Monday, 28 February 2022


I try to give you something of interest and it's mainly positive...I hope. However, I think I can safely say that the end of February isn't the Zenith of the Birding year! Most of the Winter "ticks" have been mopped up and the first migrants haven't arrived least here. Hope springs eternal of course as was illustrated by my first singing Song Thrush of the Year this afternoon as I went to the bin.

The rain is beating down again, so back to the Texas then...a Barn Owl has just flown past the lounge window. That was handy!

Sunday, 27 February 2022


Another trip to the "dark side" on Friday to attend my former team mates surprise 70th Birthday party. A self-indulgent post this one (you may want to move on) but I felt it needed marking for posterity. 

As a Bury lad born and bred, I used to watch my home town team at Gigg Lane from the early 60's. Players of the ilk of Colin Bell, Alec Lindsey and Terry McDermott spring to mind. There were of course many others. I loved walking the half mile to the ground.. Most of my mates (understandably) went down to Old Trafford to watch George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton but I remained faithful to my home town team. I did pop down occasionally when Bury were playing some distance away.

Keith Kennedy arrived at Bury in 1972 staying 10 years and making 405 appearances. I watched him play many times and eventually joined him at Gigg in 1978 after leaving College. He was a cultured full back with a sweet left foot. His brother Alan played for Liverpool and one of his lads Tom also played for Bury.

The night was a great trip down memory lane with a few other ex-team mates present, namely Steve Johnson, John Forest and Gerry Keenan. Many anecdotes were shared.

We share a love of German Shepherds and we used to exercise our first dogs (Max and Shane) on a local field after training. Happy memories and a great night...

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Lancashire Washout

Surprise, surprise!

My trip didn't turn out as intended with yet another inaccurate forecast for the dark side. Mind you, growing up over there I should have known it would be wetter than predicted!!

I did visit Samelsbury, albeit briefly but a combination of parking issues and weather meant I didn't linger. A definite long shot for the BK.

Deep into Texas 22 planning now. With COVID restrictions thankfully easing, I am gaining confidence that my 14th visit will indeed take place this year at the THIRD time of asking. Apologies for repeat information!

We'll be heading South initially from Houston to (click sites for details)...

South Padre Island which is a migrant "Hot Spot" on the Southern Gulf Coast. Two iconic sites are the Convention Centre (364 species) and the Birding and Nature Centre (358 species). Small areas of landscaped gardens are a magnet for tired migrants which are easily viewable under relaxed conditions. There are also walkways over mangroves enabling stunning close views of the waterbirds.

...before returning North to...

Galveston for the second half of our three week trip. Top Sites here include Galveston Island S.P. (322 species) and the amazing Lafitte's Cove (322 species).

There will be no charging around (as if I could these days), just a relaxed accumulation of species around the Coast. However, I WILL attempt to add the occasional Species to my Lists (ABA/Texas...or both) should the opportunity arise. As I write there are a few additions available...


BAT FALCON (1st record)




Limpkins have recently colonised the State and should be a "nailed on" addition.

Wood Stork - always rare in my time window...but possible

Iceland Gull 

Glaucous Gull 

Short-eared Owl

Connecticut Warbler

Mourning Warbler

...and maybe something else?

As we know there's always something new turning up. I hope you get to where you want to be this Year, we've waited long enough!

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Quality addition

Scored with a beautiful male Hen Harrier (P.82) this afternoon at Patrington Haven. A brief pass, in a strong wind (again) but a mighty fine sight all the same! I've said it before and I've said it fortunate to have opportunities to see such a species locally.

Big day out tomorrow over the dark side/wet side. A couple of targets in mind but I'll need plenty of luck to see either?


BIG news in Texas recently when a couple of HARLEQUIN DUCKS turned up at Port Aransas. Only the third occurrence for the State. Click here for video.

Saturday, 19 February 2022


I like to think I have some!? I needed it this morning as I headed South to Old Hive in search of our Winter flock. Granted I'm forced out anyway by my beloved German Shepherd  BUT I can choose my route and without a target, I wouldn't have chosen this one! A report of the first Avocet past Spurn added further encouragement. My first scan revealed a couple of RTD close in, struggling North. There were plenty more on the sea (c50) before I reached Old Hive. I also managed a couple of Guillemot...

I hadn't seen anything in the "rough stuff"and by the was "fleeing". The wind had obviously dropped from yesterday but it was still cutting with a predicted "feels like" of -1.

I reached the welcome cover of Old Hive Copse and I soon picked up plenty of birds also sheltering in the trees. Chaffinch (c30), Tree Sparrow (c40) and Yellowhammer (c60...

I gave it 30 minutes (definitely long enough this morning) before retracing my steps back towards Mill Hill. As if by magic, a tight flock of birds rose out of the "rough stuff". It was hard to count the ever changing shape they formed but I made it 18...Twite! There is zero cover on the Cliff Top and the wind was cutting through me but I persevered until I couldn't feel my hands anymore (gloves have to come off for pics).

They could be difficult to pick out once they had landed...

Eventually one bird came out into the open...

The flock were restless but not shy. Quality species to have locally...

Friday, 18 February 2022

Go West

Early start on Wednesday, arriving at NDC at 9. John Heaton was just going into the GS Hide as I arrived. He'd been down at Garganey Hide watching the Whooper Swans leave their roost. I just managed to catch the last few...

He also mentioned there were a good number of Curlews present. We had a good chat and thanks again for the kind words about the Blog...much appreciated. The usual fare was on show but I did add Fieldfare (51), Redwing (52) and Little Grebe (53) to the Year List before departing for my Mother's at 11.

A very pleasant lunch was had at the Swan and Cemetery on Manchester Road...

Fish Finger Sandwich


Up early again on Thursday morning to take on the M60 madness. My intention was to try for the BELTED KINGFISHER again but on receiving information on another LSW Site, I was tempted to the Warrington area. I was given the information in strictest confidence which I will be adhering too. I spent 5 hours at the site with a few other "in the know" hopefuls but the bird didn't show, as it had done the day before. It was good to bump into an old pal though which helped pass the time. I got great views of Nuthatch and numerous Treecreepers. A Peregrine also flew over high  Marsh and Willow Tit are both present here (unusual) but I didn't try the area they frequent, for fear of missing the Woodpecker! I saw Mistle Thrush (singing) and Siskin on my way back to the car.

A late return last night and an early dog walk this morning (which produced nothing of note) before I "batten down the hatches". We still have Twite and Snow Bunting at Old Hive Copse...which can't be bad!

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Yorkshire Pub Heritage

We decided to have a drive out West yesterday. I thought I'd shape myself on Valentine's Day and treat the good lady to a nice Pub Meal...hopefully. I'd not been to this area since the LAMMERGEIER occurrence. I used to come here many Years ago to try for Goshawk but I fear those days are gone due to persecution? The forecast was grim...but we went anyway.

We arrived around 11.30 and it was still persisting it down. I'd booked a table for 2 but we decided to eat earlier if possible...which it thankfully was. We enjoyed a wonderful couple of hours by a log fire enjoying a top meal and desert. I think I scored major points! Thoroughly recommended...

The Strines Inn

Thankfully the rain had stopped by 2 which enabled us to go for a walk...

We even managed a Rainbow

The only birds of note seen were c100 Fieldfares by the car park. It didn't matter, we'd had a great day.

Over to Lancs tomorrow to see my Mother. I may try for the BELTED KINGFISHER on Thursday? As I'm writing this, a Barn Owl has just flown past my lounge window! Feeling blessed...

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Good Exercise

Another clear, crisp Winter's Day here on the East Coast of Yorkshire. Time for a good walk. I went North first then doubled back through the Clifftop scrub and headed South to Old Hive.

Frequent scanning of the Sea failed to produce anything until 9.38...

Pink-footed Geese

Not what I was expecting to see...but grateful for it! I make it honest estimate would have been 100

More, even more distantly at 10.03...

An estimated 4 miles out, just in front of the Wind Turbines. This group numbered 58 but I'd have estimated more! Early return? Just shows...keep scanning. I didn't see anymore. Bouyed by this sighting I continued South to Old Hive. I reached the "rough stuff" hoping something might pop out., or more accurately, they did. A small group of birds took off and bobbed around before decending back into the vegetation. Not Snow Buntings and didn't "feel" like Linnets? They gave the brief impression of..."dainty". I wonder. I couldn't locate them for a good 10 minutes in the thick stuff. When I did, they flew off again. Eventually, I managed to spot one and grab a pic...

Small head, pale bill,wing bar, buff face and throat = Twite! 8 of them!!! (P.81, H.67). Possibly/probably the same group Richard had in November? Only my second record after a single bird sat on a fence at dusk at the bottom of School Lane (14/10/2016)...

I've had worse days...

Change of Plan

I left home early yesterday (6.30) as I was heading over to Duff for an early "sesh" before heading over the tops to visit "mi Mum". I arrived in the Geoff Smith hide at 8. You may remember I waited till dark last week hoping that the Whooper Swan (plus 2 Bewick's) herd would come into roost from the adjacent fields...they didn't.

I could hear the Swans immediately I opened the flaps. There were plenty out there (c80). I decided to go down to Garganey Hide for a closer look and maybe get some flight shots as they departed? Swans were starting to leave as I walked the path but there were still plenty lingering as I reached the Hide on a stunning February morning...

I stayed for 3 hours watching them wake up, stretch off and depart. Magic...





The Plovers were present in force with four figure numbers of both Lapwing and Golden...

...probably a few Dunlin and Ruff in there somewhere! A couple of Stock Doves turned up as I was about to leave...

The Swans were leaving to the East, so I decided to return to the GS Hide at 10, hoping some of the remaining birds would fly past. They did...



Same group 10.32

It was like Manchester Airport! 

I then received a message from my Mother saying she hadn't slept well due to a problem with her hand. After a conversation we decided it was best that I didn't travel on this occasion. Plan B came in the form of a Chip Butty from Mr C's in Selby.

I returned to the GS Hide at 1.30, picking up my Year Long-tailed Tits (10) in the car park...

2 Stonechats were on view as I settled in. Now then, what could I add? The bird that sprung to mind was Peregrine (D, 50)...

The power of positive thinking lol! I stayed till 3.30 when the bird left to terrorize the Wildfowl and Waders...

The icon of the Reserve is the Whooper Swan. I've been watching them here since 1986. I've also been viewing Aughton Church, so it was nice to combine an image of the two yesterday...

A photo I will never tire of...

Monday, 7 February 2022

Humber Shoreline

Reports of Black Brant and male Hen Harrier tempted me to have a "skeffle" at Skeffling this morning on a clear, cold February morning...

Even I noticed that some "hard pruning" had taken place!! ALL bushes and trees had been cut back hard with many being removed completely. A sad sight indeed. All part of the Outstrays to Skeffling  managed realignment scheme. More here and here.

A snippet...

What is ‘managed realignment’?

‘Managed realignment’ means altering the location of existing flood defences.  In the case of OtSMRS, this involves building a new embankment further inland and then breaching the old embankment so that sea water can enter through the breach to enable the creation of new intertidal habitats.

They hope to complete by the end of next year?

I didn't see much between Skeffling and Welwick. I nearly went even further as I didn't recognise the Welwick approach track...

The new wall will be quite some undertaking!

I only managed a single Marsh Harrier on a 3 mile return walk. Three figure numbers of Curlew and Lapwing were present. I might have to have a peep slightly further West to Patrington soon.

It should provide some alternative local interest...

Friday, 4 February 2022

Coastal Erosion

The above photograph was taken this morning just South of Old Hive looking North towards Withernsea. If you look closely you can just see the Lighthouse. The enormous "bite" in the foreground is the "new look" at Old Hive. The Cliff recession is...quite significant! I've walked this way now for 11 years and I've watched the inevitable change in the Coastline. Spurn has also been hit significantly lately. On a positive note there are some impressive smooth Cliffs for the Sand the moment!?

You can't beat the Sea.

I continued down to the Copse and enjoyed the Yellowhammers (c30)...

...and Tree Sparrows (c20) present. I then drove to Snakey and finally added Grey Partridge (P.79, H.65) and Stock Dove (P.80, H.66) to the Year List.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

No then Yes

Left Holmpton at 5.45 and arrived at Howden for 7. After minor confusion I picked Haydn up and we headed for Lound. We made our way to the site seeing Mistle Thrush and Treecreeper on the way. The pools held Red-crested Pochard (14), Great Crested Grebe and a male Goldeneye. There were good numbers of Siskin around (c80) and a few Redpoll. There was intermittent drumming which was checked out but all we were getting was Great. We strolled around the whole area but by 11 we still hadn't found our elusive target. 

We persevered but alas to no avail. We enjoyed the challenge though on a pleasant,still morning.

Time to move on to our second site but not before Fish and Chips at the Codfather! We arrived at Martin Lane, Bawtry around 1. As I'd been there the previous week, I parked in the same spot and we walked the Lane, eventually in both directions. We soon picked out a large flock of Brambling, albeit distantly. The were a wide variety of plumages present amongst these beautiful birds. They ranged far and wide during our 2 hour visit making close observation and an accurate count difficult. We eventually concluded that that they were well into three figures! Rare sightings come in many guises, it's not just about the individual Rarity. This was the largest group of Bramblings either of us had ever quite some distance.

The light worsened unfortunately and we decided to leave them be at 3. This example highlights the subtleness of the species plumage...

 So, a great day in excellent company.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Elusive Swans

Made it over to Duff for 1 and an afternoon session in the sun...and out of the wind! 

The main drive was to wait for the Wild Swans which would hopefully come into roost from the fields opposite. 2 Bewick's Swans were with the Whoopers. I finally managed to find some Gadwall (37) and Redshank (38). The afternoon passed without further sightings of note and as it approached 5 I was definitely in "expectant mode". 

Alas it was a "no show"? Maybe they come in after dark or roost elsewhere. Significant compensation was had in the form of 3 Marsh Harriers (39) giving a 20 minute show before descending into the vegetation...

One bird had a brief glide down the Reserve a distant Barn Owl (40). 5 Shelduck (41) also materialised from...somewhere!

A day out with Haydn tomorrow and another attempt for LSW...