Saturday, 30 August 2014

Low ebb

Wheldrake Ings this lunchtime revealed two Whinchats still present from Swantail, a Hobby flushed from riverside willows, and c200 Teal, with three Wigeon. Sadly, I couldn't pick out a Garganey despite checking every white tail stripe. On to Rufforth where the gulls were showing well. Large numbers of Lesser Black-backs, mostly Graellsii, but a few blacker Intermedius, including one that got me going as a possible Fuscus, though I decided it was just a small female Intermedius. Three or four adult Yellow-legged Gulls present too. Smaller numbers of Great Black-backs and moderate numbers of Argenteus Herrings.

Hobby and the Wheldrake duck flock.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Migrants in the Vale

Mid-morning, 11 Whimbrel headed southwest over Bishopthorpe in a V, whistling as they went. Magic! In the evening, I headed to Wheldrake Ings, where at least one Whinchat was kicking about on Swantail, plus five Yellow Wagtails, a Greenshank, two Green Sands, a Hobby marauding the hirundines and a handful of Willow Tits. Good numbers of ducks now, with getting on for 100 Teal, a Wigeon and plenty of Mallard.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Autumn starts here

First visit of the autumn to the Great White Cape - Flamborough Head.  The weather looked promising, with an easterly airflow out of Scandinavia. A couple of Barred Warblers over the previous few days whetted my appetite, but as I arrived the wind seemed strong so I opted for a couple of hours seawatch. There were hordes of birds moving and milling about which made for enjoyable birding, and several Harbour Porpoises and a Grey Seal showed brilliantly. Patient watching revealed c20 Manx Shearwaters and a couple of Arctic Skuas, plus an early Great Crested Grebe, a couple of Common Scoters, several Arctic and Sandwich Terns and a couple of Common Terns.

It was time to do the bushes, so I walked my usual route round past Old Fall, with a quick detour down to Booted Gulley and the east end of South Landing to have a look for a Barred Warbler that had been seen earlier. Birding was tricky due to the strong wind, but by working sheltered patches of scrub and the leeward side of the hedges, I picked up four Redstarts and the common migrant warblers. Two Ruff fed with a Knot in a flash in a stubble field adjacent to Old Fall and a couple of Whimbrel whistled overhead. It really is great birding at this time of year. The Barred Warbler remained frustratingly elusive, though I did flush a grey warbler down the hedge near Booted Gulley which dived into a thick bramble patch and never came out again despite a 15 minute wait.

Another quick seawatch added a couple more Arctic Skuas and a lumbering Bonxie to the day list, but time was getting on so I headed home.

Common migrants, from top, Knot and Ruff, Redstart, young Swallow, Willow Warbler in Old Fall Hedge.

Portland Bill and friends

Spent about a week on the Dorset coast in the Bongo with the family. A good passage of Tree Pipits was noted during the week, with their 'speezz' call regularly heard overhead. There was a good westerly flow of Swallows too during the week and plenty of warblers in the bushes. Not a lot of birding done, though an hour at Brownsea Island Lagoon was enjoyable for plenty of waders including a Spotted Redshank and ten Greenshank, plus an army of Little Egrets. A pair of Common Terns were still feeding young which seemed rather late and nearby I jammed a stonking Firecrest just outside the public hide. Two Red Squirrels were playing about nearby, which delighted (me and) the kids. Elsewhere, we saw Osprey, Sika Deer, Wasp Spider and Raft Spider at Arne, Balearic Shearwaters and many Manxies off Portland Bill and most frustratingly, a probably Citrine Wagtail that flew past me calling on the clifftop at Osmington Mills. I didn't get anything on it apart from it looked grey and white and the call was spot on. Sadly, it kept going until I lost it to the west.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The 26th Birders' Glastonbury!

And so we head south on our annual pilgrimage to Leics and Rutland Wildlife Trust's Rutland Water nature reserve for a long weekend of bird chat, friends, beer, bird chat and more bird chat. See you there! And you get to meet famous types - like Mr Simon King, below...

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Lime Hawk

Amazing what you can find in the office garden...(Lime Hawkmoth back in late June)

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Catching Sharks in the Garden

Following the arrival of my new moth trap on early July, I have been busy dazzling the neighbours with my ode to Blackpool Illuminations, and catching some amazing moths. Here are a few of my first month's best.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Wildlife Travel Yorkshire Trip

Spent last week leading a Yorkshire tour for Wildlife Travel. Had a great time, with highlights being awesome views of Nightjars (thanks Rich Baines!) 11 species of Orchid, Yorkshire (Thistle) Broomrape, Birdseye Primrose, Globe Flower, Adder, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Large Heath, Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Keeled Skimmer, and of course the seabirds of Flamborough Cliffs!

Here are a few pics.
Female Adder, Dalby Forest

Dipper, Troutsdale

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, YWT Fen Bog

Bee Orchid, YWT Wharram Quarry

Fly Orchid, YWT Ellerburn Bank

Heath Spotted Orchid and Large Skipper, YWT Fen Bog

Birdseye Primrose, YWT Ashberry

Fragrant Orchid, YWT Ashberry

Marsh Helleborine, YWT Staveley

Yorkshire Broomrape,  YWT Wharram Quarry

Globe Flower, YWT Ashberry

Northern Marsh Orchid, YWT Flamborough Cliffs

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

First for Yorkshire- well, Cleveland!

Had the day off to take Sol on his second morning visit to infant school. After lunch, I headed north to the Clevelandic delights of Redcar where I was approached by two young ladies on the beach who asked me what all the excitement was about. I said I didn't know as I had just turned up, but I had come to look for an American bird... Down the beach and I was soon watching a flock of Common Scoters in the heaving swell off the beach. At a low angle, it wasn't easy, but I shortly picked up a drake scoter with a collosal blob of yellow butter on it's bill - the (American) Black Scoter! Not only a first for Yorkshire, but a British tick for me to boot. Smart. Over the next hour, I had several brief views including some slightly more prolonged views when the flock began feeding and came closer in. I satisfied myself that I wouldn't overlook one of these if I scanned a scoter flock again - the yellow was even visible when the bird had it's head tucked in.I got a bit distracted by news of a Marsh Warbler near York (which on checking later turned out to be mistaken identity), and shortly had to head home. So, another good bird in Yorkshire-ish!

No chance of a photo due to the heavy sea and bright light, so I pinched this off Vancouverislandbirds - which is an excellent website - please visit!

The Farne Islands, Northumberland

Spent an hour with my favourite birds, Arctic Terns on Inner Farne. The epic pong, ear splitting noise and dazzling sight of thousands of seabirds enthralled all, including our two nippers who thought the place was amazing. Sol was a bit freaked out by the dive-bombing terns but they were fascinated to see such beauty up close. Many of the Arctic Terns had just hatched tiny chicks, some right next to the path, enabling the kids to have wonderful views. This was a real privilege, marred only by some of the annoying fellow tourists who really didn't get how fortunate they were to witness this wonderful spectacle. If you've never been, then go. Soon!

On Sunday, we called in at Amble. Sadly, the boat was full so I had to make do with distant scope views of c20 Roseate Terns flying around over their nestboxes by the buildings on Coquet Island. Very distinctive, even at long range, especially when harrased by the positively leaden Arctic Terns.