Monday, 29 September 2014

Surprise view

One of my favourite early shifts this morning! Sometimes I have to bite the bullet. The good news was I finished at 1 albeit not in tip-top condition. After a bite to eat I took Bud down to Skeffling. The tactic was to set my stall up and basically recover!

I keep Louise's Panasonic TZ7 in my bag as I like to Digiscope (badly) on occasions. This seemed a good time to have a play. The tide was out, way out, so I trained the 'scope on the drainage channel and took some shots. It was a dismal afternoon and the light was poor. A decent number of Shelduck were present...

80 yds
I played with different settings without much success. All taken by just placing the camera over the eyepiece hand-held. I was about to call it a day when I noticed a group of Black-headed Gulls coming in to join the Shelducks.

In the interests of realism here's my initial vignetted attempt...

A wader?

Initial thoughts always turn to default species..."it's just a Redshank". Let's take a closer look...

A Ruff! (P.152)

A surprise year bird in poor conditions. It was only present for 30 seconds.

Worth getting up early for!

Sunday, 28 September 2014


Spent the whole morning mooching around the village for little reward. Highlight was a large mixed tit flock on the clifftop c50 birds which included a Chiffchaff and double figure Long-tailed Tits.

I checked the cliffs...

perfect for a Lancy?
...and the bushes...

What about those isolated sycamores?

ala South Gare!
Alas not today.

Granted, not classic conditions.

A distant sparrowhawk shot through...

I managed to pick a couple of Sandwich Terns out of the Gulls on the beach...

After lunch I decided to take another look at the Star down the road. It had been reported as showing closer today. I parked in the Bluebell car park and made the short walk up Beacon lane. I joined the small crowd of admirers and it showed well at about 50 yds...

A bit closer...

SWAINSON'S THRUSH on Unst, Shetland. I need they say BUT I won't be going. Working the next three days and even then I won't be tempted. It's one of those species that will come eventually and at a more accessible location...hopefully Scilly next month! It would have to be something very special to tempt me to make my second visit. Probably another American Wood Warbler although the CAPE MAY will take some beating. On reflection, I'm so glad I decided to go for this bird last Autumn.

Saturday, 27 September 2014


4 long shifts as penance for my six day break! Had to be done. Sunday let's get out there.

A couple of Yanks have already landed further North...OVENBIRD and RED-EYED VIREO

ALL Birders interested in rare birds are filled with anticipation at this time of year. Plans and strategies are formed. Where to be...when? How much time have you got. Some have limitless, some limited. I fall into the latter category...unfortunately! Still, I can try and maximise my opportunities and that's what I intend to do. Help with shifts at work from my Boss and colleagues has cleared more daylight time...and of course I've got our week on the Scillies (Oct 18th - 25th). Yes, I'm marooned I know BUT I couldn't think of anywhere better to be stuck! That includes Shetland.

Lets hope it's a classic Autumn. I say that every year!

A couple of good village sightings today. First a Buzzard at first light. Then, another sighting of the pair of Blackcaps from the lounge window mid-afternoon during a meal break...

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Day 6

Brief report today as most of it was travelling to Teeside and back for an appointment with my hip specialist...ongoing!

I got back to the Patch around 4 and decided to visit Canal Scrape hide, hopefully for a peep at a Jack Snipe...or 2.

There were a few people in the hide when I opened the door and I could see one of them pointing down to the waters edge? I'll be honest, it took me a good 5 minutes before I picked up the diagnostic bobbing action of a Jack Snipe (P.151, S.114).

There it is!

Striking back pattern
Neither bird fully left the cover of the reeds but they're always great entertainment...

That's it!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Day 5

A quality encounter this morning, arguably my best of the year.

After a disappointing seawatch I decided to try for the juvenile Hen Harrier that was lingering around Kilnsea Wetlands. I parked in the car park (made sense) and walked up onto Long Bank for a scan. I gave it 30 minutes but nothing doing, so I had a walk towards Sammy's. Quite a few Birders about due to "the Shrike". I kept scanning but still no joy. As I neared Sammy's I turned around...and there it was!!

A superb juvenile Hen Harrier hunting the drain, This pic was taken at about 100yds and not quite nailed BUT what an agile bird...

It moved along...

Eventually making it's way across the field towards Sammy's car park...

Stunning bird

A fitting 150th for the Patch year list.


Had a couple of hours seawatching with Phil this afternoon. Undoubted highlight was a group of SEVEN Pomarine Skuas in a tight group heading South. A lifer for Phil.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Day 4

Sloooow start today. Feeling the pace! Arrived at Out Newton at 10.30 for a seawatch. Sooty Shearwaters streaming up the coast at other watchpoints. 2 hours...none! The highlight was a stream of Red-throated Divers (c70) south.

A MEGA alert had already broke! FEA'S PETREL north past Flamborough Head. Maybe one day? My pal Haydn was "up North" at his Fiance's. So he shot to Whitburn...great strategy. The bird was seen N past Filey. Cleveland 11.30...then things went quiet. He then had to head South for the Shrike.
Petrel passes Whitburn at 2.23...and lingers. His quote was..."PAINFUL"!!!

A definite hindsight scenario. He deserved better. Many NE Birders must have added a lifer today. Something to consider next time...maybe. At least I'm on the coast. North past Spurn...South past Flamborough? Haydn reckons he could reach Whitburn in 70 minutes from York. Extreme BUT...worth a try!

After lunch I tried for the Stonechat that Gavin had texted me about. He'd seen it along the "runnel". This is a stream/ditch at the north end of the village that runs to the sea. Has definite many other areas!?

In no time at all I was looking at not just one but two Stonechats (H.96)...

Always good value. I like them because they're easy to see!

I gave Haydn a ring to see how he was going on at Spurn. He'd connected with the Shrike but no luck with the OBP (Olive-backed Pipit). Unfortunately..and not surprisingly the bird had been constantly disturbed and had basically cleared off!

He joined me at the runnel and we decided to have a seawatch. Maybe he could find me a Shearwater...he's younger than me! Our vantage point was quite low and the waves were quite high which made viewing difficult...exhilarating though. Large amounts of Little Gulls (H.97) present, seeming to be almost playing in the surf. Dark underwings very obvious despite the spray. We must have seen at least 200. We fixed our gaze on the distant large buoy as a reference point.

Eventually...we managed 2 Sooty Shearwaters (P.148, H.98) and 6 Manx (P.149, H.99). Great to see him, if only for a short time. We agreed to meet again soon...hopefully very the next BIG ONE!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Day 3

Started down south of the village at Old Hive. I was determined to find something/anything after yesterday's visit to Tunstall. Quite a few Meadow Pipits and Swallows heading south. All quiet after 30 minutes scanning the sycamores. Then a movement. More scanning. Nothing. Another 15 minutes. There, what's that?

My first Spotted Flycatcher (H.95)...

No big deal in the grand scheme of things but a BIG deal for me!

In the next half hour I didn't see it again. Seems I'm going to have to dig them out. I sent Gavin a text and he replied saying he'd twitch it! A couple of messages from down the road...Woodchat Shrike and Olive-backed Pipit! It's an amazing place.

I saw him coming over Mill Hill just as the MEGA alert started to drip...

East Yorkshire...not a Woodchat Shrike BUT a MASKED SHRIKE (P.145, S.110)

Oh dear!

A few phone calls and a short drive and we were all lined up on the Canal Bank looking at a first for Yorkshire and third for Britain (that still includes Scotland apparently).

I'd seen the first at Kilrenny, Scotland in 2004 BUT this was obviously a monster Yorkshire tick. Did I mention I'd missed 4 recently. Maybe only three or four times!

It was in the triangle but very distant, sheltering in the hedge behind Rose Cottage.

This is definitely a record shot/dot...

So. where did it come from? Somewhere over here...

Lanius nubicus distr.png
Flew west instead of South!

I saw a few in Cyprus in Spring 1995.

An even smaller dot is this Great Grey Shrike (P.146, S.111) that popped up on the wires in North Field...

You'll have to take my word for it!

It was like a who's who of Yorkshire Birding with many recognizable faces. I even saw John Harriman who I hadn't seen for many years. During our chat I mentioned birding around Scunthorpe in the mid-eighties...30 years ago...frightening! Great to see him.

Eventually people started to disperse as it seemed settled in it's feeding area. It turned out that it stayed in the same area all day. As I made my way back to the car a message came over the radio..."dark phase Honey Buzzard (P.147, S.112) over the Crown and Anchor". A quick scan and I picked it up moving towards the point...

Distinctive jizz
A day of distant Spurn views you might say.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Day 2

Started at the With' fishing pond, slightly later then intended as I didn't set my phone alarm correctly! Got there at 7.30. The first person I saw was Bob Mann walking his lovely female Akita. After having a chat I settled down and waited till 9. Nothing.

I returned to Holmpton and did the rounds but again nothing of note. Back to the house for a power nap!

Midday now and a text came in from Phil informing me that Tim Isherwood had rung him telling him there was a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Tunstall. You may remember that I'd tagged this village onto my elastic Patch boundary due to the scrape that exists here. So off I went.

Phil was already there with three birders from Hornsea and the bird was showing well, if fairly distantly through the gloom...

R.B.Fly (P.142) Great pose
Now then, where's that little gem? Tim Isherwood turned up and soon we were all enjoying brief but clear views...

well, not initially
Firecrest eventually (P.142)
A Spotted Flycatcher also performed typically well...

...and a couple of Grey Wagtails (P.143) flew by.

Gary Taylor turned up and told us about the number of birds that had turned up offshore in the past week. Interesting stuff. He also told us there was a Little Stint on the flash over th'ill. We decided to go and have a peep (sorry). Plenty of Dunlin but we couldn't locate the Stint. My first Stonechat (P.144) of the year was a nice bonus though...

We made our way back and Phil decided he'd had enough. I decided to hang around for a while just enjoying the fact that there were birds present!  

It paid off in spades as I obtained much better views despite the very gloomy conditions...

a definite male

Firecrests blow Yellow-broweds and Pallas's out of the water IMHO. A jewel of a bird.

The R.B.Fly also performed well acting more like a warbler than a flycatcher...

Whilst sitting in the car waiting for the birds to perform I noticed a movement at the back of the bushes. I pointed and shot...


Impressed with the cameras ability to take this photo through the branches. Handy for birding!

Just one more through the bushes of the Spot' Fly'...

A great session. Just wish I could have one in Holmpton. Maybe tomorrow?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Day 1

Started well...

Deer at dawn
Then a migrant...surely not!

fresh, very yellow Willow Warbler...note the dark cheek
Gave it quite a while...7 -10...but not much to show. After a spell at home which included seeing 2 Blackcaps from the lounge window feeding on an elderberry bush! I returned to the cliff to find this smart lad waiting for me...

Whinchat...just arrived?
Then a report of a Cetti's Warbler from Sammy's point. I had a brief go, but couldn't find the spot so I returned to the car park were this fine raptor blasted through the fog...

Peregrine (S.109)
Quite a few Wheatears present in the Horse Paddocks.

Back to Holmpton. I'd just pulled up on School lane when I received a text from Gavin informing me an Osprey had just flown over him in Withernsea and was heading my way! A 25 minute vigil on the clifftop produced nothing...I was used to that!

I then received a call off Phil revealing it had visited the seafront pond 3 times to take fish. 10 minutes later I'd joined him.

Who'd have thought it?
Bob Mann another Withernsea birder was also present working on a new fence...

So, two birders who were at work had seen an Osprey (and a Hobby) and yours truly who had the day off hadn't! Phil also had what was almost certainly the same falcon at the sewage works...

Nice one pal
The Osprey was a no (further) show.

MEGA alert!!! LANCEOLATED WARBLER reported from Bempton. "Reported" always casts seeds of doubt (at least with me) but I had to go... I only got the other side of With' when doubts were confirmed with "no further sign". Who knows?

Gavin had a Garden Warbler back at Holmpton late in the day. 2 Yellow-broweds at Grimston just up the road.

Must look harder tomorrow...after I try for the Osprey first thing.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

SIX Days in September

Last day today...then 6 off. Time to get down to business. (weak) Easterlies prevail...but so does the fog! Some people are never happy especially as the (far) easterly airflow is forecast to be blocked by Friday...
  • Surface pressure chart - Forecast T+48 - Issued at: 0100 on Wed 17 Sep 2014
So much for theories and forecasts. Birds don't read them anyway!

Fact is birds are moving and birds get lost. You have to be available to see them. For the next 6 days, I am.

The intention is to add to my Village list whilst resisting the lure of the chocolate factory down the road. I will undoubtedly succumb on occasions. Let's face it ...who can resist chocolate?

P.S. Just noticed Edouard out there in the Atlantic. First Hurricane of the season...sign of BIRDS to come?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

More detail

Water Rail still present this morning. Gavin connected before I got down there. A Holmpton lifer for him as well! VERY foggy. Not surprisingly nothing else of note seen. I blame the fog!

Here are a few more shots...

Poor weather gives me the opportunity to rest up (I'm on last bus tonight). Back to yesterday morning...

Whilst wallowing in my Water Rail discovery I (foolishly) took my eye off Bud who proceeded to introduce himself to next doors dog...which bit him. Hence the trip to the Vet. Bit sensitive on this one following my eldest lad's dog biting him a year or so ago...£900!! It's not the cost...well? He also lost some flesh and got an infection. Anyway, no stitches this time and touch wood, he seems OK, just a puncture wound.

Once we'd returned from the Vet. I dropped him off at home and popped down to Spurn for an hour. What follows is another example of the magic of the place...

I parked in the Crown and Anchor and joined a small group searching for a Wood Warbler...always worth seeing. After around 20 minutes it showed well (P.138, S.102). Followed closely by my first Yellow-browed Warbler (P.139, S.103). News then came through that the Great Grey Shrike was showing on Beacon Lane. I made my way down but it'd moved on. Then news of a Honey Buzzard circling over Sammy's Point and moving out over the Humber. Back to the C&A...too late, the bird had disappeared into the mist.

Not bad for 15 minutes!

I haven't forgotten about my promised Buzzard tale. Just need more time between rest and Birding. It is the best time of year after all...

Monday, 15 September 2014

Significant sighting

Too late in the day for the full story BUT a quality Holmpton tick was achieved this morning albeit under fraught circumstances!

I arrived at the cliff around 7. For some reason I decided to check out the ever dwindling pond/puddle. There shuffling around the mud was this...

Water Rail P.137, H.95 (courtesy of Phil Jones)
Than Bud met another dog...and I ended up at the vets! Bedtime...