Sunday, 29 November 2015

4 sleeps to Cyprus

Posts have dried up a bit I know. I've been keeping busy in the house with a few decorating projects. Making myself useful?

I've also been putting the final touches to my Cyprus planning. The WALLCREEPERS are still there... and...I might have a contact to help me locate the exact location. I'm not going to mention the weather...although it has to be better than here!

I've got yet another appointment with a specialist on Wednesday before we fly from Stansted on Thursday morning. 2 hour time difference will find us in Paphos around T the dark! Never mind we'll be up at 6am on Friday morning for the first of our 4 days.

The above bird will be my first target...

I hope to produce a diary of our visit but that will depend on obtaining a decent Wi-Fi signal.

Monday, 23 November 2015


After scoring points with a few jobs around the house this am I decided on a trip north. The tipping point was a video I saw from Stuart Baines showing one in the harbour. It's been quite a while since I had close views of this species rather than a distant spec out at sea (if I'm lucky!).

I arrived around 1.30 and it was VERY gloomy...and cold. Parking was free though!

It's only a small area and I noticed a few other birder/photographers mooching around. No sign of any Little Auks though. Things then picked up when I saw a young Iceland Gull at the far side...

Then a Black-necked Grebe appeared...

I like the angle of this shot...I would say that though, as it was the only decent image I managed in the poor light! The light didn't improve and it was going dark by 3. Still no sign of any Little Auks. I prefer to think it/they moved on after recuperating rather than succumbing to the large gulls.

As I was making my way back to the car I spotted a black and white shape perched on the harbour wall...

Small but not tiny. Still, interesting, so I walked round for a closer look...I didn't get one...

I moved down about 30 yds  to some steps which enabled me to get some sort of (high ISO) image...

Winter plumage Guillimot
Not what I was hoping for but still an interesting sighting considering the location.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Wind of change

Bit breezy this morning. I had a go for Little Auk but no luck...I didn't expect any to be honest. Not my usual positive outlook I know, I guess I'm just never going to be an avid seawatcher!

Unusual weather can sometimes lead to unusual bird behaviour. Glaucous Gulls are arriving.

As I was returning home I noticed a shape on a fence post sheltering from the wind and this was the reason it didn't fly off like they usually do...

The humble, much overlooked yet beautiful Kestrel

Friday, 20 November 2015

Birthday bonus

Well, I've made it to 59! Looking forward to a nice meal with the family tomorrow night.

Would the Birding gods shine on my day? The morning doggy exercise session produced nothing of note except to mention the obvious increase in Blackbirds. I received a text from Phil remarking on the same observation plus he'd had a number of Woodcock IOTS. On returning home for lunch I opened an e-mail from him with a few pics...

Courtesy of Phil Jones
Mid afternoon I positioned myself on Long Bank again in the hope of getting lucky with a SEO. The sun was shining brightly in a bitter SW? wind. The temperature had dropped to 4c and it wasn't looking good, especially when the cloud typically encroached from the west. I must admit that I'd lost my concentration by now and of course, that's when the Owl showed! It flew right past the car and along the ditch that heads off towards Sammy's. It was soon lost to view.

I then noticed a second bird by the Kilnsea Wetlands car park. I drove down but it too disappeared. Back up to Long Bank. After around 10 mins one appeared again and landed briefly on a fence post. Again it soon moved on. As I turned round another flew right over my head about 15 feet off the ground almost swerving to avoid me. A great moment. I even saw it twist it's head to take a look at this strange human!

Best of a bad was 3.45...

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Spurn - the future

I came across this Blog this afternoon. You might want to view it? There are some excellent responses.

I've been going to Spurn since 1987, when I had a wonderful May day out with some Grimsby birders, when I lived in sunny Scunny.  I saw Sedge Warbler, Cuckoo and Redstart for the first time along with Night Heron, Bluethroat and Temminck's Stint amongst others. An interesting day! I realized there and then that this place was special. It saddens me to see wildlife bodies at odds with each other. It's hard enough to protect wildlife and habitats as it is! The same situation has occurred in the past in the LDV. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust being one of the parties on both occasions.

These conflicts can become nasty. I won't go into detail but there were some unsavoury scenes on occasion, particularly at Wheldrake Ings in the 90's. One dispute was a difference of opinion over water levels. Flora v Fauna.

Trouble is, with all disputes, both sides think they are "right".

Regarding Spurn, here's a few of my own observations...

  • Trying to control the landscape is futile (as the Borg used to say). The recent breech only served to emphasize this. It's a natural island.
  • YWT have lost considerable revenue as cars can no longer go down to the Point.
  • The restoration of the Lighthouse now seems a "white elephant".
  • I believe the all terrain vehicle bought to transverse the breech is proving not to be so.
For me, it seems that YWT want to "tidy" Spurn up, restrict access to certain areas and oh, make money! They need to re-coup some of the lost revenue caused by the breech. To be fair parking can be a problem on occasions but even on major twitches, land is made available. I certainly wouldn't want another large car park created with loss of habitat.

The proposed visitor centre is another major concern. Where? How big? etc. All these things are to be decided by greater minds than mine.

Personally I hope that things are left as natural as possible with the least impact on the area. It's a wonderful wilderness. YWT's motives are mainly financial. Something IS going to happen, I just hope the Wildlife doesn't suffer at the hands of the Humans...

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

List building (2)

National and County stuff done. Now for the local lists. I like to tidy things up around this time in the hope of adding one or two species before the year is out. I find it's harder to find the motivation at the end of the year as the start always injects renewed enthusiasm.

Refreshing my local lists (viewable in the right hand column) sees my Patch total pass 150, Spurn 125 and Holmpton 85. No big deal, just a statement of fact. I'm not trying to break any records. I adopt a more leisurely approach these days...I have too!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

List building

I've finally got round to adding my new British additions for the year (see left hand column). Chances of adding anything else now are slim, although never say never.

So, 7 new birds to take me to 500. Who'd 'ave thought it? Certainly not me. It was an amazing and unforgettable Spring.

...and to think, it could have been 9/10!!!



If my trip to Shetland had materialized I'd have connected with the THICK-BILLED WARBLER (8)

If I'd deserted my beloved Scilly I could have been looking at a WILSON'S WARBLER (9) on Lewis.

If I'd had belief in the CHESNUT BUNTING? I didn't.


P.S. I could have made an attempt for the MOLTONI'S WARBLER on Blakeney Point. A combination of a SIX mile walk on shingle (beyond me at the moment) and again, a less than passionate belief in the split meant the attempt was not undertaken...and there'll be another...more accessible one!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Out and about

I needed some air. So we had a ride up to Skeffling for some exercise along the floodbank. We hadn't gone 20 yds when I noticed some Swans close to the marsh. I hoped they were "yellow bills"...they were. A family of Whoopers...

It's always uplifting to see young birds.

As we reached the car again I noticed they'd taken off and headed west up the Humber. There's been large numbers noted along the east coast in the past few days.

I waited by the "Twite bush" for a while, no luck but a nice mixed flock including some Reed Buntings...

On the way back home to do a few jobs I lucked in on this Buzzard...

I also glimpsed a first sighting of this species for quite a while.

Late afternoon found us down at Kilnsea Wetlands. The Brent Geese were building up there numbers nicely...

SEO's had been reported over the last few days. I was hoping to get lucky...I did. Firstly, I managed to pick one out in the long grass by the path from Long Bank. As I drove down to the car park I saw it drifting along the embankment. Of course, by the time I got out of the car, it had disappeared. I grabbed my stuff and decided to wait it out by the path. After around 30 minutes I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye, it, or another was behind me! I managed a few shots before it drifted off down the embankment...

I got a further glimpse as the day came to a close...

Friday, 13 November 2015

Here and There

The CRAG MARTIN has re-appeared! Great news for my pal Haydn who's been grafting all week. Hopefully he'll be rewarded tomorrow? An amazing record at an amazing Church. I still haven't given up hope of a Yorkshire tick...well, not entirely.

Cyprus trip planning well under way now. Great news comes in the form of 2/3 wintering WALLCREEPERS in the Avagas Gorge. These will be my number one target during our mini-break. I'll post a list of main target birds shortly. I just hope I'm mobile enough to see at least some of them! My only encounter with this enigmatic species was in the French Pyrenees one summer long ago. I had a family group virtually flying around my feet on the scree slopes near the Cirque de Gavarnie.

One of my top Birding encounters...and I had my young lads with me!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Black Red'

Took Bud on the beach at Spurn this morning. It was warm enough for a swim...for him that is. I called in on Phil afterwards. His door was open but there was no sign of him. As I drove to the end of his road to turn round I spotted him...looking interested.

He'd re-located the Black Redstart...or another?

courtesy of Phil Jones
The CRAG MARTIN has departed...and unfortunately didn't turn up in Yorkshire.

Maybe tomorrow?

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

CRAG MARTIN - Inspired!

I returned today with the aid of some painkillers and an early start!

I set myself up on a bench in the Church grounds around 9.30 and waited. Thankfully there was no rain in sight although it was very overcast. The bird soon appeared and started dashing around the crooked spire...

It was fast...very fast! The good news was it was obviously feeding well in the amazingly mild weather. It reached 18C!! The bird did disappear on occasions but was on view for long periods albeit distantly. I obviously wasn't going to be chasing it around the Church so I just waited on my bench hoping to get a pic. The skies were grey and the light was poor.

I wasn't expecting to get anything decent...and I wasn't to be disappointed! There are some great efforts online.

This was my one and only decent capture of the morning...

Then around 12.30 I noticed a shuffle of birders. I guessed it had landed on the had...just under twenty to...

It did take some seeing!

A "slightly" better image...

It was a real bonus to see the bird perched. At least it was still! Then the bell tolled and it was off again. It doesn't roost on the Church, I'm thinking this is why.

I resumed my seat. This was my view...

The bird never came close unfortunately. My little camera managed to pull this one out of the bag. Impressive considering the distance...

Heavily cropped granted but pretty sharp and the tail is clear. I was pleased to get something and equally pleased to enjoy a decent amount of time with this MEGA. A much better experience than in Leicestershire all those years ago. It just needs to move slightly North to Yorkshire now.

As I was leaving a curious couple asked me what the attraction was (they weren't the first). I gave them a hopefully brief account. They started to walk away when the bloke turned and said "so it's lost is it?". I nodded. "It must be a female then!" Brave man.

Monday, 9 November 2015

CRAG MARTIN - uninspiring

Quite pleased with that one!

Louise insisted on doing some Christmas shopping in Chesterfield this afternoon on our way back from a great night with family.

My eldest lad Graeme with his son Daniel at Pugney's Country Park
That's handy, I thought to myself!!

I arrived at 1.20, found a car park and got wrapped up as it was persisting it down. Now where is that crooked spire?

I made my way towards it and joined the dispersed group (c.100). The bird wasn't showing but almost immediately I picked it up, distantly, over the adjacent buildings. It was in view around 5 seconds before speeding off North. I gave it till 3.30 but it wasn't seen again. I was pleased to see it (obviously) but I really wanted to get some photos, despite the bad weather.

I'd seen the Leicestershire bird on the 17th April 1999 BUT missed it in Yorks the next day as my lads were playing footy. I also missed the Flamborough bird due to a holiday. I reckon it's around 7 miles from the Yorkshire border, as the CRAG MARTIN flies. It's disappeared in the afternoon on both days...North? I can dream. Maybe I should have tried Rother Valley C.P.

Any excuse to post one of my favourite songs...

The Carpenters - Rainy Days And Mondays

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Wild Geese

No sign of any Pink-footed Geese in the fields this morning BUT I had a nice group fly North over Out Newton around 10. Always a fine, evocative sight...

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Bleak...with a chink of light

Typical November weather at the moment...unfortunately. This is my least favourite time of year. It started misty, then got foggy and finished with heavy rain!

Something cheerful needed.

Late yesterday afternoon I'd had a brief glimpse of a distant skein of Geese flying low along Snakey lane. I'd seen plenty of Pink-footed Geese reported recently. I wonder?

So this morning I decided to take a look. I couldn't see or hear anything from SL in 30 minutes.  Just as I was about to leave I caught sight of a small group on the brow of the hill. I decided to drive round to another track to see if I could get a better look. The birds were very difficult to see in the murky conditions...

Still, there they were...Pinkfeet (P.143, H.85). I estimated around 100. 20 soon left's 8...

The remaining birds seemed quite settled and fed almost constantly at around 100yds. This was the first flock I'd seen on the deck in the village. A ray of light through the gloom. I sent Phil a text and he joined me around 11.45. We made our way back down the track and managed to re-locate a small group of 26. As we chatted they started to work their way closer as they fed...

Great to see..

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Autumn is drifting away...BUT there's still time yet

Still time for something special. It's been a bit grim in these parts lately. Plenty of mist and fog, not great for Birding. Once the magic month has passed it's easy to switch off but that would be a mistake.

Here's a few November records to keep the spirits up...

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Chimney Swift

Cliff Swallow

Cedar Waxwing


American Robin

Asian Desert Warbler

Long-tailed Shrike

Black-and-white Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

White-throated Sparrow

Slate-coloured Junco


Amongst others. Not bad...


Last word from me on the Chestnut Bunting saga. I've received a couple of e-mails from Birders expressing concern over the various accounts of how this bird behaved. I fully understand their position. I passed on a text from a friend (as already stated)...that's all. I wasn't there and to be honest who gives a monkeys what I think in the grand scheme of things. I can't see it affecting the BOURC's decision somehow! You pays your takes your choice. If it does get accepted then full marks to all who made the trip and they get a fully deserved insurance tick....and I don't!!

I just didn't rate it...that's all...

Sunday, 1 November 2015

AGP - a closer look

Just received an e-mail from Phil Jones with a picture of the American Golden Plover attached. It was on the beach by his caravan site at Kilnsea this afternoon...