Thursday, 17 June 2021

WALRUS!!!

No joy with the EV despite a 6 hour vigil on the Garrison. I can't think of a better dipping view though.

A message on the WhatsApp group...

4.30 Visitor has reported a Walrus following a yacht in P cressa

I HAD to take a look. It was true!

Fish and chips watching a Walrus on Scilly...bliss!! It kept trying to climb onto the yachts? At one point it climbed up some ladders as if it was boarding...



Amazing stuff!

I spoke to one of the locals who said there had been some Humpback Whales around the Islands during the Winter.

I was going to tell her I'd seen a Submarine  from this very bench...but I refrained. Not a bad double though!

Struggling a bit with the phone but I'll do a full write up on my return. Still time for a VULTURE...




Scilly


Didn't manage much sleep on the way down but caught up a bit on the mercifully smooth Scillonian crossing...(hence this late initial post).

As we were about to dock I picked up a Puffin on the water, which was a Scilly tick having never been in Summer before.

Those of you "in the know" will be aware there were no reports of the EV. I'm staying till Friday afternoon to enjoy the Islands and maybe, just maybe...it might still be around. The SHORT-TOED EAGLE of 1999 did a tour of some of the more remote Islands and stayed 5 days. Hope springs eternal.

Late afternoon a report came through of the "resident" Iceland Gull, which I eventually managed a view of from the Garrison. Another Scilly tick after dipping last Autumn. As I was walking down to the Quay for a closer look a van pulled up. It was Kris Webb aka "Spider" who runs the WhatsApp group. He asked if I was going for the Red-footed Falcon...yet another Scilly tick! I hopped in and 40 minutes later I was enjoying brilliant scope views of this beautiful bird.

I'm writing this from the harbour having just had the obligatory "full English". The weather is set fair... fingers (and everything else) crossed...



Tuesday, 15 June 2021

MEGAS like Buses

MEGA Scilly EGYPTIAN VULTURE ad Tresco in pine on north side of Pool Road near Pentle House at 12.10pm

Now that's what I call BIG news!!! Still recovering from Lundy.

I can be guilty of making assumptions, less so as I age...hopefully! Origins/provenance etc...the usual stuff. Lets be positive, it's better for you.

Of course, I was just getting out of the car at the wonderful Bolton Abbey when the news..."broke". An  intended leisurely stroll with Louise and Bud up to "the Strid" had become...less so. It's a game!

NOTHING was going to affect our day, so we had some lunch at the Cavendish Pavilion and started our walk the magnificent trees and along the River Wharf. It was very quiet with few people around. Peaceful. The highlight was on the way in as I spotted a male Redstart on the approach road. The heavily shaded riverside walk produced the obligatory Grey Wagtails ...

and Dipper... 




A bonus was a Mandarin Duck acting like a Torrent Duck...sort of.

After reaching the Strid for the mandatory pic...

...we retraced our footsteps to the car. This was a nostalgic trip, as I used to visit here regulary with my parents in the late 80's/90's. All 4 of my German Shepherds have been here. It must be 15 years since I'd been. No luck with Pied Flycatcher or Wood Warbler although we bumped into a chap from Burnley who'd seen one last year.

A great day.

So, what to do? The heavily connected would be zooming down to Penzance overnight to grab spaces on charter boats (3 left at 6am this morning I later found out in a conversation with one of the owners). Fair play. Logistical problems made this impossible for yours truly; besides, I wouldn't have got a seat anyway!

Today's news seemed a tad confusing...to say the least! Initially it was apparently being scoped from St Mary's at 2.5 miles in heat haze! The rest of the day was a series of confusing messages which must have been VERY frustrating for Birders present on the Island...an understatement!

Deciding whether to make an attempt can be equally confusing, if less tiring. Mid-afternoon claims (later withdrawn) raised hopes and initialted planning. Dive in...and waste money; leave it to late and you're not going anyway!

I eventually made a commitment. It was based on...

  • Quality of bird
  • Location - my favourite
  • Time of Year - can add some Scilly ticks as I've never been in Summer.

So. I'm going over on my old "friend" the Scillonian at 9.15am tomorrow and I'm returning on the 3.15pm flight on Friday. The way I see it is this...

  • I'm retired now, so no rushing around anymore (I've done plenty of that believe me). 
  • I can travel and have my little adventure totally relaxed thanks to my wonderful Wife.
  • This type of situation partly fulfils my wunderlust.
  • Lastly, I might be looking at an EGYPTIAN VULTURE over the Fortunate Isles tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted...


Sunday, 13 June 2021

Collared Pratincole - York Area tick

Just a quick update. Popped over to Wheldrake Ings late afternoon and sneaked a brief but conclusive view. An obvious MEGA for the area. The bird was very distant, so no frame fillers on this one. Nice to go back to one of my old stomping grounds.

Back to the Footy!

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Sulphur-bellied Warbler - Reflections

A tale of woe...BUT as you know by now...all will be revealed. Hopefully some interest will be provided?

June 8th

11.27 MEGA Devon SULPHUR-BELLIED WARBLER male singing Lundy in Millcombe Valley

Originally thought to be a Dusky Warbler; the "power" of the internet strikes again. A quick check of Google Maps revealed a suggested ETA of around 5.30, so doable? Luck with traffic obviously needed. However, certain logistical considerations would have to be taken into account. As you know I'm not a ditherer but I am a realist. My initial feelings were mixed...
  • Unfamiliar with the area and access  - although it can soon be figured out with some luck on the internet and phone!
  • Bud to go in the Kennels as an Island is involved - contacting and space can be an issue
  • Doctors appointment
  • Louise isn't a problem as she's a diamond and always supportive. I'm very lucky.
  • Time isn't an issue these days...but outlay can be!
  • Every second counts...ASAP...and all that.
I'm a "lone wolf" these days for many reasons that have already been aired. I do have some mates (believe it or not) but groups complicate logistics and waste time. Steve contacted me but he couldn't make it in the end. I was also aware Trevor was making his way down. A down side is that you can't plan while driving and information can pass you by...but there you go.

Some twitchers have networks and groups, so will be aware even before news is generally released, although on this occasion it was mooted as being possibly something "different" earlier in the morning (I was unaware of this). No doubt some set off with this possibility in mind. Smart move! I did that once (ACADIAN FLYCATCHER).

I couldn't get hold of the kennels and I'd already cancelled an appointment once. I knew some would be roaring down there as I searched, trying to figure out a way across on the day. Money talks and I later found out some (unsurprisingly) succeeded.  Some just...WENT...and hoped to get across. Fair play! Where there's a will and all that. I heard 4 boats went across totalling 48 twitchers.. Some did make it from remarkable distances. Again, I did that once (AMUR FALCON).

I fished around on-line and eventually found a place on a boat (run by Ilfracombe Sea Safari) for the next morning at 7.30 after trying to get on the Oldenberg Ferry. I eventually booked Bud into the Kennels and attended my appointment like a good lad. The plan was hatched.

I set off at 9pm and drove down to the Ilfracombe turn off on the M5 before crashing out (not literally) around 2am. After a few hours kip I continued to Ilfracombe arriving around 6.30. I found a free parking spot (why pay?) and made my way down to the harbour. I was already getting a few negative vibes as it was light at 5 and there was no "early bird" news? Onward.

There were quite a few chaps already there when I arrived and it became apparent that all available vessels had been hired. A few familiar faces were clocked. The weather was mercifully calm but I'd taken my Stugeron (strongly recommended) and felt delicately confident! The things you do to try for a bird.

Our vessel appeared and I was pleased to see it was a high speed catamaran which would hopefully negate the motion sickness? It did the job handsomely and we arrived on Lundy an hour later. It was great fun actually which was a nice surprise. Still no positive news by 8.30?

Lundy is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Landmark Trust...apparently. It's a fair chunk of land out in the Bristol Channel. It's around 3 miles long by 0.5 wide and reaches a height of 469 feet at Beacon Hill. As we were disembarking (an event in itself) news came through that the bird had been seen!!! The long, steep ascent to Millcombe Valley suddenly didn't seem as daunting.

However, halfway up it became apparent that the news may have been..."erroneous", as they say in these circles. I hung on to faint hope as I (slowly) completed the ascent. Thoughts of the LAMMERGEIER twitch came flooding back. Alas the news was true. Cruel doesn't cover it.

Still there was still hope that the bird could be relocated...


...it wasn't.

The realisation that I would now be on the Island till 6.45 was kicking in. What didn't help matters was that the forecast of improving weather never materialised (surprise surprise) and it remained wet and dull all day. Your probably getting the picture by now!

I did look thoroughly during the morning but I must admit by early afternoon my mental fortitude was fading. It was time for Lunch...


I'd tried. 

After exhausting my charismatic anecdotes I finally found an empty bench...

Looking South...for our boat!

I then walked down to the Quay. As we waited like lost dogs for the boat and ribs to re-appear (there were some delays apparently) I noticed a solitary soul walking towards me. It was Trevor! He'd obviously come across later but I hadn't seen him all day!? We shared our sorrow briefly before I had to board.

On the positive side...
  • It was great to get "back in the saddle" again. 
  • I saw my first Dolphin in Britain on the journey out.
  • I met several and had chance to talk with many old acquaintancies from over the years which helped kill the hours. It was great to see them again.
  • I added Lundy to my impressive Islands of Britain list!
  • It was another great adventure...and that IS the most important thing...honestly. I'll spare you the Top of the League/Cup Winner/European places speech.
  • I was disappointed with the outcome but satisfied with my effort.
I got back to the car after scaling the north face of Ilfracombe (has to be one of the steepest seafronts in Britain) around 8pm. I drove for a while then pulled over and slept. I got back to Holmpton around Noon.
 
There'll be another..?

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Hobby

Quality sighting this morning. Two Hobbies (P.112, H.107) on Snakey Lane! Always nice to get at least one sighting each year for the Village. The birds circled in typically acrobatic fashion before climbing high and heading North...

My camera didn't want to play initially but at least I was able to record the event...


Much excitement just before lunchtime when an initially identified Dusky Warbler on Lundy turned out to be something MUCH Rarer!!!

MEGA Devon SULPHUR-BELLIED WARBLER male Lundy in Millcombe Wood

I've been to a lot of British Islands over the years...but not this one. Mmmmm...

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Boundaries

We have a couple of MEGAS present in the Country at the moment...

A RIVER WARBLER in Somerset at Ham Wall RSPB and a RED-NECKED STINT in Northumberland on the Blyth Estuary.

I've seen both before, due to my advanced age...

"My" RW was at Scotsman's Flash, Wigan 14/7/95. This was a rather chaotic experience which seemed great fun at the time...less so now.

"My" RNS was even earler at Cley, Norfolk 2/8/92. The Blacktoft Sands bird was just before I started Birding in 1986. That would have been a fine Yorkshire Tick!!

The RW is showing well and the RNS is in summer plumage, so I guess there's a reason to see both again...but I won't be travelling.

..........................................................................................

I bumped into Richard this morning and he told me he'd read my post regarding elastic recording areas! We've decided that the Bee-eaters ARE in our "Holmpton recording boundary"!

Tonight's evening stroll to the Cliff didn't produce any avian interest but I did see a sea creature. Harbour Porpoise I assume...


Friday, 4 June 2021

Local Gems

Rose early this morning (I know!) and headed for the Gas Terminal via Out Newton...for obvious reasons. No sign of yesterday's stars though. Still buzzing!

I continued to the Gas Terminal to exercise Bud. The weather felt like Summer, at long last. I'd decided to add a few long overdue Spurn ticks to my Year List. 

I started with great views of a Peregrine...I just managed to "catch"...


Heavy crop

This was the definite highlight of a four hour drive around the Spurn Area which included Easington and down to Sammy's (well nearly, as the car park is closed for sea defence work).

Other highlights were Cuckoo and Avocet (2 glimpsed on Kilnsea Wetlands). 48 species logged.

After lunch I tried another local site for Little Owl. I was in luck...




I also stumbled across a very obliging Yellow Wagtail...that even Bud didn't flush...


Maybe it was distracted or my stealth like approach paid off!

Stunner

Totally unconcerned...it was a privilege to be allowed this approach...we were going that way anyway...


They seem to be everywhere this year, which is just fantastic! Talking of close views, this busily feeding Oystercatcher was concentrating more on feeding than me...


The Summer-like morning disintergrated into a late Autumnish-like afternoon. The British weather eh!

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Bee-eaters

A few around the area but none seen here...yet!

To chase or wait? I'm more of a waiter these days...I'd like to be more of a finder!! Better get out there and find somert...

No sooner had I posted this than...

Update: 1.35 The two Bee-eaters are now sat on wires by Southfield Farm (Kilnsea). I cracked and chased...but failed! 

The same birds as yesterday apparently, so still in with a shout...maybe here?

Update 2: As I came out of the Opticians around 4.30 (complete with dilating eye drops) I stumbled for my phone before falling into the good ladies car to be driven home...

4.19: 2 on wires by Out Newton Rd late afternoon

Maybe I drove past them on my way back from Spurn?!

We arrived around 5 and I saw them distantly on the wires. A quick return home for Optics and I was back on site at 5.20...having passed Richard on the way...


Unfortunately the birds never came close but that would have been a bonus. I had great views through my trusty APO 62...as did Louise and my neighbour Geoff. I pointed out a few other species to him that perched on the wires also. However, the stars were the Bee-eaters (P.111)...




They fed well and were seen to copulate on one occasion, which always causes speculation!


After a quick Pizza I returned to Model Farm (passing Gavin this time) to try and 'scope them from the dubious limit of my elastic Holmpton boundary! I got "on them" just in time to see them fly high...but which way? Unfortunately South. Now then, this raises the age old question of in or from the Patch? I've always been an "in" man myself. I must admit to be wavering on this one. No secrets here nor intense feeling. Just a bit of fun. 

One thing is for sure I'll be looking for them in the morning, maybe they'll try that bit further North to end the discussion? Whatever...what a fantastic record so close to home.


Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Inland and along the Coast

I headed for the sun today (and out of the fog) with a couple of Hours at Duff. Garganey isn't for me this Spring it seems. Great news on the cygnets though with all 6 doing well...


Live long and strong team

I also had decent views of a Cuckoo.

A few late migrants have appeared. Bee-eaters at Spurn and Whitby...plus Lesser Grey Shrike. Tempting?

Richard was rewarded for perseverance with a Great White Egret out of the fog by the second pill box this morning. Well deserved pal.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

It's a game!

Early news on Saturday morning...

Garganey at North Duffied Carrs in front of the Geoff Smith Hide

Ah well!

As most of the country is now bathing in long overdue sunshine we're experiencing the famous North Sea fret. In between pulses of mist I found three Yellow Wagtails at Cliff Farm...




All the same bird. The Big Man waited patiently...



This evening the local Barn Owl performed well in the field opposite the Cottage. Always a pleasure and never taken for granted. A fantastic bird!

Friday, 28 May 2021

Off Patch

Yesterday found me in Lincoln. The old girl needed a service...the car that is! I combined it with a trip out with Phil to Messingham Sand Quarry. Memories of GREEN HERON and a past life living in Scawby. After some initial roadworks hassle we arrived at the Reserve around 11. We enjoyed a nice stroll around a pleasant site for a couple of hours before returning to collect the car. It was good to see him and thanks for the help pal. Much appreciated!

Plenty of Reed Warblers present

Hadn't seen this for quite a while

The evening stroll to the Cliff was brightened (literally) by some of the locals taking in the evening sunshine (yes...sunshine)...



Today I made my last attempt of the month for my 2021 Garganey at NDC...I also FINALLY got my hair cut! No joy but a pleasant 3 hour session was had. The visit was notable more for the sounds than the sights with displaying Curlew, Lapwing and drumming Snipe...

Not easy to "catch"

Determination in a photo...

Good Luck!


The weather looks set fair for the forseeable, so let's hope we have some surpises in store over the Bank Holiday and into next week?


Tuesday, 25 May 2021

NDC Big Sit

The good lady had to visit her Dentist in York so I cadged a lift and she dropped me off at NDC around midday.

As I opened the hide flaps, a wonderful scene greeted me...
 
6 Cygnets


After the negativity regarding the poor conditions for fledged birds this was indeed a fine and uplifting sight! "Ne'er cast a clout till May is out"...

Is it the Month or the Flower? It doesn't seem to be clear? I prefer the Hawthorn angle!

I'm aware of repetition having visited quite a few times over the past few weeks, so I'll try to be succinct...I usually am, to be fair...aren't I? Got to make the most of the Spring before the Summer doldrums.

The weather was still volatile and as always, I was hoping something "good" would drop in. I enjoyed a pleasant hour seeing and hearing what was about, while enjoying the wonderful view that I never tire of...

The River is in sight again!

I was then joined by two Birders, one was John Heaton who lives locally and was someone I'd seen from time to time over recent years. I said I'd give you a mention John...as you read my Blog! Much obliged. His friend Nigel Robinson was trying out his new Swarovski "bins". We spent the next hour discussing various wildlife topics (I added Common Tern to my year list, as two birds fed distantly along the river) before they left and I moved down to Garganey Hide...

A nice carpet of Buttercups

A Moorhen passed close by...


I counted 74 Mute Swans but couldn't see the Whooper...which was concerning, as I felt it wouldn't migrate at this late date? I needn't have worried, as it eventually appeared from the far side of the Bund and rested up on one leg!


After around 15 minutes it started to walk along it in my direction. The weather was poor now but the bird seemed oblivious to the heavy rain (which continued unabated) and continued East along the Bund...


Passing strangers

It then returned West...

I like to think I was rewarded for my loyalty. It's somewhat fitting that the iconic species of the reserve has left a Sentinel bird to watch over things until its counterparts return in the Autumn.

NINE drumming Snipe in torrential rain are worth a mention!

No Garganey for me but a nice surprise to end a 5 hour vigil came in the form of a lone Little Grebe (83) that suddenly materialised on the pool by the hide...

There's always a surprise...if you watch long enough.

The last word goes to this bush by the River!!!

On this date in 2010 I had my best sighting for the Reserve. I'd just got home from work and had taken my Rocky down for his walk...

I noticed a bird perched in the top of the bush...

My moment...


Never say never BUT that will take some beating!