Saturday, 23 February 2019

TENGMALM'S OWL - Aftermath!

So, no sign again this morning. My potential travelling buddy is on site and I'm praying it turns up for him and his brother...and the rest, some of which are still travelling. Been there..,know the feeling!!! Not pleasant.

Is it over? Who knows!

Having been Captain Sensible on this occasion (believe me it was hard) at least I scored MEGA points on the home front. As mentioned many times before I've "got away with murder" for many years for which I am eternally grateful, so when the good lady says has to be no.  Another of my Dad's sayings...

"If the Queen's not happy the King is in trouble"! (or words to that effect).

She's right of course but boys will be boys...just not this time. In the past I've beat myself up over poor strategy, this time I had it sorted, I just couldn't put the plan into operation.

Detached thumb ligaments isn't ideal...

Guess I could always draw a TO on it! Ironically it's called a BLOCK!!!

Roll on Texas...

UPDATE: 9.20 !!!!!! MEGA Shetland TENGMALM'S OWL again Mainland
That's the game we play....tough sometimes...

Thursday, 21 February 2019

TENGMALM'S OWL - A Cathartic post

Seeing as I'm laid up I have time to post some reflections...

I woke this morning to the news the TO was back, after the storm, in the same location! IF I'd travelled I WOULD have gambled on last nights Ferry and would be looking at it NOW!!! (Cue Violins). I CAN assure you I'm STILL as keen as the next twitcher...and always will be...BUT some things ARE more important and my present circumstances prohibit travel. Let's just leave it at that.

Tough one, especially considering it's an Owl and it's almost certain to be seen.

I know of some chaps who turned around yesterday on negative news. Another tough scenario. Many congrats to those who gambled or are travelling today and beyond. No sour grapes here I can assure you. I'll get the next one!!!!!!

In such circumstances my mind inevitably travels back to similar (thankfully not many) occasions...


To name but three.

Each bird has its own unique set of circumstances. The WW arrived when I was on Scilly and Louise was happy for me to leave and travel to the Outer Hebrides to try for it. I didn't.

The TBW arrived just after I'd cancelled our booking for our holiday on Shetland due to my leg. I'd have seen it on our first evening.

The PG Tips was missed by minutes at Spurn. You've probably heard that one!

Rarity value or experience? Both preferably. The first of the three would be my choice considering my strong bias towards the New World. The other two are frankly...rather boring IMHO.

Got me thinking about "Type of twitch". As you can see I have a "Rush Birds" list. The twitches that have been the most...exciting. In fact I've just had another look. I guess I'm happy with the order "Pop Pickers".

Even though I've place it at No 3 my solo AMUR FALCON twitch will take some beating for adrenaline rush. I guess the NIGHTHAWK and CLIFF SWALLOW have an element of nostalgia built in but were truly exhilarating moments I can assure you.

As previously stated I came into the game fairly late, opening with a GREAT BUSTARD dip!!! So from a lifetime perspective I was quite a few down from the start. Never bunking off School cost me many from 1990 through 2011 as well as holidays abroad. I'm still dipping them lol! I guess I'm an Everton rather than a Manchester United/City. As my Dad used to say..."There'll always be better, there'll always be worse".

There...I feel (slightly) better. Adding to this my plane crash I consider myself very fortunate to still be enjoying this wonderful hobby/ fact life at all!!
There'll be another...

Wednesday, 20 February 2019


Well, it's happened!

Spurn '83 and all that.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to pass. My (latest) injury plus a lot of "other stuff" going on at the moment means it's a "No No". Not much luck at the moment!!! The bird showed brilliantly all day yesterday but no sign at dawn in atrocious conditions?

All the VERY best of luck to those that have travelled. Back to historical eBird recording for me...

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Productive walk

Has a nice stroll down Snakey late morning in the wonderful February sunshine.

I'd looked for my Partridges many times from the car with no luck. Inadvertantly flushed both today! Result! (P.76, H.35).

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

NDC Raptor fest!

The hoped for Noah's flood didn't materialize today. It's always last to flood but I thought the recent wet spell may have done the trick.

No matter, it was a bright afternoon and the view was as special as ever...

Throughout the afternoon I enjoyed prolonged views of an adult female and two juvenile Marsh Harriers and a very lively juvenile Peregrine...

I added Shelduck, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Dunlin, Snipe, Fieldfare, Redwing and Bullfinch.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Fresh Air!

Clocked up 4 miles today with my mate. Felt good.

We started at Easington Beach were an hours vigil failed to produce any sightings of the wintering Shore Larks.

After lunch we visited Kilnsea Wetlands were I paid my first visit to the new hide. A definite improvement. I couldn't locate the Green-winged Teal unfortunately.

Things were going well!

The day was saved when I did manage a brief view of the Black Redstart (P.74, S.39) at the North end of the Gas Terminal. The bird flew down onto the beach and wasn't seen again in the next 45 mins. It looked in cracking plumage, so a return visit will be made.

Rising water levels mean a visit to Duff will be the order of the day tomorrow...

Monday, 11 February 2019


Made it to Cornwall by 4.30am and grabbed an hours sleep. Another 90 minutes found me at the National trust car park at the Lizard. the southern tip of Britain. Extremities and Rare Birds eh!

It was still dark but a few cars were starting to roll up. The one next to me contained Dan Pointon who I'd last seen at Bempton... again involving an Albatross twitch. We were hoping for better luck this time.

We made our way down to the watch-point and set up our gear...

By 9am my dream of a BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS shearing through the surf was starting to fade...slightly.

By 11 I needed a stretch and some refreshments, so I walked back to the V70 and bought her down to the cliff car park.

I reckon around 50 intrepid hopefuls had made the trip but by now some were leave.

Time for a much needed kip. Risky I know but unavoidable under the circumstances. I figured I'd hear the commotion if something occurred!?

I was back in the game by 3pm and gave it till 5 but it wasn't to be...again. Got back home at 1.30am after completing 940 miles

Obviously a difficult species to connect with...but I'll keep trying. Three sightings definitely made the trip worthwhile. At least it's in the North Atlantic and hopefully will turn up again this year. Bempton would be nice Trevor!

Saturday, 9 February 2019


In 1987 I was a novice Birder stood on the end of Filey Brigg when a shout went up..."Albatross"!!!

I didn't see anything BIG.

There was a returning bird for many years at Hermaness in the Northern Isles but that was way beyond yours truly with a young family.

A couple of misses at Bempton relatively recently. One when I was on the Outer Hebrides and the other when I was working, mean I still haven't seen this species in Britain.

I now have another chance!

A bird was seen off the Lizard on Friday afternoon. It was then (surprisingly) seen again this morning AND late afternoon!!!

Obviously lingering/roosting.

After a tough week I'll be driving down tonight... fingers crossed...

Saturday, 2 February 2019


As stated many times before I follow the "official line" but don't necessarily agree with it!

We now have another example of this.

The BOU have just decided (after 32 years) that a bird that toured Norfolk and Northants between 1986 and 1988 has been deemed worthy.

I saw the bird in Northants in February 1987 in my twitching infancy.

Do I feel any satisfaction? Not really...but I'll take it!

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Golden Plovers

Saw my first flock (43) this year at Stone Creek late afternoon.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Feeding well

Tree Sparrow numbers increasing... word must have got round! Up to FOURTEEN now.

Not forgetting the humble House Sparrow (8) of course.

Added Long-tailed Tit (P.73, H.34) this morning when 12 made their way through the garden.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019


Had a walk down to Old Hive this morning to see if any Snow Buntings were still around. I couldn't find any but it was nice to see a decent number of Red-throated Divers offshore. Even better was a lone Black-throated Diver.

I now have two Coal Tits attending my feeders and my Tree Sparrow count has reached 8.

Patch 72
Holmpton 33

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Near and further

It was a thankfully sunny day, if a bit nippy. It can be tough going finding decent birds at this time of year...especially new ones! The day turned out to be just that...quiet. Still I enjoyed the drive round and enjoyed a few of the local suspects. The dark Buzzard near Patrington remains faithful to its favourite area...

There had been an obvious cold weather influx of Lapwings with c300 on Snakey lane and at Weeton.

Late afternoon I ended up at Skeffling. The tide was in and the Humber was flat calm...a fine sight enhanced by the presence of 10 fine Pintail...

A Barn Owl was hunting by the Village as I left.

A final drive back along Snakey revealed another dark Buzzard looking for its supper...

...and going to the toilet...

Shot in the dark!
Constant activity at the feeding station. The Coal Tit is a regular...

The Niger seeds always bring in the wonderful Goldfinches...

Not forgetting the humble Chaffinch...

Brightens up a Winter's day...

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Buz Birding

Work and play today!

I had the Easington round shift which covers the area between Withernsea, Patrington and of course Easington. It even includes Holmpton and Snakey lane.

My first run (7.30 - 8.30) produced 3 Barn Owls, two at Weeton and one at Skeffling. The next run had a gem/imm Hen Harrier heading for the Humber.

I added a couple of Buzzards at Patrington before lunch.

Late afternoon I had another sighting of a Weeton Barn Owl. Then at 4.45 I SAW a Tawny Owl gliding along the road in front of my bus at Skeffling. Nice!

Tomorrow will be total Birding...

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Feeding Station active!

Fully stocked and the birds are...HERE!

Blue Tit 8
Great Tit 6
Coal Tit
Robin 3
Dunnock 3
Wren 2
Tree Sparrow 8
House Sparrow 6
Blackbird 4
Chaffinch 4
Goldfinch 6

A quick trip to Tesco just before dusk. Obviously done it hundreds of times before...never seen a male Hen Harrier by the Sewage though!!!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019


Firstly, a bit of news from late yesterday when I saw THREE Barn Owls in 30 minutes! Birds were present at Holmpton. Skeffling and Weeton. The Weeton bird, through the windscreen... I did pull over!!

This morning I set off for a sesh at Duff. On the way I stopped off at Skeffling and had a play with my latest second hand camera. You may recall I unfortunately dropped my last one. I managed to repair it but the heat of the UAE was too much for the tape applied! I'm still keeping it but I wanted to try the "new" one with Texas in mind. Yes, I like to think ahead...out of the gloom!

First impressions were favourable. Here's a couple of images...

Reed Bunting
I arrived at NDC around 9.45 and stayed till 1.The greylags were enjoying the much welcomed sunshine...

There's a limited amount of water on now (which will stay) and it helps to concentrate the birds down by Garganey Hide, which is where I spent the whole watch. Hopefully more will fill the reserve later in the Winter...not too much of course.

The Whooper herd usually spends the day across the road on the farmland but I was lucky again this morning (26 on my last visit) with a family party of four present on the Carrs...

We were joined for a while by a pleasant chap from Fulford. We swapped stories of times gone Birders tend to do! We commented on how nice it was to see so many Lapwings...

I then noticed the Whooper family take off. They circled and then headed off for the farmland. I grabbed my camera and just managed a few shots not knowing what I may have captured. To say the birds passed the hide a good hundred yards away in overcast conditions, I'm very pleased with the new camera's performance...quite a relief as well...

I then realized one had remained...

By 12.30 the skies had darkened (surprise, surprise) so I headed for Mr C's chippy in Selby. I also managed to get a quick trim...bonus. I was going to return for the afternoon but a full car park and dark skies meant I headed home.
Mute Swan (Cynus olor)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) 4
Greylag Goose (Anser anser)
Greater Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) 2
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
European Teal (Anas crecca)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) c 20
Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) 4
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) imm female
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) c 300
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus)
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) c 200
Stock Dove (Columba oenas)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)
Great Tit (Parus major major)
Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Saturday, 12 January 2019

A Bird Stroll...on the Patch

Woke up early on Wednesday, felt good, so decided to have a mooch around the Patch to kick start the Year's Birding. No planning...just "go for it" a leisurely pace of course!

I made it down to Welwick pre-dawn. No Harriers or SEO's but a Barn Owl quartering the Marsh was a nice start. Sparrowhawk was also added. I tried Skeffling but still no significant additions.

Next I had a drive down at Spurn passing the Whoopers and lone White-front on the way. I also saw my only Buzzard of the day. On the way out I had a quick look from the Crown and Anchor and got lucky with a couple of Turnstones.

Onto Withernsea...and Couplands! I enjoyed my lunch on the ramp by the flood gate. The hoped for LBB Gull wasn't seen BUT I did get lucky with Ringed Plover and Sanderling. I also had a couple of Gannets in a token sea watch. A quick visit to the Sewage added Pied Wagtail, a bonus Song Thrush and Skylark.

I then returned to Holmpton to check around the Cottage. My feeding station is bare at the moment (soon to be replenished) but I managed to add Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Tree Sparrow.

All site were visited on a whim with no particular strategy in force.

Down to Stone Creek but still no Harriers or SEO's. However, there in the middle of a large arable field was this...

I drove past the bird to the end of the straight and then retraced my course picking up my only Fieldfare of the day in a bush by the road. There was also a large flock of Lapwings present. The Peregrine was on the move as I passed it again...

I worked my way back through Sunk Island to Patrington Haven. I checked yet another ditch for Kingfisher to no avail, then had a last scan to the East. There just above the tree line for a few seconds...was a Marsh Harrier!

A quick pass on Snakey gave me my second Peregrine of the day, this time a young bird powering low North. No Partridges though.

Back to Spurn and more precisely Kilnsea Wetlands and Beacon Ponds (it was gone 3pm now). I didn't have time to grill the ducks but I did add Wigeon, Teal and Goldeneye.

Could I make it back to Welwick in time?

I arrived at 3.55 and made my way to the flood bank. The sun had set but there was still enough light to view...nothing! Then at 4.16...


I had my Hen Harrier/s. I also saw 2 Short-eared Owls. A nice finish to proceedings... except for the Tawny Owl (heard) as I unpacked the car.

My List

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
European White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
Greylag Goose (Anser anser)
Brent Goose (Branta bernicla)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
European Teal (Anas crecca)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Red Knot (Calidris canutus)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus)
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Rock Dove (Columba livia)
Stock Dove (Columba oenas)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)
Great Tit (Parus major major)
Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniculus)

67 Species

Monday, 7 January 2019

ABA Owls...through the years

Still fishing through some old pics on these dark nights. I've assembled a few that I thought I'd share on here. Brought back some great memories...

GREAT GREY OWL, Yosemite National Park, California, 2003

My finest hour!

This species is present in the park but VERY elusive. I'd failed on two previous visits to the park in previous years, so I wasn't confident of success. I got lucky with some information posted on a local Yahoo site. A birder had seen one at Wawona Meadow the previous day. I made my way up there and sure enough I found it and enjoyed an unforgettable couple of hours watching my favourite bird hunting the Meadow.

Snowy Owl, Barrow Alaska, 2007

We saw TWENTY ONE birds in an afternoon within 3 miles of the town!

Northern Hawk Owl, Anchorage, Alaska, 2007

It was the last day of trip and I'd scanned thousands of trees without any success. We pulled into a petrol station on our way to the airport...and there it the car park!!!

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Bentson, Texas, 2002...

A resident bird was easily seen on the reserve. Alas, they are no longer present after severe flooding in 2008.

Northern Saw-whet Owl, San Bernadino Mnts, California, 2008...

A truly impressive find by Lance Benner who I'd contacted previously and was only to happy to help me. Again it was as we tried the last car park just before midnight. A few weekend revellers were about which didn't help but it didn't stop Lance picking out a faint noise. He shone his torch into the darkness...and there it was! Simply amazing.

Flammulated Owl, Colorado, 2011...

A nest site was visited in a private area, way off the beaten track. We had to wait a while but eventually it popped it's head out! I was in the company of Richard Crossley, a Brit who has produced ID guides.

Great memories...

Sunday, 6 January 2019

RNG re-visited

When I first got interested in Birdwatching as a pastime one of the first sites I visited with my young sons was Ashbyville Pits opposite Scunny Steelworks. It had a fairly impressive track record of turning up decent birds, most of which I'd never heard of at the time! This site was also my first encounter with John Harriman.

One frosty Winter's day I was walking round the lake (which was mainly frozen) when I noticed an unusual bird with the Mallards in a small area of unfrozen water. I didn't have a clue what it was BUT it was intriguing. Eventually I figured I out, it was my first Red-necked Grebe.

This morning I made the trip to Castle Howard to try for the RNG that had been found there yesterday morning by Tim Jones on a Bird Race reccy. I slipped up yesterday by not reacting quick enough ((I blame the flu!). I arrived at the Great Lake around 9.30 and headed for the car park. Unfortunately, it no longer exists, so I had to improvise!

It was a still morning if rather overcast as I made my way round the footpath. A few scans failed to reveal my quarry but the further I walked the better the light became. The bird had been reported first thing (which was a relief) but after 45 minutes I was beginning to worry? It's a deceptively large area of water and I guess a diving grebe can prove elusive...that's my excuse anyway! Then as if by magic it appeared...


Got away with it then. My 205th species for the York Area. Only took me THIRTY TWO years!!!!!!

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Ghostly Vision

Returning from Tesco I decided on the spur of the moment to have a run down Snakey and give Bud an extra stretch.

I'd only gone around 100yds when out of the gloom appeared a magnificent male Hen Harrier cruising across the road heading North.

Absolutely Brilliant!!! 

I love a nice surprise...