Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Bright Start


Woke early (for me) at 6.30am so I decided to have a "crack of dawn" run down to Welwick. The weather was set fair and a fine sunrise was appreciated...

Would I finally connect with some Raptors/Owls? Well, a Barn Owl (P.46) over the car was a great start! As I made my way up onto the flood bank a cc Marsh Harrier was spotted in the half-light hunting in the distance.

I scanned the Humber and there perched on a favourite snag was a Merlin (P.47)...

Things were going very well.

Around 15 minutes later c 8.15 a male Marsh Harrier flew quickly through. Nothing else of note was seen bar 6 Little Egrets.

An hour down at Stone Creek mid-afternoon failed to produce the hoped for Hen Harrier but Kingfisher (P.48) was added in a regular spot.

Another Barn Owl was observed hunting a ditch on the return journey.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

GLOSSY IBIS - Late result

Phil was in town today and he'd kindly offered to take me around the Patch. He set the itinerary as he was hoping for a few year ticks.

He'd started off at Bempton at first light but he was to report t was cold and windy so he didn't linger too long. He managed a few additions including Fulmar.

He arrived at Holmpton at 10.15am. I was just returning from filling Richard's feeders. I grabbed my gear and off we went. The weather was set fair with a moderate but thankfully mild wind. First stop was Easington were we soon connected with the long-staying Rose-coloured Starling. On to Sammy's to try for the elusive Ring Ouzel. No sign in a half-hour search.

After a brief stop at Skeffling were he added Reed Bunting and Red-legged Partridge we headed down to the Stone Creek/Sunk Island area hoping for Raptors and Owls. No luck. We worked our way back to Patrington and headed for Holmpton down Snakey lane. Not being on top form at the moment I hadn't realised my pager was on silent, luckily Phil had his phone info' and news came through of a late double at Kilnsea Wetlands.

Glossy Ibis and Green-winged Teal

The sun was dropping fast but we made it to the car park for 4.15pm. I shoe-horned myself out of the car while Phil gathered his stuff. I glanced over the wetlands and there in the distance was a slim, elongated dark shape...with a de-curved bill. Yep...GLOSSY IBIS heading towards the Humber over the Riverside Hotel. A large chunk of luck, I suggest. A quick shout to Phil allowed him to connect before it disappeared low over the Riverside Hotel. A great moment...and nice to share it. Phil "needed" the GWT but I was struggling now so I stayed n the car while he made his way around to the hide. On his return he informed me that he'd seen the bird and the chaps in the hide hadn't seen the GI depart.

A great end to the day...

Friday, 26 January 2018


Spent a VERY pleasant day at the old stomping ground...

View from Garganey hide
Never get tired of this view. Slightly disappointing was the realisation that the roof hasn't been repaired, hence wet seats etc. I managed to organise a dry spot and my assistant and I set about recording the birds...

The water was well and truly "on" now and the birds were settling in well. Bodes well for the rest of the winter. Great to see the signature species present for the first time. Three family groups of Whooper Swans were present numbering 17 birds.

An impressive number of birds was present in the stubble between the hides. Easily into three figures.
Linnets, Yellowhammers, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Bullfinches, Tree Sparrows, Reed Buntings, Robins, Dunnocks, Wrens, Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares.

As I was about to leave for the traditional chip butty in Selby at Mr C's (thoroughly recommended), a car pulled into the car park. It was Vince! I was hoping I might bump into him. We chatted for a while and my unfortunate Autumn incident came up.

After lunch I returned and we stayed until dusk. Just the tonic I needed. A male Stonechat was a nice surprise.

43 species seen...list on Bubo above.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Snowy Owls

This species is quite topical with a bird on Scilly and one freshly arrived in West Texas.

Phil is tempted by the Scilly bird (now on Tresco) as he's living in Cornwall at the moment but the logistics and weather are stalling his attempt.

My first encounter with this magnificent bird was way back in 1990. I was at my Mother-in laws on Boxing day when I sneaked a quick phone call to Birdline...
"Snowy Owl, Wainfleet, Lincs"

WOW! Needless to say I was keen to see this bird!!! However, visiting relations for Christmas with two young lads was quite an obstacle to my plans. Fortunately the bird stayed until March 18th 1991 giving me plenty of time to visit and admire the bird along with thousands of others.

I started going to Texas in 2000. In 2002 there was one just west of Abiline at Tye until April 1st (5 records). Incredibly a GYRFALCON was also present in the State at Lubbock from Jan 21st - April 7th the same year (the only State record) roosted every night on the same water tower...

I remember Birders mentioning this bird at the time. Compiling this post has revealed the full magnitude of these records. I know I was in the State on April 18th... I don't wish to look further...if you get my drift. Also, it was pre-internet. Phew... I DID eventually look (too tempting). I was still in Texas on April 25th therefore making a connection impossible. That's a relief...a ghost put to bed!

Fast forward to 2007.

I'd just shacked up with Louise and had already booked my summer trip to Alaska. Fortunately I was able to get her on my flights with the BIG bonus of her ticket costing the princely sum of £1 due to a raffle at eBookers. It should have cost £990!!!!! A couple of days after arriving in Anchorage we took an internal flight to Barrow, the northern most point of the Continent. An amazing flight stopping of at Deadhorse (great name). We had a nervous hour on the runway before we got confirmation the fog had cleared at Barrow. During one afternoon on a short 2 mile drive over the permafrost I counted TWENTY Snowy Owls! Unforgettable. The SPECTACLED  and STELLER'S Eiders were rather nice as well. I also saw a Gre/ay phase GYR at Nome on the trip.

A year later I was watching one on my beloved Scilly. We were on Penninis Head, St Mary's when news came over the pager that one was flying in from St Agnes. Unfortunately we missed the flight view but did eventually enjoy prolonged views of it perched on a tin shed! A few more scans out to the west may have given me a very special moment indeed.

So coming full circle we have current records of least to me!?

Monday, 22 January 2018

Step by step

Took the plunge this morning after confirmation from my Surgeon (a great bloke) on Friday that everything was as it should be. I managed a round trip of a couple of miles with Louise and Bud along the Skeffling flood bank. The recent wet spell has left the adjacent fields...damp! Excellent conditions for feeding waders and thrushes. There were plenty about. I didn't see Gavin's male Hen Harrier as I scanned Welwick but I did manage a distant Marsh (P.42).

Plenty of white-winged Gulls around at the moment. Love to find one on the Patch...the Village would be even better!

Sunday, 21 January 2018


We have some at last!

Slow going with the old knee box but I'll have to be a patient patient. My target is a decent recovery by March 8th. Hope your knees are OK?!

The Plover flock is staying loyal near Patrington. I've also seen small numbers of Lapwing on the Holmpton/With' road. No sign of any Red-throated Divers this morning on the cliff walk despite Richard seeing plenty a few days ago. Gavin had a male Hen Harrier at Welwick this morning. Phil's having fun with White-winged Gulls in Cornwall. I need to see some ...BIRDS!

Nearly there with my Texas synchronising...why do lists never tally?

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

I'd rather be...

We all need something to dream about in these dark, cold January days. My (latest) dream is to "do" a FULL Texas Spring in 2019. The list above is just one of many reasons why!

First Village Kestrel (H.33) on Seaside lane today. High-powered stuff eh?!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018


Gotta love eBird...

"eBird’s annual update to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) added more than 85 million records, bringing the total number of records available across GBIF to the cusp of one billion records. eBird is the largest dataset in GBIF, and the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project. Most importantly, this GBIF update gives attribution to the country of origin of the data—providing due credit to our collaborators across the world that make eBird grow and thrive.  Providing eBird data access through GBIF ensures that more people have free access to eBird records: there have been 50,000 direct downloads of eBird data through GBIF to date. As always, you can also download eBird data directly from Read more and see more growth stats here."

First Song Thrush of the year this morning by the cliff (fresh in?) on the constitutional...

Monday, 15 January 2018

Texas memories (2)

22nd April 2006

It was the last morning of my trip. My flight home was 3pm. Where to go?

I was based in Galveston at the Motel 6 (pre-Louise). A SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (31 records to date) had been reported at Sabine Woods. This plus the chance of another bucket full of summer plumage Warblers etc made the decision an easy one. A pre-dawn Ferry and a rip up the Bolivar Peninsular had me there at dawn.

I connected with the rarity within the first half-hour enjoying excellent views with the increasing number of other admirers. It was another beautiful Texas Spring morning and there were plenty of birds to admire. Around 10am I bumped into Martin Reid (an ex-pat from Watford) and his partner Sheridan Coffey. I'd birded with Martin before and it was great to see them both. We then noticed some birders striding with intent..."Cape May Warbler"

It's a late and scarce migrant through Texas, the majority of the birds travelling further east. This would have been an ABA/Texas double for me at the time. However. time was against me. I obviously wanted to see this bird and I set off to follow the crowd deep into the woods. I looked hard but by noon I hadn't connected. Alas, it was time to head for the airport. I said my goodbyes to Martin and Sheridan. Needless to say the bird showed well throughout the afternoon...and guess who still needs it for Texas!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Day out

Well, a couple of hours at least!

Quick trip to the Doc's in With' (c60 Lapwing nr Patrington) followed by a nice Latte and Cheesecake at the Barn (c300 Fieldfare and a Buzzard on the way home)!

Still making good progress with my eBird records. Many more great memories. I'll share some more with you tomorrow...

Thursday, 11 January 2018

All my (Texas) yesterdays

I'm just taking a break from inputting my Texas records onto eBird. I've got to do something whilst in recovery mode!

Thought it might be a drag but nothing could be further from the truth...I've loved it. So many great memories came flooding back. I can't remember what I did 5 minutes ago but I can form an instant picture of a site where I once saw a bird?

An example:-

22/3/2005 Frontera Audubon, Weslaco

Groove-billed Ani (scarce annual migrant)

*Records for the State in brackets.

Quite a morning that was!!! One of many fantastic experiences in this marvellous State. The next day I saw a ROADSIDE HAWK (9) and Tropical Parula at Santa Ana. The 24th produced GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (46) at Sabal Palms and a ROSE-THROATED BECARD (57). Finished off with a DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER sub sp (17) on the 26th.

Definitely a purple patch...of luck. Happy days indeed!!!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018


A slow stroll down to the sea this gloomy afternoon added my first Greenfinches (4) of the year on some feeders. It was good to see them as none have visited my feeders yet. I did a couple of hundred yards along the coastal path after seeing some small waders scurrying Sanderling? They were Ringed Plovers (18)!! I also added Great Black-backed Gull.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Birding Constitutional

Into my third week of re-hab now. It's a slow road to recovery. The 3 hip operations were a cake -walk compared to this. Still haven't had a full nights sleep...woe is me! Hence the promised trip to NDC didn't materialize. Two 30 minute strolls along Seaside lane were a poor compromise but produced a few year ticks at least. Long-tailed Tits (12) are always good value and a tight flock of around 100 Golden Plovers flying low over fields to the North were a fine sight indeed. Other additions to the year list came in the form of Moorhen, Magpie, Common and Herring Gull.

Tree Sparrows have definitely taken a liking to my seed feeders as today I had a record count of 14 birds!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Slowly but surely

I've been having "fun" killing time with my list updates. Helps stave off cabin fever! Had to laugh when it came to the Isabelline Shrike split. Isabelline (Daurian) or Red-tailed (Turkestan)? Piece of cake! far as I'm aware no Isabelline Shrike has been assigned to race...sorry species!!!? Could be a bit of a problem...

Bedtime reading

Here's a taster...Isabelline (or Red-tailed) Shrike" Lanius isabellinus has been treated in the past as conspecific with Red-backed Shrike L collurio (e.g. Vaurie, 1959) or with both Red-backed and Brown Shrike L cristatus (e.g. Dement’ev and Gladkov, 1954). Until recently, it has generally been treated as a separate species comprising four sub-species: two, phoenicuroides and speculigerus breeding in central Asia and migrating southwest, wintering in Arabia and NE Africa; two, isabellinus and tsaidamensis, breed in North China and are shorter distance migrants, wintering in Pakistan and NW India west to Iran.

Enough of that.

The good lady has a dentist appointment in York tomorrow. So yours truly is getting wrapped up for a "Big Sit" at NDC. The fresh air will do me good! Unfortunately it hasn't fully flooded yet despite the recent rains. Always last...but last to drain as well.

Plenty of Bird races today. The weather was kind to the troops...

My Winter birding will obviously be more sedate. Still, no need to rush, don't want to dry up before the Sand Martins...

Friday, 5 January 2018

GWT Salvation

After yesterdays rather gloomy post...although it still makes perfect sense to was a brighter day, if only metaphorically. The knee box was looking a bit angry, so a quick call to London advised that I let the local Doc' take a look. Luckily Louise had the morning off and after a bit of cajoling I secured a 10.20am appointment. Much obliged!

As I was shoe-horning myself into the Volvo I spotted a marvellous male Bullfinch sat motionless in the hedge. VERY uplifting on yet another horrendous day. A Great Spotted Woodpecker then zoomed overhead. More good news.

All went well after excellent advise...I'm not the greatest with medical matters...especially tablets.

Then a message...Green-winged Teal drk at Kilnsea Wetlands. A potential Spurn tick! I gave Louise "the look". After grabbing my bins and scope we made our way down the road. As I was hobbling to the hide I bumped into John Hewitt. After the usual pleasantries and a short chat about my ill-fated plane escapade, he reckoned I'd be better off trying from the now redundant boatyard at Easington. That suited me fine in my present state.

As I made my way out to view I noticed a birder all wrapped up against the elements. It was Paul French. He informed me the bird was still present in a reasonably small raft of Wigeon and (Eurasian) Teal. Within 10 minutes I was looking at a vertical stripe, my 301st species for the Spurn area.

Just the tonic I needed...

Thursday, 4 January 2018


"Hibernation is a deep sleep that helps them to save energy and survive the winter without eating much. During hibernation the animal's body temperature drops, and its heartbeat and its breathing slow down so that it does not use much energy."

Nuff said!

Image result for bear hibernation

Might as well this weather!

Monday, 1 January 2018

Another Year

I've just been forced to update my lists in accordance with the IOC (International Ornithological Committee)...what joy? Oh how I love change. The thought of more DNA moments/questionable provenance etc etc is almost too much to take!!! Having said that I must admit when I look back over the years I now have serious doubts about other records I have, or don't have, on my list/s? At least I'm happy to select my movements these days.

I went for my inaugural walk this went OK, which means I can get out of the house for brief periods. Driving is still some way down the line. I could start a bedroom window list...I can see the sea!

Plenty of precipitation at the moment. Hopefully it will fill NDC up for the Winter/Spring? Otherwise I'll keep myself busy around and in the house.

Hope you enjoy whatever you have decided to do this year...that's what it's all about...isn't it?