Monday, 16 July 2018

Lightning does strike twice!

My word, a week since my last post...I'm slipping!

No particular reason although Footy and Gardening have kicked in big-style lately. I do have OTHER interests you know!

Summer doldrums prevail BUT Rare birds can turn up anytime, admittedly the odds are not great. I was just finishing my shift on Friday when things kicked off...

6.51pm MEGA S.Yorks AUDUOIN'S GULL 2s Sheffield at Effingham Street by Norfolk bridge mid evening and showing well.

I was knackered BUT I set off, although time was obviously against me. A Yorkshire tick was in the offing! Another problem was that it was in the middle of a City I'm unfamiliar with. I reached Burstwick when I received another message informing me it had flown off. This happens quite often...only for the bird to be reported again soon after. However nothing happened for a while so I aborted as it was now clear I wouldn't make it and I headed home. Of course it was reported again later. The last sighting was at 8.17pm when it "flew off" again.

Now then what to do?  I'm afraid to report that my ASAP policy wasn't adhered to on this occasion...and it cost me dear!!! I left my phone on (no pager at the moment) and I decided it could wake me up if the bird was seen in the morning. The thought of getting up at 2am to be driving around Sheffield pre-dawn was too much for a tired body/mind. Wimp!

Sure enough I woke to an alert at 5.07am informing me the bird had been seen at Norfolk Bridge at 4.30am and on a nearby roof at 5. I sorted myself out and headed for Sheffield...a bit miffed.

I put the postcode in my Google maps app and sped down the M18. I ended up in the middle of a built up area? t took me another 20 minutes to find the right spot...which could have cost me anyway if I'd tried to get there pre-dawn I guess. I parked up and joined the impressive number of Birders from Yorkshire and beyond. The morning rolled on with no sign of the bird but some entertaining conversations were had which helped ease the misery. It was good to see so many familiar faces.  gave it until around one then headed home. The bird hasn't been seen since. An amazing record and a great reward for a "local patcher".

The afternoon was spent watching the World Cup Final. France won with the aid of some dubious decisions BUT Croatia played the Football.

So to the evening. As I was fading another message, this time in the form of a tweet (it is useful sometimes) from Spurn...

8.21pm MEGA Adult Greater Sand Plover on beach North of Beacon Ponds

Amazing! 2 in a day...and both in Yorkshire!!!

It didn't take me long to get down there and fortunately this time the bird was still there, albeit distant in the fading light. I got my Yorkshire tick after all (387). It was also my 304th for Spurn.

I paid the bird another visit on Sunday afternoon and got lucky as the bird was feeding on the beach not forty yards away, totally unconcerned by the beach lovers.

A few snaps...

It's funny how things turn out sometimes. VERY unpredictable you might say. I guess that's what makes it interesting...

Monday, 9 July 2018

Taking Stock

Quiet times in these lazy, hazy days of summer. Hence the lack of posts recently. The World Cup has taken some of the blame...thankfully! It DOES make a refreshing change. Can we do it?

The weather had been sensational...and yet some people are moaning it's too hot? Short memories after the Beast(s) from the East!!!

Locally, it looks like the Little Tern protection scheme is paying off again which is fantastic news. Hopefully many species should have done well this year.

Personally, I've been making preliminary plans for my trip to the UAE in November/December. It's not a place I would choose to go but three weeks with my son Robert and his wife will be quality time especially when escaping the British winter! I'll no doubt have to spend some time sampling the dubious delights of Dubai BUT touring the seven Emirates will be our main pastime.

Furthermore I've taken the plunge for Spring 2019 and booked us three weeks in Galveston, Texas from April 12th till May 4th. I'll probably get stung regarding my British List but frankly I don't care these days. I have some impressive holiday dips already including BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER and BELTED KINGFISHER. I could spend the time here waiting for the BIG 1 but the prospect of Birding my favourite venue will make the early months of the year fly-by...hopefully!

I'll still be in the game for the "right bird" at the right time!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Back in the groove

I've been totally engrossed in the fantastic World Cup competition. It's easily the most exciting and dramatic Football I've watched for a long time. Last nights Belgium v Japan game was simply magnificent! Cruel ending for Japan who tried harder than I've seen any team 30C!!!

Our turn tonight!? No comment...yet! Just watched Sweden v Switzerland...we'll never have a better chance. Hang on...I've said that before!!!

This morning I followed up on a report of an influx of Little Gulls (P.124, S.93) at Kilnsea Wetlands. I managed to obtain brief and distant views of around 20 birds before they headed off towards the Humber.

All good with the laptop...which is obviously a BIG relief! Can't get far without it and the smartphone these days. Progress?

Little Gulls

Spent some time down at Sammy's Point car park this afternoon. The tide was way out and there were few Gulls on show.

Out of nowhere appeared a nice flock of c20 Little Gulls that continued East towards Kilnsea Wetlands.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Squacco Heron

News broke early this morning of a quality bird at Spurn...just as I was leaving for work!

John Hewitt reported it had flown off over Sammy's Point around that was that!

...or was it?

Back on Kilnsea Wetlands at 8.30!!!

I finished at 4 and headed straight down there, armed only with Louise's glove box bins...they are Leica 8x20 Trinnies.

As I left the car, a message came through that it had just flown south. I'd missed it by 5 minutes. I decided to try Canal Scrape. Half-way down there it transpired that the bird had the same idea. Bingo!

Give or take a drop or two of DNA that takes my Spurn tally to 303. All's well that ends well.

I'm still sorting the laptop but everything seems well so far. Hopefully back to normal posts soon...whatever they are...


Woke early this morning before work. Bonus views of a Tawny Owl flying low across field viewed from bedroom window.

Also had my first sighting of Barn Owl for quite a while along Snakey on Wednesday evening.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Normal service resumed

Computer fixed for a modest fee. Result!

Saturday, 23 June 2018

The times...they are a changin'

Computer still away...but fixed!

Species or sub-species or race? That is the question..but what's the answer? I've no idea lol!

For example there are 42 sub-species of Shorelark or is it Horned!

I still love the thrill of the chase. Trouble is there's less to chase for an old fart...or is there? With birds of debatable provenance being accepted...Chinese Pond Heron, Red-winged Blackbird and an increase in "splits"... Stonechats, Chiffchaffs, Sub-Alpine Warblers etc. surely opens up new horizons?

I made the trip to Weymouth on Thursday to try for the Stateside version. I saw a ROYAL TERN in Wales so why travel? A touch of self-analysis is good for the soul.

I had a (longest) day free and I liked the idea that I may re-find it or it might turn up somewhere close while I was down there. BVD...aka Better View Desired. I tried.

I've chased birds in the add to my list and yet on reflection there was no...thrill/rush. Some I couldn't identify, I was told what it was deemed to be...later. How exciting!?

Change/progress is inevitable. Guess I'm set in my ways...signed Fred Flintstone!

I'm no scientist as you've probably deduced (I did pass my Biology GCE lol) and I reluctantly follow the "rules" for standardization purposes. I may have mentioned that before! I like to think I've still got some marbles though and there's still some species on the list that I will chase with relish. I just hope there's one...or two this Autumn.

A PARULA would do me nicely...

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

DNA Birding!

West African and American Royal Terns have long been considered the same species,’ explained Prof. Martin Collinson from the University of Aberdeen’s Institute of Medical Sciences. ‘They look pretty much identical to each other except the American Royal Tern is on average slightly bigger with a slightly redder bill'

Not now apparently!

Yet another "split"!?

ELEGANT would have done me but there you go. I saw the Welsh RT which was apparently an African bird. Hope your still with me!!! So, do I travel for an American RT. I've no idea lol!


Summer doldrums have set in while we let the dicky birds get on with procreation.

There's always something to see or look for however but the anticipation factor definitely decreases.

I have to admit that my thoughts have turned to Russia at the moment... we even won our opening game!

My best sighting over the past few days was a Sand Martin over the garden!

The weather here at Holmpton is least for today...

Note: Laptop is poorly so posts will be limited short term.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Scaling Dam

Wednesday found me making the journey North through Yorkshire to Scaling Dam. News of two lingering Ospreys tempted me to make the awkward journey from Holmpton. I arrived around midday, parked up and started to explore the area. I'd been a few times before but hadn't really spent any significant time here. It was pleasing to learn that there was a circular path that went right round the reservoir. We set off from the eastern end in a clockwise direction. The weather on the way was poor but it was now sunny and clear. Result!

Initial birdy thoughts included many Willow Warbler families and good numbers of Lapwings flying over. There was also a pair of Curlew right by the path...

Unfortunately halfway down the reservoir we bumped into a chap who was spraying the weeds to keep the path clear. We decided to turn about. Bud had a paddle on the return leg...

We then walked down the dam wall towards the sailing club and bird hide. The views were spectacular over the water and onto the moor...

A few Tufted Ducks were present... well as the usual "Geese". I then noticed a distinctive shape over the water...a Cuckoo! The bird was silent and landed on the steps by the dam wall...

The heat haze was strong but you get the idea. A nice bonus.

At the sailing club I succumbed to a rip-off Magnum...£2.50!!! They are now half the size and three times the cost? We'd walked a fair way, so the rest on the bench was welcomed and I had a great vantage point to scan the area. A couple of birders arrived and sat on the adjacent bench. I liked them  because they said Buddy was beautiful! After around 30 minutes one of them picked up an Osprey in the top of a conifer on the far bank...

That was my cue for another stretch. I made my way along the circular path and up onto the moor. As I cleared the wood behind the car park an Osprey appeared over the moor! Unfortunately and stupidly, I'd not checked my battery and by the time I'd swapped the bird had drifted off. I did manage a few decent shots however...

I saw both birds well over the next couple of hours.

Nearly got it...

I continued up onto the moor for a better vantage point. Amazingly I managed to re-find the bird enjoying it's fish on a post way out over the moor...

So, success. The other strong memory of the visit was the encouraging number of breeding Curlews and Lapwings in the area...

A perfect setting...

A very enjoyable 6 hour visit and 7.2 miles walked to boot!

Monday, 11 June 2018

Little Owl

I tried the Turtle Dove sites again this afternoon but no evidence was found at either. On my way home I made my way back down Snakey lane. As I negotiated the double bend I saw a small bird fly up from the road. It looked was!

A Little Owl...

A real surprise and pleasure to locate a new local site for this species.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

A day at Bempton

We usually stay local on Sunday for obvious reasons but today I just fancied a ride out and a good walk on a long overdue SUNNY day!!!

So, we braved the traffic and headed for Bempton. A stop off on the way at Hornsea Garden Centre proved fruitful...

Home made Trifle!
The traffic was heavy around Brid' but we eventually arrived around 1.30. Thankfully there was no sign of mist/fog. I've been visiting Bempton for over 30 years yet I feel it's only recently that I have begun to fully appreciated this jewel of the Yorkshire coast. We'd timed it right with sunny conditions, clear air and carpets of wildflowers in bloom...

..and plenty of birds of course!

We wanted a decent walk so we headed towards Flamborough Head along the coastal path...

We managed a 4 mile round trip and had great views of all the key species. A few pics...

My friends were very patient...

A grand day out!

Friday, 8 June 2018

Back in the Groove

First couple of days back at work and all went well with the new knee.


I got a tip off today regarding another local Turtle Dove site. Cheers Gavin. I'll have a look tomorrow...

Wednesday, 6 June 2018


Fatal to say "that's it" but it's looking like it I guess. Totted up my totals for the year so far.

A few final moments...

Red-backed Shrike at the Warren on Saturday...

A few pics of the dapper Rose-coloured Starling present at Kilnsea Wetlands over the past few days...

 I also liked this image of the humble Pied Wagtail...

An excellent local breeding record came in the form of FIVE Avocet chicks at Skeffling...

The star was the Rosy Pastor though...

Back to work tomorrow, to top up the holiday fund...

Monday, 4 June 2018


Had a couple of hours scouring Holderness Field, Kilnsea this afternoon for another adult Rose-coloured Starling. Believe me, there were plenty of Starlings around BUT I couldn't find a pink one!

I left around 5 for Tesco. Sure enough as I passed Holmpton a message informed me that the RCS was showing from the screen at Kilnsea Wetlands!! After dropping of the provisions I returned to KW to find Rich Swales walking down the path towards the hide. He informed me the bird was!

Bit late here's a BOC pic...

Saturday, 2 June 2018


Spent the morning down by the Warren at Spurn trying to pin down a Red-backed Shrike... a male!

I managed a couple of brief views before it disappeared South. Steve Webb helped me look for it but we covered a fair area without any success.

Around 11 it was re-located and settled by in the bushes by the Warren.

Always a pleasure to see such a smart bird...

Friday, 1 June 2018

Golden Oriole - a very special evening

It was still around BUT I didn't have any luck this morning. I DID connect eventually with a female Red-backed Shrike...

I also had a good chat with a Birder from Hull who was having a week at Withernsea. We enjoyed prolonged if mainly distant views of the RBS.

We both decided to try again for the GO at Chalky Point. By the time I'd parked and sorted Bud out I'd lost "my mate" so we set off towards Sammy's. As I approached the eastern end of SP I could see a small group of Birders training their scopes and bins into the field I was approaching. A dilemma. I wasn't sure where they were looking but it could have been the bush I was approaching! So, like a good lad I stopped and waited not wanting to flush it. Turns out they were looking much further across the field into a distant bush. Another Birder...Tony form Leeds and his mate approached me and pointed out the area the bird was in. Fortunately I managed to find it before it flew off...

The heat haze was strong but I wasn't complaining after a week of fog! Great to see this special bird again.

After sorting a few things out at home I returned this evening for more exercise and maybe another peep at the Golden Wonder. I made my way down the path from Sammy's car park towards Kilnsea. It was a clear bright evening and all the haze had disappeared. All I needed now was the bird!

I reached the area of low bushes were I'd seen it this afternoon...and waited. You may or may not be aware that this species can be VERY difficult to pick out, even in relatively open habitat. I scanned the area hard for a good 30 minutes. Nothing.

More scanning...then...there it was...around 50yds away...

Blends in well, doesn't it. I enjoyed the bird catching caterpillars for a good 20 minutes.

To mark my best ever views of this species in Britain I'm going to post a few images of various quality to mark the occasion. Hope you enjoy them...

A really enjoyable and satisfying experience...

As I was about to leave a lone Barnacle Goose headed out over the Humber from Kilnsea Wetlands...

P.119, S.88

Then just to bring me back down to earth, as Birding often does, I learnt on returning home that a VERY late Glaucous Gull had flown south. A potential Spurn tick no less. Ah well, one to look the future.

Thursday, 31 May 2018


I gave it 4 hrs this morning from 7 until 11. Not a muff! 8 birds have apparently been logged in the LDV now. An impressive total.
That's it for now BUT I might return when all the little Corncrakes start running about!!

I did have a good chat with Hull Birder Nigel Genn. Having reached retirement he's now enjoying his winters Birding in the Algarve. I hope to be spending mine in Cyprus.

Wishing my life away...!?

Another Sub-Alpine Warbler sp occurred at South Gare today? If it had been confirmed as a you-know-what I confess I would have gone. The combination of reasonable distance plus it being within the old Yorkshire boundary would have clinched a move. Slightly hypocritical... but there you go!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Another day...and all that

After a late start  gave it an hour at the Turtle Dove site. No sound nor sight today.

Around 2 I made my way back down to Kilnsea. A Savi's Warbler had been heard and occasionally seen. Unfortunately there was no evidence of the bird all afternoon. The Golden Oriole was still present but I didn't see it today. However, I did see quite a few familiar Birders, including Trevor Charlton and Steve Lawton. We caught up on things while forlornly waiting for evidence of the birds.

The weather today was better but the sightings weren't.

Stop press: I returned at 7.45pm and scored with a brief (what else) but conclusive view of the Savi's (P.116, S.85).


There's a MEGA in far NE Scotland at the moment, that I haven't seen...yet I'm not going? Prey why...I hear you cry...or not!! It's an ex-Subalpine Warbler that's now called a Moltoni's Warbler. There's been around one record a year since 2009 and who knows before that?! I've aired my personal views on recent splitting before so I won't bore you...again. Personally, I'm certainly not going to invest time, effort and money to travel for this bird. If one appears closer (which it inevitably will) I may go and take a peep...then again I may not. I wouldn't miss or regret it. Congrats to all who travelled and connected.

I have to WANT to go...not NEED to go...