Friday, 31 May 2013

Red-backed Shrike

Made it down to Spurn for 5.30pm. Much later than originally planned. Life got in the way!

Took the hound along the canal. The main hope was a Red-backed Shrike, as there had been a few lingering.

I soon picked up a male but he was unfortunately showing at a fair distance (c100yds)...

So, just for record purposes I used the super zoom again...

Three days off now. Hoping (as always) for a BIG finish to our belated Spring.

Below (for inspiration) are some beauties that have turned up on the first of June...

Ruppell’s Warbler

White-crowned Black Wheatear

White-throated Needletail

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Audouin’s Gull - Beacon Ponds

Black Lark

Rock Bunting

Not bad! Let's get out there...

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Don't fret...Snow Geese!

With the announcement that we have the coldest Spring since 1962, it seemed somewhat appropriate that some "cold" birds dropped in. We've had strong Easterlies swinging Northerly with a strong sea fret. A Fieldfare was noted earlier in the day but I definitely wasn't expecting to see these...

True distance


OK not great but not bad at 96x

The Snow Geese? Unknown origin!!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Urban surprise

I've already mentioned the Lesser Black-backed Gulls in residence by the Depot on Bannister Street.
Tonight another pleasant surprise...

As I was walking towards my car a Swift zoomed past me and shot straight into the eaves of one of the terraced houses!

Class birds...

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A Ray of Light

You know how it is. Go to work...come home...need to chill out. Weather horrendous...again!

Still, onward.

Off down to Spurn with the hound. Having a dog forces you out even if you're not sure you want to! There was a report of an Icterine Warbler which I had a pathetic attempt at seeing (in my defence there was a near gale force easterly wind) before wimping back to the cliff at Easington to give Bud some more exercise.

Hopes were virtually zero of seeing anything "decent". As I looked over the cliff I was nearly blown off my feet. Then zooming along the beach came three Fulmar! (P.130, S.101).

Here's one of my classic atmospheric images...

Friday, 24 May 2013

Late results

A couple of decent shots from earlier this week...

Buzzard at Escrick on Tuesday

Cuckoo at Kilnsea

Over at Headingley to watch the Test Match on Sunday for my lad's stag do. Something's bound to turn up, hope it hangs around till Monday...I've got the day off!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Local stuff

Had an hour down the cliff tonight. It was actually quite pleasant? Little wind and warm.

Picked up a belated Blackcap (P.127, H.61) and Whitethroat (P.128, H.62) on the way down.

The clifftop vegetation is severely behind. It's hard to tell if it's still alive!

Severe shortage of migrants!

The clifftop pond's days are unfortunately numbered...

Maybe it can pick something good up before it goes?

Forgot. Picked up Tufted Duck (P.129, S.100) at Kilnsea Wetlands last night

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Mixed Habitats

Back to the old stomping ground today. Enjoyed a couple of hours at Duff...or should that have been endured in a cold northerly wind. Don't you just love our springtime?

The usual fare was on display, with a notable number of Swifts (c200) on view. I was making my way back to the car when a raptor shot low and fast between the bushes...HOBBY!!!

The Duff strikes again...

After driving back I spent the last couple of hours around Kilnsea. I decided to take Bud along the Humber towards Sammy's to have another look for the R.B.Shrike. As I was approaching the "spot" I heard Rich Swales proclaiming over the radio..."Great White Egret (P.126, S.99) flying over towards Kilnsea Wetlands if anyone is interested". I was!

Top left!

I picked it up, followed it across and watched it drop down onto KW. When I reached the car I drove down to the car park and joined the small crowd by the hide. It was at the far side but good views were had by all. As I got back to the car I saw it drifting over the floodbank onto Beacon Ponds. Another Spurn Lifer (260).

Monday, 20 May 2013

Good evening

Finished early and headed for Sammy's. Bumped into Adam Hutt who filled me in with the latest news and was highly amused by Buddy's antics...he's definitely getting better!

We walked down to the far end hoping the Red-backed Shrike might show. It didn't.

Next, I decided to try foe the Red-breasted Fly at Canal Scrape. On the way though I picked up a couple of Cuckoos, one of which landed reasonably close...

Once in the hide I joined Steve Webb who told me he'd seen it briefly 10 minutes ago. He left shortly after...just before it showed again (P.122, S.95), albeit briefly.

News came over the radio of a Spotted Redshank at Kilnsea Wetlands. I walked up towards Beacon Ponds but no sign. I made my way up onto the floodbank and there it was (P.123, S.96)...

Sneaked a Chiffchaff on the way back to the car (P.124, S.97). Just as I was getting in I noticed a birder walking past who I'd talked to a couple of nights before. He told me he'd just seen the Red-backed Shrike that had been around for a few days. He gave me directions and off I went.

I luckily picked it up straight away in typical habitat...


Cropped 50%...

Just out of interest I tried the 96x...

Obviously poor quality BUT could be useful on occasions for ID purposes.

Never have understood the zoom v cropping conundrum? Ah well...

DUSKY THRUSH...some final thoughts

Having read various birders accounts I consider myself very lucky to have had clear views at such a late hour. Still, maybe I deserved it for making the (late) effort...

Choose what you want to try for...then go for it...simple!? Mega, rarity, scarcity, common...whatever.

Just enjoy birds...

Sunday, 19 May 2013

DUSKY dusk!

As the news broke late on Friday night I was snookered by work on Saturday till 3. Could I make it to Kent before dusk? It would be tight...very tight. I toyed with the idea of leaving it until today, especially since I'd been up since 5.

A couple of phone calls to Louise and the decision was made...we were going for it!

I got home around 3.30. Louise had put together the necessaries and off we went...Bud came too. I gave myself an estimated 30% chance. Looking now at Google maps it estimated just over 5 hours. We needed a clean run...we fortunately got one. The sat nav helped out with the final twists and turns and we arrived at Margate cemetery at 8.10.

No-one around! What to do?

I'd phoned RBA on the way and I remembered the lad had said turn right inside the entrance...that was presuming I was at the correct entrance!

I headed for the corner and then, thankfully I saw 3 birders having a chat. They'd obviously seen it as they were relaxed! I walked past them as I saw three more chaps in a more focused state. One was looking up into a tree through his 'scope.

He kindly allowed me a peep...and this is what I saw..

MASSIVE relief!!!

It was 8.20pm!

The bird remained on the branch during my visit. I can safely say I was the last birder to connect with this MEGA of MEGA'S. The bird was not present this morning which was obviously a sickener for the "Sunday lads". Gutted for my pal Haydn.

I was prepared to stay overnight if I hadn't made it. We stayed anyway at this superb hotel. Thoroughly recommended.

The old adage proves true again...GO ASAP. I'm feeling rather smug at the moment...

Friday, 17 May 2013

Thoughts drifting...can't think why!

With the continued horrendous weather my thoughts have reverted back to the other side of the pond. A great May migration spot is Magee Marsh on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Here's a taste of what can be seen there. Nice to dream...

Forecast is tentatively promising for the second half of the month. It would be great to do some quality birding (at last) in DECENT WEATHER!

OR...maybe I'm getting soft

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Out of context

Managed (at last) to get down to Spurn. Weather was typical...poor! After a quick scan around Long Bank Marsh I made my way down to the Bluebell car park. I noticed a small passerine hopping about on the grass. Threw me completely...admittedly I'd just woken up after a "power nap"! Got quite excited for a short while, then I realised it was a Spotted Fly (P.115, S.85) behaving in a weird way!

Also enjoyed prolonged views of three Cuckoos (S.86) sorting out partners!

Rather like this surreal image of two of them zooming past me at close quarters...

Also added Sandwich (P.116, S.87) and Little Tern (P.117, S.88), Scaup (P118, S.89), Swift (P.119, S.90) and Sand Martin (P.120, S.91). Added Swallow (S.92) to the Spurn total.

Whimbrel (S.93) on the way home was a nice bonus...

Monday, 13 May 2013

Turtle Dove

You're almost certainly aware of the demise of this "sound of summer". There are a couple of noble efforts going on at the moment that are worthy of our support.



Like many things in life however, you somehow feel powerless to make a real difference?

We can but try...

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Unexpected Circumstances!

Things didn't pan out as I hoped today, to say the least! No Birding was possible.

Briefly, my young dog Buddy was unfortunately bitten by my lads on the afternoon we were picking him up after our holiday. So, off to the vets for a few stitches and a £430 bill. Two nights later the young man is agitated and just won't settle. The morning after his side is split for a second time by an abscess due to infection from the initial bite.

Was the wound cleaned properly? Who knows but another £430 for a second set of stitches!! The money is a (BIG) blow of course but I just hope he's OK now. Pet insurance?..looks a good option at the moment but hindsight is a wonderful thing and can mount up somewhat.

Anyway that's my problem.


Britain...COLLARED FLYCATCHER was a superb find in the North East by stringer. Great reward for dedicating yourself to a local patch.

ABA...If you are interested in viewing the Texas spring just passed. Below are a couple of links to give you a flavour of what passed through.

High Island

Sabine Woods

For the record
I managed to add 2 species to my ABA list in the form of Gray Vireo and Ruff taking my total to 658.
My Texas list increased by ten to 443.

That's the bones. I'll add some meat later...

Oh nearly forgot. Added Yellow Wagtail (P.114, H.61) this afternoon down Snakey lane. So there was a touch of Birding after all!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke

Random post...but I just wanted to pay tribute to Frank Lampard. I'm not a Chelsea fan but I am a Football fan and his achievement in breaking the club goalscoring record is quite simply outstanding, especially for a midfield player!!

Well done Frank...

Friday, 10 May 2013


Reality has bitten hard with three long shifts at to pay for the Holiday! One more effort tomorrow then Sunday off and time to catch up with some of our summer visitors.

I'll probably leave (most of) my Texas review until June (I'll try to be succinct) when things quieten down here somewhat. I WILL do one though. I might post a few initial images tomorrow night if I get chance to download them.

Posts will be concerned with British Birding this month. Hopefully there will be plenty to write about?!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

When the dust settles

Well, that's it. The epic journey is over. Still recovering from the "jet lag" which seems to get tougher every time. Nothing to do with advancing years of course!

4,500 miles covered, shared pretty evenly between us. The holiday covered the Upper CoastCoastal BendRio Grande ValleyHill CountryDavis Mountains and Big Bend...phew! Lots of great memories and glorious sights seen. Took a few photos along the way, some of which I'll be posting in due course. Could be a few days before I start the review as I'll be back in the saddle early tomorrow until Sunday.

Kick started the British Spring with a Cuckoo (P.111, H.58) and a few Swallows (P.112, H.59) this morning. Then a quartet of Whimbrel (P.113, H.60) flying south along the clifftop this afternoon reminded me there's always something to look out matter where you are!!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Cold front

Last day tomorrow. So up at dawn and down to Lafitte's Cove for a last session. Still time for a Cape May...
Fingers crossed!

...or Mourning Warbler...or something even rarer? A cold front moving through Galveston tonight should help. Hope it's not too severe for the birds crossing the Gulf.

Last post before I return. Hope you've enjoyed at least some of this stuff...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Bolivar Magic

No joy again with Bobolink sightings despite extensive searching am. Had lunch at Rollover Pass. Simply superb. Large numbers of White (9 foot wing span!) and Brown Pelicans. Also, finally managed to find some Caspian Terns...interesting comparing them with Royal.

Afternoon and evening spent at High Island. Firstly at Boy Scout Wood, then onto Smith Oaks. Much prefer the latter. A natural woodland with many mature Oaks. After yesterdays euphoria the first birds I saw were three Bay-breasted Warbler in one tree!! Didn't spoil yesterdays moment at all.

Managed to find the Great Horned Owls (thanks to Tim Isherwood). Superb, cool birds...

While setting up my 'scope a Yellow Rail flushed from the roadside ditch. Then as I was watching the Owls a Belted Kingfisher landed on the wire directly in front of them.

That's Texas...

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

At Last!

Spent some time on the Bolivar peninsular looking for the elusive Bobolink...

...with no success.

Late afternoon (after some shopping therapy for Louise) was spent down at the magnificent Sabine Woods. The weather was kind with a lovely still evening allowing optimum viewing conditions. A good selection of warblers was on offer, Blackburnian, Black and White, American Redstart, Black-throated Green...but could I locate my Texas Bay-breasted?

Superb bird
High Island today...