Thursday, 29 April 2021

Local breeders and a late migrant

A walk along the Runnel produced a couple of Wheatears which surprised me considering the...yep, you guessed it...strong Northerly wind...

On reflection I reckon there were at least 6 Wheatears in the field plus one at the Llama Farm. A small detour was taken at the second pill box...

A drive down Snakey produced 4 singing Corn Buntings...

and plenty of Whitethroats, including a group of 6...

...and a late Fieldfare is always a doubt held back by the weather...

Texas - on this over now...for the Spring. Hope you found something of interest there? I enjoyed re-living some great memories; it helped ease the pain of another cancelled trip. I'll throw one or two more in...when the date arises.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021


Crappy forecast locally today. I had a few things to do in Hull, so I decided to continue to Duff for a morning session. I'm fine trudging the local cliffs and fields but I do still like a good sit in the hides, watching what comes and goes...and remains of course! I am drawn like a moth to a flame lol!

I added five year ticks, taking me to 68

Black-tailed Godwit - at least 15 birds present in the long grass. Easier to view at distance from the Geoff Smith Hide but two eventually gave themselves away from Garganey Hide. Always great to get a view of these beauties...

Wonderful chestnut colour

Sedge Warbler - singing by the Geoff Smith Hide
House Martin - A single bird. Chuffed to get a record shot considering the distance and speed of the bird...

Whitethroat - in front of the Geoff Smith Hide

Linnet - a pair came into the scrape for a drink

Still present on the scrape was probably the same Common Sandpiper and one Yellow Wagtail. Other notable species were...

Whooper Swan 2
Great Crested Grebe 2
Oystercatcher 3
Lapwing c40
Curlew c 20
Chiffchaff c6
Willow Warbler c4
Blackcap pr

This male Shoveler struck a nice pose by Garganey Hide...

It was wonderful to see and hear the Lapwings and Curlews displaying across this natural setting. A rare sight these days. The hoped for Swift never materialised.

Texas - on this day


This will always be Bobolink day for me. I'd waited a looooooooong time to add this bird to my Texas List. A combination of the birds scarcity in the State and my dates not coinciding with its passage, meant it was now my No1 target. A day earlier there had been reports of birds arriving on Galveston Island and eBird also had records on the 26th. So, dawn on the 27th had me on Settegast Rd near the Artist Boat Coastal Heritage Preserve (bit of a mouthful) on Galveston Island. Much hopeful scanning ensued. Local birders the previous day were viewing from the roofs of their trucks. I didn't think that was a great idea with my rental!

Louise was in place with her folding chair and novel whilst I continued to search. A guy appeared who I had seen previously at Lafitte's Cove. He turned out to be Greg Hall, the ranger for the preserve. He asked me if I was looking for anything in particular. When I told him, he immediately beckoned me to climb over the wire and join him in his buggy! The next thing I knew we were hurtling across the preserve towards some bushes, where I eventually saw this...

A stunning species

A brilliant experience coupled with an awesome bird. Success at last. I thanked Greg...a lot! He was quite a character who kept snakes as pets!! When I got back to Louise her comment was..."I thought I saw someone who looked like you in that field"!?

Monday, 26 April 2021

A couple of "good uns"

A late one of the Wheatear at Cliff Farm yesterday...

A couple of interesting sightings this morning. As we reached the cliff a male Goosander flew South along the tideline. Too quick for a pic'. Further down the beach beyond the second pill box, a large white blob turned out to be a Gannet! I had a bird fly along the cliff edge once but this was my first sighting of a bird on terra firma. Immediate thoughts turn to injury or illness but I was relieved to see the bird fly when approached by dog walkers. Hopefully it was just resting? 

A late afternoon sorte started with a walk up Seaside Lane were a Chiffchaff was belting it out. Usually difficult to photograph this one gave itself up easily...

As I was trying to get a pic Richard pulled up. He'd just been down to Spurn and on his way back he'd seen a Peregrine with prey being harrassed by a Hen Harrier! Very nice.

I continued my walk North to the Llama Farm but it didn't produce the hoped for Swift or House Martin but a record count of 31 Oystercatchers also heading North made the effort worth while...

Bud flushed a Meadow Pipit from the rough grass which lingered long enough for a pic...

Texas - on this date

Only one bird of note was seen on April 26th during my 13 visits, although not all have been in Spring! A visit to Big Bend and Cattail Falls finally produced a decent if brief view of the highly elusive Gray Vireo.  This is a species I had tried for on numerous occasions without success on previous visits out West.

Sunday, 25 April 2021


It was great to see a build up of Sand Martins at a newish site North of the first pill box this morning...despite the continuing Northerlies.

Texas -  on this date


The site I visited was one I'd been looking forward to seeing for a while. It's called "the bowl" in the Guadalupe Mountains of North Texas. This micro-climate contained some local species that I was hoping to add to my list. It was a strenuous climb (I was younger then) which meant an early start pre-dawn. Fortunately I didn't get lost and arrived on-site mid-morning. 

Mountain Chickadee
Brown Creeper
Virginia Warbler
Western Bluebird
Dark-eyed Junco


Checking eBird I discovered I was back there a year the day! I managed to add a few more...

Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black-chinned Sparrow

I also added the local Juniper Titmouse at the Frijole Ranch and Lark Bunting (hundreds at a grain farm...a vivid memory) and Brewer's Sparrow on the way back to Fort Stockton.

Virtual Texas

The only consolation about missing the SPI fall on the 18th was that I would have still been in Galveston. Hopefully, I'll catch one next year? Upper Coast events are more regular as the birds have to cross the Gulf of Mexico, so a "fill your boots" day is more expected.

An example of a group in the trees at Sabine Woods to brighten things up...

Yellow-billed Cuckoos resting up

Saturday, 24 April 2021

An ill wind...

Have to admit, the continuous stream of North to East winds are getting a bit wearing. A couple of Wheatears remained at Cliff Farm to brighten the morning walk up...

Two further sessions revealed...nothing of note.

Texas - on this date


I was way up North in the Guadalupe Mountains N.P. a fantastic remote mountain range with some excellent "local" species...

Cassin's Vireo
Grace's Warbler
Black-headed Groosbeak


I was way down South on South Padre Island (click for a view of a Birding Centre like no other) enjoying my best ever views of...

Philadelphia Vireo

Three Pronged Attack

 I added both Whitethroats yesterday. A Lesser (P.95, H.94) at the bottom of Seaside Road and a Common (P.96, H,95) at Model Farm. A couple of Yellow Wagtails graced the cliff paddock...

A Song Thrush appeared briefly...

...and the Linnets were in full song...

Things are still "hot" in Texas with a significant "fall" at South Padre Island on April 18th which included 

170 Baltimore Orioles

100 Indigo Buntings

30 Painted Buntings

Texas - on this day


April 22nd

Found me at the Lawrence E Wood picnic area in the Davis Mountains

Acorn Woodpecker
Pygmy Nuthatch
White-brested Nuthatch
Western Kingbird

April 23rd

I moved on to El Paso (as far West as you can get in Texas as it's on the border with New Mexico. My target was Gambel's Quail. This species is only found in this area of Texas...hence my visit. The check out girl at Walmart couldn't understand why I was there! I managed to find a covey of 6 birds.


April 22nd

A twitch to the Birding Mecca of Sabine Woods for Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. A bird that is found in Arizona. I managed to connect with it on its penultimate day. 


April 22nd

Another specific visit, aka twitch, to Chalk Bluff Country Park to try for another Texas rare, a dapper Rufous-crowned Warbler...I found it...

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

North Duffield Carrs

Yesterday I had a rather spiffing day at my beloved NDC. I arrived at 11 and stayed till 4.30. Both hides are now open, and I had the place to myself for the majority of my visit. The visibility was superb with no haze or wind and excellent light. The hides face North which is perfect.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes was a good start. Some displaying was noted but they kept their distance...

The next species of note was Whooper Swan, a surprise as they've usually gone by now. Thoughts turned to injury or illness, so I was pleased to see it fly off over the road shortly after I took this pic'...

A Cormorant (one of 4) had a drying off session...

A sinister silouette glided over...


My excuse for an out-of-focus image. I only had a split second in my defence! I was pleased to see that a pair of Pintail remained on the fast receding flood meadow. The male was hiding behind the bund but I "got him" eventually...

I got a bonus when the male exploded out of the grass and I was ready...on this occasion...

Eventually the pair settled to feed further out on the Carrs...

Subtle plumage of the female but very distinctive jizz. Cracking species in a perfect natural setting.

The Greylag Goose family were high on the "cuteometer"...

A big bonus was a calling Water Rail right in front of Garganey Hide although I couldn't get a view of it. 

I decided to have the last couple of hours in the Geoff Smith Hide. I'd only been there about 15 minutes when a raptor started to glide towards me down the river...

Fortunately it came (slightly) closer...

Red Kite

It then drifted North over Aughton Church and appeared to have something in its talons...

Much more frequent these days but still special.

The hide door then opened I was pleased to see it was Elaine from the Village. I've known her since the mid-eighties. She's lived in North Duffield since 1981. I move to the area in 1986,missing the summering Montague's Harrier here and the tame Corncrake at Wheldrake Ings which walked around the Tower Hide!! I moved to North Duffield in 2003 and had 9 happy years there before moving to Holmpton. History lesson over! She had a hearing dog with her, a real cutie which she'd had longer than normal due to the pandemic. She said it would be harder to give him back. I'll bet.

As we were talking a couple of Yellow Wagtails appeared on the renovated scrape...

At one time there were ten species on view on or over the scrape. Just shows what can be attracted when the conditions are favourable. The icing on the cake was a late flock of c40 Fieldfares that drifted "to and fro" between the scrape and the river. 

54 species

*This morning a Kittiwake (site tick) and a pair of Garganey were present. That's Birding!

A Red-legged Partridge on a hedge on Snakey, as I approached the Village, was a nice finish to a lovely relaxing day...

Texas - on these dates


April 20th
Still in Big Bend N.P at Sam Nail Ranch this time. This is a small oasis with a water pump which can be a magnet to thirsty migrants...if you're lucky!

MacGillivary's Warbler - a western species

April 21st
Big Burro Mesa Pouroff (got to love these names)

Lucifer Hummingbird - I teamed up with a Texan birder and we located a nest in this remote canyon in the park!
Tropical Kingbird


April 20th
Big Bend N.P at Rio Grande Village Nature Trail

Western Screech Owl - a species unsurprisingly found only in the far west of the State. As I was waiting hopefully at the nest hole a couple appeared and asked me what I was doing. Fair enough! After explaining, they told me they were doing the "wilderness thing!!!"

April 21st
Back in the Davis Mountains Preserve

Rivoli's Hummingbird
Steller's Jay

Monday, 19 April 2021

Purple(ish) Patch

Bit of a purple Patch (see what I did there) at the moment...for Holmpton! After yesterday's Brambling Richard found a female Redstart this morning in the cliff paddock. I lazily drove down there but the time saved paid off as I managed to re-locate it briefly before it typically vanished...

Proof only! (P.94, H.93)

Two further visits later in the day failed to re-find it. No sign of yesterday's Brambling but a Coal Tit appeared on the feeders and bath.

Texas - on this date

2003 - More from Big Bend; this time the Chisos Basin were I added the following species to my State list...

White-throated Swift
Hutton's Vireo
Mexican Jay
Cactus Wren
Canyon Towhee
Spotted Towhee
Hepatic Tanager
Lazuli Bunting
Varied Bunting - another favourite!

I then finished off at Cottonwood Campground adding two key species...
Crissal Thrasher
Lucy's Warbler

2006 - found me in the spectacular Davis Mountains of West Texas. I spent a day with a wonderful old Texan guy called John. P. Gee who allowed me access into some private areas, where I connected with some key regional species, which included the rare breeder Buff-breasted Flycatcher. He shared some amazing stories about his interesting travels throughout the World as an oil company executive. One quick story... he told me that while he was in Nigeria he had an African Grey Parrot (renowned for their intelligence) as a pet. One day he came home and it was mimicking a bird call. He couldn't figure out what it was. After some research it turned out to be a rare bird for the country! Happy memories.

Mexican Whip-poor-will
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Gray Flycatcher
Buff-breasted Flycatcher
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Townsend Warbler
Painted Redstart

2019 - It was lucky 13th visit for me with a species I'd wanted to add to my Texas List since my first trip in 2000. It's an annual but very scarce migrant to Texas as the main passage is further East through Florida. I missed one by minutes in 2008 at Sabine Woods as I had to leave for the Airport. I wasn't happy! Anyway, success at Copse Woods, Galveston Island...

Cape May Warbler

No list from Sabine Wood for yesterday, as promised...just a comment from my pal John Haynes...

"Fantastic stretch of birding continues, warbler diversity about as good as it gets".

Never mind!!!

Sunday, 18 April 2021

A few bits to the North...and then

The three of us had a walk North this morning to the second pill box. The/A Yellow Wagtail was present in the cliff paddock. A Wheatear materialised briefly by the first pill box and there are 2/3 possible sites being prospected by the Sand Martins now.

***Update: I'd prepared my post around 2pm but there's been a development. I glance at my feeders regularly when I'm "outback", optimistically hoping for something special...another Hawfinch? lol! Anyway, I thought I saw something orange? I watched for a further 30 minutes but my potential garden addition never materialised? Just after 6 while I was on evening meal duty I glanced out again, this time there was no doubt. A Brambling (P.92, H.91)...and a garden tick to boot (73). I rushed for the camera and rattled off a few imaged through the kitchen window. It was only present 30 secondsish...

Blurred but nice colour in the sunshine!

Fortunately it hopped onto the feeder for a moment and grabbed a seed...

 ...before flying up into the neighbours tree...

...and away...

White rump

You can march around for days/weeks and see very little...then something "good" comes to you!

Texas - on this date...

*Site links are active

2000 - My first trip and my first visit to the World famous Bolivar Flats at the southern end of the peninsular. Already mentioned for the "Four Plovers" but definitely worth another shout...

White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Reddish Egret - another favourite... I could watch this bird all day, for its beauty and behaviour!

Tricolored Heron
Roseatte Spoonbill
Bairds Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Semi-palmated Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Short-billed Dowitcher
...and many more!

2001 - A fun day at Anahuac were I took part in the approved Rail Drag (no longer occuring apparently). This consists of dragging a long rope across the prairie hoping to flush some...yep...Rails! Birders are transported across in "all terrain" ve-hi-cles (as they say in Texas!). This practice is done VERY sparingly but was your only chance to connect with two tiny and typically elusive species. Fortunately both were seen on this occasion...if only in flight...

Black Rail

Yellow Rail

High Island

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

2002 - Found me at Tyrell Park/Cattail Marsh near Beaumont. A large park and an even larger water treatment plant offering some superb Birding. Highlights...

Bald Eagle - breeding
Cinnamon Teal
Wood Duck
Stilt Sandpiper
Great Horned Owl
Red-headed Woodpecker - (another) one of my favourites.

Finally, last example from Sabine Woods from yesterday (102 sp)...


  1. Number observed:1
  2. Number observed:1
  3. Number observed:4
  4. Number observed:2
  5. Number observed:6
  6. Number observed:1
  7. Number observed:1
  8. Number observed:2
  9. Number observed:4
  10. Number observed:3
  11. Number observed:1
  12. Number observed:11
  13. Number observed:2
  14. Number observed:1
  15. Number observed:3
  16. Number observed:2
  17. Number observed:1
  18. Number observed:4
  19. Number observed:2
  20. Number observed:22
  21. Number observed:34
  22. Number observed:4
  23. Number observed:6
  24. Number observed:2
  25. Number observed:3
  26. Number observed:18
  27. Number observed:13
  28. Number observed:2
  29. Number observed:2
  30. Number observed:4
  31. Number observed:2
  32. Number observed:1
  33. Number observed:2
  34. Number observed:2
  35. Number observed:4
  36. Number observed:1
  37. Number observed:1
  38. Number observed:6
  39. Number observed:12
  40. Number observed:2
  41. Number observed:6
  42. Number observed:26
  43. Number observed:4
  44. Number observed:4
  45. Number observed:2
  46. Number observed:29
  47. Number observed:4
  48. Number observed:1
  49. Number observed:17
  50. Number observed:13
  51. Number observed:28
  52. Number observed:6
  53. Number observed:2
  54. Number observed:1
  55. Number observed:2
  56. Number observed:1
  57. Number observed:2
  58. Number observed:1
  59. Number observed:1
  60. Number observed:70
  61. Number observed:4
  62. Number observed:2
  63. Number observed:4
  64. Number observed:24
  65. Number observed:28
  66. Number observed:1
  67. Number observed:2
  68. Number observed:19
  69. Number observed:8
  70. Number observed:14
  71. Number observed:4
  72. Number observed:2
  73. Number observed:12
  74. Number observed:13
  75. Number observed:2
  76. Number observed:19

    Details:Numerous and widespread.

  77. Number observed:4
  78. Number observed:19
  79. Brewster's Warbler (hybrid)

    Number observed:1

    Details:Classic hybrid-generation one. Handsome bird.

  80. Number observed:14
  81. Number observed:6
  82. Number observed:6

    Details:Likely 10 or more there. This number achieved with little effort.

  83. Number observed:55

    Details:Widespread and numerous.

  84. Number observed:1
  85. Number observed:25
  86. Number observed:18
  87. Number observed:85

    Details:Loads of these zround.

  88. Number observed:7
  89. Number observed:5
  90. Number observed:15
  91. Number observed:2
  92. Number observed:7
  93. Number observed:3
  94. Number observed:3
  95. Number observed:1
  96. Number observed:3
  97. Number observed:4
  98. Number observed:14
  99. Number observed:19
  100. Number observed:2
  101. Number observed:4
  102. Number observed:8
  103. Number observed:35