Saturday, 30 April 2011

Like Buses!

Well, after logging my first Marsh Harrier, I've now seen 3! All three birds were circling the reserve mid-morning in the company of a couple of Buzzards. As I'm tending to spend more time looking UP as the water has diminished, I'm giving myself more chance of seeing birds passing over...

Better late...

After sharing a male yesterday with Haydn I finally managed a cream crown (97) of my own this morning (7.10). Arctic Terns passing through in strength at the moment...better get back down there!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Algaida Wetlands continued...

The aim of my brief highlights is that you won't get too bored! After my wonderful time with the raptors we continued on to Site 6 of the Gos' guide. We were now on the banks of the River Guadalquivir directly across from the Coto Donana. I set up the 'scope and scanned the pools. Nothing dramatic at first glance. I then noticed a couple of ducks in the shade at distance under a bush.

I was sure they were MARBLED DUCKS but wanted better views. After a while they decided to reveal themselves by swimming out onto the open water...BRILLIANT! However, they then rapidly departed before a decent photo could be obtained. I walked alond the road and birded the area for a while. When I returned to the car I had a last look and saw this...

Then eventually this poser...

An excellent day...

Skippy and NDC

Spent an hour with Haydn on Skipwith this morning. I bored him with a few holiday anecdotes and we connected with a few "good birds". Marsh Harrier (site tick), Buzzard (c4), Woodlark and Tree Pipit were all recorded.
After lunch I payed a visit you know where and again reflected on what might be seen in drier times! In a couple of hours I managed 37sp including 2 year ticks in the form of House Sparrow (95) and House Martin (96). High hopes, as ever, of something good passing through...not today.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

What a win!

NCEL Presidents Cup Final...Tadcaster 5 Farsley Celtic 1!
Quite a scoreline considering Farsley won the league and acquired 20 more points than Tad! Jnr buried the 4th goal with an impressive header. A great night for the Chaps.

Dedicated visit tonight produced nothing new but got me thinking about how "special" a sighting is as I looked at the birdless scrape infront of the Geoff Smith hide.

Male Mallard drops in...

Then these little fellows appear...

Then Mum appears...

Big deal...not really...BUT...still breeding birds on a local patch, right.

The same pool that has attracted RED-BACKED and GREAT GREY SHRIKE, RED KITE, MARSH HARRIER, HOBBY, LITTLE EGRET, BITTERN, JACK SNIPE, SHORT and LONG-EARED OWLS plus countless sightings of this beauty...

Taken tonight...a ghostly apparition?

Maybe not such a birdless pool!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Brief visit this evening as my lad is playing in his Cup Final for Tadcaster against Farsley Celtic.
Dry as a bone now. Aeriel views and an ear to the ground the order of the day/s. Still no House Martin, Cuckoo or Swift...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

More Spanish Stuff

Like I mentioned previously, these are just highlights of my trip with a few pics. The next significant event occured on April 11th in the Algaida Wetlands area. My tactics were to use Dave Gosneys excellent Andalucia guide as an overview, backed up by Garcia and Patterson WTWB in Southern and Western Spain. Oh, I also had an excellent driver!

First stop was the Bonanza Salt pans. I was looking forward to visiting this site, hoping for a good selection of waders and SBG. Regular readers will know Gulls are not my favourites, but some species are special and this is one of them...

Over 200 present

Plenty of waders present including many Curlew Sandpipers. We moved on to Algaida village (site 3 in the Gos guide). Here we easily connected with this LIFER...

We also saw an impressive Heronry here with many species present. We then continued through the Algaida
 Woodlands and stumbled on 4 of these beauties...

Remember to click for better views!

Plus a breeding colony of these...

At least 50 birds present with several nests seen
That's it for now...

Monday, 25 April 2011

Local Recky

Decided to have a belated trip up to Heslington to view the University Hotspot! It seems Tim has been having fun here. Much Kudos to you pal...some excellent sightings. I still need WOOD SANDPIPER, OSPREY and BLACK TERN for NDC!!! Plus he found the RED KITE. That's what I call being seriously gripped off. I'll just have to keep looking...harder! Well done again Tim...

Added Blackcap (94) to my year list this morning...

I see Jono had birds at the Uni' first views for yours truly mid-morning. Hope I was looking in the right spot?

Took the lad down at dusk for a stretch and hoping for a Gropper...maybe one day?

Totting up my Andalucia list. Suprised a managed 150+ as I wasn't counting! I'll post a few more highlights with pics soon. Here's one for now...

A few of these around the country, plenty in Spain!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Spanish highlights. Not La Liga! Here goes...

9th April - Laguna de Fuente Piedra
We headed north from Malaga airport to have a peep at the above site on the way to our
"hacienda", ...nothing to do with a MARSH SANDPIPER and LESSER FLAMINGOS being reported you understand! We arrived to be greeted by the sight of thousands of GREATER FLAMINGOS...a truly amazing sight!


Also connected with the MARSH SANDPIPER but no sign of any very pink LESSERS.

Plenty of GULL-BILLED TERNS were also present...

and some very smart Iberian Yellow Wagtails...

We would return to this venue later in the holiday but it was an excellent start...a truly superb reserve.

Playing catch a missed gem!

Made my first post-hols visit to the Carrs this lunchtime. It seemed inevitable I would accrue a few year ticks in the form of our summer visitors. What I didn't envisage was a major dip in the form of a RED KITE! I was on the phone to my lad when I received a couple of texts. When I'd finished and read them I saw that the bird had been seen from the Geoff Smith hide which I had just walked past!!! Needless to had moved on... Many thanks to TimAndy and Russ for letting me know. I also met Chris Gomersall for the first time. Not a site tick (28/8/2008) but still frustrating as I was so close.
Moving on...I managed to boost my year list by 6 in the form of :-
Sedge Warbler
Willow Warbler
Common Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat
Yellow Wagtail
(93 species)

I'll be starting to put the highlights of my Spanish trip together tonight. I'll post a trip report on Surfbirds eventually plus a few tales of my exploits and some of my better snaps here...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Back in Blighty!

Seems the weather here has been better than Spain lately! Computer access was very limited. I'll be spinning a few yarns once I get myself sorted. Mixed results to be honest...but we had a good laugh...despite some issues with logistics!!!
Best crack was (finally) tracking down Audouin's Gull...

Monday, 18 April 2011

Third time lucky!

Finally nailed "the Coot". Dave Gosney´s guide has been invaluable, allowing me to connect with several key species. The Odiel Estuary is a fantastic birding spot...thoroughly recommended! Lots of passage waders, Greater Flamingos and an Osprey nest. "The Coot" was at the exact location listed in Dave´s guide...

Trying for a Lesser Flamingo today at Laguna de Fuente de Piedra...

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Extended Highlights!

Marsh Sandpiper and Thousands of Greater Flamingos at Laguna de Fuente de Lesser...but now 2 present!

c35 Lesser Kestrels over plough south of Bonanza.

2 Little Swifts seen by the Marina at Chipiona.

Lowlights...still no R.N.Coot? Tried Laguna de Medina yesterday. Superb spot but no joy.

Trying Huelva area today...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Northern Bald Ibis

Managed to find 4 Northern Bald Ibis this of the worlds rarest birds!

Gibraltar interesting but not birdy! Not helped by the thick mist over the "Rock".

Off to look for the R.N.Coot again today...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Spanish Skies!

Hello from Andalucia!!! I've managed to access a computer. Just brief highlights and boy are they HIGHLIGHTS...

BONELLI'S EAGLES - a pair watched for over an hour on the Via Verde near Coripe...FANTASTIC!!!

5 BOOTED EAGLES including a dark phase bird near Algaida wetlands together with a nesting colony of Black Kites (c50)...amazing close views.

4 MARBLED DUCKS by the River Guadalquivir NE of Algaida.

WHITE-HEADED DUCKS seen easily at many locations.

ROCK BUNTING seen at Puerto de Los Palomas near Grazalema

Computer time limited. I'll try and post further highlights if possible...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The last post?

Heavily into Spanish holiday preparation now. Probably the last post before we leave on Friday afternoon. Just a few lines reflecting on how much I've enjoyed my local birding this year. I've made quite a few new friends down the Duff and surrounding area, enabling me also to see some extra quality birds.

Mixed results regarding the Cup Finals...
Year 8's were always finishing second unfortunately, due to an under strength team.
Year 11's were magnificent, equalizing in the last minute of extra time and winning convincingly on penalties. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of lads!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Brief visit

Brief visit tonight due to double Cup Final preparations at School and early departure to watch the Champions League. I decided to go down to Garganey hide to check out the Wheatear situation...there wasn't one. Jono Leadley texted me this morning telling me they were still present plus Blackcap. As I was scanning John Heaton entered the hide. We had a good chat and I pointed out the Black-tailed Godwits to him. I asked him if he had received my texts as I'd had no reply? Turned out the last digit was wrong...sorted now John. Thought I caught a snatch of Willow Warbler (as did John) but I wasn't totally convinced.
As I returned home for the match I received another text from Jono informing me he'd had an OSPREY over Wheldrake! Hopefully my turn will come...I think I'm due after 24 YEARS!!! Maybe I spend too much time in the hides?

Monday, 4 April 2011

A tad fresh this evening but clean air and crisp views over the Carrs. As I lifted the flap in the Geoff Smith hide I was delighted to see what was obviously a good number of Black-tailed Godwits sprinkled over the flood meadow. My initial count was 30, although viewing is becoming more and more difficult as the vegetation gets taller. A few Sand Martins (c10) and a Swallow were also noted. A second scan increased my BTG total to 34 although I could have missed a few. With the holiday looming I'd told Louise I'd be back for 7. I'd just sat down in the house when the phone went. It was Andy informing me he'd found a WHEATEAR in front of Garganey hide! I'd earlier received a text from Russell Slack saying he'd had 2 at Bank Island. So back down. Elaine was in the GS hide and I gave her the news and we both made our way down. Andy greeted us and we were soon both looking at the bird below (87). He said he'd also had a male but I didn't see it. Many thanks Andy for the shout...

My fifth record

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Surprise views!

After lunch I headed down NDC to enjoy a bit of fresh air and try to liven up a bit after the"do". Events order a bit blurry at the edges today. Anyway here goes...

I was joined almost immediately by Barry Bishop in the GS hide. We had a brief scan then decided to go down to Garganey hide as the first real heat haze of the year had shown itself. Thursdays wind had brought a large branch down on the boardwalk and took a bit of negotiating! Shortly after arriving Barry spotted the imm male Peregrine performing over the wildfowl and eventually perching on a riverside fencepost.

Please click to enlarge!

Shortly afterwards he caught sight of the male Sparrowhawk that has been loyal to the area for some weeks now, spending a considerable amount of time around the scrape...


The afternoon progressed steadily. Highlights being a couple of Swallows (86...earliest 2/4/06) and a cluster of Sand Martins (c10). Viewing is becoming increasingly difficult due to the emergent vegetation but the views you get in the open water are superb. There are still quite a few fine drake Pintail around and large numbers of Teal (c 500).

Phone's Craig Ralston from English Nature informing me that whilst doing some ringing on Skipwith Common he had caught the GREAT GREY SHRIKE and wondered if I'd like to take a look! I informed Barry and another couple that were in the hide and we all headed for Skippy. As I reached the car I bumped into Johno Leadley. I told him the news and left rather abruptly...sorry pal. We headed up through Skipwith village, although I couldn't see Barry? As we arrived at the site I tried to phone him but no reply (he did eventually arrive but was too late unfortunately).
I could see Craig holding the bird, together with Andy and Haydn (who I had also contacted) looking on. Andy was taking some shots, so I joined him and here's my effort...

A bird in the hand...

A big thank you to Craig for the opportunity to see the bird so close...

Always Birding!

Mother's 80th was a big success! It was even pleasant enough to have an aperitif outside the Rythre Arms (strongly recommended Steakhouse).

Mother and Son

The birding bonus came in the form of my first Swallow of the year! Saw 2 more this morning over the house...

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Luck runs out...

Started on Skipwith this morning. At the top of Sands Lane I spotted a couple of birders sat in the rear of a hatchback. Just as I approached them I spotted a Woodlark singing in a dead tree...nice! As I reached them I informed them and asked if they were looking for the Shrike? They said they were and had been present from dawn. After a brief chat as to where it was being seen I continued. As I reached the ploughed field I raised my bins...GGS! I called them over and they enjoyed great views. Gave it  a couple of hours then returned home for a brew and to give Louise some help preparing for the Big Night (it's my Mothers 80th).
That was the lucky bit!

About 11.15 I popped down the Carrs for an hour. As I entered the hide a birder from York (sorry forgot your name...Mark ?) informed me he'd just had a LITTLE EGRET on the scrape in front of the GS hide!!
He said it had flown in, landed, then taken off towards Bubwith Ings. This was the bad luck. Still I can't complain after my recent run. Another Peregrine (imm male) performed superbly over the reserve between 11.45 - 12. No more birding today...a special night in store.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Four Tops - Same Old Song

Four Tops - Shake Me, Wake Me

A little night music...

Bet you've missed the sounds? I make no apologies for picking out 3 more early Four Tops tracks. James Jamerson was the ultimate Bass player with the legendary Funk Brothers. This together with the genius of Holland Dozier Holland...the music just had to be BRILLIANT! Play it loud...headphones of course...

Four Tops - Reach Out I'll be there