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


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


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.


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.


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


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.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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