Monday 28 September 2009

V for Vendetta

I have rage in my heart and murder in my blood. There were twelve of them, evil to the core. I snapped. I didn't know this inner animal existed but it does. Those rats better beware.
I know its been a quiet week on the idiocy and for that I apologise. There have been zero decent birds that are still within a two hour trip to hull royal infirmary via home. I have moved my feeders up to the bay window in the dining room to discourage the four rats that started visiting. Sadly this merely meant a dozen appeared strewn across the garden. Some snooping proved that they are breeding underneath next doors decking. Drastic action was called for when one made a halfhearted attempt to investigate the patio door. Repeated threats to buy an air rifle soon bore witness to the economic amswer - two slightly shit rat traps. So far they have been set of six times, with two definite hits. One stunned the rat and in all likelyhood it crawled off to die. The other, well you can see in the photo. Sadly the better of the two traps has only been triggered twice. I dont like, endorse or enjoy killing but I cant have rats in my house and that is the likely next step.
Birdwise my last week has again been quiet - on my feeder a Coal Tit has become semi regular and a poecile titvisited once but I only got on to it as it skitted off (was thinking the coal tit looked warm colored and then when it flew off it showed no white nape). Maybe next time. Had a Hobby over my parents garden attacking hirundines which my parents have subsequently seen 4 or 5 times.
Also no baby although 3 hours in Hull Royal yesterday was dull. But thems the breaks. Peace out.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Hey Ratty

My wife is very Ratty at the moment. She is over 39 weeks pregnant and just wants 'it' out. This (funnily enough) has a knock on effect on my birding. Im not allowed to Spurn as it would take too long to get back from there if/when it all kicks off. So several lifers over the last two days have been ignored. Instead this morning I slept in and shot off to Tophill Low to check out the report of two female/juv Yank Wigeon. No sign so I gave the reservoirs a scan - lots of Great Crested Grebes, a flyover Greenshank and 4 Buzzard were the sum total. And a severe dissing of Ringing at Tophill Low by a few people. Can I say here (and I will repeat on the ringing blog) Ringing at Tophill Low is NOT affiliated with the Hull Valley Wildlife Group. Also if you have any issues with the the ringing blog please leave a comment on the blog. The children involved are handling birds legally under strict supervision and have been around ringing since they were toddlers.

On another note - my wife and I went for a stroll this evening around the village and found 2 Water Voles whilst crossing the village beck. Very close and confiding and we didnt need bins. Amazing. Still no baby.

Also thanks to Michael Flowers for the

pictures of the Water Voles

Friday 18 September 2009

300 UK - Leach's Petrel

Went for a seawatch yesterday and two of these went past. This was inceidently my 300th british bird. Not bad for a relative beginner birdwatcher as I was recently told by the glitterati. Wanker. For the record its just over 5 years since I started birding (June 2004).

Sorry for the thieving of a picture - if you took it and object I will remove.

Wednesday 16 September 2009


Im aware that this blog appears on other feeds so ive used the accepted abbreviation in the title but here in the body of text no such luck on the censorship front


Imagine what goes through your head when your seawatching in North Kent and this goes past


Tuesday 15 September 2009


Ive never really subscribed to the Hobby as Swift-alike thing. The only time I called swifts as hobbies or vice versa was before id seen many(any) Hobbies. Today left me somewhat surprised. I was toddling to work through a village called Fridaythorpe cursing the cheek of the coppers as they hid there car and camera trying to catch speeders on my commute (i spotted em thankfully), when whoosh a bird flies low through the hirundines and a couple of feet over the car. My thought process went Swift...white belly...alpine swift...too big, tail too long..Hobby?..ah, of course. It was the plunging psi shape that made it look like a swift and I get it now.

Monday 14 September 2009


In homage to the two birds of note today here is the Rednex.

P.s. Twitched the Red-necked Phalarope (lifer) at Hornsea and found a Red-necked Grebe at the same site. Must be a portent to listening to this aural genius.

Sunday 13 September 2009

Birdforum meet, Sat 12th September

The annual birdforum Yorks chapter embarkment of the good ship 'Yorkshire Belle' to do some spotting of Skuas Shearwaters and the like was undertook yesterday. Attended by Graham (Bitterntwisted), Keith (Keith Dickinson), Paul (Doc Reed), Pete (Pete Mella), Marcus (Marcus Conway-eBirder), Mike (Skink1978), Jim (James Thomas), John (birdieboy123), Rob (Zatcatzooba), Michael (Birdflower) & Mark (Knocker7800), as well as my good self we had some form to live up to - Great Shearwater (2007) & Amur Falcon (2008). Thankfully this was easily achieved with many delightful spots.

I decided upon and early and slightly fruitless start at Old Fall on Flamborough Head where a large gull flock contained nothing unusual and interest was maintained by overhead Snipe, Grey Wagtail plus Kestrel and Chiffchaff in the plantation itself. My malaise was broken by a text from Marcus which told me id started in the wrong place - Barred Warbler in Bay Brambles, a self find for him. Nice (i didnt tell him it was surely just the bird from two days ago :) ).

Too late to take a peek, I headed for the harbour to see millions of birders milling. There was only one thing for it a McMultiNationalConglomerate breakfast. Boarding the boat i noted a lack of seats and was stuck with suboptimal viewing - how dare they? The Great Shearwater finder an all that... I'd show 'em.

The journey out of the harbour was uneventful in the least as a couple of Sarnie Terns livened up procedings. A brief Arctic Skua was seen by a few. A string of very distant shearwaters was led by what I felt to be a Balearic but it was too distant to be sure. It had the jizz of a Manxie rather than the leaden flight action of a sooty but didnt flash white as it banked. It was at a very long distance, perhaps over a mile (the sea was very flat) and partially silhouetted so a probable is all it can be. Little was happening save a string of Teal which passed over the boat. Several more Manxies went past including a very close individual giving my best ever views of this species. A Bonxie gave some unsatisfactory views.

My attention was waning with Porpoise and Grey Seal providing the most interest then suddenly, BLAMMO...I spot a whale spout, very thin and high (10 foot or so) and I notify everyone with my foghorn voice. A couple of others get onto another blow this time a little bushier. The whale just seems to sink but it was very dark coloured. Initially everyone celebrates a Minke but Marcus has reservations. He didnt see this beast but he has seen Minke before and he said there blows are low and bushy and perhaps it is something else. A postscript to this is that a Humpback was seen today from the seawatch and also breaching and it seems this is the species involved as the blow fits the desription. Delighted!

Nothing much else is seen on the cruise but after a reinvigorating battered offal in the shape of a penis and woefully anaemic fried carbohydrate storing tubers we hit the head. South Landing had some limitations in terms of birds. There werent any. Actually thats a slight lie - one Pied Fly (not seen by me), one Treecreeper (not seen by me), one Whimbrel, one Bar-tailed Godwit and TWO Dunlin were our rewards. Slightly more enticing was the Barred Warbler that was showing itself in Bay Brambles (which means Marcus wasnt lying, rats). We quickly arrived at the Head en masse to the showest Barred Warbler EVER. Included is a 'record shot' by Marcus and a proper record shot by myself in which it transforms into a Whitethroat. The only way I am sure they are the same bird is the undertail barring although to be fair that might be photographic effect on my effort. Also a new latest Swift record was overhead plus a Whinchat on the brambles.
Leaving Marcus to acquire some nice shots of the warbler we left and hit old fall for little return. As we went to walk on Marcus phoned a report of an Osprey through - and Paul picked it up as it sailed overhead. Views were prolonged as the bird decided where to go once it hit the south edge of the cape before it headed strongly in the direction of Hornsea. Not amazing views but a great bird. Walking around the stubble fields added Wheatear, Linnet and Stonechat.
A final assemblage at the car park led to nice views of Whinchat and Stonechat whilst Graham managed to get most of us onto 2 Bonxies headed north. We were 1/4 mile from the sea. Amazing spot. Several people headed to Filey but I five intrepid souls had a 15 minute seawatch which produced a flyover Greenshank, a mixed flock of Barwits, Whimbrel and Curlew plus a juv Arctic Skua. My first of the day.
Thanks to the aforementioned Mr Conway for the use of his pictures. Can you guess which are his?

Badger Badger Badger

As im waiting for some pictures to illustrate yesterdays day out on the Yorkshire Belle here is a little pick me up for those that dont know


Thursday 10 September 2009

Barred Attitude

A Barred Warbler (drift migrant alert!) was at Flamborough this afternoon, as apparently was the Ortolan again. Sadly I managed a 5 second distant view of the Barred across the gorse field but picked out no field marks other than it was a large brownish warbler. No undertail barring, no comparitive size. Nothing. What I did manage were 2 Whinchats, loads of Stonechats, a Curlew and cold arms.

Conditions looking crap for the cruise on saturday - light easterlies which should ruin the seabirds and no precipitation which should put paid to the land based stuff. Grrr.

Sunday 6 September 2009

Double lifer!

Managed to get two UK ticks before quarter to eight this morning. A delightful start to a seawatch at Flamborough came when it was announced a Hobby was coming in off - working on a silhouette I was seriously impressed by the salty seadogs skills. Not long after another couple of regulars rolled up at the seawatching point on the head and relayed the news that the Ortolan was showing well on the path. I raced up to the cliff top and quickly got some decent views of this scarce European visitor. In the early morning sun the lemony wash showed nice and clear.

Returning to my seat on the cliff I noticed I had been relegated to the upper tier. Not too worry. Soon an Arctic Skua goes through followed by a Sooty Shearwater. Then a cry goes up from somebody - Ive got a large Shearwater. In my head all I could think was - dont be a great, dont be a great. It wasn't - it was a Cory's, slowly doing large loops in calm conditions, on show for a couple of minutes. It was 7.35 and I had two lifers under my belt already.

Soon after a Red-necked Grebe hammered through as did a number of Red-throated Divers. Large numbers of BH Gull were filtering past and amongst them were a couple of meds. A number of Common Scoter dribbled past with a largest group of 13. Grey Wagtail passed overhead calling and a Whimbrel nearly joined us on the watchpoint.

By 9 am it had all slowed down immensely and I could relax. A few Bonxies filtered by as did the odd Manxie but it was pretty rubbish so I tried for the Ortolan again but this proved harder to pin down and Mike had arrived guarenteeing we would see a thing. We didnt but just as we were leaving a Hobby gave great prolonged views as it worked across the headland. Magic.

Friday 4 September 2009


Went seawatching (again!?!) at Flamboro for a few hours before work. Pretty productive including a Yorkshire tick. A self-found Balearic just after 9 marked the end of a steady run of Manxies (c150) in just over 2 hours. Also 6 sooties in there (inc a self found). Very good numbers of the commoner Skuas - c35 Arctics and c20 Bonxies - although I failed with most of the first 10. Other bits and bats included a Swift, 2 Red-throated Diver, Tree Pipit, Greenshank, 10 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Knot, 4 Common Scoter and a couple of juv Wigeon. No real stunner in the seawatch but solid none the less. Mammals weere represented by a couple of porpoise and a few Grey Seals.

Thursday 3 September 2009


Grabbed a quick/wet/cold seawatch at flamboro head this evening between 17.40 - 19.00. A few interesting bits. 2 Arctics including a pale phase I picked up. I managed to see 1 Sooty briefly and distantly yet missed the closer bird. Also managed to miss a couple of Little Terns that went past. A steady stream of Manx Shearwaters contained a Balearic just as I was leaving but I couldnt find it in the rain and mist. Ne'ermind. A few commics went past. Over the land 3 Swifts were about and a Whinchat was lonely on a fencepost - some evidence of passage! A party of recently fledged Stonechat in Bay Brambles reminded that autumn on land is only just getting underway.

The most impressive thing of all was the entrance I made - sliding down the cliff face infront of the various seawatching luminaries of flamboro.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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