Friday, 31 December 2021

Last Post

That's that then. Having already done my Review I won't be repeating all of the highlights...maybe a couple!

Managed a last minute tick down the road in the form of a family party (4) of White-fronted Geese...

...culminating my Patch Year total at a modest 146...which is fine. Long gone are my "must try for 'em all days" especially in the current climate. I still get about when I feel the urge mind you. The Village total was a disappointing 132 and Duff finished off at 86.

You don't need me to pontificate (as if I would) about the World we're currently living in, suffice to say life it somewhat restrictive, limiting and still uncertain.  Hopefully things will improve but I have to say I'm not that optimistic. VERY frustrating in so many ways! That's enough of that also.

Create ....your own World, as much as you can...and LIVE it...

Happier New Year to you all and thanks for's appreciated!

I did say maybe a couple...

One from my boat trip from Bridlington with Phil

Classic Thrush pose

Take some beating those two...

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Dusky Warbler at Wheldrake

A York Area tick to boot...218. A brief visit (as I was in the area) enabled me to strike lucky with a totally underwhelming glimpse. Never a favourite of mine, along with Radde's but an excellent find by Jono Leadley. A nice nostalgic visit though.

Last knockings tomorrow, so time to get off my posterior (and semi-hibernation) and have a last rip around the Patch...a belated Christmas Bird Count! My lad departed for Dubai today; ironic that he really enjoyed the gloom...and mud lol!

I was hoping the Bewick's Swan would be available but the bird scarers sent it off East, unfortunately. The family of White-fronts are still around though...I think.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Review of the Year 2021

In the traditional manner...

British List (all reports are viewable by clicking on the bird)

Where to start then? Makes sense, at least to me, to have a chronological feel to it, so I'll start after the third Lockdown with my NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD sighting in Devon on March 29th . I was lucky how it turned out but I like to think I deserved it for being a good fact I know I did!

Onto Independence Day and a celebration in the form of an ELEGANT TERN in Wales at Cemlyn. A nice "grip back" after missing a few for various reasons.

Into the "Autumn" and a major surprise locally on September 10th in the form of a handy GREEN WARBLER at Buckton (news broke as I was watching the PLOVER). A bird usually associated with off-shore islands, so VERY handy indeed. Incredible to think you could possibly see this bird, the ALBATROSS and the PLOVER in East the same day!!! My decision to take THIS boat trip was one of my better decisions!

With the annual Scilly pilgrimage looming a long-overdue LONG-TOED STINT at St Aidan's RSPB, West Yorks increased the heart rate somewhat on October 9th. After a tense hour or so the bird materialized for all to enjoy. Probably the most over-due Wader on the British List after the 1982 Teeside bird.

Whilst firmly planted on the Fortunate Isles bombshell news broke on Wednesday October 27th. An almost mythical VARIED THRUSH had been found by David Roche on Papa Westray, Orkney. A species you dream of seeing when you flick through the Rare Bird annals. After my previous visits the combination of a fantastic bird on my favourite Scottish Island had me crossing everything for the next few days. I wasn't leaving Scilly though. Fortunately it hung on for me allowing me to connect on Sunday the 31st after an exhilarating late afternoon dash, followed by a far more relaxed FULL day with the bird on Monday in pleasant weather. A day that will remain in my memory forever. 

I was more than happy with my yearly haul but it wasn't over yet. Incredibly another top tier, longed for MEGA was found in Preston, Lancashire in the form of a BELTED KINGFISHER. This bird is still present as I write and seems to have settled in a more accessible area. It was still one of my better decisions to make the trip over the Pennines with Phil and Steve pre-dawn on November 26th, even if the access was a tad precarious. In many other Years this would have been Bird of the Year! Very satisfying to get this one "back".

I have one or two "Pending" records that I haven't added to my "Official List" yet, although I obviously have my own views on them.

Yorkshire List

A Turtle Dove at Easington in Rich Swales's back yard turned into an ORIENTAL on July 2nd. After a short period of tension the bird re-appeared and all connected with the help of the locals. A Spurn Tick to boot!

Fast forward to August 26th when a dapper WHITE-TAILED PLOVER turned up at Blacktoft Sands RSPB. After the initial scramble the bird settled down and is STILL there as I write! It's been 14 years since I saw my first at Caelaverock WWT following an after work dash on June 6th.

GREEN WARBLER - already covered

As I was still getting my breath back from my Papa Westray escapade a or another TAIGA FLYCATCHER was located at Flamborough Head. One was initially seen whilst I was on Scilly so this was a major bonus, especially as I'd missed the Spring bird of 2003. A Red-flanked Bluetail was a significant bonus.

Holmpton List

I managed 4 Village ticks with the Black Stork on August 8th the undoubted highlight. I also added Greenshank, Tree Pipit and Red-necked Grebe. It would be remiss of me not to mention my SECOND record of White-tailed Eagle for the Village on May Day. Incredible really, as I'm still getting over the first one in November 18!

Spurn List

As well as the ORIENTAL TURTLE DOVE I added Mandarin Duck (I know) and Purple Heron. A cracking Golden Oriole on May 6th is definitely worth a mention as is an adult Rosy Pastor in July.

York Area List

 Savi's Warbler at Heslington East in May was an unexpected but welcome addition.


The Spring holiday to Texas didn't materialize for the second year running which was obviously a massive blow. My first stay on Shetland in September was a quiet affair Rarity wise. I amassed a modest 65 species but included KING EIDER and Greenish Warbler early on with a sting on the tail on the final day, when my decision to visit Unst paid off handsomely with my 3rd ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK.

Scilly is always special in my book (you've probably guessed that by now). No BIG ONE this Year but just a magical place to be in October. It was great to have a couple of weeks there this time. I managed to make 100 species and miles. I added Eider, Spotted Redshank, Hoopoe, Woodlark, Cetti's Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher bringing my Scilly List up to 232. I also saw my second Spotted Sandpiper. My June trip hoping to connect with the EGYPTIAN VULTURE would come to nothing BUT I did add Red-footed FalconPuffin and Iceland Gull. Oh and I saw a WALRUS!!!

The uncertainty of the Pandemic remains with us all but life goes on. I'm not opening that door here. Suffice to say that the future is uncertain. 2020 cost me some (3) Lifers as already discussed but I hope free movement will be permitted in 2022; time will tell. I've made provision for Texas in April and I've got everything crossed...third time lucky...hopefully?

So, it's time for my Bird of the Year. Yorkshire had one hell of a Year which kept the fuel costs down. An ALBATROSS is the Holy Grail for many, yours truly included BUT it was present, albeit briefly in previous Years and I had great views LAST year. It spent all Summer at Bempton this Year....and it could well return next Year! It was never taken for granted though, I can assure you!  

So, for me it just has to be.........

 The Zoothera VARIED THRUSH  


The combination of the adventure, the location, quality time spent, Rarity value and stunning looks, nails it beyond doubt...this Year or any Year...

Here's to 22...hope it's a good one for ALL of us...

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Holmpton Omissions

Still no late additions to my Holmpton Year List, although I admit I haven't been "hammering it" lately due to family commitments...even I can't be that unsociable! Below is a list of species that I haven't seen this year that I arguably should have. Some are long gone now but some are still more than possible in the remaining days...

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
Red Knot (Calidris canutus)
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
Little Auk (Alle alle)
Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
Common Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
Siskin (C
arduelis spinus)

I'll have a "last blast" next week. Just wondering if there are any BELTED KINGFISHER photos about!!! Just kiddin'.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Feeding Time

The Station is fully stocked now and I intend to keep it that way. No excuses these days. Already I've had a Coal Tit (which I've never seen around the Village), 3 Tree Sparrows and 5 Goldfinches amongst the usual suspects...late update 7 Long-tailed Tits at 3.30pm. Easy Birding close to home. I've also just heard a Tawny Owl (2.10pm) from the lounge and I've seen Barn Owl the last two trips along Snakey, early evening. Fortunate indeed.

The BELTED KINGFISHER has given itself up on the shortest day, which is a great early Christmas present for some who are late to the party. It doesn't diminish our escapade, although I may have another peep if it lingers into the New Year.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

A Couple of Things

As the Year draws to a close, a "couple of things" spring to mind. Firstly, my traditional Review of the Year which I will give the attention it deserves. Inevitably much debate on Bird of the Year; I obviously have my own opinion and will be sharing it presently. A clue for me is..."Year". The BELTED KINGFISHER is still being reported from ever-widening locations. I can't help feel this record is being somewhat undervalued? It's an elite status rarity in my book and having missed the 2005 bird while ironically being in Texas (watching one as the news broke!!!) it has special significance for me.

I also aim to my version of a Christmas Bird Count of my Village and Patch. I like to put it down in writing so it commits me to it. When is another matter, as I have my son Robert here at the moment from Dubai and I intend to have some quality time with him. 

I've just stocked my feeders and already have Tree Sparrows (4) in attendance. I also had some Winter Thrushes on Snakey yesterday as I drove along, they looked like Fieldfares at a glance. The striking pale Buzzard is still about but infrequent.

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Finishing Straight

Not much of the Birding Year left now, especially with family commitments and all. Still, there's time for an addition or two yet. I used to check "what I needed" but I don't bother anymore...I'll see what I see...or not! My lad Robert is over from Dubai on Thursday; it'll be great to see him. We have a quiet Christmas these days but I still enjoy it...not like many of my peers.

It's very mild today and the forecast looks favourable for the coming week, so no excuse not to get out there and find something...decent...or even better!

Still the odd report of the BELTED KINGFISHER but nothing definite. I noticed an on-line poll that had the WHITE-TAILED PLOVER beating the afore mentioned? Not in my book!

Monday, 6 December 2021

Wind Down

I'm keen but not totally obsessed,,,thankfully! There are other things in my life; important things. I find this time of year a time to take, I won't be doing my annual review yet! However, I admit I have found myself starting to look back on some memorable moments. 

No luck locally with WW Gulls, although both Iceland and Glaucous have been seen down the road recently. We've had some grim weather here recently with another Storm (Barra) forecast for tomorrow. I haven't given up on a few late Year Ticks but I don''t think I'll be venturing far tomorrrow!!

Still no further sign of the BELTED KINGFISHER on the dark side, which makes our spontaneous effort more and more rewarding by the day. I still feel it could be around though. It will also be finding its way into my Top 10 after further thought. After much deliberation the VARIED THRUSH goes in at joint No I can't really split the top 3!!!?

Friday, 3 December 2021


I combined a visit to "me Mum's" with a walk on the Ribble...funnily enough! The forecast for Wednesday morning was poor and that's how it panned out. My decision to arrive at Noon was a good one. It still wasn't great but our walk along the Riverbank from Brockholes was a pleasant one. When I arrived there were a few hopefuls present...

I gave it till 3 then headed back to Bury.

Onto Thursday morning. A much better forecast had me up and out at 6am. This time I headed for the area above the dreaded Red Scar Wood BUT there was no way I was decending the slope. I continued along the footpath and ended up in the same spot by the River at the old weir...

A crisp morning

As you can see I was on my own this time...well almost! A few more hopefuls came and went but I'd had enough by 11 and I was taking my Mother out for lunch so once again I left the site. On the way back to the car I paid my respects to "the slope" I'd slid down then grappled back up last Friday morning...

A slippery slope indeed!

Seeing it again felt good in a strange sort of enhanced the achievement...and success somehow?  I passed a few Birders and a couple asked me about the slope. I didn't underestimate my description!! No further sign as of writing. For me, it's probably still about but obviously very unpredictable in its movements. One thing for sure, whoever sees it will definitely have earned it...we did!!!

BELTED KINGFISHER - River Ribble 26/11/21