Sunday, 31 October 2010

Scilly Summary

Well, I'm back. Another autumn comes to an end. A quiet year but still some quality birds available. Best weather we've had, more like the continent. Many acquaintances renewed. Just love the place.
A controversial small Hawk was a constant talking point, but seems to have eventually fizzled out to a Sparrowhawk. Seeing a Spotted Sandpiper

and a Dusky Warbler in a day can't be bad.

This R.B Fly also provided prolonged entertainment...

No point repeating earlier post info' but suffice to say I still keep the faith with these magical islands. Megas are just the icing on the cake, and lets face it, it does help to be here if that American Cuckoo turns up!

Would have liked a peep at the American Bittern and Green Heron, but as neither were ticks we decided to drive home Friday evening.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

St Agnes

Connected with the Spotted Sandpiper (Scilly tick). Great weather but still quiet generally. Hoping to connect with the Dusky Warbler later.

Success! Great views obtained at the Higher Moors end of the Holy Vale track. The bird was calling frequently. A better day!

2 days left for the BIG ONE?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Scilly - Half time team talk!

Three days of glorious weather but very few quality birds. Always great to be here though. Went over to St Martins on Sunday, so dipped the RFB. Also missed the Cattle Egret(s). Seen the mystery Hawk briefly? Winds strong SW veering W at moment, giving hope for the rest of the week? One bird changes the whole picture... there's still time!

Thursday, 21 October 2010


The time has come. We go down tomorrow night and fly first thing Saturday from Lands End. Many keep writing the islands off but it will produce the goodies again. Hope it's next week, if it isn't no matter, we just love the Islands. I'll post some thoughts during the week. Swainson's Thrush?

Promising for Tuesday. You'll have to flick forward!

Notable Fieldfare arrival yesterday morning.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Spurn - a great day

         Decided to try for the Rosy Pastor at Easington first. It proved elusive but we eventually got decent views. The decision to visit this site first rather than go to the Point, really paid dividends when the pager alerted us to a Rough-legged Buzzard at Sammy's Point! We were one of the first cars on the scene and soon had scope views of this magnificent bird in bright sunshine. It then continued to perform superbly as it hovered, perched and swooped around the immediate area down to 400 yards. A rare bird indeed. The Spurn lads reckoned there were 3 birds present. For me the excitment was in the situation. Obviously a new bird in off the sea... a surprise and great views.
          After things had calmed down we tried Church Field for the R.B. Fly. No-one was present when we arrived so we strolled down the far end and sat on the bench. After about 5 minutes out it popped on the fence! Nice.
          Further distant views of a R.L. Buzzard over Beacon Lane were followed by a Brambling and Mistle Thrush (Spurn tick), then the discovery of a Mealy Redpoll by the Bluebell...cracking bird. We then went for a yomp down Beacon Lane along Long Bank and back into Kilnsea for a drink at the Crown and Anchor.
          On our way back to the Bluebell car park I mentioned to Louise what a great day it had been with only Waxwing being a miss. guessed it...flying over our heads to perch in bare branches in the afternoon sun!
           Special day at a very special place. Timely renewal of my Friends of Spurn membership.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Osprey still plus BIG bonus

Spent the morning with Haydn at Pool Bridge Fisheries, Crockey Hill. Walked the site more extensively today in superb sunshine. Numerous views of the Osprey, including perched in a dead tree (only one bird seen), with amazing bonus views of TWO Peregrines!!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Invent - the weather! Don't they always?

Checking the weather for the weekend I stumbled across this neat link on the Met office website. You might want to have a peep? I've added it to my weather list.

No sign of the SEO last two evenings. Going for another look at the Osprey (hopefully) at Crockey Hill in the morning.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Monday, 11 October 2010

SEO still

Short-eared Owl still present. Only my third record. It was more distant this evening, ranging widely over the Carrs and Bubwith Ings, probably linked to the fact that I took my camera! Also a couple of stunning Barn Owls.

BIG birds arriving nationally...keep 'em coming!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Spurn back with a Bang!

Much better day today. Arrived 9.45. Never seen as many so early. Lots of birds especially thrushes, robins and goldcrests. Scored early with the Great Grey Shrike in middle hedge then headed for Sammy's after failing to see the Little Bunting. Timed it right with magnificent views of a little jewel in the sunshine. Overheard a few "just another Pallas's" type comments! Not for me, always special. Walked back for lunch at the Blue Bell which coincided with the discovery of a Lapland Bunting right outside!
Next, marched down to Canal Scrape hide to get cracking views of Jack Snipe (best ever views of the bobbing).  We were enjoying further views of the Shrike when some of the regulars informed the crowd that a Radde's Warbler had been trapped at Kew. So we strolled up and within 5 mins we were enjoying in hand views. A nice finish to a great day.

Dusk visit to Duff with the boy paid off with brilliant views of the S.E.O. right in front of Geoff Smith Hide, including hunting dives into reedbed!!

Saturday, 9 October 2010


Mainland Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers are unusual! So, off we went leaving my lads game at Tadcaster (beat Bridlington 3-1, and he scored, 8 for the season...that's ma boy) just on half-time. "Doctors garden at Whitburn" was the site. Negotiated the average speed check area of the A1, always handy when time is tight! Found Cornthwaite Park around 5.30 (with the help of Stuart at RBA) but we were puzzled as to where the Docs was, and the birders? Asked a few locals but no joy. We then noticed a derelict area consisting of the remains of a wall and shall we say undergrowth. We made our way in, saw a couple of heads which could only be birders and bingo we'd found the place! It then hit me that I wish I hadn't! This wasn't the picture of a doctors garden I had in my mind. The chances of finding the bird had diminished from an optimistic 30% to zero. Apparently it was seen well by one experienced observer. Still glad we treid. We left last and went for an Italian.


Followed up the info' regarding the Osprey sightings at Crockey Hill near York. Rich Willison e-mailed me with details on site access. Smart set-up with cafe and very friendly owners. Bumped into Carl Dutton and friends and spent a relaxing couple of hours waiting for the birds to show. As seen above we were treated to crippling views with a bird right over our heads on two occasions! Pity it was so dull.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Belated News Stateside - but definitely worth a mention!

"On 27 September on a Gambell, St. Lawrence Island seawatch, Paul Lehman reported a sudden appearance of migrating flocks of mostly male ABA Code-2  Spectacled Eiders (Somateria fischeri) streaming by.  At the end of the count, 4,375 individuals were tallied heading from ENE to the southwest in the direction of their newly discovered wintering area in open water at the edge of the pack ice, southwest of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska"

Just scan!

Took the lad down to Bubwith bridge around 6ish. Superb evening. Just scanned the horizon while he rolled around and chased his ball...Buzzard and Jay...not bad!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Crossed Wires?

There's been a lot of hassle on various threads lately following the mis-ID's of certain birds on the Northern Isles. Always a difficult one for me. Devil and the deep blue sea. If you call it and your wrong you get the "wise guy" stuff. If you don't because you're not 100% sure you can get slaughtered as well!! Better to call and fail than not to call at all. At least these chaps are putting the hours in. Tough one however, if you travel major distance and spend major dosh!

Locally had great views of a ccMarsh Harrier last night crossing the A57 Harrogate rd while bringing my Year 8's back from a Footy match...they lost 3-0.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Sabine's Gull

You've probably seen the report of a Sabine's Gull today at Bank Island and Storwood. I've spoken to Darren Starkey and Peter Roworth neither of whom had seen the bird despite extensive searching. Craig Ralston had the initial sighting apparently. Just seen the photos of the Ospreys between York and Crockey Hill on Birdforum (Yorkshire)...nice!

Baikal Teal

Following on from the recent sighting in Essex, I checked my records for the Minsmere bird which I saw 23/12/2001. I had seen on the 'net that this record had been accepted onto Cat A but I couldn't find it on the BBRC site. I contacted Nigel Hudson who kindly replied with this message.
"Fair cop. The British Birds magazine web-site is about to be updated and we (BBRC) will be following a few months later. As such it is not getting updated on such things as those lists you reference.
But the 2009 BBRC report due out in a week in British Birds, and as the extract sent to you in the last email, will clarify the position and mentions the Minsmere bird"
Baikal Teal Anas formosa (1, 2, 0)
2002 Oxfordshire Dix Pit, Stanton Harcourt, male, 22nd–24th December, photo (S. Thomson
et al.).
2001 Suffolk Minsmere, first-winter male, 18th November to 29th December, photo (P. Green,
W. T. S. Miles et al.); see Brit. Birds 95: 524, now on Category A.
After a long and chequered history, this species finds itself once again on the British List. A recent
review of the status of Baikal Teal was initiated by BOURC on the basis of evidence for natural
vagrancy in Denmark, based upon the analysis of stable-hydrogen isotopes (Fox et al. 2007).
Another analysis of stable-hydrogen isotopes, this time of feathers from a first-winter male Baikal
Teal shot in Essex in 1906, yielded very similar results to those from the bird collected in
Denmark, strongly suggesting natural vagrancy (Votier et al. 2009). This, together with an investigation
of the captive status of Baikal Teal during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
and the age and moult cycle of the Essex specimen, meant that it was accepted as the first
for Britain (Harrop & McGowan 2009). Following on from these results, the first-winter male at
Minsmere, Suffolk, in 2001, at a suitable location and excellent time of the year, was then
accepted onto Category A of the British List, while the Oxfordshire bird in 2002 also turned up at
an expected time of year and with no indication of captive origin.
(Breeds E Siberia from Yenisey River E to Anadyr & Kamchatka, N to 70ÂșN.Winters South Korea & lower Yangtze
River, China, with small numbers regular in E & S Japan.)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Weather forecasts!

The weather forecast/s predicted a window of dry weather early morning, possibly till lunchtime. Again the forecast was wrong. We had left for Flamboro' at 7 hoping to make the most of the "dry" morning. When we arrived at 8.15 it was persisting it down! The Rustic Bunting had been flushed from it's field around 7.30 and a repeat had been arranged for 10.30. We therefore decided to walk his lordship around the headland looking for a luck, but it killed some time, so did the sausage sarni. Arrived back on site at 10.25 (still chucking it down), bird never showed, although I admit, it was a feeble attempt as my heart wasn't in it in the horrendous conditions. I'd have been struggling to ID a Bee-eater!! Pager went off with a sighting at 10.50.

Moved on to Filey to try for better weather (ha) and the Wryneck. Same scenario, same result.

Had enough...went home. Still...glad we tried. Couldn't have faced staying in all day. We've had some grim Sundays lately. Never mind, it's work tomorrow!!!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Spurn - a better day in many ways!

Acting on the forecast we made a Saturday visit and had a great day. A confirmation page that the G.G.Shrikes (3) were still present was the news we were waiting to hear. We tried the triangle first, to give the lad his walk, but no joy. Nothing else for it, we set off for the point. No sign of the bird between posts 60 and 70. Cup of tea required then on to the point dunes. Again no sign. Surely we couldn't go all day without seeing one? We had a bit of help here in the shape of a birder who had a CB. He informed us a bird had just flown towards the Parade Ground. When we arrived we immediately had great views of a GGS perched in the top of a dead bush. Always a great bird to see. My first for 6 years!!

The supporting cast included (in no particular order) :-
Merlin, 6 Little Egrets, c10 Redstarts, Wheatear, 3 Whinchat, and Brambling.

Washout forecast tommorrow, might try for the Rustic Bunting early doors.

Swainson's Thrush on Shetland...called it! Wrong location and wrong date though!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Well - just one more!

Just seen that LGRE has confirmed it as an Alder? To each his own...but I'll be waiting for the "official" verdict!

Empid - the last word - from me!

More secondhand quotes from Cape May, from those that see these thing regularly....

'I just saw a picture on Surfbirds by Mike Lawrence of the Alder Flycatcher which nicely shows the primaries opened slightly, revealing the length of the 1st (10th over here!) primary. As per my article on the Cape May website, you can clearly see that the 1st primary tip falls between the 5th and 6th primaries (6th and 5th over here) but is clearly relatively long and closer in length to the 6th (5th over here). This is a great starting point for Alder, while the head shape, eye-ring, relatively small bill and overall colouration are all ideal for Alder too. We should also remember the timing and the fact that Willows haven't been seen around here for nigh on a month now.'
Mike's image is here

The MAGIC month is here!

Well it's October. Hopes are high and the weather is favourable for migrants. We're due a bumper yank year, let's hope it's this one. Here's my top five forecast...I'd settle for one! (preferably on Scilly, 23rd onwards)

1.Swainson's Thrush
2.Parula Warbler
3.Yellow-billed Cuckoo
4.Black-billed Cuckoo
5.Cape May Warbler - well I can dream!

After the Blakeney Point experience, 2 washout Sundays (and the strong possibility of a third) we're off to Spurn tomorrow for hopefully a bird-filled DRY Saturday?

N.B Empid finders account here plus interesting comment from a US birder:-
"Let me start my reminding everyone that Kaufman's (excellent for the time) Advanced Birding is quite dated by now. Thankfully, I know he's about to release an update!
Many if not most non-calling empids are far from impossible to identify in the field. What it takes is many, many years of experience with vocalizing birds in the field. Nothing can replace thousands of hours in the field actually looking at the things. In fact, I find that birds in-the-hand are often harder to identify, because they're not showing off their natural jizz.
Anyway, I feel this bird is an Alder Flycatcher. Compared to Willow, on average, Alders have darker crowns that contrast with a paler back (concolorous in Willow), shorter bill, more prominent eyering, are more colorful overall, and have and a flatter crown. Shape-wise, Willows are more pewee-like, and I've on more than one occasion mistaken a pewee for Willow or the other way 'round. Never for Alder.
For what it's worth, Alder and Yellow-bellied were the only two possibilities that even entered my head when looking at this bird. It's so short-billed, brightly-colored, and "cute-looking" that Willow was never a consideration for me.
I might also mention that the other recent UK empid was, purely from photos, a pretty solid Alder, and that measurements later proved that"