Sunday, 29 September 2019


News travels fast on-line these days. I was informed late last night by Steve Lawton that the EYW call recording has been on the List it goes...519. Far from the most exciting or convincing addition BUT for listing purposes...who am I to argue?!

A couple of pics from last week from the south end of the Gas Terminal along Vicar's Lane...

Male Redstart

Everything crossed for the coming week/month...

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Landing the BIG 1

Having belatedly and I have to say somewhat reluctantly entered the world of (anti)social media, I AM enjoying reading updates from Birding groups/crews etc searching for the "Big One" on far flung islands. Scilly would ALWAYS be my choice.

I adhere strictly to my non-involvement in on-line banter...been there, done that. However, I do like to support these impressive efforts with the odd "like".

I've had mini-excursions to the Outer. Hebrides, Shetland, Cornwall and Scilly. It can be VERY hard work! Every Rarity/MEGA found is undoubtedly well earned. Much respect.

Stick or twist?

I've got stuck I won't be twisting!? I'll be keeping my powder dry and reacting on news.

Many weather theories also out there. Some with good grounding. A fast moving system is approaching the SW. IF something turns up I may spend a few days down there. Trouble is, it's a long way from Shetland...Outer Hebrides etc etc!

Personally I'd love to see a PARULA after missing the 2010 bird on Tiree due to work. Time will tell...

Friday, 27 September 2019

EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL - A typical twitch?

I don't get many opportunities these days to travel for birds, so when I do I like to take them asap. You know my thoughts on provenance and taxonomy...nuff said, right?

The British List (BOU) now follows the things have changed...slightly. eBird follows Clements but that's a story for another day. It has caused some personal listing issues though!

Why am I mentioning this? Well, one of the additions is EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL.

News came through on Wednesday of a possible on Anglesey at Cemlyn Bay. I gleaned what I could of the tinternet. The pics looked promising but no-one had heard it give the diagnostic call. What to do?

My thinking :-

I can go
It's on the mainland(ish)
It's a probable
Gets it out of the way!!

I drove to Hartshead Services for 8 and waited...

09.53 Anglesey probable Eastern Yellow Wagtail 1w still 9.30am Cemlyn


10.58 No further sign of probable Eastern Yellow Wagtail...

Time for lunch at Birch Services.

11.54 It's back!

The North Wales coast road is much improved these days and I mad good time to the Menai Bridge and over onto Anglesey. I arrived at Cemlyn Bay at 3pm thanks to my excellent phone Sat Nav. It was rather breezy! I got my gear and dog together and headed down the shingle bar. I could see some figures in the distance but the first group were walkers, one of whom informed me to watch out for the caterpillars on the path! I told Bud.

The next group were twitchers, one being Fred Fearn and another Al Orton. I asked them if they'd seen it and they said no as they'd just arrived themselves. We gave it 30 minutes of scanning the field opposite (in a VERY strong wind) before returning to our cars. We then joined the other group scanning the fields from a farm road.

The viewing was difficult...long grass, strong wind and undulating terrain.

Then at 3.52 a shout went up..."Wagtail on the fencepost"! Amazing really, considering the conditions. There it was, albeit distantly (c100 yds)...

It was better through the scope!

Brutal crop
I reckon it stayed there for around 90 seconds before dropping behind the fence. It wasn't seen again before I gave up in the worsening weather at 5.30.

I'm not going to harp on about sonograms and DNA (you'll be pleased to hear) suffice to say I've seen it and let's see what comes out in the wash...."pending" as they say.

The thrill of the chase is still with me and always will be I guess. If I'd arrived after 4.30 there would have been nobody there as everyone left after this sighting. Not a good scenario. One or two were mooching around as I departed and it was reported again so maybe I would have connected? Just glad I did. Saved me from a night in the car with my mate!

An exciting day...although the target was less so. They're all one...

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

This and That

Yesterday a flurry of action at the magic Bird Bath. THREE Coal Tits and a pair of Blackcaps. Heady stuff I know!

...and a fresh in Robin...

plus Song Thrush...

This morning a two mile dog walk along Skeffling bank with the good lady revealed a good number of Shelducks still loitering (c1000) plus c300 Curlews.

No joy with any Pinkfeet flocks this afternoon at the "sewage". A report of a Leach's Petrel north past Spurn raised hopes but I didn't hold my breath! A confiding Wheatear is always worth watching though...

Head down till Friday then let's see what turns up?


Started the above post but saved it as a draft. After the hectic weekend and Monday I thought I'd just tag on a few extra bits from an inclement Tuesday...but not before I mention my Great Northern Diver (P.121, H.99)...summer plumage...ish no less, south on Friday morning!

I was hoping for a lie in but I woke early so I ventured out with the lad. I wasn't going far from the car as there were some ominous clouds forming. A short sharp (my favourite kind) seawatch was in order. It became immediately apparent that a movement of Gannets was taking place with a constant steady stream of birds moving South. I counted 84 birds in my hour. Other notables were 5 Red-throated Divers and a male Pintail (H.100). Three Common Scoter (H.101) close, on the sea were a long overdue addition!

During a rain break mid-afternoon I had a mooch around the cliff top. Glad I did as I was greeted by a couple of Stonechats, the first I can remember seeing at this spot...

Hopefully a brighter day tomorrow...

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Autumn 19 - Strategy

Over the years I've tried out different ideas regarding where to plonk myself...when I was free.

Many, many Teacher's weeks (15) on Scilly. Mini-breaks to the Outer Hebrides, Shetland and Cornwall. You pays your money and takes your choice. It can be tough going, believe me! Making your choice can pay off though...COMMON NIGHTHAWK (99) and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (08) on Scilly, certainly spring to mind! However, making a choice CAN leave you stranded...YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (14) and WILSON'S WARBLER (15) also while on Scilly!!

So, what about this year? Simple...wait around the Patch for the BIG ONE! You never know, it just might turn up down the road...or even closer?!

Friday, 20 September 2019


One of many fascinating aspects of our wonderful hobby is the continued occurrence of something..."different/new".

This Autumn has already produced a first for Britain...BROWN BOOBY and an unexpected addition to everyone's Yorkshire List...CHOUGH.

On Tuesday morning as I doing some honest toil a message came through about a possible rare CRAKE at Blacktoft Sands RSPB. I'd seen some debate over a Spotted Crake seen there but I was obviously busy and didn't delve into the sighting too much. Anyway at 10.47am...

E.Yorks LITTLE CRAKE Blacktoft Sands RSPB from Marshland Hide

Another potential Yorkshire Tick...if I could get there? My shift finished (very fortunately) at 4.30. It was going to be tight, especially negotiating the Hull traffic in the "rush hour"! I left With' at 4.45 with some help from the lads at the depot and headed West. An inconsiderate tractor driver didn't want to pull over for a good few mile on the way to Hedon, which spiced things up a bit.

Hull also didn't disappoint and it seemed like an eternity before I was under the Humber Bridge and away. On the plus side the A63 was flowing and once on the M62 I was able to make good progress. Also on my side was the fact it was a beautiful clear evening and the light was superb.

Through Goole and down the south bank of the Humber to the reserve arriving at 6.15. The car park was unsurprisingly busy but I found a spot and gathered my gear. A quick word with Pete Greaves and off I sped (well walked) to Marshland Hide. Fortunately there was room in the hide, so I took a seat and set up my scope...and waited.

The bird hadn't been seen for 20 minutes or so and there was talk of it being flushed etc etc...

It was now 6.40 and I was...concerned!!

Then at 6.45 there it was, VERY distant but OK through the scope in the sunshine. Brilliant!!! I watched it come and go until the sun faded then made my way home...happy. Unfortunately the bird departed overnight.

So, I had my 391st tick for the County. Another amazing and totally unexpected addition. Fingers crossed for the pending BAIKAL TEAL? You never know, if I keep taking the tablets, I may even make the magic 400 before I bite the dust!?

Wednesday, 18 September 2019


A workday addition is somehow sweeter! 6.45pm was cutting it fine. Another monumental Yorkshire tick and a one day bird to boot. More at the weekend...

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Autumn 19

Head down for 3 trip top next next week then that's me done till November. You've heard all the justifications before but to be honest my conscience is clear, very clear. Done my bit over the years, so now it's
time to enjoy an uninterrupted Autumn.!

Wednesday, 11 September 2019


BIG News today...
MEGA Argyll COMMON NIGHTHAWK 11mls NNE of Oban...

Brought back great memories of my No 1 twitch...24/10/1999. A brief account HERE.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Garden MEGA!

No sign of any Whinchats south of the Village first thing. A high flying and calling Curlew was noteworthy. Mediterranean Gulls are still loitering with at least 4 seen. Another seawatch,  another Skua, this time an Arctic (P.120, H.97) chasing the Terns in typical style. Then a nice pass of 12 Shelducks (H.98) south...

Home for lunch and a glimpse of a Coal Tit in the garden. The afternoon passed quietly.

I returned home around 5 for a brew. It was still warm enough for us to sit in the garden. The usual characters were flicking around the trees and bushes that fringe our modest garden. Then something... "different"?

Surely not...yep...a Yellow Wagtail!!!

I'd left my camera in the car, so I went rather hastily to get it. When I returned the bird was still there. Louise was still sat on our bench. Of course, my camera wouldn't lock on to it before it flew off. Rather disappointing!!

I decided to give it some time sitting in the kitchen. I wasn't that hopeful BUT surprisingly it came back...

So, another notable record and one I would NEVER have imagined would visit my postage stamp...

Monday, 9 September 2019

Cliff Walking

BUT...firstly I decided to try for the White-rumped Sandpiper (again) at Kilnsea Wetlands. Still no luck, not even a Dunlin. However, I did see a nice Stonechat on the way to the hide...

Both South and North today in the Village.

South first. I also checked out the Sycamores at Old Hive but nothing doing... nor anywhere else for that matter. A couple of Med' Gulls on the sea provided some interest. I then decided to have a Seawatch. I gave it an hour. Plenty of Teal (c250) heading South in various sized flocks. Then...a Great Skua (P.119, H.96) drifted slowly but purposefully South past the Canada Buoy (1.8 miles). It's a start!

After lunch I tried North from Seaside Lane. I parked the car by the old garage. I then scanned the hedge heading North closest to the sea. A Whinchat...

...then another...

Three birds...

Further along towards the Runnel, I had another couple, including one on the beach...

FIVE Whinchats! Good going around here. A couple of Wheatears were also present...

A few Terns at the Sewage finished off an excellent day...

I kept scanning for a passing Honey Buzzard or Osprey. Maybe tomorrow?

Sunday, 8 September 2019


No other headline would do!

After a couple of days of honest toil topping up the UAE fund, I rose early this morning to try for the unusual Corvids in the Dales.

I picked Steve Lawton up at his house at Wetherby around 7 and we reached Settle by 8.30.

After some confusion over which path to take we made our way to the Victoria Cave area. A very scenic area. Tim Isherwood and his wife were also present. They arrived first and Tim soon spotted one of the birds at the base of the screen about 100 yards away...

...and then there were two...

An amazing occurrence and a species that definitely wasn't on the radar! So, I've managed to reach 390 for the County (possibly 391 if the BAIKAL TEAL gets accepted) . Never say never...

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

BROWN BOOBIES - A nice pair!

Been quite a week!!

After my first venture to Cornwall last Tuesday/Wednesday...and all the "fun" that ensued, the/a bird was seen going west past Pendeen on Saturday. Earlier in the day it was sat on a rock for a while in Porthgwidden Bay, St Ives giving crippling views...which obviously would have been nice! That was that then...or was it?

The plot thickened mid-morning on Monday when the/a BROWN BOOBY was found at Kynance Cove on the Lizard peninsular.

The bird had settled on a rock in the Cove and showed all day!

When to go?
  • Overnight and gamble
  • Set off early next morning and react on news
  • Wait for news at home
It WOULD be nice to get a better view of a first for Britain? I set off from home around 10.30pm. Reaching Hull I grabbed the obligatory McDonald's coffee. Something didn't feel right. I'm big on "gut feeling". I headed home.

Tuesday morning. I woke at 5.30am, showered and dressed and off. The new plan was to get through Hull before the traffic, drive a while and wait for news...

Cornwall BROWN BOOBY 1s The Lizard at Kynance Cove flew to rock near car park at 8.13am

I was already on the M42, which was a good start. Onward.

After a smooth journey I arrived around 3pm...

...and parked up in the large but crowded car park.  After sorting my gear and dog out, we headed down the path to overlook the Cove...

Small triangular rock on the left
A small group of Birders remained and the atmosphere was very relaxed...not for me though, as I hadn't seen it yet! After getting a tactical, initial view through a kind gents 'scope, I settled down to enjoy a pleasant hour watching the bird on a distant rock. I have to admit I was disappointed with the distance but I could see it well enough through the 'scope...

A couple of (poor) cropped record shots