Sunday 31 May 2009

Bird Atlas

Did the nafferton summer atlas square today. Rubbish. Only highlight was a rattling Lesser Whitethroat. A good walk and the warm sun made up for the lack of birds.

Thursday 28 May 2009

Whiskered Tern Photos

Here are some shots of the Whiskered Tern (mentioned in the last post) by Marcus Conway Check out for more brilliant photos

Tuesday 26 May 2009

More Dirty Filthy Twitching

Not as hard core as sunday but myself and Mike cleaned up the erroneous Whiskered Tern at Hickson's Flash between Swilly and Fairburn. Bumped into a fella from Swanton Novers on sunday which was random and had good views as the tern hawked over hte water with BHGs. No photos as a little distant, as opposed to the heat haze from Sunday which prevented any bird photos.

Monday 25 May 2009

Dirty Filthy Twitching

Yesterday, myself and Mike Richardson decided to go on a tick happy parade round East Anglia starting with the Collared Pratincole at Cley. The pratincole as you may know relocated to Swilly Ings and so we decided a stop off there. Mike rolled up at 5 am and we set off west. First bird of note was a Red Kite over the A1, spotted by Mike. Green Woodie and Mistle Thrush were knocking about in the vicinity. After a few wrong turns we arrived at St.Aidans to be told - 'should have been here 5 minutes ago' by Jim Woolford. Rats. Then a shout went up and the bird shot over our heads giving good views before hawking over the grass embankment flying bat-like. We all got good flight views and were dead chuffed. Lifer and yorkshire tick to boot. We shot off to McDo's to for a faceful of greasy stodge to celebrate.

Quickly we were en route to Norfolk. As we hit the Yorkshire county boundary we found out 3 Whiskered Terns had been found at Swillington but we ploughed on hopeful of better. They were probably under our noses and yet the only tern we saw was a common (I blame the sunlight we were looking in to!). In the flatlands of south lincs we had two turtle doves in flight alongside the car which was very nice. After what seemed a very quick journey we gave the Wolferton Triangle a quick twice over with no luck. We headed north to twitchwell for Mikes first visit. A Spoonbill here was a year tick but we quickly left smothered by bank holiday dudes. A Spot Fly in the car park was nice. Avopigs were a year tick. Bleurgh!

We again shot off, this time to see the Montagu's Harriers. The male showed straight away and we got super views as he quatered the fields before disappearing after 10 minutes.. Next stop, Swanton Novers. We arrived at Swanton around 12 and left about half 1. Sadly no Honey Buzzards were seen by us. We did however pick out a distant Goshawk (despite dissenters - it showed the 5:1 flap:glide ratio and blazing white utc's). Kestrel, Hobby and lots of Common Buzzards were seen. A Lesser Whitethroat rattled away in the hedge behind us. News of a Woodchat at Pugneys in West Yorks filtered through as did buff-breasted sandpiper and RF Falcon at Hatfield Moor, S Yorks but they were all just year ticks (not even county ticks) for mike and I. We ignored them. What we didnt ignore was the Squacco Heron at Wicken Fen, 8 miles from my brothers house (although he is in Aus at the moment). Cley and the north coast of Norfolk were quickly jettisoned in favour of Weeting Heath and Lakenheath Fen. Again we were travelling south but this time through the brecks.

We arrived at Weeting Heath to be greeted by a world of heat haze. A Muntjac was seen scarpering across the adjacent fields and a spot fly in the canopy. Sadly no Stone Curlews were seen and its still one that Mike has over me. We travelled the short distance to Lakenheath and got our shimmy on. Not a lot was on Hockwold washes bar Mute Swans and as we rolled up no Hobbies were visible either. Lots of Reed and Sedge Warblers sang away and gave occasional views. We came here for one taget specifically - Golden Oriole. We were quickly told a nest had been staked down and we ambled along the poplar plantations. Somebody claimed to have heard a male Oriole singing but as we listened first a Cuckoo struck up followed by a Long-eared Owl doing the squeaky door. Brill! No chance of views so we scuttled off - time was pushing on. We suddenly saw a couple of raptors above us, Hobby as expected and then something bigger, and redder and forked in the tail - a Red Kite! A very good bird for Norfolk (unlike home) which quickly spiraled in the thermals which were very efficient in the 22 degree heat. A couple of Marsh Harriers quatered the reeds the far side of the railway line as we finally reached the Oriole nest. The male was sitting and was a plumage tick for me having only had brief views of a scabby female at Flamborough. Every now and then it shuffled about and we pieced the bird together. A nice year tick as well. Up to 5 Hobbies fed on dragonflies over our heads giving amazing views. All of a sudden the male shot off the nest and we decided to turn round. It was afer 6 and we still had to visit Wicken Fen. A Bittern boomed briefly as if piping up. As we left we were greeted with one of the classic images of british birding. LGRE, fresh in from the Squacco virtually sprinting up asking us whether the nest was still staked out. He seemed a little anxious - I wonder why? And then as quick as a flash he was gone.

Wicken Fen wasnt too far and we arrived quickly. After a few wrong turns which got us Turtle Dove and Cetti's Warbler singing we found Bakers fen with 13 Little Egrets, 2 Grey Herons and a rather drab and inactive 1st w Squacco Heron. UK tick although both of us had seen more animated and colourful ones in various parts of Africa. Excellent. We got in the car and Mike had a sly grin as at 7.45 I programmed the SAT NAV to swilly again. But alas it was not to be - we figured that after half 9 would be pushing it. Sat Nav had us arriving at swilly at 10.15 (so probably about 10 if we got a clear run). Those wrong turns at Wicken led us astray. We accepted what we had was enough and headed home. The only sighting of note on the way home was a Roe Deer buck. I eventually landed at 11.40 in Nafferton and was barely awake after a 20 hour day. Very memorable and enjoyable plus Im crawling closer to 300 UK - 294 now. Final trip list - 87 species. Minimum. Mint.

Thursday 21 May 2009


As the jam once said - its all in the numbers. Todays numbers are 1 for the single catch I took in Naffertons glorious victory over Bewholme and Atwick. 4* is the number of runs i scrambled at the end. 10,009 is the number of hits this site has had in the 15 months its been running. I would like to thank everybody that keeps visiting and encourage them to keep doing so. Not a lot of birds today as Im busy decorating the nursey - will get some during and after shots done ASAP. Now lets hope that Blue-cheeked Bee-eater rocks up.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Baby Spencer

Aged 21 Weeks

Not a great picture this time but thats because this bugger wouldnt stay still. No chance of finding out what sex s/he was, as soon as the ultrasound operator looked the baby turned over and all you could see was a bum. Was much clearer on the scan than the print out. Apparently healthy - the nuchal folds were too thin for downs and the heart was working fine with all four chambers seen. The baby has a long legs for its age so takes after its mother. Which is a good thing :) Was love at 3rd sight.

Monday 18 May 2009

Temminck's Stint Pics

Here are a couple of pictures of the Swinemoor Temminck's Stint that I have seen twice over the last 2 days. All pictures are by Martin Standley, an East Yorkshire photographer with gallerys and blogs on Please visit this for some great shots of the local birds and a good feel for the area.I have also included a picture Martin took of the Greenshank that was knocking about, a much underated bird IMO.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Birdforum Banter

Once again the intrepid band of birders from across the four corners of the Yorkshire Empire met, plotting the bagging of birds of rapurous qulaity and wit. Sadly they failed. Here is a short, sometime fictional story of the events of that day.

Meeting at 8.00 at Ye Olde Blue Belle (or 8.03 if your Mike and myself) we ventured forth. The hallowed heroes were Rob(zatcatzooba), Mark (knocker7800), Mat(mat), Michael(birdflower), Mike(Skink1978), Ron(ron), Jim(jtw521), Paul (doc reed), John (birdieboy123) & myself (Hotspur). Apparently Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit and Common Sandpiper were seen before I arrived but I frankly dont believe them as they are a cunning bunch of stringers. A paddle down to the warren produced little bar 24 Common Scoter headed south, a Goosander over the humber and an unid'able dot which may have been a Hobby. A Porpoise blogged about and we eventually got reasonable views as it hunted inshore. A Corn Bunting sang but alas did not show. We ambled around the canal for a few warblers (sedge, reed, lesser whitethroat etc) and a couple of deer. Nothing much was happening save for occasional views of a single cuckoo.

Quick checkage of the Crown and Anchor produced little in avian form but we pushed on. Plenty of Brents were seen on Kilnsea Clays along with many sum plum Grey Plovers. Chalk Bank called for the wader high tide roost. About 100 brents attended as well as 2 very nice Little Terns. Waderwise a few Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, shagging/egg laying Ringos, plenty of Dunlin and the odd Grey Plover were present but very low numbers generally. A Grasshopper Warbler piped up briefly.

Hunger pangs were now reaching barely noticable levels so a few had various sized fried things. Mine was smallest. Mike's was biggest. Mark was intermediate. The rest decided to play with the brown-tailed moth caterpillars in the dunes. A Chiffchaff landed and we decided to embark on a smash and grab of beacon ponds. The smash produced 30-40 Little Terns flushed by a dog walker from their colony (is that not illegal m'lud) and the grab a couple of close waders showing nicely. Sammy's was to be our final destination of this most rumbunctious of trips.

It all kicked off - Mat left for North Cave in search of a clearly made up bird called a Mr Temminck's Bint or something. Jim got bored and wet and headed to Holmpton (GSW). We ignored their lack of faith and were duly rewarded for our nobility with repeated views of a ringtail Hen Harrier. Bodacious. Female Whinchat and continental Stonechat soon followed and the heavens opened. The rain was biblical in only the way a short english shower can be. Suitably refreshed by the welcome downpour (it lowered the sweltering temperatures to a more manageable 9 degrees). Suddenly we were surrounded by 5 cuckoos which must have been grounded by the frontal rain. A few Wheatears skitted and a Yellow Wagtail was observed. A new plan was hatched as those brave enough to press on to Swine Moor did.

A most wonderful of waders a Mr Temminck's Bint was seen. Also parading in front of us were a selection of other delights waiting to be etched onto our retinas. Greenshank, Gadwall, Lesser Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover and Shoveller were present and very definitely correct. Pleased we parted heading for our own castles in the respective Kingdoms of North and East Riding. God bless Yorkshire.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Mash up

Had a mixed day - just got in after a half 5 start. Old Fall still held a Wood Warbler which showed nicely and intermittantly the entire visit. Also two spot flies, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, a few Garden Warblers and Chiffies. 3 Tree Pipits touched down and flew. Most annoying was the Icterine Warbler did a couple of rounds of sub song and then shut up without being seen. Really frustrating. Heard about the sprosser down at Kilnsea so set off down there. Dipped three Icterines in that general area and heard a small amount of very lazy sub song from the Thrush Nightingale but no views. A male Pied flycatcher in the churchyard at Kilnsea was nice but brief. I also smashed the screen on my phone by dropping it but bumped into Darren Ward & 'Youth'. Gave it all up for a bad job and came back via Swinemoor where initially I could only see a couple of Greenshanks. A mixed group of 9 tiny waders dropped in half and half LRP and Ringo with tagging along a Temminck's Stint. Yay! Lifer. My phone is totalled though.

p.s. for those eager to see the baby photos my wife holds an exclusivity clause on the 2nd scan as i posted the first one which means once she has face booked them later i am 'allowed' to post them. I can see your all on tenter hooks.

Friday 15 May 2009

Birding Part

Today was a day of two birding parts. One more life affecting part happened inbetween - my wife had her 20 week scan. Everything is amazingly fine! And it has long legs which if you have met me will be somewhat of a surprise. Expect a post later on with loads of baby pictures which I will coo about. Back to the birding...

This morning as it was raining I turned in at Tophill Low hoping for some Black Tern action. Not to be but lots of hirundines over the various res's. Did get 1 brilliant surprise - 2 Turtle Doves shot out of South Scrub and over my head. Nice one. Was peeing down with rain at this point and i headed back to the car. On the wall of O res as i headed back round was a Common Sandpiper dipping away. Also had a couple of pairs of Grey Wagtails in the vicinity of O res.

Part 2 was a call in at Swine Moor (which would have been North Cave for the temminki if i hadnt forgotten my phone) on the way back from scan. 3 Whimbrels were the highlight with a very close and sexy Reed Warbler showing off at my feet.

Baby installment to come...

Thursday 14 May 2009

My Bloody Wife

Was gonna have a morning birding today but alas it was not too be as my wife decided to pilfer my keys. I was stuck in the house until I could find my spare key but then a lack of car keys was a hinderence. Got to Brid on train and couldnt get away until 2 so borrowed her car to have a couple of hours round Flamborough. Not a great deal doing as I only had bins but a Whinchat on the stubble west of old fall was good as were a couple of pristine Greenland Wheatears. A couple of very washed out tatty Painted Ladys floated by but not even a paddy fly...Rubbish. Little seawatch produced 100+ Kittiwakes leaving Brid bay in under half hour - winds were pinning them in so they had to struggle round the point. Also 1 Mallard, 2 Razorbill and 2 Guillemot.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

The (sometime) Patch

Had a wander around the treatment works patch today to take out the frustration of a Bluethroat at Spurn which would have cost me several weeks of grovelling if i had gone to see it. Im not blowing my load that easy this spring! As it was not a lot birdwise down there - a single Reed Warbler parped up once and a few Whitethroats shouted. The flash was empty save for a Pied Wagtail. Not sure its gonna hold its water for the entire summer - looking pretty sparse already. Of more interest was a photgenic Large White in my front garden, 2 Green-veined Whites mating which I managed a dodgy photo of and loads of Three-spined Sticklebacks including a few males in summer dress (cue blurry photo of female/non-ripe male). Also a flower. I dont know which flower but this was beside the stream. Any ID help would be appreciated.

Monday 11 May 2009

Giant Song Thrush

I have recently acquired a pair of Song Thrushes which for the past week have been visiting my garden. One bird is run of the mill bog standard lithe Song Thrush, the other is a giant freak. Its about 20% longer than the other and the same length as the blackbirds. But stranger still is its so thick in the beam its incredible - it is a fat headed, thick bodied bird. I thought I was going nuts until I saw both thrushes on the deck together - such a difference. And no its not a Mistle Thrush.

Called in at Swine Moor on way home. Highlights were a Reed Warbler singing and 1 each of LRP and Ringo. Other than that, very quiet. Heres hoping the easterlies bring the goods over the next week or so.

Saturday 9 May 2009


In the last 3 days ive played cricket twice and seen three species of Falcon whilst in the middle. On thursday a Peregrine went screaming through a bunch of pigeons and today I had a Hobby pass through a couple of times at South Cave, a year tick, and a Kestrel. Another win for Nafferton - we scored 169 on an awful pitch although I failed again with 3, and we had them out for under 100. Well chuffed. Some neat hitting by our skipper today put the total beyond the other team. Just need some runs myself.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Dipping again

Went for the Serin at Spurn today and rocked up 30 mins after it had disappeared. Doh!!! Compensation in the form of a Yorkshire tick - Mini Terns having mini adventures at Beacon Ponds (apologies to the punks). Also there was a small cream crown Marsh Harrier, probably an immature male and a couple of Dunlin, one in summer dress and on not. A Greenshank flew in tu-tu-tuing. Two flyover Whimbrel and two on Kilnsea Clays were expected fare. A common sandpiper in the flash by the blue bell was less expected but very nice. Heard a Garden Warbler by the Warren but no views. Rumour has it that a Pacific Swift was at Wheldrkae this afternoon with 500 swifts - that will be fun to relocate, the Pallid was hard enough with 50 commons.

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Pallid Swift at Seaforth

Not that rare...not rare enough to warrant a mega alert on Birdguides. But if Roller gets mega'd why wouldnt Pallid Swift. Its more difficult than Roller. Oh but it looks crap I hear you say. Well I quite like em - i did in Spain last year and now im pleased to say I really liked the long staying individual at Seaforth/Crosby. Its the subtle ID challenge to seperate it from its common or garden cousin. That and the fact that Swifts in general are ace. Sadly no photos of the bird but I did get one of the Little Gull at Crosby Marine Park. Its great - you can tell its white and everything. Sadly you cant tell whether its a bird or plastic bag but you cant have everything.

As for the Swift - I arrived at 11.10, a slow journey over due to poor weather over the pennines. The first few Swifts were commons as were the next few but after 20 minutes the mass of birds crossed the lake and headed over Seaforth. The Pallid then swept back and forward I the assembled group got a handle on it. It gave the lucky permit holders in Seaforth a pointblank flypast. It then blogged about and flew back over toward Crosby. It repeated this cycle 3 times in the 90 or so minutes I was there and the final time performed a stalling flight over the fenceline directly above our heads at point blank range - I wasnt jealous anymore. Scales noted to go with the previous views of the pale panel to the secondaries, the coffee brown base colour and the larger white throat which was obvious far more often than on Commons and was the best method for picking it across the lake. The broken primary twisted as the bird stalled. Flight seemed generally less energetic than the Common Swifts and the bird felt larger bodied but it was hard to quantify. As for wing depth, I found it hard to notice any difference in the wing morphology in flight. Very chuffed all said and a very tricky bird to get. OML!

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Naff Wobblers

After a couple of quiet weeks due to degree commitments I had a wander around the patch. Two year ticks were in - Reed Warbler and Whitethroat around the Reed bed. Also a couple of Sedgies squaking away. Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler made it 5 warbler wander. Also found the probable nest site of the Grey Wagtails which seemed to be holed up in one of the derelict buildings on the treament works. I saw three feeding flights so im reasonably sure. Also of interest down there was a Kestrel which screamed over my house (but I wasnt at home so no garden tick) and a Swift which zipped over the fields. The weatehr was chilly and breezy so birds werent over enthusiastic. A party of Bullfinches, probably my garden birds, worked the scrub adjacent to the railway line and a very vocal Song Thrush fluted away. On the fields when checking for waders on the flash a pair of Gadwall flushed, seemingly breeding in the field amongst the bullrushes. A white rump scooted away from me, seen from the corner of my eye but i failed to gain a proper view of a probable Wheatear. Some minnows were seen in the stream above the pumping station outlet so no doubt a Kingfisher will be seen eventually. Before heading home I wandered west of the Wansford road and found Nafferton Beck - I hadnt been here before. Several good sized Brown Trout hugged the bottom of this gravel stream, only a mile from one of the most exclusive trout rivers in the country. I checked the Trout for Rainbows as there are three trout farms within two miles on the River Hull. Only birds seen down this way were a Moorhen and a few Swallows but further investigation is required as I have heard rumours of Little Owls in the vicinity.

Monday 4 May 2009

Wildlife Wanderer

Stumbled on Mike Richardson's new website Rather than another pile of crap blog like this one Mike has got an structured website dealing with his foreign trips and holidays. A herpatologist by interest he branched out into birding as the UK lacks much reptilian diversity. We have pretty much been trumping each other with our Yorkshire/UK lists since we met in 2006 and it stands at 1 each at the moment. The website also hosts his girlfriends awesome photos which capture the beauty of the surroundings as well as some lovely shots of animals. Get stuck in - stick it on your favourites and if you like mammals and herps you'll love it even more.

Pam's Place

A bit of reciprocal linkage for Pam's Place. Check it out for some general blogging and nature-y stuff in West Yorkshire

Saturday 2 May 2009

Our man in Oz

Heard from my kid brother this morning - he is currently working in Canberra and having a thoroughly nice time all round. He sent me this photo. Tom bless him has no interest in birds but a big gaudy Sulphur-crested Cockatoo last week and this Australian Darter were very gripping indeed.
As for me - ive been stuck in dissertation hell all week. I can tell you exclusively that vigilance rates in Teal are related to levels of disturbance (especially Human disturbance) and group size of foraging parties. If you have a Teal thats been disturbed by a plane or a person on its own foraging its gonna be very nervous!!
Cricketing today - a batting tick in displaying Curlew in the fields behind - cant believe ive never seen this before whilst batting. Having said that I didnt have much ooportunity to bat in my 3 ball innings of 0. Next week eh?

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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