Wednesday, 28 September 2016


12.03 MEGA Western Isles YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO Lewis at north end in Ness at South Dell south of A857 in last garden west of stream at 11.55am

Mmmmmm! Tempting especially after missing the Porthgwarra bird due to being marooned on Scilly...where it should have been!!

How to get there? Ferry or Plane (Charter or Schedule). I can go, I'm still very keen and I need it for my British what's the problem?

1. The weather forecast - gale force winds up to 50mph and torrential rain through tonight and tomorrow morning. That rules the Ferry out! With my sea legs and a 2.5 hr crossing (if it sails?) I'd be in no fit state to see it anyway.
Gales and locally severe gales are expected to develop across much of Scotland and the far north of England for a time on Thursday. Gusts of 50-60 mph are likely in many areas, whilst the strongest winds, with gusts of around 75 mph, are possible across the Hebrides, Sutherland, Caithness and Orkney during the first part of the morning.

Please be aware that potential impacts could include minor travel disruption with some bridge restrictions, and possible damage to trees and structures. Additionally, large waves will build off northern and western coasts of Scotland with the risk of some wave overtopping here.

2. OK, fly from Inverness then! I'd be looking at north of £500 for the trip on my own with the flights, an overnight stop, car park, taxi's, food, petrel etc. Oh and Bud in the kennels for 4 nights! Yes but you've chartered twice I hear you cry. I have, but they were both top drawer species namely CAPE MAY WARBLER and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO.

YBC is a fantastic bird and is right up there on my "most wanted" list BUT I feel I have a reasonable chance of connecting with one in the future (God willing). Also, I'm not made of money and I have to choose carefully how to spend it...don't we all! I like my trips abroad, they give much better value!

I can (hopefully) look back on this decision when I'm looking at one on Scilly in my retirement and say..."remember that one I let go in 2016"...?

p.s. FULL MARKS to Dan Pointon for going and finding the bird. I predict it WILL be there tomorrow.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016


Spent the morning to the South of the Patch and recorded a Grey Plover (H.91) on the beach at Out Newton. We had a wonder down to Old Hive which produced nothing. On the way back to the car I spotted a bird behaving in a typical way. Bobbing about on top of weeds and hovering...a Stonechat.
After a trip to the Post Office I returned via Sunk Island, agan it was quiet but I did spot this Kestrel in the stubble...
Late afternoon saw me to the North but nothing of note seen except for this lone Stock Dove on Snakey lane...
Sorry Phil!
Nationally things are starting to warm up. 2 Red-eyed Vireos together on St Agnes, Scilly. This is a superb species which deserves full respect still IMHO. Up north a Brown Shrike and Paddyfield Warbler were the star attractions.
Westerlies are in charge and I'm backing Scilly to produce something surprise there!

Monday, 26 September 2016

More hope

Received a text form Tim Isherwood tonight...

HOLMPTON 9th November 2003 -  Yellow-browed, Hume's Yellow-browed and 2 Pallas's Warblers

Cheers Tim

YBW - a patchy fall

Did the Village loop this morning in light drizzle. Nothing of note but I did let my mind wonder to what has been seen in various spots over the years. It keeps me/us going!
Phil sent me a link to the YBW fall at Flamborough written by my pal Craig Thomas. An excellent if painful read.
Into Hull for some financial straightening today than back at it first thing tomorrow. The MAGIC month is looming...

Friday, 23 September 2016

Positive post

Instead of telling you what I haven't seen...I'll tell you what I have. Don't expect too much though!
Snakey lane is almost always good value. Definitely the most birdy stretch of road in Holmpton, not a lot t..............No, I won't say it!
On one visit with Phil we had Peregrine (with prey) and Buzzard in the same scope view. Phil commented it may have had one of the Stock Doves he was looking for?!
I reckon they've bred in the area.
I also dug out a freshly bathed Yellowhammer...
Phil sent me some old Holmpton records to give me a boost, they made interesting and encouraging reading.
I spent the last couple of hours down at Old Hive (just North of Out Newton) for no reward. As I reached the car at 6.15 I read a message...
East Yorkshire Osprey Easington flew South past caravan park at 6pm

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Lowering expectations

Last one on this topic.

Still no sightings of YBW?


They have occurred in the Village though, as has Pallas's Warbler! Therefore I still have hope...and that's all I need.

As my late Father-in-law used to say "don't expect anything...then you won't be disappointed"!!!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

I'd like to join the Party?

Enough woe last night. So, a brief summary of my efforts today...

I didn't find ANY Yellow-browed Warblers?

Still, there were only c96 on Flamborough Head!!!

I WILL persevere...

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Working the Patch

Leg strength has been improving so today I worked/walked the Patch...all day!
Yellow-browed Warblers raining in...surely today is the day?
I started at the Southern end. Parked at Out Newton and walked North to Old Hive. A decent number (22) of Great Black-backed Gulls was an unusual sight...
On to Old Hive...
18 trees (yes it was that slow). Mainly sycamores isolated 50 yards from the sea. Migrant trap? Not today. 2 Chiffchaffs in 2 hours! I also checked around the White House and farm before leaving. I did bump into an old friend...
There was a noticeable increase in Robins...
Before lunch I checked the Church grounds and Rectory (there's always one in those places). Nothing.
OK. No luck so far but plenty of time. The pager was busy with YBW's at Spurn, Easington, Grimston, Flamborough, Bempton, Filey...
Keep calm I told myself it's only a matter of time. I walked a few coastal hedges...
Then it was back to the clifftop...
Isolated stunted sycamores,
thickets, privet, scrub it's all there...
...except BIRDS!!!
I gave up at 6.30pm with one last look at my Sycamore bridge...
I gave it my best but it wasn't to be. It was topped off with a pager message informing me that one had been seen in Withernsea Hospital grounds! It doesn't matter where they are found. I have to find my own. I've been looking at other peoples birds for donkeys years. It doesn't interest me anymore...well with the exception of the odd skulker in the hand and British/Yorkshire tick of course!
I have the opportunity this Autumn to see what my Village can (or can't) produce. It's not going to be easy it seems.
I hope it gets better!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Fighting back against Bird Slaughter. Brilliant news!

Thanks to our CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter) team in Cyprus, this Bee-eater had a lucky escape and was able to continue its journey back to Africa. The bird was discovered glued to a limestick in Sotira, South-eastern Cyprus. A further 40 limesticks were also found in the surrounding vegetation. After cleaning its feathers our team released the bird unharmed (although probably a little shocked!). Our autumn bird protection has been running for 9 days – so far we have collected 940 limesticks, 39 large mist nets and ensured 7 poachers were arrested.
What an amazing job these guys are doing. Nothing more need be said.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Local Tawny

Busy weekend finished with great views of a calling Tawny Owl from the lounge window this evening. Tried to get a pic with the flashlight but failed miserably. The Owl was totally unconcerned, like many I've seen in the States.

Very fortunate to be able to enjoy this from home.

Friday, 16 September 2016

PG Dips

Getting this one out of my system early...good therapy!

Up at dawn and down to Out Newton with Bud. Just getting my stuff together when I get a text...

MEGA E.Yorks PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER Kilnsea trapped and ringed and will be released at 7.40am

Let's just say I got there asap. I arrived 7.37, thinking I'd made it! As I pulled up people were leaving (not a good sign). Too late, it had been released. Rather disappointing that. Never easy walking in, when most are walking out! The bird is released when appropriate and that's that.

The chances of seeing this species again are slim. I returned home with my pal, shared the bad news with Louise and returned without the pooch. As I was leaving the village I noticed I had a missed call from Trevor Charlton. On returning it I discovered he was just approaching the village from Withernsea! After a brief chat we made our way to Kilnsea. We parked up and entered Church Field.

After around 30 minutes Gary Taylor organised a flush. The field was covered well but no sign of the bird.

By lunchtime the rain had set in and I'm back home writing this.

PGW and LANCEOLATED WARBLER are the two species that I hoped by living close to Spurn I might connect with if they were trapped. The fact that I was at Out Newton helped...but it wasn't to be.

Hindsight played it's usual cruel game. The only thing that may have helped was the radio but no matter now.

So that's my tale of woe in a nutshell. A Yorkshire tick goes begging. To ease the pain I recalled my good luck in reaching County Durham for my British tick...which was amazing really.

If you're into this game you'll know the feeling. Maybe there'll be another in the County before I depart, maybe not...

There...I feel better already...just!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Quest for a Yellow-browed...or something!

I've been here in Holmpton around 4 years time flies! My goal of living in a quiet village on the East Coast fulfilled. Dreams of "finding my own" and the chocolate factory just down the road. 

Thing's tough. I put in large amounts of time for little reward. The bucket loads of chocolate down the road doesn't help!

Am I downhearted, I hear you cry?

Not at all. I love the challenge ...and boy is it a challenge!!

The positive is that each discovery is special...because it's mine. For decades I've shared birds found by other people. I've seen them all before...well nearly all. Now it's time to find them myself...or try to. Trying it can be...very trying. The location must produce...something, sometime...surely?

Today was a typical example.

Yellow-browed Warblers reported down the East Coast, the first minor influx. Great, let's get out there and "find my own". I gave it FOUR hours at what I consider to be my best bets in the Village.

My reward? Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff.

Maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Tern for the worse

Late back last night after a failed attempt to see 2 rare Terns. The venue was South Gare were I met Phil Jones who was heading South from Northumberland. It was yet another glorious September day and we enjoyed a good few hours scanning through the assortment of Terns. The White-winged Black didn't return after flying out to sea late morning and we couldn't turn any of them into a Roseate. We did get great views of a juvenile Black as consolation. A nice bonus came in the form of an Arctic Skua which gave a couple of close passes as it tried to pinch fish off the terns...
Today started with the usual rounds and the usual dearth of migrants. I did find a splendid juvenile Willow Warbler in the lane. These yellow youngsters really are dapper. A lone Golden Plover zoomed over in the fog calling constantly.
The fog wasn't clearing so I headed for the Gym.
After lunch I met Phil at the "sewage" and we walked the cliffs. A couple of Wheatears soon came into view. Then...a Redstart...
Always special.
I'd arranged to meet Phil again at 5 for a seawatch but the fog had closed in again, so I returned to the Village and scored with 2 Whinchats, a Wheatear and a late Fulmar. I also had a flock of 18 Golden Plover. There were also a few juvenile Gannets on the sea. Maybe I should have tried a seawatch anyway as a Sabine's Gull passed Spurn!

Monday, 12 September 2016


Just to let you know I'm still here, I gave it a couple of hours down the cliff from dawn but my only reward was a surprisingly close encounter with a group of 15 Teal which exploded up the cliff face as I looked over! Very odd.

The weather has been simply superb lately but now we need some action. Wind gaining a touch of East from Wednesday so hopefully some good stuff on the way. Things are on the move...hopefully this way.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Polite request

I urge you to support this worthy cause.

Vis Mig

That's Visible Migration for the unfamiliar. As a still fairly recent coastal resident (and loving it) I feel I still need to appreciate certain phenomena. The passage of Swallows through the village can be quite spectacular. Impressive numbers also dwell overnight and early morning outside my cottage.
Yesterday I counted 325 on the wires! I'd been promising myself Id take some pics for the Blog. Well. I finally achieved it.
A small sample from the front door
A bit closer...
Yes, a very common bird but an iconic one. Overlooked/ignored?
I had an idea...I get them now and again. I went upstairs and waited in the front bedroom.
A couple of close ones...
Justice done.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Worthy cause!

I ask everyone who reads my Blog to consider supporting this cause. I've just made a donation. The killing has to stop...
I go to Cyprus and I love the island but I hate some of the things that go on there...especially in a sovereign state. I went to the Bird Fair a few years ago and listened to a lecture on the subject of boycotting Malta and Cyprus amongst others. I listened to both sides of the argument changed my mind and decided it was better to go and spread the word as to the reasons I was I hope I'm right. You may disagree but surely we all support the stance of this group...don't we?

Clear out

Not much to report today as many grounded birds seem to have moved on...including the Wryneck at the GT. I gave it a couple of further "goes". The highlight came early along the runnel as I found a couple of Whinchats in the same spot. They wouldn't allow close approach but here's one of them anyway...
The other item of note was the discovery of a covey of Grey Partridges at Out Newton... Arizona?

Pacific Hurricane Newton throws up some amazing inland records. More here

Wednesday, 7 September 2016


An hour from first light on the cliff rewarded me with a Whinchat. As you know I'll take anything I can get down there!
Afer breakfast I was on my way to Kilnsea Wetlands to hopefully score my overdue Curlew Sandpiper for the year. As I was getting out of the car a message from Steve Exley over the radio..."the Great White Egret has just left Hornsea and is heading South!"
A possible Holmpton tick?
I gave it half an hour back at the Village but no sign.
Another message, this time from John Hewitt "I've got the Great White Egret over Beacon Ponds!!!" Oh dear I said, or words to that effect. So back down to the bird magnet. As I drove along Easington Straight I picked it up (this time) alongside the flood bank. It was a good 200 yds away and the views were poor through the heat haze...
I waited.
After around 20 minutes the group on the flood bank stared to move closer and the bird lifted...
Iy circled and then started to head South. I re-positioned the car...down to the Crown and Anchor and hoped. I got lucky as the bird flew over the road right above my head...
I was obviously pleased to get such a close view but slightly disappointed I didn't manage to pick it up from Holmpton. I'll have to concentrate harder!
Late afternoon I gave it another couple of hours at the gas terminal hoping for a glimpse of the elusive Wryneck. It didn't happen. It had been seen well if briefly mid-afternoon by Steve Webb.
Maybe tomorrow?

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


MEGA Scilly CLIFF SWALLOW St Mary's at Porth Hellick Loop trail at 8.15am
Top quality MEGA needed by many. Fortunately not by me as I saw the Spurn bird 23/10/1995. I've already told my story.
So, the news broke at 8.15 and it disappeared (at the time of writing, 6.30 pm, it hadn't re-appeared) at 2.35pm. Scilly locals would obviously have been on the case but no chance from the mainland in 6 hours 10 minutes!
Amazingly some made it, including young Dan Pointon who reached the landmark of 500 (for Britain and Ireland), something I only achieved recently! Granted I only started in my mid-thirties and Dan's only 26.
If you take part in this twitching madness (apologies to followers to whom this doesn't concern) you get out of it what you will. There are so many variables. I've missed many over the years through being at school (as a teacher that is). I NEVER bunked off, not like some I could but won't mention.
Again that's a choice but as my Dad used to say..."never shoot the Golden Goose".
Times have changed but then again they always do.
Information these days is instant. Charters are I know only to well. If you can go at the drop of a hat and have sufficient funds from're laughing! Oh, you may need some Geographical good Dan and co had today.
Personally, I'm as keen/crazy as ever. I'll do everything in my power to see a new bird. I think I'd draw the line at cutting short a holiday. I know I was proved by my WILSON'S WARBLER dip. I certainly wouldn't come back from the States as some did this year!!! Don't get me wrong I'm not here to judge, people are free to make there own choices and good luck to one and all.
One thing though that the young guns might but almost certainly won't consider. Gobbling all/most up before you're 30 can leave you a long time waiting for the next one...
Onto the more mundane matters of Patch work...
After my first ever visit to a gym this morning (try not to laugh) I took Buddy down to the Gas Terminal for a good blast and a look for the reported Wryneck. I gave it 2 hours in unbelievably hot conditions (30c) before giving up, I needed a!
Next it was the Sewage were we walked a good half mile South. No sign of the Whinchat that Phil and I saw on Sunday...
but I did have some fun with a VERY confiding Wheatear...
 There were large numbers of Gulls on the beach and before Bud dropped his ball over the cliff (again Phil) I picked out 5 Med' Gulls and 4 LBB Gulls. Having dropped him off at the house to cool down I confirmed my suspicions that low tide was not a good time to visit Kilnsea Wetlands! I finished off at the cliff drawing the usual blank.

* CLIFF SWALLOW returned at 6.34pm. All the very best to all who travel...

Monday, 5 September 2016

A day out...of the Patch

Time for a day out. A couple of tempting birds in the area. Be rude not to (an in saying at the moment...apparently).
So, over the bridge to Alkborough Flats, my first visit. I followed the signs to the car park, got my gear together and started along the path...and kept going...and going! Good exercise.
The view from the top...
Onward...and downward...

At the bottom of the hill there was a remarkably full disabled car park?! I made my way another 100yds to the hide. Luckily there was some space as a couple of chaps were just leaving. I settled in. The pager message said "showing well" as it often does. However it didn't say at what distance. I reckoned 150 yds!! It only came to the edge of the reeds sporadically although you could get decent scope views on occasions.
Then a familiar face appeared, someone I had't seen for a good while.. Brian Fendley. It was great to see him and we had a good chat. Also present was my neighbour Richard Boon! Small world sometimes.
I took some token pics but the distance and poor light made it futile really. Anyway I'll post (a heavily cropped) one just for the record...
Looks more like a painting!
I left around 2pm and finally made it back to the car.
Back over the bridge and onto North Cave Wetlands, which seems to increase in size and develop every time I visit. Nice to see they've improved the road surface. I made my way around to Reedbed lake and immediately had stunning views of the Spotted Crake all to myself...
Again the light was poor but it was a wonderful opportunity to study the intricate plumage of this species at close range in a tranquil setting.

Loved it!

Sunday, 4 September 2016


MEGA: E.Sussex RED-FOOTED BOOBY imm St. Leonards-on-sea this afternoon then taken into care

Can you tick a bird that has been taken into capacity? long as you're there when/if it's released of course!


BUT...what's best for the welfare of the bird?


It's all being chewed over on Birdforum and elsewhere...

Quote of the night..."More tickable than the Kent Pond Heron!!!" AGREED.

What will happen next?


Would I go to see it if it was decided to release it in Britain?


Whatever the outcome...let's hope this magnificent bird pulls through. A truly incredible occurrence...

Red Footed Booby at WRAS Casualty Centre

Friday, 2 September 2016

Col du Soulor

A bonus post as I'm trapped on the 6.50 from Kings Cross to Hull. Quite busy! I've been given the all clear and discharged by my Surgeon. It only took 4 years and 5 months to sort out!! Won't mention it'll be pleased to hear.

My final site is the Col du Soulor. I visited this site on my first and last days, to be honest I should have paid it more attention but I stuck to my plan to visit as many sites as possible in the area. Anyway, I've already covered my first visit so this post is about the 21st...with a few extras.

The weather wasn't as kind this time but at least it wasn't raining. We arrived around 11 to low cloud...

The ever present Griffons tried to liven things up...

I set my stall out while Louise wisely read in the car. By 1pm we still had thick cloud. I wasn't going anywhere, I'd done enough reccies. Then out of the gloom high above the Col...

3 guesses... Black Kites! Hundreds of them. That lifted the spirits somewhat.


Definitely the best raptor spectacle of the didn't have much to beat to be honest!


Back to it at 2pm. Nothing! Then at 2.45, in from the NE...

More head...Honey Buzzard! There were 3 but they were only in view for a few seconds. Then another, this time lower...albeit still dull...

Note: Just got home and received a text from Tim Isherwood informing me I'd downloaded the wrong's been a long day! The above bird is of course a pale phase Booted Eagle. I'll leave it as it is for variety1 Thanks Tim, glad someone's reading this stuff!
...and that was that. We left the distant raptor study group around 4.30...

So that's about it.

Treated Louise to a day in Carcassonne on the way back to Bordeaux. It was 42C in the afternoon! So we gave up on the sightseeing, found a bar in the shade and stayed there until dusk. The view of the fortified City on the way back to our Hotel was simply stunning...


Writing this on the train to London prior to an appointment with my hip specialist.
The Blue Chicken is back but proving intermittent. Hope it re-appears for a few mates for tomorrow...and then hops over to Blacktoft for a Yorks tick!
Another of those funny Sub-Alpine Warblers has been seen/heard in Cornwall yesterday. I (and many more) still "need" this species for their lists. It's a tick. Some are more stimulating than others I feel, as is borne out by the dearth of coverage on the information/chat sites? I could have made the Blakeney point bird but I didn't get the rush that say a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater would have produced. Ironically most have probably already seen one!! I'll wait for the inevitable east coast bird...probably?
Hope you can squeeze the irony out of this post.
Just saying...