Sunday, 27 February 2011

Time for Diana

Not posted any music for a while. Continuing my trip through Sixties Soul here are 3 early offerings from my Number 1 female singer...PURE CLASS

Diana - Stop

Supremes - Love is here

Diana - Come see about me

Local Stuff

Had an hour or so at Allerthorpe this morning. No sign of the CAR or any other Redpolls for that matter. Took Louise out to Langlands for lunch...nice Paninis, then had an hour down the Carrs before the Cup Final.
Curlew 18
Oystercatcher 4
Golden Plover c100
Lapwing c300

Great Cup Final (unless you're an Arsenal fan), very open and plenty of chances. It's a funny old game!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

What a bird!!!

Check out these photos of the WTSE. I'd love to go down for a peep but I guess it's a similar distance to Western Scotland...

"The Redpoll" reported again. I'll be there in the morning for another try...

Friday night/Saturday morning

18 Curlew down the Duff last night. Met a nice bloke from Foggathorpe who'd just moved into the area. Sounds like he's got a nice place and a few acres with a large pond. I'm sure he'll pick up some good stuff there. He told me he'd flushed a Long-eared Owl the other night.

Tried for the COUES'S ARCTIC REDPOLL on Allerthorpe Common again this morning. Gave it a couple of hours but no joy. No other birders seen?

Friday, 25 February 2011

Allerthorpe Common

Spent a couple of hours looking for the COUES'S ARCTIC REDPOLL. Bumped into a few of the locals, namely Johnno (still don't know your surname), Russell Slack and Andy Walker. Also saw Gary Dayes but not to talk to. Gave it an hour or so but no joy. There were some nice Mealies however, also had 16 Goosanders fly over and a few Marsh Tits.

SBG fallout - Only 1 sceptical response on Birdforum. Funny how someone who wasn't there can dismiss 3 people's integrity!!!? That's life...

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Miracles DO happen

Well as a born sceptic I'm now in the position of describing my SBG sighting. I have to say it's more a feeling of relief than elation. Having studied the photographs since the eve of my first visit on that manic first Saturday, I have never been more genned up on what I was looking for.

I set off at 5.30 with Joel Clegg. We arrived at Rainham around 9 and walked along the path to the viewpoint over Wennington Marsh joining 3 birders scanning the distant gulls. After around 45 minutes we decided to make our way to the dreaded tip. We set our stalls out against the fence and started to scan. The gulls were very active due to the constantly moving machinery.

After around another 45 minutes of scanning....mmmmm....amazingly I turned to Joel as he turned to me...there it was!!! I had another brief sighting and then it was gone. John Richardson (a friend of the site manager) had another sighting shortly afterwards. We continued searching to try and get the other birders present (5) onto the bird but it wasn't seen again while we were there. It was noted that birds were arriving and leaving the tip regularly. We left the site around 12.30.

Really enjoyed the company of Joel, it made the journey fly by. I like to think we deserved this sighting for making the effort. I didn't think we would see it however...

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

SBG - Decision made!

Off to Rainham tomorrow to try again for the dreaded Gull! Going down with the Secret Twitcher. Weather forecast looks good and it showed well last Thursday (tee hee!). This type of scenario has to be the worst. Long distance involved, unpredictable ranging target amongst thousands of similar birds...great!!! However, spending a full day on site has to be worth a try....right.

Murky, misty afternoon down the Carrs. Not much to report but had a nice chat with Tony Ryan from Barlby. I showed him the GCG and gripped him off (unfortunately) by telling him about the SHRIKE! I took his number and told him I'd let him know next time something decent shows up. Late afternoon was livened up by a beautiful Barn Owl hunting along the riverbank...

Taken through scope at 60yds

GCG = 75

Another sign of Spring this morning in the form of a Great Crested Grebe.

SBG still teasing me...

Monday, 21 February 2011

Better view desired

Made it down for 7 (alarm issues sorted). Johnno was already in situ. He was scanning the hedge from the car park. After about 5 minutes he went to the hide. I was getting my gear when Russell Slack arrived and we joined him in the hide. No sign. After about 10 minutes they decided to walk down to Garganey hide. When they returned it was still a negative. They then both had to leave.

You guessed it. Within 5 minutes it was back in the same bush it was in last night!! I rang the chaps and within another 5 they were watching the bird.

A few texts brought more of the local chaps including Peter Roworth and his wife. Unfortunately Haydn (who was working locally) didn't connect in 2 brief attempts. A steady stream of hopefuls including Rob Chapman (nice to meet you) and Karl Dutton (who informed me he is about to retire...nice) continued to arrive up until noon when I had to leave but the bird didn't show again?

Here are a couple more shots...

Sunday, 20 February 2011

RTD...Postscript + GGS!!!

Quite a day, yesterday. Set off with Haydn at 4.15 (should have been 4 but alarm setting issues). Made great time and arrived at Chipping Norton at 7.10. Found a parking spot close to The Leys and made our way down the hill to join "the queue". It had rained heavily all the way down but amazingly had now stopped. I mentioned it to Haydn...this was the signal for the heavens to open again!

So, the wait was on. 7.30, 7.45, 8,00, 8.15? Now, if you've read my ramblings, you'll know I'm an optimist by nature but I admit I was starting to have my doubts by now. The bird had always shown in the garden before 8 on previous days...not good. The torrential rain didn't help, neither did the bloke behind whose umbrella kept whacking us both on the head! Anyway, still no news and it was now going up for 9.

THEN...there was some movement (a twitch). The troops were reluctant to leave their places at first, but it soon became obvious there had been a sighting...
STAMPEDE! The masses then assembled between a gap in the houses as the RTD was showing, sat in a tree at the rear of the houses. The views weren't great but better than nowt. After about 5 minutes it flew off and the queue simply reassembled! Another 20ish minutes past then the same scenario happened again, this time though the troops descended to the bottom of the hill were the bird had been relocated, again sat in a tree. This time though, there was more room and everybody was able to get 'scope views. Even though the bird was obviously drenched all salient features could be seen easily. Happy days!

A few thoughts...
  • LGRE was instrumental in organising access to the houses and marshaling the movement of the masses and from what I saw he did an excellent job.
  • Reading the predictable aftermath comments on Birdforum it still saddens (but certainly doesn't surprise) me that a few people have to have a go at each other. There will always be "moments" when there are so many people in such close proximity all charged up with a common focus. Again from what I witnessed the general behaviour, considering the numbers was very good.
  • The attitude of the residents was amazing. Trays of tea brought down the line, stalls set up outside houses, numerous houses opened up for birders to view plus mobile snack van!
Intended to chill out today. Went down for an hour (see below) then did a few things around the house...

MEGA...SBG again. I set off and got as far as Newark when "flew off towards tip" message appeared. So, I turned around and am obviously back at home writing this. Ah another message..."showing again on tip!!!" That's it for now as we are over at my Mothers for a couple of days but I will be going down for the day on Wednesday. I AM determined to see this bird.

Bizarrely I managed 3 patch year ticks this morning in a brief visit! None on the Carrs but Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush and Stock Dove in the car park.

Took Rocky down to Bubwith bridge around 4.00. I noticed quite a few cars in the car park and thought I'd give it a miss tonight due to the hectic weekend and probable lack of seats! BIG mistake. Got back home and was just about to jump in the bath when I got a text off Russell Slack...GGS at NDC!!! I'm sure I broke my record getting to the hide. Darren Starkey was just leaving with his lads and told me it was still there. When I reached the hide Andy from the village had his scope on it. Brilliant! 2 Shrikes in 9 months, not bad for an inland site.

I think I can safely say this is a record shot! It was 5 o'clock

I owe a BIG thank you to Andy and Russell Slack for letting me know (and Louise for putting up with me). I'd foolishly turned my pager off as (I thought) I'd finished for the day? Also if I'd carried on for the Gull I'd have dipped both!!!
Funny how things turn out...on this occasion for the better.

Quite a post for me. Quite a weekend...I love it!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

On the March!

It's this way!
Everybody happy...the way it should be. Out tonight. Full report tomorrow.

Friday, 18 February 2011

A perfect Tonic?

Well, the Gull has disappeared again. So it's off for the Dove. Not the most aesthetically pleasing duo but the rarity value is immense. Leaving at 4 with Haydn. The plan is to be on site for 7.15. The perfect scenario would be an early sighting and then on for the re-found Gull! I've always been an optimist.

The Buzzard I mentioned earlier in the week, by the Thorganby junction, just north of Skipwith, has been seen a further 2 times early morning (8ish). I remember when Buzzard was a Yorkshire rarity. I had to go to the far west of the county in 1992 to get my times this case for the better!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Tempting fate?

Both MEGAS available today. Torture for the daytime workforce!!! Hopefully justice will be done on Saturday...but as we know life isn't like it?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Buzzard seen again this morning in the same spot. One of the benefits of being a PE teacher is that I work outside a lot! About 10.10 I was just going for a run with my year 8's when a flock of c150
Pink-footed Geese flew over the school heading East...even the kids were impressed!

2 more days at work then 9 days off. Hopefully enough time for me to connect with the 2 elusive MEGAS?

Nice piece on the RTD twitch

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Status Quo

No, I'm not into rock music. Just an update on conditions down the Carrs. Water levels have risen and bird numbers have not! A BRAMBLING has been seen again on the bird table by the Geoff Smith Hide. With half-term approaching I'm hoping for a drier period of weather to allow the birds to concentrate on NDC.

RUFOUS TURTLE DOVE only seen early morning today? Sickener for the troops and for conservation (£5 a head). Possibly still in the area and maybe in a non-birders garden!? Local publicity would surely help relocate the bird. Here's hoping it's re-found...preferably on Saturday.


Monday, 14 February 2011

Spring(like) morning

Another beautiful Monday morning after a thoroughly miserable often that happens! Anyway, lucked in on a Buzzard stood in a field in the early morning sun just north of Skipwith. This coupled with a Barn Owl in virtually the same location on the way home!

RTD in Chipping Norton. That's Saturday sorted...if it hangs around of course? Be a nice start to the half-term holiday...

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Local viewing

Spent most of the day in the hut (due to the lousy weather) putting in two stints, 9.30-12.00 and 2-4. The morning was by far the better period with better light and more activity, culminating in the arrival of "the Whoopers" at noon. I managed a few basic shots (including my new header). I'm not a great counter, but I did grill them and there were definitely 97 present. Others have had over 100. Also added Meadow Pipit (69) and unbelievably late...Redshank! (70). Other notable birds came in the form of...Pink-footed Goose, Pochard 62, Goldeneye fem/imm, Golden Plover c40, Curlew 7, Oystercatcher 3, Tree Sparrow c40, Bullfinch fem.

Feeding time...

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Stevie - A Place in the Sun

Stevie - Uptight

Stevie Wonder - Genius

Stevland Hardaway Judkins was born in Michigan in 1950. He signed for Motown at the age of 11 and still records for them today! It's hard to put these amazing artists in exact order chronologically but Stevie was a founder member having his first number 1 in August '63 with Fingertips.
I have selected 3 tracks (not easy) from his early offerings. All three are special for me, but the one placed above is a sentiment I really do share! Hope you enjoy them...

Stevie - Cherie Amour

Last night/this morning

Popped down to watch the Swans come in last night...always a pleasure. Unfortunately it was very misty and visibility was obviously poor. Still, just nice to chill after the excitement of the working week! I was just about to leave when I noticed two birds circling the water. They kept disappearing behind the bushes and into the ever thickening mist. I persevered and it payed off as they eventually gave themselves away as a pair of Oystercatchers (67). You just never know...

This mornings sunshine forecast never materialized. Started well however with a Goldcrest (68) in the car park. The mist remained and visibility was again poor. Checked out the water for the Goldeneye and Pink-footed Goose...both still present. Other notables were:-
Golden Plover 14
Ruff 15
Dunlin c60
Bumped into Arnie (said I'd give you a mention!) and we both enjoyed watching a superb Barn Owl hunting over the scrape. A fine specimen indeed which was in view almost constantly from 9.30 till 11.30 by which time the sun had come out. Nice morning...great afternoon?

Rough-legged Buzzard near Old Moor tempting. Might have a ride over tomorrow with Louise if it hangs around...

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Bird Song

More and and more species springing into life. Both thrushes now belting it out. Sparrowhawks soaring over their territories. Wildfowl paired up and getting fruity! Many migrants now into southern Spain and heading North.

Just trying to convince myself our migrants will soon be with us?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Nice 1 Rich

My pal Rich Willison is making the most of his retirement and improving his photography at Worlaby!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Son the Grand Canyon

Here we are in the depths of winter and my eldest and his fiance are living it up in Las Vegas and enjoying the Grand Canyon! Good luck to 'em...

Not just about ticks...

Managed to make it down again for the last hour tonight. Superb late afternoon sunshine with plenty of birds on and around the floods. Watching the entertainment it refreshed my memory regarding some of the other aspects of Birding...
Mute Swans paired up and engaging in courtship rituals
A Barn Owl drifting effortlessly around the scrape
Long-tailed tits in constant movement visiting the feeder
A few groups of large gulls (not to many) heading SE
...and then the pièce de résistance in the form of the magnificent Whooper Swans coming in from the fields to roost, including a group of 45 right over the hide!!!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Late winter mode

Decided to convince myself that winter's worst has past? So. I've taken a couple of shots (new header) to illustrate my point of view. As you can see the local patch is in fine fettle. The canvas is there and the birds can now paint it! I can't think of a better setting for me to bird a local patch.

Missed a Marsh Harrier around 11 but scored with a Peregrine at 2.15. The Pink-footed Goose is still present as is the fem/imm Goldeneye. A pair of Little Grebes are new in. Managed 16 Ruff and c60 Dunlin. Lapwing numbers continue to increase with at least 500 now present over NDC and Aughton/Ellerton Ings.
First singing Skylark is always an uplifting experience. Haydn joined me late afternoon and gripped me off with a Goldcrest in the car park! Whoopers arrived at 5.

Tried a few pics with the digital zoom today. I know they have a poor reputation and although not brilliant, there could be a use for it with a distant record shot?

18x Optical Zoom

72x Digital Zoom
Not great but passable?

Finished with an experiment through the 'scope i.e. rest the camera on the eyepiece! Complete trial and (mainly) error but again passable image. These Mallards were approx' 50 yds away...

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Last hour

Popped down for the last hour. Interestingly, numbers of birds had dropped significantly from the morning show. Elaine from the village had the same idea, she commented on my music choices...she likes them! She told me she'd seen a Merlin midweek, possibly the same bird hanging around?
Managed another year bird in the form of a Goldeneye (63), they're scarce at Duff. Whoopers were present early today with c60 on the flood meadow by 3.30.

Perfect conditions

Whoopers leaving the roost at Dawn
The Carrs is looking optimum at the moment. Water level perfect for dabblers, Pintail (c50) some very close offering excellent viewing. Also natural "edges" for waders including c70 Dunlin, c300 Lapwing...also had 3 Golden Plover over. Also added Skylark and Buzzard to the year list. Had a chat with Peter Roworth and his wife. He suggested I took a photo, so I did...he liked my quote!

"A landscape that suits the birds"

Friday, 4 February 2011

Smokey - Tracks of my Tears

Motown Story - it had to come ...SMOKEY!

Smokey Robinson met Berry Gordy in August '58 and became a major influence on the label. He was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan's North End neighborhood.

Three great tracks below...dreamland above...!

Smokey - Tears of a Clown

Smokey - You really got a hold on me

"Shop Around" (1960)

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

John Barry - Born Free

John Barry - Goldfinger

John Barry - Zulu

John Barry R.I.P.

It's not Friday, it's not soul...but it has Soul. The great John Barry died on Sunday. 11 James Bond soundtracks, 5 academy awards. Simply stunning, stirring music linked to great films. He was born in York!

2 superb examples below. The ultimate above...


Pair of Scaup reported in "the book" today plus Greenshank!?