Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Near and Far

Think I've used that heading before...probably one or two more as well by now!

I've put quite a few hours in over the last couple of days. Mainly plonking myself somewhere and ...waiting. Still a bit sore in a few places.

If you watch sycamores for long enough something usually appears. I managed a couple of Goldcrests (Firecrest one day) and a Willow Warbler at Old Hive. I also noticed a large chunk of cliff had slipped by the farm. Note to self: Don't park too near the edge!!

The highlight this morning was 2 Mediterranean Gulls (H.88, P.130) on the beach. An expected species and no rush but glad to add it today.

Then more beeping from the pocket...
11.05 MEGA Shetland YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING Out Skerries
12.06 MEGA Shetland SIBERIAN THRUSH Unst at Baltasound at Ordaal

I confess to having to check the first although I knew I'd seen one in Yorks many moons ago...Filey 18/9/1994. It was a while ago! No such problem with the latter though!!! Enquiries were made. Due to current circumstances I can't say too much but lets just say things didn't work out. I know...boring but necessary. Another major factor being the diabolical forecast for Unst tomorrow. The 14th record for Britain, only three have stayed more than a day. The 1999 Scilly bird was the year before I started my annual pilgrimage BUT was far too early for my half-term teachers week (5th- 8th). 2 Norfolk records give a slither of hope.

Probably be showing well tomorrow lol! Maybe I can talk Louise into a fortnight in our retirement? I doubt it though. The bleak Northern Isles wouldn't be her cup of tea...alas. I'll work on it...

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Spent 3 hours around the cliff this morning. Best I could manage was a Goldcrest! Oh, and a GSW on a telegraph pole. More Dunnocks and Robins about. A wonderful fresh, crisp, autumnal morning though.

As my late Father-in-law used to say...

"If you don't expect anything, you won't be disappointed".


Monday, 18 September 2017

Taking stock

A calmer day today. Great birds still arriving though.

PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER a strong supporting cast.

Fortunately I don't "need" any of them so I can convalesce relatively stress free? The BBC was a tick for most until the North Uist bird. Funny how a species can be demoted. Still a fabulous bird though.

The PG Tips has bitter memories of my Spurn dip. I'll have to be quicker to the mist net! Maybe a Lancy next time!? The ups and downs of Twitching. We're now approaching the meaty period of the year rarity wise, although it's been excellent already. The next few weeks will no doubt produce some serious adrenaline rushes. Hope I can cope with the excitement...

I'll be out locally from first light and I'll be lowering my sights somewhat...but then never know in this game?

Sunday, 17 September 2017


Seven days is a long time in Birding. I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of this wonderful hobby, although it can be hard going around the Village on occasions...I still enjoy the challenge.

When something "special" turns up in Britain, I'm always interested...just depends what it is. Fortunately I can say...No! On this occasion it was a "must"...if possible.

As can be seen from my 2 previous posts, things (as usual) turned topsy-turvy. After sorting out a charter on Friday night I arrived at Manchester City Airport, Barton around 8.15am Saturday morning. It was surprise there! Around 9 the three of us joined the pilot and preparations were made.

I have to state at this point that details of what happened next are best kept confidential...for obvious reasons.

Suffice to say that the plane got into difficulties and we ended up in a field adjacent to the M62. I sustained injuries sufficient for me to be airlifted to Salford Hospital. I was treated brilliantly by the para-medics in the helicopter, the Police, Firemen and the Hospital staff. My family joined me and I eventually left around 4pm, somewhat stunned!

Quite a spectacular way to dip I feel!!! It could have been worse...obviously.

Time will tell what caused the plane to crash. Think it's best left there.


I recuperated locally at my Mother's in Bury, leaving for home on Tuesday lunchtime. The bird was a distant memory and wasn't on my mind, partly due to the medication I guess! I had to report to Withernsea hospital to get my head wound checked. The nurse was happy with it.

I'd received a few messages from Steve Lawton and Tony Dixon regarding the AMERICAN REDSTART. There was an early Ferry from Oban on Wednesday morning...tempting! Louise arrived home at 7pm and I gave her that look. The absence of Buddy was another clue! After raised eyebrows she gave me the nod.

Tony kindly drove. Erich Hediger was with us and we picked Steve up at Wetherby. I settled in the passenger seat with my painkillers. Things were going well and we were making excellent progress as we approached Scotland on the M6. Red lights ahead!? Accident. It was around 2am. We didn't move an inch in the ninety minutes or so. The mood was grim as we started to realise we weren't going to get to Oban by 6.35. We found some info online giving a forecast of a road clearance by 4.30. Too late!

One of the many fascinations of twitching!

Fortunately the prediction was wrong and we started to roll around 3.45. We had hope. It was going to be close but it would be preferable to make it as it would allow us a relaxed afternoon with the bird...if it was still there of course? Twists and turns. We did have the option of the later Ferry at 1.15 but that would have left us much less time to connect on the day. We would have known if it was present before disembarking though. Complicated this twitching game!

We arrived in the Ferry queue at 6.45am. A touch of hurried paperwork and we were on board. Phew! The irony now was that we were committed to an 8 hour sail not knowing if we would connect. The morning progressed on a fortunately steady sea. 8 - 9 - 10 - news. Glum faces at the prospect of another 4 hour sail, turn the car around and come back again!!!

Way out of Pager range but the ship had wi-fi. I have the RBA app but no details as I haven't upgraded.  Around 11.40 I casually looked at the headlines...again.


RFI, Negative or Positive? It soon became clear the bird was still there...Huzzah! The rest of the journey was plain sailing.

Fully aware that we still hadn't actually seen the bird, the mood was now positive. We disembarked and drove the 10 miles to Eoligarry in a convoy of 4 vehicles past a number of bemused locals. Again, fortunately for me we could park right by the church. We sorted our gear out and walked the short distance to the stunted sycamores.

No big crowds here!
After a frustrating 30 minutes of brief glimpses the star turn eventually showed well...on occasions. Plenty of pics of this superb bird about now. For the record...

Add caption

A few more thoughts...

Charter or ground travel? I've done two previous charters for the CAPE MAY WARBLER and the BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. No regrets. Things didn't work out last Saturday but NOBODY could have predicted that! The logistics for me personally on this occasion, would have made the cost worthwhile. This was backed up by the sweaty morning on the Ferry...character building though. I also know a lot of chaps don't have the time to go overland/sea. It's a personal choice.

Someone was looking after me on Saturday September 9th.

What it was all about...

Another top American bird is added to my list...Happy Days!

Monday, 11 September 2017


Just a brief post for now from my mother's house in Bury as I recover from my bad luck event.

My Charter plane crashed shortly after take-off on Saturday morning at Manchester City airport.

I was elated on Friday evening as I'd managed to arrange a late option to enable me to try for the bird. Things didn't work out... unfortunately.

More later...

Thursday, 7 September 2017


Barra to be precise. Love to...but can't make it.

A combination of late news, distance, pets, oh and work...that's enough excuses! I like to try extra hard for one of our American friends. Maybe it'll hang around a while...maybe it won't! I've seen plenty of males in the States but always smart to see a smart young one here. Time will tell?

1985...the last British record!!!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Back on the pitch - up the Shakers!

Had a great day with the family. Brought back many great memories...

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Passage Waders

ANY wader is noteworthy at Holmpton!

An hour down the cliff early doors had only produced a single juv Bullfinch and a chat with Richard Boon. As he drifted off through the undergrowth (I wimped out due to short attire) I heard the distinctive 7 note call of the Whimbrel (P.130, H.88). A quick scan produced three birds heading South off-shore. I thought that would be that...but then more "peeping". Now a flock of 5! They circled a couple of times and then continued South. An excellent local record.

My pal Trevor found not one but TWO GREENISH WARBLERS at Bempton!!! I must try harder...

Off to London tomorrow for a review of my hip. Then on Saturday I'll be treading the hallowed turf at Gigg Lane as I've been invited to be guest of honour at the Scunthorpe game. I'll be a nostalgic trip down memory lane! Looking forward to it and I'll be great for my wonderful Mother.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Calm before...

Still here!

There's more to life than birds you! It's that time of the year when I've run out of excuses NOT to do those jobs that need doing. So, the cottage has been painted inside and out. This has given me major credit for the upcoming Autumn Birding!

Tragic happenings in the Lone Star State that you may have heard about. TWENTY FOUR inches of rain in 2 days!!! More than Manchester gets in a year! We experienced a taste of this on our last trip when we arrived in Houston to find my first targeted site (Bear Creek Park) was under eight feet of water. Needless to say I didn't connect with my Greater Pewee.

A few migrants have started to filter through Spurn. An Icterine Warbler was trapped this afternoon and a few Pied Fly's have been seen. I guess it's time I joined in (I worked Monday and today).

I'm determined to give the Village the full treatment this Autumn...time will tell?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Yellow Warbler

As I sit here recovering from my last escapade (both mentally and physically), I just wanted to record a few thoughts on twitching/chasing in general.

It was great to see so many familiar faces of all ages scattered around the site of the dearly departed bird. Yes, everyone was disappointed...obviously. A lot of effort had gone into reaching the site for many and the morning vigil from pre-dawn was a laborious one in conditions that were more suited to October.

For us it was an all-night drive from deepest East Yorks...a round trip of 686 miles. No regrets for a star like that.

The atmosphere was convivial with many conversations striking up as the morning progressed as it became more and more apparent the bird had moved on. Personally I was surprised at this. I felt it would stick around and feed up. That's the thing you just never know...all part of the "fun".

As you know, I've been stung in the past by the "wait for news" strategy. The late charge hoping it will still be there is a feeling I can do with out. This is followed by the even more sickening feeling of searching for the bird (almost exclusively in vain) when it's disappeared! Yes we all dipped...but we were THERE!

As I'm now a selective twitcher I have a slightly more relaxed attitude to the outcome....or at least  think I do!?

The jewels from across the pond are a particular favourite for which I'll definitely go the extra mile...again.

Monday, 21 August 2017


 MEGA Dorset YELLOW WARBLER Portland at Culverwell at 3.35pm

I'm in the game...this time! 13 years since my aborted attempt for the Barra bird due to mountainous seas.

A Bobby Dazzler. American Warblers are tops for me.

Be there at dawn.

Update: Arrived at 6.10 with 2 Tony's and stayed till 11. It wasn't to be.

Saw many dedicated twitchers, many familiar, both young and... older than me! We deserved better but didn't get it. There'll be another... maybe sooner than I think?

Friday, 18 August 2017

Worth a Peep

News came through yesterday afternoon of a "stint" at Nosterfield showing apparent palmation!?

Possible American Wader...SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (excellent) or WESTERN SANDPIPER (MEGA...and Yorks tick).

Did I go? No. I should have though.

The bird was present till dusk. Up at 5 and breakfast at McDonald's for 6.30 after a stretch for Bud. No news online so I waited for the Pager to wake at 7 (risky). Sure enough, news came through "it" was still there.


Fair drive in the largest County (91 miles). I'd been here a few weeks ago for the Sabine's Gull, so I drove to the Village. As I approached I remembered the location of the reserve which a different spot. I pulled into the car park and sorted out my gear.

Chris a mate of Barry Bishop was just leaving. We had a brief chat then I headed for the screen. Fortunately there was room to view.

The viewing area was distant...

The bird was on the central island
Scope out and scanning. Picked up the Peep. I watched it for around 30 mins...none the wiser! I would have said... Little Stint. I know, I know...sounds smart, but there you go. I texted a few pals including Trevor and we discussed the "apparent" palmation. Real, shadow, mud etc. The distance (c100yds) made confirmation difficult. There were many snappers hard at it and I was sure someone would get something conclusive eventually (lets face it there's blanket coverage of everything these days...a double edged sword).

They was a Little Stint.

Now here's the thing. Since the confirmation photo appeared...

...there's been a lot of comment on the dreaded "social media". Some supportive but alas plenty much less so. Lots of...I told you so...with more than a smattering of smugness. The bird DID appear to show palmation. There were various comments on structure, bill size etc. Very difficult.

For me...better to give the troops the heads up, as the alternative scenario is far less palatable.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Something always turns up...

Adult Rose-coloured Starling in Scarborough and Western Bonelli's Warbler in Easington. A couple of great records...for August. Very deceptive however. Tough to find these little gems...guess that's why they're scarce/rare!

A combination of work and trip planning has seen me off the pace this last week. I'm in training for the oncoming flood of "great birds" the coming Autumn will produce. I can dream. My trips for the next 12 months have been finalised...I'm not driving a bus for the good of my health!

The Autumn will be spend flogging Holmpton and surrounds. Then early November will see us leave for Texas for three weeks to escape the gloom. Christmas at home with family then hopefully my knee replacement in January. Some rehab, then it's a return to Cyprus in March for 3 weeks. Really enjoyed it last year and met some great people.

Spring Birding in Blighty then it's a change of scene. A report by Brendan Shields got me interested in a trip to the Canaries. I've chosen Fuerteventura...less people and more birds!

I'm at a stage now were I'm hoping to strike a balance between British Birding and foreign travel. The Birding gods will decide how fortunate I am. There'll be the usual ups and downs but I'll  be fun...and that's what it's all about...isn't it?

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Duff quality

Acting on a tip off from Duncan Bye I spent 6.30 till 12 listening, rather than looking for Corncrakes...

Not surprisingly no joy but marvelous to know they have graced the reserve. No secret now and a great success story with excellent cooperation with the local landowners.

Maybe next year...

I added Kingfisher and Bullfinch (2) to the year list (ND.73).

The highlight was having a good natter with Haydn. Great to see him. He arrived around 8 after a trip to Skippy and we left together.

A lone Lapwing (H.87) was a nice bonus as  passed the Holmpton sign...

Thursday, 10 August 2017


There's always someone doing a BIG YEAR in the States.

Three actually!

Stop Press: CASSIA CROSSBILL has been split by the AOS and THAYER'S GULL has been lumped with ICELAND...and Kumlien's!?

That's 2 Crossbills to go for now, as I STILL haven't seen RED CROSSBILL in the States. The only Code 1 bird I still "need".

There's a podcast here if you're having a slow day.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Ill wind

Promising Northerly wind today. Nobody told the birds though!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Alpine Swift

Needed a change of scenery so a text from Trevor at Bempton informing me an AS was floating around sent me Northward.

Unfortunately the bird hadn't realised I was coming and rudely left the scene.

Still, I had a good chat with Trev, discussing various birdy topics before returning home.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


#BBRCdecision #ZEISS :Ref No 6997.0 Accepted-Blue Rock Thrush 14-Dec-16 Stow-on-the-Wold, Glos

There you go! I agree. Just a personal opinion.

Does a bird recognise man-made structures...ala mock stone housing estates? I doubt it.

This opinion coupled with a return south coast sighting makes me comfortable adding this species to my list.

I, like many others, have their own thoughts on certain decisions, both negative and positive...BUT for comparability purposes my Bubo badge is strictly BOU.

Friday, 4 August 2017


Lazy lie in after a couple of 5am starts. I love early mornings!

Of course... snooze and you lose...

E.Yorks Cory's Shearwater N past Spurn at 8.35am

Ah well. Might as well head for the cliff for the constitutional.

E.Yorks Cory's Shearwater N past Spurn at 9.10 am

I'm here...and scanning until 10.

Wonder if the angles are against me? Any excuse...

No matter. I gave it my best shot focussing on the Canada bouy(2m) in less than optimum conditions...much spray and haze.

Just to emphasize my position on seawatching...I added Gannet (P.129, H.86) to my year list! It's a marathon...not a sprint...

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Giant bird in the Giant State

Exciting stuff in Texas as I write. A JABIRU has been found East of Houston. It was discovered on Tuesday afternoon and is the 13th record for the State. The adult Jabiru is 120–140 cm (47–55 in) long, 2.3–2.8 m (7.5–9.2 ft) across the wings, and can weigh 4.3–9 kg (9.5–19.8 lb).

Image result for jabiru


It has been elusive, mainly due to being on private land hidden by trees. However, it has on occasion soared high with the other species it's associating with...Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills and Wood Storks.

Wonder if it'll hang around until November? I doubt it!!!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Honey Buzzard!

Into August and down the cliff early doors...well, at least for me (7).

An early post with some good luck.

Yellow blobs in the bushes. At least 6 young Willow Warblers. Nice and fresh.

Then a distant raptor...dark with a pale head...juv Marsh Harrier. Dark coverts and extremely well marked head.

Then another! I had to remind myself where I was. A Buzzard...long winged and tailed with a slim protruding head. The bird was initially fairly distant to the north. It then slowly drifted out to sea before heading south mixing slow wingbeats with long glides on slightly downcurved wings. I was convinced I was looking at a Honey Buzzard (P.129, H.86).

A new species for the Village (154).

I texted John Hewitt to let him know it was heading his way... hopefully!

A major sighting and a great start to the "Autumn".

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Signs of migration

A Wood Warbler turned up in Mick Turton's garden at Easington today. A very nice find and early. Very few records annually and actually rarer than Barred Warbler!

I need to look...harder...and I will!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Patrington Haven

Had an hour with Bud on a bright and breezy morning. I timed my visit with high tide. It was a busy scene but most birds were very distant. A couple of distinctive species were Little Egret (28) and Shelduck (c1000). Impressive numbers of the common waders also, particularly Knot which were well into 4 figures.

I'll be paying regular visits over the next few months...

I'm going to try and balance Birding in the Village with a few selected sites throughout the Patch. You never know...I might even find something decent?!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Pyrenees Finale

Last one...promise!

In order not to drag things out too long, I'm going to post a series of remaining images from the trip with a few notes to explain things. I hope you enjoy them.

Back to the Golden Eagle first. I found a few more...

The closest I got to a Lammergeier was at the Col de Troumouse

Close enough!

Griffon Vulture...

Egyptian Vulture...

Having a quick look back through my posts from during the trip I see I didn't post a pic of my Rock Sparrow success. So, here's the proof...

That's it then. I've not decided if I'm going again next year yet. If I did have a summer break though this location would be high on my list. Spectacular birds and scenery plus excellent accommodation and food. Maybe you'd like to try it?

Eagle Owl

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Pyrenees reprise - Our Golden Day (2)

I've been flicking through some pics on this damp day and I've come across a few images which might enhance the story of our afternoon with the majestic Golden Eagle.

I'd had a prolonged but distant view from the Village the day previously as a bird flew through carrying what looked like a Marmot...

If you recall from the original post I'd received some information from a ranger (Flavian) while viewing the Lammergeier nest in the Valle d'Ossoue. He'd given us directions which I hoped to follow (you know how it is). We returned to Gavarnie and parked up. We then had to find the trailhead (as the Americans say). After a while we discovered it, tucked away behind a Hotel. The temperature was 38c by the way. We started to climb around 2.30pm...I know madness!

It was steep...VERY steep!

The plan was to make our way up to a plateau from were we could scan across the ravine to the cliff face, where the nest was located. We climbed and climbed. Mercifully it was shaded due to the wooded hillside. We wouldn't have made it otherwise...we'll I wouldn't! The leg held and Louise never complained. Eventually after over an hour we emerged out of the trees and there was the crag opposite...

It was still a good distance c400 yds but at least we were level now and I could scan with the 'scope.

The view of the Valle d'Ossoue from the plateau with the Lammergeier cliff on the right...

Louise headed for the shade and I had an initial scan with my Trinnies. I got lucky and found the nest...pleased with that. I then set up the scope to see if I could see any signs of life. I couldn't. No adults, no youngster/s.

I aimed to stay around 3 hours, so we had a decent window. Then after around 30 minutes...a fly-by...

Awesome! What a bird... was euphoric to see this magnificent bird so close and at eye level. It disappeared eventually around the cliff. Then, some movement at the nest! Nothing clear at first and difficult to be certain in the intense heat haze. Eventually...there it was...the GE youngster. REALLY pleased with the quality of this hand held phone-scoped effort considering the distance and conditions...

Quite an occasion for yours truly. I was as pleased with this experience as I was with any on the holiday.

Huge birds but gigantic distances. Never easy to get near, so I considered myself very fortunate. Just as we were leaving we were treated again...

When we reached the valley floor around 6.30 I turned to see both adults WAY up high above the ridge circling and enjoying the evening sunshine...

As you say Charles...another great day in the Pyrenees!

Catch up

Rainy day here. So time to slow down...and catch up?

I made it down to Kilnsea Wetlands before the deluge to connect with the overdue Little Stint...

Green Sandpiper (2) and Ruff were also new for the year. I bumped into Frank Moffat and John Hewitt. John mentioned that someone had claimed the WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER again but no further news as I write (1pm). This site is starting to produce an impressive list of quality birds and will no doubt continue to do so. AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and another WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN (juv) recorded in the past two days.

A Little Egret also showed very well...

The past few days locally... A Little Tern wandered North to allow me to add it to my Holmpton year list during a dog walk. I also sneaked a Mistle Thrush sighting from the bus near Patrington. I popped down to the triangle late yesterday afternoon after work to try for the Red-backed Shrike. I made my way along the canal past the developing and highly controversial Visitor Centre...

I could see a group of admirers in the distance but as I had "the Budster" with me I decided to spare them the dubious presence of his company! A grim record shot it is then...

c150 yds through the heat haze at the rear of Rose Cottage
One for the jizz afishionados. 

High on the cuteometer was this pair of young Little Owls on the way home. Great news indeed...

Totals adjusted accordingly.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Carry on regardless!

Loved those films!

Crappy weather on the coast so we're heading for East Leake.

Bit of an issue on the M1...

Hopefully everyone OK! Fortunately North bound.

Rain has stopped and wind easing. A bit of lunch... then BEE-EATERS.

Writing this in Louise's car as we head back to Hull to pick up the V70 after its service. We enjoyed a nice hour watching the birds perform well, if distantly. The crowd was very small allowing for a relaxing experience.

Off to the pub for T so no time to post a pic from the camera. To be honest the images are small scale!!

I can however post a "phonescoped" attempt which came out surprisingly well...even though I say so myself...

After our meal at the Red Sails I became aware through a text from Gavin Atkinson (cheers pal) of a VERY confiding male Crossbill (P.122) at Skeffling. The bird was still present on arrival. I have to say didn't look well and it's behaviour made me concerned for its future as it was reluctant to fly as vehicles past by. Hope it makes it.

Sunday, 23 July 2017


A couple of shots of the WRS...

Among the Dunlins

An excellent find by John Hewitt.

A day out tomorrow with the Bee-eaters...and Louise of course!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Quite a week

Got an hour break, so I've time to complete the weeks activity.

To finish off a fortunate week I popped down to Kilnsea Wetlands yesterday morning to try for the WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER. As I approached the hide I noticed a Birder scanning the site through the blind.

It turned out to be Frank Moffat. He told me he had the bird in his 'scope and would I like to have a peep (sorry). The bird was no more than 30yds away  feeding with c40 Dunlin. I also had a brief view of a Wood Sandpiper. I'd seen him many times over the years but never had a chat. We discussed various topics before we left...including Footy. Nice bloke.

Now then...I "wander" where that ALBATROSS is...

Thursday, 20 July 2017

AMUR FALCON - the full story

Finally stopped...after a trip to Swillington Ings for the magnificent CASPIAN TERN...

Had a great few hours watching this beast of a Tern performing well intermittently over Astley Lake and surrounds. It's ironic how things turn out in Birding...fascinating as least to me! It took me 30 years to add this species to my Yorkshire list and now I've seen two in two years. MUCH better views on this occasion. At one stage it patrolled the lake for a good 10 minutes giving a stunning performance. It exuded power and dexterity as it circled the area.

Some familiar faces were present. It was great to see my old pal Vince from my days in the Valley, particularly at NDC. He told me he'd heard a Corncrake there recently! He was hoping the CT would drift down to Fairburn for a patch tick. At one time it flew south, so I sent him a text. However the bird returned to the lake a short while later. Tony (Dixon) also turned up with a couple of mates...County ticking. I also met a chap from York who I liked and will remain nameless at his request. I liked him because he said nice things about my Blog lol! No seriously, we hit it off and chewed the fat over many things Birding and beyond. He modestly informed me he'd seen BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS and FEA'S Yorkshire. That's two up on me! You know who you are pal. Many thanks for your comments.


So, back to the other day then, to put some flesh on the bones of one of my better/best days.

Having had time to reflect on events I feel I was VERY fortunate to connect with this bird for numerous reasons.
  • Firstly the fact that it re-appeared at all after an absence of 11 days. The 6th of July seems a long time ago now when I realised I couldn't go down to Cornwall, on the eve of my trip to my son's wedding in Italy.
  • The fact that it lingered for the remainder of the day on July 17th.
  • I was sooo lucky with the traffic...or lack of it. To travel from North Yorkshire to Lands End during the day with no significant stoppages was remarkable.
My initial thoughts at Wykeham were negative I have to admit..."not another reported"! (12.32). My location and the distance involved kept me scanning for Honey Buzzards, in vain I might add. As already mentioned the next message containing the word "still" (12.42) changed my outlook. I estimated my route via Sutton Bank then onto the A64 (the rest you know) gave me the best opportunity to make progress SW.

No time for any prep'. Fortunately the tank was full, my phone was fully charged (just as well as yet another "cheapo" car charger let me down), I had a coat and Buddy had his bowl...he didn't get a vote!

I texted Trevor but didn't get a reply immediately so I set off west. My thoughts at this time were to cruise down as far as possible, kip in the car and be ready for dawn. The further I could get the better. I'd heard from John Hewitt the nightmare journey they'd had back, due to the A30 roadworks...c11 hours!

Steady progress was made down the A1 - M18 - M1 and onto the M42. A few speed restriction sections were adhered to...iron will-power. I was heading for Bristol down the M5 and the traffic was still flowing. Hitting this area at around 5pm didn't fill with me hope but I was still going strong...and the bird was still showing!

It then dawned on me (I'm quick like that) that I had an outside chance of making it before dusk!! It would all depend on the traffic around Exeter and the A30 road works? However, I still felt the cards were still stacked against me.

I HAD to make one stop...too much Peps Max. I checked the phone and was pleased to read encouragement and updates from Trevor Charlton, Tony Dixon, Steve Lawton, Haydn Patterson and Phil Jones. A Facebook post from Lee Evans had also mentioned some reliable, experienced Birders who had seen the bird.


Onto the A30. Where were the road works? Who knows ...who cares! Turned out they had finished last weekend...some Good Luck. I sailed down to Penzance and it was only 7. I was getting a bit
excited by now! The weather was good and the sun was still well above the horizon. Another update on the pager added a little spice by informing me the bird was now..."distant". I'd keyed the postcode into my phone on Google maps (surprising I know) and it worked a treat in the maze that is West Cornwall. I turned down the minor road to St Buryan. An extremely narrow road with very high walls/hedges. I needed to see a birder was gone 8pm and the light was fading as the cloud thickened.

I turned another bend and there was a red transit with a guy with bins looking into a field. "Any sign"  I tried to say calmly. "I've just had it but it's flown off" was his reply. I thanked him and continued down the lane. More cars and a few birders...encouragingly they were all training there optics in the same direction. I noticed Steve Webb who'd just returned from Peru (to also get a second chance). They were all stood on the wall ...but I couldn't climb up due to my mobility issues! Fortunately being tall I re-arranged the vegetation to find myself looking at my target sat in a bush...

That was rather pleasing I thought to myself...HUZZAH!!!

I enjoyed watching the bird for the next 10 or so minutes while I got my breath back. I counted 10 birders!!? The bird then hopped along the hedge a couple of times...

It was getting dull by now. Nobody else had arrived. I recognised a few local faces including Paul Freestone. Around 8.30 the bird flew from the hedge towards Lassadell House and was lost to view. The group stayed in position but I decided to follow the road towards the house. I could then see a bird on the wire just beyond the house. I alerted the group...

I love this picture...because I took it! lol! No, as I've said before it's not about the "best" picture, I'll never achieve that with my point and shoot. It's about personal memories and this is definitely one to savour! I might be finding a place in my "RUSH BIRDS" top ten for this one. An evocative image of the last time the bird was seen as it left the wire and appeared to fly into the garden of the roost?

Time for McDonald's and Tesco now.

I returned to the lane and settled down for a night in the V70. Just a word on the old girl. She's just topped 100,000 miles and she cruised down the motorways in style giving me as always a smooth comfortable and economical journey. She's in next week for a full service and new cam-belt (overdue). I'm confident she can give me the same again (53 plate). My last one managed 230,000! Tough cars Volvos.

I'd arranged to meet Trevor at dawn. My days of sleeping well in the car are well and truly over. Fortunately the short summer night passed quickly. I was the only car present at 11pm. By 5am the lane was packed and every available spot was taken. Trevor was 2 cars down from mine! I led him to the house and showed him were I'd seen it last. Then we waited.

I had Bud with me so I kept him away from the main groups (not everyone is dog friendly, especially in situations like this). I recognised a lot of familiar faces, many from the north including Dave Hursthouse and John McLoughlin.

I was convinced it would show as I believed it had gone into the garden of Lassadell House. Alas it wasn't to be. There were a few unsubstantiated claims but no confirmed sighting. My phone had packed up by now and I'd lost Trevor in the crowd, so at 9.45 I returned to McDonald's for breakfast. The traffic problems in the lane were mounting with tractors and coaches turning up.

I figured I'd wait in Penzance for a while and wait for news as getting a parking spot again would be be er...difficult!

No sign by 11 so I decided to make the long drive home...very contented. THIS IS the very best type of twitch for me. No dithering, no what ifs...just GO!!!


So my luck at Lands End had finally changed...

2011 - I changed my flight time to Scilly from morning to afternoon to try for the 1w male SCARLET TANAGER at St Levan on Saturday October 22nd. A smart move I thought until the bird decided to leave and fly to Scilly!!!

2013 - A HERMIT THRUSH was at Porthgwarra on October 30th. A MOURNING DOVE was also present on Rum, Inner Hebrides. I decided (foolishly) to wait at Exeter for news on the HT ON November 1st as I had another long drive to Scotland for the MD. The bird was present but by the time I'd driven down from Exeter it had disappeared and so had most of the birders. I spent the next 2 days looking for it in vain. I did get the MD.

2014 - I was in the middle of another wonderful week on Scilly when it turned sour. The one species  I reckoned I'd be in prime position for on Scilly would be YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. It was Thursday October 24th and we were on St Agnes looking at an Ortolan Bunting. The MEGA alert goes off to inform me a YBC had been found at Porthgwarra! No boat Friday when the bird was still present and of course it had disappeared when I turned up on Saturday.

That exorcised a few demons.

So, as you can see I like to think I was due some luck down there.

I have no hesitation in placing this sighting at number 4 in my all-time "RUSH BIRDS" list (see left hand column)...pop pickers!

For what it's worth I feel the bird may still be around the West Cornwall peninsular...

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


Astley Lake, West Yorkshire

No rest for the wicked...

Better in flight...

Full write-up of last few days to follow...

Monday, 17 July 2017


I decided to go to Wykeham to try for the Honey Buzzards that had showed really well yesterday. I DID get my first sighting here but the birds were VERY high...

Still, better than nothing.

I'd been there over 3 hours but this brief sighting was all I'd had. I was prepared to stay longer but things changed.

MEGA Cornwall AMUR FALCON 1s female reported St Buryan



Another message replacing the word reported with STILL!!!


446 miles. It was now past 1. I took the A64 - A1 - M18 - M1 - M42
M5 - A30.

Updates told me the bird was lingering. Would it wait for me and would the light hold?

My phone Sat Nav worked a treat and I arrived just after 8. The terrain on the Cornish peninsular is a challenge with limited viewing due to high walls and undulating topography.

Fortunately a (very) small group of admirers were present BUT the bird had moved!?

The next 15 minutes weren't great...then...

A change of fortune at last...and a bit of determination. I'll allow myself a small blast on my own trumpet this time!

I've managed to post this from my phone before I grab a few hours kip. I'm still at Buryan with my guard dog. Trevor Charlton is on his way down. I hope to be sharing his celebration in the early hours...

Sunday, 16 July 2017

A couple of extras

Song Thrush belting it out at the front of my house this evening...

My mate Phil had great views of the Kent Bonaparte's Gull recently...