Monday, 29 October 2018

Deja Vu

Grilled the Village today, hoping for a significant find. It didn't happen but I was pleased with 4 Bramblings (P.174, H.127) which alighted briefly in the churchyard canopy mid-afternoon. A female Blackcap was also present feeding on elderberries. I just managed to squeeze a pic...

A Buzzard also sailed over, very low, giving brilliant views in the afternoon sunshine. As per normal news was coming through of significant finds locally. Arctic Redpolls and a Pallas's Warbler amongst them. Very nice...but I'm at an age now were I want to enjoy my own sightings...however meagre they might be!

A lone Redwing in the cliff paddock...

Finished off with a run down Snakey. Thought the thrush flocks had moved on...until I caught sight of a decent flock in the fading light. They gathered in a distant tree...quite evocative...I thought?

So that was that for today.

I posted a photo on Facebook this morning of a Pallas's Warbler I saw in Easington. It came up as a memory from 2 years ago..

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Sea State

I persevere!

The winds are still favourable for watching the sea, so I set my stall out again at the Sewage and watched. It was a bit fresh but I was wrapped up well and used the V70 as a shield.

I wasn't "blown away" with my first session tally. I did enjoy a decent passage of Eiders north and there was a steady stream of Kittiwakes, also north.

There was also a large flock of Starlings (c100) feeding nearby. More on that later.

After a visit to Tesco I returned to move spot. Better this time.

I finally managed to add Little Auk (163) to my Holmpton list. A group of 6 flew North at 11.30. They were inside the yellow buoy giving clear if brief views in the heavy swell.

Shortly after a Pomarine Skua flew North even closer, giving clear views of the "spoons'. That's better.

Telephone number totals were coming in from elsewhere plus a few rarities. Genuinely pleased for one and all. I'm just happy chugging along locally. At least I'm in the game.

For me there comes a distance when the view is...less than satisfactory. The yellow buoy is such a marker.

I got a call off Phil (who was at Spurn) to inform me an Arctic Redpoll had been caught at Church Field. I did have a drive down mid-afternoon but it was rather...busy, so I didn't linger.

I returned to the sewage for the last hour but nothing further of note was observed.

I guess we all like a special bird, whether it be a MEGA, Patch, some other general record or just a bird to enjoy. We take a lot of species for granted. A couple of which have to be Blackbird and Starling. However when these two species are observed on migration the spectacle can be truly remarkable. Today was such a day. I have personally never seen as many Starlings. They were scattered in their thousands all along the coast between Kilnsea and Withernsea...

As I drove out of the Village this morning I counted 25 Blackbirds...

Saturday, 27 October 2018


Seawatch from the car this am. The weather is ...DIABOLICAL!


I finally saw my PS...and AVD (any view desired) turned to BVD (better view desired).

4 birds flew South together by the yellow buoy (0.76 miles...thanks Phil) at 9.39. Great views during a window in the weather.

Plenty of wildfowl on the move. Large flocks of Teal and Wigeon, some South, some North! I also had two groups of Brents North, very close in.

Hammering it down at the moment, hence the post. Hail!! I'll have another sesh this afternoon...maybe?

I did return... BUT the weather was worse!

An interesting report of 10 Hooded Crows at Flamboro' late afternoon gives hope of a possible Holmpton addition tomorrow. How's that for optimism!

Another report of 515 Pomarine Skuas past Hornsea was...amazing!

Friday, 26 October 2018


Today was my longest Seawatch of the year. Surely I would see a Pomarine reports came in from various sites along the coast?


None for me. I should have gone to Specsavers! My long vision is 20/20 apparently but I just couldn't see any. Maybe birds take a line from Spurn Point to Flamborough (and vice versa)...who knows...but they don't seem to pass Holmpton close enough for me to see them?

Galling. 126 South past Spurn today!!! I did see one dark falcon like shape way out to sea that turned out to be just that...a Peregrine!

I resign myself to taking what I get...I have to! Makes my sightings...special lol! I reckon I put in 6 hours on and off throughout the day in "favourable" conditions. On a positive note I added Pintail to my Holmpton list (162). I also had a single Goldeneye (P.167, H120), 3 Red-breasted Mergansers (P.168, H.121) and a Great Northern Diver (P.169, H.122)...all South. The highlight though was seeing flocks of Fieldfares arriving low over the sea. A fantastic spectacle and no mean effort. I could see them through the scope at least a mile out and followed them as they drove over the beach and inland. One group of 15 flew right over my head after peeling up the cliff.

I managed a token record shot but this doesn't do the occasion justice at all...

I WILL try again tomorrow!

Thursday, 25 October 2018


I have to mention this is the last week before the clocks go back...grim!

So...I'm trying to make the most of the glorious weather before this eventuality occurs. After my gallivanting, I'm conscious of trying to cut down on travel...and fuel costs!

Birding first...Blogging second.

Yesterday I drifted down the road on the news of a Waxwing. Always worth a look. The radio came in handy as I was photographing Fieldfares in Church Field...

Fresh in!
I pulled over and made my way to the Kew viewing area...and there it was...

Waxwing (P.165, S.125)
I then spent a pleasant hour in Canal Scrape hide. I was hoping for a Ring Ouzel but no luck. I did see a couple of Black-tailed Godwits...

Little Grebes...

Plenty of family parties of Deer...

Today, I spent the morning walking the Village...and had some success. It was a fantastic late Autumn day. Crystal clear light complimented with golden foliage...

Seaside Lane
Managed a distant pic of one of the local GS Woodpeckers...

The last member of a group of 15 LT Tits...

The highlight was a fly-over male Crossbill (P.166, H.117)...a red bullet in the blue sky. Then amazingly..a Grey Wagtail (H.118) in the road!

Then the Thrushes started to arrive...

I'd seen a "pale" Buzzard on a few occasions down Snakey lane. Today I saw it much better...

Then it was gone...

Further down the lane I had a closer encounter...

One of the advantages of living on the coast is to experience the thrill of these wonderful birds making landfall.

Love thrushes...

Monday, 22 October 2018

Late Results

One of the many
fascinations of our wonderful hobby is its unpredictability.

After a slow morning and a lazy lunch with Louise, news of a Long-eared Owl down the road tempted me into action.

I had a good look around the Visitor Centre bushes but there was no sign of the Owl nor anyone looking?

I made my way up onto the Canal Bank and continued to scan. A few Redwings were present but still no sign of the Owl. I asked a passing couple if they'd seen the bird. They weren't aware of its presence and soon moved on.

Then a shout..."An Owl!"

I turned to see...."An Owl" flying across the road towards "Numpties". One should never presume but I was hoping it was a LEO.

Fortunately the bird lingered long enough for me to get a pic. The afternoon sunshine helped...

(P.164, S.126)

So, from nothing, to maybe a bush sighting, to a flight view in the sunshine. Wonderful!

I stayed till just before dusk, talking to Spurn regulars Bob and Alice, then headed for With' Tesco to get some provisions. I pulled up in my usual spot. As I was about to get out of the car I noticed a flock of large birds heading towards me. My initial thought was a skein of the local Greylags off to roost. A second look in the gathering gloom...they're weren't Geese...they were Swans!

15 Whooper Swans

BIG moment. I'd invested a significant amount of time trying to connect with this species on passage this Autumn, then I fluke some! I'll take it though.
I followed them South and they obliged by flying over Holmpton with a full moon as a backdrop, giving me my Village Lifer (161).


Sunday, 21 October 2018


For many years we would have been on the Fortunate Isles this week. I do miss it BUT circumstances do not allow this year. I do hope to return in future years.

You've read all my pontificating regarding strategy and missed MEGAS etc. The bottom line is...experiences...and a week on Scilly is most definitely a wonderful experience. You need luck to be in the right place at the right I was last Sunday afternoon. We've had some wonderful weeks on Scilly...whilst dipping some British Ticks...WILSON'S WARBLER and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO to name two. Not that I remember these things!

The next week is prime for another "BIGGY" with the 23rd being my annual forecast!

Yesterday morning I tried Skeffling for our constitutional. It paid off with a brief Hen Harrier right by the car park on arrival..

Five fingers
Pale chest suggesting adult female

Saturday, 20 October 2018

CATBIRD extension

A couple of good pals are involved in the CATBIRD experience.

Phil Jones made the trip down today...and connected early afternoon. He stayed until dusk and has managed to get some decent footage apparently.

Haydn Patterson is on his way down tonight, braving the joys of overnight Motorway closures! Still, a far better option than risking a daytime travel. Everything crossed for a hard grafter with limited free time. I sincerely hope justice will be done.

My highlight today was an excellent yet brief view of a "ring tail" Hen Harrier by Skeffling car park.

Friday, 19 October 2018

MEGA - points scored!


We had a great time in York for Louise's 60th celebrations...and the Birding Gods were kind to me...this time! Not that I would have jeopardised the day in any way. I realize how lucky I am.

We spent the afternoon mooching around the centre and visited the Shambles...

...and Betty's...

We also had a drink by the King's Arms down by the river.

The evening was spent at the wonderful Rythre Arms Steak House near Tadcaster...

All went smoothly. We stayed over and arrived back this lunchtime.

I had a couple of hours around the Village this afternoon. The weather was lovely. I managed to pick out a Snipe (H.117) coming IOTS as well as 3 Lapwings. Nice. On my way to the Kennels to pick his lordship up I saw my first significant flock of Fieldfares (c100) this Autumn on Snakey Lane. I also saw a small group of Redwings (5) feeding behind a hedge. Further down there was a healthy number of Tree Sparrows (c50).

Still a couple of weeks of anticipation in store. Beware the 23rd!!!!!!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

GREY CATBIRD - a personal account

Well...quite a few days!!!

BUBO badge positively glowing at the moment.

After the pandemonium of Sunday evening (nice though!!!), I had to plan the logistics of our big night out in Leeds on Monday to see the legend that is Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra. Before that though I had to ready for a WRS re-appearance...but where to go? Back to Hornsea or down the road for a possible fly-by...or better. The weather was grim at daybreak so I decided on Spurn but I also decided to wait in the car by the radio...and the phone of course.

By 10am it was clear that the bird had moved on from Hornsea and I'd had enough at Spurn so I returned home to plan our trip.

Of course, just after lunch...

14.09 MEGA WHITE-RUMPED SWIFT Spurn flew north over the Warren

We had to leave fro Leeds at 3 but it was worth a peep, you never know it could be lingering? I bumped into a few Birders on Easington straight including Steve Webb but there was no sign or further news. He told me that he'd heard only two Birders had claimed it...which was quite surprising given the blanket coverage. It transpired that the bird seen was a House Martin.

To put a bit more spice on the occasion I'd misplaced aka lost our tickets!!'d received them months ago and put them in a "safe place" know how it is. Everything turned out fine though and we had an amazing evening watching an old school legend. Just like the records...

Earlier as we were enjoying our Barbacue Pizza at Frankie and Benny's I'd received a message that was rather inconvenient considering the circumstances...

MEGA GREY CATBIRD Trevescan, Cornwall - one at Treeve Moor just north of Treeve Moor House briefly at 15.55

I hid the tension well from Louise...I think.

The concert finished at 10.30 and despite having some problems finding the car park we arrived back in Holmpton just after mid-night...when I broke the news. She helped me pack up and I left for Cornwall at 12.30am. I'd received some messages from Tony Dixon earlier but my phone had died taking pics at the concert (car charger also playing up) and it was too late for arrangements now, so it was going to be a solo attempt.

The joys of night-time Motorway closures are also part of the "fun" and I hit THREE different spots. The main problem was on the M1 at junction 25 which meant I couldn't access the M42. I lost a good hour with the detours which put the pressure on making it for dawn.

I did.

After sorting Bud out I got my stuff and made my way the short distance to join the troops...

It was just after 8. Plenty of familiar faces were present including a few from Yorkshire namely Trevor Charlton, Brett Richards and John Hewitt. It was also nice to have a chat with Paul Freestone.

The atmosphere was tense and thankfully conversations were kept to a minimum but there was no sign of the bird as the time past 9.

Then around 9.15...someone called..."There it is"!!! For a change I managed to get "on it" straight away before it quickly disappeared.


I even allowed myself a Cheer!

The site the bird had chosen was in a hollow providing a natural amphitheatre....which helped keep things (reasonably) civilized! The next two hours were spent at various viewpoints from which I obtained some great views of a wonderful bird. I've seen plenty in Texas but I still get a BIG thrill seeing a bone fide MEGA for Britain...especially from the West. The previous record of this species was from Anglesey but many missed it...including me. Everyone happy now though. I was feeling the strain by 11 and the thought of the return journey was coming sharply into focus. I gave Bud another stretch and a drink and started to pack up.

I noticed a small group at the far end of the car park looking rather "interested"? I hadn't managed to get a pic so I felt it was worth a bit longer, so I joined them. Lee Evans was amongst the group and he and a few others, reckoned they had heard its distinctive call, from whence it gets its name.  Definitely worth a while longer! Sure enough some 10 minutes later, there it was, sat motionless in a bush not 20 yards away...

GREY CATBIRD (514 for Britain)

A great ending to a great twitch. Bonkers I know but that's the way it is. 1160 miles and the old V70 performed brilliantly...again. I do still love it...for the right bird of course! Also helps if you SEE it.

Many thanks to the chaps who arranged access.


Just for the record I did manage to dig out a few record shots of the...


Pretty poor but who cares...I WAS there...and I SAW it! A FIRST for Britain no less.

You gotta love...October...

Louise's 60th tomorrow...hopefully a quiet day...I WON'T be chasing!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018


Bonus pic in the car park as I was leaving

October has exploded. After a first for Britain we now have a second...for Britain! Fortunately I've managed to see both! Not without some effort I hasten to add. This one is especially sweet as I remember only to well my many previous "work day dips".

Full report when I've recovered...

Sunday, 14 October 2018

A SWIFT...with a WHITE RUMP!!!

16.01 - East Yorks PACIFIC SWIFT at Hornsea Mere. One showing well off the first field

That's handy. Time to leave I think. I made good time, even considering the With'/Hornsea road!

On arrival I could see a small huddle of Birders including Tim Isherwood...looking in various directions...never a good sign! Sure enough the bird had disappeared, not 2 minutes ago!! Rather disappointing. It was still raining heavily so I was (fairly) confident it was still around. Birders were obviously arriving all the time and there was some doubt over the species involved. I just wanted to SEE IT...whatever it was.

A short while later someone picked it up way to the West over some distant trees. I could see "the Swift" but no white rump was apparent, at least to me. A couple of locals suggested we moved down the Mere to try and obtain better views. The bird appeared then disappeared on multiple occasions. Eventually it was picked up by the Mere, over a field we had gained access to, enabling us all to get great close views of the bird. I even broke into a jog at one point...don't laugh! My little camera didn't perform that well in the dull light but no matter, the important thing was...I'd SEEN it!!! Many photographs were taken and it eventually became apparent that we were looking at...Britain's first...

A double Whammy for yours truly being, obviously, a First for Yorkshire to boot! The strong Southerlies had paid off. Most of Yorkshire's finest were present including Tony Dixon, Rich Willison, Trevor Charlton, Steve Lawton, Paul Herrieven and even Geoff Dobbs who was fortunately over from the Gambia! Oh and there were just a few from Spurn as well!

Smiles all round then and quite a shock, so late on a rainy day. As I've said many times before...

One bird changes everything...

Saturday, 13 October 2018


...for October.

Yet it IS October. Oh for a bone fide MEGA. Not some dodgy split!!

Yep...I'd still tick it...if it was reasonably accessible BUT would it be!

A distinct lack of Easterlies has limited activity locally yet things haven't kicked in significantly despite bucket loads of Westerlies?

There's still time. 

I had a couple of hours walking the triangle this afternoon. I had a reasonable attempt at the Olive-backed Pipit in a very strong wind. Needless to say I didn't see it. I did pick out a Ring Ouzel distantly in flight heading towards Canal Scrape. As I completed my circuit I noticed a bit of excitement at the OBP gathering. Fieldcraft was sadly lacking in some instances!  Apparently it was seen briefly. I didn't rejoin the admirers...

Thursday, 11 October 2018

"My" Yellow-browed!

Yesterday I had a slow saunter around the Village in glorious Autumn weather.

Seaside Lane
I checked many of the usual spots with historical records of YBW's. paid off with another brief but clear view of the little sprite at the rear of the Church while photographing Redwings (H.116)...
Out of the picture today but things picked up migration wise with some East in the wind. Hopefully something to see in the morning..

Monday, 8 October 2018

Holmpton twitch

After a lovely family day in Bury yesterday...

My grandchildren Daniel and Rebecca with Mum (Rachel) was time to get out in the field again.

Phil had stayed overnight at Spurn and came over for a coffee around 10.30. After a chat we made our way down to the cliff. Richard was there, walking towards us along the path. He'd had a few bits including a group of Red-breasted Mergansers. After a few words he continued along the cliff top. Soon after he was beckoning us towards the bushes. He'd found a YBW (H.116)! We all enjoyed clear yet typically brief views.

The rest of the day was pretty tame...

Some intrepid troops made the journey out to Lundy today to try for the GREEN WARBLER. A fine effort indeed that unfortunately proved fruitless. There'll be the saying goes...

Friday, 5 October 2018


Taking stock today...unless of course?

Yesterday was an excellent one.

A male and female Blackcap (plus the first Tree Sparrow for quite a while) around the birdbath provided excellent entertainment over breakfast.

I started with a 4 mile walk with Bud along the beach from Holmpton to With'. My only reward was a single Wheatear, first on the cliff top...

Then on the plough...

I check the loafing gulls fairly regularly and today I squeezed a Med' Gull out of a distant flock...

Around 2.30 I received a message from Rich Willison showing a great pic of a Hobby. I assumed it was the North Cave bird and replied I might make a trip over tomorrow, although I'd read it was a bit of a "bun fight"! However, it turned out this one was at Albrough (just up the road). I arrived around 3.30 following Richard's directions. I tried the track to the fishing ponds and parked in the decent sized car park. I gave him a ring and he told me he was in the adjacent caravan park. He'd mentioned the bird had a favourite post along the track and as I was driving back up it I could see the bird perched on top!

As you can see it was pretty dull conditions but at least it was there...and close! I rolled the car slowly up the track enabling me to get some better images...

Not the best of settings BUT crippling views. Feeling rather smug I made my way into the Caravan site to join Richard. Thinking it couldn't get any did! When I eventually found him he was pointing towards the finely cut turf by the caravans? There, feeding without a care in the world...was the Hobby!!

What a treat!

The bird was oblivious to our presence happily feeding on Crane flies (aka daddy longlegs)...

No words needed...