Monday, 31 January 2011

Whoopers reach 3 figures!

Managed to make it down before dark tonight. It payed off nicely with the sight of exactly 100 Whooper Swans out on the water! A big surprise considering their previous modus operandi. They looked just perfect out there in the evening mist...very atmospheric.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Out on Friday...

Didn't post my latest Soul instalment on Friday as we were dancing the night away at Louise's mates 50th...I'm still recovering! Amazingly the music was right up my street, a mixture of Seventies and Northern Soul!!!
The night finished off with this magical song that needs to stand alone...

Gull roost?

Decided to try for the 1w Glaucous Gull at Wheldrake this afternoon. Beforehand, I spent an hour at Bank Island. Nothing of note but a decent selection including a fem/imm Goldeneye in the distance. Bumped into an old boy I've seen a few times. As usual, I asked him his name and promptly forgot it! Nice man...he always reminds me how great retirement is and tells me his birding holiday itinerary!!! Good luck to him...if only?
Anyway as I was about to leave a young chap arrived, I recognized him from his Blog. I thought I had it on my list but I must have deleted it somehow? He's at York Uni' and had cycled down picking up a flock of Corn Bunting on the way! He also mentioned he'd had 30+ Brambling in Heslington.
We then both made our way down to Tower hide. Very muddy and a right usual! Gulls started to stream in from 2.30ish. Gave it till 4 but to be honest I'd past caring by then. One chap had an adult Caspian Gull breifly, but it was "obscured"...and stayed that way for me!
Wheldrake Ings is a nice spot and I've seen some good stuff there...but I much prefer NDC.
Maybe I just don't like the walk!

Found you Tim!

Just had a text from Russell Slack confirming both adult Caspian and 1w Glaucous Gulls this evening. Never mind...!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Magic sighting!

Great year tick this morning in the form of a distant fem/imm Merlin scooting low and fast across the Carrs. Birds were concentrated today due to the semi-frozen floodwaters. A nice selection of wildfowl present, the highlights being:-
Shelduck 57
Pintail 21
Pochard 19
No further sightings of Brambling...

A first winter GLAUCOUS GULL was seen at Wheldrake Ings this afternoon (per R.Slack).

Giving the Valley a good scour tomorrow, forcast looks good...

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The workers see what they can!

At this difficult time of year sightings during the week can be at a premium. Staying light beyond 5 now though and the birds are starting to sing. Managed to glimpse a Buzzard on the way home, perched in the top of a tree just north of Skipwith. I've been looking for the reported G.G. Shrike as I pass the sighting area going to and from joy though.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


At last the birds are singing. Heard a Mistle Thrush this morning...always seems a bit weak compared to the smaller Song Thrush? Anyway, any birdsong is uplifting...

Re-arranged the finances, which has resulted in us impulsively booking a fortnight in Southern Spain at Easter. You've got to have a target...apparently!
I would be greatful for any information from anyone reading this, who's been to the area recently...

Sunday, 23 January 2011


Whilst doing the rounds this morning a group of birders entered the hide at NDC. Nice bunch, chatting and asking the usual "what's about"? After about 5 minutes one of them casually mentioned they'd just seen a GREAT GREY SHRIKE!!! The location being just north of Skipwith on the first stretch of the Thorganby road (Bonby Lane). Despite extensive searching by yours truly and my pal Haydn, the bird was not seen. Could obviously still be around...?

Previous to this local excitement I'd started the day down on Bubwith Ings hoping to catch the Whoopers leaving their roost for the farmland feed. Unfortunately it was very overcast and the light was poor but I managed to a couple of decent shots to capture the mood...

Friday, 21 January 2011

Three more Soul legends

Continuing my Friday night history of Soul I have selected 3 more superb artists. They are true legends of this genre with fantastic voices. I know these tracks fully illustrate their amazing gift...

Jackie Wilson - Sweetest Feeling

Sweetest Soul

Sam Cooke - A change is Gonna come

Another gone too soon at 33. This song is pure class...


He was killed in a plane crash aged 26 a month before this song was released!

DUSKY THRUSH - Full story...

here. We've been waiting for this gem for a looooong time...

Might be worth a concentrated effort by the Lancs lads tomorrow. The 1990 Naumann's Thrush was around for a good while (19th Jan - 9th March) and frequented gardens and parks. What a treat a re-find would be!!!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

LAPPUGGLA Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa)

While trawling the blogs and forums for some entertainment on these long dark nights, I came across this simply breathtaking film of what has to be my favourite bird. In August 2006 I was fortunate enough to spend 2 hours watching one in an alpine meadow in Yosemite National Park, California.


Amazing stuff. Check this out and maybe this as it develops...

Added Tawny Owl to the NDC list this evening...nice addition so early.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Does Bruce know?

European news...MEGA in Egypt! Corny I know...

Monday, 17 January 2011

Seeing (in) the light

Evocative views at dusk (my favourite time of day) of 10 Whoopers flying low over Bubwith bridge to roost on the river. Also some (c20) still on the south side of the bridge. Large flock of Lapwings also (c300).

I see "the Gull" wasn't seen...does that make sense!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Answers on a postcard

A weekend of contrasts...

A few more thoughts on yesterdays events...
Birdforum can be really useful (as it was on Friday night), unfortunately it can be very predictable as well. The Slaty-backed Gull thread is degenerating into the usual scenario. Some appear to be convinced. Good luck to them. BUT...if some did see it, why no shouts? The classic is always "I realized I'd seen it when I got home!!!"
Only an opinion of course...and I was lazy (knackered) on this occasion. Will it be found tomorrow?

Today was back to what I love best. I mooch around the valley. This morning Ellerton produced the first Oystercatcher of the year, also more Lapwing (c150) and Dunlin (60). Afternoon down Duff, looking GOOD! First Golden Plover of the year (25), quickly followed by 7 Curlew...early signs of Spring? Then the unexpected bonus of 2 BRAMBLING on the feeder, one a cracking male. I gave Haydn a shout (he was on Skipwith) and he joined me in the hide but they didn't show again.

Which day did I enjoy the most...answers on a postcard!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Taking the medicine!

Left at 5ish in the company of Tony Dixon and Richard George, arrived at 8ish. Trudged down the river (2+ miles). Arrived to find the troops strung out and virtually clinging to the land-fill fence. How some of them set their scopes up I'll never know. I confess I wasn't into sliding up and down the raised muddy bank and trying to force my way in to get a view. So, on this (rare) occasion we (well me and Tony) decided to place ourselves mid-group on the footpath and wait for a...twitch? Cheating I know, but under the circumstances wise...well, we thought so! After all, the area was being well watched to say the least. We continued to scan the gulls overhead for it seemed was hours!
To cut a long story short, no definite sightings during the day. A lot of long and many familiar faces. No justice chaps. Sometimes you just have to take the medicine...

p.s. I hate (most) Gulls!

Friday, 14 January 2011


Been studying the info' all evening. The more I read the better it sounds. Missed too many in the past by dawdling. So it's an early start and a Gull chase. Remember the Slender-billed Curlew...

Just seen this? Confused now!

MEGA'd...5am start!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

ABA Blog

If you keep your eye on things Stateside this ABA Blog might be of some interest. A post by Lynn Barber (Big Year Lister from Texas) regarding the stages of birding is worth a look. I've added the link.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

As you just never know

Tadcaster march on with a 2-1 win! On the way home stopped for Rocky just outside the village for a you know what. As I pulled over something was moving in the roadside verge? Difficult to see...then up it went... Tawny Owl! Great views in the full beam. First for nearly a year.

Things are warming up with plenty of rain. Looking good for the weekend. Bring it on!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Light at the end?

Managed to make it home before it got dark tonight. Also added a patch year tick in the form of 9 R.L.Partridge flying across the road on the way back from Bubwith. Plenty of water, yes water, now on the Ings. Bodes well for the rest of the winter, especially as there's a lot more rain forecast this week.

Haven't made it to Scarborough yet to have a look at the Iceland Gull. Still, I can get a good idea from here. Particularly like this one.

Off to Tad tonight to watch junior playing against Parkgate. 4th v 2nd. Been a long time since they've had a game. Hoping for a good one, a few goals (he's top scorer with 13, not bad from midfield) and a win for the Brewers (what else!)...

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Goose chase

Bright morning but again late rising! Decided to start at Ellerton Ings. Just setting our stall out when Peter Roworth and his wife appeared around the end of the church! Peter nearly jumped out of his skin as Rocky barked! He informed us he had just seen 3 European White-fronted Geese!! He left us to it but no sign of the White-fronts however, compensation was had in the form of c50 Pinkfeet.
It was a glorious cold, crisp, sunny morning and the view was spectacular. It was so nice to see water rather than ice! Also present was a good selection of waders...c30 Dunlin, c20 Ruff, c10 Redshank. Shelducks (c20) seem to be returning and are far more conspicuous lately. Still no WFG so we went for a walk to see if we could view the group from another angle. We ended up down a farm track but couldn't cross a ditch, so we returned with a flea in our ear from the farmer who informed us it wasn't a public footpath (no sign?). We returned to the birds showing!

Spent the last hour down Duff, not much to report except for more Shelduck (12). Bumped into a couple of nice chaps, one from Bubwith who told me he worked in the Middle East and another birder from York (forgot both your names lads...apologies). They both follow my Blog...I'm flattered!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The state of play

Following up on my own mantra of local birding and "laid back" attitude to listing...I succeeded in seeing no new birds today!! Still had a great time though down the Carrs. Bumped into Peter Roworth who'd just counted 83 Whoopers on the farm across the road. Further views of Peregrine, plus a good selection of wildfowl (including ten superb Pintail). The birds are mainly on the river due to the still frozen flood meadows. There was also a welcome increase in Lapwings (c100) plus the usual Barn Owl (2) sightings at dusk. So, if you're planning a trip over this way, it's still hard going at the moment, especially with a hard frost forecast tonight...sunny tomorrow though.

Tomorrow's plan is to visit a variety of local sites seeing what I can turn up. Not exactly cutting edge but I'm interested to see how it goes and what I'll find?

My pal Nig has just treated himself to a new camera. He sent me this pic of a Sparrowhawk. Nice 1...

Some excellent Redpoll comparisons from Durham

You may know (but probably don't) that Texas has a special place in my heart. I've just read they have 2 amazing birds there at the moment. Check these out...

Black-vented Oriole

White-throated Thrush

Last thought for tonight. While checking out the North American rarities I came across this superb image of a great find in Newfoundland.... a Lapwing! I've always thought this beautiful bird is what a rarity should look like!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Music night?

Mixed reviews on the music choices. Positive if you're into Soul. Negative if your not...surprise, surprise! However if only for the personal satisfaction of cataloguing my musical history I shall continue. Let's face it, it's easy to skip if you so desire (the music not the Blog...hopefully!)

So to continue. 3 more legends from way back when who helped shape Soul music...enjoy?

Little Richard - I Don't want to Discuss it

Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill

James Brown - I feel Good

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

2011 Targets

The more I think about the coming year the more I am convinced that my efforts will be local. I've had some great times with some fantastic trips to the States during the"noughties" (see trip reports). Now it's time to tighten the belt (I've taken the advice of the goverment!!!). I feel very positive about the situation, and that's saying something as I adore birding in the US. Still, I hope I will keep learning and improving my Birding on and around my beloved local patch. It's nothing to do with the £80 it costs me to fill the "shooting-brake".

Again I wish you all the very best in whatever targets you set yourself...if indeed you do? We do have the BEST hobby...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Don't peak too soon Chaps

I'm pretty sure everyone's been waiting to start their new lists but maybe not wise to mop up all the winter stuff too soon. It's a long time till Spring! Just a thought...

Monday, 3 January 2011

List building

Spent the morning on Skipwith from dawn. Rewarded with early views of both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers plus at least 5 Jays. Also found a nice group of Siskin (c35) and a couple of Treecreepers. Finished on 20sp.

Spent the afternoon down the Carrs. Peregrine still performing well and Barn Owls (4+) in view constantly from 3. Oh...and a Black Swan arrived!! Brought up the half century with a surprise and very welcome Jack Snipe flushed by one of the Owls!

Holiday over...

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Waxwings...a bit home!

Excellent group of Waxwings this morning in Fulford, enabling yours truly to obtain a great York area year tick very early. When we arrived a group of photographers had set up shop...but no birds! So we decided to go for a stroll to keep warm. When we returned 50+ birds but no birders!!

Enjoyed an excellent 20 minutes obtaining close views and a few snaps.

Followed this success up with a trip to Bank Island and a walk out to Wheldrake Ings. Still frozen and very little avian activity!
Finish off on home base and scored with multiple views of a lively Peregrine, fantastic close views of a successfully hunting Barn Owl (left camera at home) with at least 3 others performing. Added a couple year ticks in the form of Litttle Grebe and Gadwall plus an adult and immature Whooper Swan. My pal Haydn's off to Norfolk for a full day tomorrow built around the Northern Harrier...have a good one pal.

Once again a quick note to thank my followers for their complimentary comments (maybe not the music, it's a personal thing!?).
Good Birding ...

Saturday, 1 January 2011


Intended to rise bright and breezy today to get the year off to a flier. Failed miserably after the late night, althoughI did get up and look out of the window at 7.30! Eventually rose at 11.30 had some brunch and spent a pleasant afternoon down NDC.

Whoopers - arrived at dusk c40
Shelduck - 6 flew N
Pintail - just 1 smart drake
Ruff - single
Peregrine - Male and female together for 15 minutes
Kingfisher - surprise after the harsh weather
Bullfinch - 2 males

43 species recorded.

Main personal aim this year is to beat my NDC best year total of 109. I wish you all a great year...