Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Times gone by....

No Birds?

That's what I know. A message from Gavin yesterday informed me of a possible Turtle Dove site near Ottringham. I did check it out and gave it an hour before heading for Duff but I didn't hear or see anything in a strong North-east wind.

So, this morning I returned for another go. I parked up and as soon as I opened the door I could hear a wonderful sound of summer's gone by...the purr of the Turtle Dove (P.114). It didn't seem far away, although sound travel can be deceptive. There was a lot of thick vegetation by the old railway line but fortunately it had chosen a prominent perch...



Great to SEE this declining bird so close to home. Big thanks to Gavin. It soon flew from it's perched and although I heard it again several times I didn't get another view in the following hour.

After lunch I was tempted down to Kilnsea to try for the Temminck's Stints (P.115, S.84) that had been reported this morning. The cold NE wind was still blowing strong as I made my way towards the hide. I passed a Birder who informed me that birds had been showing well but had just flown off down the scape! I walked down to the screen and scanned. The wind was directly into my face and after sticking it out for 5 minutes I made my way back towards the hide. I looked through both screens but couldn't see anything. The hide is very small and I could hear several voices. One conversation included the word..."stint". That was my cue to enter. Fortunately a chap had his scope trained on the birds and asked if I'd like to take a look!! Handy...

Keeping company with an Avocet and Dunlin
Seeing this species took me back to the eighties (sad but true) when I saw 4 birds on my first trip to Spurn. I think it was May 87.

I'd contacted Richard Boon earlier and he texted me mid-afternoon to take me up on my offer to show him the site. Again as we arrived the bird was singing from the aerial! After he departed I stayed until 5pm. I did see the bird again distantly (c100yds)...

This image came out remarkably well!
...but it never returned to the aerial.

A good day...

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The North wind doth blow

As if the Winter weather wasn't bad enough, after a nice spell, things have gone pear-shaped...again!

Great weather...no birds. North wind...no birds!

Well...migrants at least. The Swifts know. I saw half-a-dozen at NDC today as I staked out the Corncrake again. Not a sound nor sight. Sightings and photos occurred over the weekend but nothing today...not helped by the strong wind. The/a bird was reported by the English Nature staff. I did enjoy great views of a cc Marsh Harrier plus a couple of Little Egrets. I had a good chat with a couple of Durham birders and guided them in the direction of Wheldrake to look for Hobby.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Larking about

Had an hour down at Sammy's Point yesterday afternoon. I like it down there. The weather was glorious, not too hot, just fresh and clear.

As I got out of the car I could hear Whimbrel. The birds were very wary out on the mudflats but I counted 10 in all. We did the circuit and as I was returning along the man path a bird flew over my head and landed some 80 yds down the path. It was a lark but it appeared to have a short tail? My first thought was Woodlark. I managed a distant image before the bird flew off high east.

I tweeted (hate that word) the news out as my radio was dead and that was that. It later transpired that some thought that the bird maybe/was a Skylark with no tail...others didn't...at least initially. I don't get involved with on-line debate as people can make of it what they will. Besides I don't really fully understand how Twitter works....and don't want to! The important thing is to let other birders know...which I did.

I would expect other Birders to release news of birds they thought "of interest" whether definite, probable or possible. Ah but what about the fallout if you are proved wrong? Who cares...everyone makes mistakes...

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Big gardening day today. Setting the stall out for the summer. Hanging around the house enabled me to enjoy prolonged song from Blackcap, Goldfinch, Blackbird and Song Thrush (2). I also enjoyed views of a displaying Sparrowhawk over the back yard while having a coffee. Easy Birding...

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Bluethroat

A significant moment happened today. This species has proved elusive to me over the years. I've spent many hours in various parts of Britain and abroad trying to get good views or any view of this secretive species.

A bird had been seen at Cliff Farm late on Thursday evening. I could have made it down but...I didn't! News came through mid-afternoon that the bird...or another, had appeared in John Hewitt's back garden at Driftwood. Not a bad garden tick!!

With it being a Saturday I reckoned there'd be quite a group of admirers queuing for a hopeful view, so initially I was again going to pass, especially bearing in mind my track record. Anyway around 3.30 I cracked and set off for Kilnsea. Maybe this time?

As I arrived  could see a couple of cars parked by Driftwood so I pulled up and walked round the back. There were just 5 Birders present and there was only one bird on John's lawn...


Rather surprising...to say the least!!!

Incredibly the bird started to move down the lawn towards the small group of admirers...


The bird kept close to the edge of the lawn and dipped in and out of the shadows...but it kept coming...


...and coming...


It was again...almost surreal. I couldn't help but think back to all the hours I'd spent waiting in anticipation to see this species...well. Yet there it was right in front of me. It was a timely reminder to me to treat each situation with a clean slate. Guess it was my lucky day...


I was only there 10 minutes as the bird then made it's way back up John's lawn. Not before I managed one more though...

Bluethroat (P.112, S.84)
Many thanks to John for putting the news out and allowing access to his garden. It was certainly a good decision...this time.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Earning a Cuckoo

If I'm going to the Gym is has to be...EARLY. The two man reasons are...1. I don't really realize I'm there and...2. I don't want to be thinking about going later.

I was back home by 9. I sorted some domestic issues out and then it was time to take on the car. More exercise...and it saves a fiver!

Around 9.40 I heard it...the Cuckoo (H.74) was close. I grabbed my gear from the house and drove down Taylor Lane in my half washed car. Richard was talking to a neighbour so I let him know...assuming he hadn't heard it!? Of course when  reached the cliff it was singing much farther away to the North. A quick turn round and back down the lane and onto Seaside lane. As I approached the end I could see the bird characteristically wobbling on a wire. I slowed up and angled the car for a pic but it flew off South and wasn't seen (or heard) again.

The up side was that if I hadn't been cleaning the car I would have missed it. Hard work paid off!

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The SONG SPARROW is still on Fair Isle but more elusive today. A couple of chaps have taken the long route. Driving to Aberdeen, then flying to Shetland followed by an afternoon flight onto the island. They should be on the island as I write. A massive effort which deserves success. Here's hoping they connect...

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Twitching over time

You've probably noticed I've got the twitching bug!

A purple patch on Shetland/Fair Isle at the moment has brought MARMORA'S WARBLER, CRAG MARTIN and SONG SPARROW to our shores. Thankfully I don't "NEED" any of them...pressure off!

When MEGAS turn up though, it still gets the old cogs turning...I guess it's in the blood. It also makes me ponder what I will do when something turns up (and it inevitably will) on some far flung island that I "NEED"? I've took the plunge 2 and a bit times for what I considered high quality...namely:-

CAPE MAY WARBLER
BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO
AMERICAN REDSTART

No regrets there...and I did manage to eventually get the latter.

Factors such as:-
Cost -£500/£600
Time
Stamina
Determination...etc etc come into play.

Answer...for me it's now selective and (slightly) more sensible...I hope. My unfortunate escapade last September hasn't put me off chartering but the cost does make me more selective. Looking on-line some chaps seem to have limitless time and money to go at will. I admit I'm (slightly) curious as to how some of them actually manage to do it? Good luck to them!

Again for me I'll just cross that bridge...or not...when the time comes. I have to admit I'm finding it harder to justify such an outlay when comparing it to say 3 weeks in Texas. Again, if you've got the time and the funds...off you go. I've got more of the former these days...but less of the latter!!

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Corncrake

Yesterday morning found me in the Geoff Smith hide not so bright but definitely early! I was in place by 6am and gave it the "long sit" until noon. Multiple bursts of song were heard from the comb-stroker but it just wouldn't show. Very hard to estimate distance and virtually impossible to pick out of the vegetation. Some chaps got lucky the other day when it decided to take a bath in the pool. I wasn't so lucky. On the positive side at least I heard it and the weather was glorious. A few Black-tailed Godwits in summer plumage were still around and Cuckoo and Water Rail were heard.

After recovering from my flora study I decided to head for Wheldrake Ings for an afternoon stroll. I had the accompanying song of Willow Warblers all along the riverside path. It was the first time I'd heard any this year.

It was a nostalgic walk for me and one I'm grateful I can still make. Many memories came flooding back of my times here in the 90's. Making countless visits after work and at weekends. I entered the Andy Booth Tower Hide and scanned. The Great White Egret stood out like a sore thumb, albeit distantly...


I continued down to the wind pump were I heard multiple Garden Warblers singing. Great to hear this species as it's been a few years since I'd heard this song. Just then a photographer appeared and so did a Hobby...


Onto Swantail hide were a couple more Hobbies were seen plus a Red Kite...


...and three Common Terns.

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This morning I joined Phil for a walk round Kilnsea. Another lovely day but not much of note seen although we both added Spotted Flycatcher (P.111, S.83) to our year lists...

Friday, 11 May 2018

Quality at NDC

The morning walk to the cliff proved fruitful this morning when I heard the seven note call of a Whimbrel (H.73). Despite extensive scanning I couldn't get a view of the bird down below.

After my Gym sesh I took Bud to Out Newton hoping for my first Swift...it wasn't to be. This is definitely the latest I've been "without one" on my year list?

Off to Duff. News of a singing CORNCRAKE in front of the Geoff Smith Hide added a little spice to the journey. No joy on my first sit but I did spot a male Garganey (72) briefly in front of Garganey hide! I didn't see it again.

After walking down to GH I was really chuffed to add a spectacular species to the year list. A speeding Hobby (73). Really pleased to grab an image...of sorts!


At last I added my first Swifts (74). I reckon there were around 50 over the reserve. Always great to welcome back this iconic species. Definitely an indicator of a late Spring! A grounded Whooper Swan has been sadly left behind but it seemed perfectly happy with its commoner cousins...


It was also great to see the once rare Little Egret on the reserve. It fitted perfectly...



Another stint n the GSH failed to produce any evidence of a Crex Crex. It was nice to see a pair of Mute Swans working in perfect harmony as they finished off their nest...


A stray Red-legged Partridge (75) on the path on my way back to the car was a bonus.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Cuc-koo

Forced myself to the Gym this morning to build the old knee up. It's good for me...apparently!? As I was leaving I heard a certain familiar bird singing. Another iconic sound of Spring. I tried to figure out the general direction this far carrying song was coming from. I drove home and collected the lad for his morning constitutional.

I drove through Hollym and down to the old railway line. I drove as far towards Withernsea as I could then started to walk the rest. Within 5 minutes I'd picked up the song again.  A scan of the wires found a different shape amongst the Wood Pigeons...


A bit of stealth- like manoeuvring enabled me to get closer despite taking some impressive nettle stings...


After having my fill I left the bird still singing on the wire and headed back towards the car. As  was half-way back the bird landed on the wire right in front of me...


Always nice to get a decent view of a Cuckoo...

Monday, 7 May 2018

Reterning

Nice walk north along the beach from Kilnsea this morning in glorious sunshine. The sound of Little Terns added to the spectacle. At least 50 birds were active over and around Beacon Ponds. Another wonderful indicator of better times ahead. Let's hope they have another successful season. A couple of Sandwich Terns (P.111, S.83) were also noted.

Swifts are being reported at last. I expect to see my FOY tomorrow...

Sunday, 6 May 2018

LEO

A bit of a garden tidy up this morning. It's the first time we've been able to inspect the casualties from the winter of doom! Some pleasant surprises with most things OK including my Dahlias. Birds included singing Blackcap, Goldfinch, Linnet (a first) and Blackbird plus Swallows on the wires and displaying Wood Pigeons from the bedroom window.

I managed a quick walk down to Sammy's again mid-afternoon to try for the Long-eared Owl (P.110, S.82). I was pleasantly surprised to find it was still present and everyone was admiring the bird from a "sensible" distance...at least while I was there?

The bird was deep in the bush and the view wasn't great but it's always nice to see an Owl...



I was tempted to try for the Wryneck near the Bluebell but never made it. Maybe tomorrow...

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Cherry Picking

I've brought my Mother back for a few days and it's fortunately coincided with some glorious sunshine! As we made our way along Snakey we had fabulous views of a local Corn Bunting...


Very fortunate to have this declining species breeding locally.

Yesterday afternoon a report of another declining species, a Wood Warbler (P.107, S.79) had me heading down to Sammy's Point. Who was Sammy? On the way I came across a male Marsh Harrier at Out Newton...


Bud and I had a walk down Sammy's. A couple of circuits revealed a fall of Wheatears (c20)...


and Whitethroats (c10). No sign of the main target though. A few other searchers were milling around and after around 20 minutes a shout went up that the bird had been re-located. Over the next hour I managed to enjoy great views of this distinctive Phyllosc...




This afternoon I cherry-picked again with a brief sorte down to Kilnsea Wetlands/ Beacon Ponds. Richard Boon was in the car park with the same intentions. We had a pleasant stroll and connected with both targets quickly...

Sleeping Drake Scaup (P.108, S.80)
Drake Goosander (P.109, S.81)

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

SNOWY OWL

A change of plan took place.

Initially I spent some time in the Village but the singing Whitethroat on the cliff was all I could muster. I then got a text off Richard informing me he'd seen a Pied Flycatcher (H.72) and a Ring Ouzel in the field behind his back garden. I asked if I could take a peep and he answered in the affirmative.

My luck was in. Within 10 minutes I'd seen both birds!




I thanked Richard and then headed for NDC.

I'd not been there long, although long enough to convince myself the pair of Garganey had departed. A message...

11.53 SNOWY OWL 1st winter female Frampton Marsh RSPB near Tabb's Head late morning

Having missed the bird earlier due to my Cyprus trip I thought I'd give it a go as I could be at Frampton in under 2 hours. I took the A1/A17 route and thankfully avoided any jams. Now for the walk. I'm increasing my distances but this was going to be a tester! Still, I had a target...a BIG 1.

I had to walk around the perimeter of the reserve as I had my friend with me...surprise, surprise! The reserve looked a picture...


Avocets everywhere!

Onward...


I was heading for the trees to the right!

After negotiating a couple of fair-sized herds of cattle (they don't like Bud) I arrived at the viewing point. I wasn't expecting crippling views...and I didn't get them. She was sat out on the saltmarsh at around 400yds. At least it was still there....

Naked eye perspective
I gave it an hour (mainly to recover!!!). She had a few stretches but stayed in the same spot...


My Pedometer informed me I'd covered 7.2 miles and it felt like it. Worth it though. Just glad I can walk that far again.

My previous experiences with this species are...

Wainfleet, Lincs - January 1991

Barrow, Alaska - August 2007. At least 20 birds seen on the tundra.

St Mary's, Isles of Scilly - October 2008

Monday, 30 April 2018

Back in the game

Busy weekend over at my Mother's. She's developed a problem with her eyes. Hopefully it can be sorted out quickly.

Today I searched hard for a lingering Pied Flycatcher in the Village. No luck but I did add Blackcap (H.71) to the year list. Mid-afternoon found me down at Sammy's point in a near gale force northerly. I DID get a glimpse of a PF (P.106, S.75) but it was far from satisfying. On the return walk I heard the tell-tale call of a lone Whimbrel (S.76)...


A lone Avocet was a surprise...


A report of a Wryneck on the road near the car park was definitely worth checking out. My hopes weren't high and nothing was seen. I was going to head back but  remembered that a PF had been seen at Cliff Farm earlier in the day. I parked up and tried the sheltered Crown and Anchor bushes. No joy.

So, across the road to view the Cliff Farm garden. First scan...a black and white bird on a wall...


Great stuff!

To see one of these stunners on migration in Spring is ALWAYS special. To see one feeding at close quarters along the road by Kew was more than I could have hoped for.

A few more...



A poor day weather wise but if you look hard enough, there's always something to brighten your day...


 
 
The merry month of May is upon us tomorrow. Let's hope it's a good one. I'm starting mine at Duff...
 

 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

A two-pronged attack

I woke to a message informing me a Nuthatch had been seen by Mick Turton in his Easington garden. Another potential Spurn area tick! I arrived to find Richard Boon already in place with a cuppa. I joined him and Mick and waited...and waited. I gave it a good do but alas it wasn't to be. Maybe next time? However I did have some luck as this beauty sailed over Mick's garden...

Red Kite (P.101, S.69)
I spent the afternoon down in the Kilnsea Wetlands/Beacon Ponds area. A calling Cuckoo (P.102, S.70) was a good start as I stepped out of the car. I headed for the hide. Rick Swales was in position. He told me he'd had a good look around but hadn't seen it. We had a reminisce about how certain species occurrence patterns had changed over the years eg Buzzard, Little Egret and Avocet. Next a scan from the blind...

Greenshank (P.103, S71)
I then made my way up to Holderness field but still no sign of the "swallow". Onto Beacon Ponds...a wader hopped along the waters edge...

Common Sandpiper (P.104, S.72)
I gave it a good hour checking all the swallows but the star never appeared. On my return I checked the screen again. Glad I did...

Curlew Sandpiper (P.105, S.73) One of two present.
The whole area is now starting to look a picture as it greens up. Much promise of some great days to come.

A Red-legged Partridge (S.74) on the way home finished off a cracking day...    
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Holmpton Ring Ouzel!

After doing this and that, I decided to have a wander down to the cliff. Expectations weren't high...they never are...as then, you won't be disappointed...right!?

It was a pleasant temperature with a light westerly wind. I scanned the horse paddocks. The high water table has left the ground soft which s great for feeding thrushes. Mistle Thrush is always a notable sighting in the Village and a fine underrated bird to boot...


Plenty of Blackbirds present (c10) and I counted 4 Song Thrushes. Maybe there would be a late Fieldfare or Redwing? I circled the area and found my first Whitethroat (P.100, H.69) of the year.
Another scan of the paddock. The local girls arrived to tend the horses which obviously flushed the birds. However within 5 minutes they had resumed feeding and there was an addition...

Ring Ouzel (H.70)
I texted Richard and Gavin. I then decided to move to the other side of the paddock to get the sun behind me. Fortunately the bird remained in view enabling me to get some better photos...


Really chuffed to "find my own" in the Village. A precious sighting. Low expectation but high satisfaction...


Richard arrived but the bird was flushed by the girls again. It flew high over the bushes calling and wasn't relocated.