Friday, 27 June 2014

Gull obsession?

At the risk of worrying obsession I'm updating still further the With' LBB Gull breeding season saga...

I've found some more young!

That's 2 separate breeding successes in the town for this scarce County breeder. Walking back to the car after work this evening I witnessed a parent vigorously protecting it's 2 young against 4 Herring Gulls. No problem for this elegant yet dominant Gull.

Promise just one more summary later in the summer with hopefully a positive outcome...

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Little Owl

No breeding evidence here I'm afraid. Not yet anyway...

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

LBBG...great news from With!

Quite a few posts on Gulls to say I'm not a big fan? I guess I have a special interest in these birds as I see them virtually daily!

So, following on from yesterday's birds in Hull I can announce breeding success from Withernsea...

Let's hope they don't fall off this year! I've seen 6 adults in the town this summer.

Had an hour out tonight and came across this chap on Snakey lane...not a great image but you get the clear idea of avoidance!

Cracking animals
I've got (at least) 2 singing Blackcaps in my village but trying to get a pic has been a nightmare. They are VERY active and there is very little light in the understory. I did manage a record shot...eventually...

Last image for today comes from the backyard as the local Whitethroat decided to perform...

more breeding evidence!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Breeding birds

Always a sensitive subject!

Disturbance is a major issue. In an ideal world (which this certainly isn't) birds would be left undisturbed to try and top-up their ever dwindling numbers. It's not just disturbance...see below. I qualify this by stating there are some notable success stories out there and I certainly don't want to linger on the many negatives that you read about in the media.

To back this up I'd like to report that I've now found 2 sites with breeding LBB Gulls. Both have young at the present time. Strangely, I'm not a larophile (a Gull enthusiast apparently) although there are some wonderful species of Gull. I certainly don't spend hours grilling large flocks for something "good". I DO however like Lesser black-backed Gulls. Why? I've no idea!! Well, maybe I have a slight inkling...

I find them dominant yet graceful compared to Herring Gull...

They regularly scatter this species when adjacent to their nest site. They are easy to overlook and are very scarce breeders in this area. I also monitor a pair in the street were I work. I actually saw 4 adults together there yesterday?

The site in Hull is on an industrial estate (I don't think that's giving too much away). I'd suspected breeding  and I confirmed this yesterday as I spent an enjoyable hour there watching them. 2 young were seen albeit briefly...

The adults are more impressive...

I've belatedly decided to tag on this item regarding Chris Packham's recent visit to Malta to protest against the slaughter of migrating birds. After all it IS another extremely significant factor regarding the diminishing number of birds. This article illustrates the problem far better than I ever could. You may or may not be aware of are now!

Please support him...

Monday, 23 June 2014

Metallic Swallow

Day off tomorrow. I'll be checking out a few sites locally.

I've found another breeding site for Lesser-black backed Gull. Granted it's not on my patch. More later...

A wonderfully proportioned Gull

Friday, 20 June 2014


Managed to finally connect with a new Yorkshire bird on Wednesday!

After missing BAIKAL TEAL, ROCK THRUSH and CASPIAN TERN (last year's US trip), plus this year's CRAG MARTIN (eve of this year's US trip) I like to think I was due one!!

Conditions were choppy as I arrived at Redcar and joined the 3 other intrepid twitchers looking longingly out into the briny. It was very difficult to get a decent view of the bird in the heavy swell but eventually the banana bill stood out! Nice to see Gary Dayes as I hadn't bumped into him for a while.

So, BLACK SCOTER takes my Yorkshire list to 374. Unsurprisingly I didn't manage a picture of note!


Evening shift today so I had a mooch around locally this morning. There was an early report of a Great White Egret flying over Spurn towards Sammy's so I had a ride down there with Bud (that's a default really).

On the way I bumped into my local Little Owl sunbathing on the farm roof...

No sign of the Egret but a few decent species around including this Yellow Wagtail in a rape field...

Reed warbler's are elusive birds at the best of times so I was chuffed to get a few decent shots including this youngster...

Parents were constantly in attendance providing a constant food supply...

BRIDLED TERN back on the Farnes. How about a visit to Yorks?

Great to see all the poppies around at the moment...

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Wing-tagged Marsh Harrier update

I received this e-mail today from the Hawk and Owl trust. Thought you might be interested?

"Sorry for the delay in replying, not enough hours in the day!
BL was ringed and tagged in North Norfolk on 03.08.2013, and was 1 of 2. She was sexed as a female, with her sibling a male. Sexing was done by using the European method of opening the foot and taking the maximum footspan cord.
If you say Patrington is the nearest village, I'll change the OS grid reference to TA3122 to show that. The interesting thing about this sighting is that in April 2013 another Marsh Harrier was photographed spotted coming in off the sea at Spurn, previously having been reported in Portugal. So perhaps this area is a traditional migration route for returning Harriers"

Early start tomorrow as I have a go for the BLACK SCOTER at Redcar. Maybe my Yorkshire listing luck will change?

Monday, 16 June 2014


It's been a very good year for this species in these here parts. Unfortunately I've been a bit slow grabbing the camera when the opportunity arose to snap one. Like many species they are on the decline but this year has renewed optimism...along with a few other species...come to think of it! There's even been more reports of Turtle Dove!!

Anyway, here's a couple of record shots...

More jizz...

They're still calling, so I've not given up hope of a better image yet...

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Rare breeders on the Patch?

A time of high sensitivity regarding breeding sites but without giving to much away I'm chuffed to report a few notable records.

Lesser-black Backed Gull - I glimpsed a chick on the chimney stack yesterday morning. Hopefully, I won't be rescuing one from the local teenagers this year!

Fulmar - I've seen a couple of birds over the last few weeks along the cliffs at Easington, so I took the lad for a stroll along the beach this morning. One of the first birds I saw was this species! I walked up the beach as far as I could (which wasn't very far), I had a few fly-by's but no evidence of landing although they circled a few times?

A jizz shot!
Managed a slightly closer image but they were will-o-the wisp...appearing and disappearing, covering large distances in no time at all...

So, together with the Marsh Harriers at least 3 quality species "present in the breeding season" on the Patch.

Oh...and then there's the Little Terns of course!!! More on them later...

Friday, 13 June 2014

Brief visit

Popped up to Hilston after work to check on a site which held Garganey and a pair of Mandarins earlier in the day (info from Phil Jones). I got a brief view of the Mandarins in flight but no luck with the Garganey...unfortunately.

This is the same spot that held the Temminck's Stint on the 22nd May...

Definitely a site to keep an eye on.

Three days off now, so up with the lark tomorrow, to see what I might see...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Marsh Harrier(s)

Chuffed with the presence of a Marsh Harrier this evening here at Holmpton...

I picked it up on Snakey lane while Bud was doing what he needed to do. This ties in nicely with a tagged bird I saw yesterday in the Patrington area...

Searching online revealed the tags are apparently linked to a survey being undertaken by the Hawk and Owl trust. I've sent them the relevant info'.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

I said...I'd be back!

Finally sorted. No war and peace tale. Lets get on with it...

Plenty to catch up on. After the excitement and controversy of the MEGA twitch...

All good boys on the Hill
Not so good...

Good fieldcraft?
I took this pic, hand held, from "the hill"...

and this as it soared away...

It was seen again today in East Sussex, it's third county visited! Yorkshire next please!

Plenty of breeding evidence around the back yard now...

I've even got singing Linnets, caught them at it yesterday!

Other species present are House Sparrow (breeding in the porch), Tree Sparrow, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Pheasant, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Tawny Owl, Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow, Swallow, Starling and Goldfinch...

On our TV aerial!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Eagle has landed!

Things have been a bit crazy here since the return from the States. As already mentioned I lost my internet signal as O2 decided to sell to Sky. Unfortunately Sky tell me they can't provide me with a service so I'm waiting for my BT service to kick in on the 9th.

I'm writing this from Starbucks in Hull (bijou) whilst waiting for my locking wheel nuts to be drilled out due to the local garage over-tightening them!

Anyway, that's my problem.

Quite a bit to catch up on when I'm re-connected. For now though I thought I'd share a few pearls of wisdom with you regarding my weekend twitch to see the SHORT-TOED EAGLE in Dorset.

News broke on Saturday afternoon...I was driving ...for a change!

I didn't see the first record on the Isles of Scilly in 1999. I was living another life then. So, I was keen to connect with this one. Problem. I was working Sunday!! A few hurried phone calls at the finish of my shift and I'd managed to do a swap with one of the lads. Thanks Ian. I'd just done 4 long days and I'd been up since 5.30am (cue violins) but that was incidental as Tony Dixon picked me up at 10pm from home. We carried on to Hull to pick up Richard George and Erich Hediger. Through the night we (well Tony) drove.

We arrived around 4.45am. It seemed as long to drive through Dorset as it did the previous 250 miles! We parked in the allotted field and waited. It was very misty and the bird (not surprisingly)wasn't in view. We were assured it had been seen however?

Around 7 the mist lifted and fortunately the bird was in full view sat on a branch in a pine tree.

courtesy of Tony Dixon
There was the usual performance regarding twitching behavior. I posted my thoughts (maybe foolishly) on Birdforum! A copy is posted below. The great thing about my blog is I have full censorship control!!!

"Hello All,
I was there on Sunday morning from dawn. Initially everything hunky dory on the hill. Mist starts to clear allowing superb views with little heat haze. Looking through my mates Swarovski with 45x eyepiece I had fantastic views down to yellow eye. Wow...what a bird!!!

Then things start to go pear shaped.

The inevitable (and sadly predictable) slow creep started to take place. Initially one or two bodies appeared below us…then 20, then 50 etc etc. Once the floodgates are broken it's only natural that others will follow, feeling their good behaviour is somehow futile now as the majority are closer, enjoying "better" views. I can understand the pull to do this. Just for the record I remained with the righteous minority on the hill with a strange mixed feeling! We all wanted to see it fly...we all did.

Let’s face it the optics these days are amazing. At least part of this encroachment is driven by the need for closer photos...there I've said it! My optics comment did include cameras. Even I can take a decent pic for my blog with my point and shoot Pany.

This isn't about the moral high ground (excuse the pun!)'s simply about being unselfish. Many write on here about camaraderie...I'm all for it BUT this scenario doesn't fit...does it?

Later I heard comments like "it wasn't bothered". A classic hindsight comment.

My point is this...


Consider this...

If you were traveling down to see this magnificent bird but couldn't make it for dawn for various reasons i.e. family, work, traffic etc. you'd be hoping/praying it wasn't flushed before you got there, we’ve all been there right? The bird leaving of its own problem…well, maybe a little!

The birders who went down the hill (sounds like a song!) could NOT possibly have known they wouldn't flush the could they? If you arrived to find out it had been unnecessarily would you feel? Dare I suggest you might be a tad irked!!!

Nothing will change...but maybe things will improve...I live in hope!

I'm sure some will no doubt disagree. Hope no-one gets too upset. It's just my opinion you understand. We're all entitled to one...

Good birding to you all

Alan Whitehead"

I managed a decent if distant flight shot as it took off. I must admit I'd fell asleep in the morning sun!