Monday, 22 October 2018

Late Results

One of the many
fascinations of our wonderful hobby is its unpredictability.

After a slow morning and a lazy lunch with Louise, news of a Long-eared Owl down the road tempted me into action.

I had a good look around the Visitor Centre bushes but there was no sign of the Owl nor anyone looking?

I made my way up onto the Canal Bank and continued to scan. A few Redwings were present but still no sign of the Owl. I asked a passing couple if they'd seen the bird. They weren't aware of its presence and soon moved on.

Then a shout..."An Owl!"

I turned to see...."An Owl" flying across the road towards "Numpties". One should never presume but I was hoping it was a LEO.

Fortunately the bird lingered long enough for me to get a pic. The afternoon sunshine helped...

(P.164, S.126)

So, from nothing, to maybe a bush sighting, to a flight view in the sunshine. Wonderful!

I stayed till just before dusk, talking to Spurn regulars Bob and Alice, then headed for With' Tesco to get some provisions. I pulled up in my usual spot. As I was about to get out of the car I noticed a flock of large birds heading towards me. My initial thought was a skein of the local Greylags off to roost. A second look in the gathering gloom...they're weren't Geese...they were Swans!

15 Whooper Swans

BIG moment. I'd invested a significant amount of time trying to connect with this species on passage this Autumn, then I fluke some! I'll take it though.
I followed them South and they obliged by flying over Holmpton with a full moon as a backdrop, giving me my Village Lifer (161).


Sunday, 21 October 2018


For many years we would have been on the Fortunate Isles this week. I do miss it BUT circumstances do not allow this year. I do hope to return in future years.

You've read all my pontificating regarding strategy and missed MEGAS etc. The bottom line is...experiences...and a week on Scilly is most definitely a wonderful experience. You need luck to be in the right place at the right I was last Sunday afternoon. We've had some wonderful weeks on Scilly...whilst dipping some British Ticks...WILSON'S WARBLER and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO to name two. Not that I remember these things!

The next week is prime for another "BIGGY" with the 23rd being my annual forecast!

Yesterday morning I tried Skeffling for our constitutional. It paid off with a brief Hen Harrier right by the car park on arrival..

Five fingers
Pale chest suggesting adult female

Saturday, 20 October 2018

CATBIRD extension

A couple of good pals are involved in the CATBIRD experience.

Phil Jones made the trip down today...and connected early afternoon. He stayed until dusk and has managed to get some decent footage apparently.

Haydn Patterson is on his way down tonight, braving the joys of overnight Motorway closures! Still, a far better option than risking a daytime travel. Everything crossed for a hard grafter with limited free time. I sincerely hope justice will be done.

My highlight today was an excellent yet brief view of a "ring tail" Hen Harrier by Skeffling car park.

Friday, 19 October 2018

MEGA - points scored!


We had a great time in York for Louise's 60th celebrations...and the Birding Gods were kind to me...this time! Not that I would have jeopardised the day in any way. I realize how lucky I am.

We spent the afternoon mooching around the centre and visited the Shambles...

...and Betty's...

We also had a drink by the King's Arms down by the river.

The evening was spent at the wonderful Rythre Arms Steak House near Tadcaster...

All went smoothly. We stayed over and arrived back this lunchtime.

I had a couple of hours around the Village this afternoon. The weather was lovely. I managed to pick out a Snipe (H.117) coming IOTS as well as 3 Lapwings. Nice. On my way to the Kennels to pick his lordship up I saw my first significant flock of Fieldfares (c100) this Autumn on Snakey Lane. I also saw a small group of Redwings (5) feeding behind a hedge. Further down there was a healthy number of Tree Sparrows (c50).

Still a couple of weeks of anticipation in store. Beware the 23rd!!!!!!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

GREY CATBIRD - a personal account

Well...quite a few days!!!

BUBO badge positively glowing at the moment.

After the pandemonium of Sunday evening (nice though!!!), I had to plan the logistics of our big night out in Leeds on Monday to see the legend that is Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra. Before that though I had to ready for a WRS re-appearance...but where to go? Back to Hornsea or down the road for a possible fly-by...or better. The weather was grim at daybreak so I decided on Spurn but I also decided to wait in the car by the radio...and the phone of course.

By 10am it was clear that the bird had moved on from Hornsea and I'd had enough at Spurn so I returned home to plan our trip.

Of course, just after lunch...

14.09 MEGA WHITE-RUMPED SWIFT Spurn flew north over the Warren

We had to leave fro Leeds at 3 but it was worth a peep, you never know it could be lingering? I bumped into a few Birders on Easington straight including Steve Webb but there was no sign or further news. He told me that he'd heard only two Birders had claimed it...which was quite surprising given the blanket coverage. It transpired that the bird seen was a House Martin.

To put a bit more spice on the occasion I'd misplaced aka lost our tickets!!'d received them months ago and put them in a "safe place" know how it is. Everything turned out fine though and we had an amazing evening watching an old school legend. Just like the records...

Earlier as we were enjoying our Barbacue Pizza at Frankie and Benny's I'd received a message that was rather inconvenient considering the circumstances...

MEGA GREY CATBIRD Trevescan, Cornwall - one at Treeve Moor just north of Treeve Moor House briefly at 15.55

I hid the tension well from Louise...I think.

The concert finished at 10.30 and despite having some problems finding the car park we arrived back in Holmpton just after mid-night...when I broke the news. She helped me pack up and I left for Cornwall at 12.30am. I'd received some messages from Tony Dixon earlier but my phone had died taking pics at the concert (car charger also playing up) and it was too late for arrangements now, so it was going to be a solo attempt.

The joys of night-time Motorway closures are also part of the "fun" and I hit THREE different spots. The main problem was on the M1 at junction 25 which meant I couldn't access the M42. I lost a good hour with the detours which put the pressure on making it for dawn.

I did.

After sorting Bud out I got my stuff and made my way the short distance to join the troops...

It was just after 8. Plenty of familiar faces were present including a few from Yorkshire namely Trevor Charlton, Brett Richards and John Hewitt. It was also nice to have a chat with Paul Freestone.

The atmosphere was tense and thankfully conversations were kept to a minimum but there was no sign of the bird as the time past 9.

Then around 9.15...someone called..."There it is"!!! For a change I managed to get "on it" straight away before it quickly disappeared.


I even allowed myself a Cheer!

The site the bird had chosen was in a hollow providing a natural amphitheatre....which helped keep things (reasonably) civilized! The next two hours were spent at various viewpoints from which I obtained some great views of a wonderful bird. I've seen plenty in Texas but I still get a BIG thrill seeing a bone fide MEGA for Britain...especially from the West. The previous record of this species was from Anglesey but many missed it...including me. Everyone happy now though. I was feeling the strain by 11 and the thought of the return journey was coming sharply into focus. I gave Bud another stretch and a drink and started to pack up.

I noticed a small group at the far end of the car park looking rather "interested"? I hadn't managed to get a pic so I felt it was worth a bit longer, so I joined them. Lee Evans was amongst the group and he and a few others, reckoned they had heard its distinctive call, from whence it gets its name.  Definitely worth a while longer! Sure enough some 10 minutes later, there it was, sat motionless in a bush not 20 yards away...

GREY CATBIRD (514 for Britain)

A great ending to a great twitch. Bonkers I know but that's the way it is. 1160 miles and the old V70 performed brilliantly...again. I do still love it...for the right bird of course! Also helps if you SEE it.

Many thanks to the chaps who arranged access.


Just for the record I did manage to dig out a few record shots of the...


Pretty poor but who cares...I WAS there...and I SAW it! A FIRST for Britain no less.

You gotta love...October...

Louise's 60th tomorrow...hopefully a quiet day...I WON'T be chasing!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018


Bonus pic in the car park as I was leaving

October has exploded. After a first for Britain we now have a second...for Britain! Fortunately I've managed to see both! Not without some effort I hasten to add. This one is especially sweet as I remember only to well my many previous "work day dips".

Full report when I've recovered...

Sunday, 14 October 2018

A SWIFT...with a WHITE RUMP!!!

16.01 - East Yorks PACIFIC SWIFT at Hornsea Mere. One showing well off the first field

That's handy. Time to leave I think. I made good time, even considering the With'/Hornsea road!

On arrival I could see a small huddle of Birders including Tim Isherwood...looking in various directions...never a good sign! Sure enough the bird had disappeared, not 2 minutes ago!! Rather disappointing. It was still raining heavily so I was (fairly) confident it was still around. Birders were obviously arriving all the time and there was some doubt over the species involved. I just wanted to SEE IT...whatever it was.

A short while later someone picked it up way to the West over some distant trees. I could see "the Swift" but no white rump was apparent, at least to me. A couple of locals suggested we moved down the Mere to try and obtain better views. The bird appeared then disappeared on multiple occasions. Eventually it was picked up by the Mere, over a field we had gained access to, enabling us all to get great close views of the bird. I even broke into a jog at one point...don't laugh! My little camera didn't perform that well in the dull light but no matter, the important thing was...I'd SEEN it!!! Many photographs were taken and it eventually became apparent that we were looking at...Britain's first...

A double Whammy for yours truly being, obviously, a First for Yorkshire to boot! The strong Southerlies had paid off. Most of Yorkshire's finest were present including Tony Dixon, Rich Willison, Trevor Charlton, Steve Lawton, Paul Herrieven and even Geoff Dobbs who was fortunately over from the Gambia! Oh and there were just a few from Spurn as well!

Smiles all round then and quite a shock, so late on a rainy day. As I've said many times before...

One bird changes everything...

Saturday, 13 October 2018


...for October.

Yet it IS October. Oh for a bone fide MEGA. Not some dodgy split!!

Yep...I'd still tick it...if it was reasonably accessible BUT would it be!

A distinct lack of Easterlies has limited activity locally yet things haven't kicked in significantly despite bucket loads of Westerlies?

There's still time. 

I had a couple of hours walking the triangle this afternoon. I had a reasonable attempt at the Olive-backed Pipit in a very strong wind. Needless to say I didn't see it. I did pick out a Ring Ouzel distantly in flight heading towards Canal Scrape. As I completed my circuit I noticed a bit of excitement at the OBP gathering. Fieldcraft was sadly lacking in some instances!  Apparently it was seen briefly. I didn't rejoin the admirers...

Thursday, 11 October 2018

"My" Yellow-browed!

Yesterday I had a slow saunter around the Village in glorious Autumn weather.

Seaside Lane
I checked many of the usual spots with historical records of YBW's. paid off with another brief but clear view of the little sprite at the rear of the Church while photographing Redwings (H.116)...
Out of the picture today but things picked up migration wise with some East in the wind. Hopefully something to see in the morning..

Monday, 8 October 2018

Holmpton twitch

After a lovely family day in Bury yesterday...

My grandchildren Daniel and Rebecca with Mum (Rachel) was time to get out in the field again.

Phil had stayed overnight at Spurn and came over for a coffee around 10.30. After a chat we made our way down to the cliff. Richard was there, walking towards us along the path. He'd had a few bits including a group of Red-breasted Mergansers. After a few words he continued along the cliff top. Soon after he was beckoning us towards the bushes. He'd found a YBW (H.116)! We all enjoyed clear yet typically brief views.

The rest of the day was pretty tame...

Some intrepid troops made the journey out to Lundy today to try for the GREEN WARBLER. A fine effort indeed that unfortunately proved fruitless. There'll be the saying goes...

Friday, 5 October 2018


Taking stock today...unless of course?

Yesterday was an excellent one.

A male and female Blackcap (plus the first Tree Sparrow for quite a while) around the birdbath provided excellent entertainment over breakfast.

I started with a 4 mile walk with Bud along the beach from Holmpton to With'. My only reward was a single Wheatear, first on the cliff top...

Then on the plough...

I check the loafing gulls fairly regularly and today I squeezed a Med' Gull out of a distant flock...

Around 2.30 I received a message from Rich Willison showing a great pic of a Hobby. I assumed it was the North Cave bird and replied I might make a trip over tomorrow, although I'd read it was a bit of a "bun fight"! However, it turned out this one was at Albrough (just up the road). I arrived around 3.30 following Richard's directions. I tried the track to the fishing ponds and parked in the decent sized car park. I gave him a ring and he told me he was in the adjacent caravan park. He'd mentioned the bird had a favourite post along the track and as I was driving back up it I could see the bird perched on top!

As you can see it was pretty dull conditions but at least it was there...and close! I rolled the car slowly up the track enabling me to get some better images...

Not the best of settings BUT crippling views. Feeling rather smug I made my way into the Caravan site to join Richard. Thinking it couldn't get any did! When I eventually found him he was pointing towards the finely cut turf by the caravans? There, feeding without a care in the world...was the Hobby!!

What a treat!

The bird was oblivious to our presence happily feeding on Crane flies (aka daddy longlegs)...

No words needed...

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Purple Sandpiper

The morning seawatch produced close views of 2 Great Skuas (P.162, H.115) together inside the yellow buoy of the sewage, which was more than pleasing. Just before lunch news broke of a Purple Sandpiper (P.163, S.121) on Easington Lagoons. After missing a/the bird around the Crown and Anchor on a couple of occasions I was determined to try to connect on this occasion. The walk down through the "Good morning Vietnam" grass was a tester but eventually worthwhile, as it turned out to be third time lucky...

A scarce bird at Spurn
Thought I'd post a few from the past week while the computer was poorly...

Stonechat at Old Hive 22nd Sept

Pink-footed Geese low N at Holmpton

Gannets giving great views...for Holmpton!

Turnstone off Crown and Anchor, Kilnsea
Snipe at Canal Scrape hide

Whimbrel again off C&A

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Up and running...with a BAIRD'S SANDPIPER!

Having to use a mobile keyboard at the moment while I wait for my replacement...from China! It seems I may have spilt something on it...surely not! At least I can now post some pearls of wisdom!?

Ridiculously quiet at the moment. Hardly surprising with all the Westerlies pushing the migrating Eurasian birds way to the east. It doesn't look great for the East Coast for the foreseeable future. On the other hand...maybe something tasty from the Nearctic...

Update: I received a tweet from Frank Moffat mid-afternoon showing a photograph of a group of Birders looking at a BAIRD'S SANDPIPER at Easington Lagoons...apparently! No news on the info' channels? I left the tense situation that was the Ryder Cup and headed down the road. Confirmation soon followed. Around 20 minutes later I was looking at Spurn's first BAIRD'S SANDPIPER and a Spurn tick (305) to boot.

Still managed to get back for the closing holes...and victory for Europe!

Friday, 28 September 2018


Those "in the know" will already be aware of the acceptance of this bird that toured Cornwall from May until November 2016.

News broke this morning that the bird was now deemed "tickable". I follow the rules, like a good lad, BUT don't always agree with them. I might have mentioned that before!! Not convinced on this one. Fun to see though!

So, there you go. My 512th species on my British list. Strictly BOU. An armchair tick being the perfect remedy for arguably the worst September on record. Let's hope October is MUCH better...

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Some you win, some you lose

Still can't connect with the Purple Sandpiper by the Crown and Anchor despite two attempts. I did manage a couple of Turnstones (S.118) though.

On my second attempt I popped down to Canal Scrape hide to get a very poor view of a Jack Snipe (P.160, S.119).

Still VERY quiet...

Monday, 24 September 2018

Late result

Boring day today, doing things that needed doing!

Fortunately I got 'em done in time to pop down the road for the last hour. I parked up and made my way to the Warren. A few birders were looking for the Rosefinches but they'd disappeared from.

Then Bob from Hull beckoned me over as he'd just seen the Yellow-browed Warbler (P.158, S.116) briefly. After a short wait we both had a glimpse of the bird with our naked eyes on a bare branch. You could clearly see the "yellow-brow" in the evening sunshine. Lovely!!

Around fifteen minutes later I was looking at both "not-so-common" Rosefinches (P.159, S117) in admittedly deep shade. Still I'll take it.

A good decision...

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Holmpton Lifer!

Some North in the wind, so I rose pre-dawn and positioned myself on the cliff top at Out Newton...with my faithful friend...of course!

I dreamt of an Osprey or some Whooper Swans but no joy in 3 hours. I did log a couple of skeins of Pink-footed Geese, totalling 27 birds...heading North?

The highlight came around 9 when I picked up an Auk with particularly whirring wings. My first Puffin! So it was worth the effort after all.

Only slightly galling to hear news of Whooper Swans on the Humber and a Pom Skua passing North past Spurn that disappeared (like so many others) into the Holmpton "triangle ".

Laptop off to the " docs" tomorrow so hopefully back to normal soon...

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Where to go?

The troops have started to mobilize. Teams heading for Shetland and Scilly... and maybe Outer Hebrides.

Due to circumstances I am free until November. I won't be staking a claim this year though. As you know I've gambled before... and by definition... usually LOST! The YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO dip particularly stung. So near and yet so far!

Scilly would ALWAYS be my choice of destination but I/we can't do everything. I hope to visit again one day.

Good fortune for the chaps arriving on Shetland today as they were greeted with a YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING. Nice start!

My personal choice is always an American Warbler. If I had to choose one it would be PARULA. Work commitments have cost me this tick (and quite a few more) on more than one occasion. Oh and it's also a stunner.. as most of them are!!

Time will tell...

Back in the real world I managed to find a Stonechat (H.113) at Old Hive this morning...

Friday, 21 September 2018


Some of my computer keys have decided to pack up. So, a brief report tonight using the phone.

Good 3 mile walk enjoying close views of Gannets and Sandwich Terns on the beach. Managed a lone Wheatear and at least a dozen Skylarks on the cliff top.

A walk along Taylor Lane early afternoon produced a surprise and very welcome Hobby (P.155, H.111). Further along I heard then saw my first Goldcrest (P.156, H.112) of the Autumn.

I had a drive up to Out Newton for the last hour. On my way I saw a skein of Pink-footed Geese (23) flying low, directly towards me!

They carried on South.

I could here some more... but where? Another 53 in the field right by the road...

They were still there at dusk...

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Wind of change

So many few MEGAS!?

Looks promising though...