Friday, 28 January 2022

Out, About and Away

After Monday's disappointment Bird-wise at least, I decided to have another "go" for the Black Grouse and an attempt at the Red-flanked Bluetail. I messaged Phil to see if was interested...he was. 

I picked him up at the Humber Bridge at 6.30 and under 3 hours later we were in Upper Teesdale AONB. We tried a few spots around the Langdon Beck area but again I/We couldn't find any? We decided to give it a while. Glad we did, as eventually...we scored!!

We even witnessed some signs of Spring...

Before they departed over the ridge...

It was great to see some again after MANY years. Superb Birds!

Flushed by our success we headed for the Bowlees car park to try for the RFB. It was only a short distance away. We sorted our gear out and headed South to the River Tees...and got completely lost! We were too far East having walked out of the first entry road. Schoolboy error on my part. Having retraced our steps and re-negotiated some awkward stiles. We eventually reached the correct location and there were half-a-dozen hopefuls present...looking forlorn!

We gave it an hour but there was no sign of the Bird...I'd have (probably) seen it on Monday. To be honest I'd have been more pleased seeing the Black Grouse anyway...


Although I was late back last night I had to get up early again today to take the car to the Doctors in Lincoln. A minor but important adjustment to the Old Girl...namely regaining cruise helps the old "war wounds". It didn't take my Mechanic long and I was out of the City by 11. 

Continuing my Quest to see certain species I hadn't seen for a while I headed for Bawtry. A Google search enabled me to enjoy a lunchtime Fish and Chips before I headed for the site. On arrival I had a bird instantly...

Yes, Brambling was my target bird...and there were plenty here. I estimated c150...but there were probably more as they were very skittish and mobile. I spent a very pleasant couple of hours watching and photographing them...good exercise!

They fed in the fields but frequently returned to the isolated trees...

and small Copse... the Pig Farm...

It was a dull day and the birds spent their time resting in the tops of the Trees. It was difficult to get a clear view...

There were other Species present, mainly Chaffinches but also Goldfinches and Greenfinches in small numbers. I walked up and down the quiet lane hoping to get lucky. I got the impression they became less bothered by my presence the longer I was there...or I liked to think so!

The watery Sun was already weakening by 2 and the light was already starting to fade...unfortunately. I got lucky when a large number of birds rested briefly in the Hedge. It gives you an idea of numbers...

A fine sight. The largest flock I've seen.

A few more to give a flavour of the occasion...

It never ceases to amaze me what the modern digital camera can produce. This bird was at least 40 feet up in the tree, in ever decreasing light...

Another excellent day out...added to, when I had a Great White Egret in flight over Potteric Carr from the M18!

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Super Whooper

A predictable return to Sunk Island this afternoon. Fortunately the Swans were still present with the Mutes totally accepted by the Whoopers...or is it the other way round? Anyway, I parked up on the verge and had a pleasant hour in their company. The "yellow-bills" were split into 2 groups but were still close to the road (c40yds). A group of 8 and another of 11...I possibly counted 2 Mute's yesterday...but I don't think so!?

Constant calling was enjoyed again amongst a mixture of activity and rest. A few images to hopefully give you a "feel"...

Patience enabled some flight shots...

Most views (of most things) at Duff are distant, so it was a real bonus to have these birds so close (in more ways than one)...

I don't like to be where shall I go tomorrow on the promise of a decent forecast?

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

A Grand Day Out

Louise had Monday's off...well earned! The forecast looked favourable, so off we went to Upper Teesdale..with our friend! Two targets and the promise of some wonderful scenery beckoned. A "wintering" Red-flanked Bluetail had been tempting me for a while and the prospect of seeing some long-overdue Black Grouse completed the scenario nicely.

We managed to leave home at the planned 6.30am. Three hours and 150 miles later we arrived at Langdon Beck...

The large field in the distance is the traditional area for Black Grouse but despite walking around the area for a couple of hours we couldn't find any...which was surprising! They had been seen here by Birders on previous days? We drove North over the tops into the next Valley and completed a circular route back to Langdon Beck. Still no joy, so time for lunch at the Pub. Maybe not, as it was being renovated!! It was now gone 1 and we hungry. My plan was to have lunch here then try for the RFB. Plan B had to be hatched...a 45 minute drive to Tan Hill! After a confirming phone call we headed for the A66 and beyond arriving at 2.30...

An excellent if expensive meal was enjoyed. I knew it wasn't my day when the Landlords was flat;Black Sheep was ample compensation...nearly! We arrived back at Holmpton at 8pm after a long but very enjoyable Winter's Day. So, no targets seen but a Grand Day Out...


A slower day today! Gloomy and very cold which was hardly inspiring after yesterday. I decided to have a cruise around Sunk Island and Stone Creek hoping for a Hen Harrier or a SEO. Nothing at Stone Creek, although there is some encouraging set-aside there? I returned via Newlands Road and I'm glad I did...

Whooper Swans (19 Adults, 2 Juveniles)

That certainly brightened up a miserable day...

It was also wonderful to hear them calling frequently. You've probably got the idea by now that I'm rather fond of this Species! I stayed with them for an hour just watching and listening to them from the car. No HH or SEO but by now I didn't care...

Taking a nap

Saturday, 22 January 2022


Yet another cracking day here on the South Holderness Coast. The combination of saturated land and strong swells has taken its toll on our fragile Cliffs. Some significant "bites" have been taken! I still have access from the Runnel to the Sewage...but not for long. I won't be building a Jetty yet.

Still no sign of any Snow Buntings; they've probably all funneled down the road! On the return leg Bud helped locate a Snipe (P.77, H.62) in the rough stuff, shortly followed by a couple more. A tight flock of Skylarks (c20) flying North over the Runnel was...surprising.

Last stop before the Footy was on Snakey. I decided to have a "sit" in a pull-in, hoping for a Harrier...maybe? Just as I was about to leave I heard a familiar but unexpected sound...

Pink-footed Geese (P.78, H.63)

I counted 66. Always special for me...especially passing in mid-winter. I messaged Richard...then he appeared in the distance! He'd heard them but couldn't pick them up.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Natural High

Long morning at the South End of the Village today...started early...

I wanted to check out the stubble field again, more thoroughly this time. Mark Thomas had found some Shore Larks and Lapland Buntings at Buckton never know? No luck there, unsurprisingly, BUT I did add Corn Bunting (5) to the Year List (P.75, H.60). I returned to Cliff Farm to do a super-optimistic Seawatch! I wasn't disappointed BUT I did manage 3 Common Scoter (P.76, H.61) flying North. Richard joined me briefly having walked from home; he managed to find the Corn Buntings on his return journey.

It's been great to enjoy the High Pressure system with little Fog. Looks like it's set to continue for a while. Always a blessing in January!

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Nice and easy does it


I checked out a few different spots around the Village today, on yet another idyllic Winter's Day...a few more to come hopefully? A January "High" always welcome, as long as the dreaded Fog doesn't appear. Fingers crossed.

Still plenty to "go at" as already listed. The sea is noisy but VERY quiet, at least for me. Snakey was slightly more productive with the large Fieldfare flock (c200) still in residence. An afternoon stroll produced my F.O.Y Mediterranean Gull (P.73, H.57) followed shortly after by c50 Lapwings (H.58) which was a record count. They were seen distantly over the "Bunker" on Rysome Lane. Maybe having a stretch from the Humber?

Chatting to Dave Hursthouse yesterday got me thinking about totting up how many species I've seen in  England over the Years. Dave doesn't "do" islands but has seen 530 species in England alone!!! Asking him why he doesn't travel further afield, he replied, "I don't want to enter a contest I can't win". Fair enough. I share those sentiments to an extent and as you know I'm selective in my attempts. It's cheaper also!

Monday, 17 January 2022


According to my records I've seen 4 Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers in my time. In chronological order...

Clumber Park     3/1/1987
Worsbrough CP  22/1/1988
Wheldrake Ings  24/3/1996
St Aidan's           31/7/2004

I'd been toying with the idea of trying to  see some species this Year that I haven't seen for a long while and this was right up there on the List. So, a call from Phil saying he'd heard of a report in Notts at Lound GP sounded interesting! He told me he'd arranged to meet Dave Hursthouse who would show us the spot. It was a stunning Winter's day, so the scene was set. We searched thoroughly and saw plenty of Great BUT we couldn't locate our target bird. We enjoyed trying and did get a distant peep at the American Wigeon nearby. Good company and exercise and a promise to return to try again.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Snakey Stroll

I've driven along Snakey hundreds nay thousands of times over the last decade. It's a great little road with some nice habitat and key birds. Today was glorious so I decided to walk it (6 miles)...with my mate, needless to say! 

Fieldfare Field

Highlights were a flock of 21 Curlews (the most I've seen here in one flock) and a large flock of Fieldfare (c200).

No targets were added even though there was plenty to go at...

Canada Goose
Stock Dove
Grey Partridge (a couple of Partridge sp exploded into the sun?)
Golden Plover
Little Owl
Corn Bunting

I guess the best sighting was a Woodcock flying along the hedge straight towards me, something I wouldn't have enjoyed as much in the car.Oh I did add Mallard (H.56) on the Duck Pond lol!

Thursday, 13 January 2022

BAIKAL TEAL - The story continues

...or is it, drags on!?

After Dale Midddleton's excellent find at Hornsea Mere on Sunday, the/a bird was seen at Top Hill Low yesterday afternoon. Just kiddin. I think we can safely say it's the same individual, can't we?

This morning I headed for a session at Duff as the forecast was for a clear, still, sunny day. I walked the lad North from Bubwith bridge along the River Derwent, always a fine sight...

On returning to the car, a message...

E.Yorks BAIKAL TEAL drk east of Beverley at Swine Moor


I wasn't far away (38 mins) and after checking access on the superb Google Maps, I decided to have a go, maybe I could get a pic? After driving over the River Hull and taking the minor road towards Weel I came across three cars at a pull in...and three Birders on the bank! Things looked promising. I wound the window down and asked them if it was the time honoured way. Turned out on e was Roy Lyon and another was Gary Taylor. I parked up and was getting my gear together when Gary shouted "better take a look in case it flies off". I obliged. The bird was unfortunately distant but clear to see through his scope...

It's the little one in the middle!

Not the pic I was hoping for!! Enough has been said about provenance (you'll be pleased to here). Let's just see what the panel decides. Maybe I'll get my Yorkshire Tick after all?

I drove back to NDC and had a pleasant, if very quiet couple of hours, the highlights being Marsh Harrier and Stonechat. The light and view were stunning. It was also nice to see Elaine from the Village with her hearing Dog, a real cutie! I've known her for over 30 years, since I used to visit Wheldrake Ings regularly. Time flies...

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Slow going

Having a look through my "should have seen by now" list I spent some time on Snakey but no Plovers, Partridges or Doves seen. However, I did see my first Sparrowhawk (H. 53) zooming West along the lane... I had another on the way home!

Next stop was the Sewage. As I approached I scanned the building for Little Owl; no luck there but a couple of Buzzards on adjacent post were unusual. I negotiated the sludge and headed North towards Intack through the stubble...

30 minutes of coverage eventually revealed 7 Skylarks (H.54). Nothing else unfortunately in this sometimes productive habitat.  A BIG bonus on the way home came in the form of a lone Woodcock (H.55) heading North through the trees on Seaside lane.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Snakey Search

I added a couple of Year ticks while loading up the car...Moorhen and Jackdaw. No rush.

Time spent on Snakey Lane today didn't produce the hoped for Year additions, namely...Grey Partridge, Canada Goose, Mallard, Stock Dove, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Mediterranean Gull, Skylark, Mistle Thrush, Bullfinch, Corn Bunting. A few to "go at"!

I checked the Clifftop paddock on three occasions for the Little Egret with no joy BUT on my last attempt a quick detour to check the sea paid off when I picked out 4 Shelducks (P.70, H.52) at mid-distance...

Just squeezed 'em in!

Monday, 10 January 2022

Contentious Wildfowl

Controversial also!!! It's just an opinion you understand.

Over the years I've dashed off to see some dodgy Ducks. Then it didn't matter because I was increasing my List. I didn't go with much conviction for some, even then. I have to say here and now this is STILL a pressure BUT I like to think I'm more selective these days? Let's face it there are some dubious records out there. Some of the species involved are listed below...


...there are others, you could argue.

The reason I'm flagging this up is because of the latest BAIKAL TEAL "outbreak". As I was driving the short distance to Hornsea Mere yesterday...I was torn. Why...because I'd seen the previous one at Spurn in May 2019. This bird was rejected due to it "lingering" further North into early Summer? However, I believe the latitudes were comparable to its Breeding range in Asia! As I adhere to the official decision I haven't added this bird to my List although it is on my Personal one as it's "as good as any" in my book. I saw my first at Minsmere in December 2001. There was also a bird at Flamborough in April 2013.

So. there I was going to see "another" (a brief, distant scope view was uninspiring). I'm not going to wax lyrical (I never do), suffice to say, for me, you either count them all (unless obvious signs of captivity) or none of them. I realize it's not an easy call but we all know there are a LOT of Ducks in captivity. It will be interesting to see what the decision on this bird will be eventually. 

There is also a Bird in Somerset at the moment?


Anyway enough of that...back to some good old solid Patch work. I spent 3 hours down the South of the Village this morning from 9 till Noon covering Cliff Farm, Old Hive Copse up to Mill Hill. The wonderful sound of a Curlew cheered me up on a dull morning as I opened the car door at Cliff Farm. Almost immediately I caught sight of a lone Mute Swan powering South in the distance...

I didn't see any last Year...I've had two records already!? A few distant Red-throated Divers were heading North as I walked down to the Copse. The main highlight on arrival was the discovery of a large, mixed flock of passerines in the huge stubble field adjacent. Flocks came and went using the trees in the Copse occasionally which made viewing far easier. 

Estimated numbers were Yellowhammer (c100), Tree Sparrow (50)...

Reed Bunting (25), Chaffinch (20). I also had a flock of  Fieldfares (c30) and added Song Thrush (3)...

and Pied Wagtail... the Year List. Very enjoyable.

I made my way up to Mill Hill hoping to connect with some Snow Buntings. On the way "up" I was surprised and chuffed to spot 3 Brent Geese heading South at distance. No sign of any SB. The strip of weeds by the Cliff here is...promising...

...and produced 2 brief explosive moments of...Snow Bunting!

Home for lunch and 3 Long-tailed Tits on the Feeders! A brief stop late afternoon at the Sewage car park quagmire paid off with a record count of Turnstone (32) and another Brent Goose South. Richard had earlier messaged me to inform me that "our" Little Egret was back in the Clifftop paddock. No luck for me today.

Holmpton Year - 49