Sunday, April 29, 2007

Busy day

Double click on the Dunnock for full value - it's not cropped.

Started off at Kettleness where there where there was a small westerly passage of Common Scoter (84 in the first hour in 7 groups) and a small easterly passage of terns, 13 Sandwich tern and 1 Commic (most likely an Arctic but I got on to it rather late). 4 Manxies went west, but that was all of note at sea - other than the pickup of Gannet, Kittiwake and auks since last week - loads more. A cold northerly breeze was discouraging (to me) so after an hour and a half I went for a walk around. The Stonchats were still there and very territorial, a Wheatear, Rockit singing, and new since last week 6 Common Whitethroat and 1 Lesser Whitethroat singing.

Scaling Dam had a Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, LRPs, 4 House Martin and a singing Garden Warbler. 2 Wigeon and 3 Goldeneye remain. Of interest 300 Black-headed Gulls suddenly appeared and there was but one or two full adults amongst them.

Nothng much of note at home but at the Danby Moors Centre a fledged Blackbird, possible Marsh Tit, but lawn mowing activities flushed it, and very nice Orange Tips.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Whitby Golf Course today

Lesser Whitethroat singing + Chiffchaff (1 or 2), Whitethroat (2 or 3), Blackcap 1 singing, so a bit of an arrival. A Red-throated Diver was on the sea.

This week

Song Thrush nest appears to have been disturbed prior to the birds fledging - sadly at least one was a casualty. Siskin have been regular visitors to the Nyger seed feeders. The local rat population has been significantly predated. Chiffchaff that were singing close to the garden have gone or moved, Chiffchaff can still be heard down the dale and near the station.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Slow worm

Louise found a big slow worm by the front gate today, but it had gone by the time she had got the camera. (Click the title for link to BBC info slow worm Anguis fragilis).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Runswick Bay p.m.

The Fulmars are as usual choosing sites very low on the cliff, this pair are about 4m up, if that. I was reading or watching something the other week that suggested that 95% of UK Fulmars have plastic in their gut. Looking at Runswick beach today that's hardly surprising, and the amount of tangled and discarded fishing line was truly shocking. Fulmar should be a very long-lived bird, I suspect their life expectancy is currently reducing dramatically.

There didn't seem to be much doing except the occasional Phyllosc' when we arrived but then it started to rain and rain brings birds. At first there were 5 and eventually 17 House Martins and as we headed for the cafe and some tea and cakes 2 Whimbrel called and landed on the shore.

Back at base a pair and an additional male Siskin were again on the Nyger, so I expect there are two pairs at least preparing to nest.

Kettleness today

A plan to bird Kettleness first thing was executed but only just. Kept awake by sore throat and cold symptoms I really didn't fancy it at all when I discovered the wind was from the SW and cold. But the "Fight them on the beaches" spirit prevailed and I arrived unenthusiastic at the hamlet at 6. Greeted by a Wheatear I felt a bit more optimistic - after all Boulby had a R-rSwallow yesterday. The scramble down to the seawatch point encountered a few "things that flicked away" and a bundle of Mepits and once out of the lee of the cliff the wind was mighty unpleasant. The Thermarest chair was inflated and folded without undue mishap - ie it didn't fly off to join the waves, and I settled down to one of those "1 of everything" kind of seawatches. 1 Black-headed Gull, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Red-b Merg, 1 mystery bunting noise coming from here and there for a couple of minutes before it took itself off to wind some other birder up somewhere else. Also 1 Shelduck and 1 unidentified* diver and 1 Harbour Porpoise. Ok there were 2 of Canada Goose and Manx Shearwater and Swallow and Cormorant and several of Gannet, Razorbill and Goldfinch (which with Linnet seemed to be "on the move") and there were lots of Guillemot, Fulmar, Kittiwake, HG, CG and GB-bG. There were also lots of mepits heading NW high - probably 25 or so in the hour which with the Goldfinches and Linnets was "interesting".

As well as being annoyed by Invisible Bunting I was also annoyed by a putative Mr Bigfeet*. Why is it that during a quiet seawatch lasting 60 minutes 2 or 3 interesting things happen in 1 minute? - it'll be statistic's fault. So as I locked on to the two very distant Manxies and followed them west to make sure that's what they really were this huge monster of a goose diver appears even more distantly behind them at the point that they were a good bit past me. Could I see the feet properly or the head shape? Nooo. So apparently large diver, no plumage detail, distinctive wing beat (but into a blustery breeze), thick neck, couldn't really get a view of the feet, shouldn't be ided - but of course it was Mr Bigfeet, but it won't go on BirdTrack as such. So two divers this week no Red-throat, no id but they were almost certainly a Black-th and a Gt Northern but I can't have the satisfaction of a proper id. I do like a proper id.

Back to Kettleness. After an hour I was cold so I waited an extra minute or two and got the Shelduck (3rd rule of seawatching: a good bird always turns up 47 seconds after you've stopped - so I always stay a few minutes beyond the end of each hour, crafty eh?) and headed back up the cliff. Another Wheatear flicked away, more grounded Mepits. Once under the lee of the main cliff two more Wheatear and a pair of Stonechat were found. Up on the ex-railway line Willow Warbler, Swallow, Sparrowhawk and prize of the day (perhaps) a singing Tree Sparrow. But that was it, I was cold, the sore throat was rampant the rain was starting (good for birding, bad for me) and it was time to depart.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mallorcian osprey (not the Scaling one)

There's currently an Osprey hanging around Scaling. Other recent records include LRP, Cuckoo and Swallow + millions of Willow Wobblers (tiny exaggeration) were singing their heads off during my 5 minute drive by.

Golf course p.m.

Here's the ravine at the beginning of the week: Blackthorn in flower; fresh, bright new leaves on the Hawthorn; Sallow in flower etc. More to the point what's skulking in there? Well today, at least 3 Blackcaps (one of which was singing). Overhead Sand Martin and Swallow and cruising for a bruising Sproghawk and Kestrel (a very infrequent visitor here) as well as Magpie and Carrion Crow.

No sooner do I proclaim the Shags have gone and the Kittiwakes are everywhere and there are Shags everywhere and Kittiwakes are absent (but for 2). Let's try "There's no hope of a Greenish Warbler and Bluethroat is a mythical beast".

Friday, April 20, 2007

Dale birds today

Birding has been restricted this week by child care duties (as Louise as some horrible lurgy) and of course work doesn't help. There will be a bit of an opportunity in forth coming weeks to watch in Pannett Park as I have a group of children working there occasionally on a science project - using Birdtrack will probably be part of that as the friends of the park are keen for some recording.

After work I had time to cycle up the dale with Ellen on the new (2nd hand) tag-along bike. A familiar summer song over my head indicated the first Swallows of the year. On the way back there were 4 Mistle Thrush scrapping in a field, a few Curlew and 150 Woodpigeon as well. Bird of the day was a male Siskin on a Nyger feeder by the kitchen window.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Golf course ravine

A brief afternoon visit to the golf course ravine found but one migrant - Chiffchaff singing near the road. But it's all change at sea with no sign of Shag, a steady stream of Kittiwake going west with a few Gannets and various distant unidentified bits and pieces (auks mostly) and something that in the end I decided had to be Black-throated Diver (absolutely unclaimed); 4 Eider went east.

A Tawny Owl was hunting at 9:30 this morning at home being seen clutching a small mammal as it flew from tree to tree. Willow Warbler were much in evidence and Chiffchaff increased to 2 singing down the dale.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mallorca Bird Pix

Double click the images for full page view. The wagtail and the Little Bittern have been cropped a bit, the others are as shot.

Green Hairstreak + other butterflies

Louise reported seeing small green butterflies on her return from the early morning run so as soon as the opportunity presented I went up on t' moor. Didn't have to go far, quickly found two displaying and a short walk led to another two. (Double click the image for full value.) Also today, Peacock, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell, unidentified smaller whites and a possible Red Admiral which managed to elude me over the garden wall.

Birds included at least two singing Willow Warblers in the garden, a singing Chiff down the dale and both Common and Black-headed Gulls are still present (although nearly all are not adults).

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

WhitbyBirding returns (from very rainy Mallorca)

We've been off on our travels but have now returned - Mallorca pix to be posted soon - two weeks of sunshine in Yorkshire (so I'm told) two weeks of rain in Mallorca, so it goes. However, a birding spectacle (Common Swift spectacular) and Albufura was as brilliant as ever.

Willow Warbler singing from garden on our return.