Thursday 28 July 2011


Mr B: The Gentleman Rhymer work of absolute genius

Monday 25 July 2011

Stormin' Spurn

Was at Spurn with the BF boys (Michael Flowers, Keith, Rob, & Mark). It was a cracking day with the undoubted highlight a self-found Yorkshire tick in the form of a Storm Petrel struggling north over the surf from the seawatching hide. We also managed a juv/1st winter Yellow-legged Gull in the roost at Chalk bank. I picked it initially on the unnotched tertials and despite the fact the bird sat down with its beak under its wing for the most part it did eventually show its mask, long legs, faint pale window in the primaries and strong bill plus it was bigger than the Herrings in the roost so presumably a male. It wasnt very pale headed but I wrote that off due to its young age and thus lack of wear/bleaching.

juv/1st winter YLG showing no useful features
The day started with a seawatch from the Bluebell between 7-8 but the light was awful and a lone Sooty Shearwater, 2 Common Scoter & an Arctic Skua were picked up along with plenty of Sandwich Terns. Once the rest of the chaps arrived we ambled down to the seawatching hide with a Yellow Wagtail or two puntuating the journey.

Once we arrived at the hide we saw nothing for a while but it picked up with 7 Manx Shearwaters south in a two small groups. An Arctic Skua passed at the same distance. This was interrupted by the amazing views of the Storm Petrel. 2 Velvet Scoters flew north slowing our leaving of the hide swiftly followed by a Bonxie and then an Arctic Tern or 2. The seawatch lasted until 11 and yet aside from the Manxies and first Arctic Skua all were seen between 10.30 and 11 - not typical seawatching times.

We checked Canal Scrape out and a Yellow Wagtail blogged about with a Lesser Whitethroat feeding in the bushes at the back. A good number of hirundines were seen dip feeding and a Reed Warbler sang uncertainly.
House Martin or Storm Petrel
Small Skipper
By this time we had seen a number of Butterflies - Wall, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Peacock, Small White, Green-veined White, Common Blue & Small Skipper. Time was marching on and we headed to Chalk Bank for the wader roost. We had Greenshank, Little Tern, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Knot, Sanderling, Grey Plover and Sandwich Tern with the waders and amongst several hundred Dunlin a single juvenile...

Amongst the gulls was aside from the YLG was a single adult intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull

We then hiked up to Beacon Ponds where a Solitary Sand Wasp was found and we also discovered that 3 out of the 5 of us were deaf as me & Rob could hear Mole Cricket & Roesel's Bush Cricket which sounded like air raid sirens to me and yet...

We found an odd wader which I couldnt place at Beacon ponds but was probably just a Dunlin. A Curlew Sandpiper was delicious as were a few Little Egrets. Lots of terns bobbed about but we failed to nail a probable Black Tern which flew through.

Friday 22 July 2011

Blurry Inverts

I have attempted mothing using no moth trap a couple of times over the last week. It mostly involves a lamp, my old labcoat and painting a mixture of boiling water, sugar and tia maria (we cant stand the stuff - got to use it somehow as its been in my wife's possession as long as I have and is still 2/3's full) on the fence.

Success thus far has been mixed BUT there have been a few bits and pieces of interest including a Common Plume Moth

a footman sp.

Plus a Caddis Fly, Limnephilus lunatus

And a Dung Beetle Aphodias rufipes

And finally this unknown moth - the closest I can get is Marbled Beauty but doesn't seem quite right.

Any clarifications most welcome - apologies for the picture quality as I only have my iPhone camera to use at the time. Two new additions to the garden mammal list taking it to three were Pipistrelle sp (presumably Common) and Noctule. The other is of course Rat. Bumsy.


Sunday 17 July 2011

Rat features!

Water Voles finally - shame it was cloudy so I had to step down to 1/50th as I was trying to shoot at f8. Whilst waiting for the Voles to show I saw my first village Kingfisher which was a ruddy followed by azure blur as it barrel rolled down the stream. A female Sparrowhawk was escorted over the stream by the entire villages quota of crows and swallows. Plenty of Trout were jumping.

In the garden it seemed all the juvs had fledged simultaneously including a Chiffchaff. Here are a few of the highlights...


What to do with people who burn hides?

Birdforum is often a haven for extreme opinions and it seems that I may have produced one such opinion on there - I stated that children of poor sociology-economic background dont often become birders and that this section of society is under represented in birding. This was my response to suggestions that public execution should be used for those that vandalise reserves. Further to this I suggested that education and social engagement would reduce vandalism on reserves. At this I got jumped on. The warden of Spurn suggested that he would build a wall which he would shoot vandals and myself for being a bleeding heart liberal against. Other people jumped up and shouted...IM POOR!.

I am married to an educator. I work (for the next 3 weeks) in an educational institution. Education works. My wifes schools have always been in underprivileged areas with high levels of deprivation with issues such as single parent families haunted by drugs, violence and alcohol and yet they achieve fantastic results year on year due to excellent leadership which taught my wife how to teach and engage these children initially, how to lead and latterly by leading the school herself. As results improve conversely so does discipline and yet staff are encouraged not to shout or threaten. Punishment has its place but the type of punishment encouraged by the birdforumers is interesting - who is the punishment for? the aggrieved party or the offender? Or the panel of self appointed guardians of birdwatching?

I got jumped on further when I drunk posted that my assertion that people of poor backgrounds are unusual in birding. I probably got this a little wrong - my wine clouded judgement failed to put the word socio-economic in the mix. It is deprivation that causes disengagement of individuals not lack of money. But I wasnt trying to offend people I was trying to get the point across that in order to reduce vandalism on reserves perhaps nipping it in the bud by getting the deprived to value their natural heritage rather than alienate them by threats. Once a crime has been committed then their must be punishment - as deterrent and as a stand alone punishment for wrong doings but this should be proportional.

Now I am sure you can read into this my liberal values but I am no pushover and dont believe in nanny stating. What I do believe in is attempting to solve the problem as a whole issue rather than as individual perpertrators. Social engagement is the answer. I am sorry if this doesn't read as a particularly coherrant arguement - I merely needed a platform to put my point across without flooding the excellent Yorkshire Forum with bile, both mine and responders. If any of them want to respond on here then I will allow all responses that arent abusive even if they dont line up with my own opinion.

Friday 15 July 2011

Potter Wasp ID

can anyone help? I think its a potter wasp of some kind

Ringing - Sunday

We had another CES session this Sunday. It was pretty slow with only 12 birds caught but a nice variety with 9 species. Highlights included a male Bullfinch, freshly fledged Blue Tit and re-traps of Song Thrush, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler. Of even more interest was news from the previous visit that we managed a control of a Sedge warbler. At the moment we know nothing more but I will fill you in when I get the chance.

Ringing demo by Graham
The slowness of the session allowed appreciation of the other wildlife in the vicinity including a gorgeous solitary wasp - Chrysis ignata. Sadly we failed to get a photograph. we also managed a Common Frog - a tophill rarity!

We also had Grass Snake on the hay bales and tonnes of grasshopper sp. which we think are a combo of Common Green Grasshopper and Field Grasshopper but I am so woefully naive with insects its untrue.

Common Green Grasshopper
Red Admiral

Butterflies were the main attraction with many species on the wing including Small & Large Skipper, Marbled White and lots of Ringlets.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Skipper ID

Im rubbish at Butterflies but I have this down as Small Skipper - any thoughts?

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Marsh Sandpiper, Blacktoft

Midget Greenshank with the head of a Wilson's Phalarope
A hoped for event when the Marsh Sandpiper, sensibly, decided to leave Lincolnshire for God's own by hopping the Trent. I was at Blacktoft for half 10. Not too many there and I got really good if a little distant views. It was parading round with a posse of Greenshank and took a little picking initially but once my eye was in I could see the subtle differences in leg colour, face pattern and bill morphology plus the smaller size. A very smart sandpiper - no doubts. Too far for the DSLR to cope with.

The picture here was a Greenshank...DOH

Plenty of supporting cast as well with 2 Spoonbills, 9 Little Egret, 2 Green Sandpipers, a dozen Spotted Redshank, Arctic Tern, Marsh Harrier, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff and plenty I have forgotten I am sure...

Green Sandpiper


Sleepy Spoonbill

Monday 11 July 2011


Went for a walk at Wansford this evening. There were 3 singing Sedge Warblers which is a new thing and I guess down to post breeding dispersal. Great Spot and Barn Owl were present along with plenty of Swallows and a fly through Kingfisher - my first of the year. Very nice.

Also went ringing yesterday but once I have the photos I will post on that.

Thursday 7 July 2011

There's a Moth in mi Office, what am I gonna do?

Dark Arches

This bad boy was floating round the office kitchen. ID was a collaborative effort as it was quite large and feisty.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Laid Off

My shit week has got really shit. I have been laid off with a months notice as there is no work coming in. If anyone knows anyone who needs an ornithologist let me know. A CV can be provided on request. I have experience of writing ornithological sections to EIAs, several surveys, am competent on all regular british birds, have over 340 hours offshore survey experience and have worked as an ornithologist for the last 18 months.

Sunday 3 July 2011

Local Cream Crown

Went for a listen of the local Quail this evening. One bird was calling in the field adjacent  the meadow where they had been which has now sadly been mown. This perhaps illegal cutting will probably have waylaid the first broods but hopefully now they are in the Barley they can get some young off. A mid-sized bird of prey with a shallow tail fork caused minor pant filling. Its actual identity was a Marsh Harrier heavy tail and wing moult with new central tail feathers. Minor palpitations subsided.

On returning an aquatic mustelid crossed the river but sadly slipped into reeds before I could get a proper handle on it. Gut feeling was Otter but honestly not good enough views to do anything more than speculate. Dammit. Before I got back to the car I watched a family group of at least 6 Mistle Thrushes feeding on the cut hay meadow. An Oystercatcher kleep'd over head along with a couple of Tufted Duck heading up river. A Little Grebe was whinnying on the river.

Mistle Thrush - honest, it rattled when it flew

In the garden a pair of Song Thrush and at least 1 young bird continue to forage in the garden along with a persistant Wren.

A Hoverfly was pratting about on the trellis. Any ideas on species gladly received.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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