Monday, 31 August 2020

Autumn 20

Officially starting tomorrow (at least in my book). First rumblings have been positive with a decent amount of migrants appearing late August to start the stretching off (and boy, do I need to!). The main effort will obviously be the Village but I'll also be birding Skeffling, Welwick, Patrington Haven and the quieter areas of Spurn. I'll also be paying a few visits to NDC.

A tame Wryneck has appeared at Spurn, totally oblivious to the Bank Holiday crowds apparently. I didn't succumb...I'll find my own lol. There may be the odd pic' around!

So, what will the next couple of months (and a bit) bring? I don't know...nobody does...BUT one thing is for sure, there are some great birds on the way. Some(thing) may even make it here?! 


Sunday, 30 August 2020

Family tick

An excellent day with my eldest son Graeme, his wife Rachel and my two grandchildren Daniel and Rebecca.

I sneaked an "incidental" Village year tick when 3 pale-bellied Brent Geese (H.117) flew North close in, over a spectacularly rough sea, as we spent time on the beach...digging sandcastles!

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Grim Watch

6.30 till 9 this morning. 1 Fulmar!!! Isolated Skuas and Sooty Shearwaters noted locally and even a flock of (hard-to-miss) PB Brents (11)? This spell isn't boosting my seawatching enthusiasm. I'm trying though...very...

A lingering GREAT SHEARWATER at Spurn late morning was tempting...but with my form, I decided against it...


Added a header pic'. An evocative image of one of my favourite Birding spectacles. I took a here a year or two ago...always liked it...hope you do?

Friday, 28 August 2020

Seawatch - postponed

 I like to think I'm keen BUT I also like to think I'm not stupid!?

Favourable winds today BUT not favourable precipitation amounts. No cosy hide here and I didn't fancy a NE wind battering my car interior...and everything else. I've just looked at the forecast for the rest of the's a washout. Tomorrow drier...and the wind is still "in the North" so I'll have a go early doors.

So, a nice cup of tea and some eBird transfer for me. Keep dry...

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Seawatching - a balance!


A strong "North-Wester" found me down on the cliff top by 6.30am. I've even got my own platform! I haven't got many birds though. In 2 hours the highlight was a single Fulmar North. News of LT Skuas filtered through on the various outlets including 4 North through Spurn. Nothing...that I could see at least.

As mentioned before...and no doubt again...sightings here are "scant" which makes them all the more...precious. I HAVE to keep telling myself that. It WILL happen...

Monday, 24 August 2020

Rush Birds - revisited

Just taking in a bit of the Test Match and I thought I'd review my "Rush Birds" you do! Always nice to freshen things up. So, what are my criteria? Excitement, circumstance, experience, species? Time goes by and (my) opinions change I guess. Details in the left hand column.

Anyway I've made my decisions...for now. Demoted are GYR and LITTLE BUSTARD. The Gower GYR will always be special though as...well it's a GYR and it took me 19 years to finally see one! The LB was the culmination to a fantastic mini-twitch to Scilly which notched me BLACK AND WHITE WARBLER, BLACK DUCK and BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT. However, I've decided another species tops it now. So, what are my new additions...I hear you cry?

Top 10 - (click on species for account)











There we go then. OVENBIRD and WHITE-RUMPED SWIFT make it into my top 10...pop pickers.

The former was a tragic case on Scilly in 2004 but the journey and connection were exhilerating. Top quality, last minute tick! The latter was a mad scramble down the road to Hornsea Mere in fading light in October 18. A first for boot!

Wish List

I received a text of Tim Isherwood who lives "up the road" at Grimston. He saw that I'd reached 180 for the Village and asked how many "daft" ones I still "needed". A good question!

Again "daft" is a question of context. Certain habitats are sadly lacking here, which obviously limits opportunities for certain species. A nice scrape would go down a treat!!! More sea watching would also help matters.

Anyway below is my "daft and most likely" list, in no particular order...

Velvet Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Little Grebe
Green Sandpiper
Red-breasted Merganser
Glaucous Gull
Black Tern
Tree Pipit
Rock Pipit
Grasshopper Warbler
Barred Warbler
Pallas's Warbler
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Red-backed Shrike
Great Grey Shrike
Hooded Crow
Mealy Redpoll
Common Rosefinch

As always there will hopefully be a few surprises and not everyone will agree with my selections. There you go! I tried to balance the common with the rare, related to location. Tim has seen 260 over 30+ years. 200 for me would be a nice milestone by year 10, I've been here 8.

Patch tick


I received a message off Richard this morning informing me he'd found a Reed Warbler in the "first hedge". Yes...a Reed Warbler! Context and all that. He'd also "had" a Spotted Fly.

Time to have a peep.

Despite a couple of thorough searches I couldn't find my Village tick. However, I did locate my first Whinchat (116) of the year. After returning home for a coffee I tried again. Still no sign of the SF on the corner of Taylor Lane BUT eventually I re-located the Reed Warbler. Much relief. This was my 180th species for Holmpton. Cheers Richard.


A couple of Turnstones on the morning constitutional.

Friday, 21 August 2020

Freiston and Frampton RSPB

Arrived a bit late at Phil's around 11, after a few logistical issues! we went...on a beautiful day.

Phil fancied trying Freiston first. We parked up and did the circuit...

The reserve was in fine fettle but fairly quiet bird-wise.

Onto Frampton...

A pleasant few hours were spent, seeing what we could see. Very few people about, so distancing wasn't a problem. Always like my visits here. 


Black-necked Grebe
Temminck's Stint 1
Little Stint 1
Wood Sandpiper
Spotted Redshank 2
Ruff 10
Greenshank 1

Black-tailed Godwit c50

Spoonbill 19

Record Count

Nice to have a change of scenery. I'll be back...

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

A day out

Time for a trip out. So, off to Frampton RSPB tomorrow with Phil. A chance to see his new abode on the way. Weather questionable but should be OK, if a bit breezy! Nice to have a change of scenery now and again and besides it's an excellent reserve, so we should see some decent stuff.

Sea watchers are getting excited with the approaching Storm Ellen (copying the American's again). I won't be travelling to Cornwall, you won't be surprised to hear BUT good luck to all who do. BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS reported from Pendeen this pm.

I hope to make it over to Duff next week in the hope of some year ticks, as migration starts to warm up...

Monday, 17 August 2020

You never know?

A trip to the Eye Hospital in Hull this morning. Good news as Louise got the all clear regarding her recent problem. We celebrated early afternoon with a walk along the cliff. I was rewarded with an unexpected fly-past from 2 Mediterranean Gulls...


Sunday, 16 August 2020

Evening things out

Just to even things out after yesterday's fun, this morning's "swatch" was less exhilerating. In fact, nothing of note was seen. No Skuas, no Shearwaters etc. I gave it three hours (7 -10) in my defence, just wasn't my day. Others had more luck up and down the coast, including Richard. Character building! Steve Lawton tried for the lingering Cory's at Flamborough but it wasn't to be. It will fall to him eventually. I've just read the Spurn newsletter and a piece from Richard on the Little Tern Colony...

Little Terns at Beacon Ponds August Update

Sunday, the 2nd of August, was a busy time for our volunteer Luke Nash.

Over the course of the afternoon he had to deal with eight separate incidents of human disturbance, involving 20 people all told. The beach was busier than usual: with an accident blocking Easington Straight, the Boatyard became the only point of access, concentrating visitors on the northern end of the beach. Luke dealt with the situation admirably, following our protocols, and only one or two of his encounters were in any way unpleasant. Most people are happy to keep their distance once they understand what we’re trying to do with the colony. And this is not untypical: rudeness, aggression and plain stupidity are always to be met with when dealing with the public, but thankfully only in a small minority of cases. Luke’s only real complaint was the amount of paperwork he had to complete afterwards!

I’m sometimes asked whether the Little Tern Project is ‘worth it’. Five months of wardening, most of it on a 24/7 basis, up to 20 volunteers (in an ordinary year), the erection and dismantling of electric fences, hides and rafts and the endless grant applications to fund the operation can seem like a disproportionate amount of energy to spend on what is, in national terms, a small colony, and one the long-term future of which is uncertain. And anyone who has spent any time in the hides watching the birds has sooner or later confronted the bitter thought that they seem to do little to help themselves!

Nesting in the open on the low gravelly beaches exposes them every day to predation from other birds (gulls, herons, falcons, hawks, corvids, even the oystercatchers with which they share the colony) and mammals (fox, otter, badger – never mind the odd clumsy deer) and the risk of being wiped out at any point by bad weather, storms, or high tides.

But it works.
Or at least, it works so long as there are enough colonies nationally to sustain the losses of one or two. The ruthless mathematics of natural evolution allow for it. The problem comes when there simply aren’t enough colonies. And that, I’m afraid, is down to us, the human race.

“Human disturbance“ doesn’t just mean the direct deliberate or accidental interference of individuals at a colony: it also, and more seriously, means the more widespread destruction of habitat to human development and leisure activities. This makes the loss of any one colony all the more serious. The mathematics start to work against the birds.

So yes, our own, positive brand of “interference” makes the Project “worth it”. We have to try to redress the imbalance we have ourselves created. And thankfully, and despite the many problems brought about by the Covid crisis, it seems that this year is producing results as strong as last. As I write, our best estimate is that something in the area of 40 chicks have fledged - an excellent outcome.

It is something we need to build on, and this is increasingly involving us in closer examination and monitoring of the terns’ breeding requirements. GPS technology has been used already for the first time this year to pinpoint the exact locations of individual nests, to help us learn more about, for example, breeding density. At the same time we are planning to map more thoroughly the territories of all the species that breed on the beach, to expand our coverage and improve our understanding of conversion rates (territory - nest - eggs - hatching - fledging success). And we are also part of a wider survey looking at how different kinds and degrees of human disturbance impact on the birds - all to help plan for further habitat development in the Humber area.
It might mean more paperwork (sorry, Luke...). But it will be worth it.

Richard Boon

A fantastic effort by all concerned. I've always had an interest in these special birds and we're so lucky to (still) have a colony in Yorkshire. Long may they continue to thrive. Wouldn't mind getting involved in on the effort next year, now I'm...

Shhhhh...😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 | Emoticon faces, Smiley emoji, Funny ...

Just the 55 Pied Flycatchers estimated at Spurn today!!! Wonder if they could spare one?

Saturday, 15 August 2020


I followed up on my promise by rising at 6 and setting my stall out by 6.45 for my first proper Sea Watch of the "Autumn"...


Things started slowly although there was a steady stream of Gannets of various ages, heading North. Sandwich Terns were also in evidence, also mainly North. The usual sight of drifting groups of Herring Gulls was also in evidence along the cliff edge. Things started to liven up when groups of Kittiwakes P.128, H.111 (many juveniles with their distinctive wing pattern) started to appear. A fine sight.

Then a dark slim shape appeared at medium range. A Skua...but which one? The bird was noticably slim and bouyant in flight. It did a couple of circuits and even landed on the sea briefly. By now I was happy I was looking at a juvenile Long-tailed Skua (P.129, H.112). Next came a couple of Arctics (P.130, H.113) one of which was in hot pursuit of a Sandwich Tern's catch.

A diminutive whirring Auk sped first Puffin ((P.131, H.114) of the year! Next came a Fulmar, very close in.

I then spotted a couple of Guillimots together on the sea, an adult and a juvenile. A line of Ducks sped South...Common Scoter plus a solitary Teal?

Full List in 3 hours

Common Scoter - 15

Teal - 1

Oystercatcher - 4

Fulmar - 4

Gannet - c250

Kestrel - 2

Black-headed Gull - 1

Herring Gull - 42

Kittiwake - 42

Sandwich Tern - 25

Common Tern - 1

Long-tailed Skua - 2 juveniles

Arctic Skua - 4

Puffin - 1

Guillimot - 2 ad and juvenile

A good decision!

Time to get on with it...

My plan is now formulated. Don't get too excited!

A series of (important) personal issues are now out of the way (that's not to say others won't occur of course). Still, thinking positively I intend to enjoy my first "retirement Autumn" to the full...or as full as can be acheived under the current circumstances.

Six Holmpton Ticks so far this year...



Black Redstart


Sedge Warbler


Takes me to 179                                    

I follow local Birders attempts which make mine look quite far. The year isn't over yet though...

My best Year total is again a modest 130 in 2018. I've no excuses now having more time on my hands. Certain habitats are absent here and access is also limited. That's enough excuses!

I definitely need to pay the Sea more attention. My small gardens and surrounding areas also need closer study.

View from our Bedroom...

Promising Orchard Potential

A fast developing Elderberry

Already attracting visitors

...and of course the "Magic" bird bath...complete with poo!

The view from the front bedroom offers decent habitat and the lane definitely needs close attention, over the next three months...

Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

ROLLER - Spurn Tick!

Last night I set my alarm for 7....yes THAT early! Of course I didn't hear it, as my love for an early rise kicked in, yet again!

Eventually the "ping-ponging" of alerts raised me from my slumbers and I fumbled for my phone...and glasses...

6:57  Report of a Roller flying past Long Bank Marsh mobbed by Magpies


I made my way down to Spurn at a reasonable 50mph mainly due to the fact I had a spare wheel on due to a flat the other day. Ever had trouble with the dreaded "locking wheel nut"?

As I reached Easington straight I started to look for birders but couldn't see any. I reached the turning for Peter's Lane, still no one in sight. What to do? I checked my messages...

7:50  Roller again between Easington straight, Peter's Lane and Humberside Lane

I drove to the end of Peter's Lane. Still no one in sight, so I rang Steve Webb. Fortunately he answered and told me the bird was further towards Kilnsea on Easington straight. I soon found the modestly sized, dispersed group. I pulled up and asked if it was showing. It wasn't. Steve was amongst them as was Lance Degnan.  I had a quick scan and miraculously located it in flight. PHEW!!!

I drove down to Kilnsea Wetalnds and parked up. I then walked back to Long Bank and met Tony and Jayne. Tony let me look through his scope and I had reasonable views at c200yds through the heat haze. The bird flew North at 8.20am and hasn't been seen again.

 I JUST made it for my Spurn Tick...310. I was VERY lucky. 

Definitely a "Bona Fide" bird, if ever there was one....and a cracker to boot!

3 previous records: July 2007, September 2010 and May 2012 which ended up at Aldbrough.


Just another few thoughts on choice. Birders/Twitchers are obviously free to choose which birds they travel for. "Insurance ticking" can be a wise choice...sometimes. My views are just offence is meant to anyone travelling to! 

There you go...


Had an afternoon stroll down to Sammy's to try for the Bittern. I joined Rich Swales for a super optimistic scan. No surprise on the outcome but really enjoyed swapping old war wounds with him. Top Bloke!

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Bona Fide Birding

A controversial Shearwater in Dorset (Yelkouan)...a young female (trapped 3 times) Collared Flycatcher at Spurn...a wandering LAMMERGEIER in the Peak District...another controversial Shearwater (Scopoli's) in Lothian...

A summer of intrigue. I'm glad I saw the Vulture! I guess I never was a boundary pusher?

Plenty down the road...but (unsurprisingly) not here. Phil called in after his visit which was was good to see him.

I shall persevere. I did notice more Robins today and Richard had a Pied Flycatcher in his garden. Gripping stuff...

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Out and about...locally

News broke of a White Stork frequenting fields between Burstwick and Ottringham. Automatic thought is escape. it was a juvenile from a re-introduction scheme down South. Still, nice to see...albeit distantly...

You can clearly see the ring on its right leg

You may remeber there was an individual that toured Easington and Skeffling some time ago. That was an escape from Leeds apparently.

Onto the beach...and its juvenile star spangled Sanderling time...

Always hard to catch up with...but nice when you do...

One advantage of more spare time...I won't mention the 'R' (hopefully) more appreciation of local birds. With the dry spell my little bird bath is proving a magnet to the both local and migrant birds alike. I'll definitely be grilling the BB and surrounding vegetation more this "Autumn". I had a female Blackcap and 3 young Willow Warblers this morning. MUCH more to come...hopefully!?

I'm a big Test Match well as a Birder! The last few days have seen a constant trickle of Swallows heading south. Many linger on the wires outside my Cottage. One such wire is VERY close to the Man Cave (spare bedroom). Today, I got lucky with an action shot...

Swallow food pass

I always find Swallows so great to have them close...

Tuesday, 4 August 2020


Remarkable news came through on Sunday evening from the LDV when 2 juvenile Black Kites were identified retrospectively from Wheldrake Ings!! Initially thought to be Red, photos posted on Twitter proved differently...

It was worth "a go".

I decided to look North from Duff (surprise, surprise). It's a fabulous view I set my stall out and scanned...

View from Garganey Hide

The first bird I saw, albeit distantly through the heat haze was a Great White Egret (61). Not a bad start! I also managed a Whinchat (62) and a Wheatear (63) for the year. A Kite!!!...Red plus c8 Buzzards. A cc Marsh Harrier also gave great views mid-afternoon, flying right over the hide.

A couple of Common Terns (64) fed on the river. No luck with the BK but I wasn't holding my breath! All in all a very relaxing session picking up a few year ticks and enjoying the summer sunshine. Amazingly, no Hirundines were noted!?


This mornings coastal walk included views of a decent group (for Holmpton) of waders at low tide. I saw my first Redshanks (H.108) of the year. Dunlin and Ringed Plovers were also present amongst the various Gulls and Terns...which included a couple of hoped for Arctics (P.125, H.109).

Late result at the Sewage...more Arctics (5) and the hoped for Commons (P.126, H.110). I also enjoyed close views of three superbly "spangled" juvenile Sanderlings...doing their "clockwork toy" impression.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Take 2

I retraced my steps this morning with the good lady. We cheated by driving to the Sewage and using the workmans ramp...very handy!

Louise wanted to see the rip-rap which has made some impressive new offshore features...

Not sure how/where it's going to end up but it certainly adds some interest. There's obviously a knock-on effect further South but something had to be done to safeguard the road and properties at the southern end of the Town.

The only bird of note was this Mediterranean Gull which allowed me reasonable access...

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Walking the walk

A glorious Summer's day, so time to make the promised (to myself) walk to Withernsea. I wasn't expecting much (it goes with the terrritory) but Bud was keen, so off we jolly well went.

Whimbrel...passing South in numbers...22, 9, 5 then 6. Oh and a Curlew! I wanted to have a nosey at the sea defence work. I'd spied it from a distance many times but today was the day for a closer inspection. Plenty of Gulls about but nothing "unusual".

We have FOUR Sand Martin colonies locally this year...they all seem to be thriving!

As already mentioned the main aim was to finally have a look at the recent works at the Sewage Outfall and the sea defences at Withernsea. This seemed to be the perfect time.

There's even a temporary ramp from the Cliff Top

Much more sand around at the moment

The view North from the Sewage...

Rip-rap in evidence and much needed as the cliff is perilously close to the Withernsea - Holmpton road...

It's certainly livened up our coastline...and the "extra" habitat MAY provide some additional sightings...he says hopefully!

On returning I spotted a couple of Ringed Plovers briefly on the beach before flying South. I then spotted Richard with some family members approaching from the South. I'd just picked up a lone duck on the sea after viewing a party of 7 Common Scoter landing distantly. A combination of Bud, other dogs and introductions meant the grilling of "said duck" was brief...but long enough to rattle off a few pics before it flew off strongly South. Tufty or Scaup? Turns out it was my first record (and Richard's) of Scaup (179) for Homlpton! An "unseasonal" record but they do occur....obviously!

So, a nice conclusion to my 7 mile walk. It was a pleasure to be "out there".

Later in the day I had brief and distant views of a male Marsh Harrier on Snakey. A short stop off at the Sewage post Tesco produced a mixed group of waders heading purposefully South which included my first Knot (8) of the year (some fine brick red examples) plus 6 Whimbrel and four Oystercatchers.