Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Sitting here in the lounge listening to Blackbird and Song Thrush competing out front. Lovely. A Lesser Whitethroat in the back is more noteworthy as a garden tick...but not as memorable on the ear!

 I see the GREENISH WARBLER sp didn't linger on Foula. I wasn't tempted personally. Oh for something...DEFINITE!!!

Monday, 29 May 2017

A First!

A FIRST for me yesterday. Never mind all these rare birds!

I was exercising my lad around 5pm in one of the usual spots. As I was about to pull in I looked across to where I was going to park and there in full view, not 20 yds away, right by the road was...?

Needless to say I was too slow to get a pic. I looked on the passenger seat were it usually is. It wasn't there but I'd forgotten I'd moved it to the back seat as we'd gone out for lunch! Gutted!
Still a wonderful moment to see this animal so close in broad daylight.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Here and there

It seems migration ISN'T flocks of Red-footed Falcons pass Spurn! Plus an Alpine Swift and Red-rumped Swallow!! Must have been a special morning.

I tried for the Hornsea RFF, leaving home at 5.30 and giving it until 9. No joy. I did have a brief chat with Richard Willison and Gary Dayes. Nice to see them both. 3 distant Hobbies were nice.

Overnight rain forecast with a SE wind. It's the end of May? I'll grill the Village all morning. If I
don't find anything...I'm moving!

If you remember I was hoping to be in Alaska on this date but my joints won't allow...THIS YEAR! Hopefully, I'll be in a better physical state this time next year? Communication with this years tour is
obviously limited but I did find this post on their Facebook page...

Zugunruhe Tours...May 21st...

"We've been having a pretty successful three-day tour of Adak as a precursor to our trip to Attu. We've seen Eyebrowed Thrush, Hawfinch, Rustic Bunting, White Wagtail, Common Snipe, Arctic and Yellow-billed Loons, and 50+ Brambling. We leave for Attu Sunday night"

Image may contain: plant, tree, sky, bird, outdoor and nature

I've dreamed of making this trip for 17 years and it would be the perfect way to bring up my ABA 700. Everything crossed for next year...that includes a boat being available and a more favourable exchange rate!

Details of the trip are here. I won't bore you with what I "need" now (most things listed) until I've confirmed next year! I would hope to add on a few days around Nome on return to Anchorage. I better get saving.

I can dream lol!

Saturday, 27 May 2017


Not a classic Spring!!! Dire sums it up.

I realize there's still's been poor. Thoughts are now turning to my French Pyrenees trip which starts on June 9th...that's after I get married on the 8th of course! Not a bad place for a honeymoon. If you follow, you'll remember I went last summer with limited success. Still, it's a beautiful place at anytime.

I've been in touch with my contact Charles, who's kindly allowed me to show you his pics. News on the breeding front looks promising. I have info' regarding Eagle Owl (young about to show at the nest)...

Lammergeier (3 nest sites)

and a Wallcreeper nest site.

Quality birds I think you would agree. Other notable species include Egyptian Vulture, Rock Thrush, Alpine Accentor, Citril Finch, Snowfinch and Rock Bunting. I might even see a Black Woodpecker at last and MAYBE a Rock Sparrow?!

By my dubious calculations I reckon there's over 8o species to try and find of which just under half would be new for the area...for me!


Locally...I (belatedly) added Coot, Reed and Sedge Warbler down by the canal at Spurn whilst adding a new species to my Patch and Spurn list...Red-crested Pochard...a fine drake of unknown origin, as they say. I also had great views of a Hobby (P.111, H.83) being mobbed by Swallows (a clue) from the car, as I approached the Village.

Friday, 19 May 2017

A few pics

My best effort from my PALLID HARRIER walk...

A lovely Yellowhammer on Snakey lane...

A Redstart trying it's best to hide from me at Kilnsea...

A few of the wonderful Bempton seabirds...

Razorbills are my favourites.

This morning I made the trip back along the coast road to Hornsea Mere to see if  could connect with the Iceland Gull which had been present for a while. It wasn't hard to find amongst the "Wonderloaf brigade"

Hope you enjoyed them...

Thursday, 18 May 2017

BBA - Finale

Arrived just before 10. Time for Bud. A car pulled up, it was Tony (Dixon). Great to see him. We had a brief chat and I said I'd meet him by the visitor centre. Trevor was there talking technical with some chap. I said hello, mentioned Tony was here and waited a short distance away. Then a shout "ALAN!", it was Trevor. I walked back to him and he informed me the bird had been seen earlier!!

The observer was nowhere to be seen however. Richard (Willison) appeared! I informed him and Tony of the news. We all made our way down to Bartlett Nab were the sighting took place. Initially the sighting was reported as being made around 7.30am.

The reserve was very busy today and the weather had improved a tad from yesterday!

I was in good company, plenty of eyes scanning and the sky was blue. There are worse places to be, I thought. Plenty of birds to observe, as you can imagine. The good news was we were looking for THE biggest bird. Other hopefuls turned up including Gary Taylor, Mick Turton and Dan Pointon. Then Trevor arrived. We all speculated about the you do.

Trevor then returned to the visitor centre as "the observer" had appeared.  We continued to scan. After a while I gave Trev a ring. He said "the observer" had seen the BBA at eye level fairly close to the cliffs. He also said he was a photographer, yet no photos were taken? The time of the sighting had now changed to c8.30am.

News of a possible boat emerged. Initially I was keen but my four-legged friend ruled me out. Eventually five intrepid birders made their way out towards the cliffs from Bridlington to scan from below. An excellent idea.

Alas, it wasn't to be. News then came through that "an Albatross" had been seen back in Germany. Lots of theories were then expounded, including the "two bird theory" and Albatross speed. All good fun.

Here's my twopenneth...for what it's worth...
  • No doubting the young lads original sighting on Saturday
  • I don't believe the subsequent sightings
There, that didn't take long!

I feel the bird drifted past and continued out to sea. I did put a few hours in though (c24) just in case I was wrong!

Maybe I'll get lucky one day...

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


Back on the cliff top at 10. Trevor was already in position. The weather was horrendous and the visibility at times was poor...but we were in the game. The prize was huge, in more ways than one.

The Albatross didn't make an appearance. We left the cliffs at 4.45. I'll be back tomorrow...with Trev of course! Great company.

Just a nagging feeling it may be sat on the cliffs?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


A strange series of events...

I had the same shift yesterday and today.

Yesterday...after doing the morning school run to Hornsea (nice kids) I returned home, took Bud a walk then put my feet up. I checked my notifications (modern term)...a text...

11.58 East Yorks MEGA BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS Bempton Cliffs RSPB

After picking myself up off the carpet I checked the Pager...nothing? I rang Tony Dixon...nothing? I rang RBA...nothing? Very odd!

Fast forward to today....

I heard my phone while I was in the reading room! When I looked it was from Trev at Flamboro'! Surely not...

12.59 East Yorks MEGA BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS flew NW past Bempton Cliffs RSPB

Maybe yesterday was an omen!

I arrived around 2. I made my way to the cliff and immediately spotted Trev at one of the watch points. It was good to see him. He told me the story and it sounded like the sighting was gen. He didn't see it but was happy the observer was competent.

Garry Taylor was also present. We were also joined by Phil Botterill and Ian ? from York. We spent all afternoon waiting in didn't appear.

Now then. It wasn't seen at Filey? I wonder. Could it possibly be on the cliffs? This second sighting definitely gives hope as the bird is obviously lingering in the area (granted it could be a large area).

I shall try again tomorrow...

Sunday, 14 May 2017


Up at 3.30 and out the door for 4. Not ideal but had to be done.

I arrived at the car park by the lighthouse at 5 and made my way down to the watch point. I was alone. The weather was kind and  settled n and scanned (extremely) hopefully! The seabird spectacle was very impressive with squadrons of Gannets, Razorbills, Guillemots and Kittiwakes passing constantly. There were also a few Fulmars and  even saw a Puffin!

Around 7 I was joined by Brett Richards. It was great to see him and we chatted while we both searched the water. At this point the weather took a turn for the worse and it started to rain. I had to go back to the car park to put some money in the machine which inconveniently wasn't unlocked until 7.30? Yes, it was a risk but the odds were stacked heavily in my favour. On my return Brett informed me he'd had a drake Garganey...but no ALBATROSS!

I stuck it out till 9 when the rain had reached stair rod proportions. I said goodbye to Brett and wished him well.

No regrets. I HAD to try. Having a lie in and hearing the bird had been seen again, wasn't an option. I realize the odds were slim, especially for a species that views the North Sea like a lake. There was also a slim chance it might associate with the Gannets, maybe even finding a perch on the's happened in the past.

I travelled to Sula Sgeir in 2007 on a charter organised by RBA. Louise drove me up to Ullapool and waited whilst I undertook another of my crazy jaunts! The bird had departed unfortunately. Looking back at the records it was present in 2005 (25th - 31st August) and 2006 (23rd May - 1st July). .I guess access wasn't possible in those years? It was only present 3 days in 2007. There have been 10 single day records since.

Maybe one day...?

Saturday, 13 May 2017


Gave it three hours at Bempton from 5-8 this evening. No joy but I tried!

Off to bed to get up early!!!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Outstaying its welcome?

Covered a few potential Spotted Fly' sites this morning before work to no avail. However, I did see a magnificent Peregrine (H.82) flying N along the cliffs.

I see the Red-winged Blackbird is STILL on North Ronaldsay!?

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Pause for thought

Been off the pace the last few days. I did make the pilgrimage to Dunsop Bridge, Lancs to see the superb male PALLID HARRIER. Quite a hike (c6m) but worth it. The home made potato and apple pie combo at my Mothers on the way home was also a delight. Thanks Mum!

Plenty of Swallows, Sand and House Martins back at their local breeding colonies now. Swifts still at a premium though, I've only had a glimpse of a single bird? It actually feels like Spring today as the wind has dropped and the sky is blue!! It IS the tenth of May.

I made a feeble attempt to see the Wryneck down the road but no joy. I've put some decent time in around the village but I've not been able to turn up anything noteworthy...yet! Still there's still another 3 weeks plus so onward...

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Swift

What an enigmatic bird...a Birders bird.

The number of birders on social media mentioning their arrival (many in today), testifies to that. Below is a film clip that's well worth watching.

It IS my favourite species. With modernisation/demolition of many old buildings they have lost many of their nesting sites. One of many sites giving information on nest boxes can be found here. There are many people working hard to help this bird.

The film below popped up on my Facebook feed and reminded me of an encounter I had in Cyprus recently. I was admiring an Eastern Sub-Alpine Warbler from the hide at Larnaca Sewage Works. There were many hirundines zooming around and a few Swallows were inspecting the slit in the hide...rather closely!

Then a bang! I looked down on the floor of the hide...

 I expected a Swallow, I was amazed to see it was a Swift!!! The bird lay motionless. I could see it was still breathing so I carefully picked it up. A new experience for me. I descended the hide steps and gestured to Louise to come and have a look. She wasn't that keen!

What to do? It seemed to have revived and was shuffling in my hand. After a few minutes I decided to see if it would fly. However, before I did, I got Louise to take a quick pic...

With that I threw the bird in the air and we were pleased to see it fly away strongly. Great stuff!

I still haven't seen one here yet!

Swifts set record by flying 10 months non-stop

Thursday, 4 May 2017

A good day

 I started locally with the usual canine constitutional. On the way back to the cottage to pick up the rest of my gear I noticed three white not Sandpipers...Bullfinches (P.104, H.71)! They only allowed me a glimpse through the windscreen but it was enough. A difficult species to catch up with on the Patch and only my 5th record for the Village.

The NE wind is still headed for Duff around 9. I detoured through With' after a pit stop at Tesco. Glad I did as I picked up a distant cc Marsh Harrier on the outskirts.

I arrived usual and took up my usual spot, there was plenty of room...

As you can see the weather was set fair but the NE wind was still strong. Viewable water was at a premium. The dry spell and emergent vegetation had seen to that. There were still birds to view including a good number of Shelducks (c30)...

I spent a relaxed if uneventful 4 hours split between the 2 hides. I did add Yellow Wagtail (D.71). I was hoping (as always) for maybe a Cuckoo, Swift or even a Hobby but it wasn't to be...this time.

A Willow Warbler cheered me up on the way back to the car...

Primary tips unevenly spaced and a longer projection than Chiffchaff
Pale legs
Very clean below
Oh and it was singing as well!

Yesterday I paid another visit to a Sand Martin colony. I am pleased to report there are definitely more birds present this year (c100)...

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

My Birding - taking stock

As you know I've just turned 60 and I am very grateful for that. My Dad wasn't so lucky and neither were many others.

I've positioned myself in an excellent area for Birding. I've been at it in one form or another since 1986. As with many others, it's developed from seeing common birds locally to chasing rarities across the length and breadth of Britain, Europe and the US.

Recent events nationally and locally have got me thinking...always dangerous! I've already mentioned my views on certain decisions. I'm finding myself less and less eager to view other peoples sightings. I need to find or try to find my own Birds now. Things haven't gone to well so far ...plenty to aim for then!

I also enjoyed Cyprus and Texas a little too much! The thought of spending more of our horrendous winter...and Spring abroad is growing stronger with every trip.

I WILL still travel to see what I personally consider to be a kosher bird. I guess I'm my own committee now!  I can now reflect on birds that I've travelled to in the past that I wasn't totally happy with....just to get "a tick" and add to the all important all costs? I've also travelled to see birds that I WAS happy with and yet were rejected!?  I guess I'm becoming a rebel in my old age. At the end of the day...who cares really? I'll just enjoy the birds I come across and choose to try and see. Want not need to see...for me.

So lets get on with it...