at the moment. Im sure tales of Little Stints and Gulls would have your appetite truely whetted but Im busy saving my passes as the lexicon goes for a special Autumnal assualt on the East Coast rares of 2008. Whilst no birding has forgone in the last couple of weeks Im relieved to tell of a good Yorks bird on my old stomping ground, the LDV(ish). Apparently there is a juv Black Stork on Cawood Ings nr Escrick and tomorrow I WILL see it. As one of the birds that got me fired up on birding in the first pace its only fair i pay due diligence. Especially after last weeks debacle of a non attempt at a Yorks tick in the form of Glossy Ibis literally outside my wifes old school gates (shes a teacher, im not a pervert). ANywho, enough porn thoughts for today back to the matter in hand. Ive just wasted 90 minutes of my life watching American Pie: Beta House. Dont do it. Thakn good for the powers of Pinot Grigio.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Cornish Pasty

Spent the last week in Northern Cornwall at a little village called Delabole. Very wet and grey for the most part but had a corking time. Visits to the Eden Project, Newquay and Rock/Padstow were interjected with 3 days of birding. Last Sunday I spent the morning on Gwennap Head. Scored a lifer in the form of Balearic Shearwater, infact quite a few of em. On the walk up to the watchpoint flushed a Peregrine from the path at a distance of some 10 yards which made me jump. A couple of bonxies went through nose to tail, as did an Arctic. A slow stream of Manxies went through with one every few minutes but with the strong SW'ers that had been running for a few days I was hoping for something better. A couple of Sooty Shearwaters went past but we were getting hungry. Nipped for a pasty and upon coming back found out a Cory's Shearwater had gone through. This was to be the theme of the week. An afternoon trip to the Hayle Estuary produced up to 20 Little Egrets and many gulls and Curlew. Nothing good amongst the gulls unfortunately. A Common Sandpiper and Oystercatcher were the only other waders on a falling tide. Rain forced me home. Various Ravens and Buzzards were seen throughout the day.

On the tuesday I got late word of a pass out and it was too late to travel a great distance so I made a trip to Trevose head. Initially it was very quiet but had a glut of small shears pass through on the back of a shower including a single Balearic - my first self found. 3 Peregrines duelled overhead dive bombing each other as close as you like. A Kestrel was acting like a hobby giving very vigourous chase to House Martins on the headland - i didnt know they were that good at flying. That said it was unsuccessful. Families of Wheatears buzzed around the headland and Id had my fill as the sea became very quiet.

On the Friday I made an early start and headed back to Porthgwarra. Scored and early Balearic followed by a slow stream of manxies with the odd sooty and balearic. A Bonxie went through hassling gulls and gannets and a sleek looking dark phase Arctic was nice but the biggest bonus was an adult pale phase Pomarine Skua - another lifer. A couple of basking sharks at distance were cool and a very distant large Shear was no more than a shape at about 1.5 miles out in the haze. Harbour Porpoises gave sprodic appearances. I dived off for a shot at Dartfords on the lizard and dipped those. Whilst I was away a Cory's went through. I returned to see absolutely nothing save a few manxies. Rubbish!

ps begging for a pass on the thursday failed as I had to hold my mates baby as the girls went shopping. 40 Cory's and 10 Great Shearwaters went passed Pendeen that day, my intended destination. Dammit!!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Sharm el-Sheikh



A week with my wife and a couple of friends on the Red Sea coast promised little in the way of birding, especially as I had been to Egypts Red Sea coast before. Despite this I managed the heady total of 9 lifers including a few 'Good' birds. The hotel grounds provided merely House Sparrow, Laughing Dove and Rock Dove - not a heady mix, with Laughing Dove being a pretty standard bird in these parts. A single Rock Martin over the pool on the 2nd day was the first lifer of the trip. Other birds seen on the Hotel complex were a few passing White-eyed Gulls offshore and a female Common Kestrel a couple of times harrasing the pigeons and doing passing trade in dragonflies. Can I just say at this point - if your going to Sharm, the Sunrise Hotels are rubbish (unlike the sister hotel in Hurghada which was ace). Food was bland and unexiting, service was poor and sullen and sunbeds which the signs said were unreservable had to be towelled at 4 in the morning to stand a chance by a pool. Fuck that! We booked into the 4 star Island Garden but upon arrival we were told there was no room and were moved to the supposed 5 star island view (the Island being Tiran Island halfway to Saudi Arabia across the gulf of Aquaba.

Back to birds, I was suprised to see so Little on the sea but we were in a bay and thus passage may have been occuring further out. Also the reef shelf wasn't massive and thus didnt prove to be a productive feeding ground unlike Hurghada which had Osprey, Sooty Gull and Caspian Tern as well as teh White-eyed Gulls. A single Trip to the Water Treatment Works on the Dahab road out of Na'ama bay was my only briding trip of the week. The first birds we clapped eyes on were 6 Collared Doves. A good examination ensued and I was satisfied witht the Rosy Breast, large collar and pale undertail that these were African Collared Doves. They had a vwery different 'feel' to their European counterpart despite looking very similar. Im unsure as to the status of African Collared Dove on Sinai but suspect that these were a good sighting. The second bird seen was a single White morph Western Reef Egret - further round a further 20 or so of these birds were seen including two dark morph birds. This was my 300th Bird for the Western Palearctic and a good one at that, 301 was a Whiskered Tern that dropped onto one of the pools next to us. A slightly unexpected find but I guess passage has started! Spur-winged Plovers were abundant and noisy as were 3 Black-winged Stilts that alarm called around the pools. Squacco Heron, Night Heron and Cattle Egret were all recorded very quickly with the first being another lifer. Several of each species were observed. 2 White Storks were flushed by my companion who as a non-birder had the fieldcraft of an Articulated Lorry. Sorry Mark, but its true! A further 2 White Stork carcasses seemed to indicate hunting around the pools as did the skeletal remains of a Reef Egret. Waders started to flush from the central pools witha few Common Sandpipers and good numbers of Temminck's Stint (lifer) and a small Tringa which appeared to be Green Sandpiper but by this time it was getting dark. Passerine interest was kept up by a nesting pipit like bird which the first I saw of was as it darted into its hole, never to return. House Sparrows flitted around and a few Hirundines flew over the pools. These consisted of a couple of Barn Swallows resembling savignii and Rock Martins including one juv that was sat on the side of a pool allowing very close approach. Unfortunately there was no sign of the Sandgrouse despite leaving in the dark. Perhaps the quadbike disturbance was too much or they needed half an hour longer.

A trip to Ras Mohammed failed to produce the hoped for Striated Heron amongst the mangroves (infact our guide point to some scrubby bushes and claimed these were mangroves). What was seen were many Lesser Crested Terns and a few Bridled Terns feeding amonst them. The ball and chain spotted a Dolphin sp. Probably a Bottlenose of some description. Little else was seen. On our way back to Sharm, a Brown-necked Raven hopped onto a lamp Post for a brief naked eye view. And thats the entire trip. Heres hoping Cornwall this coming week is more productive.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

How to Ring a bird

The most important thing when ringing a bird is to get the ring on its leg. Dropping the bird as you get it out of the net is not ideal as they tend to fly away. Doh. Managed to chuck away a ringing tick in the form of a juv Blackcap which was a shame but otherstuff was a couple of Chiffchaffs, both juvs, 1 huge and 1 tiny, a wren and 2 Blackbirds. Highly exciting considering we had all the nets up and were there for 5 hours. Nevermind - it was good pottering about! Had my trainers 8 year old son about so things were never quiet. Next trip is gonna be mid august after the Cornwall Hols. Talk is of registering it as a constant effort site next year once im a bit more capable. Have got the Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler thing to a fine art with the emargination of P6. Im sure I will make a mess of it soon though.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Mott the Hoopoe

For some reason I decided to check my emails as i strolled to my car coming home from work today, and most fortuitous it was too. A Hoopoe on my way home - this being the 2nd sub-rare from my commute and there was no success with the RC Starling. Luckily I fared better today as a very obliging and oblivious Hoopoe grubbed around in a farmers yard amongst some trailers. I watched it for about half an hour constantly feeding. Apparently it has been present for 4 days and it hasnt been heard to call yet so perhaps its a female.

Yesterday I also did some birdwatchering, dipping the RC Pochards at North Cave but finally finding the Little Owl tree and getting distant views. Another North Cave tick in the form of Corn Bunting, singing away was cool. Other birds of note were a kettle of 4 Buzzards of the hills and a juv. Common Tern being fed small Roach at the bottom of the hide I was sat in was quite cool. Less notable were the numpties flushing everything off of reedbed lake by blundering off track past fishing pegs and right in to the middle of the reserve. Nobs.

Off to Egypt (Sharm-el-Sheikh) on Sunday but ringing tomorrow plus gonna try and gets some photos of the Hoopoe in the PM so maybe another post before I go away. We shall see!

Here is some Mott the Hoopoe for your delectation:

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Miserable shits

Ive got something thats nagging at me and for a change its not my wife. Im in no way a grumpy old man, Im a happy positive, chipper kind of bloke but Im pissed off. Too many miserable old fuckers in birding are moaning about everything. Apparently you cant use birding slang or your a tosser. Unless the slang is acceptable jargon approved by said birder. Well, no fuck off you miserable shit a sprosser is a sprosser cos thrush nightingale is a crap name. Ickys and Melodies are just contractions. Its gonna happen. The punks make some good points on their blog and the real elitists are those that whinge about this languages use. Its only excluding if you chose not to use it. Dipping and being gripped off are acceptable descriptives. Are we not supposed to have any terminology to describe our complex and bizarre hobby. Political correctness gone mad (I should write for the Daily Mail, Richard Littlejohn eat your heart out). Also there are some bloody negative souls on Birdforum and as a regular user im sick of them pointing out why something is not necessarily right (not wrong). Get a life. I like to view things as possible, just because your a cynical old shit doesn't mean I dont want to believe in father christmas or that a Stork/Duck is wild. Rarr!

p.s. made a winning debut for Nafferton CC last night and we kncked off 64 for the loss of 3 wickets and I finished on a princely 4*. Lets hope it goes nicely tomorrow!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Start me up

At a secret location somewhere between Humanby and Rudston 2 men were trying to find an undiscovered gem of a ringing site. This may have been achieved in a copse backing onto an old quarry which looks incredible for migrants being a mile or so from the clifftops of filey and with enough habbo to hold stuff in. Should be rare warblers everywhere come september/october. As it is today we were flattening the rides and planning where to place nets. I got stung by nettles lots. Ringing results were average to bloody awful with a pair of dunnocks, a robin and a Willow Warbler (which hit the net 3 times!). Birds seen around the nets included some Stock Doves, Bullfinches and a female Redstart stood on one of the net loops inside the pole. Rats! Going again next week.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Further Bogeys

As i haven't done any birding in the last few days here is some more bogey madness. Its more a record for posterity than an interesting read. This time is WP bogeys.

  • 1 Cetti's Warbler
  • 2 Red-crested Pochard
  • 3 Twite
  • 4 Ring-necked Parakeet
  • 5 Hawfinch
  • 6 Bean Goose
  • =7 Temminck's Stint
  • =7 Shore Lark
  • 9 Stone Curlew
  • =10 Ferruginous Duck
  • =10 Cirl Bunting
  • =10 Short-toed Lark
  • 13 Ring-necked Duck
  • =14 Whiskered Tern
  • =14 Spannish Sparrow
  • =14 Squacco Heron
  • =14 Wryneck
  • 18 Short-toed Treecreeper
  • =19 Black-eared Wheatear
  • =19 Short-toed Eagle
  • =19 Pomarine Skua
  • =19 Collared Pratincole

Well at least I dont have to leave the country for my next WP blocker. Im crap!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Bogey birds

I've discovered a new way to work out your bogey birds in your list be it local/national etc. Check out http://www.bubo.org/listing where the tables of lists can be converted into tables of blockers. These tables cabe reversed to see which are anti-blockers i.e. blue tit, crow, house sparrow etc. Work through the tables until you find the first bird you havent seen. I did it for my national list and no surprises arose really but for my Yorkshire list a few shockers did creep up. I guess with the smaller sample size some degree of skew can occur. Here are my bogeys according to bubo.

Nationally
  1. Cetti's Warbler
  2. Dartford Warbler
  3. Red-crested Pochard
  4. Firecrest
  5. Hawfinch
  6. Twite
  7. Bean Goose
  8. Ring-necked Parakeet
  9. Chough
  10. Black-winged Stilt
  11. Temminck's Stint
  12. Great White Egret
  13. Green-winged Teal
  14. Ring-necked Duck
  15. Red-necked Phalarope
  16. Hoopoe
  17. Wryneck
  18. Pomarine Skua
  19. Spotted Crake
  20. Ring-billed Gull

This seems to show a few of things, 1) where I live (oop north away from all the 'local' stuff) and 2) that i've only been birding a few years as there are a few fairly basic birds in there, finally 3) I'm lazy and can't be arsed to twitch crap thats too far like the stilts and Great White Egrets that i have seen abroad.

Yorkshire

  • 1) Ring-necked Duck
  • 2) Icterine Warbler
  • 3)=Common Rosefinch
  • 3)=Spotted Crake
  • 3)=Little Tern
  • 6)=Hoopoe
  • 6)=Firecrest
  • 6)=Pomarine Skua
  • 6)=Red-crested Pochard
  • 10)=Asian Desert Warbler (What!!!!)
  • 10)=Temminck's Stint
  • 10)=Shore Lark
  • 10)=Dotterel
  • 10)=Bean Goose
  • 10)=Marsh Warbler
  • 16)=Booted Warbler (A bit surprising)
  • 16)=Glossy Ibis
  • 16)=Richard's Pipit
  • 16)=Pallas's Warbler
  • 16)=Hume's Warbler
  • 16)=Quail
  • 16)=Long-tailed Skua
  • 16)=Laughing Gull
  • 16)=Bluethroat
  • 16)=Great White Egret

Most of the weirdness is due to low numbers putting in Yorks lists on Bubo perhaps BUT its worth noting that a lot of the easy national stuff doesn't get anywhere near the top 20 Yorkshire bogeys. And Asian Desert Warbler does which is frankly mental.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Another Shag in Benidorm

Sorry but it has to be done - enter Shag and benidorm into google and where is the first hit? Its here!! Above Senorshag - a stag do site. I should be so proud.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Honey, i bigged the buzzards!

Well it finally happened. After many attempts I nailed not one but 2 Honey's in a quick raptor watch at Wykeham. For those that dont know (or frankly, care!) I have been to Wykeham numerous time, spent hours at Great Ryburgh and even seen a 99% probable on the Dutch/German border whilst shitfaced (that record was judged unsafe in the 2007 review as i was 16 hours into a pan-european binge drink and couldn't talk). Anyhow - rocked up and a load of birders from barnsley were there having seen FA all morning. Within 5 minutes I get on a female(?) honey with ginger barring which sat across the valley until suddenly disappearing. Up comes the reason. A Gos is giving a Common Buzzard a hard time. 20 minutes later a Spitfire is practising for a big airshow (so im told) when we all latch on to a male (?) Honey Buzzard with fine grey barring on its chest a nice long tail, no chest band or commas etc etc which stayed up for a good 5 minutes giving mint views. More Common Buzzard and Goshawk sightings followed plus some heard only flyover crossers and siskin. Winner. No F**kin Black Kite tho.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The Tops

Popped into tophill low - not normally a place i'd visit in high summer but i had a mission, to secure a work placement for a 3rd year module. A quick chat with the warden, Richard and I had secured a placement at my nearest nature reserve. A quick scout about revealed little of note, the common warblers plus a nice view of a lesser whitethroat. Some just fledged common terns were pleasant but no waders yet.

Here is some reciprocal linkage to the Limestone Birders of Italy and Slovenia with a cracking little website: http://www.freewebs.com/limestonebirding

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Tour de farce

Oh bugger, i forgot to finish the scotland trip writeup. Bugger it - there is a full picture version on Marcus Conway's website and i wrote half of it so that'll do. There are some super pics and we nailed everything basically. Heres the link - http://www.freewebs.com/ebirder/blog.htm. Also just spent a week on one of the Clyde Islands, Great Cumbrae in fact. Was doing some research into Hoodies/Carrion Crows and also the spread of Japanese Knotweed Fallopia Japonica. Considering writing the Knotweed stuff as a full paper but we shall see. Birds of note included plenty of Hoodies and hybrids/intergrades, Black Guillemots, an unstreaked acro which would have been the 6th Reed Warbler or more likely the 2nd Marsh Warbler for Ayrshire (so im told) but i was too busy looking at the upland heath I was on at the time. Had a big fall of north eastern Willow Warblers, seemingly all this years crop. Pair of Ravens cavorted over the research station and a few Buzzards made up the numbers and I think thats it. Bailed on the latest Yorkshire meet on BF subsequently dipping the first yorks meet found rare (old money) in the form of Black Kite. Bar stewards. Might do some ringing soon. Might not. Did you see Father McKinney made the papers - good skills.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Im going out for a while to get high with my friends

The second day of my Scots fling was the one i'd been dreading as I'd been told many times about how hard Can bahn mor is to climb. Its not! It was tiring and cloudy but me and Marcus made a slow and steady trip up to one of the shorter munro's interspersed with loads of shortbread action and very few birds.

Prior to heading up we were some of the first out on the roads and got a few good spots in the process. A few Red Deer alongside the roads looking massive compared to the Roe's im used to here in sunny east yorkshire. A couple of Peregrines worked the ridges and an Osprey flew overhead. It took us about 3 hours to ascend the mountain which is an hour more than really necessary but we werent killing ourselves. When up there we searched and searched but the cloud base was in low. We couldn't see a thing. All of a sudden it lifts and a quick phone call to Dan Pointon (twitcher extraordinaire) soo had us looking in the right direction beyond the cairn. Quickly I got onto one, no two, no three Ptarmigan (which now has to be said patarmigan thanks to the bloke from abernethy forest who looked like the scabby guy from Something about Mary but with a brummy accent).

The three birds sat and posed nicely not remotely disturbed moving to within 15 feet or so of us and hunkering down in the wind. Marcus wasn't happy though - the cloud may have lifted but the light was still too crap for pictures. We pressed on another couple of hundred yards and the sun burst through like a neon torch. A scotsman in the car park had said as we started it was good for the soul and we knew what he mean't (but not what he'd eaten, he got up a good hour quicker than us and was retired. Bastard). The view was spectacular with the 4 highest mountains in the British Isles viewable. As we made our way back Marcus tripped over another showy group of 3 Patarmigan. Now these buggers would have sat on your lap and enclosed is a picture I took on a compact digital camera and no cropping or optical assistance. Whilst not the best shot you'll see, you can appreciate how close we were (without spooking them - ive heard about those guys that chase rarities to death and can assure you that when they flinched so did we, was just we had to move back to focus our cameras).

After giving these beauts a good slice of our time we pressed on back to the main path having given up on our other targ...hang fire whats that mewing like call? Well i'll tell thee, it was only a ruddy female Dotterel legging about like a crazy. She had obviously dropped in within the half hour we'd been past this point and after Marcus got a few snaps she bugged out quick as a flash. Enclosed Dotterel pic is by Marcus Conway.



We descended to the tune of Mipits and Tripits (fuck you those who dont like abbrevs.) plus the nasty thin song of Wheatears. Pah! They still look good though. Once back at the car we departed and Marcus did his usual trick of winding the window down so he could hear the song whilst I battled to get the radio on full blast. Im glad he won this time as he managed to pick out a couple of Wood Warblers when we passed the entrance to Loch an Eilein. We stopped and they duly showed tres badly. Not to worry, there only flash Willow Warblers with a cool song really. Doh.


Upon returning to Boat we tried the flashes leading in for some Sum Plum Slav action. Nothing. Then Loch Vaa which is supposed to be a goer. Still nada (apparently the water level is too high at Loch Vaa at the mo with no sedges exposed for nesting. Another lochan which we thought likely looking had a bloke with a big lense attached to it and we duly scored righteously with a brighlty coloured Slav hauling a lily pad into the sedges (breeding perhaps?).



The final stop of our day was at the Rothismurcus fish farm of Springwatch fame. A quick bit of bartering gained me free access and Marcus in for not too much to the Springwatch hide (yup its tres good!) and before we could reach it an Osprey had appeared above. Bearing in mind that Marcus hadn't had time to sit down I think his images are pretty good. Alas it was the only Osprey to come in that evening (and Marcus' other attempt was even bleaker). We headed home for a few jars and some Pro Evo action.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Hardcore you know the score!


A 3.30am get up on the 7th June to pick Marcus up at 6 from pudsey before going headlong to Scotland via Northumberland was the plan. We were headed for a week on Speyside, staying at Boat of Garten to nail the scots specialties. A quick journey through to Druridge bay where we were to try and nail a couple of Spoonbills. These evidently had moved along the coast but we did manage a Roseate Tern, Little Egret and an Otter at the various sites (Hauxley, Cresswell, Druridge Pools and East Chevington). Was the 3rd time Marcus had seen Otter at Druridge pools in 3 visits. Good skills.

We continued on to Long Nanny further north in Northumbs as it held a Lesser Grey Shrike. MArcus got some good shots and i got some out of focus rubbish digiscoped stuff. The bird showed really well for us for prolonged periods as we sat down in the dunes. Unfortunately that was ruined by other birders marching straight up to the bird. Here is a shit shot.

After this we hauled ass to the highlands making pretty good time. We decided on a sweepstake on Buzzard numbers for the holiday with my guess being 220 and Marcus going for the lowly figure of 150. 5 Buzzards in a kettle just after we crossed the border gave me plenty of optimism. An Osprey over a river as we headed towards Perth was a bonus lifer for both of us (we expected to score that on Speyside many times over). As we headed on the terrain became more hilly and Perth came and went. Eventually we arrived at Boat of Garten. Much smaller than I expected but according to Marcus right in the thick of it.

When we got to our cottage we dumped our stuff and full of enthusiasm went for a wander into the local woods. We heard Crested Tit and talked about Capercaillie but nothing was doing. In the end we had some crossbills which it seems likely that they were Scottish but we had nothing to compare them with and left them in the pending category. It went dark at 11pm. Thats quite late!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Bleurgh

Starlings seen today, possibly 50 or so. Number with any trace of pink. Zero.

Funny Starling

Gonna try for an adult pink stink on my commute home tommorrow. If successful, will try and get some shots. Its a big detour for me. 200 metres. Going to Scotland on Saturday to try for the Scots specialities with Marcus Conway. Will hopefully be able to loan some shots from Marcus for the blog (please let me :) ). Just heard that the A66 is closed to cars on my way up. Dammit! Fingers crossed the Lesser Grey Shrike in Northumbs.

Friday, 30 May 2008

East Yorks Is Mint!

Bit of a rubbish title but hey! Creativity and night shifts dont run side by side. Be thakful young reader that I have the energy to regail todays tale at all.
A trip to see one of the many scarce/rares that ive missed in my move got me good views of a Male Red-backed Shrike at the Old Tip in Filey. Little else of note other than a JTW521 who promptly informed me of some bits and bats at Old Fall. Journeyed down to Flam where a dip on a Great Reed Warbler/ Savi's Combo was eased by a female Golden Oriole flying into the plantation. A Nightingale flushed along the hedge and I have a feeling the small flycatcher with the Spotted I was watching was a fluffed female Red-throated but I cant say for certain with only brief views. Some song from a Marsh pretending to be a Swallow didnt make up for not seeing the bird but work called and I had to leg it. The whole hedge was dripping with birds and everything felt rare, shame I didn't quite have the time to put the effort in but a couple of lifers and year ticks are very nice.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

One more...

oh alright then



All together now, Nellie the elephant packed her trunk...

Wheres the birds?

Sorry, complete lack of birding over last few days has mean no updates, but here for you delectation is the new Ting Tings video (it got to bloody no1, how did a decent song do that). Shes fit. The songs Hypnotic. P.s. ive got an exam on Thursday and am moving Friday so will be very slow in updating cos i will ned to get re-wired to t'internet. But there is a couple of Scottish trips to anticipate my loyal readership. Ciao for now

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Up with the lark

Leaving my slumber at the disgusting hour of 5am, i trotted off to selby to do my BBS transects. Dull as with the highlight, if you can call it that a single song thrush. Called in at a secret location on the way back and got amazing views of a Woodlark to about 15 feet. I only noticed the bird when it was flushed by a jogger. Bonkers. Also saw a Green Woodie yaffling away, a few Tree Pipits mobbing a Cuckoo, a Great Spot bounding away and a family of Stonechats including the male feeding the youngsters. Amazing.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Cheeri-O

Dont ever take fish ecology. It blows big style. Think i may have made a complete mess of the exam. Not that you give a shit, all you want to know is which birds ive been chasing round yorkshire this week. Well the answer is none. Yet. Went for the Golden O at Flamboro today but that was diptastic but did have a sexy male White Wag land on the path infront of me. A couple of Garden Warblers were the sum total of my payoff. Also called in at Swine Moor en route. A Greenshank and a single Wood Sandpiper (no flocks) were the prime pickings. The water is rapidly disappearing and the heat haze was a bugger.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

subbuteo and a hat-trick

Thats a Hobby to me and you. Or 2 of em. Thoughts turned to finding my own hawking falcons after yesterdays skor of the Red-foot. Local patched it and had a male & female aerial jousting at a great height over the pool hide followed by a later sighting up near the tower hide. A cuckoo that couldn't sing properly was a second site tick of the day for me, being very obvious and flying around the pool. Didnt see one last year and they are all over now! Also on the pool was a striking New Zealand Shoveller, a very pretty bird. Unfortunately it was getting involved with the local birds so lets hope it doesnt manage to pull one eh! Down at the pool I saw a male Garganey fly across the marsh and then a second bird was seen at distance in the haze preening also a drake. And that was the hat-trick, the third site tick of the day (Hobby, Cuckoo and Garganey). Year list marches onto 191. Site list is now on nelson. One arm, one eye, one bollock.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Red-footed Stunner

Just got back from Pugney's where I spent a couple of hours in the company of a beautiful lady. A stunning female Red-footed Falcon, a lifer in every sense was hawking away around the trees to the south east of the boating lake showing beautifully. A few common terns were the only other birds of note. A brief view of a possible Arctic was nice but didnt look too hard. No WWBT. The falcon showed down to 15 feet at times eating on the wing and occasionally getting hassled by a gull or corvid. A cuckoo bubbled in the background.


Yesterday I had another vagrant from southern Europe, this time a nice male Woodchat Shrike. Again a very obliging bird but a bit of a hit and run for me (was still late for work). This time it was by canal scrape, Spurn point. Had several in Spain last month but they taste sweeter in Yorkshire!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Gargeous

Drake Garganey. Not hiding. North Duffield Carrs. Beaut. Not like the invisible 7 at Wheldrake. Bastards.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Adder nuff

A message from Mike (Skink1978 fom bf), had me scampering to Allerthorpe common to search for Adders. Had a corking couple of hours with a self found first in the form of a three inch baby snake. I thought there must be loads if I could find one before any real effort was put in. This was reinforced when we got onto the common proper as Mike found a super male snake actively hunting. It got a bit warm from then so the snakes were too active and the tins too hot and thus we saw no further adders but a few Common Lizards. I was very chuffed. Went up to Castle Howard after and had amazing views of three Black Terns over the grea lake. Gorgeous birds in full dress. Best bit was pointing them out to a couple who were new to birdwatching and seeing there mouths drop. Fantastic.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Throne Moor Bf Meet

Up well before the lark at 3 am for an early morning walk on Thorne Moor via Crowle Moor. Still a little shell shocked after an Indian the previous evening experienced with a rubbish Sauvignon Blanc. Got to the service station at Goole listening to some good time Drum and Bass tracks because I was too confused as to how to change the channel. One track sounded like a Hoopoe calling. At the service station a Corn Bunting was calling away in the dark - felt positively Mediterranean. Got on site for 5 on the nail to look for Nightingales. Cut a short story long we failed on that score but manage on others.
Racing through Crowle Moor, there were a variety of Warblers including Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat which were both year ticks. Got views of lots of Whitethroats in the end and a few Groppers. Once in Yorkshire we cottoned onto 4 or 5 Turtle Doves which were a good find and a few Cuckoos (had about7 or 8 during the day). A Marsh Harrier passed overhead and other warbler year ticks were Reed Warbler and Garden Warbler. No Black Terns unfortunatly. Plenty of hirundines about and Swifts but no Hobbies to harass em - even though we tried to string Swifts, Cuckoos and Kestrels. The ten of us were on the moor for about 7 hours and nailed a few Tree Pipits and walked many many miles. Red Deer and Roe Deer were seen around the reserve and a special but unmentionable breeding bird was seen (but not one I knew about beforehand), so well done Lawts for that. A Willow Tit was a nice surprise. Once we had gathered ourselves we headed to North Cave.
No Black Terns as the reports flooded in form everywhere else. John (Hull City) and Lawts (Leicester City) were disappointed due to football matter but we made ample compensation with a male Kingfisher, displaying Little Ringed Plovers, breeding plumage Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and Lesser Whitethroat goiving nice scope views. As Keith cursed we noticed the Pied plague were amongst us with Avopigs everywhere. At one point I managed to string a Greylag as a Numenius sp. OOpps. No other real surprises here other than a Bacon Butty. We decided to press on to a secret loaction for a crack at Woodlark. None of those as the local bat group were out and about but another Cuckoo, numerous Red-legged Partridge were nice. After a few guys headed home a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was seen before flying high in the canopy and then bounding away across a clearing. Fantastic! Probably missed loads of details but a cool day was had and 8 year birds added.

Friday, 2 May 2008

you Swine!

Had a trip back to Swine Moor on Montag after visiting t'old garage in Hull. Got some storming White Wags, a few Swift for the year and a UK lifer in the form of a couple of Wood Sandpiper. Also a Whimbrel was nice plus a few Yellow Wags including one thatlooked like a female Blue-headed/ Channel wag. Sexcellent.

Aberdont!

Had a good survey on the conntrol site with Arctic and Great Skua, loadsa Kits, 3 species of Tern and rather incongruously another 3 Carrion Crows headed out to sea. Also a probable Manxie which i cocked up (was distant). Also got some spanking shots of the Glauc on Saturday evening and a few semi decent ones of a male Wheatear but i will have to see whether I get them back from IECS before I post em.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Blog Linkage - Darren Ward

Here is a link to the cracking Yorkshire Wandering Tattler blog by Darren Ward's crew. Its all good tyke fun including shots from a top notch birder (thats what he told me to say). Definitely check it out!

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Jockland

Up in Aberdeen on survey being paid to do some pelagic birding. Such a hardship. Not a great survey yesterday. 3 crows headed toward Norway 3 miles out plus a few sum.plum Red-throats and a couple of Black-throats. Loadsa dolphins, RB Merg, LT Duck, a possible petrel underneath a feeding scrum and a migrating Swallow.

Also went to Girdle Ness where I caught up with the local Glauc and a few Wheatears, Purp Sands and Rock Pipits but no King Eider unlike off Flamboro Head (GRRR!!). Right off to go searching again!

Lovely Legs

I knew when one of the first birds I saw was a Mistle Thrush at Wheldrake today was going to be good. Didn't see the GW Teal or any Garganey but did add Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and Blackcap. Scoping the pool in the gloom I notice a brilliantly coloured Duck in the distance. 20 minutes later and the mist had risen enough to be sure of a male Mandarin, lifer, yorks tick, patch tick, any old tick you like!I zoomed off to Bishop Burton to do some research before heading onto the Yellowlegs. Met Birdieboy123 at Swine Moor and he quickly located the bird. It gave decent views in the rain running around a Redshank for comparison. Also at this site a Greenshank, LRP and Ruff collected year ticks with Yellow Wagtail and summer dress Golden Plover providing entertainment.At this point I decided to go for broke and head to Spurn. went straight to the point where a break in the weather led to a chat spectacular with Common Redstart (a beautiful male), Black Redstart (dowdy female) and numerous Wheatear provided the entertinment. Lots of Willowchiffs about but not the hoped for Rouzels. As I was walking near the middle Heligoland trap a heron with a bobbing flight approached heading south. The weather had again closed in and visibility was poor so my initial thought was Bittern. As it came into view it showed an obvious keel and started to quack. My mind shot straight back to Spain and Purple Heron. It kept coming and passed over me giving good views at about 25m height - almost definitely a Purple Heron. A look for the Garganey at Canal Scrape and the GW Teal at Long bank were forlorn but hey who cares. It was a stormer!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Root Canal

Now I alluded to my teeth in an earlier post but I feel I must now relive the entire wonder that is my birthday weekend from the viewpoint of my upper right incisors 1 & 2.

'James has his birthday on Saturday' says incisor 1.

Incisor 2 replies, 'Its alright, I'm starting with an abcess at my base, he wont be doing any drinking this weekend.'

'Great, I think I will join the party and develop a gum infection' incisor 1 says knowingly.

Well the bastards didn't stop me drinking but a lack of hangover on Sunday indicates they perhaps had an effect on things. I didn't use to be scared of the dentist until a mad, bad and dangerous fella gave me fillings with no anaesthetic when I was about 16. It fucking killed. Id been brewing with toothache for a while but I figured it'd pass especially as I have no NHS dentist. So when I had to stop at Market Weighton on my way home last thursday because I physically couldnt drive without further painkillers the penny finally dropped that I may need an appointment. Friday and the emergency dentist laughed and said I had no chance getting in today.

Booked in for first thing on my birthday. Get there sat in chair and the dentist mentions that I have a gum infection to my relief. Then he taps my tooth. I scream. He says some of the scariest shit Ive ever heard - 'thats not good - I think we need an X-ray.'

In the end he drilled my tooth out (with anaesthetic), drained the abcess and I was feeling distintly unwell and looking like a hamster. Got home with that stroke victim look caused by the anaesthetic and took some phone calls from my parents and siblings wishing happy birthday. My wife bless her told me to 'shut the fuck up, i'm sleeping'. Now I feel this is a little unsensitive as she had all week told me stop being a big wimp and that there was nothing wrong. And there was. And it was my birthday. And she was being a bitch.

Went out on the lash and came home at 11pm. After 4 pints. Weak.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Black Lark - no chance

Car was in for MOT today (it failed) so no chance of going for the Norfolk crippler. Instead a leisurely un back home after uni was rudely interrupted by two Red Kites away from their regular haunt. One passed over me by about 6 foot. Was almost scary. At North Cave a quick trundle relised a few site and year ticks - 2 Whimbrel with Curlew were nice (both site ticks), plus a few Yellow wags bouncing round the fields. A Tree Pipit popped its head out of the grass to entertain me showing its 'ear spot' and big thick bill. Still no LRP. Apparently one bugged out as I arrived. Checked the gulls for reported meds but no luck. Also a couple of LBBG about and loadsa Avopigs. I LOVE SPRING. Off to Aberdeen on thurs which is nice!

How brains and birds become mutually exclusive