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


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.


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


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.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

Record, share and compare with BUBO Listing at www.bubo.org