Friday, 19 May 2017

A few pics

My best effort from my PALLID HARRIER walk...

A lovely Yellowhammer on Snakey lane...

A Redstart trying it's best to hide from me at Kilnsea...

A few of the wonderful Bempton seabirds...

Razorbills are my favourites.

This morning I made the trip back along the coast road to Hornsea Mere to see if  could connect with the Iceland Gull which had been present for a while. It wasn't hard to find amongst the "Wonderloaf brigade"

Hope you enjoyed them...

Thursday, 18 May 2017

BBA - Finale

Arrived just before 10. Time for Bud. A car pulled up, it was Tony (Dixon). Great to see him. We had a brief chat and I said I'd meet him by the visitor centre. Trevor was there talking technical with some chap. I said hello, mentioned Tony was here and waited a short distance away. Then a shout "ALAN!", it was Trevor. I walked back to him and he informed me the bird had been seen earlier!!

The observer was nowhere to be seen however. Richard (Willison) appeared! I informed him and Tony of the news. We all made our way down to Bartlett Nab were the sighting took place. Initially the sighting was reported as being made around 7.30am.

The reserve was very busy today and the weather had improved a tad from yesterday!

I was in good company, plenty of eyes scanning and the sky was blue. There are worse places to be, I thought. Plenty of birds to observe, as you can imagine. The good news was we were looking for THE biggest bird. Other hopefuls turned up including Gary Taylor, Mick Turton and Dan Pointon. Then Trevor arrived. We all speculated about the you do.

Trevor then returned to the visitor centre as "the observer" had appeared.  We continued to scan. After a while I gave Trev a ring. He said "the observer" had seen the BBA at eye level fairly close to the cliffs. He also said he was a photographer, yet no photos were taken? The time of the sighting had now changed to c8.30am.

News of a possible boat emerged. Initially I was keen but my four-legged friend ruled me out. Eventually five intrepid birders made their way out towards the cliffs from Bridlington to scan from below. An excellent idea.

Alas, it wasn't to be. News then came through that "an Albatross" had been seen back in Germany. Lots of theories were then expounded, including the "two bird theory" and Albatross speed. All good fun.

Here's my twopenneth...for what it's worth...
  • No doubting the young lads original sighting on Saturday
  • I don't believe the subsequent sightings
There, that didn't take long!

I feel the bird drifted past and continued out to sea. I did put a few hours in though (c24) just in case I was wrong!

Maybe I'll get lucky one day...

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


Back on the cliff top at 10. Trevor was already in position. The weather was horrendous and the visibility at times was poor...but we were in the game. The prize was huge, in more ways than one.

The Albatross didn't make an appearance. We left the cliffs at 4.45. I'll be back tomorrow...with Trev of course! Great company.

Just a nagging feeling it may be sat on the cliffs?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


A strange series of events...

I had the same shift yesterday and today.

Yesterday...after doing the morning school run to Hornsea (nice kids) I returned home, took Bud a walk then put my feet up. I checked my notifications (modern term)...a text...

11.58 East Yorks MEGA BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS Bempton Cliffs RSPB

After picking myself up off the carpet I checked the Pager...nothing? I rang Tony Dixon...nothing? I rang RBA...nothing? Very odd!

Fast forward to today....

I heard my phone while I was in the reading room! When I looked it was from Trev at Flamboro'! Surely not...

12.59 East Yorks MEGA BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS flew NW past Bempton Cliffs RSPB

Maybe yesterday was an omen!

I arrived around 2. I made my way to the cliff and immediately spotted Trev at one of the watch points. It was good to see him. He told me the story and it sounded like the sighting was gen. He didn't see it but was happy the observer was competent.

Garry Taylor was also present. We were also joined by Phil Botterill and Ian ? from York. We spent all afternoon waiting in didn't appear.

Now then. It wasn't seen at Filey? I wonder. Could it possibly be on the cliffs? This second sighting definitely gives hope as the bird is obviously lingering in the area (granted it could be a large area).

I shall try again tomorrow...

Sunday, 14 May 2017


Up at 3.30 and out the door for 4. Not ideal but had to be done.

I arrived at the car park by the lighthouse at 5 and made my way down to the watch point. I was alone. The weather was kind and  settled n and scanned (extremely) hopefully! The seabird spectacle was very impressive with squadrons of Gannets, Razorbills, Guillemots and Kittiwakes passing constantly. There were also a few Fulmars and  even saw a Puffin!

Around 7 I was joined by Brett Richards. It was great to see him and we chatted while we both searched the water. At this point the weather took a turn for the worse and it started to rain. I had to go back to the car park to put some money in the machine which inconveniently wasn't unlocked until 7.30? Yes, it was a risk but the odds were stacked heavily in my favour. On my return Brett informed me he'd had a drake Garganey...but no ALBATROSS!

I stuck it out till 9 when the rain had reached stair rod proportions. I said goodbye to Brett and wished him well.

No regrets. I HAD to try. Having a lie in and hearing the bird had been seen again, wasn't an option. I realize the odds were slim, especially for a species that views the North Sea like a lake. There was also a slim chance it might associate with the Gannets, maybe even finding a perch on the's happened in the past.

I travelled to Sula Sgeir in 2007 on a charter organised by RBA. Louise drove me up to Ullapool and waited whilst I undertook another of my crazy jaunts! The bird had departed unfortunately. Looking back at the records it was present in 2005 (25th - 31st August) and 2006 (23rd May - 1st July). .I guess access wasn't possible in those years? It was only present 3 days in 2007. There have been 10 single day records since.

Maybe one day...?

Saturday, 13 May 2017


Gave it three hours at Bempton from 5-8 this evening. No joy but I tried!

Off to bed to get up early!!!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Outstaying its welcome?

Covered a few potential Spotted Fly' sites this morning before work to no avail. However, I did see a magnificent Peregrine (H.82) flying N along the cliffs.

I see the Red-winged Blackbird is STILL on North Ronaldsay!?

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Pause for thought

Been off the pace the last few days. I did make the pilgrimage to Dunsop Bridge, Lancs to see the superb male PALLID HARRIER. Quite a hike (c6m) but worth it. The home made potato and apple pie combo at my Mothers on the way home was also a delight. Thanks Mum!

Plenty of Swallows, Sand and House Martins back at their local breeding colonies now. Swifts still at a premium though, I've only had a glimpse of a single bird? It actually feels like Spring today as the wind has dropped and the sky is blue!! It IS the tenth of May.

I made a feeble attempt to see the Wryneck down the road but no joy. I've put some decent time in around the village but I've not been able to turn up anything noteworthy...yet! Still there's still another 3 weeks plus so onward...

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Swift

What an enigmatic bird...a Birders bird.

The number of birders on social media mentioning their arrival (many in today), testifies to that. Below is a film clip that's well worth watching.

It IS my favourite species. With modernisation/demolition of many old buildings they have lost many of their nesting sites. One of many sites giving information on nest boxes can be found here. There are many people working hard to help this bird.

The film below popped up on my Facebook feed and reminded me of an encounter I had in Cyprus recently. I was admiring an Eastern Sub-Alpine Warbler from the hide at Larnaca Sewage Works. There were many hirundines zooming around and a few Swallows were inspecting the slit in the hide...rather closely!

Then a bang! I looked down on the floor of the hide...

 I expected a Swallow, I was amazed to see it was a Swift!!! The bird lay motionless. I could see it was still breathing so I carefully picked it up. A new experience for me. I descended the hide steps and gestured to Louise to come and have a look. She wasn't that keen!

What to do? It seemed to have revived and was shuffling in my hand. After a few minutes I decided to see if it would fly. However, before I did, I got Louise to take a quick pic...

With that I threw the bird in the air and we were pleased to see it fly away strongly. Great stuff!

I still haven't seen one here yet!

Swifts set record by flying 10 months non-stop

Thursday, 4 May 2017

A good day

 I started locally with the usual canine constitutional. On the way back to the cottage to pick up the rest of my gear I noticed three white not Sandpipers...Bullfinches (P.104, H.71)! They only allowed me a glimpse through the windscreen but it was enough. A difficult species to catch up with on the Patch and only my 5th record for the Village.

The NE wind is still headed for Duff around 9. I detoured through With' after a pit stop at Tesco. Glad I did as I picked up a distant cc Marsh Harrier on the outskirts.

I arrived usual and took up my usual spot, there was plenty of room...

As you can see the weather was set fair but the NE wind was still strong. Viewable water was at a premium. The dry spell and emergent vegetation had seen to that. There were still birds to view including a good number of Shelducks (c30)...

I spent a relaxed if uneventful 4 hours split between the 2 hides. I did add Yellow Wagtail (D.71). I was hoping (as always) for maybe a Cuckoo, Swift or even a Hobby but it wasn't to be...this time.

A Willow Warbler cheered me up on the way back to the car...

Primary tips unevenly spaced and a longer projection than Chiffchaff
Pale legs
Very clean below
Oh and it was singing as well!

Yesterday I paid another visit to a Sand Martin colony. I am pleased to report there are definitely more birds present this year (c100)...

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

My Birding - taking stock

As you know I've just turned 60 and I am very grateful for that. My Dad wasn't so lucky and neither were many others.

I've positioned myself in an excellent area for Birding. I've been at it in one form or another since 1986. As with many others, it's developed from seeing common birds locally to chasing rarities across the length and breadth of Britain, Europe and the US.

Recent events nationally and locally have got me thinking...always dangerous! I've already mentioned my views on certain decisions. I'm finding myself less and less eager to view other peoples sightings. I need to find or try to find my own Birds now. Things haven't gone to well so far ...plenty to aim for then!

I also enjoyed Cyprus and Texas a little too much! The thought of spending more of our horrendous winter...and Spring abroad is growing stronger with every trip.

I WILL still travel to see what I personally consider to be a kosher bird. I guess I'm my own committee now!  I can now reflect on birds that I've travelled to in the past that I wasn't totally happy with....just to get "a tick" and add to the all important all costs? I've also travelled to see birds that I WAS happy with and yet were rejected!?  I guess I'm becoming a rebel in my old age. At the end of the day...who cares really? I'll just enjoy the birds I come across and choose to try and see. Want not need to see...for me.

So lets get on with it...

Sunday, 30 April 2017


A blustery easterly today. Always stirs things up avian, especially at this time of year. We went for our usual Sunday morning beach walk. Louise managing a faster pace than yours truly. Exhilarating!

Mass movement of Arctic and Black Terns due to the easterly. I couldn't find any! I did add Grey Plover (H.75) and a Bar-tailed Godwit (H.76) to my village year list. Any passing waders are gratefully accepted, as they don't linger in these here parts.


I see the RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD is still present on North Ron. Congrats to all who have connected. You pays your money...and all that. I just can't see it (metaphorically) as a genuine migrant due to it's vagrant history and general behaviour. I DID travel to Lands End for a House Finch though! lol! That was some years ago and it was rejected. I put this in the same category...E.

I make my own decisions now...just a personal opinion, you understand.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Things are warming more ways than one!

After a HERMIT THRUSH on North Ronaldsay and a hoax AMERICAN ROBIN we now have a female RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD on Orkney, namely North Ronaldsay.

I'm still very keen but already stated. Recent acceptances have frankly stunned me but there we go! I still tow the line. I won't be going for this one though. HBW lists only ONE record beyond mainland US and that was in Bermuda! I turned down the CHESTNUT BUNTING and that was accepted, I may pay the price again. So be it. A significant sum will only be spent on what I consider to be a bona fide bird. Who cares anyway...I don't. I'll never be top of the league...I won't even make the Premiership!


I heard the SAVI'S WARBLER at Spurn today but unsurprisingly, no view was obtained. I also saw my first Cuckoo (P.103, S.62) of the year. 3 more Grey Partridge seen closely at Out Newton was a nice record.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Wind of change?

The ruthless Northerlies have killed migration temporarily. I got lucky with my shifts filling in the void nicely!

Things looking better for the weekend when all the migrants will come flooding past Holmpton. I hope to have plenty to report then...

Monday, 24 April 2017

Doing the rounds

I visited most of the usual haunts today on another poor day weather wise. Then again, this is the English east coast! Chance of a snow shower tomorrow. Cyprus birding seems a looooong time ago.

Anyway...started with Whitethroat (P.98, H.68) and Blackcap (P.99, H.69) on the initial dog walk. The cliff top produced the expected Linnets (P.100, H.70). Rather late additions I know!

The south of the area produced the Meadow Pipits (H.71) but no Sand Martins? They've more sense than hang around Old Hive in this weather.

After lunch a couple of Song Thrushes in the Vicarage were pleasing to see...

I found my first Lesser Whitethroat (P.101, H.72) and heard the characteristic sub-song. A couple of Wheatears were observed at Skeffling. Here's one of them...

I was hoping for a Cuckoo or maybe a Swift but no joy. On the way home I tried a new site, a slurry pit, hoping for a Yellow Wagtail (P.102, H.73). Bingo...

Sunday, 23 April 2017


A touch of local action this morning...unfortunately I missed all the fun. Gavin had an Osprey over his garden in Withernsea, not a bad record! I was on the beach at the runnel with Louise and Bud. It probably flew over my head! I did manage a couple of Wheatears...

Gavin also informed me he was pretty sure he'd "had" a Long-eared Owl at Out Newton. I had a token peep but there was some police activity in the area, so I left it. 

Another token visit was made early morning to Kilnsea Wetlands on the report of a Great White Egret. Again a quick peep revealed nothing. A more determined effort was made mid-afternoon when I walked with Bud from Easington along the flood bank. I got lucky as the GWE (P.97, S.61) was in the nearest bay...

Nice size comparison.

I received uplifting news from Phil this evening. He saw a Turtle Dove at Frampton today...

Saturday, 22 April 2017

NDC - Re-visited

Never an ordeal to visit.

Haydn had informed me that he'd seen a flock of Corn Buntings on Good Friday as I was leaving on Thursday! I've been watching here for 30 years...with the odd break of course. I've never seen CB at NDC.

Despite a late finish I was up early (for me) and on site by 9.  I made my way down to Garganey hide. Plenty of expected summer visitor bird song. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat (I even managed to SEE one well).

Then  heard it...jangling keys!!! Only one bird...but that's enough.

NDC LIFE - 152

I texted Haydn with the news and thanked him. He was on his beloved Skipwith Common but he said he'd "tear himself away" for a chat. We swapped stories of recent holidays and dreams of future trips. Maybe the cold northerly wind and 8c had something to do with it!

I also added Long-tailed Tit (65), Great Spotted Woodpecker (66), Linnet (67) plus a hunting Barn Owl (68) that was on view for over 30 minutes in front of the Geoff Smith hide...

I saw it make at least 3 kills...down the hatch!

My final addition was a big surprise...Red-legged Partridge (69)!? Common on the adjacent arable land but a rarity on the Carrs. Only my third record. Dry conditions?

I was hoping to get another view of the "pale" Peregrine but it was a no show. I intend to visit at least once a week before May is out...

Thursday, 20 April 2017

NDC - a proper visit

I needed a decent session.

I arrived at 10am and stayed until 4pm. The weather was still cool (10c) but it was dry and visibility was good. A few warblers had arrived and were singing away heartily. I recorded Chiffchaff (5), Willow Warbler (3), Blackcap (3) and Lesser Whitethroat.

Onto the hides. I decided to have a stretch with the lad and we made our way down to Garganey Hide. I'd been keeping an eye on what was arriving nationally and I was hoping something "good" may have arrived here. I opened the flap and started to scan.  I love the view here. A natural flood meadow and there's always more to it than meets the eye.

Today however something met the eye immediately. The hoped for Black-tailed Godwits! 60 of them. Having to travel back these days my visits are obviously fewer, so I was chuffed to bits to connect with these lovely birds as they used NDC as a staging post. I've seen a few decent flocks over the years but you have to be lucky. This fact was emphasised as they departed high to the north within 5 minutes of finding them...

A great start.

Other highlights of the morning were a distant Buzzard, four Oystercatchers, 2 Lesser black-backed Gulls, 6 Yellowhammers and 2 Stock Doves. The most pleasing aspect of the morning though was the presence of at least 10 pairs of Lapwing on territory. I never tire of watching their amazing aerobatic, rolling and tumbling display flight and their amazing "pee-wit" call is just something else. Right up there on my list of favourite species.

I returned to the Geoff Smith hide for lunch.

Nothing else of note was seen so early afternoon we returned to Garganey hide. Alas, no Garganey today nor Black-necked Grebe but a Little Egret was a nice addition to the day list. The birds had seemed agitated a few times during the morning which can mean the presence of a raptor. On this occasion this theory proved to be correct...

I enjoyed another hour before departing to the sound of the Curlew.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Greylag Goose (Anser anser)
Greater Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
European Teal (Anas crecca)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Lesser Black-backed_ Gull (Larus fuscus)
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Stock Dove (Columba oenas)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)
Great Tit (Parus major major)
Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

55 species seen. Year total 63

Phil had a nice encounter with a pair of displaying LRP the other day...

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Back to basics...with a Village LIFER!

There's a lag-time with my postings at the moment but I'm doing my best to catch up!

For the record I HAD to post evidence regarding my RED KITE sighting. My word...was it really April 3rd!!!

Pleased I managed to "grab" something as I pulled the car over and scrambled for my gear. An important sighting...for me.

Yesterday I made my first visit to "old hive" which is situated towards the southern end of my Village patch. I was soon watching Sand Martins...lots of them...

I estimated around 100 birds were present. Uplifting.

Then a familiar shape in the hedge...

...then the plough...

My early morning walk had definitely kick-started things British again!

First Swallow this morning and 4 Song Thrushes singing in the Village.