Sunday, 8 January 2017

Norfolk And AOS Visit,Saturday 07.01.2017.

With the kind invite from Tim and the other members of the AOS who i know,namely Rich Sargeant and Mark Easterbrook,Tim and myself headed for Norfolk at the unearthly hour of 04.15.
 On the journey along the A15 a roadside Barn Owl was my first sighting of the year of this lovely species.
 As we neared our first destination of Hunstanton,a quick drive around Wolferton saw us seeing target no.1....Woodcock,as we got superb views in the car headlights of 1 bird as it fed along one of the grass verges before disappearing into the undergrowth.
 After a very nice brekkie in Tesco's in Hunstanton and meeting some more members of the AOS,it was onto the next site,Thornham Creek,picking Mark and Debs up along the way.
 To be fair,the weather was garbage on arrival,overcast and slightly misty,but we made the best of things.Highlights here included 25 Twite,which included a CR bird no doubt from the Pennines ringing project,a single Marsh Harrier and a lovely Spotted Redshank which was watched feeding in the creek.
 The next site we headed for was a personal fave and one where i have always had a good visits to in the past,Titchwell RSPB.
 After parking up we made our way along the footpath towards the sea,with some excellent views of 2 Water Rail to start with feeding alongside the path.
 Further on and on the freshmarsh,the best sightings went to another Spotted Redshank,at least 5 Pintail including some fine Drakes and at least 4 different Marsh Harriers.
 Eventually we made it to the beach and began to look on the sea,but it was far from easy in the misty conditions,but i managed to see at least 25 Long-tailed Duck,6 Velvet Scoter,3 Eider and 6 Red-breasted Mergs in amongst the 500+ strong flock of Common Scoters.This is the largest flock of Long-tailed Duck i have seen since visiting the north of Scotland and were a great sight to witness along with the Velvets.
 We then retraced our footsteps back to the visitor centre to look on the reserve bird feeders and we eventually managed to find a female Brambling and at least 3 cracking Mealie Redpolls a great way to end our visit to this cracking site.
 We then decided to head towards Holkham,when we chanced upon a roadside flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese and commented that i had seen Black Brant along here in the past.A quick scan of the flock and Mark picked out a fine adult Black Brant,it stuck out like a sore thumb and i could easily pick it out with Bins.Also here included a small flock of 40 Pink-footed Geese,some nice Grey Partridges and the noisy local Egyptian Geese.
 A chance sighting passing by overhead,was an adult Med Gull heading for the coast with other mixed gulls.
 Our final destination was the fantastic Holkham and after paying for our parking we made our way out to the 'Gap' to look for the wintering Shorelark flock.
 As we arrived,there they where and after a while they flew closer to us allowing some nice scope views,after several attempts at counting them as they were very active we decided there were a respectable flock of 34 birds.These birds are always great to see,long gone are the days when they used to winter in flocks of 100's.
 We then looked from the Joe Jordan hide after enjoying our views of the lovely Larks and a distant white shape in the mist eventually gave itself up to be a Great-white Egret,probably the bird reported earlier on Birdguides as being present here.This was a nice added bonus to the days sightings and we were doing brilliantly considering the crap weather conditions.
 Our final viewpoint on this brilliant reserve was from the Washington hide,this is a raised hide on stilts overlooking the freshmarsh and surrounding area.From here a good sized flock of geese included at least 50 Eurasian White-fronts in amongst the Pinks,a great sight to see and a nice way to end our days sightings to this great area for birding.All in all we managed 103 species which was pretty respectable considering the weather and a good start to the birding year for me.
 After dropping Mark and Debs at their B&B,Tim and myself made the long journey back north after a great day out on the north Norfolk coast.

I have just received ringing details back from Jamie Dunning,that the CR Twite we saw at Thornham was ringed as a juvenile on 13.09.2016. at Dove Holes in Derbyshire.Interesting stuff and just goes to show the value of ringing birds to study migration patterns etc.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Review Of 2016....A Year Of Birding.

Well what a good years birding 2016 was,with particularly the autumn producing the goods,the best i have experienced in my thirtieth year enjoying this fine hobby.Many great highlights were enjoyed throughout the year and some fantastic days again at Spurn.Yorkshire blew everyone out of the water this autumn with some mouthwatering birds on offer which included among others the British mainlands first record of Siberian Accentor,Yorkshire's second record of Eastern-crowned Warbler,a stunning juvenile Black-browed Albatross and a continuous run of good birds in the Spurn area which included Yorkshire's second Pallas's-grasshopper Warbler,Isabelline Wheatear(3rd record),Pine Bunting,4 Red-flanked Bluetails(2 on one day,including an adult male),Brown Shrike(First record for Spurn),both Siberian and Stejneger's Stonechat,Eastern-black Redstart and a fall of 9 Dusky Warbler together on one day.
 New personal species/races seen by myself during the year included the elusive Rufous-turtle Dove at Otford in Kent,The Western-purple Swamphen(Swampie) at both Minsmere RSPB in Suffolk and unbelievably,later at Alkborough Flats in Lincolnshire(Potentially Britains first record),The stunning Siberian Accentor(The First British mainland record) at Easington near Spurn,the mooted Stejneger's Stonechat at Spurn,the beautiful male Eastern-black Redstart at Skinningrove in North Yorkshire,Brown Shrike again at Spurn and finally the cracking Dusky Thrush at the lovely village of Beeley in Derbyshire,which is still present as we speak.
 There are too many good day's to right in this review,but please look through my blog at my posts.I would just like to say a big thank you to all my fellow birders who i have spent some great times this year,particularly the Spurn lads for providing us with a fantastic selection of great birds to see.The following are some of my fave photo's taken through the year,not all of rare's and not all of birds.
 Here's looking to an enjoyable and rarity filled 2017.
Purple Sandpiper,Filey Brigg,February.

Monsal Head,February.

Dunlin,East Halton Skitter,March.

Avocet,North Cave Wetlands,May.

Kittiwake,Bempton Cliffs RSPB,July.

Adult Gannet,Bempton Cliffs RSPB,July.

Juvenile Cuckoo,New Holland,July.

Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit,Frampton Marsh RSPB,July.

Western-purple Swamphen,Minsmere RSPB,August.

Adult Squacco Heron,Barton Pits,August.

juvenile Baird's Sandpiper,Hatfield Moor NNR,September.


Holderness Field,Kilnsea,October.

1st winter Little Bunting,Spurn Point,October.

Spurn Point And The Humber Estuary,October.

Olive-backed Pipit,Easington,October.

Siberian Accentor,Easington,October.

Stormy Spurn,October.

Skinningrove,North Yorkshire,October.

1st winter male Pied Wheatear,Redcar,October.

1st winter male Eastern-black Redstart,Skinningrove,October.

Goxhill Haven,November.


1st winter Dusky Thrush,Beeley,Derbyshire,December.

Male Firecrest,Goxhill Marsh,December.

Song Thrush,Hessle,December.


Monday, 2 January 2017

Bombycilla Garrulus And North Cave Bits.....Saturday 31st December 2016.

Another good forecast today saw me heading over to my home town at Hessle to try and attempt to get some images of the Waxwings that have been present at Sainsbury's and later visit North Cave Wetlands,the following is how the day unfolded.
 As mentioned above it was Sainsbury's at Hessle were i visited first and as i drove along the road past the store i could see the Waxwing flock perched in their favourite Ash tree,with expectant photographers below.
 I got wrapped up warm and then headed over to attempt to get some images.I find these birds such frustrating photographic subjects as it is usually a flurry of activity all at once with them and you have to try and pic your subject bird carefully before they all disappear again,but what a great sight to see,in a flurry of gold,buff and burgundy.
 The flock showed typically well though and they are certainly a crowd pleaser.Today there were at least 45 birds present which was a nice sized flock and they came and went visiting several clumps of ornamental Rowans,which they were steadily stripping of berries.I just love their bell like contact call,a certain sign there are birds present and a great way to pick them up in flight in the autumn as they arrive on our shores.
 Also present in the same area of trees were at least 10 Blackbirds,which included a stunning,partially albino male and also a lovely Song Thrush which showed exceptionally well for this usually shy species,both species taking advantage of the berry crop on offer.
 After getting my fill of images of these beautiful Scandinavian visitors i decided to travel over to North Cave Wetlands to see what was about on this cracking reserve.
 After having a quick drink and scoff i was off and exploring the reserve,my first stop was East Hide and the area was covered in Teal which was great to see and i tried my best to find a Green-winger in amongst them,but to no avail.A few waders were present also and included at least 10 Snipe,9 Redshank and the stars of the visit so far,2 male Ruff.All of a sudden the Teal scattered and it wasn't long before the culprit was found,a stunning female Sparrowhawk was watched as she had her morning bath on the edge of the lake allowing some great views of this lovely bird.
 I then carried on my walk stopping at the Maize Field Feeders to see what was in amongst the commoner species and today 1 male Brambling and a single Marsh Tit were the highlights.The Brambling was very shy and stayed perched in the trees at the back of the feeders,but the Marsh tit was typically showy,both species being very welcome additions to the days sightings.
 The remainder of the reserve was pretty quiet apart from the hide overlooking Village Lake were the local 'Lag' flock were typically noisy,but i couldn't find any other species present in amongst the flock.
 So today was another enjoyable day out and it was great to see the Waxwing flock.








Female Blackbird,Hessle.

Partial Albino Male Blackbird,Hessle.

Song Thrush,Hessle.

Song Thrush,Hessle.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Goxhill Haven - East Halton Skitter,29.12.2016.

With continued great weather forecast again for today,albeit a frosty and cold day ahead,i decided to again visit the old patch at Goxhill.
 Today i began by walking from Goxhill Haven to East Halton Skitter in the opposite direction as my last visit and again the area provided another great days birding,the following is what i recorded.
 The first section of my walk between the Haven itself and Dawson City LWTR, saw a nice selection of waders on show including 350+ Dunlin,1 Grey Plover,16 Bar-Wits,1 Black-Wit and 42 Curlew all taking advantage of the falling tide,with 12 Wigeon on the Humber itself and 2 Rock Pipits foraging along the shoreline.
 On Dawson City 2 Marsh Harrier where sheltering from the wind and cold and included a 1st calendar year bird,possibly a male and the adult male that has been present all winter.Very little else was observed here and a good search on the reserve and adjacent hedgerows for Boxing Day's male Firecrest revealed only a single Goldcrest.
 Further on and towards East Halton Skitter a couple of nice species were encountered and included 2 Short-eared Owl and a Water Pipit.The SEO's were typically unsociable as always and the Pipit likewise,although good flight views were obtained as it left its freshwater feeding area.
 The return walk back towards Goxhill Haven saw distant views of the much reduced Pink flock from Boxing day and another different Marsh Harrier,this time an adult female heading south east inland.As i neared Goxhill Haven again a Common Buzzard was seen and a cracking Merlin was watched as it shot across the fields.
 A drive around to try and get to grips with the Pink flock,saw me finding a group of about 450 birds and as i scoped the flock from the car,bingo!,a cracking Tundra Bean Goose walked into view and i managed to gain some record shots of it and enjoyed some Excellent scope views for about 15 minutes,brilliant stuff.
 So again,the old patch provided the goods and i travelled back home to Barnetby with another notebook full of good sightings.
Robin,Goxhill Haven.

Robin,Goxhill Haven.

Dunlin,Goxhill Haven.

Dunlin,Goxhill Haven.

Pink-footed Geese,Goxhill Marsh.

Pink-footed Geese,Goxhill Marsh.

Pink-footed Geese,Goxhill Marsh.

Pink-footed Geese,Goxhill Marsh.

Tundra Bean Goose,Goxhill Marsh.

Tundra Bean Goose,Goxhill Marsh.

Tundra Bean Goose,Goxhill Marsh.