Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Transition

Another MEGA on Shetland yesterday...

TENNESSEE WARBLER on Yell

...again I won't be travelling, as already explained. I must admit to being surprised myself! It's the right thing to do...for me. The future is uncertain and so is my Birding plan, which is definitely in transition. 

A garden first in the form of a Mediterranean Gull (67) over was a nice boost. Richard found a Cetti's Warbler in the cliff top scrub yesterday afternoon, of course, it had disappeared by the time I arrived. I have to try harder locally (in a relaxed manner of course)...I keep saying that?

Monday, 28 September 2020

Negative news

We all like positivity. Reading about great sightings and adventures, right? The repetition on social media can become...wearing. That would never happen here!? However, excitement can't always be the outcome. Sharing drab days and lack of records isn't inspirational but it's life.

There has to be some balance, especially here! I put a decent shift in today (for the record) covering the Cliff top, south to Mill Hill and all areas around the Cottage, totalling 4 hours of effort (I use the word loosely). My tally? 3 Song Thrushes! They were nice ones though.

Try again tomorrow...

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Shear delight

Initially, it was bad news this morning as one of my viewpoints...is no more. The track to Out Newton now has a gate on it. Richard mentioned the problem the other day but it's now confirmed. Apparently the old chap at the farm doesn't want to maintain it. I love change!

So plan B came into operation and I planted myself in my Texas chair at the end of School lane. Rain wasn't forecast but it arrived anyway with the accompanying poor visibility. The wind was a promising true North. At one point I nearly gave up but I persevered till 10.30 and I'm glad I did as I managed a couple of Manx Shearwaters  (P.137, H.123) and at long last, a Sooty (P.138, H.124). Four darker, blunt-headed, solid looking Auks close in, convinced me I was looking at my first definite Razorbills of the year (P.139, H.125). Richard joined me briefly after he'd been down to Spurn to try for the Red-throated Pipit. He didn't connect but had better luck this afternoon. A British tick, no less.


P.S. the new handball law is ruining the greatest game!!!


Saturday, 26 September 2020

Great Skua

At last, I found one (P.136, H.122), close in, off Cliff Farm...just one mind! Sooty Shearwaters flooded through yesterday during the monsoon, I didn't see any during my feeble attempt off the Sewage. I WAS expecting to see some this morning but it wasn't to be in a "north-wester"? Maybe tomorrow, when the wind is true North...that's the theory anyway!

Friday, 25 September 2020

Birding Reset

A couple of family bereavements this week haven't lightened the mood but HAVE put things FIRMLY into perspective! The storm I'm looking at through the lounge window ain't inspiring either.

Louise's Mother and my Mother's brother both passed away. I was at the latters Funeral yesterday and Louise is busy organsing her Mother's. Both had good innings but recently they'd both had to move into Homes and their quality of life was very poor. Obviously still a shock though.

I've covered my reasons for not travelling for the YBF but I wanted to add some more "meat to the bones" regarding the current (unsuprisingly deteriorating) position on COVID and my future Birding/Twitching plan. My Blog will be my only outlet for my views and has been for some time actually. You may or...etc etc...

The World is a different place these days and definitely not how I imagined it would be, in my retirement...to put it mildly! Mixed messages and behaviours wherever you go...if you go anywhere at all. Some being good...many not. I'm no "goody-two-shoes" but I know who I am and I know what feels...right. I've NEVER felt comfortable Birding in areas where there may be a potential trespass issue or I didn't feel welcome. As you can imagine I've seen some grim, totally selfish behaviour over the years. I'm sure you have also.

Hypocrisy abounds with many saying one thing and doing the other. Large groups gathering at some venues yet others sites are prohibited by law? It seems to be an ever changing, confused scene. One thing for sure, for me...there's not much enjoyment out there! You can be responsible for your own actions but not others...and there lies the problem with this nightmare.

I'll only be going places were I feel comfortable until the pandemic is over...whenever that may be? The majority of my Birding will be on my Patch with trips to Duff, now and again. The next MEGA I "need"...who knows? Problems here no matter where it turns up. Islands have already been discussed but a Mainland bird will attract a large crowd in possibly a tight area!? Not going to Tiree was tough, very tough but I stood by my initial position and don't regret it. We have a pre-paid (last year) holiday to Scilly booked for October (yes, another off-shore Island). My enquiries (guest houses, resident birders etc) and information gleaned regarding Tiree made it clear that I wasn't welcome there. The next few weeks will determine whether WE feel comfortable going to our beloved Scilly this year...

I hope you find a sensible and safe (for everyone) path for your Birding...and thanks for reading, I appreciate it, whether you agree with me or not!

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Quiet here

I've not been able to find much lately unlike Richard who's had a YBW in his garden! I can't see one coming to my bird bath! A brief trip to the Sewage revealed a couple of Wheatears and 4 Ringed Plovers on the beach. The superb weather is being enjoyed by the local Buzzards with frequent vocal displays over the lane. Plenty of birds down the road...plenty of people also!

Yes, I know the YBF is still present! Character building stuff!!! There'll be more Empids...hopefully in happier times. There's an update later today from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, where an increase in the COVID alert level is forecast to be announced...

Sunday, 20 September 2020

COVID Twitching - the future?

Probably as good as time as any to "ping a (cathartic) post" about my current thoughts on Twitching in these strange times...you may or may not be interested!

As you know I like to think I'm pretty keen and have a modicum of determination. I've travelled far and wide throughout Britain to see Rare Birds over the past 30 odd years. I've had good luck and bad. Lots of memories, again good and bad! I'll always love the "thrill of the chase"...it's in the blood.

The world is a different place now though...sadly, although you wouldn't know it looking at certain/many areas...e.g. Seaside resorts! I'm fortunate to live in an isolated Village out here on the East Coast of Yorkshire. As in all things you can control your own movements but not those of others!! There lies the problem with COVID. Let me just (diplomatically) say, some people are more responsible than others.

Regarding the current MEGA, it's a personal choice (obviously) not to travel to an isolated Island and as already said...to each their own. I know many Birders who have travelled and individuals will always justify their position including me! I like to think I'm not over sensitive (I've played at Old Trafford and Anfield you know...lol!) but my personal view and stance precludes my participation. This wasn't an easy decision (to put it mildly!!!) but I feel it's the correct one...for me! I can and already have said...No. I'll just have to polish my ALDER and ACADIAN FLYCATCHER records lol! I'll whisper this...Empid Flycatchers aren't the most stunning of species...it's the rarity value...of course! Every Rare isn't " a cracker" though?

Numbers: I'm keen on a list...as most Birders are BUT it's personal, I'm not in a race to the top, somewhere I'll never be...that's fine. I've seen well over 500 now (which was my lifetime goal) and recent additions have been very memorable indeed...see below.

Future excursions (and there will be some) will be made dependant on the situation. My Charter days are behind me now I'm retired and so are my "have to tick" days. Twitches by their very nature usually involve large crowds (unless remote islands are involved of course). There are definitely different "types". A half dead OVENBIRD on Scilly springs to mind. An exceptional "record" BUT a pitiful sight indeed. On the other side of the coin my YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO and BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS connections were fantastic, as was my return trip to Papay with Steve for the STELLER'S EIDER. That's enough name dropping. Who knows what the future holds regarding this damn virus. I won't be going anywhere there may be a problem...for me, others or both. 

Everyone has an opinion...that's mine!

Maybe I'm just getting old?

Friday, 18 September 2020

Just saying

An insight into my decision not to travel for the YBF.

An observation from a Scottish Birder...

"actually many locals really aren't happy about tourists irrespective of whether they have surfboard, bins or campervan. They're equally concerned and worried about all of us. Covid taking hold in Tiree's crofting community would be horrendous... catastrophic in fact. This is why as Birdspotter says some accommodation aren't taking bookings even despite possible windfall of this Flycatcher. Folk whose business is tourism don't just refuse tourists without very good reason"

From John on Tiree:

"I'm afraid not. We are facing a barrage of bad publicity on the island just now, despite our best efforts re: Covid19 protocols and good behaviour all round, so we have been forced to close the gardens from tonight. The bird was very hard to see today and was mostly buried deep in the back of the gardens, with almost everyone getting very poor views (unlike the previous 2 days). I am therefore afraid that we won't be able to let any birders in this weekend. I appreciate that this will be very disappointing for your friends but trust you understand the very difficult position I am in here, many thanks John PS I think there's a very good chance it will clear off tonight in any case with clear skies and light northerly winds forecast..."

In no way is this a "holier than thou" post. It just explains my personal reasons for not going (it wasn't easy, I can assure you). I'm not judging anyone who travelled to see the bird. Onward...

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3 Stonechats in the Village today. Richard had one on Seaside Road and I had a couple at the Llama Farm...


The local Farmer had unfortunately levelled a nice area of "rough stuff" that was attracting a decent number of Tree Sparrows (c40) and Goldfinches (c30). It was easier to see them BUT as he was ready to plough the field, that area of decent habitat will be no more.

Just after 11 a message from Richard informed me he'd "had" 4 Crossbills in his neighbours garden. He kindly invited me round but they'd departed.


Thursday, 17 September 2020

Keeping busy

A few domestic issues today including a dodgy WC! Fortunately I found a "knight in shining armour" who saved me a small fortune by repairing the existing Saniflow unit. Just thought I'd share that with you! It helped to take my mind off Tiree. No regrets, although it does still sting...a bit.

Another late addition to the year list came in the form of a Redwing (H.121) which was seen briefly in the lane at lunchtime.

Things hotting up now as more migrants arrive. I might even FIND something decent!?


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

COVID Birding

Well...the inevitable has happened...

09.58 YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER still Tiree at Balephuil in garden though elusive (police enforcement of COVID 19 regulations at Ferry terminal)

I won't be going. To each their own but in the present climate I can't personally justify the journey. Let's just say I have my reasons. Still keen though...

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Back to local stuff. Put some miles in yesterday (7.2 according to my pedometer). Just pleased I could do it! Covered many areas of the Village amassing a shaky 40 species. Really enjoyed it on a fabulous Autumnal day...more like summer to be honest!

As you are aware all sightings are in context...if you get my drift. A nice start at Old Hive where a Stonechat was waiting for me...



Groups of Shelduck were heading South with one flock landing on the sea...


At the Sewage a fall of Robins was noticed with at least 10 in view at once. I also picked up a Med' Gull, Kittiwake and 2 Yellow Wagtails. A RTD flew South.

Late morning the Runnel gave up my 4th Whinchat of the year...


Early afternoon at Out Newton more Wildfowl were noted on the sea including 42 Shelduck,14 Shoveler...


50 Teal, 41 Common Scoter. An unusual but welcome sight here in idyllic conditions. 2 Grey Patridges flushed by Bud at Old Hive copse finished off the days proceedings.

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An embarrassingly late addition to the year list this morning when 4 Wigeon (H.120) flew North close in (so I could recognise them).

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Waiting

Three hours hoping for an Osprey with no reward. Always good to balance things up with negative news on occasions. Not what the doctor ordered but there you go. A few birds were reported this morning with sightings at Flamboro' and Filey but "mine" didn't materialize.

I did manage a few Waders...

Sanderling 4
Dunlin 4
Knot

Swallows (c20) were moving South in small groups and there was a scattering of Meadow Pipits and a couple of Skylarks on the plough.

We're now approaching the "meaty" period of the Birding year when virtually anything can turn up. Whether it be locally or nationally the anticipation level is heightened considerably. My Scilly trip is pencilled in and I've got everything crossed that we can fulfil our visit to the "Fortunate Isles".

Locally I'm also hoping for one or two surprises although the Westerly air flow isn't helping at the moment. There's a promise of Easterlies later in the week.

A Franklin's Gull has turned up in West Yorkshire. I haven't been as I saw one many years ago. I've seen plenty of pics though!!!



Friday, 11 September 2020

Czech import

The Med' Gull was ringed in the Czech Republic! Richard contacted Paul Collins at Spurn who supplied the information. It had previously been seen there...surprise, surprise.

Very quiet today...


Thursday, 10 September 2020

Magic Raptor

The morning was spent in Hull as Louise had an appointment at the hospital. I was tempted by the Cattle Egret which Duncan Bye had found on the "Low Grounds" near Wheldrake Ings yesterday evening. It was still present this morning but was flushed by a helicopter and not seen again! I've not given up on it yet...as it would be another York Area tick. I'm sure there'll be more to come and one at NDC would be handy.

On returning from Hull we took the lad a walk along the cliff. A distant Peregrine gliding South was a bonus. Late afternoon I parked up at "the Sewage" again for an hour. Med' Gulls are still present in good numbers (c20)...

This bird had a red ring on its left leg (ZAY3) and a metal one on its right. 

Then around 6 I got my Merlin (H.119) for the year, as a male powered South over the stubble.


Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Waders!

Firstly a couple of pics from my bedroom watch on Monday...

Blackcap male...

Lesser Whitethroat

I decided to try the Sewage at low tide yesterday afternoon. The action of the sea continually changes the landscape of the beach but at the moment it seems favourable...and so it turned out...with the following all on the deck.

Knot 20


Curlew and Whimbrel


Redshank
Oystercatcher
Lesser Black-backed Gull


More low tide visits will be in order. On returning home I was greeted with around 50 migrating Swallows on the wires opposite the Cottage. Nice!...



This morning I worked my way North to the Llama Farm. A couple of Wheatears by the first pill box was a good start. There were also a good number of Meadow Pipits on the plough. A message off Richard (who was walking South to Old Hive) informed me that he'd had some Golden Plovers. I'd heard some but couldn't get "on" them. However, as I reached the Farm I had 10 birds which may have just arrived? Birds recorded over the sea were 10 Teal and lone Ringed Plover North.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Bedroom Watch

Poor weather today. So I experimented with an hour from the front bedroom window. Fortunate to have a mature hedge opposite as well as an open view over a field lined with mature trees. 

I was pleasantly surprised with my haul:-

Pied Flycatcher
Lesser Whitehthroat
Blackcap - male and female

Had an hour up at Out Newton mid-afternoon hoping for...something! Winds not favourable and the outcome was predictable. Thought I may sneak a decent seabird or my first Autumn "Pinkfeet" but it wasn't to be.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

The Weekend

Yesterday morning I spent some time at the Sewage, watching...what came and went. 

Highlights:-

Siskin - (P.135, H.118) a few groups "in off".
Whimbrel S
Swift - feeding off the cliff
Mediterranean Gull 2 - resting on the beach


Sandwich Tern - 4 resting on the beach


Yellow Wagtail

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Today started quietly with a walk along the Cliff with nothing noteworthy seen. Mid-morning news of a Black Redstart at Duff filtered through. A potential site tick! I contacted the finder Duncan Bye who informed me after the initial sighting the bird had disappeared. I also contacted Jono Leadley who said he'd stayed till 10.50 but hadn't connected. What to do?

I had to go...

I arrived around 2pm and set my stall out. Work had started on "the scrape"...


Still a bit to go...but it's a start. 

Around 3 the hide door opened and in walked my pal Vince. I hadn't seen him for a good while. We didn't see the BR but we had a good "catch up", so the journey was worth while after all...


Thursday, 3 September 2020

York Area Kittiwake

Time for a dutiful trip over the Pennines to "the Mother's"...via York University! I arrived around 10...at the wrong site (East) as I'd not paid enough attention to the info'. In my defence, most bird news does tend to come out of this site. After collecting a parking ticket by some "jobs-worth"...I was only there 10 minutes, mainly to ask directions. No sign of the chap on my return...surprise, surprise!

I re-located to the main site and it was now beginning to puzzle me as I know the enclosed man-made lakes here well? Not wanting to double my fine I parked "off-campus" and walked my pal back through the site to Wentworth College Lake. The place was deserted...except for traffic wardens apparently! I wasn't confident. Plenty of feral Geese and Mallards as expected but not much else.



A Kittiwake...here?

A couple of Herring Gulls raised my hopes...a notch...BUT my confidence was draining. The "lake" was crescent shaped with a handy footpath, so I gave it one last chance (yes, that old chestnut).I'd had enough as I had to get over to Lancs. I retraced my steps back towards the main road. 

A smaller Gull...distant under a bridge?!


Distinctively marked, it had to be my York Area Tick. After a touch of stealthy maneuvering, I managed a couple of closer pics...


Juv Kittiwake


All's well that ends well...except for the fine of course. I'll have to get the old thunderer out when I get home to see what my York Area total is? Stiil keen after Birding the area more on than off for 34 years. It's one more than before though!

Never ceases to amaze me where birds will turn up...

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Tottin' 'em up

Nice walk North with my lad on a superb September morn'. A mixture of birds seen today in various habitats taking my month total to 44. Highlights were a couple of Knot which lingered by the Sewage before flying South...


 
Nicely illustrates the pale rump


The bottom two photos are not for the purist BUT as I'm no photographer, who cares, there they are...I like them. Super digital zoom apparently (by error of course). Still, can be useful for ID.

Month additions

Shelduck 7S
Common Scoter 40N
Teal 10S
Sanderling 10S
Dunlin 3S
Med Gull 2
Swift
Yellow Wagtail S
Whitethroat 2
Greenfinch
Linnet

The best part about the day was my more patient attitude to watching the sea/beach...which paid dividends. More time obviously helps. I must have missed all sorts in the past!!!

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Wryneck

Started off September with a modest 32 species. A juvenile Marsh Harrier along the cliff livened up another wise uneventful walk North to the Llama farm. 

Mid-afternoon I succumbed and headed for Kilnsea for a peep at the local celebrity aka Wryneck (P.134, S.75). I figured there'd be less people about after the Bank Holiday. It was still quite busy but I managed to find a parking space right by the entrance to the Canal Scrape car park...

Click the pics
Click the pics


My 10th record for Spurn...

Always a pleasure to see...

Monday, 31 August 2020

Autumn 20

Officially starting tomorrow (at least in my book). First rumblings have been positive with a decent amount of migrants appearing late August to start the stretching off (and boy, do I need to!). The main effort will obviously be the Village but I'll also be birding Skeffling, Welwick, Patrington Haven and the quieter areas of Spurn. I'll also be paying a few visits to NDC.

A tame Wryneck has appeared at Spurn, totally oblivious to the Bank Holiday crowds apparently. I didn't succumb...I'll find my own lol. There may be the odd pic' around!

So, what will the next couple of months (and a bit) bring? I don't know...nobody does...BUT one thing is for sure, there are some great birds on the way. Some(thing) may even make it here?! 

BRING IT ON!!!