Monday 29 June 2009


You may have noticed a lack of photos in the recent blog posts (and a lack of posts) - sadly whilst photographing orchids in Wykeham forest it has deigned to go missing and I cant figure out where. On the upside - the much superior camera I 'lost' last year turned up in my wifes boot hidden under umpteen tonnes of crap. Hopefully when the lead that connects the camera to the computer is replaced we will be photographically operational again. Until then I will give occasional crap updates and possibly nick a photo or two if I twitch anything good. As it is I have mostly been winning at cricket rather than birding but as ever in this neck of the woods you cant avoid good birds and a family party of long-tailed tits are currently buzzing round my back garden. Earlier I had to avoid a Red-legged Partridge and a Hare whilst a gorgeously dark Barn Owl floated about. Its a hard life. Best of all was a male Blackbird that helped me dig my new flowerbed.

On a life perspective a few developments - the wife is now over 27 weeks pregnant - we are in the third trimester baby - and boy does baby kick. Ive just started a part-time temporary job to tide me over until I get an ecology job. Not too long hopefully. And autumn migration has started with waders asunder, not that I have had the time to look. As for the sport. Oh and somebody called Jackson died?

Monday 22 June 2009

HB Sauce

Another sunday BF meet partaken by a mere 5 hardy souls. This time myself Mike, Michael, Mark & John had an extremely productive day. We started with a spot of raptor watching from the raptor watchpoint (funny that!). We quickly managed Buzzard, Kestrel and a super distant Goshawk. Around the watchpoint a Garden Warbler sang lustily and showed very well but there was an absense of the expected Tree Pipit. Some distant Jays were mobbing a Buzzard perched up across the valley. We grew bored and descended to the valley floor to try a different angle. Once here we quickly managed to see a wing-clapping Honey Buzzard over the forest along with a very brief Redstart seen by Mark (who had his eyes peeled all day). A massive Goshawk powered over the forest and after being joined by Garry Taylor and Gareth Picton we got further views of the Honey Buzzard and a distant Kestrel. Mid-afternoon we retired to the shadier surrounds of Hilla Green where Bullfinch, Kingfisher, Spotted Flycatcher, Dipper and Grey Wagtail showed their pretty little selves. At this point John and Michael headed back to the banks of the humber whilst Mark, Mike and myself gorged on sunday dinners whilst waiting for it to get dark. We arrived up at the nightjar site at 9.20 thinking we had nearly an hour before they showed. A tree pipit started contact calling in the tree nearest and as I was looking at it a male Nightjar flew through my bins view, landing 15 metres away out of view before churring quietly. Very soon we had amazing views of 2 Nightjars flying together over our heads and sat on posts a further male started churring and then displaying. Lots of wing clapping was seen and calling in flight. Nightjars are mint!! As we watched about 10 Woodcock flew over and a couple of Pipistrelles buzzed about. There really is a great atmosphere when watching birds at night. A great day.

Saturday 20 June 2009

Nights like these

I have to admit I approached tonight with a little trepidation. It was cold, windy and the forecast was showers. As it was it was clear as a bell with hardly a cloud in the sky. Was still freezing though. Tonight i was taking my parents up to Wykeham forest to look for nightjars. Before this though I had searched the fields around Bracey Bridge for a Dartford Warbler - about the 5th or 6th for the county. As t turned out it was unsuccessful but I did see the rest of the East Yorks bf chapter (herein known as Satan's Slavs). A few birds were seen there (not counting those that were dogging).

I shot along to pick up my parents and we were in place up at Wykeham for about 9.40. By 10pm between 4-6 Woodcok were pottering about affording amazing views in flight very close. Large bats, seemingly Noctules were pottering about and plenty of insects were up but no Nightjars. At 10.40 I had given up on the site as it had become a bit too overgrown. We drove toward Sawdon and I shouted to my dad to stop opposite the raptor watchpoint as I could hear something. We jumped out and sure enough two Nightjars were churring. Too late for sightings but good heard onlys for my parents and some valuable gen for the bf meet on sunday. fingers crossed.

Thursday 18 June 2009

More Cricket Ticks

Two games on an evening this week provided a couple of new birds for my at a cricket match list and 1 made my whilst batting list. The first was unexpected and the second long overdue. Playing on the cliffs of Flamborough head at Sewerby Hall I added Gannet whilst hitting a quick 9. Lots of em in fact. Tonight at the more inland sit eof North Dalton a Barn Owl was hunting as the light dropped and we won (216 we got in 20 overs - a tiny ground). Very nice.

Monday 15 June 2009

Small Seeds

Seeing as the birding seems to be drying up as spring ends and I felt like injecting a bit of life into the blog I thought I would tell you, the dear reader a bit about myself and what makes me tick. Im 27. A good age, a man should be physically coming into his prime. If you have met me you will realise mine was several years past but my love of playing cricket has got me playing again this season and im enjoying it immensely. Originally from North Devon I have lived all across England with stops in St. Albans, Stevenage, Shrewsbury, Thornton-le-Dale, Liverpool, York, Slingsby & now Nafferton East Yorkshire. My nomadic tendancies are calming now that I live in a very nice rural setting with my wife of two years, Angela, and our baby on the way in 3 months or so. I have always had a great variety of interests and my natural inclination is to explore new things thus I have played competitively as an adult football, cricket and 8-ball pool. My real talent is at pool although I am very out of practice currently - I once lost to a former world champion, no balls were left on the table and we both had one visit each after i missed a tricky black. As a cricketer I am a limited but enthusiastic batter with top scores of 78* and 75. I still dream of my first century and I will be very happy if it happens. Not if - when :) I play a bit of guitar which is mainly based on a love of guitar music from the 60s to present day. For a long period my absolute favourite band was Metallica but I have an extremely broad taste which ranges from classical to pop via rock, house, rap with good music inspiring me. My favourite songs at the moment are Grounds for Divorce by Elbow and Death by The White Lies. Still. I love technology but am usually really rubbish at using it. Despite this I was very quick to pick up twitter and facebook - less so with blogging although 'the idiocy' is my 4th attempt at a blog and probably the best. I have two different twitter accounts - I am ORNID, a contraction of ORNithological IDiocy and I run #Rarevine - a twitter based UK rare bird information service which is a little more sporadic than I would hope but life dictates. As you may have guessed I am an avid birder. Very avid. Madly so.... My wife is very good and accepts it all in good grace. As a kid I was into animals but without a tangible outlet for this it died out as i grew up. I always knew a bit about birds and can remember seeing purple sandpipers, auks and Red-throated Diver at Filey and finding Great-crested Grebe in Stevenage whilst walking my dogs. After my parents moved to Slingsby i took to exploring the farmland in the locale and I saw my first Whitethroats, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and best of all a Little Owl which used the telegraph pole in the garden as a singing post. This was 2004 and I was a student nurse. I am now a qualified nurse but looking to leave the profession as I have finished a degree in Biology with Ornithology and want to work as an ornithologist/ecologist. Currently I am struggling to get a job but I am eager to make a go of it. My interest in birding started to really bloom in late 2004 as I twitched for the first time (Baird's Sandpiper, Flamborough Head 2004) and randomly decided to go, on my own, to Fife to see a Masked Shrike - my first shrike of 8 species seen in the UK thus far. I have now seen 295 species in the UK, 265 in Yorkshire and over 350 all said. I have travelled to Spain, Egypt, Greece & Barbados and seen plenty of very good sites. 4 years ago I decided to go back to uni and I loved it working very hard and winning academic awards in my first year. Sadly the conflicts of life and work on my degree work have likely meant that I wont achive a first but a 2:1 will be reward enough. Last year I had the good fortune to work a few times monitoring seabirds and cetaceans in Aberdeen Bay whilst being paid!! I enjoyed this immensely and hope to work in a similar field. Last year I also had the fortune to spend a week in the Highlands with the photogrpaher Marcus Conway. We had an amazing time seeing all of the avian delights that Scotland offers with particular highlights including White-tailed Eagle & Corncrake in the same day, Ptarmigan and Dotterel on Carn Ban More, 3 species of crossbill and a male Capercaillie. Very good stuff! Now i view the east coast of Yorkshire as my birding home and enjoy regular trips out.

That was a potted view of me and what makes me tick. And did I mention im looking for a job?

Sunday 14 June 2009

No Redstarts.

This morning I was woken by the return of our Cuckoo calling from the reedbed across hte railway. I was most chuffed and pottered about with a smile on my face. The wife and I decided to go for a walk in the sun and thus we headed to a top secret location in East Yorks to look for Redstart. No luck sadly but a few warblers singing their hearts out and a generally nice setting were more than enough for us and we decamped to the village pub which is very good. No photos as I forgot the camera. And bins. Got a sun tan though.

Saturday 13 June 2009

Snake on my foot

A bit like a rat in the kitchen but far better. Cricket was cancelled today as Brandesburton failed to raise a side and thus Nafferton made it 7 from 7 this season. I decided to head to Tophill Low for a burton at the new North Marsh hide and very impressed I was too. Good views of the marsh. Sadly not a lot on view - juv Grey Heron and a few Reed Warblers. Lots of juv birds all over the reserve and a very nice Spotted Fly sitting on her nest in the eaves of the visitor centre. A mistle thrush family rattled along the fences of the pumping station and a Sparrowhawk shot into the trees. South Marsh East held 8 adult Common Terns and an assortment of chicks. Was almost like winter on the Marsh with 9 species of duck present inclujding a drake wigeon and two drake teal. Saw a couple of pairs of GC Grebe starting the weed dance but giving up after the head turning bit. Undoubtedly the highlight was a recently shed Grass Snake just free of its skin and allowing close approach - this was left alone to cogitate as i headed round O res. Returning to the snake to see if it had pushed off and to retrieve the skin it was still present but no problem - i will leave it in peace..or not as it shot under the fence over my foot and into the undergrowth - nearly time to change the old y-fronts! Rather gingerly I retrieved the recently shed skin which, only managing to pick up under half which was a foot long. I have donated the skin to Richard, the warden and hopefully it will by useful in scaring school kids. Was very nice just to get out and about. Hopefully going to see Redstarts in East Yorkshire tomorrow plus a pub lunch. Might even get the camera out.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Kelk Birds

I would like to humbly introduce a local birding blog based extremely close to my home :- Just kicked off but some good birds found by Bob on his regular sojorns from Merseyside to East Yorkshire.

Sunday 7 June 2009


Sorry i seem to have slipped off the radar over the last week. Not a lot of time for birding sadly. Had my fisheries exam last monday so revision was high in my priorities. I followed this with a week of nights and then a weekend of couply things such as joining the left at home husbands club which went drinking in garforth. Today was made up largely of a hangover and a christening whilst listening to Ange wafle on about take that. So all this guff actually indicates that i have nothing to say save for well done to the dutch for friday. A well deserved win.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Monday 1 June 2009

No Students Here!

Im no longer a student as I finished my last exam today. Whilst the others go crazy by drinking until they are sick or coming out of the closet as one did today (least surprising thing in the world) im taking it steady with a few beers and my good wife watching a crap film. An exam in freshwater fisheries was relatively inoffensive if not downright amenable. Fingers crossed!

I called in at Swine Moor on the way home. Two small teal shaped ducks turned out to be Teal and not the hoped for Garganey. Not a lot else to be honest a distant white bird could have been egret/gull or tern but the heat haze ate it. On returning home an addition to the garden list started singing from next doors roof - a Common Whitethroat which proceded to songflight. Magic. I trolled off to my mums after this and on my return a couple of large fat brown things on the wires resolved to be Corn Buntings. Its a regular spot but a route i dont take often enough. Will have to repeat it as i have seen yellow wag there before also.

Now all i have to do to finish my reinvention as an ecologist is get a job.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

Record, share and compare with BUBO Listing at