Sunday, 15 January 2017

Ross's Gull demise

News has just come through that this Arctic gem was taken by a Peregrine. Nature it's true...but also sickening...
 
............................................................................
 
We had a trip to Filey Brigg today despite the gloom. Wrapped up well we took Bud out to the end. No luck with Glaucous Gulls but I gave it a go.
 
............................................................................
 
Texas pic...last one...
 
Reddish Egret
 

Saturday, 14 January 2017

California (MEGA) Gulls!

Exciting times in the Golden State at the moment.
 
ROSS'S GULL 2nd record
 
 
Not forgetting the recent EURASIAN KESTREL 2nd record.
 
Back to Earth.
 
I tried hard today to locate a Glaucous Gull but there was a distinct lack of large Gulls around. I managed a few year ticks the best being a Stonechat at "the sewage" The prize came late afternoon as I drove Snakey. I saw an owl in the distance, great, my Barn Owl year tick. No wait...wings look long and appears dark? A closer inspection revealed a cracking Short-eared Owl!!!
 
Texas pic...
 
American Kestrel
 
 
 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Bird Jog!

My racing days are over. It was my first day off this year so I wanted to have a decent look at the Patch.
 
It made sense to start on the sea...at least to me. Wind direction wasn't great and it panned out that way with only 4 Red-throated Divers seen in an hour!? Tesco next for my pack-up then the Sewage. Some nice birds seen around here. Pied Wagtail seen immediately...I wonder? Yes! Grey Wagtail, always a good addition in January. 3 Song Thrushes were definitely noteworthy! We took a walk along the cliff. The main hope was Snow Bunting which alas didn't materialize. I did however add Sanderling (2) and Ringed Plover (16).
 
It was approaching lunchtime now, so I dropped my four-legged friend off at home, checked the feeders...Goldfinch (4), Tree Sparrow (2) and Wren and continued down to Spurn. I drove down to the entrance gate then slowly made my way back. Nothing of note was seen but I did add some common Year birds including Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit.
 
After lunch at Easington boatyard (still nothing passing on the sea) I moved back to Kilnsea Wetlands and went for a walk which included Beacon Ponds. 3 smart male Goldeneye were present plus a decent number of Wigeon (c120). Beacon Ponds produced the best sighting of the whole day. A glorious fly-by of 33 Black-tailed Godwits! VERY nice. 8 Little Grebes were also seen.
 
Three attempts at my Little Owl site all failed to produce a sighting. 
 
Stops at Skeffling and Welwick produced surprisingly little although the weather had deteriorated significantly. On the way though I stumbled on 5 Teal on the main drain near Outstray lane...my only sighting of the day...that's Birding! I finished off in the gloom at Stone Creek. Things were brightened by Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl (3) and a lone Fieldfare finishing off the much depleted berries. No Hen Harriers were seen.
 
After my series of very early mornings recently I was flagging, so I headed home satisfied with my tally and sightings.
 
Texas pic. Vermilion Flycatcher, Estero Llano S.P...
 
 
Yes...they are this red!
 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

BIG Lists

Just sat down after completing my re-training...always tougher than training I feel! I checked my e-mail and noticed one from Phil referring to a World BIG Year. An impressive total no doubt!
 
It got me thinking...always dangerous. Would I like to do it? No thanks. Seeing that many birds in that period of time wouldn't do it for me. Many places I would never consider going for many different reasons. The sheer magnitude of learning to ID that many species?
 
I prefer to build a list for a chosen area. It's pretty apparent which from this Blog. I have no desire to blast around the continents...besides I can't afford it!!
 
I've read many accounts of extreme Birding endeavours and hats off to those who try but I'm happy trying to build the lists I cherish and that's what I'll continue to do.
 
I'd still like to go to Attu though...
 
 
Texas pic...Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, McAllen...
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Great White!

I don't think I'll have a better chance of adding Glaucous Gull to my Holmpton list. There's been a BIG influx into Britain in the past few days. No better example than 37 on Unst! Granted that's a tad North of year but it's still a good indicator of movement...me thinks.
 
I'm still sorting myself out for the year BUT I'll be out on Thursday. Might even do a BIG (Patch) DAY?
 
Another image for your perusal from the lone star State...
 
Beep beep
 

Monday, 9 January 2017

ID?

Another maelstrom whipped up online over the past day or so. A putative (Western or maybe Eastern) ORPHEAN WARBLER was found at Newmarket. Many making a judgement on a single photo. It has since transpired that the bird is indeed a Lesser Whitethroat! This scenario has happened many times in the past. Personal insults are not the way forward but are unfortunately inevitable. Pressure that even leads to experienced Birders changing their opinion. Debate on ID is fine BUT personal abuse ISN'T.
 
The Internet is a wonderful tool but it obviously publicizes all kinds of behaviour. Genuine errors are fine (we all make them) BUT I've no time for "experts" who ridicule others and take the misplaced "high ground".
 
Tonight's Texas image is of my favourite Warbler. It's not the sharpest but it was the best I could manage this trip...
 
The peerless Black and White
 

Sunday, 8 January 2017

PALLID HARRIER

I returned to Welwick this morning after a much needed lie in. The pager had already informed me that the bird had showed...unlike yesterday!
 
I texted Phil and met him in the car park around 10am. There was a decent crowd of admirers present. I joined Phil and he told me the bird was showing "on and off". He had some pics...
 
PALLID HARRIER (P.49)
Over the next hour we enjoyed distant but extended views of this rarity which was gracing my Patch. It's easy to forget sometimes when there's something so special, so very close.
 
I was meeting Louise at 1 for lunch and Phil was heading back to Leeds. I had another 3o minutes before I had to leave so I decided to try the road that continued form the car park. I'd seen SEO, Sparrowhawk and even had a fleeting glimpse of the disappearing PALLID. I didn't connect with any of the above but I did add Stock Dove (P.50) to my year list...
 
 
I rang Phil who'd only reached Patrington and he returned to connect...just! They flew twice but he managed a glimpse.
 
After lunch we had a walk with Bud west from Skeffling to the gate at Welwick. Birds seen included SEO, Buzzard and Little Egret. On our return we bumped into John Hewitt, Mick Turton and Mick Mayer who were doing a bird race. I told them I hadn't seen anything "unusual", wished them luck and continued back to the car. We'd been blessed with an excellent day weather-wise.
 
Another image from my Texas trip. Mountain Bluebird at Big Spring S.P...
 
 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

A Start

Spent most of the day locally with Phil, it was good to see him again. We started at dawn at Welwick hoping for the PALLID HARRIER. We gave it till around 11 but had no conclusive sightings. We did have distant views of a ringtail through the mist but it couldn't be confirmed. We did have decent views of a male Marsh Harrier and a Short-eared Owl.
 
After lunch we added a few local species to our Year list including Tree Sparrow. We finished up connecting with a White-fronted Goose on Easington straight.
 
48 species seen.
 
I've been re-visiting my Texas pictures as I thought I'd post a few more of my better efforts. While waiting for the AMAZON KINGFISHER to show I had some great entertainment from a group of Great Kiskadees.
 
Here's one of them...
 
 

Friday, 6 January 2017

There and Here

Another beauty found in Texas today...pity I couldn't find one last month!
 
Image may contain: bird, outdoor, nature and water
RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN

 
Work done...now time for play...

Thursday, 5 January 2017

2017 - New challenges

What do you want for your Birding?
 
Maybe nothing more than enjoying watching birds! Then again. maybe it's more about just collecting ticks? How about visiting new sites/countries? Whatever floats your boat...I hope you enjoy it. Otherwise, what's the point?
 
For me?
 
Well, my goalposts have moved somewhat! My planned trip to the sacred ABA ground of ATTU has been postponed/cancelled. My knee just isn't in a fit state to risk that kind of money. I deliberated long and hard over the holidays but it IS the correct decision. Maybe I'll still make it one Spring in the future before my time is up? I've managed to amass a total of 686 species from my holiday visits over the last 16 years and ATTU would almost certainly have pushed me through the 700 mark, which was my bucket list target. I guess it's the equivalent of breaking 500 for my British list. Once achieved I'm still keen but not manic! Especially with some of the recent odd decisions which I strongly disagree with. No matter.
 
My trip to Cyprus in March is still very much ON however. I'm looking forward to finding some migrants from the 8th to the 29th. There should be plenty of movement North throughout this time window...and hopefully a lingering Wallcreeper or two.
 
Personally I like the idea of regular destinations to watch and Cyprus is my chosen country for an early Spring/late Winter holiday...despite the problems there. It's also the warmest place in Europe for Louise at this time of year! Winter breaks are DEFINITELY the future for us.
 
Later in the year I have thoughts of maybe finally spending some time on Shetland in September and maybe finally adding LANCEOLATED WARBLER to my British list...and maybe one or two more?
 
We aim to conclude the year with another trip to our beloved Texas.
 
So, there you are.
 
No Birding this week as I've been on a re-fresh for a part-time post which will help to pay for some of the above!!!
 
Whatever you decide to do I wish you well and please...ENJOY IT!
 

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

ABA news...BLACK KITE and BIG YEAR results

First ABA record...here
 
...and while I'm on the topic here are the results of the 2016...
 
 
 
The record has been smashed. I guess it's inevitable with more and more instant sources of information plus PLENTY of money. If I win the Lottery I might have a go!!!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

TEXAS...last knockings

December 18th
 
Another early start for our drive across the "Metroplex" aka Dallas/Fort Worth. Our destination was Lake Tawakoni..
 
Image result for lake tawakoni
 
 
The target bird was SMITH'S LONGSPUR, which would be an ABA and of course, a Texas tick. I'd tried for this species on it's breeding grounds on the Denali Highway, Alaska in the summer of 2007. The month was August however due to school holidays and the birds had departed. If birds had arrived after yesterdays temperature plunge this was my best bet. Birds had been reported from this site on this date the previous year. My contact couldn't make it due to work commitments, so I was on my own. I found the country road and the relevant field...but there was a problem...
 
 
Fencing!
 
Most of Texas is fenced and that means ...NO TRESPASSING. Quite a dilemma! My only chance...and yet?
 
I had to let it go...extremely reluctantly. Oh, and it was -2 with a gale force Norther! We headed South to Houston.
 
December 19th
 
Still smarting from yesterdays disappointment, things took a turn for the better when I checked eBird in the Motel. A Black Scoter had been reported at a reservoir in east Houston. I joined the rush hour Houston traffic and made my way across this huge City. Quite an experience in itself! I arrived at Highlands Reservoir at 8am. It was still cold but clear. I set my scope up and scanned the water. There weren't many birds on the water...but there was a male BLACK SCOTER!! (463). This bird was a real bonus on the morning of our departure. I drove back to the Motel. We checked out and headed for Bear Creek Park. Last time I was here in March it was under 2 feet of water! Thankfully things were better today and we enjoyed a pleasant couple of hours. The Pileated Woodpecker failed to appear however.
 
It was now time for my final target bird. I realised this was cutting things fine but I'd convinced Louise we'd get to the airport on time! We parked up by the path to Addick's Reservoir. Louise read her novel in the car and I promised her I'd be back by 6pm. I made my way to the site and I convinced myself I was at the right spot. I concentrated hard until the sunset but alas, I couldn't see an AMERICAN WOODCOCK...
 

 
We DID make it to the airport.
 
So, there we are. Another marvellous visit to my favourite State. I managed to see twelve new species, one of which was an ABA tick.
 
AMAZON KINGFISHER
Eurasian Wigeon
Lewis's Woodpecker
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Anna's Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird
Common Merganser
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Chestnut-collared Longspur
Purple Finch
Fox Sparrow
Black Scoter
 
By my dubious calculations I managed to amass a total of 195 species. Always good to miss a few as it gives me an excuse to return again...
 


Sunday, 1 January 2017

Number crunching

Lists re-freshed and ready for another year...

I'll tie up my Texas report later this week, together with my 2016 totals. Bet you can't wait!?

Saturday, 31 December 2016

HNY

Many Bloggers and many Birders...and MANY opinions!!!
 
I have enough support for mine to encourage me to continue into 2017. I thank you all for sparing the time to read it and wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year...
 
My final Birding of 2016 included a trip to Sainsbury's at Hessle, Hull...not to shop, I hasten to add...but to view some stunning Waxwings...
 

A fitting image to conclude the Year
 

Friday, 30 December 2016

Trip to Fort Worth and the CBC

December 16th
 
After leaving Lorna’s we headed North towards Fort Worth and our Motel where I was to prepare for my CBC tomorrow. However, on the way up I’d have to detour (thankfully) around Austin to try for a Common Merganser ,which had conveniently been present at the Tejas Camp on the North Fork of the San Gabriel River for some time. They usually turn up in Texas "way out west" and I’d already tried at the wonderful Lake Balmorhea without any luck, so this was a second bite.
As always in Texas it took longer than anticipated to reach our destination but with the help of eBird we eventually found the site and parked up. It was another glorious afternoon so Louise set her stall out and I made my way along the scenic river towards the area the bird had been frequenting...
 
The info' had said around half a mile but the views of the river from the path were very limited which meant a few sorties through the undergrowth to get a decent view. I passed a couple of returning local Birders who had come to see the star bird but all they could give me was “keep going, you’ll see it”.
It was now 3.30 and the sun was sinking fast. I’d read on eBird that the female CM was associating with a white domestic (puddle) Duck! At least that should stand out. After what seemed more like a mile I spotted the lovebirds resting on a log in the middle of the river...
 
 
 
It’s “just” a Goosander…but its MY Texas tick (458)! It was a wonderful end to the day for both of us. We left the car park after enjoying a superb sunset and continued North. We reached the Motel in Fort Worth at 8pm. An early night was required.
……………………………………………………………………………………..
December 17th
 
I was up at 4.45am and made my way the 8 miles to my meeting point with Mike Wease in the Albertsons car park. Trouble was things are MUCH easier to find in daylight, well at least junctions and road signs! Granted the Albertsons sign was pretty obvious when I eventually arrived at 5.25.
I introduced myself to Mike and thanked him again for inviting me. After he’d explained the first part of the day I decided to visit the gas station and stock up with junk food. I had the feeling we’d be on the move…all day! His two associates arrived slightly late and off we went to our first site to look/listen for Owls.
Our tally for this session was a heard Eastern Screech…or two.
We then drove to a private site and parked the cars inside the gate. This was the start of a 5 hour walk through the woods and surrounding fields recording ALL birds seen and/or heard. We were blessed with excellent weather. We covered some ground, a lot of it uneven and dense but it was great fun. Mike, Ted and Brent were great company and they were very sharp. It was an education to watch them "at work”. Birds of note included Pileated Woodpecker and Great Horned Owl. The upshot being that I added Golden-crowned Kinglet (459), Fox Sparrow (460) and the much prized (and mis-identified) Purple Finch (461)
 
We also saw some other great birds…
Cedar Waxwings...
 
 
My favourite Sparrow...Harris's...
 
Eastern Bluebird...
 
Dark-eyed Junco...
 
 
Bad weather was on the way with a strong “Norther” ripping down the continent…we could already feel it. It stayed dry but the temperature dropped like a stone and the wind picked up dramatically. This made our visit to CEMENT Creek Ponds a challenge but this was my only hope of a Longspur now. Mike had kindly visited a site where he’d seen 3 species last year on this date but we didn’t find any. Many thanks Mike.
We made our way out towards the ponds. We formed a short line across the rough ground. A few sparrows were flushed…then Mike shouted “Longspur!”. The bird called a few times and then we watched it gain height and fly off high across the main road. Mike commented how unusual this was?
It was certainly unlucky for me as this was my only sighting. The call was heard well by both of us and we had no doubt we had seen a Chestnut-collared Longspur (462). Not the view I was hoping for…but I’ll take it. Maybe a better view next year together with Lapland and McCown's!!
By the time we returned to Mike’s beast of a truck…(a Dodge Ram 5.6L) it was freezing and we were walking into a gale force wind!
 
Understandably, we called it a day. I said my goodbyes, thanked them again and made my way back to the Motel.
I love Birding with skilful American Birders. I like to think it improves my personal skills regarding the neararctic avifauna. I learn best by experience.
The day list for the record...
 
 

 
1.     Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
2.     Snow Goose
3.     Wood Duck
4.     Gadwall
5.     American Wigeon
6.     Mallard
7.     Northern Shoveler
8.     Northern Pintail
9.     Green-winged Teal
10.   Ring-necked Duck
11.   Lesser Scaup
12.   Bufflehead
13.   Hooded Merganser
14.   Ruddy Duck
15.   Wild Turkey
16.   Pied-billed Grebe
17.   Double-crested Cormorant
18.   Great Blue Heron
19.   Great Egret
20.   Cattle Egret
21.   Black Vulture
22.   Turkey Vulture
23.   Osprey
24.   Northern Harrier
25.   Sharp-shinned Hawk
26.   Cooper's Hawk
27.   Red-shouldered Hawk
28.   Red-tailed Hawk
29.   Virginia Rail
30.   Sora
31.   American Coot
32.   Sandhill Crane
33.   Killdeer
34.   Wilson's Snipe
35.   Greater Yellowlegs
36.   Bonaparte's Gull
37.   Ring-billed Gull
38.   Forster's Tern
39.   Rock Pigeon
40.   White-winged Dove (Jessica)
41.   Mourning Dove
42.   Eastern Screech-Owl
43.   Great Horned Owl
44.   Belted Kingfisher
45.   Red-bellied Woodpecker
46.   Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Jessica)
47.   Downy Woodpecker
48.   Northern Flicker
49.   Pileated Woodpecker
50.   American Kestrel
51.   Eastern Phoebe
52.   Loggerhead Shrike (Jessica)
53.   Blue Jay
54.   American Crow
55.   Horned Lark
56.   Carolina Chickadee
57.   Tufted Titmouse
58.   House Wren
59.   Marsh Wren
60.   Carolina Wren
61.   Bewick's Wren
62.   Golden-crowned Kinglet
63.   Ruby-crowned Kinglet
64.   Eastern Bluebird
65.   Hermit Thrush
66.   American Robin
67.   Brown Thrasher
68.   Northern Mockingbird
69.   European Starling
70.   American Pipit
71.   Cedar Waxwing
72.   Chestnut-collared Longspur
73.   Orange-crowned Warbler
74.   Common Yellowthroat
75.   Yellow-rumped Warbler
76.   Chipping Sparrow
77.   Field Sparrow
78.   Fox Sparrow
79.   Dark-eyed Junco
80.   White-crowned Sparrow (Jessica)
81.   Harris's Sparrow
82.   White-throated Sparrow
83.   Vesper Sparrow
84.   Savannah Sparrow
85.   Song Sparrow
86.   Lincoln's Sparrow
87.   Swamp Sparrow
88.   Spotted Towhee
89.   Northern Cardinal
90.   Red-winged Blackbird
91.   Western/Eastern Meadowlark
92.   Great-tailed Grackle
93.   Brown-headed Cowbird
94.   House Finch
95.   Purple Finch
96.   American Goldfinch