Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A glimmer of hope

Britain is being battered at the moment and living on the East Coast we're getting our far share of the fun!?

I've been trying to keep the exercise going in between the snow showers and gale force winds. I have to say though that I've wimped out most of the time and retreated to the warmth of the Birding!

Significant records are hard to come by at this time of year...but I try.

Around 3pm I decided to have a drive around the Village. As I drove towards the cliff I noticed a flash of welcome colour amongst the gloom...Bullfinch male. I also spotted an accompanying female/imm? The views were brief but conclusive. I turned the car around and headed for the main road. I stopped by the litter bin to do my good deed for the day and was rewarded by 2 more male ...Bullfinches!

As I was trying to get the above image I noticed a pale shape in the field behind...

Barn Owl (P.56, H.41)
I've spent many hours trying to add the Owl to my Village year list, so this was a special moment, especially as it was actually in the centre of the Village! It's only the second time I've seen one so centrally since I moved here 5 years ago.

As I made my way back to the car I got the icing on the cake when a Woodcock (P.57, H.42) flew over!!!

Still plenty of action in the yard. The MEGA hasn't arrived yet but I've got some fine looking and very plump, male Blackbirds.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Feed (and water) the Birds!

Brutal weather coming in from the East. Polite reminder to stock up your feeders and leave fresh water. Could make all the difference...

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Got it!

I'd braved the elements with Bud this morning but I'd had enough by lunchtime and was bedding in for an extended Footy afternoon.

The first match between Crystal Palace and Spurs wasn't a thriller but I was hoping for better things with Man U and Chelsea.

1.35 N.Yorks Iceland Gull juv North Duffield Carrs

Nah! Cup Final to follow as well...

Be fun to try though...for an NDC tick! Oh...go on then. A clean run through Hull had me making good progress and I arrived in the car park at 2.50. Quite a few cars but a few were just leaving. I did wonder if any of the local birders would be present and maybe..."on it"? The Geoff Smith hide was empty but I settled in for a good scan...with my bins. Yes...I hadn't brought my scope...tut tut. I wanted to add a bit of spice to the visit, truth is I initially I forgot it then decided to carry on anyway!

There were plenty of larger gulls present, some opposite the hide but most were distant in the north-west corner. After around 30 minutes I had a walk down to Garganey hide. There were a few people present but I found a seat and started to search again. Would it be possible to pick it out at distance with my trusty 8x trinnies?

Apparently so...

It was disturbed a few times but thankfully remained for the duration of my visit.

Finally, I've added Iceland Gull (154) to my NDC list...after 31 years!!! I guess you could say it was ...overdue. Many thanks to Duncan Bye for the message to back up the pager.
Pleased I abandoned the Footy...


Phil managed to connect with the ROSS'S GULL yesterday lunchtime. It was seen briefly first thing at Lodmoor RSPB then disappeared. I got a pager message at 11.35 saying it had reappeared at Radipole Lake RSPB. I let Phil know and he managed to make it before it flew off yet again!

He sent me this video...

Love to see it myself but...

Friday, 23 February 2018

NDC - truncated trip!

I DID go...but not for long. It was cold and damp in the hides and as I'm still trying to shake off the 'flu even I decided it wouldn't be prudent to hang around! A touch of common sense creeping last.

Instead I did a "recky" for a special non-bird related event which is coming shortly. More later.

I made it back through Hull before the madness and made my way down Easington straight to see if I could catch up with a local Whooper sighting. Hazy afternoon sunlight...but I DID...

Whooper Swan (P.53, S.29)

An adult ROSS'S GULL is teasing admirers along the Dorset coast at the moment. A special bird indeed. My pal Phil made the trip from Cornwall but was unable to find it this afternoon. He's staying overnight and will hopefully connect in the morning.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Big freeze!

It's on the way... allegedly?

Nice timing as I recover from 'flu. At least it took my mind off 'the knee". Plenty of ice ahead, so over to NDC again tomorrow before it sets in. Predicted to last a while. After March 7th it can do whatever it likes, as we'll be in Cyprus for three weeks. Now that's how to Spring forward!

Just the ticket...

Saturday, 17 February 2018


Arrived at 9.30 to sunny yet raw conditions. Parts of the reserve still frozen but predictably only the sheltered southern edge.

I decided to start at the far hide, giving us both a stretch. Plenty of birds tucked in to the SW corner including a surprising number of Black-headed Gulls. Even more surprising was a record personal count of 105 Pochard. I later found a single drake Goldeneye.

I stayed down in Garganey Hide all morning and added Marsh Harrier to my year list.

After the chip butty I returned to the Geoff Smith hide for the afternoon vigil. Andy Walker had found 2 juv Iceland Gulls yesterday afternoon so I was hoping to add this long overdue species to my Duff life list! 3 Buzzards provided continuous entertainment as the Gulls started to drift in.

Chris Gomersall entered the hide on the same mission. No joy by 5, so we headed for the car park.

I added.. 

Marsh Harrier
Barn Owl
Pied Wagtail
Song Thrush


News of a possible/probable SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT in that well-known South Yorkshire hotspot Barnby Dun!?

I won't be going.

Who cares? Nobody... except me!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Brighter times

The weather locally has been grim of late, hence Birding opportunities have been limited. However things look brighter for the forthcoming days. Time for another trip over to NDC me thinks...

Monday, 12 February 2018

Repeat visits

This time of year can be difficult for lots of reasons BUT interesting sightings can still be had...with luck!

A sunny morning meant a run for Buddy on his favourite habitat...the beach! Too cold for a swim but it didn't stop him having extended paddles.

I was returning from Easington for lunch when I detoured, on the spur of the moment, past Dimlington Bungalows to see if I could get lucky with the long-staying, first winter Rose-coloured Starling. I'd observed other birders on occasions, focussing on the low hedge at the west end. I parked in the lay-by and waited. I could see groups of Starlings perched on aerials to my rear. I was just about to turn the car round when I noticed a pale Starling sat motionless in the self same low hedge. Bingo...

The last couple of hours were spent cruising around Sunk Island and Stone Creek with no real plan in mind. I parked up at a regular pull in and waited...for something to happen! A group of 20 Fieldfares feeding in the adjacent long grass was a nice surprise. It was now gone 4. Then a sudden movement caught my eye out of the side window.

Amazingly it was a male Hen Harrier flying low past the car not 5 yards away!!!

It was moving quickly...away. By the time I'd sorted my camera out it was way off...

For the record...

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Red-Breasted Goose

Tantalizing news of a bird (of unknown origin) skirting the West Yorkshire border (wherever that is?). Would be nice to see anyway I guess, although it sounds like a "wild goose chase"...boom boom!

Friday, 9 February 2018

Local numbers

My wintering Tree Sparrow flock has now reached the impressive total of 20 birds. Not bad for a few backyard feeders! 8 Blackbirds is also a decent figure for such a small grassless area.

Another drive up and down Snakey at dusk failed to produce the hoped for Barn Owl. However, I was rewarded with an unexpected view of 3 Buzzards circling low over a field at the Patrington end. Very surprising in the half-light at 2C?

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Hen Harrier

I had to go for a medical today in Beverley. All went well and on my way back home I detoured via Stone Creek. It's been a quiet winter there but there's always hope...right?

I pulled up around 12.30 and gave Bud a stretch. A few scans revealed a few groups of Curlew over but nothing else. Another scan. I thought I saw..."something"...grey!!!

I did...

The bird quartered the far side of the field never venturing closer to the road...unfortunately. It was only present for 2 minutes. I waited until 2.30pm but it didn't re-appear. The pics are obviously record shots and purely a bonus to the sighting. Great to see a male...

Hen Harrier (P.50)

Whooper Swans of the LDV

Wednesday 7th

The forecast lived up to it's billing...thankfully!

I arrived at NDC around 9.30 to still, cold yet gloriously sunny conditions. The initial scan of the panorama from the Geoff Smith hide revealed only a couple of yellow-billed Swans...of the Whooper variety!

There were plenty of birds present on this wonderful landscape. The water level was perfect, although small parts were frozen which concentrated the birds somewhat. I was determined to enjoy what promised to be a superb winter's day.

A Black-tailed Godwit (44) was a nice surprise flying over the river with Lapwings. Sign of Spring, coupled with an Oystercatcher (45) A nice flock of mobile Ruff (15) wheeling around the reserve are always a nice, if expected bonus. A Water Rail (46) squealed from the reeds.

Down to Garganey hide. Nothing added until the return walk when a small bird was glimpsed hopping around on a large tree trunk...Treecreeper (47)! Definitely an unexpected addition.

Lunch in usual.

As I returned to the hides I noticed a group of Swans on Bubwith Ings. They had to be Whoopers. Now then...I usually stay 100% loyal to NDC but the chance of close views of these wonderful birds was just too much of a pull. After parking at Bubwith bridge I started to walk the short distance (thankfully) North...without Bud!

I'd only gone 100yds when I looked back to see a chap following me with three dogs...not ideal.


Next news one of the dogs is stood next to me! Ah well. It didn't stop me enjoying great views of three family parties...

A good decision. Everything had fitted into place. It's not easy to get close to these magnificent birds. They ooze wildness. The way they move and sound over the Ings is simply magical. I've been watching them here for over 30 years and I have to say it's my favourite place to be. Sure I like migration, the odd twitch and foreign holiday BUT the simple pleasure I get from the North Duffield Carrs/ Bubwith area is very special indeed. The Whooper Swan is the signature species. To think they've been returning here to winter for many, many years and continue to do so in this modern era of habitat destruction is a marvellous thing to behold. No easy pickings at the Wetlands Centres (new name apparently) for these birds. Natural feeding in natural surroundings. Superb!!!

The last couple of hours were spent back in the GS Hide. The hoped for Barn Owl never materialised but I did add Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 superb male Goldeneyes (irregular here).

Around 4pm a group of mature birders entered the hide and asked about the Whoopers. They said they'd seen some Swans flying over the river onto the Carrs as they walked up from Garganey Hide. I confirmed that they were indeed Whooper Swans. I told them that more would almost certainly arrive to roost. They didn't linger.

They should have...

Always a spectacular sight and a fitting end to a great day...

34 species seen

NDC Year 55

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Ring Ouzel

I'd tried a few times for the bird at Sammy's, once with Phil but it just didn't want to play. The inclement weather did play it's usual!

Anyway, today the weather was cold but still and sunny so I thought I'd give it another go. I multi-tasked as I often do. Bud's ball in one hand and bins in the other. He tore up and down the flood bank while I scanned the first paddock. On my visit with Phil we didn't see a bird, so a couple of Fieldfares and a Redwing were encouraging. Then a few Blackbirds (5). Another "Blackbird" perched in a distant bush...

Ring Ouzel (P.49)
The bird was around 70yds away and I could now hear it calling. I spent a good hour with the bird and it was in view the whole time, although keeping it's distance...

Definitely a bonus winter addition.

Weather set fair for tomorrow so it's over to NDC...

Friday, 2 February 2018

Glaucous Gull

When I first started Birding in the mid-eighties I started exploring the sites of North Lincolnshire, as I lived in Scunny then.

One such site was the concrete bowl that is Covenham Reservoir. I vividly remember walking around the wall on my first visit with John Walton (who still lives in Stallingborough) and coming across a "biscuit bird" (juv GG) stood on the wall not 10 yards away! I've seen a few of various ages in various locations (plenty in Alaska) over the years BUT it's been a while since I saw one WELL.

Therefore when one seemed to be lingering at Hollingworth Lake I decided to make the trip. It's a site I'm familiar with from my youth, a local beauty spot nestled in to the west side of the Pennines. Having crawled through Hull (as usual) I made good time the rest of the way and arrived around 10.30am. It was freezing cold but clear and still. VERY dodgy underfoot (like glass) so I waited in the car for a while. Then a glimpse...

First impressions through the car window...

A few other admirers had gathered by now with there bazooka lenses. They weren't really needed though as over the next hour or so the young giant performed admirably...I nearly caught it fully as it flew across to the ramp...

Anyway, a few images of this Arctic wanderer...

Crippling views as they say!!!

Really pleased I made the journey. A wonderful bird!