Friday, 31 December 2010

Party time

As we sit here waiting for the New Year to (eventually) arrive...always an endurance test. Here's 3 top sounds I'd be praying for if I was out on the town (ala 35 years ago) getting ripped off!

1. Floor filler

2. Great teenage times

3. Amazing feel good college sound

New lists tomorrow Chaps...

Bowie - Rebel Rebel

Brothers Johnson - Stomp

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Review of the Year

Back home after the festivities. Weather 'up north' has been horrendous. Still had plenty of snow at mother's over Christmas and now we have thick fog back here...not great for Birding!

Anyway, thought I'd post a summary of my Birding the traditional manner.


1. Without doubt pride of place must go to the Red-backed Shrike seen at North Duffield Carrs on the 24th May.

2. Fantastic trip to Spain at Easter visiting the superb Extremadura. Finally enabling me to see Great Bustard and plenty of raptors, amongst others...with a bonus 5 days due to a certain volcanic eruption!

3. Kirtland's Warbler seen in early August at Greyling, Michigan had to be the surprise highlight of our amazing trip to the NE US. Managed to add 18 species to my ABA list, now standing at 641.

4. Empid Flycatcher seen at Blakeney Point. If ever a bird was earned, this was it...first day by five minutes!

5. British list additions Lesser Kestrel, Marmora's Warbler, (House Finch), above!

Non-birding high spot was undoubtedly fulfilling my life long dream by visiting the Motown museum in Detroit.

So that's it. Concise as always. Here's to 2011. Belt tightening here, it's going to be a tough year. Hope you didn't vote for 'em!?

Report of ***DUSKY THRUSH*** present in a private garden for 2 weeks during December!!!
This bird?
Winter photo

Friday, 24 December 2010

P.S. - Christmas Songs!

Have some time before we depart for the festivities, so I thought I'd post my favourite Christmas songs. Don't want to become an old misery guts!

Johnny Mathis - Child is Born

Thursday, 23 December 2010

No more posts till after Christmas so all the very best to you all...and no MEGA on Christmas Day!!!

Out and about

Topped up the feeders in the car park. Nothing unusual, but they're keeping the locals well fed as can be seen by this red ball!

Also had a visit from some Long-tailed Tits...

Spent the last hour with my pal Nige looking for a couple of Owls he'd seen. First we went to an area just north of Murton to try for Little. Nige spotted it (without bins!) on a fencepost. It only posed briefly before shooting over a hedge not to be seen again...nice one Nige. Tried a nearby wood for Tawny but no joy.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Swan comparison

Confession time. Took Rocky down by the bridge for a stretch. Noticed some swans on the river. Dismissed them as Mute. Turning back to the car...heard the familiar call...
Birds still mainly confined to the river at Duff. Did have c10 Ruff and c20 Dunlin out on the Carrs. Whoopers still coming and going from the farm to the river...

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Meet the Whoopers

Extreme conditions but excellent circumstances for close views of the herd by Bubwith bridge. I set up position in my car around 9 and waited. There were around 40 birds on the ice and on the river. It was quiet for quite a while and I just enjoyed watching them interacting mainly in their family groups.

Then it became obvious that they were starting to stir with plenty of noise and wing flapping. Eventually around 10 they started to leave for the fields in small groups...

The combination of clear light, freezing conditions, noise and impressive birds was a joy to behold. Really enjoying this winter birding...

Spent the last hour again down by the bridge. Large flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare present and groups of Whoopers coming in to roost. Better sunset tonight, even a power station looks good?...

Garden lifer today in the form of a Buzzard!

Monday, 20 December 2010

At last - WAXWINGS!

Obviously unable to connect during the week due to work and no luck at weekends I decided it was time I cheated a bit and got some help. I had seen a few posts on Birdforum regarding a fairly stable group in Swillington on Primrose Hill Close . I decided to drive over this morning. Minus 9 when I got in the car but a beautiful crisp, clear morning with perfect light. I found the spot easily and parked up. I couldn't see any birders so I walked up the close to see if I could see anything. Right at the top of the close I saw the familiar silhouette of WAXWINGS. I sneaked over and managed to fire off a few shots...

NEVER get tired of these birds, they are simply stunning and the great thing is they can turn up anywhere. I even had some in my garden at Wilberfoss many moons ago.

Spent the last hour down Duff, it was a bit fresh in the hide but watching 35 Whoopers (10 immatures) coming in off the farm to land on the river was pretty special...

Finished off with a Barn Owl fly-past!

A Great Day...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Northern Harrier - acting on impulse!

Woke up early around 7.30. Weighed up the situation. Louise under the weather and wanting to stay in, yours truly stir crazy with the short days and weather. Solution...go and see a rare bird! Weather forecast came good and traffic was light (obviously due to grim reports). Arrived at Thornham around 11. Tried a few minor roads and could see the marsh but decided to go on to Titchwell (for a sentimental return visit) as it had also been seen well here to be at least 10 years since my last visit.
Had a mooch around then an update on the pager made me return to Thornham harbour. Joined a group of birders who informed me it had just shown well. Most of them then drifted away leaving just two of us. Eventually I was on my own getting colder by the minute in a drawing wind. Then...there it was! I picked it up over the marsh and it performed well although quite distant. It does have a dodgy leg!

Record shot - please click!

Also enjoyed great views of thousands of Pinkfeet and a rarity now around my neck of the woods...Grey Partridge!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Great start to Holiday...could have been Brilliant!

Rose at 8.30 and went to Bubwith Bridge. Great to be out on a crisp, sunny morning. I was rewarded with brilliant views of a Peregrine right by the bridge swooping and toying with the wildfowl for a good 10 minutes...superb! Also close views of groups of Redwing and Fieldfare, a few Ruff and Dunlin on the meadow. Next tried the hide at Duff, within 5 minutes had superb, prolonged views of an adult female Marsh Harrier. Firstly drifting down the river, then across the front of the hide and then mobbing a Fox with it's prey on the Carrs. A distant Buzzard completed a trio of quality raptors.

Two Birders I'd pointed the Peregrine out to earlier joined me in the hide and informed me they had just seen some WAXWINGS by the bridge! I gave it half an hour but no joy. Might find some soon?

Speaking of Peregrine, check out this footage of this incredible bird in action...242MPH!!!!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Ray Charles - Take these chains

Ray Charles

Friday night is music choice (only once a week). Soul music is my first love and I thought I'd show my appreciation by cataloguing in chronological order my personal history of the greats.

Only one place to start. Although even before my time I always admired his music and this view was enhanced by the tremendous film Ray which I saw on a flight to America. Simply a genius...

Ray Charles - Georgia

Ray Charles - I can't stop loving you

The holidays are HERE!!!

Always a sweet moment to reach the holidays, especially so at this dark time of year. No birding during the week and a bit of a mad dash at the weekend, not helped by the freezing conditions. Anyway, mustn't grumble, I've got 17 days now to get some quality birding in. The river has burst it's banks and I'm looking forward to having a good watch tomorrow morning. I'll be putting all notable sightings on here plus topical comment lucky people?

Always the optimist I'm still hoping for an early Christmas present like I got with these beauties!
19/12/2009 - GYR
23/12/2001 - BAIKAL TEAL
There's still time...

Unfortunately didn't manage to scan my Yorkshire Birding profile page but no matter, just pleased and honoured to have been asked....Cheers John!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Collared Fly?

Interesting post today from Birding Frontiers regarding the possible/probable Collared Flycatcher at Spurn. It seems the ID is gathering support from various sources. Would be a nice bonus (if retrospective) Yorkshire tick!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Martin Mere

Over to the dark side this weekend to watch my lad playing for Tad' in the 3rd round of the FA Vase at Formby. Poor game, great result...a 3-2 win with junior scoring the winner in the last minute! His seventy-nine year old Nan being there to see it.

Today we went to Martin Mere to see the wildfowl. Record numbers of Whoopers this year (1,940) but only 3 Bewicks!! The warden reckoned they're just not moving this far west anymore?
I have mixed feelings about these reserves. They do a tremendous job in protecting and feeding the birds but it's really just like a cattle ranch for Swans...not really a natural setting, and the birds are just packed in tight waiting to be fed.
I prefer a natural Duff!

Swan Song!

Great views of these magnificent birds though...

Friday, 10 December 2010

Motown Tribute

I've always been a BIG fan. I was fortunate enough to fulfill a dream and visit mo(tor)town Detroit in the summer and pay homage to the spot where so many great artists and records originated. We did the tour and spent time in the recording studio were the "sounds " were produced.
Berry Gordy was the founder in 1960...The Funk Brothers band, producers Holland-Dozier-Holland and Norman Whitfield and then the Artists...Four Tops, Diana Ross and the SupremesSmokey Robinson and the Miracles, TemptationsMarvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Isley Brothers, Michael Jackson, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Junior Walker and the All StarsDavid and Jimmy RuffinContours, Velvelettes, Elgins, Marvelettes, R Dean Taylor and many many more...please click and enjoy!

This situation will never be repeated and I consider myself truly blessed to have grown up with this music. Carrying my mothers shopping around Bury market in 1970 I spotted a 45 (that's a record for the younger element!) hung up on a string with a clothes peg. Bought it, never having heard it and put it on my mothers Stereogram...the man is above but never forgotten..."it seems the good die young!"

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Rush Bird 4 - Gyr

Strange choice?...not really! For those of you who've read my other Rush Bird anecdotes (see link), the deciding factor for inclusion is exactly that...the russsshhhhhhh!!! Sure it's great to acquire a new tick, especially a LIFER but some birds you're pretty sure you're going to see...right? There's always an element of doubt e.g. flushed, sparrowhawk kill, dies, not easy to connect with! etc but, you do the drive and see the bird. I've been twitching nationally since '89ish and it took me 20 years to connect with a Gyr Falcon. There are good reasons for commitments, marital problems, holidays, to name a few. I would also argue though, that this species can be VERY difficult to connect with and see well...there have been a couple of dots!

So, last winter there was one reported on the Gower at the start of my Christmas holiday. Information was sketchy to say the least. I found some encouraging words on a local site so we rose early on the 19th December and made our way down to South Wales. No news on the way down, but we arrived in the area around 10.30 and stopped at a cafe (how cool is that!?). The area the bird had been seen in was undulating and viewing was difficult (at least were we initially set up shop). We joined around 10 other birders (mainly local) and waited. No joy for about an hour and spirits were sagging somewhat. Then a car screeched up and three birders jumped out saying they had just had a sighting down the road. We all followed (rather quickly) but again no sign?

We then decided to have a drive around the area hoping for a fluke sighting! We drove a few roads then...ah there's a few more birders...c100! We parked up and joined the group and again waited. It was now early afternoon and time was running out.
Then it happened... out of nowhere appeared this magnificent giant Falcon which proceded to fly right across the assembled crowd at 50 yds distance...MAGIC. It was like a goal had been scored, birders were cheering and jumping in the air, even hugging each other? Adrenaline RUSH...
We had three further views of the bird including a brief sighting on a fencepost before we decided to set off on the long journey home. Definitely a day to remember...

Still feel it should be a MEGA!

Sunday, 5 December 2010


Having just sat through X Factor..granted with the headphones on. I unfortunately caught the Black-eyed Peas latest offering!!! Music R.I.P.

Louise now watching the best of ABBA...

THIS is the very best of ABBA...

Staying on track

After a couple of mishaps (luckily minor) with the car in the decidedly dodgy conditions, we decided to stay firmly on clear roads today with a thorough inspection of car parking spots! Louise said she'd like to see the Long-eared Owls at who was I to argue! Sunnier conditions tempted me into a few more shots one of which revealed an orange eye (just!)

Moved on to Old Moor for some lunch in the Gannet cafe (always worth a visit). Still restricted access here, but we managed to find a Brambling at the feeding station, it was much closer before I got my camera from the car...

Finished off back in the village looking for Waxwings. No joy though. Russell Slack had 15 on Willow Drive this morning...thanks for the text Russ.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

LEO return

Major access problems (already got the car stuck in Duff car park once!) helped my decision to return to Fairburn to have another look at the LEO's, this time my camera was operational. Not great (it was dull), but you can see what it is! I could only find 2 birds this time?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Target audience?

Being on the w.w.w. you're never sure who's reading you Blog (probably not that many!). I found a link that shows where the "hits" come a few visits from abroad. Many thanks also to basically anyone who reads my B(log)...

Waxwings in the village today...I know where my first stop in the morning is.

Hawk Owl in Britain? If Only...

Couldn't resist popping on my sighting in Alaska... Oh happy day!!! See trip reports for full story.

It's Friday night, it' I won't mention Crackerjack...whoops just have! Time for another classic (for me) piece of music. If you're not a Soul man move on, if you are, check out this northern classic, hope you like it...

Dobie Gray - Out on the Floor

Remember...must be headphones

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Making the most of it

Took a trip over to Fairburn Ings ...on my surprise day off! Managed to negotiate the car park and make my way down Lindyke, under the railway bridge to the LEO site. I could see one (4 present apparently, I saw 3) sat in the bush with my naked eye. I set up my 'scope and enjoyed stunning views of one of these superb birds in the sun. Just love the cryptic plummage...and those EYES! I would have tried to get an image, I had my camera but unfortunately not the battery!! It wouldn't have been as good as this anyway...

Also had great views of a Buzzard.

Harsh weather continues to produce unusual road sightings, I nearly hit a Redshank today!...hard times.

Just watched the World cup farce. We had the best presentation, the best case, the best infrastructure etc etc but it's obviously a "spread the game around the world" scenario. Location, location, location. Nothing against the winners but vast distances involved in Russia (not that I'll be going) and that football hotbed Qatar...and I mean HOT, will test the players fitness. They'll be playing walking Football...can wait! Having said that, we couldn't pass to each other or run around in the cool of South Africa!

P.S We got TWO VOTES!!!