Tuesday 31 March 2009

Knives and things

In a non bird related piece I want to talk about work. Cant say much due to confidentiality and that but some scumbag visitor arrived on my ward with blood dripping down his face and i heard him say '...and then I stuck a knife in him...'. Bosh security check, blam the rozzers arrive but the visitor had gone. All very weird. Never did know what happened.

Today a collegue fainted in my arms. Bless her - she had just smashed her head on one of the TVs and concussed herself. Its a hazardous business this nursing laugh.

Sunday 29 March 2009

Shiny Black Cock

Arrived up in the dales to be greeted by several male Black Grouse lekking across a valley. It was only a mere -2 this year as opposed to -7 the last. On the way up a few Red Grouse were tasty, as were several Barn Owl, Grey Partridge and the McDo's brekkies that we started with. We being me, Mike(Skink1978), Michael Flowers(Birdflower) & John(Birdieboy123) as the East Yorks contingent to the latest BF meet. Also in attendence were Graham (Bitterntwisted), Marcus Conway(Ebirder), Rob(Zatcatzooba), Keith Dickinson, Mark (Knocker7800) & Jim (JTW521).

Also at the Grouse site were a few Buzzards, drumming Snipe, Golden Plover, Fieldfare, and Meadow Pipits a go-go. We moved onto the Stang and got some of the most mindblowing views of Goshawk display you can imagine with birds Rollercoastering and chasing all over. At least 4 birds seen and very nice they were too. Also Siskin and a few distant Buzzards.

Next we moved down the valley to try for Ring Ouzel but mainly to enjoy the warming sun. By now it was much warmer and Dipper, Grey Wag and a couple of Wheatears made up for the lack of Rouzel action. Time was pressing on and we called in at Nosterfield on our way back noting a few Goldeneye and a Red-necked Grebe. A couple of LBBG made for 3 self found year ticks (with Dipper and Red Grouse) for a good day. Check Michaels blog for pics.

Saturday 28 March 2009

Patch photos

Here is a selection of photos from the patch as a virtual guided tour. Its not big or clever and was largely devoid of birds today but I reckon it may produce something.

The beck - source of Grey Wagtails, perhaps.
Here looking the other direction up toward the water tratment works. Do Kingfishers live here?
The scrub with hawthorns in the background. The train line runs through the middle of those trees in the foreground.
The rushes which produced a Snipe a couple of days ago but sadly only a Moorhen today. Jack Snipe in the future?
The flash which has Solitary Sandpiper written in very small letters all over it. A Redshank would be a bonus. Lapwing breeding territory in the background which includes some other flashes.
The treatment works which hopefully produces hirundines aplenty and wagtails in some numbers. Today nothing. Note on the left hand side the phyllosc and regullus filled leylandii.
The reedbed hopefully to be chocka with Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Cuckoos. Or just Wrens. Note the houses in the background. My house is immediately behind these so not too distant. Also the stream with a profusion of macrophytes in it - which disappear 6 feet further down adjacent to the outlet pipe from the treatment works. Coincidence?
The wood. Chaffinches included.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Naff Patching

For those long time readers of this blog (thanks Mum) you will remember that I moved to Nafferton, East Yorkshire from York last May. Ive not really had a new patch with Tophill Low being a regular calling place but not somewhere I am actively trying to patch watch (mainly because its too heavily covered already). Well today I think I have found the place I want - and its a mere 200 yards from my front door. When I did the bird atlas for Nafferton in late Janvier I noticed the sewage works just the other side of the railway line from my house and had a wander down. Today I returned with a bit of time to spare as these bird atlas things are all a rush job. Adjacent to the lane up to the tratment works is a small beck which is reputed to have Kingfisher on it and im fairly sure is the source of the juvenile Grey Wagtail in my garden last summer (a rare breeding bird in East Yorks according to Michael Flowers). It definitely contains some small fish - probably sticklebacks as the outflow from the treatment works enters here pretty much ruling out oxygen loving minnows. Today I found a couple of Moorhens on the beck plus a pair of Mallards looking like they were prospecting for nesting sites. Between the beck and the railway line is a large dryish reed bed which undoubtedly holds breeding Reed Warbler- why am I so sure? Because I believe this to be the location of the Cuckoo which I could hear from the house but not see before i relalised there was any habbo in the locale. This has also got to drag in other passage migrants and has wet areas so Water Rail is possible. The otherside of the beck is a stand of leylandii which screen the treatment works which seem a dead cert for some phylloscs, goldcrest and hopefully a Firecrest one day. The sewage treatment works look good for wagtails, warblers and hirundines and possibly more with a few Mallards sat on a tank. Its pretty small and has a STRONG smell so an equally strong constitution is needed when getting up close and personal with it. Sadly no wader habbo on the treatment works. The same however cannot be said for the flashes in the field behind which is like a mini black dyke ings but with a couple of the flashes having Reedmace in. No waders on the open flash (although a little stint or wood sand must call in one day!) but a snipe shot out of the reedmace filled pool. The only problem is the profusion of places like this locally which obviously dilutes the chance of good waders. On the field itself were lots of displaying Lapwings so it looks like they breed here. A good passage of Gulls was going over to roost at Tophill which is only 7 miles as the crow flies away. A large copse sits across the beck from the field and looks like it is managed regularly so may get disturbance. I thought I caught a glimpse of a Sparrowhawk in the treetops so this maybe the source of local birds.If this place doesnt ring out to singing Willow Wobblers in the summer I will be surprised. Allied to all this stuff the railway line which runs between the patch and my house is fringed in hawthorn scrub which will encourage whitethroats and the like - perhaps a Turtle Dove one day! One can only dream. I will get some photos for next time.

Monday 23 March 2009

More spring

Once again I was at Tophill Low doing my dissertation counts when I noticed one of the alba wags by the borrow pits was a bit chunky and had a yellow eye ring and was in fact a LRP. Which was nice. Little else of note but at the feeding station a male siskin and female brambling were bumming about. The light was quite nice so i took a fe photos to stick some colour on here. Also took a short (very) film of the tangerine coloured male GSW. The colours in the vid are representative of real life


Friday 20 March 2009

Further update

Richard's Pipit at Hornsea. Bollocks.


Having sat at the computer for over 30 hours in 3 days including 16 hours yesterday the mist started to clear and my work was done. Two mini projects, like 'fun' size dissertations that had been eating my soul for 9 months finished. I dont really care about the mark, purely the relief at not having to think about Japanese Knotweed or mussel dropping behaviour of crows makes me feel better. Sadly im just padding on this update and have relatively little birdy to add save for the fact that spring has led to 2 Collared Doves to make themselves at home in my garden and that male House Sparrows are all over my feeders like a barely noticeable rash. Still at least I havent dipped anything..whats that? Snow Goose at Far Ings this afternoon. At least its out of county. Oh and the second record of Bittern for Flamborough Head this afternoon as well. Fingers crossed the latter sticks or I might get grumpy.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Show and Tell

Today I gave a student, Oliver, from Staines (and York uni) the tour of some local sites. As he needed LEO as a lifer we set off to Fairburn via Wentworth College which produced no Redpolls and Harewood Whin which produced no Gulls. None, zilch, nicht, nada. At Fairburn due to teh visitor centre being closed we headed straight up to Lin Dyke and I didnt quite have the directions right so we missed the bird. We headed down to the centre at opening time for a Water Rail under the feeders and several Bullfinch feeding on the feeders fighting with Greenfinch - not something I had seen before. Sadly no Little Owl which has disappeared and no Willow Tits. Headed back to Lin Dyke we had a couple of Little Egrets buzzing about. A couple of Chiffchaffs started calling which were my first of the year. We eventually managed good views of the Owl and pressed on.

We decided on Allerthorpe Common, hoping for Adder and Crossbill. Once again the adders diudnt play ball but the Crossers gave brief flight views, with c20 present. Also plenty of Siskin and we had a small party of Lesser Redpoll. Another Chiffchaff sang in the background as Jays screamed. The paths were littered with Toad porn as the amphibians got jiggy. A Common Lizard seen by Oliver was nice in the sun.

Next stop was Black Dyke Ings where a pair of Shelduck were kicking about, along with a few Oystercatcher, Linnet and Lapwing. Plenty of Pied Wagtails were kncking about and I noticed a paler bird - a very nice White Wagtail.

Last stop of the day was North Cave which failed to produce anything of significant note...except the Wheatear which appeared as I remarked 'We really should check that field for Wheatears'. Brilliant. And very springy. No sign of the Green-winged Teal but the reserve was very busy so we didnt get much of a chance.

As a postscript it should be noted we had a Small Tortoishell at Fairburn and a couple of Small Skipper's at Allerthorpe. All good stuff.

Monday 16 March 2009

My Baby

Sorry to get a bit slushy but here is a picture of my baby at 12 weeks taken today. Crystal clear - he/she* obviously takes after her mum as he/she* is gorgeous.

*Delete as appropriate**

**wait 6months

Sunday 15 March 2009

Pretty Pictures

I am sure that those of you that read regularly will have been impressed with the quality of photograph included in the reports. I was hoping to have pictures of similar quality today from my count at Tophill (only 2 to go now), prefereably of some summer migrants. Sadly there were no summer migrants, and the batteries died as I tried some macro photos of flowers (at least they would have been in focus!). So its a pretty dry post. Nothing of interest happened on borrow pits and apparently there were 3 Goosander, 1 Smew and a Pink-foot on D but i did see em. I also didnt get much of a view on te 2 Crossbills that overflew the car park calling their little hearts out. Good job I have such good pictures of the crossers at Allerthorpe eh!

Friday 13 March 2009

Days like these

Days like today are rare when you bird inland. Fortunatly I dont bird inland very often out of choice now but it was brilliant today. Starting at a secret location in East Yorkshire I had a wonderful songflighting Woodlark overhead but no Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. After this I moved onto Allerthorpe Common to check the tins out for Adders, when a largish finch flying across went chip and I got some distant views of a Crossbill. As I pottered about this became a minimum of 18 birds and more likely in the mid 20's. I got a couple of record shots of a male coming down to drink.

There were no Adders out and about that I managed to connect with despite the mild weather but other good birds abounded with Yellowhammer and Skylark singing on the Common, at least 2 Green Woodpeckers, 4 Great Spots and up to 10 Jays screaming at each other. The common was alive with bird song and it really felt like spring.

Next stop was Black Dyke Ings at Barmby Moor. This was my first visit and I wasn't really sure what to expect. It looks to be a place of great potential with lots of Pied Wagtails and a number of Meadow Pipits abounding. Feeding amongst them was a single Corn Bunting - a year tick. No waders yet save for a few distant Lapwing but I can see why this place holds appeal. I shall visit again.

Last stop of the day was Millington Pastures which was least successful with only a single Red Kite and one each of Willow & Marsh Tit (again - its the only place ive been to where I have seen both). Hardly a washout. It started to cloud up so I headed home.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Spring Migrants Arrive

Not en masse but the first spring migrants are trickling through. Caught up with a drake Garganey this afternoon at Filey Dams. He showed nicely infront of the hide before flipping onto the east pool. Included are some dire record shots. Nothing much else at Filey Dams save the usual ducks, gulls and redshank.

This morning another trip up to Wykeham produced a displaying male Goshawk, a loafing female with a full crop and a trio of Common Buzzards. The birdwatchers car park produced my first Nuthatch of the year and a self found Marsh Tit in the forest by a pheasant feeder was nice. A few Grey Wags knocked about at Hackness but no Dipper or Mandarin sadly. A Jay cackled across my path and I bumped into Naffertons other Birder.

Ive also stuck in a blurry shot of the Great Grey Shrike from Saturday.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

I like my parrot done rare...

So its come to this? I have decided in light of the BBRCs decision to remove Parrot Crossbill, Cattle Egret and White-billed Diver from their remit to not submit the 1,162 documented records of Parrot Crossbill that myself and eBirder managed in Speyside last June. This has probably saved my reputation somewhat (ha!) as nobody would belive that I documented them...
So the new non-rares, what of them - well Parrot Crossbill appeared the 2nd most cmmon (not Common) crosser when we were there and may well have a 3 figure breeding population so it seems very justified to come off the list. Cattle Egret now seems to be a wintering species in low numbers (c100 for the last couple of winters) and has bred twice last year so also seems to colonising and White-billed Diver is a regular passage migrant off Lewis and many records occur each year in other locations. All in all 3 fairly safe decisions.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Feeling Ruff

I didnt feel Rough today, but i did feel the Ruff that gave me my latest self found year tick. Started the day with a pair of Buzzards spiralling over the road to Beverley. Quick jaunt into uni going through my tutorial showed that I have only got to expose you guys to another 3 mind numbing entries from Tophill about the Teal. Woo! Decided to call in at Swinemoor on my way back home. Proved profitable with the aforementioned Ruff and also hoped to see the Little Egrets that had been kicking about but unfortunatly the only white blobs were loafing Common Gulls. A couple of Shelduck and Teal were also present as was a good sized plover flock with plenty of Goldies coming into there very smart summer outfit. And it was sunny for the most part so all in all a good day tempered only by the fact that in half hours time im headed off to work for the night.

Monday 9 March 2009


Tophill...Blah...Dissertation...Blah...Windy...Blah...Sunny...Blah...Barn Owl...Blah...4 Roe Deer...Blah...Boxing Hares...Blah...nothing on D res...

It even bores me. Dont worry - it will stop soon.

Sunday 8 March 2009

Weasels on Top

Volunteering at Tophill this morning was a little struggle as I had a drink with Ebirder last night. We were fitting a Kingfisher nest into the bank infront of the new North Hide. Lots of lugging of sand, cement and digging of clay left me weak as a kitten. The afternoon was spent on the Borrow Pits looking at the wildfowl. Numbers of Teal have started to drop with 64 present today compared to the usual 110 or so. Whether this is a temporary state of affairs or not I cant say until I go back tomorrow. Little of interest im afraid on the pits but a busy weasel was entertaining and 3 Barn Owls (all different) drifted through.

Saturday 7 March 2009

Going Dutch

Does anybody know any Dutch birders who would be willing to do a country exchange for a weekend? Me and a crack group of Yorkshire birders are hoping to head across the North Sea at some stage this year aiming to see any birds that dont breed regularly in Britain (Black & Middle Spot Woodie, Marsh, Savi's, Great Reed and Icterine Warbler, Crested Lark, Bluethroat, Wryneck, RB Shrike, RC Pochard, Spoonbill, Raptors, rarer Herons & anything else I forget). Please contact me.We would be willing to give a day tour for Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, SEOwl or anything else the visitors fancy.

On the brow...

Went out with Marcus Conway - EBirder today, first things first we had good views of the Great Grey Shike at Wykeham Forest. In fact we had it down to 20m which was a bit of a shock. No raptors over the valley...actually just one, a male Hen Harrier which looke like a BHG as it went over our heads but drew a second look as it had too much black in the wing tips. Not a lot else bar a Jim(JTW521) and a Marsh Tit in Forge Valley. Pictures to follow.

P.S. Ebirder would like it mae clear he self found a Dunnock. Hope that boosts your sales Marcus.

Friday 6 March 2009


Have had a very pleasant couple of days - firstly I met up with a friend I met at uni first time round, one of my best mates and for old times sake we had a few beers. Sadly at 4 1/2 pints of export strength lager we caved in and headed home legless. We just cant do it anymore. But I had such a good time. I thoroughly recommend Driffield for a few casual ones. Last night I stayed in Hull with friends and we had a quick couple at a wine bar which was pleasant followed today by driving round the Hull Valley looking at how we(people) have impacted upon the river system. And basically its fucked(pardon my french). There is very little original channel left, the river is completely channelised from just below Driffield, there are umpteen introduced species in there and it is massively polluted and degraded. Parts of it are raised above the floodplain so they have to pump water into it (at Hempholme). Having said that its all very pretty and my not so serious mind lapped up the esoteric value of the exercise. Oh and im going to see my wife later when she gets in from her field trip. Happy dawn of spring to everybody.

Thursday 5 March 2009


Just got in from a non-birding trip and had a Short-eared Owl between Fridaythorpe and Wetwang on my way home plus a Barn Owl in its regular spot hunting west of Garton on the Wolds and also had a Sparrowhawk being mobbed over monks cross whilst I was buying babygros. Lastly checking my emails I found that I had won a coat from Birdwatch magazine. Not a cool coat but extremely functional. A weirdly productive day.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Scots fling

As the Ebirder has changed websites over the last year (to a much improved and brilliantly presented gallery of his best shots plus the courses in bird identification and photography he now runs), I became concerned that the essential illustrated scottish trip report would become lost like the ark of the covenant. So for posterity I am putting a permanent link for it on the side. Check it out for a dramatic story, brilliant shots and some good gen.

Monday 2 March 2009

Jim's Map of Bird Blogs

Jim from Birdforum (JTW521) has created a map of bird blogs/websites etcetera. Give him a shout or add your own. Definitely check it out. Jim's Map of Bird Blogs

Sunday 1 March 2009

Idiocy Twitching

Ive made a map of some of the decent birds ive seen. Slight East coast bias!

View Larger Map

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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