Friday, 29 March 2019


Had a wonderful hour down the road with Louise in the late afternoon sunshine. Things started well when a SEO was seen quartering the horse paddocks...


It gave a fabulous display for over 30 minutes!

Another Wheatear was seen.

Had a nice chat with a couple from Hull. Then a Stonechat (S.64) appeared. Finished off with a Black Redstart...

Wednesday, 27 March 2019


Louise dropped me off at Kilnsea Wetlands this afternoon. The Green-winged Teal had been reported again and as I still hadn't connected (although I hadn't really made a concerted effort) I thought I'd see if I could find it. I walked up onto the bank on Beacon Ponds and started to scan...

Avocets everywhere!! I counted 20...

After around 15 minutes I found the GWT (P.88, S.59). Always distant, I managed to catch an image as it rested briefly...take your pick...

I also added Gadwall (P.89, S.60) Canada Goose (P.90, S.61).

Some dapper Wagtails present...

Dusk and Dawn...well nearly!

Sneaked a Redwing (P.87, H.65) late afternoon in the Horse Paddocks plus Song Thrush.

This morning produced my first Village Curlew (H.66) of the year...

Still no Sand Martins at OH.

Monday, 25 March 2019

The times they are a changin'

We took a walk down to "Old Hive" this morning in a brisk Northerly. As we emerged from the cliff top bushes we bumped into Richard doing his regular Monday morning survey. Still no Sand Martins but hardly surprising given the conditions!

As it was Louise's day off we had another walk this afternoon at Sammy's Point. As we were leaving I heard the distinctive rattle of a Lesser Whitethroat!!! (P.86, H.64). Rather early, to say the least?

At Sammy's we discovered a lone Wheatear on the rocks...

A nice surprise first thing with a female Bullfinch at the birdbath briefly. Still plenty of action in the yard with...
Wood Pigeon 4
Collared Dove 2
Great Tit 4
Blue Tit 4
Long-tailed Tit 4
Dunnock 5
Wren 1
Robin 2
Blackbird 6
Starling 2
Chaffinch 1 female
Tree Sparrow 15
House Sparrow 6

Sunday, 24 March 2019

NDC - Sanderling (156)

My luck is definitely IN at the moment. Despite a series of important family commitments I still seem to be connecting with the birds.

Today found us in Beverley with Louise's daughter and FiancĂ© for an early Mothers Day celebration.

Yesterday afternoon news broke of a Sanderling at Duff. A rare bird indeed inland and a potential NDC and York Area tick. The bird was still present today and continued to be reported up until early afternoon at least. The good lady gave me the nod around 3 and drove me to NDC.

As I started to walk to Garganey Hide a Birder was returning to his car. It was Duncan Bye who watches Wheldrake. Nice to finally meet him. We had a chat and then I continued to the hide. Jono Leadley was "on" the bird, which was handy...and a relief! A major record for Duff, helped by the early date, meaning low vegetation and better viewing. MANY birds must slip through in April/May due to poor visibility...unfortunately!

For the record...

It was a fair distance lol!

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Red Kite!

One passed through the Village early morning...unfortunately I didn't see it! Richard messaged me immediately as it passed over his garden. I had a good look but it wasn't to be. Quite a few were reported today.

A quiet day was livened up mid-afternoon when during one of our pit stops, I caught sight of a distant grey Harrier travelling steady North on the horizon. Initial thought was Hen. I managed a few shots before it disappeared. On checking, it turned out to be a smart male Marsh (H.43)...

Bumped up BOC shot
Bottom of t'hill keeps turning 'em up!

Friday, 22 March 2019

After the Lord Mayor's...

Tied up this morning with my thumb check. All good with the physio but rather stiff, so more manipulation needed.

After finally getting home around 3 after a series of bus journeys I needed some fresh air. I decided to do a reccy from "the Runnel" to Out Newton to see if any Wheatears were still present. I couldn't see any North to "the Runnel" so I doubled back and headed for "Old Hive". As I passed the horse paddocks I checked the grass for birds...

 2 distant Wheatears
 Maybe they were sheltering from the wind. Plenty of Blackbirds but no Ring Ouzel (birds have been reported today). No sign of any early Sand Martins at OH. Onward to ON. Yesterdays feast in the ruins was sadly lacking today as the birds had moved on.

Four miles covered and no luck with Whoopers or maybe a Red Kite. I was there though!

In a way it added to the appreciation of yesterdays action...

Thursday, 21 March 2019


There HAD to be more around today with the continuing SW wind.

There were!

I had a couple North of Seaside lane early morning but they were very skittish, feeding intensely so I let them be...

They love a rock!
What about Out Newton?

I'd always fancied the ruins behind Cliff Farm for a Wheatear fall...

Today it happened. I enjoyed a pleasant hour watching 4 birds at close proximity in the afternoon sun. I have to get what I can in these here parts, so today was special.

The birds stayed faithful to the ruins for the vast majority of the time, only shooting over the cliff and feeding on the adjacent farmland on a few occasions.

A series of images to set the scene...

Today was a GOOD day!

Finishing off with a singing Chiffchaff (P.80,H.40) in the yard at dusk...

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Village arrivals

Early morning up Seaside produced my first Goldcrest (P.80, H.40) of the year.

It's not often, if at all, you can pip the chaps down the road but yesterdays Wheatear was the first of the Year apparently!

So today, I tried to find one in the Village. I walked North and South along the cliff but no joy. A warm SW breeze (18C) gave hope of more arrivals. Sure enough, one turned up mid-afternoon. Richard beat me to it having one North of Seaside Lane.

Time to try and get a well as a Year tick of course! I soon located the bird but it was very active feeding constantly at various points along the cliff top....

First view (H.41)
I spent the next 30 minutes enjoying this fresh Spring arrival in the glorious sunshine...
A cracker...
Back down t'hill for the last hour. No Owls or Harriers tonight! Still, I was more than pleased with a male Stonechat perched on the crop as I arrived! By the time I'd sorted myself out it had flown into the setting sun but I managed a record shot...
(P.81, H.42)
A nice surprise indeed.
It was also very nice to see Yellowhammers. 2 pairs were present and showing well. First a female...
...then a male...
Lovely birds and colour in the late afternoon light.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Green Woodpecker - Spurn MEGA!!!

Had an early walk down to Old Hive on a lovely Spring morning...

He loved per usual...

On our return he managed to flush a solitary Snipe (P.79, H.38).E

News broke around noon of a Green Woodpecker at Spurn. A potential addition to my list!

As I arrived at Kilnsea I could see the odd Birder around but no real focus was evident, so I made my way down towards the Blue Bell. I spotted Steve Exley. He'd been looking for it to no avail. We had a decent chat about ailments and trips and then I continued to the Blue Bell.

Where to look?

Telegraph Poles, Kew, Churchyard...

How about on the ground? I turned towards the Visitor Centre and noticed a small area of ploughed field. Why not. At least I could scan the field.

Yep...this is another of those potential smart-arse moments.

As I was approaching a decent sized bird was flying low in an undulating manner to a lone tree!!! This was the first of a few fortunate moments this afternoon...

306 for Spurn
There it was! Rather chuffed to connect with this Spurn rarity and especially pleased to re-find it. I put the news out and Steve appeared shortly after but the bird had flown. As far as I'm aware it wasn't seen again. Lucky!!

As we were searching for it a Short-eared Owl (S.40) flew across the road and landed on a nearby post...

Always good value, it's an Owl after all!

Flushed with this success I has a look behind the Gas Terminal on my way back. I figured the Black Redstart had moved on but you never know so I headed south along the path. I reached the end and sat on the bench for a while. No BR BUT...

Wheatear (P.80, S.41)
Always nice to see my first...and apparently, the first of the year for Spurn. Things were going well.

I returned home for Bud and took him for his stretch down the bottom of the hill (south of the Village) before it got dark. Fortunately, I still had my camera with me. Another SEO (H.39) was quartering the fields to the west...

Really pleased to see this in the Village. Then, incredibly a ring-tail Hen Harrier shot North low over the fields...

The light had gone but you get the idea.

What a marvellous afternoon!!!

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Texas planning...

Nice choice for this year. Still got my 2000 badge and T-Shirt!
As already mentioned we've decided to base ourselves in Galveston for the whole trip. That doesn't mean we'll BE in Galveston for the whole trip! This area has plenty to offer the Birder...see here. The Featherfest starts on our arrival so lots of eyes looking for Birds. Nice.

During these barren late Winter days, I thought I'd give a general outline to this wonderful area, as I'm still laid up with my thumb injury and it's a bit windy!

Since my first visit in 2000 I've gradually fallen more and more in love with the area...fortunately, so has Louise! We first went together in 2007, touring the Upper Coast. Since then we've been to all areas of this magnificent State. I've racked up 468 species to date but that's only part of the journey. Fantastic scenery, history and wildlife in general has been enjoyed to the full and many friends have been made. I have a few gaps in my State list, some of which I hope to fill this Spring...

White-winged Scoter
Greater-Prairie Chicken
Band-tailed Pigeon
Blue-throated Hummingbird
Broad-billed Hummingbird
American Woodcock
Red-necked Phalarope
Red Phalarope
Sabine's Gull
California Gull
Iceland Gull
Glaucous Gull
Sooty Tern
Bridled Tern
Wood Stork
Rough-legged Hawk
Flammulated Owl
Northern Pygmy Owl
Spotted Owl
Short-eared Owl
Williamson's Sapsucker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Northern Shrike
Yellow-green Vireo
Black-whiskered Vireo
Pinyon Jay
Cape May Warbler
Hermit Warbler
Red-faced Warbler
Baird's Sparrow
Lapland Longspur
Smith's Longspur
McCown's Longspur

I've dipped MASKED DUCK and NORTHERN JACANA on previous trips but although rare, both are possible in April. Some on the list are Western species, so not possible on this trip. I should score with Cape May Warbler, Bobolink and hopefully last! A January trip will be necessary to connect with the Rough-legged Hawk, Longspurs and Baird's Sparrow (I'm working on that one). Hopefully something special will turn up during my time window?

Thirty plus species of Warbler are available ALL in glorious Summer plumage. During "a fall" the place is dripping with them. On previous trips I've experienced a few decent arrivals across the Gulf from the Yucatan Peninsular. The plus being they arrive mid-afternoon so no need to get up at stupid-o-clock (dawn will be at not so bad really). I've seen warblers dropping into the Oaks at High Island in there hundreds. Ten Blackburnian Warblers in one bush on one occasion!!

I've also booked a couple of surprises for Louise. Nothing to do with birds of course! We'll be spending three nights at Kerrville to enable us to re-visit some of the superb sites in the Hill Country, including Neil's Lodges at Concan and Kerr WMA. I've also booked us a night at Port Aransas to give us another mini break from the Upper Coast. Just hoping we get lucky with the Warblers at the superb Paradise Pond.

My passion for Parallel Birding i.e. BOU/ABA will never diminish. It's all I need nowadays. The internet allows me to follow both closely. The odd selective twitch here and a visit across the pond when funds allow. If they don't, I'll gladly go to Cyprus! My destinations HAVE to be Wife friendly...if you get my drift! That's fine by me as I'm not interested in World listing, roughing it or encountering major hassle. It's a holiday after all.

Wouldn't mind another trip to Alaska mind. Trouble is I'm not sure I'd get Louise up there in June? Maybe I'll get a pass out as a Bucket List retirement treat? Alaska...see what I did there? I can dream. Be nice to break 700 ABA before I depart...

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Home Comforts

Surprises come at all levels of Birding. Some occur VERY close to home. This morning in heavy rain I counted SEVEN Dunnocks mopping up under my feeders! You've never seen it all...

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Hope Springs...

Brutal conditions here today. Despite the inclement weather the dog walk produced my first drumming GSW (P.77, H.36) of the year along Seaside Lane...

Friday, 8 March 2019


Feeders keeping EIGHTEEN Tree Sparrows happy at the moment...

Tuesday, 5 March 2019


A few personal thoughts on the last couple of weeks.

My personal "ups and downs" of this twitch are well documented in the previous posts! I have to admit I do dip into anti-social media, if only to glean relevant information that will hopefully aid my strategy. The nuances of a twitch can be endless. This one was particularly complicated...but thankfully...all's well that ends well.

Reading various accounts of twitchers behaviour it's hard to know what to believe. To be honest it's just like any walk of life. There are sound responsible people, there are OK people and there are some...that are not!

Some facts...

  • The bird had torches shone on it at the first site which also disturbed the home owners throughout the night? The bird unsurprisingly wasn't seen next day and changed sites. Some friends of mine dipped after making the colossal journey by road and Ferry.
  • A guy when I was present wanted to play a tape. This was discouraged but apparently took place later in the day.
  • Twigs were thrown beneath the roosting tree on its last day for the owners dogs, to try and make the Owl stir for a better photo.
One word...Selfish. The bird needs to REST.

Imagine if this bird had shown up on the Mainland!!!

Some have that...Got to get that frame-filler at all costs and to hell with anyone else mentality. to get the best picture to show on Facebook or Twitter...for that "well done" moment! Is that more important than the bird's welfare? I think NOT!

The topography of the gardens meant that the bird could be viewed easily, once found. On my second day it was around 15 feet high in a conifer right by the main path!

OK it wasn't in full view for that picture postcard shot. Tough. Over the duration of its stay someone will get lucky and be there at the right time as it emerges from its roost...of its own accord. As happened on its final day. Genuinely pleased for the fortunate few. We weren't so lucky, never mind.

There is no answer to's just how it is. I was lucky, enjoying the bird at leisure with a small well-behaved group who respected the Owls space. Also island twitches are more self-policing with dubious behaviour being pointed out to the less thoughtful. My best pic was obtained from distance through thick vegetation and took much patience to get an "eyes open" image.

Personally I'd rather have a realistic image than an ultimate. Lets face it, after a while the multitude of images being posted on-line becomes a little...boring. Almost a competition to top the last one.

Loved the challenge of the twitch which fortunately worked out in the end.

Time to turn my thought to my beloved Texas...

Saturday, 2 March 2019

TENGMALM'S OWL - Recovery!

Overkill has already taken place BUT I've just downloaded my pics from the trip and feel it's only right to post a few to tidy things up. Last one...promise. It is a VERY special bird after all.

I had a stroll along the Cliff this morning and had a good chat with Richard. I needed some air after a very long journey home. Worth it though.

So, a few images to record the occasion...

The Site at ...

Lea Gardens
The view over the pond from my bench. It was a long day...

Big twitch!

By early afternoon I still hadn't got a half-decent image. I intended to wait until dusk anyway. hoping for the dusk show (as already mentioned). As you can see below the sun was now a problem for general viewing, as a roosting Owl wasn't going far!

After another nap (I only got an hour coming over on the Ferry) I returned to my vantage point and waited some more. Eventually I managed to use the bird to block the sun to an extent enabling me to get this image of it regurgitating a pellet...

One or two of some of the birds present in the Lerwick harbour...

Black Guillemot with Crab
Long-tailed Duck

This was the best I could manage of the Star turn in its second roost site (shame about the twigs!) I was happy to get this to be honest. Restricted viewing!!

The bird is still present today and hopefully will remain undisturbed enabling others to connect until it decides to move on of it's own accord. Another slight concern would be if the owners became irritated with Birders standing on plants. If everyone behaves (a big ask) there shouldn't be a problem. I and many others made significant donations to their chosen cause.

I finish with my enduring image of a tiring but extremely satisfying four day adventure...

Just received a message that access will cease after Wednesday.......