Thursday, 31 December 2020

2020 Summary

As you know, I'm not a fan of routine. I had enough of that when I was working! However, as the year draws to an end, I've decided to do a summary. I'm a glutten for punishment! Anyway, for the record here are my totals...

Starting Nationally and positively, I added FOUR birds...bringing my British List to 526...(click link for the full story)...

STELLER'S EIDER - Two visits to the wonderful Papa Westray culminating in a re-find at the eleventh hour!
BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS - My dream moment. To finally connect with this species and the manner of its arrival will NEVER beaten for me...

Dream come true!

TAIGA FLYCATCHER - included below
RUFOUS- TAILED SCRUB ROBIN - A fortunate but very welcome addition pre-Scilly. One of those species that was loooong overdue.

Plus an ironic 2nd for Britain on Scilly which many BIG Listers missed out on. That's twitchin'! 

Less positively, I'll quickly mention and move on from my COVID 19 dip trio...still in therapy BUT no regrets. The correct decision was made...and the situation is ongoing...some things are far more important than seeing a bird!!! To some at least?!


BBA - already covered but in no way diminished!!! Taking me to 393. Obviously a day I'll NEVER forget!!!!!!!

Three ticks were added bringing me to 312...

Cattle Egret
Iceland Gull

The Spurn Year List isn't a big deal...just...what it is!

I managed 8 additions to my List bringing me to 181...

Shore Lark
Black Redstart
Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Rock Pipit

Reviewing the year in the Village, I've finished on 137 which is my 1! Surprising ommisions were Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Lapwing, Little Egret, Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler, Grey Wagtail, Brambling, Redpoll.

York Area
I dug out my sightings and discovered after adding the three below I've seen 214...

Lesser Yellowlegs
Franklin's Gull

The Gull was obviously a special moment and a VERY good decision.

North Duffield Carrs
No additions...unfortunately! So my total remains at 157

Hopefully we can rid ourselves of this damn Virus soon and get back to somethng like "normal". I still have (some) hopes for Texas 21!?

Shore Larks - a nice finish!

I wanted to make the most of the final day, especially as it was a cracker. Love clear, albeit cold, sunny Winters days with little wind. I started with a 2 hour Sea Watch from dawn which produced...nothing!

I then tried the Sewage, walking South to the Llama Farm. As I walked over the frozen ground I received a message off Richard informing me he'd found c20 Snow Buntings near Mill Hill, just South of the Village. I continued to the farm hoping to find some myself. It wasn't to be but a couple of Stonechats were present...

I dropped Bud off at home and then walked South to look for the Snow Buntings. It was now 12.30. The light was superb and I scanned the path and field at regular intervals as I walked. As I approached Mill Hill I slowed so I could peep over the top of the brow without disturbing anything that might be present. This is the area that the Shore Larks favoured in early April. As I looked over the brow I couldn't initially see anything, then I noticed movement on the path. First thought Snow Buntings...too dark...Meadow Pipits?...NO...SHORE LARKS!!!

You may remember I thought I'd "missed the boat" in April only to re-find them a week later. This was the icing on the cake though to find my own. So glad I reacted quickly with the camera, as they flew into the field after a few seconds and I couldn't re-locate them by dusk, despite extensive searching. I did sneak a Black-throated Diver (H.137. P.152). I also had a flock of 58 Golden Plover over...

...couldn't string one into a Lapwing!

What a terrific end to the year! What it's all about really. All those hours of coverage and then...BOOM!

Further luck was had with my last drive down Snakey when 2 Mute Swans crossed the sky in the twilight and a Merlin zoomed low North!

No prizes guessing where I'll be at dawn tomorrow. Wouldn't be a bad start to the Year List.

Let's hope next year's better...

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Quality sightings

Couple of Stonechats near the first pill box yesterday...

Still can't find anything "new". However, spectacular views of a Barn Owl at dusk tonight was consolation indeed. Sunset in these here parts is 3.47. This pic was taken at 4.17 and involved a convertor. 15th of a sec' exposure...apparently. Sounds like I know what I'm talking about lol! Thing is I never cease to be amazed at what modern digital cameras can produce. No award winner but not bad considering my equipment and the circumstances...

c300 Pink-footed Geese North over Snakey at 9 this morning was also rather nice. A fine sight and sound indeed!

2 days of 2020 left. Still time for a Year tick?

Monday, 28 December 2020


After my not so remarkable prediction of  "White-winged Gulls" Iceland Gull was seen by Gavin at the Sewage this morning! I was just getting in the car, so I gave it a go but the bird had flown North. It was earlier seen at Easington. A remarkable 115 Ringed Plovers were present, which apparently equals the Yorkshire record count, Richard informs me!!

Still no December additions to the Holmpton Year List. So I'll narrow it down a!

Top 5

White-fronted Goose
Black-throated Diver
Little Egret
Common Eider

...and maybe Iceland Gull!

Friday, 25 December 2020

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Snakey Stroll

We had a frost last night, so after I'd scaped it off the windscreen I headed down Snakey Lane and parked up about half-way down (c1.5 M). The sun was out and it was a cold, clear Winter's morning. Love 'em.

We walked west towards Patrington and it was "Birdy" as the Americans say! Good flocks of Yellowhammers...

...Reed Buntings (c30) and Chaffinches (c50) were present. As we approached "the bungalow" I noticed some chunky numbers in a lone tree. 10 Corn Buntings. Over the next 30 minutes I was treated to my best ever performance by these scarce, under-rated birds. A conservative estimate would be 30 . Many disputes were in evidence and a few were actually SINGING!!

It was also nice to pick a few out in the winter crop...


In a different light

I've said it before ...and I'll no doubt say it fortunate to have this species (and quite a few others scarcities) locally.

A pair of distant Swans sailed over...wing noise only...


Always notable here. Add to this a few Fieldfare...

and Redwing...

...a near constant movement of Wood Pigeons and three large coveys of Red-legged Partridges (released birds?) it turned out to be quite a morning! Still no Lapwing!

Great news regarding the "scope situation". After much searching I've incredibly (considering the age) found a mint condition APO 62 body!! I dug out a pair of Leica 8x20 BCA's which I've had for years and Louise used only occasionally. Bottom line being I'm back in business for under £500 which with today's telephone number prices for scopes I have to be happy with. It's still a great compact scope.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Winter Solstice

The shortest day...light. We're on the up now! Still no December additions here. 

I'm in the process of doing a write up for 2020...then we can get it out of the way. Let's hope 2021 will be can't be any worse...can it?

Optics issues at the moment with my trusty Leica APO 62 finally showing signs of age! Very surprised and obviously disappointed as I was hoping it was "for life". The coating on the objective lens has started to wear away, rendering the scope useless, as the view is now "cloudy". Could prove expensive!! Not a great time for a substantial outlay. A Birder needs a scope though.

Corn Buntings are still showing well on Snakey...

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Winter Sun

A stretch up at Out Newton this morning in the sunshine produced nothing of note. However, as I was leaving there were 5 Grey Partridges on the road...

I then headed for the Humber. 22 Whooper Swans are still present...

A lovely walk along the floodbank produced a distant female Hen Harrier...

male Marsh Harrier...

and 4 Short-eared Owls

That livened the constitutional up!

For the record...The FRANKLIN'S GULL was my 215th species for the York Area and my second for Yorkshire having seen the Scorton Tip bird way back on the 15th of November 1989. There you go Tim!

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Nocturnal sightings

Unsurprisingly Owls...and yet they were!?

Both on Snakey early evening. Sunday treated me to a Little on a telegraph pole. Last night it was my first Barn for quite a while. Great stuff!

Sunday, 13 December 2020

FRANKLIN'S GULL - York Area Tick

Woke up early so gambled on a visit to the River Derwent. As I reached the hide at NDC...a message...

8.52 FRANKLIN'S GULL Thorganby Ings this morning

That's handy...I thought! The Geoff Smith Hide would have been handier...but I'll take it. Ten minutes later I was in the car park and soon joined a small group (6) looking out onto the Ings. One of them was Tim Jones who informed me the bird was still present and kindly allowed me to look through his scope. Result!!! 

It's the dark Blob!

Jono Leadley had amazingly (it's a large area with limited viewing) re-found the bird after first being found by Oliver Metcalfe yesterday afternoon at NDC. Jack Ashton-Booth and Duncan Bye were also present.

The weather was grim, heavy rain and very cold but that didn't seem to matter. I contacted Haydn to let him know it was still showing, albeit distantly. The bird was resting on a small island. After around 20 minutes it took flight but soon settled again on an adjacent island. I was looking for Haydn to arrive? Around 15 minutes later the bird suddenly took flight and flew low North up the river...just as Haydn arrived. He'd missed it! I gave him the bad news which he took he always does. I stayed and searched for it with him until he had to leave.

I then decided to head back to Duff hoping the bird would return there for my Duff tick. I stayed till dusk but the bird never showed. The weather was diabolical but at least I was dry in the hide. It was seen briefly at Ellerton...but that was that. Hopefully it will linger in the Valley so Haydn can catch up with it and I can get my NDC tick.

A quality addition to the York Area List. I'll have to have a count up! Almost certainly the same bird that's been seen around Yorkshire over the recent past.

Pete Piringer (who lived in Thorganby) would have loved it...

Saturday, 12 December 2020

Local Stars

Nice surprise this morning on a stroll along Snakey Lane induced by Richard's Lapwing sighting! No luck there, although I didn't make it far. 4 Bullfinches (3 male) more than made up for it...

Always a treat to see, especially locally and in an unexpected location. They were feeding in the roadside ditch and adjacent copse...


News broke late afternoon of a Franklin's Gull at NDC!!! An excellent find indeed and a reward for meticulous checking. 

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Black Brant

Checked out a few of the local haunts the first couple of hours. Another brief Corn Bunting encounter on Snakey, when I stopped at a pull-in and heard that familiar chip...

Has to be the best Winter since I've been here (8 years) for this species...or maybe I haven't been looking hard enough! Just as I was about to pull away I saw some Swans flying towards me..always a reason for excitment here. Turned out to be 6 Whoopers...

Possibly two juveniles?

...and away South...

I may have mentioned I love this species...once or twice!!

Next I checked out "the Sewage" hoping for a Grey Wagtail...or a Jack Snipe...or a Water Rail...or something...but I could only manage a couple of Pied. I also scanned the sea for an hour but nothing passed by. There had been some Velvet Scoter earlier.

After lunch I drove down to Skeffling to check out the Whooper Swan herd. It was pleasing to see they were still present. As I counted them it became apparent they had increased in number...18 yesterday...6 over Snakey this morning = 24?

It was now time to drive up onto the floodbank to give Bud a stretch. As I reached the bend in the road I was greeted with this sight...

An estimated 500 birds were present. The light was poor (no change there) but a bird at the front of the group stood out. I pulled off the road and looked through my bins...

A dandy!! To me, the bird looked stockier than the surrounding birds, as well as distinctive in plumage...

Rear View

The fact that it was so close was obviously VERY fortunate...


I then read through a few messages to discover the bird had been reported earlier! There was mention of a "hybrid" but this bird looked "kosher" to me. I sent an image to a few pals who agreed on the ID. On good views the bird stood out like a sore thumb but it could be surprisingly elusive when feeding amongst the flock. Definitely a sight to brighten up a dull day...

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Follow Up

Gloomy one today weather wise, I'm afraid. I decided to follow up on a couple of yesterday's sightings, namely Whooper Swan and Corn Bunting. Firstly to the Humber. I parked up and started the familiar walk West. Almost immediately I noticed "the Swans" in the first field? Had they just arrived through the mist, as I didn't notice them on the approach road? Back to the car so I could approach closer. Down the embankment to the first Swans? Blimey, that was a quick departure! Back to the car park...they were back!? Turns out they never left!! I just couldn't see them from the road as there was a slight dip in the field!! Duh.

18 birds

I only counted 15 yesterday? I took the farm track so I could get slightly closer to check them with my bins and camera...just in case there weer any Bewick's...there weren't. The problem from this viewpoint was that I was looking into the light...

It was a privilige to see these magnificent birds so well, at one of my key sites. I left them in peace. I then headed for the area of Snakey Lane where I had seen the Corn Buntings. Sure enough, there they were. This time there were NINE birds together in a tree...

Record Count!

Again, a privilige to see this species locally, especially in Winter. Another one from yesterday...

I've always had a special affinity for this species...for some reason. The "Fat bird of the Barley".

Once I realised I'd dropped my gloves earlier I returned to the Humber to discover some kind soul had left them on a fencepost. Some restoration in Human Nature occured. The Swans were no longer there...definitely! I decided to try yesterday's location and sure enough, there they were...