Friday, 30 January 2009

Wax on, Wax off




Finally yearticked Waxwing on the way back from work. The 28 strong flock in Fulford York were obliging today after being absent yesterday morning. No bad photies as i forgot my camera - so here are a few of the bird table digibinned as they say. Added Coal Tit and Phesant to the garden list over the last 24 hours. Plus it wasnt my daring Dunnock that bit the dust as he is back on the feeders.








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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Voulez vous couche avec moi c'est soir?


First off can i just raise a glass to the person from Wolverhampton who found this little blog with the search phrase 'are there any red light districts in benidorm'. You sir a re a man of discerning tastes and I wish you all the best in your endeavours. This perhaps is not the blog to further your enquiries sadly. Back on message - I went to Brough Haven and Welton Waters today. Very muddy for any that intend to go. A few Curlews on the airfield plus a smattering of Shelduck on the mud but little else in terms of waders. An unexpected self find was a small family party of Bearded Tits in the reedbed at Brough Haven which was a very nice skor! Must be a tricky bird for the Hull Valley recording area I imagine - I'll have to start another list! On Welton Waters the male Smew was busy trying to get his end away with the Goldeneye who were having none of it and a very distant male Scaup was the first drake of that particular species i had seen. The juvenile and female were more expected Fare. There was no sign of the Red-crested Pochard although there were plenty of its Common cousins. One bird you couldnt avoid was the beast of an adult Great Northern Diver. They are ace. Self found year list breaks 100 and non-existant year list is 116. Oh and 13 more lifers for 300 Bou which is exciting, Im predicting my Birthday - April 19th for that.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Blocks of Ice

One or two of you may have noticed it was quite cold today. After my exam i paddled down to North Cave with the intention of unblocking a bogey. The hide was full of expectant faces but after 3 hours nothing. I was so cold i couldnt feel my shins, let alone my toes. Hundreds of teal everywhere but no sign of the duck we wanted. People slowly drifted away. One fella was trying to string a sick looking Common Teal but no and he eventually cleared off. At 15.10 this little beauty emerged. Green-winged Teal.








Record shit?






Not the greatest picture but shows the distinguishing features (or how i photoshopped em on ;)). A few Snipe were a self found year tick. Boy am i glad to have banished the crazyness of Robin stroking - and i thought twitching was extreme.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Cat Food

If i see that 'orrible fat moggy once more in my garden im going to procure myself...actually better stop there before i land myself in hot water should anything untoward happen to said feline. The bastard thing made off with my favourite Dunnock. Obviously what your asking now is how can you have a favourite Dunnock - well after 3 days straight staring out of the bay window pretending to revise the Dunncok which has learnt how to feed on my seed feeder was obviously a brainy one and id taken to it but alas this new phenotype will not be passing on its skills as it is now an ex-dunnock, deceased, dead etc etc. Having said that im getting quite close to the garden birds (argh...Robin stroking alert.....must twitch something, anything, even a Green-winged Teal). Barn Owl keeps making sporadic passes and my male Bullfinch is back, sat in the open. Also got Chaffinch, Blackbird and Robin eating from the seed-feeder rather than on the deck. I must have the most daring bunch of ground-feeders in Christendom. Anyway sorry for boring you but i didnt think an update including the finer points of Selective Tidal Stream Transport in Plaice in the WaddenSee was going to float anybodies boat.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

BGBW

A bit like MGMT but not quite, the big garden birdwatch always passed me by with little consequence, chiefly because i have never had the privilege of my own garden before, mainly living in dumps in york and lattely a terrace with a yard which espite my bird table only ever managed a single tawny owl a couple of times a winter as its singing post. Now like MGMT im liking it a lot. My garden has been a little bereft of birds as i set up home but now with a regularly restocked feeding table and lots of feeders the birds are arriving. My hour today was highly enjoyable. I dont think ive stopped and watched the feeders here for an hour straight before but I noticed the pasty Blue Tit was subordinate to the more brightly coloured other 2 and that I have 3 male Great Tits visiting all varying in their mantle colour with a grey backed, green backed and an almost brown backed individual. My highlights were a couple of parties of Long-tailed Tits who visited my giant fat block in the skittish and always delightful way they do. Better than that was the new garden tick in the Barn Owl which was quartering the field behind and came over the hedge banking before heading back on to the field. It just shows that birds can give simple pleasures. Having said that a Green-winged Teal is at North Cave and if it hadnt been for my revision im sure i'd have gone to see that today as its at no10 in my ten to see birds according to Bubo. A little worrying that 6/10 birds are vagrants in that now. Only stuff like Stone Curlew, Storm Petrel and Temminck's Stint remain of the regular british birds to see now. Anyway, heres hoping your garden birdwatch went well.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Not old news...ancient news

Wow, an apparent Ancient Murrelet was found yesterday afternoon, where else but Devon. A potential second for the county this bird was off Dawlish Warren and the finder has just posted a very convincing description on birdforum. This is definitely one blocker that would be awesome to see. As i missed the LB Murrelet im hoping to get down if it gets refound but both exams and dissertation deadline loom. EEk. Round here nothing much doing except ive finally got my feeders back up and running with a total bird count thus far of a Starling, a Robin, 2 Blackbirds and a Dunnock. Where are my Grey Wags and Bullfinch of last summer?

Monday, 19 January 2009

Counting Coots

Join in on a Fulham thing with Counting Coots, a blog based around west London.
Nothing outrageous to report today - checked on the swans at lunchtime and despite the earlier report of 9 birds with 7 whoopers and 2 Bewicks but when i got there they had morphed into 11 Bewick's. Paddled down to Tophill to do my dissertation research. Nowt of note on the reservoirs. On Watton Nature Reserve a couple of red head Smew inc a juv male were nice. Also nice were the fox which spooked everything and the Kingfisher. Less nice was the biting cold. Added Meadow Pipit to the year list. Wooooo!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Whoop Bizzle

Sup dog, I iz rollin a phat one 4 ya! 7 Whoop Swans an 11 Bizzles makes for an 'appy bunny. Or in English, a short twitch to North Frodingham (a mere 6 miles away) produced the tidy haul of 7 Whooper Swans and the local rarity in the form of 11 Bewicks Swans including a couple of juveniles. All this and i got back for kick off. Shame Bent cant score from 6 yards and looks like a he is having a tonic clonic seizure when trying to head the ball. But Jermain scored so we clawed a mangy point. Also did Naffertons atlas square today. 'Highlights' included 98 Fieldfare, a Little Grebe on the Mere and a few Gadwall and Tufties. Rubbish. This is how I Roll.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Mixed Emotion

Had a fab day at Tophill doing some mammal monitoring. Walked the perimeter of the entire reserve with lots of mammal tracks and signs, especially of Roe Deer and Fox. From a birding perspective it was productive. As we got to Top Lock we saw the pheasant shoot start up. A knot in my gut told me not to look but a macabrefascination set in and i zoned out on the pheasants being downed and noticed other birds being flushed. First up a Sparrowhawk zoomed left followed by a Woodcock or 5. Then a bigger raptor went right. It popped up a second time after i had said to Richard the warden i'd got a Goshawk (2nd week in a row). He got onto it and agreed with the ID. As I was watching yet another Woodcock fly away Richard announced he was on a SEO - i just couldnt see it sadly when i lifte my bins. Had very mixed feelings about what I saw. Obviously the birds were distressed and the pheasants were being killed but it waslegal and it was the only way i was going to see such fabulous birds. Strange really.

Further down the reserve a Barn Owl and a Sparrowhawk were toward Watton Borrow Pits, as were 2 Bullfinches. No Smew today but the carcass of a Powerline hit of a Swan was in the the southern corner of the reserve. Not much else of note but a good walk.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Scilly Season

A veritable explosion of links recently. Check out the Isles of Scilly Bird Groups Scilly Birding Website for those autumn rares (and a frankly ridiculous BB rare picture).

Begbits

For some Mull based bloggery try Begbits if only for some gratuitous shots of eagles and some major envy.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Heist

Like many others I have always had an unhealthy interest in the hoaxers of our birding game. My dad had a copy of Thorburn's birds, a print from the seventies which also had in it details of all records to that point. Within the book were many illustrations of birds which were not on the British List such as Masked Shrike which had notes in the text saying number of records rejected - now thought to be part of the Hastings Rarities. Once id done some vague research on the subject and found out what it was about. I thought the finders quite amusing and moved on.

I re-entered the birding world 5 years ago after along hiatus through my teens and early twenties only to realise what tension these type of exploit cause and the reality of the funny thrush on a stick and plastic night heron on a tree. I again became drawn in but failed to get many answers through the medium of birdforum but people didnt ant to be openly libelous and thus the only full stories i got were on twitches and the like.

Fast forward to this winter and there has been some of the laziest half arsed stringing attempts from the Yellow-throated Vireo in Cornwall to a number of megas in Wales (sib thrush, LB Heron) and now the pathetic straw that broke the camels back - a female Stellers Eider. Now known to be a shot from Finland in 2006, reversed and relabelled. Some rumbunctious little shit of a man with a grudge feels the need to not string for glory (i can almost understand that having read tales of a tribe) but to settle a score. Whoever you are, you are a wanker. You bled money and time from many an innocent mans pocket and thankfully the Glaucous-winged Gull was about to distract attention otherwise i may have been one of the unlucky ones. I hope the scrote gets uncovered and duly gets his come-uppance. If you dont know about the hastings rarities, ahve a look. Its quite impressive their species choice.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Smewgasm

As Chris Packham would say. Sadly this constituted a single grotty redhead and probably a different bird to yesterday. This time on Borrow pits. Other bits included my first Goldcrest of the year, a nice showy Kingfisher & 27 Curlew. Not uber exciting but it kept me going whilst i recorded Teal behaviour. Buzzard up at D, a calling Tawny owl and a showy Barn Owl were the best of the rest.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

A.W. Birder

Check out A.W. Birder, ornithologist Andy Walker's new blog. This birding fiend sure sees some good stuff whilst working so keep an eye on his movements.

My wife was baa-ing like a sheep

Excuse the strange title - it happened when we were walking round the clifftops at Bempton and she was very cold and instead of talking when she tried to engage in conversation a bleating noise came out. Was very funny. Perhaps one of those where you had to be there...

Anyway before i go too far can I just advetise the new link for Sheffield Wildlife by Pete Mella. An amusing read about Pete's latest birding and photography exploits.

Today I went to Bempton on my wifes request, rejoined the RSPB and scored a couple of year ticks in Fulmar (but no Blue ones for me) and Gannet. The only other birds i saw were single Blackbird, Song Thrush & flyby Dunlin plus gulls and pigeons on the cliffs. Exciting. Sorry for such a dull post but I needed to flesh out the link advert.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Sneaky Self Founds

After a night of being beaten at PES and Fifa by my mate Bob who is rubbish at em both, a day at Tophill proved a welcome antidote. Together with the warden I processed some of the Webs and BTO bird challenge data (including a certain Amur Falcon record, hehe). On the feeders a year tick in the form Great Spot was nice. Also later on underneath a Water Rail looked deceidedly chilly. A female Sparrowhawk sent everything scattering and sat up for study.
went for a wander early afternoon but it was so chilly we soon returned to the visitor centre. Only birds of note were a significant number of Ruddies, a trickier year tick now there are only 400 left according to Defra.
Late doors a rehead Smew was seen on O reservoir and i duly found it with a largish group of Goldeneye. As i headed home a large raptor slunk over the car. I thought to myself that buzzard sure flies like a giant Sparrowhawk and looks very pale underneath and has a very long tail..oh, its a Goshawk. Was tres cool and extremely unexpected. A couple of Barn Owls were perched on the hedgerows as i headed home. Some very nice goodies today.

Smoggy

Paid a visit to Smogland to attempt to see the Glaucous-winged Gull that had been knocking about the various spots there. John picked me up at 8 and we set off. Arriving at 10ish we started at Dorman's Pool with no sign initially. We scanned the frozen ponds from the embankment between this and Reclaimation Pool. After scanning for about half an hour I managed to find a new Glaucous Gull - a very brown first winter bird. A goodie for the self found list. A few Pintail bummed about on the ice but little else of note was seen amongst the thousands of gulls and then BAM!












A guy next to us cried ive got it whilst looking at Reclaimation Pond. He didnt but he did have a small adult Glauc - presumably the bird seen over the last few days. Weirdly though as everyone focused on this bird the Glaucous-winged Gull was in the same field of view but head on and took a few moments to confirm. Eventually it preened sticking the primary tip out which were concolourous with the mantle tone. It was smaller than i imagined about the size of a British Herring Gull. It had the mantle tone of a Scandi Herring Gull and a rounded head with a beady eye. A stonking great bill with a big Gonys angle was seen. It had short, raspberry coloured legs with an especially short Tibia. After about 90 minutes viewing from a few angles it flew onto the tip and we headed to Seal Sands quite chuffed.














At Seal Sands we managed to see both Common and Grey Seal knocking about plus a few RB Mergs, a Little Egret, Peregrine and best of all a few Twite were sat up on the wires. These have been a bit of a bogey so I was glad to finally catch up with them, the sun glinting off their tiny yellow bills. We soon headed back after failing to see any SEOs. A magic day, and sorry for snoring on the way back John! All pics of the GWG are courtesy of John Sadler.


Thursday, 8 January 2009

Agent Joyce


For those that know - I paid a visit to agent Joyce today. No joy sadly as the stork has failed to deliver this year with only one sighting since the start of the winter. Sorry for the cloak and dagger. What was about was a Kestrel, Stonechat, Sparrowhawk, plenty of thrushes including a vocal Mistle and lots of pigeon action. On the way back home a Buzzard drifted over the car in the gloom.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Hawfinch


A corking bird!


Also like to say thanks to those that keep coming back as I have just had my 5,000th hit. Thanks to all who have a look.

ps thanks to Keith Dickinson for the photo.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Thats cracking gromit!

That would be the ice on the pond at millington where we convened for the latest BF trip. We being myself, Marcus, Graham, Rob, Mark, Keith, Richard, Mike & John. In the car park were loads of tits including both Willow and Marsh. Up above us were a few Lesser Redpoolls, Siskin and Bullfinch. We quickly moved onto the pond where a very showy Water Rail was very nice, as was the Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher that were giving good viewage. We got proper cold, proper quick and decided on a quick boot round the valley for some raptorage as all (all?) we had seen thus far were 4 red kites and a funny (as in Tommy Cooper) looking Kestrel. Round the corner we picked up a few finches and thrushes and eventually the Buzzards all came up. All of a sudden they were everywhere in all directions. Must have been 10 up when finally I got on something longer winged - the juv Rough-leg. A nice year tick and good to see again. It gave distant views before disappearing. Ambling back we saw Stonechat and John got the fright of his life when a Sheep 'bah'd' from a farmers trailor - probably a had to be there moment.
Back at the pond and we had another scan when I picked up a Green Woodie -somebody else nailed a Kingfisher and then I got onto a Jay all within 30 seconds. All this is forgotten when a very tidy male Hawfinch screams out of the scrub and starts feeding around the trees. A corking Yorkshire tick for me and several others and a cool looking bird which performed admirably for many people over about half an hour.
Eventually we faded away to faxfleet on the north bank of the Humber to see if we could pick up the male Hen Harrier that had been roosting at Blacktoft regularly. En route I had a tasty combo of Ham and English Mustard sandwiches with extra mustard which cleared the pipes (phew!!!)and some Tescos own Prawn Cocktail crisps. Awe inspiring.
Down at faxfleet we got onto many Marsh Harriers of both sexes and a couple of Barn Owls drifted past. Both Goldeneye and Goosander flew up river and the expected ducks and waders were knocking about. A few Pink-feet flew around Whitton Sands and we got quite cold. Then bosh...John picks up the male Hen Harrier (my first male in the UK) working round the river side of Blacktoft sands. We had extended views and went for a walk along the river bank little else was seen until dusk when Graham saw 4 passerines that sounded like Lapland Bunting flush from recently ploughed farmland. We walk towards the spot and i hear a different call - a contact call that sounds very much like Laps but we fail to see em again and write em off as a beautiful pink sky sees the end of our very productive day.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Drenched!

Decided that I was too skint to go for the Glonk-winged Gull (what an awful pseudonym for the poor beast) and thus went for a troll around Filey Bay. First stop was Reighton Sands, which held a Pied Wheatear 6 weeks previous. Today very little but found a fair sized finch flock with 50 odd Goldfinches (ker-year-tick) & 150 Linnets (kertick etc etc)but no scarcer cousins. A few Common Gulls loafed around the fields (this year ticking bracket thing gets dull quick!). Also noted as year ticks were a pair of Fieldfares and some House Sparrows around the car park. The only seabirds at all were a bunch of Herring Gulls.
Pushed onto Filey Dams where there was not a great deal but year ticks came in the form of Little Grebe, Gadwall, Coot & Moorhen. A few teal bobbed about and gulls preened.
On the brigg i bumped into Mark and his better half who were both feeling the cold. Birdwise there were a few Eiders about, Dunlin, Turnstone, Oycs and Shag and i pottered to the end trying to take a few pics. All rubbish. Nothing off the end save a few more Eider and as i turned to come back a freak wave came over the end of the Brigg and soaked me. I dont mean i got covered in spray but fully submerged head to foot. My optics are now drying inside. Fortunately i think they survived. Funny thing was - i was a fair few feet up and back from the edge but i saw a much bigger wave come in and realised i was stood right where it was gonna funnel. Too late...
On the way back to the car a few more waders were noted with loads of Dunlin, a couple of Purps, a Redshank, Ringed Plover and pride of place to a Grey Plover. Last bird of note of the day was a very dark Red-throated Diver just of the north side of the Brigg which gave corking views and initially due to the colour made me think it was more interesting. Alas not but a nice day out.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Mayhem

I was one of the lucky few that was watching it all come together as the Glaucous-winged Gull at Cowpen Bewley, on Teeside was pinnedf down. despite my shit suggestion of Kumlien's Gull (how thick am i - it was a bad pic though) the correct id was reached. Seen new piccies today and it looks a belter - an adult GWG and no sign of a ring so probabl;y a different individual to last winters bird. Fingers crossed i get the chance to go tomorrow. As for my self found year list, two stonking additions today in the forms of feral pigeon and Mute Swan. Awesome.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Welcome to 2009 Idiocy style

Happy new year to all and sundry. Hope you had a good festive period and are now recharged to get back to doing what you do best. Birding. Thankfully hangover free today I sprung into action to get this self found yearlist off with not too big a whimper. First up was a Greylag Goose in the minute after midnight having flushed off the village mere. In the afternoon i went to Flamborough Head to see if i could find some goodies and I managed some quality amongst not a great deal of quantity. A Woodcock (a bird i failed to see in 2008) flushed from the setaside near Old Fall Plantation along with dozens of Rats. Not pleasant. Offshore a seal loafed and loads of dabbling ducks were at the cliff base, including Teal and a single drake Wigeon. A Red Throated Diver offshore was joined by a hulking GN Diver.

I walked ontoward south landing when two Peregrines with chocka block crops went steaming past below me on the cliffs. Awesome views, best ever of adults i think. Got to south landing and some rather warm small finches flew into the stubble causing me more Twite fluffing madness as they never reappearred and my conscience told me too many people were about for me to consider entering a stubble field anything other than illegal and unjust. :) A couple of leucistic crows were lookers with entirely white wings on black bodies. A march down to the beach at South Landing produced a couple of Rockits but no wader action save for a couple of Redshank. It was getting dark so i perambulated back to the car via the village well and truely spent.

P.s. my new years resolution is to stick a few morte pictures in the blog. Much love.

How brains and birds become mutually exclusive