Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012...a few thoughts

It wouldn't be cricket if I didn't do the traditional end of year Blog post...would it?

Not a classic in terms of personal rarities...but I guess that's partly due to the fact I've been "at it" for quite a while now!

Highlights, well, 2 British ticks in the form of Orphean Warbler and P.G.Tips...

Also saw a Hooded Merganser and a Thayer's Gull.

Finally managed my Yorks Cory's at Holmpton plus great views of Pallid Harrier at Patrington. The White-spotted Bluethroat at Spurn in early April was special, especially the close views obtained.

I don't do prolonged posts but just to say generally an average year for quality birds. Hopefully more excitement in 2013.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Relatively organised

Just got back from "my lot", now waiting for Louise's. Had a great time and a good laugh. I'll be on best behaviour until Sunday when I hope to get out for some end of year Birding. Also need to think about targets for the New we all do...don't we?

Always dreaming about a "good" bird. How about one of these in Yorks, it's been a long time...

A good start to the New Year?

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Managed a couple of hours at Skeffling this afternoon. No Christmas bonuses but nice views of the usual estuary fare including this dapper Redshank...

Finished off on snakey lane were I bumped into a gathering of pre-roosting Fieldfare...

Just about to turn for home when a local passed by...

Christmas festive fun starts tomorrow.

So, just a line to say MERRY CHRISTMAS to my followers...there are some you know!

Merry Christmas

Saturday, 22 December 2012


HAD to get out today to let some steam off. Weather diabolical but your intrepid blogger wasn't to be deterred. OK I did wimp out a bit by "hiding" at NDC...but I did get OUT!

Me thinks the water table is rather high at the moment. The farm fields in the Vale of York are like paddy fields. The scene at Bubwith Bridge was rather damp also...

The precipitation was unrelenting so the Geoff Smith hide was the only answer for us...

He's grown a bit since this pic but the pose is the same!
Visibility was very poor but at least I was OUT!

Highlights came in the form of a few groups of Whoopers...

Amazed at camera performance in heavy rain at 150yds!
Also some smart groups of Lapwings and a Barn Owl hunting around the car park...

Gave it till 1 then went for some lunch and made my way home. Took a snap of this seasonal character through a steamed up lens before I left ...


Friday, 21 December 2012

Tot up

After a less than scintillating 6 hours route learning on 2 buses (rather busy with Christmas shoppers), I managed to make it down to "the triangle" just in time to see the 3 White-fronted Geese (S.139, P.177) dis-appearing into the distance! Also noted a few Fieldfare and Redwing. The weather was horrendous on this the shortest day.

Hope to add something decent over the weekend. Off to Mother's (super cook) Christmas Eve for the festivities...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Strange seabird movement?

Something funny going on in Florida. Hopefully NOT a severe climate shift?

Finish work tomorrow with my first bus ride for quite some time as part of my route learning. It's been a challenging but enjoyable 3 weeks.

Then it's time for some serious BIRDING!!! I wonder if there's another late Yank hiding somewhere?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dream bird

Check out the photos of the South Uist Gyr on Surfbirds. AWESOME!!!

Christmas present on Scilly. Brings back great memories of the St Agnes bird I was fortunate enough to see in 07...

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, St Agnes, 23rd October 07 (B.Spurrell)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Quality threesome

We all went for a walk this morning from Skeffling to Welwick along the floodbank. The weather was unbelievable for mid-December, bright sunshine with little wind. As we left Skeffling I spotted a small group of birds distantly over the saltmarsh that looked good for Twite.

We continued towards Welwick enjoying a good selection of estuary species. As we approached Welwick I spotted a bird that I'd hoped for but didn't expect to see...Hen Harrier (P.176) and a male to boot!

It was only in view for around a minute, floating gracefully and unfortunately distantly over the marsh. One was reported from Sunk Island, possibly the same bird?

As we approached Skeffling on the return journey I noticed a group of small birds in "the bush". Twite, 12 of them. They allowed close approach...unfortunately the battery in my camera was flat!

Phil Jones went down later in the day and obtained this cracking image...

After some lunch at home I went down to Kilnsea Wetlands to see if I could find the Long-tailed Duck again...after all I did find it!

Sure enough it was still there. After a while it decided to co-operate by coming quite close to the hide, in the late afternoon sun...

The "Barnie" is still present also...

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Lone Star

Great to get out in the sunshine! Took Bud down to Welwick saltmarsh hoping for a Short-eared Owl or some Twite maybe. No luck but we enjoyed the walk.

Got a text off Phil saying he'd seen the Snow Bunting at Withernsea sewage works. Shortly afterwards I got another informing me the Buzzard was still at Hollym, so I had a ride up there. No joy, but Phil managed a photo...

We then made our way back to the sewage works and managed to relocate the Snow Bunting feeding on the cliff-top stubble...

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A few bits

Cracking day but few birds of note. Merlin over Patrington and Kingfisher at the Haven.

Tried for the LTD this afternoon. Walked with Bud up to Beacon Ponds only to be told it was on Kilnsea Wetlands (I should have looked!). By the time I'd returned...I couldn't locate it?

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Late start

The early morning sortie never materialised after the long week! Never mind.

Enjoyed the afternoon sunshine and a few Barnies. Three birds seen...

Friday, 7 December 2012

Owls brighten the darkness

Leaving the house at 7.15 has some benefits (not many). My initial journey is brightened by Barn Owls (at least 5). My return journey also, plus the sound of Tawny's in the village.

Now for some daylight Birding early tomorrow...

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Wires crossed?

Stopped off at St Andrews tonight for some pet food...Blackbird singing in the snow?

Monday, 3 December 2012


Started training today for my new career, so posts will have to drop off in the immediate future. Birding will only be possible at weekends but I will post a few thoughts on Birdy things.

So what will I be's a clue...

Hope I live as long as Reg...

A Peregrine is roosting on the tall mast at Easington gas terminal by the sharp careful with those bins though! Also a LEO is being seen at Spurn by the sheepfield.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Decent find!

After a late start due to domestic problems (no, we didn't fall out) we made our way down to the Bluebell cafe for some early lunch. After a short chat Louise decided to go to Hull for a De-humidifier to (hopefully) solve the problem?

After I'd dropped her off at home I returned to Long Bank to take Buddy a walk and do some birding. As I approached Beacon Ponds I noticed a distinctive duck on Kilnsea Wetlands...

My first self-found LTD (P.174) helps being on the coast now!

It commuted between here and Beacon Ponds...

not the best but you get the idea!
Also managed to see the Barnacle Goose (P.175)...

Bumped into a few of the locals, namely Ian Smith, Steve Exley and Andy Gibson. Also had a good chat with Adam Hutt till the sun went down...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Fresh in!

Morning dog walk proved fruitful. Still pretty damp around these here parts so we headed up to Out Newton and walked north towards Holmpton. Almost immediately a Woodcock drifted over and headed inland. A nice record!

This was topped a few minutes later when I flushed a Jack Snipe (H.114, P.173) from the clifftop scrub. It behaved to type by flying low a short distance before disappearing again. I say typical behaviour (ala text book) as I must admit this is the first time I've actually seen it!!

I used to trudge round the LDV hoping to flush one...but never did? All my sightings (bar one) have been of birds from hides (particularly on Scilly)/ The "bar one" was a bird trapped and ringed at NDC and kindly shown to me by Craig Ralston.

I may have a record shot but I'll need to work out how to remove it from the camera memory!

Returned to Out Newton for a seawatch this afternoon. I also wanted to try out my car window mount...and listen to the Footy. Decided it isn't the answer...too much vibration.

Bonus came in the form of this Barn Owl hunting the same area I walked this didn't flush the Jack Snipe!

Friday, 30 November 2012


Spent a few hours down the peninsula and did a bit of seawatching. Missed the Velvet Scoter and the Grey Phal'. Best I could manage was a flock of 128 Pinkfeet heading south.

Highlight today being this little gem perched in a roadside bush on "Snakey lane" (Holmpton/Patrington road) close to dusk.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


Started off at Hilston...

Managed to find the bunting flock...

Tried a few more sites in the decent weather.

Highlight occurred mid-afternoon at Skeffling. I'd just pulled up on the flood bank when I noticed a group of small birds bobbing along the foreshore...they called...Twite (P.172)!!!

Luckily they landed in a nearby bush...

twelve Twite!
As I was basking in the sighting I glanced over the saltmarsh to see a hunting SEO...

The "walk your patch" challenge seems to be gathering pace. I'll have to do some research...and work out how to plan it!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Still some adjustments needed

When I was younger (and fitter) I spread myself more thinly over the LDV. I would "sus" out sites with potential (exactly what I'm doing now, I guess).

The last couple of days have involved me mulling over the best strategy for my coastal birding. As mentioned previously my other life involved stints of varying length in the hides at Duff. I got used to sitting and watching the glorious view, seeing birds come and go. There were times however, when I wished for more general access and walking paths.

I reckon there are 5 hides on my patch but none are easily accessible for a "quick peep". Also some are still in there infancy but have potential.

I guess I'm saying that I need to sort out a definite I better do it...soon!

I need a hide that's in the right place...

I don't think so!!!

I've noted the idea posted on some of the Blogs I follow regarding "walk lists". Good idea...and I definitely need to walk more! I'll work out a realistic total walkable from my house.

Tried some sea-watching but still not got the bug. To fuel this particular aspect of our hobby I've ordered one of these...

Portable hide...the car!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Surprise tick?

Jizz test!
Noah's flood  and Andy Walker's post encouraged me to visit "the Duff" today. I arrived around 10.30 to (very) misty conditions but within a few minutes I was looking at my first Scaup for the site (NDC.149)! I know but it's true!! I'd seen a few dodgy female Tufted Ducks over the years but never a bonefide specimen. Around for about 3 weeks apparently, so very lucky that it hung about for me.
The river comes in handy as an extra habitat (especially when in flood). It also allowed me to score with a Common Scoter (31/3/2006).

So, my next tick will be 150. Hope it's something special. I'll have to have a think what it might be?

My full list can be viewed at the top of the Blog, if you hadn't realised...or care to look!?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The North Wind doth Blow!

Missed out on a Grey Phal' this morning. I was testing out a few vantage points and I was at Easington when news of one came over the radio heading north past Sandy Beaches. Unfortunately it never materialised!

Time for some concentrated sea-watching this week as the wind swing round to the North.

The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow,

And what will the robin do then, poor thing,

He’ll sit in a barn, and keep himself warm,

And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Local stuff

As well as yesterdays Waxwing excitement (I saw a distant group of 16 briefly this morning near Rose Cottage) I managed a few more noteworthy sightings.

Owls are showing well at the moment with both Little and Barn...

...last sec' through the car window! Model farm, Out Newton.
I also had 3 in view at once on the Patrington/Holmpton road late afternoon. Very pleasing having left the LDV.

How many Yellowhammers do you see locally? Always a cool sight for me. I found a decent flock at Hilston (c30) along with many Reed Buntings (c60)...

Still experimenting with the new snapper. Practising on the clifftop gulls. Pleased with this effort in dull light...

Friday, 23 November 2012


Made the most of the sunshine by checking out a few sites I hadn't visited for a while. Have to be was quiet!!

Lets cut to the chase. Mid afternoon I ended up in Kilnsea. I was approaching the Crown and Anchor when I noticed a group of birds in a roadside bush. I knew Waxwings were still being reported passing through Spurn but didn't expect to connect. I was wrong (S.135)...

They soon got flushed by a passing lorry, so I continued round the corner past Kew. I thought I had one on a wire so I pulled over by the church...

My last sighting was a couple by the road in bright sunshine...

Happy days!!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Still plenty to go at

Don't know about you but for me it's the time of year when motivation levels can wane, especially on a day of horrendous weather like yesterday. A few birders I've spoken to recently are already turning their thoughts to next year! Talk of January bird races and all that.

Having moved to the coast just before Christmas last year I must admit it's taken a bit of adjusting to the new patch.

Before the move from 2003 I basically went down the hides at NDC and watched! Loved the view (still do). In the late eighties and nineties I used to travel more in the York area and spent a lot of time at Wheldrake Ings.

So, for example, below is a list of birds not seen this year in the (new) Spurn area. Some glaring omissions admittedly (I plead circumstances)...but like I said...plenty STILL to go at/hope for...THIS YEAR!!!

Bewick's Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii)

Bean Goose (Anser fabalis)

White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)

Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)

Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)

Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)

Smew (Mergellus albellus)

Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)

Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica)

Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus)

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)

Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)

Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)

Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

Little Auk (Alle alle)

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Shore Lark (Eremophila alpestris)

Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus [spinoletta])

Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)

Twite (Carduelis flavirostris)

Redpoll (Carduelis flammea cabaret)

Mealy Redpoll (Carduelis flammea flammea)

Arctic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni)

Lapland Bunting (Calcarius lapponicus)

Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)

Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)

Had a drive to a few spots along the Humber this afternoon. Not much to report but I came across this puzzled looking young Mute Swan which had probably mistaken the road for a water channel!

Managed a decent shot of a Curlew just taking flight in very poor light...

Forecast excellent for tomorrow...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Return to the old patch

As mentioned, spent the day back on the old patch...NDC. I'd hope to see the Bittern but it wasn't to be. Still, enjoyed the day seeing a good number of species typical of an ings setting. Also bumped into a few birding mates...namely Richard Willison, Arnie Cowan and Chris Gomersall (thanks again for the shout on the Bittern last Friday!).

Highlights were Whooper Swan (c60), Marsh Harrier (2), Buzzard, Peregrine, Ruff (c20), Goldeneye (7).

47 species in total. A good (Birth)day.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Pat' Haven

We went for a walk at Patrington Haven this morning. Exercise needed, so we walked down to the Estuary then along towards Sunk Island, c3 miles covered. Fine conditions but a brisk southerly kept us on our toes...

Pity there's isn't a hide down there! Great location with massive potential. Brought back great memories of the TEREK SANDPIPER (24/5/2009).

Seeing the Little Egrets floating around in almost constant view...

...had me (once again) casting my mind back to when this species was a big deal in Yorkshire! My first being a trip to Whitby to twitch a single bird (14/7/1992). A frightening 20 years ago!!

Enjoyed close views of Curlews as we made our way home...

Over to Duff for a Big Sit tomorrow (weather forecast...wet). Birthday treat! Hope the Bittern performs better?