Friday, 30 November 2012


Spent a few hours down the peninsula and did a bit of seawatching. Missed the Velvet Scoter and the Grey Phal'. Best I could manage was a flock of 128 Pinkfeet heading south.

Highlight today being this little gem perched in a roadside bush on "Snakey lane" (Holmpton/Patrington road) close to dusk.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


Started off at Hilston...

Managed to find the bunting flock...

Tried a few more sites in the decent weather.

Highlight occurred mid-afternoon at Skeffling. I'd just pulled up on the flood bank when I noticed a group of small birds bobbing along the foreshore...they called...Twite (P.172)!!!

Luckily they landed in a nearby bush...

twelve Twite!
As I was basking in the sighting I glanced over the saltmarsh to see a hunting SEO...

The "walk your patch" challenge seems to be gathering pace. I'll have to do some research...and work out how to plan it!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Still some adjustments needed

When I was younger (and fitter) I spread myself more thinly over the LDV. I would "sus" out sites with potential (exactly what I'm doing now, I guess).

The last couple of days have involved me mulling over the best strategy for my coastal birding. As mentioned previously my other life involved stints of varying length in the hides at Duff. I got used to sitting and watching the glorious view, seeing birds come and go. There were times however, when I wished for more general access and walking paths.

I reckon there are 5 hides on my patch but none are easily accessible for a "quick peep". Also some are still in there infancy but have potential.

I guess I'm saying that I need to sort out a definite I better do it...soon!

I need a hide that's in the right place...

I don't think so!!!

I've noted the idea posted on some of the Blogs I follow regarding "walk lists". Good idea...and I definitely need to walk more! I'll work out a realistic total walkable from my house.

Tried some sea-watching but still not got the bug. To fuel this particular aspect of our hobby I've ordered one of these...

Portable hide...the car!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Surprise tick?

Jizz test!
Noah's flood  and Andy Walker's post encouraged me to visit "the Duff" today. I arrived around 10.30 to (very) misty conditions but within a few minutes I was looking at my first Scaup for the site (NDC.149)! I know but it's true!! I'd seen a few dodgy female Tufted Ducks over the years but never a bonefide specimen. Around for about 3 weeks apparently, so very lucky that it hung about for me.
The river comes in handy as an extra habitat (especially when in flood). It also allowed me to score with a Common Scoter (31/3/2006).

So, my next tick will be 150. Hope it's something special. I'll have to have a think what it might be?

My full list can be viewed at the top of the Blog, if you hadn't realised...or care to look!?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The North Wind doth Blow!

Missed out on a Grey Phal' this morning. I was testing out a few vantage points and I was at Easington when news of one came over the radio heading north past Sandy Beaches. Unfortunately it never materialised!

Time for some concentrated sea-watching this week as the wind swing round to the North.

The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow,

And what will the robin do then, poor thing,

He’ll sit in a barn, and keep himself warm,

And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Local stuff

As well as yesterdays Waxwing excitement (I saw a distant group of 16 briefly this morning near Rose Cottage) I managed a few more noteworthy sightings.

Owls are showing well at the moment with both Little and Barn...

...last sec' through the car window! Model farm, Out Newton.
I also had 3 in view at once on the Patrington/Holmpton road late afternoon. Very pleasing having left the LDV.

How many Yellowhammers do you see locally? Always a cool sight for me. I found a decent flock at Hilston (c30) along with many Reed Buntings (c60)...

Still experimenting with the new snapper. Practising on the clifftop gulls. Pleased with this effort in dull light...

Friday, 23 November 2012


Made the most of the sunshine by checking out a few sites I hadn't visited for a while. Have to be was quiet!!

Lets cut to the chase. Mid afternoon I ended up in Kilnsea. I was approaching the Crown and Anchor when I noticed a group of birds in a roadside bush. I knew Waxwings were still being reported passing through Spurn but didn't expect to connect. I was wrong (S.135)...

They soon got flushed by a passing lorry, so I continued round the corner past Kew. I thought I had one on a wire so I pulled over by the church...

My last sighting was a couple by the road in bright sunshine...

Happy days!!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Still plenty to go at

Don't know about you but for me it's the time of year when motivation levels can wane, especially on a day of horrendous weather like yesterday. A few birders I've spoken to recently are already turning their thoughts to next year! Talk of January bird races and all that.

Having moved to the coast just before Christmas last year I must admit it's taken a bit of adjusting to the new patch.

Before the move from 2003 I basically went down the hides at NDC and watched! Loved the view (still do). In the late eighties and nineties I used to travel more in the York area and spent a lot of time at Wheldrake Ings.

So, for example, below is a list of birds not seen this year in the (new) Spurn area. Some glaring omissions admittedly (I plead circumstances)...but like I said...plenty STILL to go at/hope for...THIS YEAR!!!

Bewick's Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii)

Bean Goose (Anser fabalis)

White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)

Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)

Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)

Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)

Smew (Mergellus albellus)

Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)

Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica)

Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus)

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)

Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)

Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)

Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

Little Auk (Alle alle)

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Shore Lark (Eremophila alpestris)

Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus [spinoletta])

Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)

Twite (Carduelis flavirostris)

Redpoll (Carduelis flammea cabaret)

Mealy Redpoll (Carduelis flammea flammea)

Arctic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni)

Lapland Bunting (Calcarius lapponicus)

Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)

Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)

Had a drive to a few spots along the Humber this afternoon. Not much to report but I came across this puzzled looking young Mute Swan which had probably mistaken the road for a water channel!

Managed a decent shot of a Curlew just taking flight in very poor light...

Forecast excellent for tomorrow...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Return to the old patch

As mentioned, spent the day back on the old patch...NDC. I'd hope to see the Bittern but it wasn't to be. Still, enjoyed the day seeing a good number of species typical of an ings setting. Also bumped into a few birding mates...namely Richard Willison, Arnie Cowan and Chris Gomersall (thanks again for the shout on the Bittern last Friday!).

Highlights were Whooper Swan (c60), Marsh Harrier (2), Buzzard, Peregrine, Ruff (c20), Goldeneye (7).

47 species in total. A good (Birth)day.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Pat' Haven

We went for a walk at Patrington Haven this morning. Exercise needed, so we walked down to the Estuary then along towards Sunk Island, c3 miles covered. Fine conditions but a brisk southerly kept us on our toes...

Pity there's isn't a hide down there! Great location with massive potential. Brought back great memories of the TEREK SANDPIPER (24/5/2009).

Seeing the Little Egrets floating around in almost constant view...

...had me (once again) casting my mind back to when this species was a big deal in Yorkshire! My first being a trip to Whitby to twitch a single bird (14/7/1992). A frightening 20 years ago!!

Enjoyed close views of Curlews as we made our way home...

Over to Duff for a Big Sit tomorrow (weather forecast...wet). Birthday treat! Hope the Bittern performs better?

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Never too late

Cracking day, weather wise. Did a bit of local surveying and found some excellent habitat near With' along the disused railway line. Blackbirds were still around finishing off the last of the berries...

Both ma boys came over to see the old man on his birthday (Tuesday to be exact!)...

Had a walk with Rob along the clifftop in the last of the sunlight. Out of nowhere appeared a Merlin (H.112)which proceeded to shoot inland across the fields at an incredible pace. Shortly afterwards came a moment I'd been hoping for...

IOTS came 5 WAXWINGS (H.113, P.171). BRILLIANT!!!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Local hunter

This Kestrel has been around locally for a few days now. A smart bird saving its energy by using the roadside bushes. Why hover?

Friday, 16 November 2012


Report of a Bittern at NDC late yesterday started the alarm bells ringing. It had been too long since my last visit. I'd followed up reports of this species here in the past with no success. However, when the bird was reported again early today and was backed up with reliable observers including Tim Jones I decided it was time to MOVE. 

I arrived around 11.30. As Louise pulled into the car park Arnie Cowan was just getting out of his car. I joined him in the Geoff Smith hide and Louise departed for consumer land. He informed me he'd seen the bird briefly in flight at dusk last night.

...and so the vigil began. In a couple of hours not a sniff.

Around 2.15 Chris Gomersall arrived with his mate Ollie. 25 minutes later Chris spotted the Bittern at the back of the scrape...very impressive! It was only in view briefly but long enough for me to add it to my NDC list! (148). Tim arrived sometime later, although I didn't realise it at the time due to the hide being full. He also broke the York area year list record with this bird. An excellent achievement.

Tim's video

Below is a list of birds I've seen in the LDV over the years but NOT at NDC. Plenty to go at...

Mandarin Duck
Green-winged Teal
Red-crested Pochard
Ferruginous Duck
Great White Egret
Purple Heron
Hen Harrier
Montague's Harrier
Black-winged Stilt
Grey Plover
Little Stint
Temminck's Stint
Pectoral Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Bar-tailed Godwit
Wood Sandpiper
Iceland Gull
Whiskered Tern
Black Tern
Little Owl
Green Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Tree Pipit
Cetti's Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Coal Tit
Willow Tit
Corn Bunting

I've promised myself to return to the old stomping ground at least once a month...

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Tough going!

Met up with Phil on the clifftop after exercising "his lordship". We made our way down to Spurn via Out Newton. Hopes of a Little Owl sighting didn't transpire but consolation was found in the form of a Barn Owl. I managed some decent shots with the new camera but then maanged to expertly delete them! Too much fiddling.

We visited canal scrape hide first then trudged around the triangle and Beacon Ponds. Graveyard quiet. Still, we tried.

News came out late afternoon of a Yellow-browed Warbler and 5 Waxwings at Kew. We should have stayed longer/looked harder.

Finished the day down at Pat' Haven. No birds of note but the sunset was rather nice...

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Local sighting!

Got a text from Phil Jones in Withernsea this morning. Waxwings in his garden!! I couldn't pop round as I had a second interview for a possible job. Pleased for him as he's spent quite a bit of time sorting it out.

Takes me back to the 20/2/96. I'd planted some Pyracanthas for the dicky birds in the hope of attracting thrushes. I arrived home from work, parked the car and as I got out there, right in front of me were 5 Waxwings!! They stayed around the house for 3 days.

One morning I opened the bedroom curtains and they were in the front garden tree!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Kestrel synchronicity

I have a theory!

We've all seen Kestrels hunting at the side of the road, right.

Then another and then another?

Other times...none?

Weird, but is something primeval going on here?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Most wanted

With Waxwings appearing all over the show let's not forget to check for one of these...

Also plenty of these just east of us heading south...

Would be nice...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Can't get enough...

Sunshine meant another trip to Asda. I make no apologies. As I got closer the nagging thought of a Bee-eater in Co Durham became more and more prominent. I have just received the Panasonic FZ200 (on a months approval) and wanted to try it out. After doing the pet shop round I moved onto the supermarket car park. I reckon there was about 20 birders/photographers spread around.

I'd decided by now to have a go for the Bee-eater but it was approaching 11! I saw a group of Waxwings in a small tree and luckily there was a space. I pulled in, leaned out of the window and took some shots...

Cheering up a November day. To be fair it was a cracker.

After around 10 minutes I set off for Seaburn. Arrived around 1.30. Seaburn that is, not the site. As I'd only decided to go on route to Hull I didn't have exact directions. My hopes of stumbling on the admiring throng didn't materialise! I gave my mate Haydn a ring and after a frustrating 15 minutes I eventually found the spot.

Negative news greeted me. I knew the bird disappeared from time to time so I wasn't initially concerned. It wasn't to be however. There was a report from Whitburn C.P but no further sightings were confirmed (as far as I know).

It was a bit of a sickener but I consoled myself with the fact that I'd seen a pair in the Spring at Patrington.

Footnote: This wasn't the first time I'd dipped this species. The breeding pair at Bishop Middleham Quarry, Co Durham were BIG news in 2002. I kept saying to myself I'd go and see them. I eventually made the trip... the day after they left!! Brilliant.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Waxwing reflections

Good fun with the Waxwings yesterday! Pity it was so dull. Pleased with the camera under the
circumstances. Fielded many questions from the shoppers! Some quite knowledgeable about these
charismatic birds. I hope to get many more sightings throughout the winter...hopefully more locally.
The strongest memory was watching them rain down into a small tree not 3 yards from were I was stood...MAGIC!

Best scenes are wintry ones...

Dec 2010

Friday, 9 November 2012

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Time to fill the car up?

Unfortunately I couldn't locate any on the Patch today. A sunny morning deteriorated into a typically gloomy November afternoon. Definitely pays to get up early on these short days. Managed to find a covey of Grey Partridges...

disappearing fast!
 plus a good group (c100) of Curlew...

part of the flock
Finished again at Kilnsea watching Little Egrets...

and Brents...

Hessle Asda tomorrow me thinks to fill the car up. Oh and maybe have a peep at the 100+ Waxwings that were present there this afternoon!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Favourite Goose

Blending in well

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Back to Sammy's to continue the Waxwing hunt. No luck again in dismal conditions. Plenty of Blackbirds still plus groups of Fieldfare...

and Redwing...

82 Waxwings over Skelton Castle and 37 through Spurn this evening. Looks like a Waxwing year!

courtesy of Richard Willison