Sunday, 31 August 2014

Last minute...

Family visit this weekend, so Birding limited/non-existent!

Managed to get out for the last hour tonight down Snakey. Brief view of a Barn Owl on the road was nice. Then a distant Buzzard...

Final highlight was a hare surveying his domain at dusk...

superb animals

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Amazing birds!

Birds can turn up in the most amazing places. 


Just off to brush up on my Maths...

Friday, 29 August 2014

Dawn Patrol

Gave it a good go from 6 this morning. Winds not favourable and backed up by empty bushes!          
Made it down to "Old Hive" to see if the Sand Martins were still around. Most seem t have left now but there are still some juveniles in burrows...

Here's the full colony...

Time for a es/guesstimate. I reckon there's at least 50 occupied burrows...therefore 50 pairs. Every burrow I've seen young in has two fledglings.

=  c300

Another much appreciated local breeder. It seems to have been a bumper breeding season for many species including the humble House Sparrow. Many large post-breeding flocks in the villages around here. They bred in our porch!

Once I was back in the village I scanned the plough. Great Wheatear habitat...

At least 6 birds present this morning

On returning home I could hear the sound of Swallows...lots of Swallows. A decent group of obvious migrants were resting up on the Cottage roof...

Sometimes there's interest right on your doorstep/roof!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Nearly there

Last day tomorrow, then 4 off.

Youngest lad (he's 30!) over with his fiancĂ©...and GSD. Looking forward to it. Haven't seen them for quite a while. Too long.

My plan for the Autumn birding is simple. Bird the Village and cherry pick the Rarities/MEGAS when possible. I'm determined to find some decent stuff this year on my doorstep...

Monday, 25 August 2014

Counting down...

Day seven of a ten day stint which included the whole of the Bank holiday. Work that is...not Birding!

My time will come September and OCTOBER...

Friday, 22 August 2014


As August ebbs away thoughts turn to the best birding season...AUTUMN. If you like the thrill of the chase (as I obviously do) it's like Christmas with some great presents (hopefully). Who says blokes never grow up?

I've managed to arrange my work schedule to allow me the optimum time windows to connect. Not as good as not working at all but far less rigid than past teaching schedules! I'll also need my luck to improve following a series of disasters over the last couple of years. Seen some crackers as well to be fair. go or not to go...that is the question. GO..GO..GO! Yes, you can get marooned...but you could also hit the jackpot. Especially with birds that don't have a track record of longevity...i.e. American Cuckoos. To see one of these two species in Britain would be right up there on my Rush list. Gives me another excuse to post a pic from Texas...

3 Yellow billed would be greedy
Persevered with the old sea-watching this morning. Phil joined me for the second time. Not much passing these here parts. Best bird was a Bonxie (Great Skua) yesterday.

Views of the Little Owls around the corner are always major compensation however...

Gotta love 'em

Monday, 18 August 2014

Patrington Haven

Made the trip down to the estuary this morning for high tide (12.30). Love the open space down there...

A couple of distant cc Marsh Harriers were a fine if distant sight. I managed a barely identifiable image of one...

Further down the track I could see the familiar swirling of waders...

Very smart on closer inspection...

A special place...

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)...c300
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)...c800
European Teal (Anas crecca)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)...8
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)...2cc
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) of 4
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)...c15
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)...c30
Red Knot (Calidris canutus)...c1000
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)...c1000
Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)...c30
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus)
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)...c100
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)
Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

British Bird Watching Fair - a change of mind!

Old school title!

Woke up early this morning and made a typically impulsive decision to have a ride down to Rutland. The decision was partly fuelled by the imminent visit of yet another tradesman.  Hope you've had better luck with your selections that I have lately! Enough said.

Having said that I had a great team sort my roof out. Justroofing thoroughly recommended! Didn't need another day of bang and I left Louise to sort this one out!!

Double sausage Mc (no egg) and coffee and I was on my way south. I arrived around 9.30 and headed straight for the optics tent for a play. I just can't resist. My optics history is a long one which I won,t bore you with. Suffice to say that I've spent/wasted a fair amount dithering over "the best" bins.

Comparing models and makes is difficult...for me at least. 8 or 10, 32 or 42, bulk, flat field etc etc. I took my beloved 8x32 trinnies (purchased off Ebay for £400) to compare with the latest stellar models. The latest offering comes from Zeiss, the SF model. Modestly advertised as "the world's best binoculars". They should be at £2,000+!!!

I spent a relaxing hour visiting the various stands which we're surprisingly and pleasingly quiet. So, what did I think I hear you cry? Still not sure...and that's the point. None of them warrant spending between £1,500 and £2000 updating my Trinovids. In fact my little gems outperformed some of them...which was very pleasing and slightly perplexing. Some are definitely brighter, which should mean better? Not for me. I don't do longwinded.

Resolution is the key - defined as "the fineness of detail that can be distinguished in an image". Isn't that what we Birders require the most?

So, I saved myself a fortune. That's paid for the Mallorca holiday...

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Calm before the Storm

Birdfair weekend. I'm not going this time, although I've been every year bar one since it started. Commercialism increasingly and understandably dominates the whole thing. The causes are just however and there are some great people involved. I hope it continues to thrive.

Counting the days now until the "real" Birding begins. Enjoy all aspects but it's the migration period that gets the juices flowing for me...especially AUTUMN!

Greenish Warblers can't be too far away now...30th?

Scilly booked for the 18th Oct.


Controversy on Yorkshire Birding regarding photos v "proper birding". Whatever that is? Inevitable for me when you have contributors from different you always do!!! Never mind. Birdforum 2?

Just enjoy birds...


Great news regarding the local Little Owls. THREE YOUNG!

Saw them together last night for the first time. They are very confiding/naive. I do limit my visits time wise and always observe from my car (just in case anyone was wondering!). They are simply captivating for me. Owls are my favourite family and to have these birds a couple of miles away is indeed a joy.

Below are a few images taken over the last couple of weeks. Hope you enjoy them...

Super Cool

Balancing act
Filling out nicely
Siblings in the plough
...and simply cute!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

More luck

Spent the last hour driving the local roads with intermittent dog exercise sessions and frequent scans for birds!

I was hoping to see the Barn Owl again on Snakey lane but no joy. I made my way up to the Gas Terminal at Easington. As I approached the clifftop field I glanced to my left to see a hovering Marsh Harrier!!! Quite a surprise. I pulled over, grabbed the camera and fired off a few shots. The light was poor and it soon moved off but I managed a (poor) record shot...

almost surreal

I hadn't seen the Little Owls for a few days and I wondered if they had dispersed from the nest site. I was mistaken...

and his/her brother/sister...

I hope they will give me much more entertainment in the future.


Well, it's time to spill the beans. I've received a payment regarding my medical negligence claim. It's been nearly 2 and a half years since my operation. That's a long time to walk around with one leg longer than the other. I'll leave it there...for now.

I've invested some of it wisely though. I've booked us a winter break in Mallorca next March! I've always fancied going back there after enjoying a family holiday many moons ago. We'll be staying here between Puerto Pollensa and Alcudia. The resort just happens to back on to the Albufereta marsh! Many other great birding spots are nearby. I realise it's too early for many species but it doesn't matter. I'll be warmer than our North Sea village!!

Monday, 11 August 2014

First for a while...

Nice to see this evening...

Friday, 8 August 2014

Strange day...yesterday

No. I didn't go for the TEREK SANDPIPER at Beacon Ponds in case you were wondering...which you almost certainly weren't. I was with my solicitor (sounds important!) regarding my ongoing negligence claim. I saw the Patrington Haven bird so I didn't need it for Yorks. I AM keen on my Spurn list but I'll get them when I can, as I can never compete (and don't want to) with the lads that live there. So there!

A few migrants were seen today. I'll be out on Sunday trying to find one or two...

Thursday, 7 August 2014


I've managed to get down (just!) the last two evenings. I like it down there. Lots of space and some great habitat.

Little Egrets are always in evidence...more later...

Then...Green Sandpipers (P.123) at last! I managed 4 in all plus this, as they say...record shot...

The light was starting to fade by now but a cc Marsh Harrier drifting by was a nice surprise. As were the 2 Kingfishers noted carrying food.

Then it started...

First one...

Then two...

Then three...

Then 6 landed...

I counted 18 birds! Quite a total and a complete surprise. I'm old enough to remember when this species was a rarity in Yorkshire. I twitched one at Whitby on 14/7/92.

Evocative sunset over Hull on the way home...

Monday, 4 August 2014

Owls of fun

Best session for quite a while last night.

I decided to have a drive around Sunk Island prairie! Love the open spaces down there and there's always the chance of a decent Raptor/Owl.

Stopped to give Bud a stretch and a Little Egret drifted by...

As I was trying to get closer to it I noticed a bird shooting from behind the car...Peregrine! (P.122). An overdue and unexpected year tick. Far to brief and fast for a pic which was a pity as the light was superb...yellow legs clearly visible with the naked eye. This was followed almost immediately by a distant quartering juvenile Marsh Harrier which rapidly disappeared.

An excellent couple of hours in the evening sunshine on what had been the best day of the year weather wise.

On the way home I noticed an adult on the farm roof...

It was now 8.50pm so I headed home. As I rounded the bend however I noticed a familiar shape on the freshly ploughed field...

further scan revealed both youngsters in the same field!

A wonderful ending to a great day...

Sunday, 3 August 2014

A few bits from across the water

MEGA action Stateside with a SALVIN'S ALBATROSS (a recent split) being seen in California.

Another was found in the form of a COLLARED PLOVER.

Not rare BUT an amazing record so far North was a breeding pair of MISSISSIPPI KITES in Manitoba, Canada!!!

Where's our BIG 1?

My village Tawny Owls are very vocal at the moment. So tonight I'm going Owling. Much more of a challenge than my other local Owls but should be permitting of course! Still, I won't have far to go if it rains. Reminds me of some fantastic memories Owling stateside with some brilliant birders.

Might have mentioned this before?

In the summer of 2008 Lance Benner took me up into the San Bernardino Mnts, above Los Angeles looking for Northern Saw-whet Owls. We'd looked for hours with no luck and it was nearly mid-night when I had to leave. We tried one last spot. He whispered to me that he'd heard something (I couldn't hear a thing). He shone his torch up into a tree...

It was a truly magical moment...