Friday, 31 December 2010

Party time

As we sit here waiting for the New Year to (eventually) arrive...always an endurance test. Here's 3 top sounds I'd be praying for if I was out on the town (ala 35 years ago) getting ripped off!

1. Floor filler

2. Great teenage times

3. Amazing feel good college sound

New lists tomorrow Chaps...

Bowie - Rebel Rebel

Brothers Johnson - Stomp

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Review of the Year

Back home after the festivities. Weather 'up north' has been horrendous. Still had plenty of snow at mother's over Christmas and now we have thick fog back here...not great for Birding!

Anyway, thought I'd post a summary of my Birding Year...in the traditional manner.

Highlights...

1. Without doubt pride of place must go to the Red-backed Shrike seen at North Duffield Carrs on the 24th May.

2. Fantastic trip to Spain at Easter visiting the superb Extremadura. Finally enabling me to see Great Bustard and plenty of raptors, amongst others...with a bonus 5 days due to a certain volcanic eruption!

3. Kirtland's Warbler seen in early August at Greyling, Michigan had to be the surprise highlight of our amazing trip to the NE US. Managed to add 18 species to my ABA list, now standing at 641.

4. Empid Flycatcher seen at Blakeney Point. If ever a bird was earned, this was it...first day by five minutes!

5. British list additions Lesser Kestrel, Marmora's Warbler, (House Finch), above!

Non-birding high spot was undoubtedly fulfilling my life long dream by visiting the Motown museum in Detroit.

So that's it. Concise as always. Here's to 2011. Belt tightening here, it's going to be a tough year. Hope you didn't vote for 'em!?

Report of ***DUSKY THRUSH*** present in a private garden for 2 weeks during December!!!
This bird?
Winter photo

Friday, 24 December 2010

P.S. - Christmas Songs!

Have some time before we depart for the festivities, so I thought I'd post my favourite Christmas songs. Don't want to become an old misery guts!

Johnny Mathis - Child is Born

Thursday, 23 December 2010


No more posts till after Christmas so all the very best to you all...and no MEGA on Christmas Day!!!

Out and about

Topped up the feeders in the car park. Nothing unusual, but they're keeping the locals well fed as can be seen by this red ball!


Also had a visit from some Long-tailed Tits...


Spent the last hour with my pal Nige looking for a couple of Owls he'd seen. First we went to an area just north of Murton to try for Little. Nige spotted it (without bins!) on a fencepost. It only posed briefly before shooting over a hedge not to be seen again...nice one Nige. Tried a nearby wood for Tawny but no joy.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Swan comparison

Confession time. Took Rocky down by the bridge for a stretch. Noticed some swans on the river. Dismissed them as Mute. Turning back to the car...heard the familiar call...
 
Jizz!
Birds still mainly confined to the river at Duff. Did have c10 Ruff and c20 Dunlin out on the Carrs. Whoopers still coming and going from the farm to the river...

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Meet the Whoopers

Extreme conditions but excellent circumstances for close views of the herd by Bubwith bridge. I set up position in my car around 9 and waited. There were around 40 birds on the ice and on the river. It was quiet for quite a while and I just enjoyed watching them interacting mainly in their family groups.


Then it became obvious that they were starting to stir with plenty of noise and wing flapping. Eventually around 10 they started to leave for the fields in small groups...


The combination of clear light, freezing conditions, noise and impressive birds was a joy to behold. Really enjoying this winter birding...

Spent the last hour again down by the bridge. Large flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare present and groups of Whoopers coming in to roost. Better sunset tonight, even a power station looks good?...


Garden lifer today in the form of a Buzzard!

Monday, 20 December 2010

At last - WAXWINGS!

Obviously unable to connect during the week due to work and no luck at weekends I decided it was time I cheated a bit and got some help. I had seen a few posts on Birdforum regarding a fairly stable group in Swillington on Primrose Hill Close . I decided to drive over this morning. Minus 9 when I got in the car but a beautiful crisp, clear morning with perfect light. I found the spot easily and parked up. I couldn't see any birders so I walked up the close to see if I could see anything. Right at the top of the close I saw the familiar silhouette of WAXWINGS. I sneaked over and managed to fire off a few shots...




NEVER get tired of these birds, they are simply stunning and the great thing is they can turn up anywhere. I even had some in my garden at Wilberfoss many moons ago.

Spent the last hour down Duff, it was a bit fresh in the hide but watching 35 Whoopers (10 immatures) coming in off the farm to land on the river was pretty special...


Finished off with a Barn Owl fly-past!


A Great Day...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Northern Harrier - acting on impulse!

Woke up early around 7.30. Weighed up the situation. Louise under the weather and wanting to stay in, yours truly stir crazy with the short days and weather. Solution...go and see a rare bird! Weather forecast came good and traffic was light (obviously due to grim reports). Arrived at Thornham around 11. Tried a few minor roads and could see the marsh but decided to go on to Titchwell (for a sentimental return visit) as it had also been seen well here ...got to be at least 10 years since my last visit.
Had a mooch around then an update on the pager made me return to Thornham harbour. Joined a group of birders who informed me it had just shown well. Most of them then drifted away leaving just two of us. Eventually I was on my own getting colder by the minute in a drawing wind. Then...there it was! I picked it up over the marsh and it performed well although quite distant. It does have a dodgy leg!


Record shot - please click!

Also enjoyed great views of thousands of Pinkfeet and a rarity now around my neck of the woods...Grey Partridge!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Great start to Holiday...could have been Brilliant!

Rose at 8.30 and went to Bubwith Bridge. Great to be out on a crisp, sunny morning. I was rewarded with brilliant views of a Peregrine right by the bridge swooping and toying with the wildfowl for a good 10 minutes...superb! Also close views of groups of Redwing and Fieldfare, a few Ruff and Dunlin on the meadow. Next tried the hide at Duff, within 5 minutes had superb, prolonged views of an adult female Marsh Harrier. Firstly drifting down the river, then across the front of the hide and then mobbing a Fox with it's prey on the Carrs. A distant Buzzard completed a trio of quality raptors.

Two Birders I'd pointed the Peregrine out to earlier joined me in the hide and informed me they had just seen some WAXWINGS by the bridge! I gave it half an hour but no joy. Might find some soon?

Speaking of Peregrine, check out this footage of this incredible bird in action...242MPH!!!!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Ray Charles - Take these chains

Ray Charles

Friday night is music choice (only once a week). Soul music is my first love and I thought I'd show my appreciation by cataloguing in chronological order my personal history of the greats.

Only one place to start. Although even before my time I always admired his music and this view was enhanced by the tremendous film Ray which I saw on a flight to America. Simply a genius...

Ray Charles - Georgia

Ray Charles - I can't stop loving you

The holidays are HERE!!!

Always a sweet moment to reach the holidays, especially so at this dark time of year. No birding during the week and a bit of a mad dash at the weekend, not helped by the freezing conditions. Anyway, mustn't grumble, I've got 17 days now to get some quality birding in. The river has burst it's banks and I'm looking forward to having a good watch tomorrow morning. I'll be putting all notable sightings on here plus topical comment nationwide...you lucky people?

Always the optimist I'm still hoping for an early Christmas present like I got with these beauties!
19/12/2009 - GYR
20/12/2003 - BALTIMORE ORIOLE and AMERICAN ROBIN
23/12/2001 - BAIKAL TEAL
There's still time...

Unfortunately didn't manage to scan my Yorkshire Birding profile page but no matter, just pleased and honoured to have been asked....Cheers John!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Collared Fly?

Interesting post today from Birding Frontiers regarding the possible/probable Collared Flycatcher at Spurn. It seems the ID is gathering support from various sources. Would be a nice bonus (if retrospective) Yorkshire tick!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Martin Mere

Over to the dark side this weekend to watch my lad playing for Tad' in the 3rd round of the FA Vase at Formby. Poor game, great result...a 3-2 win with junior scoring the winner in the last minute! His seventy-nine year old Nan being there to see it.

Today we went to Martin Mere to see the wildfowl. Record numbers of Whoopers this year (1,940) but only 3 Bewicks!! The warden reckoned they're just not moving this far west anymore?
I have mixed feelings about these reserves. They do a tremendous job in protecting and feeding the birds but it's really just like a cattle ranch for Swans...not really a natural setting, and the birds are just packed in tight waiting to be fed.
I prefer a natural setting...like Duff!


Swan Song!

Great views of these magnificent birds though...

Friday, 10 December 2010

Motown Tribute


I've always been a BIG fan. I was fortunate enough to fulfill a dream and visit mo(tor)town Detroit in the summer and pay homage to the spot where so many great artists and records originated. We did the tour and spent time in the recording studio were the "sounds " were produced.
Berry Gordy was the founder in 1960...The Funk Brothers band, producers Holland-Dozier-Holland and Norman Whitfield and then the Artists...Four Tops, Diana Ross and the SupremesSmokey Robinson and the Miracles, TemptationsMarvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Isley Brothers, Michael Jackson, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Junior Walker and the All StarsDavid and Jimmy RuffinContours, Velvelettes, Elgins, Marvelettes, R Dean Taylor and many many more...please click and enjoy!

This situation will never be repeated and I consider myself truly blessed to have grown up with this music. Carrying my mothers shopping around Bury market in 1970 I spotted a 45 (that's a record for the younger element!) hung up on a string with a clothes peg. Bought it, never having heard it and put it on my mothers Stereogram...the man is above but never forgotten..."it seems the good die young!"

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Rush Bird 4 - Gyr

Strange choice?...not really! For those of you who've read my other Rush Bird anecdotes (see link), the deciding factor for inclusion is exactly that...the russsshhhhhhh!!! Sure it's great to acquire a new tick, especially a LIFER but some birds you're pretty sure you're going to see...right? There's always an element of doubt e.g. flushed, sparrowhawk kill, dies, not easy to connect with! etc but, you do the drive and see the bird. I've been twitching nationally since '89ish and it took me 20 years to connect with a Gyr Falcon. There are good reasons for this...family commitments, marital problems, holidays, to name a few. I would also argue though, that this species can be VERY difficult to connect with and see well...there have been a couple of dots!

So, last winter there was one reported on the Gower at the start of my Christmas holiday. Information was sketchy to say the least. I found some encouraging words on a local site so we rose early on the 19th December and made our way down to South Wales. No news on the way down, but we arrived in the area around 10.30 and stopped at a cafe (how cool is that!?). The area the bird had been seen in was undulating and viewing was difficult (at least were we initially set up shop). We joined around 10 other birders (mainly local) and waited. No joy for about an hour and spirits were sagging somewhat. Then a car screeched up and three birders jumped out saying they had just had a sighting down the road. We all followed (rather quickly) but again no sign?

We then decided to have a drive around the area hoping for a fluke sighting! We drove a few roads then...ah there's a few more birders...c100! We parked up and joined the group and again waited. It was now early afternoon and time was running out.
Then it happened... out of nowhere appeared this magnificent giant Falcon which proceded to fly right across the assembled crowd at 50 yds distance...MAGIC. It was like a goal had been scored, birders were cheering and jumping in the air, even hugging each other? Adrenaline RUSH...
We had three further views of the bird including a brief sighting on a fencepost before we decided to set off on the long journey home. Definitely a day to remember...

Still feel it should be a MEGA!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

ABBA

Having just sat through X Factor..granted with the headphones on. I unfortunately caught the Black-eyed Peas latest offering!!! Music R.I.P.

Louise now watching the best of ABBA...

THIS is the very best of ABBA...

Staying on track

After a couple of mishaps (luckily minor) with the car in the decidedly dodgy conditions, we decided to stay firmly on clear roads today with a thorough inspection of car parking spots! Louise said she'd like to see the Long-eared Owls at Fairburn...so who was I to argue! Sunnier conditions tempted me into a few more shots one of which revealed an orange eye (just!)


Moved on to Old Moor for some lunch in the Gannet cafe (always worth a visit). Still restricted access here, but we managed to find a Brambling at the feeding station, it was much closer before I got my camera from the car...


Finished off back in the village looking for Waxwings. No joy though. Russell Slack had 15 on Willow Drive this morning...thanks for the text Russ.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

LEO return


Major access problems (already got the car stuck in Duff car park once!) helped my decision to return to Fairburn to have another look at the LEO's, this time my camera was operational. Not great (it was dull), but you can see what it is! I could only find 2 birds this time?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Target audience?

Being on the w.w.w. you're never sure who's reading you Blog (probably not that many!). I found a link that shows where the "hits" come from...got a few visits from abroad. Many thanks also to basically anyone who reads my B(log)...

Waxwings in the village today...I know where my first stop in the morning is.

Hawk Owl in Britain? If Only...


Couldn't resist popping on my sighting in Alaska... Oh happy day!!! See trip reports for full story.

It's Friday night, it's...no I won't mention Crackerjack...whoops just have! Time for another classic (for me) piece of music. If you're not a Soul man move on, if you are, check out this northern classic, hope you like it...

Dobie Gray - Out on the Floor



Remember...must be headphones

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Making the most of it

Took a trip over to Fairburn Ings ...on my surprise day off! Managed to negotiate the car park and make my way down Lindyke, under the railway bridge to the LEO site. I could see one (4 present apparently, I saw 3) sat in the bush with my naked eye. I set up my 'scope and enjoyed stunning views of one of these superb birds in the sun. Just love the cryptic plummage...and those EYES! I would have tried to get an image, I had my camera but unfortunately not the battery!! It wouldn't have been as good as this anyway...


Also had great views of a Buzzard.

Harsh weather continues to produce unusual road sightings, I nearly hit a Redshank today!...hard times.

Just watched the World cup farce. We had the best presentation, the best case, the best infrastructure etc etc but it's obviously a "spread the game around the world" scenario. Location, location, location. Nothing against the winners but vast distances involved in Russia (not that I'll be going) and that football hotbed Qatar...and I mean HOT, will test the players fitness. They'll be playing walking Football...can wait! Having said that, we couldn't pass to each other or run around in the cool of South Africa!

P.S We got TWO VOTES!!!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Nice Sunset

Very unusual sighting this morning on the way to work...4 Snipe in the middle of the road!!! My pal Nige also informed me he saw 8 Whooper Swans flying Sports Hall height over the school at dusk last Tuesday!

School finished early today due to the severe weather, so I made the most of it and went down to see the Whoopers again for the last hour. The group were in the same area as yesterday. I enjoyed watching them together with the superb sunset...


Fellow Blogger John Hague beat me to it regarding the death of Leslie Nielson. Airplane was a genius comedy spoof bulging with landmark quotes and one liners.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Packed tight!

Minus 6 here last night (well, when I got in the car). We got wrapped up and took a walk north from Bubwith bridge. We could hear the Swans and sure enough they were in the same area on the river approx' 3/4 of a mile from the road. We approached again below the flood bank and managed to obtain stunning close views of the group, quite pleased with this one for point and shoot!


Really enjoy (very) crisp, clear days like this with stunning light and tight concentrations of Wildfowl, coupled with plenty of noise. I even heard the young Whoopers calling as they came and went in family groups. It was like an avian airport!


Also saw my first drake Pintail of the winter. No raptors today however.
By midday the snow had arrived so we hit the garden centre (Langlands) for lunch. I intended to have the last hour at Duff but the snow just got heavier, so it was back home for the Footy.

Forcast horrendous for tonight and the next few days...don't forget to feed the birds Chaps!

My mate from work has become a follower...Welcome Nige!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Northern Harrier

I was thinking of having a peek at the putative "Northern Harrier" tomorrow but the dodgy forcast and major
uncertainty over it's identity means, for the moment I will be staying local...

Glorious morning down the Carrs

Wanted to make the most of the morning at the start of my winter local birding but struggled to rise after a tough week so it was 9ish when I stumbled out of the car. Inspiration was instantaneous with the sun out and a sprinkling of snow...plus lots of birds!!


Great start with a Marsh Harrier cruising high North...my first November record!! Sign of the times?


Walked up the east bank from Bubwith. I could see a group of Whoopers on the river but didn't want to disturb them so I walked below the flood bank. When I thought I was about level, I scrambled up the bank (much to the amusement of a couple walking their dogs!) and fired off a few shots.


Unfortunately they spotted me and flew up river


Other highlights were 2 Peregrines, c30 Snipe plus decent numbers of Wigeon (c500) and Teal (c300) and 100's of Greylag and Canada Geese...noise and numbers = atmosphere! Finished off back at Geoff Smith hide as more Whoopers dropped in on the river. At least 50 present when I left...great stuff!

Friday, 26 November 2010

EWF - Boogie Wonderland!


My fellow Bloggers post their favourite tracks now and again, and why not! I won't do too many...promise, after all it's about the birds right.
THIS is one of the best!!!

Great news for the Spurn Area!

Habitat improvements!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

A sight for bleary eyes!

In these cold, dark, short days we need uplifting, inspirational sights...especially of birds! Took the lad down Duff 7ish to do his duty. I could immediately here Whoopers whooping. A quick scan of the river revealed 35 magnificent birds...superb. I reckon they're new arrivals...just a hunch?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Site loyalty - Escapes?

Never ceases to amaze me how birds return to the same place from year to year. Waxwings have re-appeared in Fulford, York. Hope to take a peep soon (not easy with ever shortening daylight).

I see the ringed Serin on the Out Skerries has opened up the "escape" debate again. No debate about the fact that it re-affirms that escaped birds can reach the extremities of Britain. Caution recommended, but very difficult/impossible to be sure. Do we (subconsciously) automatically assume that if a bird turns up at a "glamour spot" it is wild? Interesting though. The law of probabilities must finally apply here...leave it to the BBRC...even if you don't agree!! Even the House Finch debate has re-ignited!!!

Richard Millington reckons the Blakeney "empid" is an Alder and Birding World are apparently pro' House Finch. Looking good for a couple of British ticks?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Wolds 2

Re-visited Nunburnholme and had better luck with the Red Kites, seeing at least 6. Two reliable sources have informed me that 40+ have been coming into roost! For those who haven't been to this site before, a good viewpoint is 400m from the start of the Warter rd, there's an obvious pull in with a fine view over the valley. Moved onto Warter, but no raptors here. Final stop again at Millington pastures but quiet here (and cold) just a single Common Buzzard in an hour.

Garden birds?!...not in the Wolds

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Nunburnholme and Millington

Weather turned out fine for our jaunt to the Wolds. As we got out of the car at Nunburnholme (at the start of the Warter rd) 8 Whooper Swans flew east up the valley. We took Rock' a walk and I picked out a Red Kite perched in a tree near the road. We then continued along the Warter road. In Warter we then took the minor road NW just west of the village (not the Huggate rd) and almost immediately we had another Red Kite and 3 Buzzards by the farm (no RLB, unfortunately!). Great scenery, smart birds...great start to the birthday weekend.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Ah! It's the weekend

Yours truly's birthday tomorrow! So it's a free run. Plan formulated...Millington pastures in the morning, maybe a RLB? Arsenal v Spurs followed by Farsley Celtic v Tad in the afternoon (jnr now has 11 goals, not bad from midfield), surprise venue for birthday meal in the evening. Local birding Sunday with possibly a visit to Burniston (amazing third record for this site!!!). Just thought you'd like to know!?

Just received confirmation from John Hewitt that I'm "next up" for the profile in Yorkshire Birding. Honoured to have been asked!

I see LGRE is still dividing opinion on Birdforum, particularly regarding the Squacco Heron. It's heating up by the minute...unfortunately. It appears his return to the Forum has re-ignited the for and against scenario!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

"My" Swans are back!

Whoopers have been around the valley for a few weeks now in small numbers, but they've stayed almost exclusively at the north end of the valley. So it was pleasing to read of a group of 38 returning to NDC today...hopefully more to come?

Sunday, 14 November 2010

No show

It was a bit fresh!
Reached Sleddale around 11 after a coffee in Stokesley. Tried the road north, then worked between Kildale and Commondale till 3.15. No sign of any RLB's. Around 2.30 though we scored when I picked up a female Hen Harrier moving low north up the valley! Coupled with the Raven sighting of last week this made an excellent double of quality bird sightings...even though I say so myself! Just good to be out in the fresh air...

Somone else had a great time!

Never seen as many!

Pager says bird still there? Maybe we were in the wrong place!!!

Update - We were in exactly the right place but no RLB's for us and we didn't see any other birders?

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Things quietening down?

Spent a couple of hours on Skipwith with Haydn this morning, it was noticeably quiet. Superb weather with excellent views of both Green (2) and Great Spotted Woodpeckers (3). Also had a distant flock of Geese that turned out to be Greylag, plus another large distant mass of Golden Plover (c500). Brief visit to Duff produced a couple of Buzzards.

North Yorkshire Moors tomorrow in search of RLB's...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Yes...we have!

The confirmed sighting of AMERICAN ROBIN in Devon got me thinking (dangerous!). Is it still a MEGA? My mates Haydn and Tony Dixon think so...and so do I. I realize there have been a few fairly recent records and most birders now have it on there list, but there have only been 24 previous records and it is a special bird?
Consider...Grey-cheeked Thrush (not a MEGA) - plenty in the eighties (de-valued?), dried up after 91 (desirable again?). Scilly 2002 bird twitched by big listers!
Gyr? - plenty of records but difficult to twitch
Probably depends how old you are!! Just putting it out there...

What's in a MEGA?
  • Purely number of records
  • When the birds occured
  • Where the birds occured
  • Species
  • ..................?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Have we got another?

Always Special

Nice group of Fieldfares down at Duff tonight. Had to be at least 300, couldn't turn one into a Redwing!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Waxwing Winter

A bird in the hand...


Courtesy of Tommy Hyndman

Monday, 8 November 2010

Rush Bird 3 - White's Thrush

Now the dark nights are here I thought I'd reminisce with a few more of my Rush Birds. All can be found under Labels...

3. WHITE'S THRUSH (Easington, Yorks) - 10/10/2004
I'd decided to go to Flamborough (can't remember why!), maybe to seawatch, which is even more disturbing as I'm not a big fan. Maybe it was a feeble late attempt for my Yorks Cory's? Anyway I'd only been there a few minutes when the pager showed WHITE'S THRUSH!!! My eyes were initially fixed on the bird rather than the location and subconsciously I was thinking Scotland. Then it sunk in...Easington, Yorkshire! It's not a great road from Brid' but let's just say I made good time! All the time I was driving I was still trying to come to terms with an almost mythical bird turning up on my doorstep.
                         
The crowd was gathering as I arrived and the atmosphere was typically tense. Birders were arriving by the minute and were strung out across the target area. The local lads had organised a periodic flush and eventually a time was agreed. There was some furtive activity in the bushes...then...there it was flying across the field in full view...MAGIC! In the next couple of hours I had further brief but quality views of this superb bird. The fact that it was in Yorkshire made it even sweeter. Never dreamt I'd see one in my county. Felt (genuinely) for Rich Willison and Gary Dayes who were on Scilly!
                          
So, there it is. Another red letter day and a further example of the amazing unpredictability of Birding.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Shrike 2!

We decided to drive over to Sheffield to try for "the Shrike". Took forever to work our way through the city, due to the navigator (yours truly) missing a junction and the Meadowhall Christmas traffic. By the time we reached the area we were hungry so we hit the Strines Inn in Goshawk country (thoroughly recommended). After lunch we returned to Blaka Hill and spent till dusk waiting in vain for the bird to appear. The afternoon was livened up by the distant calls and then appearance around 3.15 of a pair of Ravens flying south, returning west at 3.30...always noteworthy in Yorks.

The Isabelline has now become a BROWN!!! Late Sunday MEGA sighting always a dilemma (if you've got work on Monday), glad I saw the '08 bird.

Gutted (genuinely) for the lads returning from Cornwall tonight...a tough one to take...Bonfire Night?
Just proves my 3 golden (obvious) rules of twitching :-
  • Get there ASAP
  • Get there ASAP
  • Get there ASAP


Waxwing winter well under way. Many great photos but not many better than these. How about something different?

Interesting Harrier in Norfolk?

Saturday, 6 November 2010

American Wigeon in Wheldrake

Alright, very predictable title! Made the trudge down to Swantail hide on a glorious morning to try for the Duck, or rather Drake! Quite a few down there including Russell Slack (hadn't seen him for quite a while) who informed me the bird wasn't showing. After a chat I trundled on down to Swantail and set up shop. I was joined by a couple of fellow searchers and in no time at all the chap to my right found it! We all enjoyed crystal clear sunshine views...thanks pal. Guess I went down at the right time...there are quite a few Wigeon present!

The fall out from the Twitching programme continues. Time to move on I feel, enjoy the birds and make your own decisions.

Shrike or RLB's tomorrow...not decided yet.

No comments, but getting a healthy number of hits. Thanks to all taking the trouble...

Late result - Just seen this...great news for Sea Eagles

Extra time - Reservoir Cats Interview

Friday, 5 November 2010

TGIF

Well that's the week over. Forecast looks OK. I'll be out locally this weekend. Numbers should be building up nicely now. Probably have a look at the American Wigeon. Whoopers could be back at NDC, who knows maybe even a Waxwing?

Might be a bit crowded in the Walmsley hide tomorrow, lets hope it remains calm!

I see a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO did make it but as usual didn't last long...just wrong location. There's still hope, but not this year!

Twitching programme thread on Birdforum...entertaining stuff

Escape...but what a beauty

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Heavy week

Watched the twitchers special on Monday, found it disappointing and frankly quite sad! That might sound hypocritical but severely extreme for me. Where do they get the dosh and time from?

I see the Scilly hawk has been laid to rest...interesting bird though...

Seems there's been some fun in the hide at the Walmsley Sanctuary. Maybe it wasn't showing that well but then again!

Lots of hassle at work at the moment, so looking forward to the weekend and some quality Birding in the LDV...

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Scilly Summary

Well, I'm back. Another autumn comes to an end. A quiet year but still some quality birds available. Best weather we've had, more like the continent. Many acquaintances renewed. Just love the place.
A controversial small Hawk was a constant talking point, but seems to have eventually fizzled out to a Sparrowhawk. Seeing a Spotted Sandpiper

and a Dusky Warbler in a day can't be bad.

This R.B Fly also provided prolonged entertainment...



No point repeating earlier post info' but suffice to say I still keep the faith with these magical islands. Megas are just the icing on the cake, and lets face it, it does help to be here if that American Cuckoo turns up!

Would have liked a peep at the American Bittern and Green Heron, but as neither were ticks we decided to drive home Friday evening.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

St Agnes

Connected with the Spotted Sandpiper (Scilly tick). Great weather but still quiet generally. Hoping to connect with the Dusky Warbler later.

Success! Great views obtained at the Higher Moors end of the Holy Vale track. The bird was calling frequently. A better day!

2 days left for the BIG ONE?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Scilly - Half time team talk!

Three days of glorious weather but very few quality birds. Always great to be here though. Went over to St Martins on Sunday, so dipped the RFB. Also missed the Cattle Egret(s). Seen the mystery Hawk briefly? Winds strong SW veering W at moment, giving hope for the rest of the week? One bird changes the whole picture... there's still time!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Scilly!

The time has come. We go down tomorrow night and fly first thing Saturday from Lands End. Many keep writing the islands off but it will produce the goodies again. Hope it's next week, if it isn't no matter, we just love the Islands. I'll post some thoughts during the week. Swainson's Thrush?

Promising for Tuesday. You'll have to flick forward!

Notable Fieldfare arrival yesterday morning.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Spurn - a great day

         Decided to try for the Rosy Pastor at Easington first. It proved elusive but we eventually got decent views. The decision to visit this site first rather than go to the Point, really paid dividends when the pager alerted us to a Rough-legged Buzzard at Sammy's Point! We were one of the first cars on the scene and soon had scope views of this magnificent bird in bright sunshine. It then continued to perform superbly as it hovered, perched and swooped around the immediate area down to 400 yards. A rare bird indeed. The Spurn lads reckoned there were 3 birds present. For me the excitment was in the situation. Obviously a new bird in off the sea... a surprise and great views.
          After things had calmed down we tried Church Field for the R.B. Fly. No-one was present when we arrived so we strolled down the far end and sat on the bench. After about 5 minutes out it popped on the fence! Nice.
          Further distant views of a R.L. Buzzard over Beacon Lane were followed by a Brambling and Mistle Thrush (Spurn tick), then the discovery of a Mealy Redpoll by the Bluebell...cracking bird. We then went for a yomp down Beacon Lane along Long Bank and back into Kilnsea for a drink at the Crown and Anchor.
          On our way back to the Bluebell car park I mentioned to Louise what a great day it had been with only Waxwing being a miss. Wait...you guessed it...flying over our heads to perch in bare branches in the afternoon sun!
           Special day at a very special place. Timely renewal of my Friends of Spurn membership.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Osprey still plus BIG bonus

Spent the morning with Haydn at Pool Bridge Fisheries, Crockey Hill. Walked the site more extensively today in superb sunshine. Numerous views of the Osprey, including perched in a dead tree (only one bird seen), with amazing bonus views of TWO Peregrines!!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Invent - the weather! Don't they always?

Checking the weather for the weekend I stumbled across this neat link on the Met office website. You might want to have a peep? I've added it to my weather list.

No sign of the SEO last two evenings. Going for another look at the Osprey (hopefully) at Crockey Hill in the morning.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Monday, 11 October 2010

SEO still

Short-eared Owl still present. Only my third record. It was more distant this evening, ranging widely over the Carrs and Bubwith Ings, probably linked to the fact that I took my camera! Also a couple of stunning Barn Owls.

BIG birds arriving nationally...keep 'em coming!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Spurn back with a Bang!

Much better day today. Arrived 9.45. Never seen as many so early. Lots of birds especially thrushes, robins and goldcrests. Scored early with the Great Grey Shrike in middle hedge then headed for Sammy's after failing to see the Little Bunting. Timed it right with magnificent views of a little jewel in the sunshine. Overheard a few "just another Pallas's" type comments! Not for me, always special. Walked back for lunch at the Blue Bell which coincided with the discovery of a Lapland Bunting right outside!
Next, marched down to Canal Scrape hide to get cracking views of Jack Snipe (best ever views of the bobbing).  We were enjoying further views of the Shrike when some of the regulars informed the crowd that a Radde's Warbler had been trapped at Kew. So we strolled up and within 5 mins we were enjoying in hand views. A nice finish to a great day.

Dusk visit to Duff with the boy paid off with brilliant views of the S.E.O. right in front of Geoff Smith Hide, including hunting dives into reedbed!!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

P.G.Tip!

Mainland Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers are unusual! So, off we went leaving my lads game at Tadcaster (beat Bridlington 3-1, and he scored, 8 for the season...that's ma boy) just on half-time. "Doctors garden at Whitburn" was the site. Negotiated the average speed check area of the A1, always handy when time is tight! Found Cornthwaite Park around 5.30 (with the help of Stuart at RBA) but we were puzzled as to where the Docs was, and the birders? Asked a few locals but no joy. We then noticed a derelict area consisting of the remains of a wall and shall we say undergrowth. We made our way in, saw a couple of heads which could only be birders and bingo we'd found the place! It then hit me that I wish I hadn't! This wasn't the picture of a doctors garden I had in my mind. The chances of finding the bird had diminished from an optimistic 30% to zero. Apparently it was seen well by one experienced observer. Still glad we treid. We left last and went for an Italian.

Osprey!


Followed up the info' regarding the Osprey sightings at Crockey Hill near York. Rich Willison e-mailed me with details on site access. Smart set-up with cafe and very friendly owners. Bumped into Carl Dutton and friends and spent a relaxing couple of hours waiting for the birds to show. As seen above we were treated to crippling views with a bird right over our heads on two occasions! Pity it was so dull.


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Belated News Stateside - but definitely worth a mention!

"On 27 September on a Gambell, St. Lawrence Island seawatch, Paul Lehman reported a sudden appearance of migrating flocks of mostly male ABA Code-2  Spectacled Eiders (Somateria fischeri) streaming by.  At the end of the count, 4,375 individuals were tallied heading from ENE to the southwest in the direction of their newly discovered wintering area in open water at the edge of the pack ice, southwest of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska"

Just scan!

Took the lad down to Bubwith bridge around 6ish. Superb evening. Just scanned the horizon while he rolled around and chased his ball...Buzzard and Jay...not bad!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Crossed Wires?

There's been a lot of hassle on various threads lately following the mis-ID's of certain birds on the Northern Isles. Always a difficult one for me. Devil and the deep blue sea. If you call it and your wrong you get the "wise guy" stuff. If you don't because you're not 100% sure you can get slaughtered as well!! Better to call and fail than not to call at all. At least these chaps are putting the hours in. Tough one however, if you travel major distance and spend major dosh!

Locally had great views of a ccMarsh Harrier last night crossing the A57 Harrogate rd while bringing my Year 8's back from a Footy match...they lost 3-0.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Sabine's Gull

You've probably seen the report of a Sabine's Gull today at Bank Island and Storwood. I've spoken to Darren Starkey and Peter Roworth neither of whom had seen the bird despite extensive searching. Craig Ralston had the initial sighting apparently. Just seen the photos of the Ospreys between York and Crockey Hill on Birdforum (Yorkshire)...nice!

Baikal Teal

Following on from the recent sighting in Essex, I checked my records for the Minsmere bird which I saw 23/12/2001. I had seen on the 'net that this record had been accepted onto Cat A but I couldn't find it on the BBRC site. I contacted Nigel Hudson who kindly replied with this message.
"Fair cop. The British Birds magazine web-site is about to be updated and we (BBRC) will be following a few months later. As such it is not getting updated on such things as those lists you reference.
But the 2009 BBRC report due out in a week in British Birds, and as the extract sent to you in the last email, will clarify the position and mentions the Minsmere bird"
Baikal Teal Anas formosa (1, 2, 0)
2002 Oxfordshire Dix Pit, Stanton Harcourt, male, 22nd–24th December, photo (S. Thomson
et al.).
2001 Suffolk Minsmere, first-winter male, 18th November to 29th December, photo (P. Green,
W. T. S. Miles et al.); see Brit. Birds 95: 524, now on Category A.
After a long and chequered history, this species finds itself once again on the British List. A recent
review of the status of Baikal Teal was initiated by BOURC on the basis of evidence for natural
vagrancy in Denmark, based upon the analysis of stable-hydrogen isotopes (Fox et al. 2007).
Another analysis of stable-hydrogen isotopes, this time of feathers from a first-winter male Baikal
Teal shot in Essex in 1906, yielded very similar results to those from the bird collected in
Denmark, strongly suggesting natural vagrancy (Votier et al. 2009). This, together with an investigation
of the captive status of Baikal Teal during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
and the age and moult cycle of the Essex specimen, meant that it was accepted as the first
for Britain (Harrop & McGowan 2009). Following on from these results, the first-winter male at
Minsmere, Suffolk, in 2001, at a suitable location and excellent time of the year, was then
accepted onto Category A of the British List, while the Oxfordshire bird in 2002 also turned up at
an expected time of year and with no indication of captive origin.
(Breeds E Siberia from Yenisey River E to Anadyr & Kamchatka, N to 70ÂșN.Winters South Korea & lower Yangtze
River, China, with small numbers regular in E & S Japan.)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Weather forecasts!

The weather forecast/s predicted a window of dry weather early morning, possibly till lunchtime. Again the forecast was wrong. We had left for Flamboro' at 7 hoping to make the most of the "dry" morning. When we arrived at 8.15 it was persisting it down! The Rustic Bunting had been flushed from it's field around 7.30 and a repeat had been arranged for 10.30. We therefore decided to walk his lordship around the headland looking for a GGS...no luck, but it killed some time, so did the sausage sarni. Arrived back on site at 10.25 (still chucking it down), bird never showed, although I admit, it was a feeble attempt as my heart wasn't in it in the horrendous conditions. I'd have been struggling to ID a Bee-eater!! Pager went off with a sighting at 10.50.

Moved on to Filey to try for better weather (ha) and the Wryneck. Same scenario, same result.

Had enough...went home. Still...glad we tried. Couldn't have faced staying in all day. We've had some grim Sundays lately. Never mind, it's work tomorrow!!!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Spurn - a better day in many ways!

Acting on the forecast we made a Saturday visit and had a great day. A confirmation page that the G.G.Shrikes (3) were still present was the news we were waiting to hear. We tried the triangle first, to give the lad his walk, but no joy. Nothing else for it, we set off for the point. No sign of the bird between posts 60 and 70. Cup of tea required then on to the point dunes. Again no sign. Surely we couldn't go all day without seeing one? We had a bit of help here in the shape of a birder who had a CB. He informed us a bird had just flown towards the Parade Ground. When we arrived we immediately had great views of a GGS perched in the top of a dead bush. Always a great bird to see. My first for 6 years!!

The supporting cast included (in no particular order) :-
Merlin, 6 Little Egrets, c10 Redstarts, Wheatear, 3 Whinchat, and Brambling.

Washout forecast tommorrow, might try for the Rustic Bunting early doors.

Swainson's Thrush on Shetland...called it! Wrong location and wrong date though!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Well - just one more!

Just seen that LGRE has confirmed it as an Alder? To each his own...but I'll be waiting for the "official" verdict!

Empid - the last word - from me!

More secondhand quotes from Cape May, from those that see these thing regularly....

'I just saw a picture on Surfbirds by Mike Lawrence of the Alder Flycatcher which nicely shows the primaries opened slightly, revealing the length of the 1st (10th over here!) primary. As per my article on the Cape May website, you can clearly see that the 1st primary tip falls between the 5th and 6th primaries (6th and 5th over here) but is clearly relatively long and closer in length to the 6th (5th over here). This is a great starting point for Alder, while the head shape, eye-ring, relatively small bill and overall colouration are all ideal for Alder too. We should also remember the timing and the fact that Willows haven't been seen around here for nigh on a month now.'
Mike's image is here

The MAGIC month is here!

Well it's October. Hopes are high and the weather is favourable for migrants. We're due a bumper yank year, let's hope it's this one. Here's my top five forecast...I'd settle for one! (preferably on Scilly, 23rd onwards)

1.Swainson's Thrush
2.Parula Warbler
3.Yellow-billed Cuckoo
4.Black-billed Cuckoo
5.Cape May Warbler - well I can dream!

After the Blakeney Point experience, 2 washout Sundays (and the strong possibility of a third) we're off to Spurn tomorrow for hopefully a bird-filled DRY Saturday?

N.B Empid finders account here plus interesting comment from a US birder:-
"Let me start my reminding everyone that Kaufman's (excellent for the time) Advanced Birding is quite dated by now. Thankfully, I know he's about to release an update!
Many if not most non-calling empids are far from impossible to identify in the field. What it takes is many, many years of experience with vocalizing birds in the field. Nothing can replace thousands of hours in the field actually looking at the things. In fact, I find that birds in-the-hand are often harder to identify, because they're not showing off their natural jizz.
Anyway, I feel this bird is an Alder Flycatcher. Compared to Willow, on average, Alders have darker crowns that contrast with a paler back (concolorous in Willow), shorter bill, more prominent eyering, are more colorful overall, and have and a flatter crown. Shape-wise, Willows are more pewee-like, and I've on more than one occasion mistaken a pewee for Willow or the other way 'round. Never for Alder.
For what it's worth, Alder and Yellow-bellied were the only two possibilities that even entered my head when looking at this bird. It's so short-billed, brightly-colored, and "cute-looking" that Willow was never a consideration for me.
I might also mention that the other recent UK empid was, purely from photos, a pretty solid Alder, and that measurements later proved that"

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Traill goes cold

The bird has flown. Decided to place the Empid in 10th place in my Rush Bird list (although there was no rushing down the shingle! I see LGRE has decided it's an Alder?

Sunday, 26 September 2010

EMPID - postscript

A few thoughts:-
  • Great camaraderie between a lot of very tired but determined birders. Uplifting to see advice on distance and time left being freely given.
  • Glad it was there today - even though I saw it yesterday. Don't subscribe to the "hope it clears off" school of thought. Well done Haydn!
  • Whatever it is - I've seen it and it was great fun
  • Louise walking to the halfway house in horizontal hail is worth another mention. I'm a lucky boy!

EMPID!!!

Just got back. What a day! Got a great start leaving around 1.20. Great run down (A1 blocked solid going north at M18!). Arrived Cley 3.03, not bad. We set off but the weather was deteriorating...rapidly! I'd never had the 'pleasure' of the walk, but in a gale force North-westerly with driving rain it seemed like 6 miles. Louise being the trouper that she is, stuck it out for a good mile and a half, but we decided that with the time and distance left it was best for her to return to the car while I plodded on. Arrived around 5.45 to the news that it hadn't been seen for 10 mins. The wind was unbelievable. Just after 6 it popped out and showed very well low in the scrub. Oh happy day!

I'll post a few more thoughts tomorrow...

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Last optics quote - ever

If you've followed this Blog...the thoughts of Chairman etc (one for the teenagers), you must have noticed my ramblings on optics. Now I am content, (after much deliberation and flux) with my recently purchased mint condition Leica Trinovid 8x32 BN's and my Leica APO 62 'scope. Having tried them all and shelled out a quid or two it's very satisfying to STOP!!! You only have to check out the optics threads on Birdforum to realize the attraction of "a better view desired". I admit to having joined a discussion lately (sad I know!) but found it strangely cleansing. The desire for something better can make you constantly restless/dis-satisfied.
Hope this doesn't sound too smug but my personal search is over. If you want more the thread concerned is here...
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=180861

and here's another
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=108435&highlight=leica+trinovid+8x32bn

Key comment from Kevin Conville:-
"Once a certain optics level is attained, handling and ergos and je ne sais quoi count for more than absolute visual performance. As long as these are held in our hands, looking at real moving subjects, I believe this is true."

What do you think?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Blog design?

I must admit to being tempted by the new templates on Blogger and I've seen some excellent efforts from my fellow bloggers. However not sure if I'm going to change yet. Like my old school design. At least I've worked out how to transfer my posts if I do decide to take the plunge!

Managed a Green Sandpiper at Duff this evening.

Weather looks very promising for the weekend?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Damp Squib at Spurn

The forecast was for clearing skies after 12...the forecast was wrong! Still we put a good shift in from 10 till 4 but the rain kept on coming. Things started well when we walked in the Canal scrape hide to be greeted by my mate Vince informing us the Purple Sandpiper was showing well. This was the highlight of the day however. We walked around Easington hoping for a re-emergent Roller (always been a super-optimist) but surprise, surprise, no joy!! Spent the afternoon yomping around Kilnsea, peaking with 2 Song Thrushes near the Blue Bell, but finally admitted defeat and drifted home. You have to take the medicine some days...

Two good inland seabird records today. Wonder how many were missed? None at Duff unless they crash landed on the grass. Hoping the wet spell continues to flood the Carrs.

A few beauties in Europe at the moment
http://www.surfbirds.com/cgi-bin/gallery/display.cgi?gallery=gallery11

Superb photos of Brown Fly and Western Bonelli's on East Ayton Birding
http://www.eastaytonbirding.com/p662392924#h3c5bcdfe

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Something for the Autumn?

Added a link from the Met Office Site showing the Pressure Chart, so we can all create our rarity theories for the coming weeks!

Saturday morning round up

Started early this morning on Skipwith with Haydn. We had the suprising bonus of 2 Woodlarks at the west end of Sands Lane. Also had Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers (c6), Buzzard and Marsh Tit. Moved on then to the Carrs were we connected with another 3 Buzzards and a Kingfisher (again moving from river to scrape).
No sign of the cc Marsh Harrier.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Marsh Harrier still

Lovely stroll down the Carrs in the September sun this evening. 6 hot air balloons drifting over low was a relaxing sight indeed. The cc Marsh Harrier is still present and has been reliably seen in the central area of the reserve for the past week, often perching on fence posts. Large numbers of Swallows and House Martins also present. Hoping for a bumper weekend...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Spurn Area - HOT!

After the ROLLER we now have a SQUACCO HERON!!! Quite a garden tick for Gary Featherstone. What an amazing place Spurn is. So glad I live in Yorkshire - and that's from a Lancastrian!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Roller!

We like to walk away from the central hub at Spurn, both to get some exercise and hopefully find something decent ourselves. So the news of a ROLLER on Sunday at Easington was a case of what might have been! Just gotta keep walking and looking...

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Old Friends

Arrived at Spurn around 10 and went straight to the point! Bumped into Joan Fine who I hadn't seen for ages. We used to go twitching together so we recalled a few of the better days. Nice to see you Joan. We then wound our way around the honeycomb of trails searching for the Wryneck. Not the easiest area or bird to achieve good views but after around 45mins managed to get a couple of decent flight views and a brief glance on the sandy path. On the way back to the car park we had great views of a migrant Great Spotted Woodpecker flying south. After lunch we walked via the Crown and Anchor car park (Spotted Fly and Blackcap) out to Sammy's Point. Managed 2 Little Egrets and 2 Wheatears on the Humber and a Redstart at Sammy's. Walked into rain on the way back and left about 4.

On the way home stopped off at North Cave Wetlands and Gary Dayes pointed out the juv Red-necked Grebe for us. Karl Dutton (Mr Blacktoft!) was also in the hide, hadn't seen him for quite a while also so we swapped holiday stories amongst other birdy stuff. Good to see you too pal!

A good day in the September sun.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Superb species breeding again!

Did the usual Skipwith Common/North Duffield Carrs mooch this morning. Haydn picked out a Water Rail on the common and I managed a cream-crown Marsh Harrier and a Kingfisher at Duff.

After my depressing comment on the Little Terns, I've just heard the fantastic news that Red-backed Shrikes bred on Dartmoor this year raising 2 young. I've been birding (just) long enough to remember seeing the last breeding pair in Norfolk in 1992.
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/breeding-again-after-18-years-the-bird-that-vanished-from-britains-shores-2075478.html

Friday, 10 September 2010

Tragic Terns

Just received my copy of Yorkshire Birding. Browsing through it I read once again of the failure of our only Little Tern colony at Easington. Sad news indeed and heartbreaking for the warden who put in all those hours. I fully understand the "nature must take it's course" argument but surely we can give them a little more "help" combating predators? Otherwise, we won't have any at all soon!

Scilly starting to liven up. Nice shot of the L.G.Shrike on their website.
http://www.scilly-birding.co.uk/
We'll be there 23rd October for a week...bring it on!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Duff follow up...the trail goes cold?

You may have noticed a report today from my patch...c120 Yellow Wagtails and 7 Whinchats!!! Impressive stuff indeed. So, after work I took the old lad down together with bins and scope to enjoy the spectacle. Tried hard for an hour. Total seen...NONE. Maybe they were out of view, maybe they had moved on, maybe they...

Takes me back to my "moment" in the spring with the Red-backed Shrike (just thought I'd mention it again). A few of the locals did mention that is was nice to actually "see" something in the valley!

Res' Cats casting aspersions again regarding the Brown Fly twitch. Following day, early morning only sightings are bound to raise eyebrows. Where did it go? The pressure to see the bird is great, BUT lets be honest chaps.

Controversial post for yours truly.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

A few loose ends

We popped to Spurn today with the prospect of strengthening east winds. The BIG one turned up at Buckton but still enjoyed the day. 3 Redstarts, 2 Wheatears and a Whinchat was the best we could do. Bumped into a few of the chaps including Richard Willison, Gary Dayes, John Grist and Andy Roadhouse. Talking about stuff it's interesting that experienced birders still get torn between twitching and staying on their patch! On a (much) lower level I feel the same about Duff. Love all kinds of Birding but the biggest kick is the patch find for me. Had a Swift this evening!!

Finally got round to finishing my North-east US trip report. It's a rather breif affair, focussing on my target birds as part of a wider sightseeeing trip.
http://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=1870

Binoculars!!! Won't bore you (maybe I already have) but I've not been settled with various bins I've tried for quite a while. Picked up a thread on Birdforum that got me thinking.
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=108435
So I searched and remarkably found a pair in mint condition. Have you ever had a favourite chair? (Frasier).
Like the lad says, not the sharpest, not the brightest but for me there's just something about them...the perfect fit. A classic pair to grow old with.

Anyone want to buy a pair of 8x32 Ultravid HD?!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Rush Bird 2 - Cliff Swallow

For those of you who have followed for a while I promised I'd tell a tale or two about my best twitches. Been a while now since 1 (see Labels).

So here's number 2...CLIFF SWALLOW at Spurn 23/10/1995

The bird had been seen on the previous day (Sunday) and as it was half-term I decided to give it a go on Monday morning. I arrived about 8am (it was a long time ago!) and joined the small crowd by the Caravan park. There was definitely anticipation in the air and this was well founded when Pete Pirenger suddenly cried "there it is!! You can guess the elation as the bird slowly drifted south right in front of us. Everybody (well most) then jumped in there cars and headed down to the Narrows. Sure enough within a few minutes we could see the bird approaching, again giving, as they say "crippling views". Obviously to see an american swallow in Britain and especially on the east coast was amazing. The rest of the morning was spent looking for the bird as birders in all attires screeched up and asked for the latest but it wasn't seen again that day, although there was a sighting on the 28th apparently.

Pushed into second place by the NIGHTHAWK, but still a tremendous RUSH BIRD!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Better Views Obtained - 2

After unsatisfactory "pinball" views last night I returned to Flamborough this afternoon to try and get a better view of the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. I arrived after work about 5 to be greeted with long faces and  news of past sightings. After a couple of hours of scurying after various claims the bird was pinned down near the Style at the south west corner of Old Fall plantation. My mate Haydn arrived after much deliberating whether he could make it after work. Glad to say he timed his arrival perfectly as the bird started to show! Eventually the assembled crowd of c40 birders all enjoyed good views of the bird as it flitted in and out of the vegetation.

Glad I returned for much better views.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Twitching is crazy - but good fun!

Watching the eldest playing Footy for Tadcaster yesterday afternoon. About 4.20 "box" informed me of a probable Collared Fly' at Spurn!

Dilemma...You know how it is, right? Should have been going over to Wakefield after the match for a Barbecue. What to do? Chewed it over for 10 minutes. The bird had been caught and measured but was obviously not confirmed. Would it ever be? A very difficult ID to nail.

However, insurance ticks are always wise, so I confronted my good lady with the 64,000 Dollar question. Being the diamond that she is I got the nod and promised to be back 7.30ish! Made good time and arrived around 6 to find Andy Gibson and John Grist looking at something promising by the entrance gate. Within 2 minutes I got great views of the bird perched on a fence. Very Lucky!

Return journey was a breeze and I arrived to a burger at 7.30!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Optimism

Made the annual (and admittedly feeble) attempt at sea watching this morning. Nothing half-hearted about the arrival time at Flamborough (05.45) but I must confess it's not a passion of mine. I just don't seem to get on with the sea, watching it and definitely not ON it!

However set out my stall next to a regular (Andrew Allport?) and started to watch...the sea. A few other stalwarts joined us in the next hour or so including Craig Clay-Thomas and Andrew Lassey. Also had a good chat with Andy Malley "the Chairman" of the group. Nice bloke and fellow teacher who had just returned from the States.

Anyway, onto the main business of the day. We had a steady trickle of birds to keep us interested, the highlight being 2 Balearic Shearwaters. Back up was in the form of c20 Sooties and c5 Manx.  Bonxies reached double figures including 4 together plus c25 Arctics.

The real reason I did the 5 hour sit? Well, don't tell anyone but somebody still needs Cory's Shearwater for their Yorkshire list!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Wader selection

Trundled down the super-highway to Blacktoft Sands this afternoon. Enjoying what's left of my (admiittedly) long holiday. Always nice to brush up on wader ID and I was pleased to see a fair selection of species in variable plumages. Spent a couple of hours in different hides watching Ruff (c20), Green Sandpiper (c15), both adult and juvenile Black-tailed Godwits (c10) and just as I was about to leave this superb Spotted Redshank dropped in about 100 yds away.




This picture was taken with both the camera (Panasonic Lumix TZ7) and 'scope (Leica APO62) hand held! It amazes me what can be achieved these days with the latest compact cameras. It doesn't even have an internal zoom! Just shows you can get a decent shot with easily portable gear.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Better views acquired!

Having dashed from Ferrybridge last night (returning from the Birdfair) in response to the the slow drip beep of the MEGA alert, I arrived at Patrington minus optics! This is not the first time this has occurred. Always feel it's better to arrive as soon as possible! Also there will probably be someone there already!!!
Came away rather quickly due to having left Rocky at home most of the day. Many thanks to the kind soul (who's name I've forgotten) who let me look through his scope.

As the bird was still present today I decided to go for better views at Spurn and maybe a record shot. Managed the above images with my hold and press digiscope technique. Well, you can see what it is? While I was there the bird was showing well off the Crown and Anchor to 100yds.

Excellent Yorkshire tick. Is it possible it's the same bird that was at Sammy's 3 years ago? A long time since my British tick at Foryd Bay, Gwynedd 25/8/1996! Anyway, a great start to the autumn. More to come...hopefully.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Back in Blighty

Well...just got back from a whirlwind trip around the NE USA. Fantastic sites in an incredible country. Top billing must go to Niagra Falls...simply awesome! Oh yes...I did pretty well with my target birds adding 18 species to my ABA list, bumping it up to 641. A trip report will follow shortly.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Going Stateside

Just a quick one! Last minute decision to visit the wonderful US of A for 3 weeks. Flying into New York on Saturday and touring New England, out to Detroit, down to Washington. I reckon some birding might be involved to boost the ABA list!!

Might send a few posts if possible.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Back to the Brigg

Had a couple of hours over at Filey yesterday to take a peep at the KING EIDER. Just made it at 3.45 before it was flushed by jet-skiers and flew off into the bay. Been a while since I've visited, used to be a regular for me but I guess Spurn took over. Funny, doesn't seem to get as many decent birds these days?

The run of records of KING EIDER is interesting as well...like buses! Missed the South Gare bird by a whisker (was it accepted, not on RBA?)  Got out of the car to be told it was flying across the Tees to Hartlepool!! Scored with the Flamboro' bird, at dawn on the second morning. Always worth seeing and still a special bird. Let's face it we had a long wait...it was 1846 before that!!!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Something for July Sir!

How about one of these!!! In Yorkshire of course...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO_sgn9_QbA&feature=player_embedded

It's not that far away?

Bempton

Made my trip with Louise and Rock. Bit windy but definitely not complaining after a week of steaming heat! Always enjoy seeing 'our' seabirds, so lucky to have such a site in Yorkshire. It was fairly busy, but no trouble viewing with a little patience. Only slight hassle, as usual, was ensuring Rocky didn't get into any male dog situations! We gave the old boy a good walk from one end to the other and enjoyed the spectacle, the noise and well maybe not so much the smell!

Towards the northern end of the reserve I noticed a group of Gannets very close to the path...new site for me? This enabled me to try a few digiscope shots through my Leica APO 62 using Louise's TZ7 Panasonic Lumix. You've heard my views on photography before so I won't go on...phew! Anyway just placed the camera over the eyepiece and pressed! Most of them just...nice, like this one. Note the soft focus!!




Quite pleased with these though...



n.b. All photos also viewable on Flickr

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Footy today - Bempton tomorrow

Just watched the Germans crush the Argentinians. Amazing mentality, got to be favourites now. Opposite of us...average club players, great internationals!

Going to make the annual pilgrimage to Bempton tomorrow. Might even post a photo or two...not too many of course.

n.b. Added my Scilly list to Bubo

Monday, 28 June 2010

Double Doldrums

Won't mention the Football (well only once) becuase we didn't play any! Couple that with the usual June dearth of rarities and birds in general as the breeders lie low and I can't help but long for the Autumn. Might try a trip to Bempton to liven things up a bit.

Where did that Bridled Tern go?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

D-Day

Well...this is it! Just about remember '66. Loved '70 and '82. So close in '90. Now we have players who are undoubtedly world class...for their clubs! We have had a string of highly regarded managers...they can't all be bad? Today is the day to become world class for your COUNTRY! It's up to you lads...COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Quail? - YES!

Took a walk N along the east bank of the river from Bubwith. About half-way up Duff' could clearly hear 1/2 Quail calling from on the reserve. Also had a Grey Wagtail and a pair of Oystercatchers.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Quail?

Just in case anyone was wondering I haven't heard any Quail in my frequent visits to NDC with the hound.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

More Bubo

Added my ABA and Texas lists to Bubo. Suppose it's my stateside equivalent to my British and Yorkshire efforts. Don't want to appear too sad, so probably just add my Duff list and leave it there. My details can be found by clicking the Bubo Link on the sidebar.
Looks like the Marmora's has departed. Rare Tern on the way? Bridled please!

Interesting reading the different styles of Blog. Some loaded with photos, some loaded with swear words, some funny, some mysterious, etc etc. You may have noticed I have a mixture on my Blog list from both ends of the spectrum!! The bottom line for me is that it's all about what we love...BIRDS!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Bubo!

Just for a bit of nostalga I traced through my British and Yorkshire lists...strictly BOU of course! So they're now on Bubo for the world to see...and check (like anyone is interested). I enjoyed the experience however, and it brought back many great memories of cracking birds from the past. The lists are easy to use and give you pointers to acceptance. There are one or two elements that I find inconsistent however. House Finch (which I saw) and Alder Fly (which I didn't) are listed although they haven't been accepted yet? This makes the league aspect |(if that concerns you) rather ambiguous. I repeat though I like the idea and full marks to the designers of the site. To access it just click the banner above with my totals on . I have actually reduced my British list on research and placed Wilson's Snipe and Royal Tern in the 'pending' envelope! There's integrity for you...

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Been a good year for the Cuckoos?

Definite increase in Cuckoos singing in this neck of the woods. A very positive note! I've even heard one for the last few nights from my garden.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Little Shearwater

Bit puzzled by the release of the news. Bird in a sensitve breeding area with no chance of a sighting. As we know some will push it to try and get a view. Difficult one, but might we be talking searchlights from boats etc etc...?

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Eagles everywhere?

As you know I am positive to sightings...most of the time. This being confirmed by my recent trip to Suffolk! No, I didn't go to Hampshire. Today we now have sightings of "possible" LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE!!
I sincerely hope this bird/s can be pinned down and identified, ideally photographed. Alas, the various sightings and variable species claims surely can't help the cause of these reports?
N.B. Managed to sort out my photos into sets on Flickr. I'll add some of my better efforts from my trips over the past few years. Just added some Owl shots. Also added a slideshow.