Saturday, 28 January 2017

Pine Bunting,Dunnington,North Yorkshire.

After the superb finding of a male Pine Bunting by Chris Gomersall at Dunnington last weekend and with me unfortunately unable to make it over,today was the day i was finally going to add Pine Bunting to my personal life list,or that's what i planned to happen....
 I headed over the bridge into the home county and along the A1079 towards my destination and after bumping into John Sadler and us both getting parked up we made our way over to where the bird had been seen the day before.
 A few familiar faces included Paul French and Georgia Gough and we made our way eventually down the side of a grass field where we could try and see the birds which were feeding in a nearby set-aside field.It was tough viewing trying to scope the flock in the rain and particularly when they were flying all over the place as well and i thought to myself we are never going to see this bloody bird.
 A Peregrine over the adjacent fields was a brief diversion from searching for the bird in question and eventually Paul and Georgia left to attend a meeting at Spurn and Paul jokingly said to us 'It will no doubt show in five minutes'.We all laughed at this thinking no chance,but incredibly,i found it at the top of the line of trees we had been scoping.I managed to get everyone onto it,but unfortunately Paul and Georgia had gone.We carried on watching the bird for about 3 or 4 minutes before it and the 2 Yellowhammer's it was with disappeared towards the village.
 I was chuffed to bits i had seen it,but wanted to see more,as i hate just getting brief,crap views of something when it is a new bird.John and myself decided to walk around to another area where it had been seen,leaving the others present where we had been stood.
 After accessing a horse paddock at the southern end of the stubble field we had seen the bird on the edge of earlier and had seen it disappear towards,we spent some time watching from here.It proved pretty fruit full with excellent views of a juvenile Grey Wagtail feeding in an adjacent ditch,at least 10 Corn Buntings,a female Brambling and a guesstimated count of about 250 Yellowhammer's which made for a very impressive sight on it's own,but unfortunately no sign of the Pine Bunt.
 John then had to go and i stayed put with a few others,we then got onto a partially exposed bird which I'm pretty certain was the bird in question,but it again flew and disappeared.
 By now the rain was really beginning to annoy me and went back to the car,which thankfully was close by.I sat in the warm with the heater on and enjoyed some food and a drink.In the distance it looked like the weather was breaking at last.So i finished my food,got some dry gear on and went for another look for the bird.
 At the far end of Intake Lane,there was a crowd gathered and i thought to myself they must have it.As i arrived at the group,no one was watching the bird,but it had just been seen.We watched for what seemed like a lifetime and then all of a sudden we saw it briefly across the far side of the sheep field we were viewing across.
 A few of us walked quickly to the end of Intake Lane where their was another stubble field,which i later learned was the original field the bird had been found in where one of the local birders had put some seed down and there it was sat out in full beauty!.
 It was sat above the area where the seed had been placed and just posed on the outer branches without a care in the world,obviously glad to enjoy some sunshine at last.What a cracking bird and a species i had wanted to see for a long time after dipping one at Gib Point in Linc's in the 90's.
 After at least 30 minutes that was that and the bird flew off with it's Yellowhammer buddies.
 I travelled home a very happy boy after seeing this stunning siberian beauty and enjoying my first new bird of 2017.
Phone scoped record shot of the stunning male Pine Bunting.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A Wild Goose Day......Saturday 21st January 2017.

As i did not have the energy or inclination to carry out my WEBS count on the designated day last weekend due to illness,today was going to be the day.
 I arrived at Barrow Haven as it was still dark,just before dawn,to the lovely sound of a calling male Tawny Owl,a great start to the day i thought.
 The visibility on the Humber was better than i had expected going by the last week of murk and it gave me some positivity to the day ahead.
 The first section up to New Holland was pretty poor to be honest and after meeting up with fellow birding buddy Chas Adland we headed through New Holland Bulk terminal as quick as possible,stopping to look at the gathering of birds feeding in the dock.A quick scan revealed a nice surprise in the form of 3 Scaup,a first winter drake and two female/imm birds feeding in amongst the throng of Mallards.Also here were 4 Black-tailed Godwit and 7 Whooper Swans.The Swans consisted of the family of 2 adults and 4 juvs which have been around all winter and the lone additional adult which is now associating with this family party.
 After negotiating the very muddy track to the eastern side of the terminal,we got up on the bank to scan the river again.The aythya duck flock of days gone by has just about dissipated now apart from a few Tufties and the Goldeneye flock is also well down with only 102 birds entered in the notebook.
 The usual suspects were encountered along the bank side,those being 2 Rock Pipit and as we neared Goxhill Tilery a quick scan of the fields saw 3 Roe Deer spooked by dog walkers over towards Syke's Lane.
 Another scan of the fields and a Common Buzzard sat along one of the dykes.
 Onwards on our walk and we passed Goxhill Haven and could see the Wigeon flock which has been hanging around all winter in the area off Dawson City,when Charlie spotted 6 Goosander.A quick look through the scopes saw 4 drakes and 2 redheads showing nicely,but unfortunately they were flushed by a dog walker before we got any closer.
 As on all our recent visits,that familiar sound of Pink-footed Geese could be heard as we passed Dawson by and i was sure i could hear White-fronted Geese calling also.We hurried past the long wood and sure enough all the geese were all on one winter wheat field.A quick scan through them saw at least 105 White-fronts being counted with a guesstimate of about 2500+ Pinks,what a fantastic sight and sound to witness and then they were off.The geese were flushed by a plane flying overhead.We walked back towards Dawson and managed some more nice scope views of some of the White-fronts seeing a flock of at least 100 birds together,before they were off again,talk about jumpy.A flock of 5 birds flew in from the direction of Paull off the Humber,so the count of 105 was probably way short.
 After a shower of rain and getting a good soaking(Bloody BBC Weather men)we carried on the return leg back towards New Holland.The Tundra Beans were nowhere to be seen and had maybe gone to the Humber to roost along with the Pinks.
 After reaching New Holland again,i said my goodbyes to Charlie as the weather closed in,but a final sighting cheered me up as i could see and hear the Whooper family along the shore towards Barrow Haven.There were now 8 birds,4 adults and the 4 juvvies,so they have gained an extra member to their flock,just great to see and a great way to end the days sightings on.
 So after nearly 9 hours in the field and 18 miles walked i wearily made my way home,but what a cracking days birding!.
Scaup And Whooper Swans Amongst The Locals,New Holland.

Roe Deer In The Murk,Near Goxhill Tilery.

Incoming White-fronted Geese,Goxhill Marsh.

Incoming White-fronted Geese,Goxhill Marsh.

Part Of The Whooper Swan Flock At Barrow Haven.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Black-throated Thrush,Adwick Washlands,Sunday 15th January 2017.

After a fairly relaxing morning,i just happened to look at Twitter and came across a report that a female Black-throated Thrush had been found at Adwick Washlands near Barnsley.As it was relatively close to home,i thought it would be rude not to go and have a look,so off i went.
 After eventually finding the area i needed to be and parking up,i made my way onto the reserve to see a group of birders,stood around chatting,this didn't look promising and after speaking with some of them,it became clear the bird had flown off....crap!.
 Birding buddy Dave Aitken arrived,so at least i had someone good to chat to and as we talked about the previous autumn and Dave finding Britains fourth Eastern-crowned Warbler on his patch at Bempton,someone shouted that the bird had been refound,little did we know it would be a mile away!.
 We walked as fast as we could following some locals and eventually arrived were the bird was being watched in a Oil seed Rape field.Initially it took a little while to get onto it,but then there she was feeding in amongst the Oil Seed Rape plants with a flock of Redwing and 2 Mistle Thrush.We watched as she fed on several worms giving decent views through the scope at some distance though,but at least the bird had been relocated for the crowd of about 50 birders present.
 You could make out several distinct features about the bird,with her dull whitish supers,white moustaches,white throat,yellow bill with dark tip,grey-brown plumage and finely streaked upper breast and flanks making for a handsome bird.
 Suddenly the flock took off and i managed to keep tabs on her and they all landed in an Ash tree.Even at long range you could distinguish the bird was a BTT and it was interesting to note the concolorous rump and upperparts,something i hadn't noticed on the bird at Newholme back in January 2010.
 Again as on the last occasion,the bird flew,but this time was lost to view,but i noted it did look Redwing like in flight,but maybe a tad longer winged.
 We wandered back to our cars and i said my goodbyes to Dave after another successfully twitched bird and more importantly,only my second sighting of the species.
1st winter female Black-throated Thrush,picture courtesy of Dave Aitken.

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.