Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's Sooty time

A biggish sea and a WNW breeze, across the bay to The Old Nab at Staithes

A good morning seawatch with 3 Sooties. Picked the first one up way to the east and watched it all the way through, then remembered that there is often a second following .... sure enough a scope view or three to the east there was the second. I've noticed them do this a bit in the past, you don't see a Sooty for hours and then two come along but not flying close together. The third one was jumbled up with a couple of Manx for company. The Manx came through late(ish) - one rather brown looking one, certainly paler in appearance than the ones it was with but same shape and build and it was a Manx.

7 Arctic Skuas, 2 Bonxie, Red-throated Diver, 14 Manx, 1 Shag, 12 Common Scoter and 2 Puffin were in the accompanying cast. Lots of terns late on with at least 50 Arctic, 25 Common and 30 Sandwich. Did some sample counts of Gannets and Kittiwakes and of course I've been underestimating how many are passing.

There was 1 juvenile Arctic Tern, 3 Juvvy Common and a few Sandwich. Quite a few juvvy Kitts today, 20 - 25 at least. An interesting 1st summer went by also. Looking for Sabs amongst Kitts is a strange thing, you think you're in with a chance, you get a likely customer, you know for sure, immediately it isn't one (because they're smaller and more bouyant and do that funny stalling thing like they're on a piece of string) but those distant juvvy Kitts still get some scrutiny.

Common Gulls were moving today as well, must have missed loads because they come by so close, but an autumn trickle into the bay.

Whimbrel present again - may well be the same one.


The weekend was spent in Manchester - could hear the Arctic Monkeys but from the garden. Nice bits and bods like lots of Gatekeepers. Also This Holly Blue, Emperor Dragonfly ovipositing and the male in flight (bit blurry and small).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Brief visits, Kettleness and Scaling

An hour and a half at Kettleness produced not much. 3 pale phase Arctic Skuas, one of which spent some time terrorising the feeding Kittiwake flocks, were the highlight. The other day all the Arctics were dark phase, today all pale phase ... Very few terns today with just 2 Commons and a handful of Sarnies (one carrying a fish). No terns out with the feeding flocks of Kitts.

Very few auks today, though the sea was rough in the SW4-5 and they were difficult to see.

At Scaling just 30 Swifts (all Common, no ChimChiminey) were of note. Moorhen broods of 1 and 2. A Woodpigeon carrying a stick, so that'll be the whole nest then.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Movie (main feature)

It's E again - Dirty girl

Quiet day - puffed out

Felt somewhat knackered today so didn't do much. Weather was loads better than expected so spent most of the day outside. Birds in the garden are quite quiet now. Chaffinch has overtaken Siskin as the commonest, but there are still plenty of Siskin with 6 in the garden at any time. Yellowhammer are still feeding young. Decided to clear up the mess under the kitchen feeder - loads of organic matter and worms etc - Stock Dove feeding there whilst I was cooking tea.

Small Skipper confirmed today with 3 or 4 around. The Comma from yesterday was still evident. Various whites are about again, the rain seems to have really hammered them. Several Large Whites about. Also Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral.

7-spot and 14-spot Ladybird today.

Maybe I'll go for the Nightjars again tonight, see if the rain holds off and the wind drops.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Evening seawatch

Kettleness this pm, from 17:30 to 20:00. First look through the scope and there's a Bonxie quickly followed by Arctic Skuas, single dark phase adults x4 over the next 40 minutes (two came out of Runswick Bay just off the end of the point), a fifth was one of the last birds seen on the seawatch and was a distant job.

About 100 Arctic Terns were fishing some way out and careful scrutiny revealed a nice adult Rosy. The terns were interesting as after about 30 mins they started to move west but then went very high east. Over the next couple of hours they slowly trickled back west with just before 8pm a flock of 49. I'm guessing these were mostly the same birds as many went back to feeding on the sea again in the area where the 100 had been originally but perhaps they were all different. No juvvy Arctics were seen. There was a steady trickle of Common Terns with about 25 altogether, like the Sarnies they were hanging about feeding, 2 juvvy Common Terns were seen and maybe only 1 juvvy Sarnie (out of about 100).

The Whimbrel was on the beach again. 2 small and unidentified waders went west.

Star quacker was a nice drake Velvet Scoter. I would have missed this but was following two slightly eccentric Grey Herons which decided the best Saturday outing was to fly low over the waves about 1Km out, the Velvet was distant, and alone just inside them. Common Scoter reached 25 and Eider 2.

Manxies were going both ways with west slightly more popular, total 9. Lots of Gannet action, Kitts, Fulmar and the usual rafts of auks on the sea with a few flying east, only one Guilly chick mind. Other juveniles were Kittiwake 1 and Common Gull 1.

So an entertaining evening excursion with nice views of skuas and terns and I didn't get wet.

Scaling Thursday pm

Went to Scaling Thursday evening. Perhaps shouldn't have bothered - but you never know. All those folk looking for the Yellow-nose' by seawatching have got it completely wrong, all the evidence to date suggests it likes small gravel pits and fishing ponds. Scaling is probably too big a bit of water but, hey, let's give it a go I thought. But I should have trusted science and statistics cos it wasn't there, neither was Wandering Alb' or Black-browed. There was a Lesser Black-back, there were some Teal and I strongly suspected rat in hide (Shut that door!) but Yellow-conk, nope.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It's seabird time ....

Click on the pic to see the Whimbrel a bit better

It seems an age since I've seen a good seabird so today's adult Pom was ace. Tail was a bit worn so the spoons were only just visible but a nice one nonetheless. Supporting cast over the 4 hours included 3 Arctic Skuas, 44 Arctic Terns, 25 Common Terns (most of these going east once the wind had swung around). There were some Manxies, Common Scoter, Teal and a couple of Whimbrel which fed on the rocks below the point once the tide fell. The single diver that passed was unided as I got onto it late (and there were a couple of Blackthroats off Marske yesterday so caution carried the day).

Of the 60 - 70 Sandwich Terns that past there was only one juvenile, hopefully more will appear in forthcoming weeks.

There was a bit of auk movement with Razorbills heading east, a few Guillemots with them. As the tide fell auks feeding on the sea drifted west and late on these included some quite large groups of Razorbills - about 100. Only 2 juv Razorbills were seen on the water. Guillemots appear to have fared little better with but 3 or 4 juvs on the water amongst the 50 or so feeding.


Driving there a Teal duckling (could just fly) flew done the road just over the Tarmac for several 100m. Once at the site found at least 3 males churring, one of which gave very good views. On the drive back a bird was hunting over the moor top (near a possible breeding site which i should now check). Also, Tawny Owl gave brilliant views near the house, sat by the car for 5 minutes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Long-eared Owl hunger call

The Movie (short) now gives a(not brilliant) recording of LEO juvvy hunger call. Might be handy for anyone surveying this species at the moment.

The Hawk and Owl Trust give as a project a survey of LEOs but there is no means of sending them data on their website .... any ideas anyone?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Scaling Dam tonight

Two personal ticks for Scaling in one field of view ... juvvy Long-eared Owl making a right racket (that's the pale blob in the bush) ... and Black-tailed Godwit, (that's the waderish blob next to the Oystercatcher). Also Goldeneye, a sub-adult male, Wigeon,2; the Teal brood of 4 chicks + the pair. Looks like the Oystercatcher chick is missing sadly.

Kettleness today

Brief seawatch at Kettleness this a.m. produced a Puffin on the sea with the Guillemots, 3 Arctic Terns and 1 Common tern along with the Sarnies and some Whimbrel (heard only on two occasions.

The roost held a bit at high tide as you can see from the pic.

First real trial for the 1.4x lens for the camera and it seems to be useful.

Yesterday around and about

The first Ringlets of the year in the garden with 10 or so and one or two Meadow Brown. Best lepidopteran was a Chimney Sweeper in the garden, indicating a bit of a success for the management regime - there is some Pignut (the food plant).

A brief family trip to Scaling was aborted when small person fell in water and mud, however, LRP still present, Viviparous Lizard was a tick there and 7, 14 spot ladybirds on Marsh Cinquefoil. Also on the Marsh Cinquefoil was this interesting looking longhorn beetle. From its colour I'd suspect that it is associated with that plant - ideas anyone I'd really like to know what this is.

Back at the moor pond the tadpoles are bigger but still without limbs, there were at least 7 newts getting chummy, the thin ones following the fat ones very closely and this Common Blue Damselfly.

One the way back from the pub late on we stopped at a likely spot I'd not checked before Nightjar immediately around the car, then rather conveniently sat and sang in the tree next to us - Louise was well impressed - also great views of Woodcock and two juvvy LEOs were hunger calling.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

More ID storm petrels BB paper

Ok so they didn't use the word "typical" so apologies, the article actually says "All classic structural and plumage features of ....... are captured in this image (see text)." And I say if you can see em that well you don't need all this palaver and 10 Appendices. My favourite appendix is No 10 it explains by diagram that if you are on a big ship the angle of view of a storm petrel skittering along is rather steeper than if you were watching the little beaut from a small boat. The wonder of the diagram is that the storm petrel in the diagram is, well HUGE, like MASSIVE, it must be Cory's kind of size ... I guess this bird is the previously unknown to science Oceanites diomedea.

I'll stop it now, cos I do like BB really, honest.

Friday, July 06, 2007

ID storm petrels

This BB paper is a wonder to behold, I'm especially taken with the separation of white-bellied and black-bellied (black-bellied can have a white belly but white-bellied can't have a black belly). Effectively this means that you can know when you've got a black-bellied but not when you've got the other one because it might be the first one. This paper seems mighty learned and full of "Appendices" and is the product of enviable hours watching the little beggars in exotic climes but has it advanced my knowledge - well er other than to know those two species are identifiable sometimes and other times even with lab tests, measurements and every other concievable weapon in the scientists armoury the end result is Er dunno - not a lot. Wilson's, Stormy, Leach's and Madeiran are represented by "typical" flight photos and one plate. Look guys there is no "typical" because the sea is always different and these birds look very, very different depending whether they are on a mission, in a storm, having a snack or loafing about, is it to Hendrix or the Undertones? (Undertones - ah must be Leach's never get Swinhoes to Teenage Kicks, they're not so cool.) There is a wonderful photo of a Wilson's tail sticking above the waves showing the vital feature of the wrap-around-rump. I can't do seabirds like this except when they are in my hot and grubby - badseawatchers know em for what they are by a rapid accumulation of features and jizz and experience and ..... they're 500m off in any case. I think this paper was off on the wrong target myself, I'm a lot more interested in dark rumped petrels and problems with Leach's - the id problems are divi'd up different from this - The above mentioned four could do with a revision I suppose, they're not that tricky given a good view and very tricky given a rubbish one. Leach's and dark rumped exotics are of interest, tricky methinks. Black and white bellied are different looking beasts from the others anyway (never seen one), clearly it is useful to say what has been said but don't confuse the issue suggesting they are tricky from our other 4 guys. Rant, rant, rantitty, rant ... Forgive me posted late, feeling seawatch starved and ******ed off with these people cos they got to watch all these nice stormies and I didn't.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

British Birds badseawatching edition

Woooooowwwaaah, it's a BB special - a real gift for finding obscure storm petrels and pot-bellied shearwaters. All you badseawatchers out there are encouraged to peruse the waves more diligently and pick out trough plunging House Martins and shearing browny-grey things (be creative with id is our moto). And it's even easier if you use the famous Neissa bins (adline "Believe Your Imagination").

Monday, July 02, 2007

Birding stuff

A Spotted Redshank at Scaling today whilst I was at work ...:-(

Highlights of two visits over the weekend were the Oystercatcher chick, just one but I'd thought they'd failed. There are also still two small Lapwing chicks. The Oystercatcher adult was very aggressive towards the Black-headed Gulls in particular and any of this species near the chick were chased away, Lapwings were ignored. It was easy to locate the chick, just look for the gull free zone.

Quite a number of large gulls on Sunday afternoon, at least 120 but just HG and GtBl-bG. The Teal appears to have raised one duckling to flight. There were at least 5 Tufted Duck broods.

At home the Curlew appear to have departed, their haunting calls no longer echoing through the dale. The Lapwings at the organic farm appear to have been successful. Young Siskin are now visiting the feeders. This evening 9 Mistle Thrush flew through the field next to the house and in the lower field there was a juvvy Green Woodpecker.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Field management

I'm trying to manage some of the garden, well a fair bit of it to be honest, as a meadow. Last year at this time this area was full of Greater Bird's Foot Trefoil this year the "meadow" is choked with flowering Yorkshire Fog. Last year was the first time this area had been cleared of bramble for some time and I wonder if there is just a succession going on here. Looking closely the trefoil is there alright but under the grass. I've tried topping the grass (with care) in one area today so we'll see what happens.

First Meadow Browns of the year today, with about 5 Red Admirals. Silver Y yesterday.

The Whitethroat is still singing from the garden. Chaffinch killed itself flying into a window yesterday, the first such casualty for a year I think.

Change Movie (main feature)

Ok so this has bog all to do with anything other than it is just epic. Remember Jimi and pay homage here.