Tuesday, 29 November 2011

On a brighter note

Whooper numbers are starting to build up now even though there's no water. They just graze at the far end of the reserve. I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again...it never ceases to amaze me how they return here every year, remaining site faithful, despite the attractions of the WWT reserves. There were at least 18 present this afternoon. Bullfinches are ever present and at least 4 were seen around the feeding station.

High tides and strong winds have wreaked havoc at Spurn. Hope it's not the end of the road (no pun intended).

Looks like I've got it all to do in December to beat my NDC best year total...

Just received a text of Russell Slack. 3 Bewick's and 30 Bean Geese seen at NDC this afternoon. Unfortunately not during my visit. Hope they hang around...

Monday, 28 November 2011

Sunday, 27 November 2011

An underestimated illness

We all have bad moments/times. I've had some which I won't bore you with and luckily found a way through. Surely though when a fit, intelligent, rich, good looking and successful 42 year old man hangs himself...maybe it's time for a fresh perception in some areas of true Clinical Depression.

Someone once told me about the Swan syndrome. We all appear calm and in control on the surface but underneath we're paddling like mad to keep going...makes you think...doesn't it?

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Secrets out!

If your looking for birds on this one...give it a miss!

While listening to Talk Sport last week (Keys and Gray to be precise) I was fascinated by an interview with Pete Waterman. He obviously talked about his love of Football (can't understand why he supports Coventry!), his Music and...Steam Trains?

It took me way back to my young days in the 60's (did I say 60's?) growing up in the small Lancashire town of Bury, carrying my mum's shopping down "the Baltic" (an affectionate name for the elevated road into the town centre). The road became a bridge over the railway line and I always hoped we'd time our walk so I could catch a view of one of the ever decreasing steam train fleet. Diesels were fast taking over but that just made the sighting of a "steamer" all the more special. I spent many a holiday travelling around Lancs trying to tick off as many remaining steam trains as I could. The magic moments though were when a "namer" (a train with a name!) or even better a Britannia class 70000 shot through Bury by chance...links here with a rare bird?

Where is this leading I here you ask...

Well, like I said it's confession time...

I used to be a trainspotter!!! Surely links here with being a Birder? Lists, chasing birds/trains. No doubt.

I am obviously aware of all the private railways and the incredible volunteer work that goes on throughout Britain but I wasn't aware of the amount of mainline opportunities there are out there to view these trains were they should be. Thundering along the mainline and through stations. Things with real atmosphere and character, bringing the railways to life and giving yours truly a real buzz when seen.

I've always wanted to see the Settle to Carlisle section of our rail network, so I'm booking a trip for us next year starting at Manchester Victoria. Looking forward to it already. A trip to Chester next Saturday will start my tribute to these beasts as Britannia steams in at 1pm. Full line up can be found here if your interested (which your almost certainly not!).

So, there it is, my secrets out. Seemed a perfect time to come out while I sit  through another Saturday night Karaoke!

70013 Oliver Cromwell

70000 Britannia

Mallard 1938! World speed record holder. Now in National Railway Museum, York
Feel better for that! No secrets here. It's still (mainly) a Bird Blog though...

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Keep right on...

Verdict from the specialist...a course of Physiotherapy. OK, so that's what yours truly shall do. I've got my exercises and I'll do them religiously. I was also advised to "do as much as you can do" to keep my muscles strong, this obviously helps the joint. Time will tell if it works...

Plenty of geese of various species around Yorkshire at the moment. I'm hoping some will drop in to NDC soon?

Out of interest (if only to me) below is a list of birds I've seen at NDC but not this year (not a complete list - summer birds excluded). I only need 4 to break my year list record...

Bewick's Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii)
Taiga Bean Goose (Anser fabalis)
Tundra Bean Goose (Anser serrirostris)
European White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)
Dark-bellied Brent Goose (Branta bernicla)
American Wigeon (Anas americana)
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Common_ Scoter (Melanitta nigra)
Goosander (Mergus merganser)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)
Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
Marsh Tit (Parus palustris palustris)
European Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea cabaret)

Monday, 21 November 2011

A VEERY Happy Birthday

We made the trip up to Mallaig and I joined the charter boat out to Muck. Just over an hour later I had connected with another Lifer in the form of a VEERY.

The setting was less than salubrious!

...but the result was satisfying

In Muck...on Muck!

None of this would have been possible without my wonderful partner...

Specialist verdict on hip tomorrow?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

They just keep on coming...

VEERY on Muck!

Veery Picture

Now where is that?

Also juvenile Gyr in Lancs...took me 19 years to catch up with one on the Gower. I'd still love to see another, preferably as close as this...

These beauties coupled with the Greater Yellowlegs and the year seems to be having quite a sting in the tail...

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Getting close!

I don't know if you've been having a peep at the John Vanderpoel's Big Year (probably not!) but he's getting close to the record. Sandy Komito is the current holder on 745 (give or take the latest split/lump!). I never thought anyone would get this close as Sandy had the advantage of birding Attu. Then again John has the advantage of advanced technology? Anyway it's going to be interesting to see if he can top that total. They've even made a film about this contest!!

Another chance?

Friday, 11 November 2011

Lest we Forget

Particularly poignant this year with the (ridiculous) row over the England shirt (typical FIFA). Many tributes today...here's mine. Best illustrated for me by these 2 songs, the first one by the legend that is Rolf Harris...81 and still going strong...excellent last Saturday night. The second helped by the genius of Mark Knopfler's guitar. Both works of art that say it much better than I ever could...

Two Little Boys - Rolf Harris

Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms ( war version )

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Lists and thanks

Some of you may have noticed I've added my Bubo lists so they are easily accessible (to me at least!). No, maybe when you’re really bored you might like to peruse them to check their authenticity!! I think it's a great way to compare what you saw, when, with other birders. The links will obviously lead you to the website where you can see all lists. You might want to add some yourself?

Autumn is not quite over it would seem, with a flurry of "good" birds down the east coast. Spurn, as usual scoring well...location or coverage...or both? Always worth a visit even in early/mid November, especially with a south-easterly airflow for the rest of the week.

Question - To tell or not to tell that is the question?
Answer - TELL. I've been there...SLATY-BACKED GULL!

My daily Blog hits continue to increase, I'm flattered...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Boxing Heyday

R.I.P. Smokin' Joe
A sad day. I was fortunate enough to grow up in an era of great Heavyweight boxers when you had a succession of truly classic fights. Commentated on by the legendary Harry Carpenter on the BBC. Electric atmosphere, great bravery and skill (they actually hit each other then!) and unpredictable results.
Joe was the first boxer to beat Ali.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Most Wanted

Coming to a reed bed near you?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sea Air!

No hobble needed (prediction correct this time) but we enjoyed the clear skies and the fresh air. PENDULINE TIT/S at Anglers C.P...big Yorks tick. Missed the Knaresborough male in September 1992 due to a mis-interpretation i.e. thought it was Bearded Tit!!! Time will tell...

Appointment with specialist on 22nd. Crutch a big help for short distances. Again time will tell...

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Ride out

Louise has promised me a trip out tomorrow. Now then, where could we go...Spurn! I know how to show a girl a good time. Forecast very good but clear tonight? Might have a hobble from the warren if the bird is still present. My hunch is it won't be judging by many past records although the 1990 Kilnsea bird was a "3 dayer". Be good to get out anyway and breathe some sea air.

Another IW in Wales on the Gower. Happy memories of my GYR...

Friday, 4 November 2011


A sting in the tail of Autumn 2011. Pity it broke so late in the day, maybe a few locals managed to connect? Great bird and a classic for mis-identification. Still, should be no doubt as it's been caught and ringed! Again, the fact that I've been birding long enough enables me to have seen the first record 22/10/90 at Kilnsea on the Humber Bank. Amazingly enough I also saw the next one on Gugh, IOS 19/10/91!! The other 2 Yorkshire records were 1 day birds so probably a Yorkshire tick for many of the younger element. Hope it stays so they can connect tomorrrow...

Still 4.23pm by post 28...I can hear the cars screeching from here!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Signs of Winter

A decent flock of Fieldfare (c200) tonight down NDC plus 20 Ruff flying around the grassland! Whooper Swans have been seen in the area. Bullfinches are always a pleasure with 3 seen. Wet weather forecast for the next few days...time to fill the Carrs up...me thinks!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Scilly Summary

Another visit complete. Managed to nudge my IOS list to 195 (see Bubo). Might make 200 next year? New additions came in a mix of MEGAS and Island rarities.


It was early!

WILSON'S SNIPE - second record but recently accepted
Pectoral Sandpiper
Great-spotted Woodpecker

Plus amazing close views of UPLAND SANDPIPER, my second record after seeing a pair on the airfield in '99.

It was great to meet many old friends again and get to know some new ones. I particularly enjoyed acquainting myself with Viv Stratton and Bryan Thomas. The restricted movement wasn't ideal but at least I made it. BIG thanks to Mark at the digs for ferrying me around the islands at a moments notice..cheers pal.

The minus side of the trip was obviously dipping the SCARLET TANAGER. I still feel I had the correct strategy (although I would, wouldn't I!!). It seems that the general consensus now is that there were 2 different birds. I'm not sure if that's more or less amazing than a single bird hopping over to Scilly?