Thursday, 31 May 2012


Music has dried up (you may have noticed) due to painfully slow internet speed out here on the coast. I will continue my history of Soul music (you lucky people), it just takes forever to check the quality of the recording!

Another passion of mine is classic films. Especially ones that move me.

Every now and again I'm going to post some of my favourites. Now depending on how old you are some of these might appear dated/dull. Being a fifty something I'm afraid the computer game films of today leave me cold.

I'd like to start with my favourite western. As a young lad in the sixties I remember my Dad taking me to the local Scala to watch this tale of good (Alan Ladd) and evil (Jack Palance). Set in Grand Teton N.P. Wyoming, this film has it all IMHO. I was going to give a more detailed summary but the one below sums it up perfectly...

"I first saw this western as a boy, and fifty odd years and many viewings later, it still holds my attention. It is a tale of courage, loyalty, friendship and morality, but told in a non sentimental way,as seen through the eyes of a young boy. The acting is superb, Alan Ladd plays to perfection the hero in an understated way and the supporting cast play their parts with perfection. Although the basic plot is simple, the good guys are being driven off their land by the bad guys, a stranger rides in and takes up their cause, eventually vanquishing the bad guys, the sub plot goes much deeper, even to the extent that it is shown that even the bad guys have a point, if not justification, for trying to regain the land that the homesteaders have cultivated. They just do not make movies like this anymore, if this film were to be remade now, no doubt we would see Shane in bed with his friends wife, graphic violence, digital special effects and a proliferation of four letter words"

I called my first German Shepherd after this film. He was a fine and noble lad.

Woody Allen's favourite film.

If you haven't seen it, give it a try. If you have, time to watch it again. I'm going to, tonight!

Ups and downs

Still basking in the Orphean Warbler success I was brought down to earth with a bang last night as I dipped on the Gull-billed Tern on Thorne Moors for a Yorks tick.

Fully fit I would've made it, things improving slowly. Still, can't win 'em all. Character building stuff! Just have to add it to my dip list. Reasons including holidays, family commitments etc etc...

Still fancy another biggy before Spring is out?

Great views of a Barn Owl from the kitchen window yesterday...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Managed to have a lie in this morning for the first time since the Op.

Woke at 9. Came down, put the kettle on. Turned the phone on. message from Vodaphone! Alarm bells ringing...

ORPHEAN WARBLER, Hartlepool Headland. Oh dear, I thought, that's bad luck!

5 minutes later I'm in the car and away. Bit of a hike from the coast but fortunately don't have to twitch much these days. A few texts with Haydn and I was picking him up in York.
We arrived at Hartlepool just after noon and joined the attendant throng...well at least 100. Bumped into Andrew who informed us it had been perched motionless in a bush for around an hour but was currently out of view.

30 minutes passed with no sign or shuffle. Encouragingly, the vegetation wasn't too dense and it wasn't much longer before it popped out and showed well. In fact just as we were leaving it came right out in the open in the corner of the Bowling Green. The size struck me, quite a decent sized Warbler.

So. HH strikes again after last year's WTR. Fortunately no need for ladders or vans this time, fortunately for me!

Thoughts then drifted to the ROLLER seen at Spurn, but alas there were no further sightings this afternoon/evening.

It's definitely not over yet!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Quietening down...but not over yet.

Spent the afternoon at Duff after seeing the specialist at 8.45. Roasting in the hide. A combination of a 5am start and the heat (34C in the car park) meant Birding was half-hearted to say the least. Also the vegetation is rising and water levels are lowering (a combination of evaporation and pumping). Little seen.

Below is an interview with the legendary Sanford Komito, who holds the Big Year record for the ABA area. I've met him on a few occasions, the first was when the late Nick Bell introduced him to me at Boy Scout Wood, High Island.

Year listing isn't every ones cup of tea but you have to admire his determination.

By the way he's a millionaire!

Interview with Sandy Komito: what it takes

Saturday, 26 May 2012

What a day!

Fabulous day today. 18C with a lovely breeze. Perfect for your truly...don't like it too hot!

Village looking spectacular as the trees come into leaf...

I decided to have a drive down to Patrington Haven on the strength of a tip off from my other half via the hairdresser!

Ne’er cast a clout ‘til the may is out!

Kingfisher was the target. I parked the car by the channel. Nearest thing I've got to a river on my patch! Soon heard Cuckoos (c4)...

100 yds+

Then, there it was, fishing from an overhanging branch (P.122).

Disappearing into the distance!

Also picked up Sedge (P123) and Reed Warbler (P124). Many Yellow Wagtails also present plus a cc Marsh Harrier. House Martins were busy gathering mud for their nests...

Friday, 25 May 2012

Cracking afternoon!

Better when usual!

This morning I had to go for an X-ray, sorry diagnostic image!!! Anyway, Louise dropped me off at the Geoff Smith Hide around 12. Spent a pleasant few hours on a glorious afternoon watching things come and go.

Highlights being the above which dropped onto the scrape as it was flushed by a passing Marsh Harrier which was heading south down the Derwent.

No technical photography stuff here, you'll be pleased to hear. Just fiddle and experiment. This Garganey was about 50 yards away so impressed with the new snapper.

Cropped heavy but quite chuffed!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Continue the fight

This Spring stunner seems to have departed around mid-day. Could it re-locate?...Yorkshire please!

No apologies for flagging this up again. Please take the time to support.

Had a female Wheatear drifting North along the coast at Old Newton this morning.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Into the sun
Took Bud up to Old Newton this evening. First sunshine for ages but still a fresh NE wind. Enjoyed sitting in the back of the V70 enjoying some fresh air... that was until Bud saw a pheasant and disappeared into the rape for 10 minutes! Saw 3 Barn Owls on the 1 mile drive from the cottage. Further playing with the P510 produced some improved (i.e. focussed!) images. There's hope for this camera yet?

My pal Haydn went down for the CCC this afternoon. I was tempted to join him but just not ready yet. Fortunately saw the Scilly bird in 04 when coincidentally I'd just had my first Hip re-surfacing!!

Monday, 21 May 2012


A sad day. A fabulous talent and a very brave man.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Spring starts tomorrow...apparently?

After one of the worst May weekends I can remember we are promised higher temps from tomorrow. Hopefully accompanied by a rush of birds...

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Needs help

RSPB view
The RSPB / Birdlife have been instrumental in the Wild Birds Directive, habitats directive, the creation of agri-environment schemes with Turtle Dove and other bird friendly measures etc. The list is fairly endless......and its been a battle! The RSPB have been working on farmland birds since at least the 80s! I have been creating Turtle Dove friendly habitat since 2004! 50,000+ ha of land into some form of management for wild birds as a direct result of RSPB advice and support in the East alone. As for farmland reserves this wouldn't work on its own - the only way is to get farmers adopting measures at an appropriate scale. It can be done. 70% of the UK is farmed so it is of pivotal importance to much of our wildlife and we need most of those farmers doing something at the right scale and in the right places.

Hunting is very much an issue, but the issues are multivariate and also remember “our” Turtle Doves are not passing through Cyprus or Malta but France, Spain and Morocco (as far as we know!).

The problem associated with the 91% decline since 1970 in the UK seems to be clearly linked to a collapse in breeding productivity.

In the 60s they were having up to four broods and from the 90s one, maybe two broods this coincided with a switch in food from more natural food sources of arable plant seeds to cereals and other grains like rape seed. This has indicated a great reduction in the ‘natural’ seed sources these birds would normally utilise and these would be available throughout the summer period as opposed to one very small window of opportunity. It is also likely that the birds face increasing pressures on their wintering grounds to land use change and agricultural intensification. Intensive grazing and irrigation could be reducing resources for the species on their wintering grounds further compounding the problem. We need to quantify the scale and impact of legal and illegal hunting, both in Europe and elsewhere, and provide information that will inform a review and update of the European Commission Management Plan for European Turtle Dove. OTD will carry out this work by establishing collaborations with partners across the flyway, representing a unique and truly coordinated approach to address Turtle Dove conservation. I guess we can sit here and blame somebody else or look at the evidence and do something about it. I'm off to do something about it...

Almost forgot. Phil Jones took this great pic the other day...

Thursday, 17 May 2012


I was going to have a steady morning after yet another poor nights sleep. As it was Louise's day off we were going to go out locally this afternoon. All that changed when "the box" alerted me to the fact that there were 2 BEE-EATERS at Kilnsea!

Always worth seeing, so off I went...

When I got there I bumped into Phil Jones from Withernsea who put me on them. They were distant (P118) and soon got flushed by a passing Short-eared Owl.

I decided to hang around for a while in case they re re-located, unfortunately I couldn't help with the search! After a short time the pager went off again, they'd been seen again at Patrington Haven. I arrived to join a small group of Birders, some looking for the PALLID HARRIER and some that had just seen the BEE-EATERS flying west...again!

What to do?

I decided to drive further west a few miles along the network of small roads that skirted the southern area of the Humber Bank. 30 minutes joy. Another message from the trusty pager...BEE-EATERS seen again along Channel Road. I'd just driven down this road so I quickly re-traced my route scanning from the car every now and again.

As I passed a farm I looked up at an overhead wire...surely not...OH YES!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Brief visit

Popped out with Bud up to Out Newton

Nice to see a pair of these (P.117)...

On the way back had a look for the Little Owl...

Pictures taken with Panasonic FZ150...impressed.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


I decided it was time to test out my ability to drive after the Op. Where could I go? Not too far of course, just somewhere local?

I know, Patrington Haven!

Got there around 8, no-one in sight? I gave Chris Batty a ring at RBA. He said Martin Garner had seen it earlier. I asked if it was OK to have his number and he said yes. Called him 3 times, no answer. What to know how it is.

Not being able to walk far limited options so I hung around the car park area. Martin then called and said I'd be as well hanging around maybe 50 yds along the track to the Humber bank, as I'd have a panoramic view from there.

Within 5 minutes I noticed some Harriers drifting closer and lower. Marsh Harriers, 3 of them! Then, another, smaller...BINGO!!!

Thanks to Chris and Martin for the help.

An excellent claw back Yorkshire tick (369)...and quite a Patch tick! Some great shots here

Footnote:- I tried for the last one after work in 03. Time was tight going through Hull in the rush hour traffic. I was in my trusty Mondeo that was on it's last legs. It was around 6pm. I then noticed smoke coming from the bonnet! Engine had over!
I've convinced myself ever since that I wouldn't have made it...the bird was last seen at Sammy's Point at 6.25pm flying west.

Fotenote 2:- How this bird has been de-valued nationally. Hardly gets a mention these days. A bit different than in '95 when I made my one and only trip to Orkney (on my tod) to see Britain's first really twitchable bird!!
Organised coaches to ferry us to the site, saw it with minutes to spare before we had to return for the boat. Great memories.

How times change...

Monday, 14 May 2012

That's better!

I need to get out (more). Trouble with being sat on your posterior is you have too much time to trawl forums and become totally confused!
Spent the afternoon at NDC as Louise dropped me off at lunchtime. 6 Oystercatchers were nice plus a few other bits including my first belated House Martin! Took a few pics with the new trial snapper. Mixed results but pleased with this one.

PALLID HARRIER still teasing...could I get a Yorkshire tick?

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Photo problem

Not a very topical photo! Not a great image. Click on it. Anybody out there know how I can get nearer to this on the Blog?

Flamborough last word!

Even after the DNA sample it seems "the bird's" identity is still being questioned! I'm all for pushing the boundaries of identification and I bow to the greater knowledge of certain experts.

However, I have to ask how far can you push it before you have to let it go?

Seems to me that a bird that's been watched closely, photographed, DNA tested etc etc and STILL can't be ID'd...has to be let go. Time to move on...

Saturday, 12 May 2012


Hopefully a powerful enough deterrent?

Friday, 11 May 2012

A special Hobby

Always a significant sighting in these here parts. Check this out! 25+ flying around his head.

I might have to re-think my photography stance? No, still to much weight and expense for yours truly. Brilliant images mind...

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Do you ever wonder (plenty of time to do that at the moment!) where the rush for more Megapixel and Zoom will end?

What's important?
1. Image - Stability/Quality
2. Speed of Focus

I guess the big question the bigger image still as good? Remembering the ability to crop of course. Megapixel number is well beyond the number required these days for excellent images, in fact many believe a reduction in this aspect can improve the image, it's more to do with the sensor...apparently!? I told you I had to much free time!

Bridge cameras are a convenient, relatively cheap and lightweight way to take pictures of birds. They will never give you the quality of image a DSLR will but I've never fancied lugging all that weight around (I leave my 'scope most of the time these days) or spending all that money (top lenses can cost £5-8,000!!!).

So, with the introduction of Nikon's latest bridge camera the Coolpix P510 with an unbelievable 42x Optical Zoom, as said above...when WILL the limit be reached?

I then came across this article by a reviewer I respect. Makes you think, doesn't it?

A 24x optical zoom gives you a 600mm DSLR equivalent!! Seems much above that is of negligible improvement?

I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ45 which performs admirably.
Out of curiosity you understand, I've managed to acquire a P510 on approval, so I'll give it a trial and let you know what I think...for what it's worth...

While I'm on the subject...digiscoping. I've never been that bothered with attachments, although I'm sure they're a good idea, just preferring to plop the camera on the eyepiece and see what happens! Again, good fun at times but I don't want to spend to much time fiddling, whilst something good flies over my head!

My trusty TZ7 still stands up for this purpose...

A topical image from Bempton 2010

Louise took the "crock" out this afternoon. Managed a few Swifts (114) at Out Newton...

Lingering for a month in Cadiz!!!

File:Terathopius ecaudatus -San Diego Zoo-8a.jpg
It's not an adult but this looks smarter!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

That's it!

I've officially retired...from teaching! Culmination of things really. Age, dodgy joints, Louise also retiring this summer and a few other reasons I'll keep to myself...

If you follow you'll know I don't like long posts (mostly), so the above is merely a statement of fact. I can assure you I won't be sailing off into the sunset but I'm looking forward to new challenges they say!

Back to Birding. Heard a Cuckoo (74) today from the back yard but still no Swift. I'm thinking of doing a latest arrival list this year. The way it's going I'll be ticking some in June!

Treated myself to a new camera. Limited opportunities obviously but results on feeders promising...

30 feet

Best weather for weeks today...

Monday, 7 May 2012

Bird Origin

With the continuing presence and controversy over the "Flamborough Flycatcher" it got me thinking...always dangerous!

It seems that this bird can't be identified by sight/sound, so DNA samples have been sent for testing!! As already parodied, it makes you wonder...doesn't it?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticising anyone (that would never do) but it does take something away from field guide ID...tertial fringes, jizz and all that. I admire people who try to get to a conclusion but species/race/hybrid is scientific rather than aesthetic, I prefer the latter.

The new field guide?

Anyway, an Atlas Flycatcher wouldn't get lost!!!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Yorks LIFER... would have been!

PALLID HARRIER @ Spurn. Still grounded so I don't feel like I was lazy!

Check this out!!!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Great to get out...but COLD!

Louise dumped me in the hide around 12.30 and I settled in for a long stint. I found sitting on the bench more comfortable than I imagined, so I didn't use my pillow!

Plenty of water on the Carrs after the drought of a Winter. Prolonged scanning for the Bar-tailed Godwit failed to reap dividends. 10 Black-tails in summer plumage, although distant were nice, along with 4 Greenshank and a single Whimbrel.

I was joined by Chris Gomersall from York and we had a good chat putting the world to rights. He picked up a very distant tern over Ellerton Ings. Dave Warburton then joined us and we continued to scan but nothing more of note was seen.

Chris then left and shortly afterwards Tim Jones arrived having birded the eastern side of the valley. He'd already had a few terns but within minutes he picked up 12 Arctic Terns down the far end of the reserve. Many more seen at Thorganby. Managed to boost my Duff year list to a modest 61.

Louise picked me up and I had a snooze on the way back having had a great time. Good to get out for some air at last. Hoping to get out more from now a passenger of course.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Still there!

Just received a text of Arnie Cowan (cheers pal) informing me that the BarTG is still present. Fingers crossed for tomorrow! Plenty of layers for the BIG sit. Springtime?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Spring at last?

Courtesy of Rich Willison

Things livening up now. Decent birds at Spurn today with Wryneck, Red Kite and Hobby.

Saw my first garden House Martin (G. 25, H. 73, P. 113) this morning (limited viewing opportunities at the moment).

Bar-tailed Godwit at NDC! Patch tick but can't get there till Friday!!!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Pied Fly...of sorts?

Not bad at 80yds

Made the trip to Flamborough this morning, courtesy of my pal Rich Willison, to take a peek at the controversial Pied Fly. South Landing was negotiated with crutches and after a short wait we were treated to good if rather distant (c80 yds) views of the bird. Cracking Black and White plumage and a showy, active individual.

Pied/Atlas/Hybrid...who knows? I don't!