Monday, 22 September 2014

Bonby Carrs.....Sunday 21st September 2014.

After yesterdays excitement it was back to local birding today and a walk down the Carrs at Bonby.As i parked up at my usual spot beside the soak drain it was soon apparent how cold it was,or should i say how cold it fealt after the recent 17 degrees every day,several layers later and off i went,nice and warm now.As i reached the first of the hedgerows bordering the pastures it soon became noticeable that there were quite a few Buntings and Finches present.And i managed to count at least 30 Reed Bunting and 35 Yellowhammer,along with a good sized count of Linnets numbering about 350 in two flocks.A few Goldfinch were along the hedges as well and several Skylark and Mipits on the fields and a large flock of 400 plus Starling were plundering the Elder berry bushes noisily by the River.The Old River Ancholme has been dredged now and there was a Juv. Greenshank enjoying the newly created feeding habitat,this being the only wader seen apart from a few flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing passing overhead.In Appleby Carrs on the opposite bank of the river a couple of Jays were seen flying from bush to bush no doubt in search of food as so often happens with this species at this time of year and a couple of Yellow Wagtail flew by overhead.Raptors were pretty thin on the ground today and i only managed 3 Common Buzzard and 6 Kestrel to add to the notebook.A few Hirundines were still remaining and included at least 15 Swallow,it won't be long before they have all left for Africa.Wildfowl are beginning to make an appearance and i logged my first local Pinkfeet of the autumn period as 7 birds flew south.An unusual sight of a flock of 20 Mute Swans flew in from a southerly direction and landed on the river.All the birds were adults and constituted the largest flock of Mutes i have seen down here,a bit of a bizarre record for the time of year.So a very pleasant walk this morning was had and i returned home after another enjoyable visit.
Misty start.

The soak drain looking towards Worlaby Carrs.

Nosey local.

Reed Bunting.

Part of the Starling flock at the River.

Thirteen of the twenty Mute Swans.

South bound Pinkfeet.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Spurn Mega and scarce migrants....Saturday 20.09.2014.

With a long week of days finally completed and reading daily reports of good birds being seen along the east coast,i headed out bright an early in the anticipation of seeing some good birds and having a decent day as always at Spurn.It was with little realisation as to what was to unfold through the day.By Spurn standards no real biggies had been seen up to now apart from another Juv. Pallid Harrier passing through the recording area,so today with increased numbers of observers i was hoping for something good.I began the day by parking at the Bluebell,a good choice after how the day unfolded,got my kit together and decided to walk down to the Crown and Kilnsea Churchyard first.As i approached the churchyard,a rattling call alerted me to the first nicety of the day,a lovely Red-breasted Flycatcher.The bird was watched as it flitted about flycatching and being harassed by a local Wren,giving some nice views,but too damn quick for any pics.In the immediate area were 2 Garden Warbler,2 Spotted Flycatcher,2 Redstart,a few Chiffies,a handful of Siskins and a Grey Wag overhead,things were looking good.After meeting up with John we mooched about watching the R.b.Fly and the other migrants around Cliffe Farm until a message came over the radio that a OBP had just been found near the Canal so off we went to have a look.On the way we came across three visiting birders who were watching something,we asked what it was and one of them said they thought it was a Red-backed Shrike but they weren't sure.I looked through there scope with disbelief,as it certainly wasn't a Red-backed and looked like a Juv. Woodchat.We put it out on the radio system as an interesting shrike,possibly Woodchat while we looked at the Collins Bird Guide.In the meantime i had seen it in flight as it flew across the Well field to a barbed wire fence on the other side.I was immediatley struck by the large white patches in the wing and long black tail in flight,something just didn't add up with it.It looked too pale when perched up also,but i was no expert by far on Juv. Woodchat.Thankfully reinforcements arrived with Andy Roadhouse and Steve Exley coming to look at the bird,we had mentioned the fact that it didn't have a white rump and alarm bells started ringing with Andy and a few others and conversations about the different races of Woodchat were discussed,but all showed a white rump.The only other option was Masked,something i had contemplated earlier,but just didn't have the bottle to say it,without looking like a complete idiot if i had been wrong.But as it transpired that is exactly what we were watching as Andy and the others had good experience of the species....fu@#ing hell,a third for Britain and first for both Yorkshire and Spurn and we had been in on it,birding heaven!.The bird in all the hoo hah of idin'g it had mistakenly been put out as Woodchat by someone and that was soon put right.As we watched the bird and with a little hindsight now it was apparent what it was and it struck me how small the bird was,being almost as big as a Reed Bunting perched nearby.When flycatching from the fence it looked like a Pied Wag with it's long black tail with broad white sides,what a smart little bird.The crowds soon began arriving and parking was being arranged in a nearby field to accommodate the visitors.After watching it for a good hour and a half i decided to walk back to the car for some lunch,on the way seeing a handfull of Wheatears,Tree Pipit,the Red-breasted Fly again and more Siskins and a couple of Yellow Wags.I was soon stopped in my tracks again as i walked back along the road up to the Bluebell as a dark juv. Honey  Buzzard passed overhead south and some nice views of the Great-grey Shrike from the previous day performed on nearby hedgerows and overhead telephone wires,crikey what a day.I got myself back to the car on a high,scoffed my pack up and had a drink and headed back to were the Shrike was and it was still were we had left it earlier giving slightly closer views now,but it soon flew away further again.At one point it was seen in the same field of view as the Great-grey Shrike,giving everyone present a great chance to compare the birds size perfectly against the much bigger Great-grey,it was even watched being chased by the Great-grey briefly,which had a few hearts in mouths,but the bigger Great-grey left it alone.As the day wore on it became a little overcast and began to lightly drizzle,so i decided to call it a day and made my way home to Lincs.Personal totals for the day included the afore mentioned species and 6 Redstart,2 Whinchat,Marsh Harrier,1 Pied Fly,1 Reed Warbler and 1 Willow Warbler.What an amazing day and a big thanks to all my birding friends who made it such a great day out as well as the superb birds on show,one which will stay in my memory for a very long time.

Dark Juvenile Honey Buzzard.

1st winter Masked Shrike by Dave Aitken.
One or two visitors to see the Masked Shrike.

Distant record shot of the Great-grey Shrike(Left) and Masked Shrike(Right),showing even at long range the Masked's diminutive size compared with the Great-grey.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Flamborough.....Sunday 14th September 2014.

Today saw me heading to the home county for a pre-booked trip aboard the Yorkshire Belle in search of migrant seabirds and organised by the local RSPB group.On arrival at Brid i got my gear together and headed down to the quayside after a quick sarnie,to join the other expectant passengers,en route stopping for a quick scan through the local gull flock and waders,with the only highlight being a small flock of Sandwich Tern loafing with the gulls.Eventually 9'o clock arrived and we all climbed aboard,hoping for something good.As we began to steam out of the harbour the first flocks of birds began to be seen and included a few Common and Sandwich Terns along with several fishing Shags and a flock of 79 Pink-footed Geese flew south along the coast,my first of the autumn period.It wasn't long before we encountered our first feeding flocks and we started chumming,this had an immediate effect with a Sooty Shearwater flying into the slick.We edged closer and managed some cracking views of this visitor from the southern oceans,before it carried on its way.A few distant Arctic Skuas harried the local Gulls and Terns and we then enjoyed a fairly close flyby from 2 Bonxies,both birds not really stopping to check us out and they continued on their journeys south.Another couple of Sooties visited the slick and 4 Manx Shearwater flew north.The best bird of the trip was seen next,another Blue morph Fulmar.This was a welcome sighting for everyone and it was great to see another after the bird several weeks ago at Scarborough.This individual looked a bit darker than the Scarb bird and unfortunately it did not show as well,giving us a couple of flypasts before carrying on its migration.A few other notable sightings were seen and included 5 Arctic Tern,120+ Common Scoter moving north,3 Grey Seal and a handful of Harbour Porpoise sightings.So all in all it was a fairly good trip,apart from the poor light conditions for photography,but it was nice to see another Blue Fulmar at close quarters and the Sooties were great to see too.After reaching land again,i walked back to the car and headed for Flamborough village in the hope of seeing some migrants.After parking at the lighthouse i made my way back up towards the golf course and it wasn't long before i was enjoying some nice views of a lovely Red-breasted Fly.This bird was very active,flycatching in one of the gardens and was also very vocal,constantly calling with it's Wren-like rattle,a cracking little bird.A short walk up the road to Old Fall hedge,saw me spending a bit of time in this area and it was pretty productive to be fair,with me adding another Red-breasted Flycatcher to the days sightings,Pied Flycatcher(Sometimes in the same field of view as the R.b.Fly),2 Redstart,an 'Eastern' type Lesser Whitethroat,Garden Warbler and the cream of the crop a Wryneck.Unfortunately because of the amount of people present,both the R.b.Fly and Wryneck kept their distance,but i enjoyed some decent views of them both all the same.The only other notable bird was a Wheatear on the golf course as i wandered back to the car.So all in all a great day was had today with some nice birds seen and i travelled back to Linc's after another great trip to the home county.
2nd calendar year Lesser black-backed Gull.

2nd calendar year Kittiwake.

2nd calendar year Gannet.

Blue Fulmar.

Blue Fulmar.

1st calendar year Great black-backed Gull.

1st calendar year Herring Gull.

Sooty Shearwater.

Sooty Shearwater.
1st winter Red-breasted Flycatcher.

Friday, 12 September 2014

North Wales....5th-7th September 2014.

Another weekend away with Trace saw us heading this time to beautiful Gwynedd in North Wales staying in the lovely seaside town of Aber Maw on the edge of the stunning Snowdonia National Park.Again on this trip it was mostly the amazing scenery that took centre stage,but we also managed some great wildlife sightings as well,these included the following.A boat trip out of Aber Maw on the Friday saw us enjoying some lovely,hot,hazy sunshine and the highlights of the trip included 2 Grey Seal and about 20 Barrel Jellyfish.This species is a huge oceanic plankton eater,with one individual being about a metre across,a very impressive beast to say the least.Day two saw us visiting several lovely places,the first was Aberdaron on the impressive Llyn Peninsula,a few notable sightings here included superb views of a 'Cronking' Raven as it flew over nearby cliffs and a male and female Stonechat showed nicely as well.After visiting the Llyn we headed into the mountains,bypassing more beautiful views of the mountains and our first view of Snowden itself and visited the stunning town of Betys-y-Coed.Here,a sight i had always wanted to see happened,a jumping Salmon watched attempting to traverse one of the waterfalls on the River Conwy which flows through this picturesque town.What an amazing sight to see and one i had always wanted to witness.Also here was a Dipper watched zooming along it's riverside home and an incredibly tame Grey Heron.The final day we boarded the Welsh Highland Railway which travels from Porthmadog to Caernarfon through more beautiful scenery and past Snowden,this journey is a must if you are visiting this area,with more mouth watering scenery,just fantastic.Finally a mention must go to the very nice Bryn Mellyn guest house were we stayed,as it was a proper haven for wildlife with an array of feeders in the garden.Over the stay we managed to see 11 species of birds at the feeders and in the garden which included 2 Tawny Owl and a very impressive 9 Yellowhammers.So after a very enjoyable 2 nights,3 days we returned back home to Lincolnshire after another great trip away.
2nd calendar year Herring Gull,Aber Maw.

2nd Calendar Year Herring Gull,Abermaw.

Barrel Jellyfish,Abermaw Bay.

Abermaw and the Mawddach Estuary.

Llyn Cwellyn,near to Beddgelert.

Betys-y-Coed and the River Conwy.
The Llyn Peninsula at Aberdaron.
The River Conwy at Betys-y-Coed.
Scenery near Porthmadog.

Male Stonechat,Aberdaron,Llyn Peninsula.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Scarborough and Flamborough....Sunday 31.08.2014.

A journey up to Scarborough bright and early today,to partake in another organised trip out on the sea with the local lads and a few regulars saw us seeing very little,this is what we saw.A change of vessel today saw us using the Regal Lady instead of our usual boat the Queensferry,which in some ways was a good idea,but the birds would just not follow due to the larger size and masts.A flyby by 3 Arctic Skuas,a good number of Gannets,Fulmars and a few Guillemots and Razorbills where the only seabirds recorded and it was only until we began to return that we managed to attract in a feeding flock of Gulls to follow the boat.Thankfully this included a possible Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull which showed well,allowing those on board with DSLR's to capture some images of the bird and a great chance to study the birds ID features.After looking at the said images,it was decided that this was just a Juv Lesser black-back.As we were making our journey back to the harbour,Nick gave us some news that the Greenish Warbler was still present on Castle Hill,so that was the next destination for most of us.After not showing itself for some time,the Greenish was heard singing and then showed in several areas as it flitted about,being very mobile,but with some patience,I eventually managed some nice views of the bird as we watched it sallying for flying insects..a little beauty.This was the first i have seen at Scarborough,with other individuals being seen at Filey(2) and Spurn(5),which included 3 in one day.The only other birds seen around the Castle area while watching the Greenish were a single Juv. Blackcap and  Willow Warbler.As it was sort of on the way home,i left Scarborough and travelled over to Flamborough to see if the reported Wryneck and Barred Warbler were still showing.After meeting up with Charlie and Mags we made our way to try and find the birds and it wasn't too long before we were watching the Barred Warbler,albeit at some distance as it flitted from bushes and bramble patches in the Bay Brambles area.The Wryneck could not be located unfortunately,no doubt due to the large amount of day trippers walking all over the area the bird had been seen.So after a couple of hours in the now sweltering sun,i said my goodbyes and made my way home back  through the sunday traffic to North Lincolnshire after another good day out.
Juvenile Lesser black-backed Gull.

Juvenile Lesser black-backed Gull.

Juvenile Lesser black-backed Gull.

Juvenile Lesser black-backed Gull.

Juvenile Lesser black-backed Gull.

Juvenile Lesser black-backed Gull.