Sunday, 29 October 2017


Inevitable I guess BUT not keen! Consequence of advancing years...or is it? What AM I on about?Listing again I'm afraid. I realise some who follow aren't you may want to depart this particular post now?

I was going to go off on one (again) about taxonomy/provenance etc fuelled by another ridiculous event regarding a Spotted Flycatcher at Scarborough. Instead, I'll just use a quote from a fellow old school twitcher...

"This really is stretching the enjoyment of Birding, super similar looking birds being split for what, science, do me a favour ‘bag o 💩’ "

...but wait...a quote from a young gun...

"As far as I am concerned all these taxonomists wanting to get the name in lights should be taken out and flogged"

A joke of course but the sentiment is there!

You know what's coming next...the "still time" quote lol! Thing is...there is! The odds are lengthening but there's still hope.


A RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN has been seen in Texas. This would be an ABA tick. Be nice if it hung around Palo Duro Canyon into November? It's a sight I've never been to and is also good for Golden Eagle which would be a Texas tick. I've just got to convince Louise she'd like to see it! 

Friday, 27 October 2017

Late result

Fabulous sunset walk up at Out Newton tonight with Bud after work. Nights drawing in now and clocks back at weekend. I've tried to be positive about the Autumn...but it's been dire to be honest. Still time for a sting in the tail?

After giving him a good half hour blast a Woodcock (P.137, H.90) silhouette was an evocative sight to finish the day.

Thoughts hurtling towards Texas planning now...

Thursday, 26 October 2017


Would be nice to see some migrating South past Holmpton. I've put some time in the last few days and followed up timely alerts online. They seem to disappear in the Holmpton triangle?

Maybe I'll get lucky?

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

EbbIng away...

At the risk of labouring the point (would I?), the magic month is nearly...up.

I always find it a time of mixed emotions. A few precious days remain before Winter bites hard. Yes, you can get some spectacular (and much appreciated) late movements but things dry up pretty quickly on the rarity front.

A few rays of hope for the remaining days from previous years...


...and the rest. Still plenty of possibilities. It ain't over yet!


Monday, 23 October 2017



Maybe not!

At 5.50pm I think I'm safe now. The magic date has failed to produce this year although a BLACKPOLL WARBLER did turn up on North Uist and a Black-throated Thrush on Fair Isle. Oh and there was one of those funny Stonechats in Devon.

How about the 24th then?


Plus a few more tasty ones deeper into the month including OVENBIRD and BOBOLINK. It's not over yet...

"My" Bullfinches are still enjoying the berries. I even spotted one in flight down the lane as I was unpacking the car. A privilege to have this species in the Village...


Friday, 20 October 2017

YBC - Over the Rainbow?

MEGA Scilly YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO St Agnes at Covean on lawn opposite Grinlinton farmhouse at 9.35am

Scilly isn't what...never mind!

Tough lots of ways. On the LAWN should have been a clue!!!!!

Firstly, I'm sat in Hull Bus station reminiscing over my Porthgwarra dip...sad but true! Very busy shift so (thankfully) not much time to stew. At lunchtime the word "moribund" appears:-

adjective: moribund

  1.  at the point of death.

    "on examination she was moribund and dehydrated"

    synonyms:dying, expiring, on one's deathbed, near death, near the end, at death's door, breathing one's last, fading/sinking fast, not long for this world, failing rapidly, on one's last legs, in extremis;
    informal with one foot in the grave
    "the patient was moribund"

Having had a brief peep (I like to keep it short) on social media the outcome is fairly predictable. A few old sages claiming it's a tart's tick or the dreaded "old hat". A few youthful chaps getting (understandably) over-excited...and later nobly qualifying their enthusiasm. Then, there's the hard guys (plenty of swearing) who can't see what all the fuss is about..."it's just a dying bird, if it's breathing tick it!" Hey, I've played at Anfield and Old Trafford you know...I've taken a few knocks and even heard some naughty language on occasion LOL!
Another classic...No-one can help the bird (or try to) as some Birders haven't seen it yet!!! The assumption that it's definitely "had it" is VERY convenient to the cavalry. Let nature take its course as it can't be taken into care = no tick!

If it had been an injured "common" sp would it have received attention?
I saw the OVENBIRD in 2004. Aren't I clever! That must make me pretty good eh!? Not at all. The bird was struggling and eventually expired. I was younger then (obviously) and got carried away with the moment, plus news was sketchy on departure as to the exact condition of the bird. It wasn't an enjoyable twitch. I also saw the CREAM-COLOURED COURSER on St Martin's the same year. The bird was fine initially, touring the islands but eventually became ill and perished on St Mary's. A different scenario altogether.
Let's face it, most rare birds uncertain future. Cuckoos are notorious for expiring.
No Birder SHOULD enjoy seeing a bird in this state. How you deal with the ticking/listing side of things is up to the individual. For me...not interested. There are no guarantees on any twitch, that's what can make aka AMUR FALCON...just thought I'd get that one in! However, when you know from the onset that the bird is dying...where's the thrill/romance etc etc in that? I know...what a softy.
Yes, but it's a tick!!!?
I hope to see one in Britain one day. It's a beautiful species. I've seen plenty in Texas in wonderful surroundings, including 4 migrants in one tree at Sabine Woods on a beautiful Spring morning. Another reason I wish I'd seen the PG bird was the fact that it disappeared, like most rarities do. Yes, maybe to perish but again the romantic in me hopes they somehow continue to exist...somewhere else...over the rainbow...
Image result for yellow-billed cuckoo

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

How green is your Warbler?

Another slow morning at PG. No justice!

We then headed to Sennen to try for the Short-toed Lark. We soon was nice to see something.

As we were about to leave an "interesting" message appeared...

Dorset probable Two-barred Greenish Warbler St Aldhelm's Head in quarry

I did get a bit excited and subsequently confused... with good reason I feel. I had to leave Trevor as he saw the Filey bird in 2006. I thanked him for his excellent company and sped off down the road towards Penzance.
Then I pulled over.

Was it a species?

I rang RBA and Chris Batty had a quick look and confirmed it was on the IOC list which kicks in next year. Trevor also rang to back this up.

Followers will know I'm keen BUT I had a few nagging doubts...

Distance, traffic, confirmation etc etc.

It was 1.20 now and good old Google maps informed me my ETA would be...5.30? South Dorset on a weekday is NOT an easy place to access. I continued. I still wasn't happy though. This whole complex is less than thrilling to me.

At the risk of sounding hypocritical (keying in the Cackling Goose) I guess it's a personal decision as to whether you consider a legitimate tick...worthy. I've had this debate on more than one've heard it all before!!

Don't tell anyone but I'm not 100% sure I didn't see the Filey bird. I'll have to check my log book when I get back home. I don't minute a bird's a race, then it's a species...and vice versa!

Please let's have a bone fide American Warbler before the month is out...


Monday, 16 October 2017

Wind of change?

Change from nothing to something..BIG!

Another slooooow day checking out Porthgwarra and Cot Valley. Still we're having a go. Plenty of Saharan dust about, hopefully followed by some avian delights. A Short-toed Lark and a juv Purple Heron appeared this afternoon.

There were more Birders around today and I'm guessing there'll be quite a few tomorrow...working on the "after the storm" theory.

Let's hope we're rewarded for our efforts....

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Look what the wind's blown in?

Ophelia hits tomorrow!

However, it will no longer be a Hurricane or even a tropical storm for that matter. Just an area of low pressure...allegedly!? Moving North has to give a cooling effect which must lessen it's power. The origins of the system could have been better...  but you never know.

Still, any strong winds at this time of year give optimism in twitching circles. I've decided to stay till the moment at least. Things can and often do change of course!

Today was spent with Trevor again at Porthgwarra and Nanquidno. Very quiet indeed but we did get good views of Firecrest, which makes any day brighter.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Exploring the Cornish Valleys

We started in Porthcurno Valley at St Levan's Church...

the scene of one of my major dips...


The bird decided to visit Scilly without telling me... after I'd changed my flight time!!!

We had a nice stroll around...but IT wasn't here.

I then drove down to Porthgwarra. More bad memories.


I should have got this bird but waited for news at Exeter as I had to drive to Scotland for MOURNING DOVE...(which I got). Fatal!!!


Marooned on Scilly...were it should've been!

All mentioned before BUT good to exorcise the demons.

Then I remembered I had to check in with the boss... always a good move. I knew Trevor Charlton was down here but didn't want to cramp his style due to my mobility issues. Anyway, as I was parked at the side of the road he pulled up in front of me!

He'd also been at PG.

We had a chat and then headed to Nanquidno Valley. What a superb spot! This valley was home to the VARIED THRUSH of November 1982.

Day 2 will begin back at PG with Trevor...


Couldn't wait for Easterlies any longer.

A mini-break in Cornwall. A gamble, as always. A change is as good as a rest!

Maybe the peninsula will be lucky for me this year...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Far and Near

I finally decided to "put to bed" an overdue British tick yesterday...or at least try to. News of a CACKLING GOOSE loitering around Budle Bay, Northumberland tempted me to try. It's least to me! More here.

So, accepted onto the British list last year and a bird available with excellent credentials just up the road....well OK, maybe a tad further. Far better than trying to see one on an off-shore Scottish island though.

My departure from Holderness was delayed an hour due to yours truly getting his Doctors appointment time wrong! Louise picked me up and we headed north. After a nice Pub lunch in her neck of the woods (Teeside) we continued through the Tyne tunnel. The forecast was for a bright afternoon with the rain clearing didn't!

As we arrived at the south end of the bay and parked in the lay-by it was still raining. There were a few hardy souls present. After around 20 minutes it stopped, so I got out and set up my 'scope. It was then that I realised the enormity of the task ahead. There on the north bank, way off, were countless Barnacle Geese...c5000! A splendid sight BUT trying to pick out a "runt" Canada Goose amongst them wasn't gong to be easy. A challenge though!

I got talking to one of the locals from Morpeth. A nice chap who filled me in on the local bird movements. He told me the numbers of Barnacles present were exceptional and they would soon head for the Solway. Hopefully not in the next few hours. As I scanned the flock groups were continually flying low west and landing behind a dyke...out of sight. It was now 4pm.

Heavy showers continued but I was kitted up and continued to scan with a couple of other stalwarts. Checking the birds on the deck while trying to go through the birds flying low...not easy!

Then lo and behold I found it! Distant BUT conclusive. It then flew west with around a dozen Barnies and landed behind the dyke. Bingo! A less than inspiring species but an excellent tick in the circumstances. I was starting to wonder if a second visit would be needed. I didn't share that thought with Louise.

I selected to try and add this species at this time for reasons already stated. As good as any for me. A prime location and time and associating with wild Barnacle Geese. My committee of one will add this to my list!


Closer to home "my" Bullfinches were present again this morning. It looks like our hopes of Christmas berries have been dashed. Not to worry as the pleasure they are giving far outweighs the loss...

Without doubt the best birds I've seen in my yard since we moved here...granted that's not saying much lol!...

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Garden tick!

A bleary eyed look out of the back door at dawn revealed a movement or two in the Pyracanthas! Not the Blackbirds decimating my berries already?


The two of them gorged themselves for a good ten minutes before shooting of low through the undergrowth. A wonderful sight to start the travelling to boot...

Grandad duty today, so no birdy news...

Monday, 9 October 2017

Local Raptors

Another "one dayer" then. Cruel for those that travelled...and expensive...but that's how it goes. The Charter boys got away with it. More expensive BUT far quicker and much less wasted time if the bird has departed. Choices eh! It's a long drive to Aberdeen/North Coast!!

I became aware of the SBR from a brief Whatsapp message from Trev...F***! It conveyed the situation perfectly. He had a work commitment and I...well, you know the score. A truly superb bird BUT as said last night...not a good track record for lingering and an extreme skulker to boot.

Many online extolling the virtues of this dapper bird in it's naval uniform. Reminds me of another dream bird I'd love to see in Britain which just tops it for me...

Image result for black throated blue warbler images

Had a record local count today. When I first started Birding in 1986 I had to travel to the far west of the County to see this bird. Nowadays they're no doubt breeding locally. As I got out of the car mid-afternoon I heard a familiar call. I looked up and saw 4 Buzzards circling above the lane. I managed to catch 3 of them...

A fine sight indeed.

Earlier I'd bumped into Richard Willison and Karl Dutton at Sammy's. Great to see them both. I was going to try for the Great Grey Shrike (a favourite) but Birders returning said it hadn't been seen for hours, so I declined.

At dusk I took Bud out down Snakey. Well blow me down I thought, as there were FIVE Buzzards feeding in the fine plough!!! A definite record count.

A couple of gloomy pics...

Sunday, 8 October 2017


MEGA Orkney SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN male North Ronaldsay trapped and ringed

A VERY special bird. The track record of "sticking" for this species is poor...but you never know.

There'll be another...maybe? When I'm fit again. All the very best to those who go...Steve Webb and Andrew Kinghorn et al.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

CLIFF SWALLOW - faster than the pager!!!

As I was hobbling down Withernsea high street this morning with the tripe, for Bud I hasten to add, I got a call. It was a very excited (with good reason) Trevor Charlton. "Al, I've just seen a CLIFF SWALLOW at Porthgwarra!!!" He'd actually phoned me before the MEGA alert had sounded! Now that IS impressive. I didn't even know he'd gone down to Cornwall? He had asked me if I fancied it earlier in the week. I had to decline unfortunately...for a number of reasons.

He's just sent me some BOC record shots...

courtesy of Trevor Charlton

courtesy of Trevor Charlton

It was clear from his messages that he did brilliantly to get any sort of image in the conditions. What a moment!!! Must be odds on the Scilly bird for me. Where next?

Friday, 6 October 2017

Slav Grebe

Had a stretch down to Beacon Ponds this morning to pay homage to the dapper Slavonian Grebe (P.136, S.84). Brings back memories of the one I found on Kilnsea Wetlands a couple of years ago.

The bird fed constantly but with patience (my strong point?) I managed a decent record shot. Sneaked a GSW (S.85) onto the Spurn year list, with a fly over, while looking for a Spot Fly (which  didn't see) at the Gas Terminal.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Decent Day

Had a retry for the Turtle Dove at Easington this morning. Plenty of Collared but alas no sign of the TD. It was reported first thing. I left the RBS alone...

one from yesterday
News came through of a Snow Bunting on the beach. Now then... wonder if one/some have arrived back at "the sewage"? None found BUT I did manage a couple of year ticks in the form of Whinchat (P.136, H.90)...


My mate then (inadvertently of course) flushed a Snipe (H.91). Also present was a dapper Wheatear..
...and a male Stonechat that quickly disappeared. A couple of late Swallows drifted by. A decent tally.
Head down in the afternoon for some serious housework! Only fair with the boss earning the pennies at the moment.  took some stuff that was surplus to requirements to the dump. On the way back, checking the comings and goings I noticed an unfamiliar sight coming towards me from INLAND. The bird was large and flying direct. A long neck confirmed a (juv) Gannet! A nice surprise.
Continuing Westerlies for the foreseeable future. More to come from the US of A?

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


Having finally joined the modern world with a "smartphone" I've noticed certain issues regarding the colour display on my blog. There is an option to view the web version at the bottom..or not at all! lol!!


As I sit here in my car, sheltering from the strong Westerly wind,  hoping for passing Geese/Swans. I'm getting a strong urge to head SW.

Wish I was on SCILLY!!!

Alas, not to be at the moment. Circumstances preclude this course of action. I guess many on Shetland are getting restless. I've been there, many times. Not Shetland I add...just...

Wrong place...right time!!!

It's the "game" we play. It could all change in an instant, of course. Sometimes you win... sometimes you loose. I've personally lost a lot more than I've won placing myself strategically. It's NOT a great feeling.

When/if we reach retirement I know where we'll be heading when the wind blows out of the West.

I'll be the Fortunate Isles... every time.

CEDAR WAXWING and CLIFF SWALLOW (plus Isabelline Wheatear) still present.

Enjoy chaps...

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Wind of change

Well things are definitely hotting up! A good day on Scilly today...


...following on from the...

RED-EYED VIREO (always a MEGA in my book!)

With recent records of...


plus a...

SCARLET TANAGER in Ireland this afternoon I guess the weather chart lived up to its promise!

Unfortunately the outlook for later in the week doesn't look as promising with colder air from the North arriving...

Again though...anything can and usually does


Rosy Pastor

Better views this morning...

Monday, 2 October 2017

A good day

A tad breezy today which obviously affected the Birding. A lot of scanning from the car was undertaken. A combination of inclement weather and continued recuperation. I wasn't hopeful with strong westerlies.

...and then...

I know, I know, BOC but a better view than I can manage by conventional means. Any, I'm not a photographer and I quite like it!

I'm so used to seeing "just" Kestrels floating over the cliff. The wind projected the bird at lightening speed and it was only in view for around a minute. I was pleased to get sort of image, so chuffed with this...even though I say so myself! Far more importantly is the record itself. Only my second for the Village following on from a May 23rd sighting earlier this year.

After lunch with the boss I took a (mercifully) fast recovering dog down to Easington for some exercise...and maybe a peep at the juv Rose-coloured Starling. Unbelievably as I got out of the car another/the same? Hobby!! More buses. I thought it landed in the tree opposite but I couldn't re-locate it. I DID re-locate the RCS though (P.133, S.81). It popped up in the top of a bush by the bungalows briefly on a couple of occasions and that was that. It was nice to see a few familiar faces, namely Steve Webb, Dave Tucker and Ian Smith.

Having seen the Red-backed Shrike idea what happened to the pic? it is...

...I decided to try for the 2 Flycatchers in the Crown and Anchor car park. Not much cover down there as the wind howled off the Humber. I positioned myself behind a bush and waited. A couple n a van were just leaving having seen them both recently which gave hope. Turns out they're renting the cottage next to mine for the week! I was joined by a nice young lad Andrew from Herts who was staying at the Obs. He told me he'd walked to the point!! Brave lad. It took around 30 mins but we eventually had great views of the Pied (P.134, S.82)...

...and a brief but clear view of the Red-breasted (P.135, S.83).

I did make a feeble attempt for the Shrike on my way home but it wasn't playing...

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Promising wind?

Who knows, I don't but then again NOBODY does!

Cheeky visit

Made a couple of trips down the road today. On the way I was treated to a decent view of one of the newly established local Buzzards in the early morning light...

Plenty of Birders around Easington, hardly surprising for an October Sunday. A kind chap pointed out a local rarity resting with a large flock of Collared Doves. I can confidently say I wouldn't have found it...

Turtle Dove (P.132, S.80))
The weather was poor with heavy cloud and constant drizzle but it was a memorable sighting of this heavily persecuted species. Could have been a better view!

A young Red-backed Shrike was also in the area but with the football sized crowds (non-league) and
continued grim conditions I returned home.

Mid-afternoon encouraged by the improving weather I returned to the "shrike site". It was brighter now but hardly "nice". There were only two people present as I got out of the car.

The bird performed well but was very active. This was the best I could manage through the gloom...