Thursday 28 October 2010

Barmston Birdforum Bash

Last Sunday a few of us descended upon Barmston in order to catch up with Little Auk. We failed. First thing was a Common Buzzard following the car on the way up there. This was possible as Rob was driving. My car is offline due to  an idiot crashing into me.
Upon arriving we had a flock of at least 30 Twite bobbing about the car park and cliffs. Pretty showy eh? Photos are thanks to Paul 'Doc' Reed. A brief seawatch produced a mega distant Bonxie, Red-throated Diver plus Wigeon, Common Scoter & Teal.

We decided on a quick amble which was pretty good. Another 12 Twite, a Short-eared Owl on the saltmarsh and best of all a Rough-legged Buzzard. This was quickly shoo-ed off by the local corvids unfortunatly but not before we all got views. A Snow Bunting shot overhead. By now it was midday and I had to visit the fuzz. The other went on to Hornsea Mere and Tophill Low but thats a whole other story.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Losing My Virginity

Seeing as my actual birding experience currently is limited (work, children, wife, darkness etc) I thought I'd share a memory or two with you, my loyal readership. Now I am a very recent convert to this hobby after eing 'interested' most of my life. In May 2004 I stumbled across a Little Owl roosting on my parents land and this allayed with various other species that I encountered there set me off birding and the following month I joined birdforum which for its sins has helped. A lot.

My skills improved rapidly as did my life list with visits to flagship reserves and the like. Exotics like Green Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank & Black-tailed Godwit were added. By the beginning of October I was regretting not going to see the territorial male rosefinch in Humanby (it seemed a long way to justify travelling from York - if only I knew!). A new website, Birdguides, was starting to show interesting birds which were maybe within the reach of a beginner and so I decided at the very beginning of October to twitch the Baird's Sandpiper at Flamborough head.

This proved an inspired decision as I dont believe there has been one in Yorks since (not an easy one at any rate). I drove all the way to South Landing and saw a small group of birders on the beach so I clomped over. First lesson in twitching etiquette was soon learned. Know your place! As a rank beginner I was made to stand at the back and got shushed regularly as a group of waders came up to us. They were Sanderling so I was told at the time (I only ticked Knot off 2 months later) and amongst them was a funny shaped bird which looked the same but not to my untrained eye. I was told this was the bird. Wow! Tick.

Did I critically analyse its JIZZ and look for fieldmarks. Did I fuck. Someone had told me it was a Baird's Sandpiper, it was different to the Sanderling, it looked like the photo on birdguides. That picture still looks the same. Is it on my list still? you bet your life - we all gotta learn somewhere. And here is the bird for posterity. I apologise as I have robbed the photo but if you are the photographer and want it removing just let me know.

In the next edition we look at my first mega.

Monday 11 October 2010

UK Tick #315

To talk about the lifer from yesterday would be to do yesterday a diservice. I was at Spurn for the afternoon and nearly trod on Goldcrests & umpteen Siskin, watched more Chiffchaffs and Redstarts than I can remember with all the chiffers looking distinctly abietinus, saw over 100 Brambling for the second day in succession and also caught up with 2 more Ring Ouzel. Redwing were like a biblical flood overhead, Robins looked distinctly scandi and flocks of Song Thrush were the norm. A little scarce was good with three distinct highlights.
  • 4 Shorelark ambling in the strand line at Chalk Bank. This was my lifer and also Yorks tick 278. Not quite as exciting as I hoped. And I fell over into some sea buckthorn. Yowser! Brambling & Redstart foraging amongst the seaweed next to the Shorelarks was amusing.
  • 3 Jack Snipe acting like proper waders by feeding in the open teetering a mere 2m infront of the hide at Chalk Bank. No camera (although it seems Santa may want to rectify that).
  • Best of all was a bunch of migrants finding and mobbing a Tawny Owl in Easington Cemetary. Ages since I saw a Tawny in daylight and I have never seen one in a tree in the day.
All three were yearticks with sats shrike and Rouzels takes me to 218 for the year. Beat last year but may struggle to get another 39 birds to equal 2008.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Actual Birdwatching

I spent time birdwatching for fun today. I covered 13km and burn 990 calories according to my new training gps device thingy. Im still fat though so its fine. It was all spent at Flamborough so naturally I didnt see anything too good. The highlight was a Great Grey Shrike killing a Goldcrest that had just arrived before I left.

I didnt twitch a thing and saw loads of common, limited scarce and no rare. The morning started at 8 in bay willows with a Redstart, one of several and continued around to North Landing with nothing much more save for a few Siskin (had over 100 throughout). Robins were everywhere and Redwing were streaming in. Meadow Pipits flooded all the grassland and everywhere marginal had its Reed Bunting. 2 abietinus Chiffchaffs included one with a faint wing bar and a bog standard Lesser Whitethroat bobbed about. As I got to North Marsh a Peregrine wheeled overhead scattering the Jackdaws and Rock Doves.

I arrived at North Landing and bumped into Andy Walker who was scoping Brambling amongst the commoner finches. A brief chinwag was good and I pushed off into one of North Landings gullies which yielded three Ring Ouzel including a fine male. they were a little skittish but good views were had. Other bits down there included Garden Warbler, Blackcap, more eastern chiffers and my first Goldcrests of the day.

I moved on to South Landing which didnt produce much new but plenty of migrants including a plague of Redwing. I failed to catch up with the Lapland Buntings in the area but saw a number of Kestrels. I finally walked Old Fall and back to the car park including the shrike and another Ouzel. There were more birds but you get the idea.

Went surveying in North Lincs the other day. Only birds of note were a few Grey Plover. Site Ticks.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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