Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Near and Far

Think I've used that heading before...probably one or two more as well by now!

I've put quite a few hours in over the last couple of days. Mainly plonking myself somewhere and ...waiting. Still a bit sore in a few places.

If you watch sycamores for long enough something usually appears. I managed a couple of Goldcrests (Firecrest one day) and a Willow Warbler at Old Hive. I also noticed a large chunk of cliff had slipped by the farm. Note to self: Don't park too near the edge!!

The highlight this morning was 2 Mediterranean Gulls (H.88, P.130) on the beach. An expected species and no rush but glad to add it today.

Then more beeping from the pocket...
11.05 MEGA Shetland YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING Out Skerries
12.06 MEGA Shetland SIBERIAN THRUSH Unst at Baltasound at Ordaal

I confess to having to check the first although I knew I'd seen one in Yorks many moons ago...Filey 18/9/1994. It was a while ago! No such problem with the latter though!!! Enquiries were made. Due to current circumstances I can't say too much but lets just say things didn't work out. I know...boring but necessary. Another major factor being the diabolical forecast for Unst tomorrow. The 14th record for Britain, only three have stayed more than a day. The 1999 Scilly bird was the year before I started my annual pilgrimage BUT was far too early for my half-term teachers week (5th- 8th). 2 Norfolk records give a slither of hope.

Probably be showing well tomorrow lol! Maybe I can talk Louise into a fortnight in our retirement? I doubt it though. The bleak Northern Isles wouldn't be her cup of tea...alas. I'll work on it...

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Spent 3 hours around the cliff this morning. Best I could manage was a Goldcrest! Oh, and a GSW on a telegraph pole. More Dunnocks and Robins about. A wonderful fresh, crisp, autumnal morning though.

As my late Father-in-law used to say...

"If you don't expect anything, you won't be disappointed".


Monday, 18 September 2017

Taking stock

A calmer day today. Great birds still arriving though.

PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER a strong supporting cast.

Fortunately I don't "need" any of them so I can convalesce relatively stress free? The BBC was a tick for most until the North Uist bird. Funny how a species can be demoted. Still a fabulous bird though.

The PG Tips has bitter memories of my Spurn dip. I'll have to be quicker to the mist net! Maybe a Lancy next time!? The ups and downs of Twitching. We're now approaching the meaty period of the year rarity wise, although it's been excellent already. The next few weeks will no doubt produce some serious adrenaline rushes. Hope I can cope with the excitement...

I'll be out locally from first light and I'll be lowering my sights somewhat...but then never know in this game?

Sunday, 17 September 2017


Seven days is a long time in Birding. I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of this wonderful hobby, although it can be hard going around the Village on occasions...I still enjoy the challenge.

When something "special" turns up in Britain, I'm always interested...just depends what it is. Fortunately I can say...No! On this occasion it was a "must"...if possible.

As can be seen from my 2 previous posts, things (as usual) turned topsy-turvy. After sorting out a charter on Friday night I arrived at Manchester City Airport, Barton around 8.15am Saturday morning. It was surprise there! Around 9 the three of us joined the pilot and preparations were made.

I have to state at this point that details of what happened next are best kept confidential...for obvious reasons.

Suffice to say that the plane got into difficulties and we ended up in a field adjacent to the M62. I sustained injuries sufficient for me to be airlifted to Salford Hospital. I was treated brilliantly by the para-medics in the helicopter, the Police, Firemen and the Hospital staff. My family joined me and I eventually left around 4pm, somewhat stunned!

Quite a spectacular way to dip I feel!!! It could have been worse...obviously.

Time will tell what caused the plane to crash. Think it's best left there.


I recuperated locally at my Mother's in Bury, leaving for home on Tuesday lunchtime. The bird was a distant memory and wasn't on my mind, partly due to the medication I guess! I had to report to Withernsea hospital to get my head wound checked. The nurse was happy with it.

I'd received a few messages from Steve Lawton and Tony Dixon regarding the AMERICAN REDSTART. There was an early Ferry from Oban on Wednesday morning...tempting! Louise arrived home at 7pm and I gave her that look. The absence of Buddy was another clue! After raised eyebrows she gave me the nod.

Tony kindly drove. Erich Hediger was with us and we picked Steve up at Wetherby. I settled in the passenger seat with my painkillers. Things were going well and we were making excellent progress as we approached Scotland on the M6. Red lights ahead!? Accident. It was around 2am. We didn't move an inch in the ninety minutes or so. The mood was grim as we started to realise we weren't going to get to Oban by 6.35. We found some info online giving a forecast of a road clearance by 4.30. Too late!

One of the many fascinations of twitching!

Fortunately the prediction was wrong and we started to roll around 3.45. We had hope. It was going to be close but it would be preferable to make it as it would allow us a relaxed afternoon with the bird...if it was still there of course? Twists and turns. We did have the option of the later Ferry at 1.15 but that would have left us much less time to connect on the day. We would have known if it was present before disembarking though. Complicated this twitching game!

We arrived in the Ferry queue at 6.45am. A touch of hurried paperwork and we were on board. Phew! The irony now was that we were committed to an 8 hour sail not knowing if we would connect. The morning progressed on a fortunately steady sea. 8 - 9 - 10 - news. Glum faces at the prospect of another 4 hour sail, turn the car around and come back again!!!

Way out of Pager range but the ship had wi-fi. I have the RBA app but no details as I haven't upgraded.  Around 11.40 I casually looked at the headlines...again.


RFI, Negative or Positive? It soon became clear the bird was still there...Huzzah! The rest of the journey was plain sailing.

Fully aware that we still hadn't actually seen the bird, the mood was now positive. We disembarked and drove the 10 miles to Eoligarry in a convoy of 4 vehicles past a number of bemused locals. Again, fortunately for me we could park right by the church. We sorted our gear out and walked the short distance to the stunted sycamores.

No big crowds here!
After a frustrating 30 minutes of brief glimpses the star turn eventually showed well...on occasions. Plenty of pics of this superb bird about now. For the record...

Add caption

A few more thoughts...

Charter or ground travel? I've done two previous charters for the CAPE MAY WARBLER and the BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. No regrets. Things didn't work out last Saturday but NOBODY could have predicted that! The logistics for me personally on this occasion, would have made the cost worthwhile. This was backed up by the sweaty morning on the Ferry...character building though. I also know a lot of chaps don't have the time to go overland/sea. It's a personal choice.

Someone was looking after me on Saturday September 9th.

What it was all about...

Another top American bird is added to my list...Happy Days!

Monday, 11 September 2017


Just a brief post for now from my mother's house in Bury as I recover from my bad luck event.

My Charter plane crashed shortly after take-off on Saturday morning at Manchester City airport.

I was elated on Friday evening as I'd managed to arrange a late option to enable me to try for the bird. Things didn't work out... unfortunately.

More later...

Thursday, 7 September 2017


Barra to be precise. Love to...but can't make it.

A combination of late news, distance, pets, oh and work...that's enough excuses! I like to try extra hard for one of our American friends. Maybe it'll hang around a while...maybe it won't! I've seen plenty of males in the States but always smart to see a smart young one here. Time will tell?

1985...the last British record!!!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Back on the pitch - up the Shakers!

Had a great day with the family. Brought back many great memories...

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Passage Waders

ANY wader is noteworthy at Holmpton!

An hour down the cliff early doors had only produced a single juv Bullfinch and a chat with Richard Boon. As he drifted off through the undergrowth (I wimped out due to short attire) I heard the distinctive 7 note call of the Whimbrel (P.130, H.88). A quick scan produced three birds heading South off-shore. I thought that would be that...but then more "peeping". Now a flock of 5! They circled a couple of times and then continued South. An excellent local record.

My pal Trevor found not one but TWO GREENISH WARBLERS at Bempton!!! I must try harder...

Off to London tomorrow for a review of my hip. Then on Saturday I'll be treading the hallowed turf at Gigg Lane as I've been invited to be guest of honour at the Scunthorpe game. I'll be a nostalgic trip down memory lane! Looking forward to it and I'll be great for my wonderful Mother.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Calm before...

Still here!

There's more to life than birds you! It's that time of the year when I've run out of excuses NOT to do those jobs that need doing. So, the cottage has been painted inside and out. This has given me major credit for the upcoming Autumn Birding!

Tragic happenings in the Lone Star State that you may have heard about. TWENTY FOUR inches of rain in 2 days!!! More than Manchester gets in a year! We experienced a taste of this on our last trip when we arrived in Houston to find my first targeted site (Bear Creek Park) was under eight feet of water. Needless to say I didn't connect with my Greater Pewee.

A few migrants have started to filter through Spurn. An Icterine Warbler was trapped this afternoon and a few Pied Fly's have been seen. I guess it's time I joined in (I worked Monday and today).

I'm determined to give the Village the full treatment this Autumn...time will tell?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Yellow Warbler

As I sit here recovering from my last escapade (both mentally and physically), I just wanted to record a few thoughts on twitching/chasing in general.

It was great to see so many familiar faces of all ages scattered around the site of the dearly departed bird. Yes, everyone was disappointed...obviously. A lot of effort had gone into reaching the site for many and the morning vigil from pre-dawn was a laborious one in conditions that were more suited to October.

For us it was an all-night drive from deepest East Yorks...a round trip of 686 miles. No regrets for a star like that.

The atmosphere was convivial with many conversations striking up as the morning progressed as it became more and more apparent the bird had moved on. Personally I was surprised at this. I felt it would stick around and feed up. That's the thing you just never know...all part of the "fun".

As you know, I've been stung in the past by the "wait for news" strategy. The late charge hoping it will still be there is a feeling I can do with out. This is followed by the even more sickening feeling of searching for the bird (almost exclusively in vain) when it's disappeared! Yes we all dipped...but we were THERE!

As I'm now a selective twitcher I have a slightly more relaxed attitude to the outcome....or at least  think I do!?

The jewels from across the pond are a particular favourite for which I'll definitely go the extra mile...again.

Monday, 21 August 2017


 MEGA Dorset YELLOW WARBLER Portland at Culverwell at 3.35pm

I'm in the game...this time! 13 years since my aborted attempt for the Barra bird due to mountainous seas.

A Bobby Dazzler. American Warblers are tops for me.

Be there at dawn.

Update: Arrived at 6.10 with 2 Tony's and stayed till 11. It wasn't to be.

Saw many dedicated twitchers, many familiar, both young and... older than me! We deserved better but didn't get it. There'll be another... maybe sooner than I think?

Friday, 18 August 2017

Worth a Peep

News came through yesterday afternoon of a "stint" at Nosterfield showing apparent palmation!?

Possible American Wader...SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (excellent) or WESTERN SANDPIPER (MEGA...and Yorks tick).

Did I go? No. I should have though.

The bird was present till dusk. Up at 5 and breakfast at McDonald's for 6.30 after a stretch for Bud. No news online so I waited for the Pager to wake at 7 (risky). Sure enough, news came through "it" was still there.


Fair drive in the largest County (91 miles). I'd been here a few weeks ago for the Sabine's Gull, so I drove to the Village. As I approached I remembered the location of the reserve which a different spot. I pulled into the car park and sorted out my gear.

Chris a mate of Barry Bishop was just leaving. We had a brief chat then I headed for the screen. Fortunately there was room to view.

The viewing area was distant...

The bird was on the central island
Scope out and scanning. Picked up the Peep. I watched it for around 30 mins...none the wiser! I would have said... Little Stint. I know, I know...sounds smart, but there you go. I texted a few pals including Trevor and we discussed the "apparent" palmation. Real, shadow, mud etc. The distance (c100yds) made confirmation difficult. There were many snappers hard at it and I was sure someone would get something conclusive eventually (lets face it there's blanket coverage of everything these days...a double edged sword).

They was a Little Stint.

Now here's the thing. Since the confirmation photo appeared...

...there's been a lot of comment on the dreaded "social media". Some supportive but alas plenty much less so. Lots of...I told you so...with more than a smattering of smugness. The bird DID appear to show palmation. There were various comments on structure, bill size etc. Very difficult.

For me...better to give the troops the heads up, as the alternative scenario is far less palatable.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Something always turns up...

Adult Rose-coloured Starling in Scarborough and Western Bonelli's Warbler in Easington. A couple of great records...for August. Very deceptive however. Tough to find these little gems...guess that's why they're scarce/rare!

A combination of work and trip planning has seen me off the pace this last week. I'm in training for the oncoming flood of "great birds" the coming Autumn will produce. I can dream. My trips for the next 12 months have been finalised...I'm not driving a bus for the good of my health!

The Autumn will be spend flogging Holmpton and surrounds. Then early November will see us leave for Texas for three weeks to escape the gloom. Christmas at home with family then hopefully my knee replacement in January. Some rehab, then it's a return to Cyprus in March for 3 weeks. Really enjoyed it last year and met some great people.

Spring Birding in Blighty then it's a change of scene. A report by Brendan Shields got me interested in a trip to the Canaries. I've chosen Fuerteventura...less people and more birds!

I'm at a stage now were I'm hoping to strike a balance between British Birding and foreign travel. The Birding gods will decide how fortunate I am. There'll be the usual ups and downs but I'll  be fun...and that's what it's all about...isn't it?

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Duff quality

Acting on a tip off from Duncan Bye I spent 6.30 till 12 listening, rather than looking for Corncrakes...

Not surprisingly no joy but marvelous to know they have graced the reserve. No secret now and a great success story with excellent cooperation with the local landowners.

Maybe next year...

I added Kingfisher and Bullfinch (2) to the year list (ND.73).

The highlight was having a good natter with Haydn. Great to see him. He arrived around 8 after a trip to Skippy and we left together.

A lone Lapwing (H.87) was a nice bonus as  passed the Holmpton sign...

Thursday, 10 August 2017


There's always someone doing a BIG YEAR in the States.

Three actually!

Stop Press: CASSIA CROSSBILL has been split by the AOS and THAYER'S GULL has been lumped with ICELAND...and Kumlien's!?

That's 2 Crossbills to go for now, as I STILL haven't seen RED CROSSBILL in the States. The only Code 1 bird I still "need".

There's a podcast here if you're having a slow day.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Ill wind

Promising Northerly wind today. Nobody told the birds though!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Alpine Swift

Needed a change of scenery so a text from Trevor at Bempton informing me an AS was floating around sent me Northward.

Unfortunately the bird hadn't realised I was coming and rudely left the scene.

Still, I had a good chat with Trev, discussing various birdy topics before returning home.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


#BBRCdecision #ZEISS :Ref No 6997.0 Accepted-Blue Rock Thrush 14-Dec-16 Stow-on-the-Wold, Glos

There you go! I agree. Just a personal opinion.

Does a bird recognise man-made structures...ala mock stone housing estates? I doubt it.

This opinion coupled with a return south coast sighting makes me comfortable adding this species to my list.

I, like many others, have their own thoughts on certain decisions, both negative and positive...BUT for comparability purposes my Bubo badge is strictly BOU.

Friday, 4 August 2017


Lazy lie in after a couple of 5am starts. I love early mornings!

Of course... snooze and you lose...

E.Yorks Cory's Shearwater N past Spurn at 8.35am

Ah well. Might as well head for the cliff for the constitutional.

E.Yorks Cory's Shearwater N past Spurn at 9.10 am

I'm here...and scanning until 10.

Wonder if the angles are against me? Any excuse...

No matter. I gave it my best shot focussing on the Canada bouy(2m) in less than optimum conditions...much spray and haze.

Just to emphasize my position on seawatching...I added Gannet (P.129, H.86) to my year list! It's a marathon...not a sprint...