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

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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.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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