Saturday, 3 December 2016

Super Scarborough....Sunday 27th November 2016.

With a good forecast and some great birds on offer,i decided to head over to my fave seaside town today.
 The journey up across the wolds was trouble free and it was just over an hour before i was parking up on Marine Drive,just as it was beginning to get light properly.
 As it was low tide,i decided to watch the sea first,with a few Gannets and Fulmars passing by distantly and closer in several Guillemot and Shags dived for food with 3 female/immature Common Scoter being the highlight.
 I decided then to have a look for the previous days Black Redstart behind the wall along Marine Drive,but it drew a blank unfortunately,but all was not lost,with a cracking male Stonechat showing nicely.
 Back to the car and just as i reached it a Peregrine appeared overhead and give superb flight views before settling down on the cliff.I then settled down to watch this supreme master of the air as he preened,giving fantastic scope views,what brilliant birds they are and i still always feel privileged to see one.
 After watching the Perg,i wandered down to the harbour entrance seeing 3 Eider pass close by north and then a scan of North Bay revealed the resident Red-throated and Great-northern Divers and a couple of Guillemot.
 In the Harbour the Black-necked Grebe showed well,but never close for photo's,but it was great to see all the same and could well be one of the birds from the previous winter returning.
 After lunch i returned to the harbour and spent the remainder of the day here,enjoying fantastic views of the Great-northern Diver and 38 Purple Sandpiper which were roosting on the rocks near the East Pier.
 After taking plenty of photos and enjoying my fill of views of the star birds i took a steady drive home after another great visit to this great birding area.
Looking Towards Flamborough From Marine Drive.


North Bay Looking Towards Reighton.

Male Peregrine,Marine Drive.

Male Peregrine Overhead,Marine Drive.

Juvenile Great-northern Diver.

Juvenile Great-northern Diver.

Juvenile Great-northern Diver.

Juvenile Great-northern Diver.

Purple Sandpipers.

Roosting Purple Sandpiper.

Roosting Redshanks.

The Harbour.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

WEBS....Barrow Haven To Goxhill Haven,Saturday 20.11.2016.

Unfortunately due to personal circumstances i could not complete my monthly WEBS count last weekend,but thankfully the tide times were more favourable today and also the forecast was pretty decent also.
 After making the short journey from my home at Barnetby,on slightly icy roads it has to be said,i arrived at Barrow Haven just as it was beginning to get light properly.I parked in my usual spot beside the train station,packed the camera bag with food,got well and truly wrapped up and off i set.
 Very little around the Haven itself and along the first section up towards New Holland Bulk terminal apart from the usual scattered parties of Curlew and Redshank,a few flocks of Dunlin and the best sighting so far,of a single adult Whooper Swan which flew towards New Holland.
 The bushes and hedgerows along the Humber bank side held a few welcome flocks of Redwing,with 27 birds in one flock being great to see as they 'Seeped' overhead with smaller numbers of Blackbirds and Fieldfare also recorded.
 As i neared the outfall at New Holland,birding buddy Charlie Adland joined me and we quickly counted the waders present on the foreshore here which included higher than normal numbers of Dunlin being seen with 85 birds being counted.Good numbers of Mallard here as always in the winter months revealed 68 birds present,the Humber being one of the most important areas in the UK for this common duck species.
 We quickly negotiated the Bulk Terminal,before again joining the Humber bank and continuing towards Goxhill.
 As we neared New Holland ski pit,that lovely trumpeting call drew our attention to a flock of 6 Whooper Swans as they pitched down onto the pit.These were the same family party of 2 adult birds and 4 juv's which Chas had seen a few weeks before,just lovely to see,as the earlier adult had been.
 A scan from the Humber bank here to search for the wintering duck flock,saw only small numbers of Goldeneye being seen unfortunately,with 36 birds present and a couple of Tufties which had joined them.
 Along the bank side towards Goxhill Tilery,5 Meadow and 2 lovely Rock Pipits were seen and as we walked Charlie swore he saw a bird with a white rump,but after much searching we could not relocate it unfortunately.
 Waders along here included some photogenic Turnstones and a single Black-tailed Godwit feeding on a ploughed field amongst a flock of Lapwings.Also nearby,a small group of 3 Roe Deer quietly fed along a hedge line.
 As we neared Goxhill Haven,a sudden flurry of white saw a Snow Bunting fly up from the bank side,perhaps this was the bird Chas had seen earlier.To be fair it was a pain to get anywhere near and flew off at the slightest approach,so we both only managed record shots of the bird,but it was a very welcome sighting all the same and great to see.
 After the Snow Bunt flew off towards the old boatyard,we carried on our walk towards Dawson City beyond Goxhill Haven.
 As we neared Dawson City i was sure i could hear a snatch of Pink-footed Geese calling.We walked along the bank infront of the reserve and sure enough there was a good sized flock on the same pasture field as the birds had been using the previous winter.I managed to find a decent gap in the hedge and began counting the birds,thank god for clickers!.Eventually after some serious patience i ended up with a good count of 1557 birds.We had been looking through the flock for other species and surprisingly we managed to find 2 Bar-headed Geese at the rear of the flock.Not the hoped for Bean or White-fronted Geese,but they are smart birds,even though they are escapees.
 Chas spotted another goose flock approaching from the direction of Sunk Island distantly and sure enough they came closer and closer joining the flock already present and contained a further 81 birds.So 1638 birds in total,was considerably larger than the number present when i visited last,earlier in the year and was just a fantastic sight and sound to witness.
 Nearby,a small group of 5 juvenile Grey Plover fed on a winter wheat field whch was a nice bonus sighting.
 After leaving Dawson,a lovely male Marsh Harrier flew out of the adjacent pit and gave some nice views before disappearing onto the reserve.
 As we neared the area where we had found the Snow Bunting earlier,unbelievably,it was back in the same spot again and it was no easier again to approach,this time doing one circuit,before heading north west over the Humber.
 Back at New Holland,the Whooper Swan family were sheltering under the old pier with the local Mutes and after saying farewell to Chas,the only further highlight was a Common Buzzard which flew towards Barrow Haven.
 I eventually arrived back at the car after 8 hours in the field and a knackering 15 miles walked,but what an enjoyable day out and a big thanks to Chas for the great company.
Stunning Sunrise At Barrow Haven.


The Humber Bank Looking Towards New Holland Bulk Terminal.

Turnstones At New Holland.

Turnstones At New Holland.


Pink-footed Geese,Goxhill Marsh.

Pink-footed Geese,Goxhill Marsh.

Pink-footed Geese Over The Humber.

Humber Industry At Saltend On The North Bank.

Passing Storm At Goxhill Haven,Which Battered Us With Hailstones.

Dunlin At Goxhill Haven.

Snow Bunting,Goxhill Haven.


Sunday, 6 November 2016

Stormy Seawatch And Greenland Beauties....The Spurn Area,05.11.2016.

With a full day to myself and the prospect of an icy northerly blast,i headed over to Spurn to join the other regulars at the sea watch hut to see what the sea would reveal.
 I decided to stand outside of the hide,instead of being restricted inside the hide and settled myself in the lee of the wind on the southern side of the hide.
 Occasional showers didn't bother me at all,as i was pretty sheltered and i began to scan to see what was on the move.
 First highlights went to a north bound Purple Sandpiper with a small flock of Dunlin and a steadily moving Adult Med Gull,which moved it's way south past the breach.
 It wasn't long before the first of the expected Pomarine Skuas flew south and the final count totalled at least 11 birds this included 1 mixed flock of both Poms And Bonxie,a great sight to see and a good chance to compare size and build of both species.
 The next highlight was a pretty good one for me personally,as i saw my latest Sooty Shearwater fly south,the first time i have recorded this Southern Hemisphere breeding species in November.
 The final goodie seen,was a single female type Long-tailed Duck which followed the Skuas and the Med Gull south.
 Other species observed included Guillemot,Kittiwake,100+ Common Scoter and a Short-eared Owl which came to land just south of the breach.
 As the sea went quiet,i decided to go for a wander and spent a short while at the Warren gate watching waders on the dropping tide.This included great views of some lovely species which included 100's of Knot and smaller numbers of the stunning Grey Plovers and Bar-tailed Godwits.
 I then spent half an hour watching from Canal Scrape hide and managed to take some nice images of the resident Little Grebe and also a mixed flock of Wigeon and Mallards,the Wigeon showing particularly closely.After enjoying my fill of photographing the species on the Scrape,i then decided to drive over to Easington to see the Greenland Whitefront family which were still residing on the stubble field on the outskirts of the village.
 On arrival,they were on the other side of the field,but i spent at least an hour and a half watching them and they came quite close and allowed me a great chance to study this relatively rare species,these being in fact only the second time i have seen this often mooted full species.
 The adult was very distinctive with it's longer,orange pale tipped bill,darker upperparts and more mottled plumage with the belly barring extending just onto the undertail coverts when compared to the european race 'Albifrons'.The juveniles were equally as striking with their buffy edged coverts,orange bills with fine dark tips and bright orange legs and feet.
 I managed to take some fairly decent record shots of this cracking goose family and it was very instructive to enjoy such good views of them and was a great end to the day.
 On the way home,the lovely sight of at least 500 Pink-footed Geese heading for the Humber at dusk was a just fantastic.
Drake Wigeon,Canal Scrape.


Female Wigeon,Canal Scrape.

Little Grebe,Canal Scrape.

Little Grebe,Canal Scrape.

Little Grebe,Canal Scrape.

Greenland White-fronted Geese,Easington.

Greenland White-fronted Geese,Easington.

Greenland White-fronted Geese,Easington.

Greenland White-fronted Geese,Easington.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Brown Shrike....Another Mega Find At Spurn!.....Monday 31st October 2016.

There i was working away at Scunny dreaming about the end of my 6-2 shift,when i received a text from Tim,saying the news i had wanted to see for some time....Brown Shrike at Spurn.
 My mind went into overdrive,what was i going to do.A phone call from Tim saying don't worry about going home,just get yourself to Spurn and you can use my gear.
 I decided to go home,get changed quick and head out and before i knew it i was over the Humber and heading through Hull.I drove as quick as possible,screaming at every single slow bloody driver in my way.
 As i entered Easington another welcome phone call from Tim,told me to park near the Warren gate and Pallas's pond,as the Shrike was still present and showing in that area.
 As i arrived the words i did not want to hear,as Tim told me the bird wasn't currently showing and had probably been flushed by a hunting Short-eared Owl.
 I quickly left Tim to join a few others along Canal bank,when there it was sat atop a hawthorn before flying further along the canal.The bird was very active and obviously feeding up before dark and more views of it sat on the edge of the reeds along the canal before it briefly disappeared and then it was sat on top of a hawthorn in the bushes at the back of Canal Scrape.It then dropped of its perch into cover and that was that.
 The whole time i had seen it,was probably just a twenty minute period,but at last i had seen this cracking asian Shrike,my second mega here from this stunning family of birds.
 On first views,the bird struck me as being a much richer toned plumage than Red-backed Shrike,with a larger head and much bulkier,longer bill than that species,what a fu###ng beauty!.
 I was so chuffed at eventually catching up with this superb species,after missing one,the second for Yorkshire at Flamborough in early November 2010.The only other record of this species in Yorkshire,was also at Flamborough in September 2008 making this the third for Yorkshire and more importantly the first for Spurn!.
 It was just another fantastic species to turn up this October,with it being by far the best autumn i have experienced in 30 years birding.
 As i chatted with Tim,now in a much more relaxed fashion,we watched as a Short-eared Owl hunted Canal Bank and the nearby Saltmarsh and 17 beautiful Whooper Swans honked their way south along the Humber as the sun set.
 A quick look in Easington on the way home had us enjoying some stonking views of the family party of Greenland White-fronted Geese as they fed at close range in a stubble field on the edge of the village.It was great to be able to study the single adult and three juvvies at such close range,just fantastic and a brilliant end to another excellent visit to this amazingly special birding area...albeit a bit of a hectic one today.
Sunset Over The Humber.


Whooper Swans Heading South.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Beautiful Chat And Pied Cracker......Sunday 30th October 2016.

With the reported 1st winter male Eastern-black Redstart still present at Skinningrove on the North Yorkshire coast on Saturday,this was my destination for the day.
 The long journey up across the moors was trouble free,apart from a suicidal Red Grouse sat in the middle of the road in the dark!.
 I eventually arrived at the car park at Skinningrove just as it was beginning to get light and got my gear together and headed out to look for the little beauty.
 To start with we had a few heart stopping moments with a couple of Robins popping up,then all of a sudden there he was,the beautiful male Eastern-black Redstart.
 At first he was pretty elusive spending long spells feeding in between the breakwater boulders,but as the air warmed and the insects became more active he spent much more time flycatching,with those striking red underparts and tail glowing in the early morning light,what a stunning little bird.
 Unfortunately at times he was gaining some unwanted attention from one of the local Robins,which was a pain sometimes when we attempted to get some photos of this cracker,but most of the time he showed impeccably,showing at times down to 30 feet away.
 This little bird has amazingly arrived off course from where he was hatched as a chick in central asia an amazing journey for such a small bird.
 After enjoying a good couple of hours of watching this lovely bird,i heard that the possible Black-eared Wheatear seen at nearby Redcar the previous day,had been identified as a 1st winter male Pied Wheatear and it would be rude not to pay him a visit,so off i went.
 Twenty minutes later and i was with the gathered group watching this superb little bird as it sallied after flies from the prom railings and side of the old cinema.Another eastern breeding species,breeding as close as eastern europe,this is only my third sighting of this lovely species,with previous birds at Reighton(1st W. Female) in November 2008 and at Spurn on 3rd October 2015(Adult Male).
 When the assembled crowd backed off a little,this superb young male came down onto the beach and showed admirably,what a smart bird.
 At last the sun had began to break through and i took some more images of the Wheatear before heading back to visit the Eastern-black Red,as the light in the morning had been pretty dull.
 On arrival back at the Redstart,it was soon apparent there were more people present and to be fair at first he was a little buggar to see,often sitting for periods in little holes in the boulders,no doubt to escape from the bullying Robin.But eventually he started flycatching again and just kept coming closer and closer,until he was about 30 feet away,what an amazing bird.
 After enjoying my fill of views of this cracking bird,i decided to call it a day and take a steady drive home with another superb days birding enjoyed.
Skinningrove Sunrise.


Some superb birding habitat along this coast.


1st Winter Male Eastern-black Redstart.

1st Winter Male Eastern-black Redstart.

First Winter male Eastern-black Redstart.

First Winter Male Eastern-black Redstart.

First Winter Male Eastern-black Redstart.

First Winter Male Eastern-black Redstart.

First Winter Male Pied Wheatear.

First Winter Male Pied Wheatear.

If Only This Shot Had Been Sharp!.


First Winter Male Pied Wheatear.

First Winter Male Pied Wheatear.

First Winter Male Pied Wheatear.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Stejneger's Stonechat & The Long Walk.....Sunday 23rd October 2016.

With a good list of birds on offer and the prospect of a good day's birding,i again made my way to the Spurn area today.
 I started by looking for the Isabelline Wheatear and the 'Maurus' Siberian Stonechat at Easington,but unfortunately after a good search it was apparent that both the birds had left overnight.All was not lost though,as news soon came over the radio that the 'Stejneger's Stonechat' was still present at the point,so that was the direction i headed in.
 After parking up at the Bluebell and getting the gear packed for the long walk down the point,i was off.
 I made a steady walk along the beach,past the breach looking along the way for the previous days Shorelark's,but no sight of them unfortunately and i thought to myself it was going to be one of those days.
 A handfull of Brent Geese fed on the incoming tide around the narrows and after a brief conversation with Geoff,Gary and Stuart,they told me the Stonechat was still present and showing well.
 After bumping into Daz again as on the last three weekends,the small assembled group split up to try and find the now elusive Stonechat.
 After a short while i found the bird as it sallied after fly's from it's perch,but it certainly wasn't easy to get near.This scenario was far from the good views Geoff and the lads had described,but piece by piece after several views i could see the ID features which make this potential 'full' species so distinct.
 It was interesting to note how the birds colouration changed with lighting conditions,it sometimes looking quite non-descript,particularly when seen from behind,with the mantle looking quite dark.But head on and in good light it was a different story with it's pale 'Super' and pale throat standing out well and in flight,the rusty buff rump patch,pale wing bars and almost translucent primaries really stood out as it carried on flycatching.This is my first sighting of this species/race and it is the most eastern breeding of the 'Siberian Stonechat' complex being found in Northeast Siberia.
 After the gruelling effort in trying to get good views of the Stonechat,the return walk back to the car was a much more relaxed and enjoyable affair with highlights including a Northern Wheatear,35+ Redwing,20 Fieldfare and similar numbers of Goldcrest,some of the Crests and Redwing showed incredibly well as they foraged for food on the beach and were obviously newly arrived birds,what a privilege to see these superb birds in these surroundings feeding out in the open,instead of trying to see them in a leafy woodland.
 Overhead a few migrants passed south and this included a couple of Grey Wagtail and at least 10 Brambling.
 As i walked just passed the lighthouse,a small group of 30 Dark-bellied Brent Geese fed on the dropping tide and included 1 Pale-bellied bird in amongst them.I love Brent Geese,always so confiding and always allowing a relatively close approach,with their chuntering calls amongst the flock,just brilliant.
 Eventually i arrived back at the car slightly worse for wear,but a final sighting in the form of a very confiding Snow Bunting showing down to a few feet at the edge of Sandy Beaches was a great way to end another brilliant visit to this cracking area for birding.
Sanderling,Easington Lagoon.




Stejneger's Stonechat.

Wheatear,Point Car Park.

Goldcrest,Point Car Park.


Pale-bellied Brent Goose,With Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose.

Foraging Redwings.

Redwing.

Redwing.

Snow Bunting,Sandy Beaches.

Snow Bunting,Sandy Beaches.