Saturday, 30 September 2017

Like Buses

LARGE numbers of Wood Pigeons early am towards Out Newton...c5000. Definitely notable! A couple of Buzzards loitered all morning.

I'm still dog sitting and there's been a slight improvement...thankfully. American birds are appearing...another VIREO (red-eyed) on Scilly and a superb UPLAND SANDPIPER on Fetlar, Shetland. To go with the RBG of course.

As I returned to the Cottage mid-afternoon I noticed a large flock of finches makng their way along the lane...I wonder? A quick scan with the bins and there on the wire for a brief moment was my second Yellow-browed Warbler.

OCTOBER tomorrow!!!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Ticking over

SYKES WARBLER reported late last night, present near John-o'groats! Fair drive that (did it once for the first twitchable PALLID HARRIER in 1995 on Orkney) and a less than scintillating species!! Still a tick though for yours truly. I WASN'T tempted.

Signed off for another 2 weeks due to continuing rib and neck issues. Frustrating! Bud still struggling BUT fighting hard.

Reflecting on my eventual Holmpton YBW, it makes it even more special to me, the more that get reported!?

Cracking ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK on my beloved Scilly (re-located 2.25). Brings back vivid memories of the 2007 bird on the same island. We were relaxing in Carreg Dhu gardens St Mary's mid-afternoon on October 23rd when the MEGA alert sounded. It's a good walk to the quay but I was faster then. We boarded the hastily arranged vessel and headed for St Agnes with a anticipating boatful. On arrival I was one of the first up the ramp, accompanied by an equally keen young lad. He turned to me and enquired "do you work out"? I replied "about 20 years ago!" It was Dan Pointon. It was also the twitch of my unfortunate incident with Richard Bonser.

Ah well...water under the bridge...

Scilly ain't what it used to be???

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Scops Owl

Louise had cancellations so I asked her if she fancied a ride County Durham! She drove of course. Her neck of the woods to be fair.

A special bird. I always think back to the Dummer, Hampshire bird (86?) when I first started this wonderful pastime. Reading Richard Millington's inspirational diaries in Birdwatch magazine. I did see the Thrupp bird during the air raid of 2007 but the chance to possibly see one roosting was just to tempting. We arrived around 12, had a coffee, Louise read her novel while I made my way the short distance to the site.

Luckily the bird was in view in a thankfully relatively "safe" position...if you get my drift!

Can you see it?

My pics...

and shut
Must check the Holmpton bushes more thoroughly. Quite a find!!!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Having a go

As promised I put some time in today in the Village. I'm still restricted due to (hopefully) obvious reasons but with a bit of planning and a comfy V70 seat I managed to check out a fair few spots.

Started out on the cliff, full of usual! Nothing usual!! I tell a lie, there was a noticeable tit flock consisting of at least 20 Blue, c5 Great and c12 LT. Eight Wigeon over Taylor Lane plus a couple of GSW over the cliff was also noteworthy.

My lad isn't so good at the moment...that's the dog! He's nibbled his side and swallowed whatever it was that was bothering dogs do. Now he's got the Eartha Kitts. He's suffering the poor lad, quite worried to be honest.

I then spent some time on the bench on Seaside lane, I love sitting here, even if I don't see much/anything. News was filtering through from down the road (as it always does). I was seriously tempted by the adult Red-breasted Flycatcher but I remained faithful. On reflection I should have gone.

11.50 MEGA E.Yorks TAIGA FLYCATCHER 1w Flamborough Head trapped and ringed at Holmes Gut and will be released at 11.55am (not Red-breasted Fly).

Just before the slow drip started I spotted a small bird flitting through the trees. AT first Yellow-browed Warbler (H.155). A great...if long overdue...moment! They DO occur here! lol. Whilst trying to relocate it...the above happened. Back to the house...pronto! I missed the Flamborough bird in 2003 due to a family holiday. After popping a few painkillers I started for Flamborough. I'd not left the Village when...

11.56 E.Yorks reported Taiga Flycatcher trapped and ringed at Holmes Gut is a Pied Flycatcher

Oh Dear!!! Rather disappointing to say the least. Obviously no idea what occurred but...

After lunch tried a few likely looking Shrike spots (a few Red-backs reported today). No luck. I then spent some time on School lane plus the road to the Farm...nothing.

There you go. I'll have another go tomorrow. Docs in the afternoon. Still getting "jip" from ribs and neck. Time will tell.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Easterlies!'s the old "High pressure over Scandinavia" time of year. If I don't find something locally in the next few days...I give up...well maybe?!

Surface pressure chart - Forecast T+36 - Issued at: 01:00 on Mon 25 Sep 2017

Saturday, 23 September 2017

To tick or not to tick...that is the question?

Loads of "fun" going on in Norfolk recently at Holkham Hall Estate. A PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER was seen much more off and on. A difficult bird to see to say the least. BAD personal memories of my Spurn dip. At least I would have had a decent view in the hand...IF I'd have made it.

However, seeing one "in the field" is an entirely different matter. Identifying one "IN FLIGHT" is frankly...astounding!!! A myriad of reports online paints a disappointing but definitely NOT surprising picture. Trespassing, fences cut etc etc. As with any group of people, you have the responsible...and the irresponsible...not forgetting the hypocritical! Future access here could be a real problem.

Some will have ticked "something" in flight? A Birders list is a personal thing, obviously. The need to add a rare species as elusive as this one is extra strong. Individual honesty is needed but cannot be measured. Examples like this make tables/leagues shaky to say the least. Best not to take things TOO seriously.

I have this simple rule...if I can't identify it, I won't tick it. Seems fair to me.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Near and Far

Think I've used that heading before...probably one or two more as well by now!

I've put quite a few hours in over the last couple of days. Mainly plonking myself somewhere and ...waiting. Still a bit sore in a few places.

If you watch sycamores for long enough something usually appears. I managed a couple of Goldcrests (Firecrest one day) and a Willow Warbler at Old Hive. I also noticed a large chunk of cliff had slipped by the farm. Note to self: Don't park too near the edge!!

The highlight this morning was 2 Mediterranean Gulls (H.88, P.130) on the beach. An expected species and no rush but glad to add it today.

Then more beeping from the pocket...
11.05 MEGA Shetland YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING Out Skerries
12.06 MEGA Shetland SIBERIAN THRUSH Unst at Baltasound at Ordaal

I confess to having to check the first although I knew I'd seen one in Yorks many moons ago...Filey 18/9/1994. It was a while ago! No such problem with the latter though!!! Enquiries were made. Due to current circumstances I can't say too much but lets just say things didn't work out. I know...boring but necessary. Another major factor being the diabolical forecast for Unst tomorrow. The 14th record for Britain, only three have stayed more than a day. The 1999 Scilly bird was the year before I started my annual pilgrimage BUT was far too early for my half-term teachers week (5th- 8th). 2 Norfolk records give a slither of hope.

Probably be showing well tomorrow lol! Maybe I can talk Louise into a fortnight in our retirement? I doubt it though. The bleak Northern Isles wouldn't be her cup of tea...alas. I'll work on it...

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Spent 3 hours around the cliff this morning. Best I could manage was a Goldcrest! Oh, and a GSW on a telegraph pole. More Dunnocks and Robins about. A wonderful fresh, crisp, autumnal morning though.

As my late Father-in-law used to say...

"If you don't expect anything, you won't be disappointed".


Monday, 18 September 2017

Taking stock

A calmer day today. Great birds still arriving though.

PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER a strong supporting cast.

Fortunately I don't "need" any of them so I can convalesce relatively stress free? The BBC was a tick for most until the North Uist bird. Funny how a species can be demoted. Still a fabulous bird though.

The PG Tips has bitter memories of my Spurn dip. I'll have to be quicker to the mist net! Maybe a Lancy next time!? The ups and downs of Twitching. We're now approaching the meaty period of the year rarity wise, although it's been excellent already. The next few weeks will no doubt produce some serious adrenaline rushes. Hope I can cope with the excitement...

I'll be out locally from first light and I'll be lowering my sights somewhat...but then never know in this game?

Sunday, 17 September 2017


Seven days is a long time in Birding. I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of this wonderful hobby, although it can be hard going around the Village on occasions...I still enjoy the challenge.

When something "special" turns up in Britain, I'm always interested...just depends what it is. Fortunately I can say...No! On this occasion it was a "must"...if possible.

As can be seen from my 2 previous posts, things (as usual) turned topsy-turvy. After sorting out a charter on Friday night I arrived at Manchester City Airport, Barton around 8.15am Saturday morning. It was surprise there! Around 9 the three of us joined the pilot and preparations were made.

I have to state at this point that details of what happened next are best kept confidential...for obvious reasons.

Suffice to say that the plane got into difficulties and we ended up in a field adjacent to the M62. I sustained injuries sufficient for me to be airlifted to Salford Hospital. I was treated brilliantly by the para-medics in the helicopter, the Police, Firemen and the Hospital staff. My family joined me and I eventually left around 4pm, somewhat stunned!

Quite a spectacular way to dip I feel!!! It could have been worse...obviously.

Time will tell what caused the plane to crash. Think it's best left there.


I recuperated locally at my Mother's in Bury, leaving for home on Tuesday lunchtime. The bird was a distant memory and wasn't on my mind, partly due to the medication I guess! I had to report to Withernsea hospital to get my head wound checked. The nurse was happy with it.

I'd received a few messages from Steve Lawton and Tony Dixon regarding the AMERICAN REDSTART. There was an early Ferry from Oban on Wednesday morning...tempting! Louise arrived home at 7pm and I gave her that look. The absence of Buddy was another clue! After raised eyebrows she gave me the nod.

Tony kindly drove. Erich Hediger was with us and we picked Steve up at Wetherby. I settled in the passenger seat with my painkillers. Things were going well and we were making excellent progress as we approached Scotland on the M6. Red lights ahead!? Accident. It was around 2am. We didn't move an inch in the ninety minutes or so. The mood was grim as we started to realise we weren't going to get to Oban by 6.35. We found some info online giving a forecast of a road clearance by 4.30. Too late!

One of the many fascinations of twitching!

Fortunately the prediction was wrong and we started to roll around 3.45. We had hope. It was going to be close but it would be preferable to make it as it would allow us a relaxed afternoon with the bird...if it was still there of course? Twists and turns. We did have the option of the later Ferry at 1.15 but that would have left us much less time to connect on the day. We would have known if it was present before disembarking though. Complicated this twitching game!

We arrived in the Ferry queue at 6.45am. A touch of hurried paperwork and we were on board. Phew! The irony now was that we were committed to an 8 hour sail not knowing if we would connect. The morning progressed on a fortunately steady sea. 8 - 9 - 10 - news. Glum faces at the prospect of another 4 hour sail, turn the car around and come back again!!!

Way out of Pager range but the ship had wi-fi. I have the RBA app but no details as I haven't upgraded.  Around 11.40 I casually looked at the headlines...again.


RFI, Negative or Positive? It soon became clear the bird was still there...Huzzah! The rest of the journey was plain sailing.

Fully aware that we still hadn't actually seen the bird, the mood was now positive. We disembarked and drove the 10 miles to Eoligarry in a convoy of 4 vehicles past a number of bemused locals. Again, fortunately for me we could park right by the church. We sorted our gear out and walked the short distance to the stunted sycamores.

No big crowds here!
After a frustrating 30 minutes of brief glimpses the star turn eventually showed well...on occasions. Plenty of pics of this superb bird about now. For the record...

Add caption

A few more thoughts...

Charter or ground travel? I've done two previous charters for the CAPE MAY WARBLER and the BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. No regrets. Things didn't work out last Saturday but NOBODY could have predicted that! The logistics for me personally on this occasion, would have made the cost worthwhile. This was backed up by the sweaty morning on the Ferry...character building though. I also know a lot of chaps don't have the time to go overland/sea. It's a personal choice.

Someone was looking after me on Saturday September 9th.

What it was all about...

Another top American bird is added to my list...Happy Days!

Monday, 11 September 2017


Just a brief post for now from my mother's house in Bury as I recover from my bad luck event.

My Charter plane crashed shortly after take-off on Saturday morning at Manchester City airport.

I was elated on Friday evening as I'd managed to arrange a late option to enable me to try for the bird. Things didn't work out... unfortunately.

More later...

Thursday, 7 September 2017


Barra to be precise. Love to...but can't make it.

A combination of late news, distance, pets, oh and work...that's enough excuses! I like to try extra hard for one of our American friends. Maybe it'll hang around a while...maybe it won't! I've seen plenty of males in the States but always smart to see a smart young one here. Time will tell?

1985...the last British record!!!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Back on the pitch - up the Shakers!

Had a great day with the family. Brought back many great memories...