Sunday, 31 March 2013

British Summertime!

The sound of Spring

At the risk of stating the obvious, the change to BST gives us all a lift. Lighter evenings allowing some evening Birding has to be a good thing. The wind direction isn't the best but the birds urge to breed must win through. There must be quite a queue further South!

A vision of Spring

...or two

Saturday, 30 March 2013

A pleasant evening

First...late news from yesterday. Went for a walk on the beach with my youngest lad and his fiance'. Of course I didn't take my camera...which usually means something good will turn up. It did! As we descended down the cliff a Shag (H.55, P.103) flew along the beach (I resisted the obvious red-top headline). This is only my second record of this species on the Patch and a Holmpton lifer to boot.

Visited the Snow Buntings again this morning and met up with Richard Willison who was taking some pics.

This afternoon was spent down in the Kilnsea Wetlands/Beacon Ponds area. Things started well with a couple of Avocets (S.75, P.104) on Kilnsea Wetlands. Also viewed a group of Snipe (S.76). A walk out to Beacon Ponds produced a female Pochard (S.77, P.105)...

The Long-tailed Duck is still present and looking fine.

Easterlies still dominating and forecast to continue for at least another week. Anyone for a Sand Martin?

Friday, 29 March 2013

Snow Buntings

Bumped into Barry Bishop and his mate at the Sewage Works this morning. They're still here and looking rather dapper now...

Couldn't locate the Lapland however...

courtesy of Phil Jones
A hint of Spring here today...

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Black Redstart

Couple of hours down Kilnsea this am. Decided to sit in the hide for a while. Two pair of Pintail (S.73) plus a nice group of Wigeon. Then...right in front of me popped a Black Redstart (P.102, S.74)...for a couple of secs...never to be seen again!

You never know...

Monday, 25 March 2013

Better times ahead?

Clocks "Spring" forward this weekend. Evening birding in the offing.

East winds to persist all week, possibly pushing some stuff across the North Sea?

If only this was Autumn!! Not that I'm wishing the year away, far from it. It's just that a week of Easterlies at that time of year would be highly promising.

Read an article today in my Birdwatching mag'. It was from the BTO on the migration of Wheatears.

Some birds passing through Britain actually end up in Alaska having come from sub-Saharan Africa. Quite a trip! Makes sense, as Wheatear is a major rarity in the States.

It never ceases to amaze me how resilient birds are...

Apparently I was wrong (as I often am). It's not global warming's climate change! This phenomenon is a recent trend according to the "experts"


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Surprise View

Spent a while down Sammy's Point this morning looking for the reported Wheatear. No luck but it had probably been blown into Lancashire by the time I got there!!

This afternoon I decided to hunker down in the car and seawatch. There was a steady stream of Gannets heading south, a belated addition to the year list (H.53, P101)...

Close in trio
Following on from my comment on the Canada Goose regarding where you see a I was watching the Gannet movement I was taking a few pics of the gulls that constantly drift south along the cliff using the updraft...and boy was there an updraft today!

Gulls...more gulls...GANNET!!! Yep, in amongst the gulls drifting along the cliff. Unfortunately, my trusty camera couldn't lock on in the excitement (it was moving pretty fast) but I'm posting a very blurred record shot anyway...

Jizz test!
Proper Winter this year. Not much from the global warming brigade at the moment. We moan about it (me included) but really we get off lightly compared to many places around the globe. Having said that I'll be glad when the clocks change next weekend...

East winds all week! Might bring something unusual in? Large numbers of Starlings and Wood Pigeons on the Patch. Keep feeding the Dickies...

First Greenfinch of the year in the yard today

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Spurn LIFER!

Hadn't been down to Spurn for a while so I had a ride down this morning. Still acclimatizing to the new job (late shift tonight) so took it easy birding mainly from the car. The biting east wind also had something to do with this strategy!

After the obligatory dog walk I settled down by the triangle and had a scan. Plenty of Curlew present, a couple of Greylags...and a CANADA GOOSE!!! This takes my Spurn list to 257. It proves again that a common bird can be scarce, if you get my drift?! This was also my century for the patch year list.

Keep it under your hat but this was my first record for Spurn. Again, in my defence, I've only lived in the area for 15 months!

Quick look down the peninsular revealed this...

I then moved on to Kilnsea Wetlands (massive potential here) and spent a pleasant hour viewing from the car (out of the scything wind). I couldn't pick out the Black Brant but there was plenty of action.

Maybe it's in there somewhere!

A closer look

Large numbers (c750) Starlings feeding in tight groups...

Plus good numbers of Waders including Lapwing, Golden Plover, Redshank and Curlew...

Dodgy bill on the bird on the left

The above post relates to yesterday as I didn't have time to finish it before work.

Went out this morning. Dog exercised, Birding postponed until Siberian wind abates! One of our local Rooks looked well as I parked the car...

Late news - Got a text of Phil to say he'd now seen 2 Lapland Buntings at the Sewage works...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

A Nice Day Off

Started with a walk with Buddy along the cliff. This Dunnock was singing in the same bush as last year...

Moved onto the sewage works were I met Phil. We looked for the Lapland Bunting that he found but no joy. The Snow Buntings were showing well however...

Love this one
Had to get the hair cut! So, why not have a drive over to Selby and combine it with a trip to the Duff. On the way spotted a pair of Buzzards over the M62 at Goole...

One eventually came right over the car...

After a trim I set out my stall in the Geoff Smith Hide. A nice development was this new screen by the improved feeding station...

managed a decent one of this Long-tailed Tit...

and a Reed Bunting...

Highlights of a 2 hour watch were a male Scaup, a couple of Oystercatchers and c20 Ruff, boosting the year list to a still modest 40.

Alas, no sign of the Great White Egret reported at Thorganby earlier.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Wind of change?

Received this e-mail today as I and many others had registered their protest.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Erection of 2 wind turbines (14.97m to hub, 5.6m diameter blades) at Land North Of North Humberside Riding Centre, Humber Side Lane, Easington, East Riding Of Yorkshire

I write to advise you that the above application received on the 11 January 2013 has been withdrawn.

If the Council receives a further application within 12 months you will be notified again and given the opportunity to make representations on that proposal.

Yours faithfully

Peter Ashcroft

Head of Planning and Development Management

East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Sometimes your voice can get heard!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

About time!

Finally added a sp to the year list with a LTT (H.53, P.99) from the front window! Backed up by a Barn Owl from the same viewpoint. Weather slightly improved...just poor now!

I've been busy with further planning for my forthcoming trip to my beloved Texas.

A particular focus has been Gray Vireo...

This sp has been a nemesis bird (an american birders term for a sp that continues to elude) for me for over 12 years. I've tried (and failed) to see this bird in Texas, Arizona and California. So hopefully this will be the trip when I finally nail it.

I also hope to add Cape May Warbler...

Bay-breasted Warbler...

 and Philadelphia Vireo...

to my Texas list.

I've already e-mailed quite a few contacts and as always I've received some great information. If you want to follow what's happening just check out the links on the Blog. This being the main one.

Not sure on our itinerary yet. It will probably depend on weather conditions as to where we start off. A nice fall-out on arrival at High Island would be a great start! A visit out west to Big Bend and the Davis Mountains is more than likely followed by a trip down Mexico way (well nearly) to the Rio Grande Valley. The final week will be based in Galveston allowing access to High Island and the Bolivar peninsular.

That should get me through the next few weeks...

Thursday, 14 March 2013


Flushed a woodcock first thing in the village.

Rooks very vocal well after dark this evening as the Rookery develops.

9 Great White Egrets in Somerset!!!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Hunker down

No birding today, just brief dog walks in brutal cold.

Much Texas planning now. Can't see this beauty hanging around another month...but stranger things have happened!

The Varied Thrush continues at Carolyn Ohl's Oasis in Brewster Co. (March 10) It has been reported singing in the early mornings from mid height in the cottonwood tree and visits ground feeder periodically during the day, the bird is in very good condition.

More here

Monday, 11 March 2013

Nostalgia IS what it used to be!!!

Made the journey up into the Dales on Saturday. Bleak was definitely the word! We reached the Station Inn around 3 and had some lunch. The weather turned worse (if that was possible). Still, I hadn't travelled all this way for nothing, so I wrapped up and braved the elements (Louise stayed in the pub).

It was snowing quite hard now, more like a blizzard! Then in the distance I saw the smoke (just)...

A fine sight!
Not many finer for me. They belong together. So glad some of these magnificent machines are still around and allowed to travel on the main lines. I never actually saw an A4 when I was a lad. There's a 75th anniversary celebration of Mallard's record world speed record this year in York when all 6 remaining A4's will be on display. I might just pay a visit!

Made a token effort today but beaten by the cutting wind I'm afraid (wind chill -7C). I did manage to pick out the Black Brant at Kilnsea through the car window. Then that was that.

A bit of holiday planning is in order I think due to the diabolical weather. Just to give a flavour of what's in store here's a link to some awesome photos of our American counterparts.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Birds and Trains

The day turned out grim...again! Cold, grey, wet, etc, etc. Cheery stuff.

Still, onward.

I gave up on the morning as a thick drizzle set in to combine with the greyness.

After lunch I tried again. The rain abated around 3 as I reached Skeffling. A count of c750 Oystercatchers at the high tide roost was impressive. As was c300 Golden Plover flying east.

I gave it an hour but no sign of anything else of note. As I left the floodbank I spotted something very noteworthy...

Suddenly the weather didn't seem to matter...well not much! The SEO was supplemented with at least 3 Barn Owls...

Off to Mothers tomorrow for the big day. Going via here...

File:Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire.jpg
Ribblehead Viaduct
This will be going over it at 4.20pm...

Should be quite a sight.

Train spotter to Bird Watcher?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

5 Days Off!

Just completed my first spell of driving...very eventful!

Now time to relax and see some BIRDS!!!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Chill time

Spent a couple of hours down at Patrington again this afternoon...nice place to walk Bud. Thought there might be a slim chance of an Avocet as one was seen at Old Moor today.

5 Brents including a couple of Pale-bellied was a good start...

The Barnacles were still present...

No Harriers or SEO's his evening, just a distant Barn Owl...

On the way back to the car I noticed a couple of Little Egrets...

Made me think again of how fortunate we are to now have this bird established in the area.

Drifting off to roost...

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Health and Happiness

When I was a young lad we had a close family Christmas, my Dad being one of 4. There were over 20 of us in my Nan and Grandads council house on Christmas Day. I always remember my Uncle Don shoving a glass of Sherry in my hand (which I hated) and toasting Health and Happiness!

By now we must all know of the terrible news regarding Russell Slack's premature passing.

I met him in the 90's as I started to regularly watch Wheldrake Ings. 93 was a particularly intensive watch so I saw him quite a bit with Tim Dixon, Craig Ralston and Elaine. We spent many evenings down there in springtime till the light faded.

The great moment came on the 5th of May of that year.

I reached Tower Hide to see 3 Black-winged Stilts scribbled in the log!!! I couldn't see anything so I sprinted down to the refuge just in time to see them flying back towards Tower Hide. As I turned around I saw Russell standing there enjoying the view. We celebrated and quickly ran back to the hide. The birds stayed till 8.10pm (I remember it well) before they departed high to the west. A great evening.

We met many times in the following years and shared sightings on numerous occasions. I always felt he was a private person, very knowledgeable and dedicated to his "Patch".

I'm not going to pontificate about right and wrong or what's just, only to say we all should make the most of what we've got because none of us know how long we'll have it for.

Health and Happiness to you all...

Friday, 1 March 2013

Late result

Turned into the village at 9 after work. Tawny Owl 15 feet off the ground in car highlights...nice!