Friday, May 30, 2008

Organic Atlas

An Atlas visit to the tetrad across the dale that includes the organic farm. Redstart, 3 singing males; Tree Pipit, 3 singing males were best. Up in the conifers above the farm were one or maybe two Garden Warblers. A quick tramp on the moorland produced a Red Grouse with 8 or 9 day old chicks; the crafty Kestrel nearly cashed in when we disturbed them, she'd been hiding behind the wall we thought. Curlew and Snipe on the moor.

Back down on the farm the coppice in the woodland was full of Blackcaps, all very agitated as a Tawny Owl was lurking in a Hawthorn.

Back at the farm negotiating the purchase of lamb chops and charcoal was interrupted by Long-tailed Tits and a bevy of Swallows. We then went and eyed up future sausages and grumpy mother pig who looked a bit worn down by her offspring, we understand her feelings.

No pix today, it was fretty all day. Lamb chops are ++ tasty.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yellowy-green day

Decided on Hawsker and got there at 06:30. It was not migrant city but a Spotted Flycatcher in the bushes of the caravan site filter bed was encouraging. Chiffchaff singing below the caravan site as well. Rosefinch Gully had no Rosefinch. On to Raindale checking fences and bushes as I went but to no avail.


A Chiffchaff or two in the Little Raindale Sycamores was encouraging. Then in to the Ash trees of Raindale itself. A strident song rang out, another Spotted Flycatcher was in the Ashes. The song continued intermittently and I tried to track down the vocalist. There was a lot of mimic in it so I was guessing Marsh Warbler but it seemed to lack that Accro signature. It managed Lapwing, Swallow, Linnet and a fair bit more - I'll put a couple of recordings up later if I can get YouTube to upload. I'd caught a couple of glimpses though and Accro seemed to fit. In the end it sang for a while from the depths of a Blackthorn but patience was rewarded as it flipped out and up and it was chunky and yellowy-green - not Marsh Warbler then.

Scarcity City Raindale, from the top this time

I climbed around to the old railway to look in the trees on the far side. Ah, there's something chunky and yellowy-green, bins on to a female Golden Oriole. I went for the camera and it flew so no pix. Off it looped to Robin Hood's Bay unfortunately.

Moments later patience was further rewarded as the mystery songster emerged from the Blackthorn with a bit of a flurry (songwise). Big, chunky, yellowy-green, Hippo it's Mr Iccy. The Icterine Warbler sat up in the bush for a few seconds giving ace views then flew off back in to Raindale, so no pix of him either.

I had limited time so headed steadily back along the railway checking fences especially but no R-bS. A flycatching Yellowhammer gave me a bit of a moment. But no further excitements, I'm not complaining.

Fly living dangerously

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Migrant alert

There're scarce migrants all over the coast today.... the day I couldn't go birding. However, I did have a look yesterday p.m. at Kettleness. But there was nothing doing. I'm intending to go and have a good look at Whitestone and Hawsker tomorrow.

Early evening yesterday I headed to Scaling Dam which was also surprisingly dull.

In VC62 today an Icterine Warbler at Scarborough Castle and a Red-breasted Flycatcher at South Gare.

Driving back this afternoon just through the forest and on to the moor and there was a pair of Curlew with two small chicks right out in the open, the girls were delighted with these. Also today from the garden Cuckoo and Whitethroat.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wader egg scoffer splatted

The Golden Plover chick and its brother/sister were on the road on the way to an Atlas site this morning. I ushered them on to the moor with the camera but the pair's territory is at a T junction, I wouldn't be surprised if these don't make it.

Further up the road there was a squashed hedgehog. I usually feel rather sad to see one of these squashed but on the top of the moor, in prime wader breeding habitat I have mixed feelings, they're very partial to wader eggs.

Not quite as many waders on the moor as I had expected but a fair selection. Most interesting was a Whitethroat singing on the edge of a conifer plantation right out on the top of the moor. More expected were Tree Pipits and a Gos. A very brief view of what might have been a Monty but a ridge was in the way and I failed to relocate it, so best forgotten.

Whoa, I'm outta here

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ness Point mooch

Raindale near Ness Point - a likely spot for a scarce passerine, but not today

Spent the morning mooching about Ness Point, Robin Hood's Bay doing Atlas stuff and looking for a hoped for "good passerine".

Swallow and Whitethroat numbers seem to have picked up and the House Martin colony at Robin Hood's Bay seemed to have plenty of members. Swifts screaming around the upper part of the village as well.

Age the Chaffinch ... bit easier than last time I did this.

On the sea there were plenty of feeding Kittiwakes, Gannets, Guillemots and 1 Razorbill.

Bad driving maybe

Counting the Herring Gull and Fulmar colonies was exciting, balancing on the cliff edge to look in to all the corners.

The Atlas doesn't count Jackdaw as a colonial nesting species which - if I may say so - is a bit mad, or a bit southern. Figuring out how many pairs are in the Raindale cliff is not an easy task.

My own private hotbot Jackdaws have now got young. They nested in one of our chimneys with the fire going. I was going to prod them with my chimney cleaning set but in the end decided to shiver instead. Our builder will be fitting Jackdaw keep out defences on the chimney pot in the autumn. Young Jackdaws do make an excellent noise, I'll record it in a week or so when they really get going. The next thing will be they'll wake us up at dawn with their racket of course.

Butterflies about recently - Green-veined Whites for the last fortnight, Wall for the last week and Red Admiral the other day.

Plenty of Slow Worms in the garden and I found a newt under a rock yesterday - haven't quite figured out which species, I think Smooth, but I must check, it seemed to be rather small so perhaps in its first year. Also a mighty Common Frog also under a rock (I was moving stone about yesterday) and Bufo bufo is also present.

Smooth Newt I think, it was small though, about 5-6cm long

A Common Whitethroat has included our garden and house in its territory and is singing constantly, it's been here a week now. Cuckoo yesterday and Swallows are prospecting.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Her Majesty's Inspector

The call for the veritable flock of Baikal Teal came through during my discussions with the erstwhile inspector. Liz II had sent one of her senior chaps and this (on Wednesday) caused the missing of Little Stint and Grey Plover let alone the "Zoo Time" additions to the Scaling Dam list. No wonder I'm a republican.

Early this morning there was no such excitement. As I wearily propped myself up in the corner of the "now restored to luxury and comfort Scaling Dam hide" (some thoughtful birder has relocated half their sofa to the seating - lime green though) I was greeted by an LRP, some Lapwing chicks and 8 House Martins stuffing their faces with nest building mud. 3 standard type Teal at the Cleveland end and 1 at the Yorkshire end was all of interest on the duck front, the Goldeneye and Wigeon having apparently departed for colder climes.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Kettleness Atlas visit

An Atlas visit was required as was a visit to the coast, rain and an easterly should surely produce some migrants? ..... But no, migrants very thin on the ground. Very few Swallows still, about half the number of Whitethroats that I would think there should be, 2 Willow Warblers and a distant Lesser Whitethroat.

On the positive side there are about 16 or so Fulmar pairs, Grey Partridge, 4 Tree Sparrows and er, that was about it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Inadvertent dawn chorus

Woke up whilst it was still dark and opened the skylight - Tawny Owl, Cuckoo, then Blackbird, Yellowhammer and Robin. Cuckoo is the first I've heard this year in the home tetrad. There was a Stock Dove singing amongst the first few too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Help strengthen the draft Marine Bill

Please support the RSPB campaign to provide better protection to our marine environments. Click here to get the letter (send by one click, easy).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spartan Scaling Dam

The soft cushions, which no one ever used but they added a homely touch, have been removed from the Scaling Dam hide. So take your own comfy seating in future because there are no luxuries there.

Unseasonally Pink-footed Goose x2, Goldeneye, Goosander and this evening Fieldfare have all been recorded today. One of the Pink-feet looks a bit odd. A Cuckoo was a more expected bird of note.

Randy, the Carolina Wood Duck, was tempted to the Cleveland end this evening. Beguiled by a rather fetching female Mallard he arrived in all his finery outside the hide as she ascended the bank. He followed and they were both soon lost to view.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New bird for the garden ... nearly

Distant Whinchat

A Lesser Whitethroat was the star of the morning, first it rattled away by the conifers and then in the hawthorn opposite the front gate beofre flying off down into the valley bottom. Tetrad tick anyway.

A good day for migrants with an Atlas do in the morning (not really early enough) producing Redstart, Tree Pipit, Cuckoo, Swift and a pair of Whinchat. Four species of wader on the moor, with great views of Golden Plover.

The afternoon was spent wandering around in woodland near Grosmont. This produced a super Wood Warbler and Marsh Tit amongst a variety of things.

Non-avian events included plenty of Hares on the Atlas visit, plenty of Early Purple Orchid around Grosmont and a couple of nice fossils in the river bed there too.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Digging a drain

Like Bitter Bonxie I've been wielding a spade a bit of late. Today I had to dig a drain. I've never dug a drain before but The Lake had to go - especially as it failed to attract breeding Black-necked Grebes. Highways seemed unenthusiastic about resolving our mini-sea outside the front gate problem so I took the initiative. Soon a huge pit was created which would have laid waste even the Mighty Shogun. Plastic sheet, drainage pipe, stones, gravel and a large crowbar were all enlisted in the project as was the next door neighbour. Louise directed operations and brought tea, this was after all a man kind of a thing. Neighbours waved bemusedly or encouraged amusedly from their passing vehicles. Tonight drainage - a process I usually frown upon - is in progress. No longer are those taking tea on the manicured front lawn interrupted by an unwanted muddy shower from the wheels of a Disintegrating Discovery. Rural relaxation is restored.

Mid-day expedition

Midday at the baking hot Scaling Dam produced a heat haze. And a drake Wigeon, a drake Teal, a drake Goldeneye and 4 Shelduck. What more could a birder want?

16 Dotterel

.... today but early morning is best. The birds are very hard to find by mid-morning.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dotterel still present

There are now 11 Dotterel on Danby Beacon (Birdguides). Look in the burnt heather within 500m of the trig point.

In the garden this afternoon a male Sparrowhawk hurled itself to the front feeders twice but to no avail, except to give us rather good views of the stealthy assassin. A Kestrel hunted nearby.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

15 minutes away

.... a Black Stork flew over wondrous Scaling Dam.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hmmm, not quite what I expected

Awoke to a flat calm so headed off to Scaling Dam, too late of course I should have gone yesterday evening in the rain. I might have got Black Tern if I had, or at least a Little Gull.

06:30 arrival and all the Lapwings go up, Marsh Harrier overhead. Good start. Also at the Yorkshire end Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Cuckoo, Little Ringed Plovers x2 and a bundle of Snipe and Curlew. The afore mentioned Lapwing have chicks which is pleasing (less pleasing was the adult I picked up dead on the road at the end of the morning, however).

Down at the Cleveland end I finally caught up with the Tundra Bean Goose, surely this and its side-kicks are all rather feral (the Whitefront has been observed consorting with the fishermen, indeed). Also at the Cleveland end were Garden Warbler, Cuckoo, Swift, House Martins and a Common Sandpiper. There are still a Goldeneye and a Wigeon present a well.

The suspected Yellow-legged Gull showed itself again as well. I presume it is the same bird. After considerable scrutiny at long range I detected some rather too dark mantle feathers and compared to the Herring Gulls it was smaller and rather more delicate looking, depite a thick black bill - conclusion - Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Had a chat with another birder and I suggested it would be a good day for a look around Danby Beacon for Dotterel. I had intended to nip up there on the way home but time was a bit short and I reckoned on another opportunity later in the day.

Walked up Fryup Dale side instead later on, Emperor Moth was good, along with lots of fast moving Small Tortoiseshell but no Dotterel.

Got home and of course Dotterel on BirdGuides.

Zooooomed up to Danby Beacon, needed a bit of help to get on to them as I looked on the wrong bit of moor at first, but bingo, and not 6 but 8 rather excellent Dotterel that gave superb views.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Weather alert

Weather looks good for tomorrow for the Yorkshire coast. I should have gone to Scaling Dam this evening as there have been a good number of Black Terns in the county today but a lack of enthusiasm brought on by a vile lurgy that has incapacitated me (also known as a mild head cold) left me searching out missing records instead.

Wandered through an Atlas square mid morning and found a nice range of waders, Curlew, Lapwing etc. Wheatear was a bit distant.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Atlas morning plus

The home tetrad was thoroughly searched this morning and resulted in a new species for the patch, a Goosander. Other highlights were Golden Plovers and Lapwings on territory (Lapwings going berserk so likely not just "on territory"), a stack of Willow Warblers, increased numbers of Swallows (at last) and a Common Buzzard that flew through the neighbouring square. Failed to connect with Snipe, Marsh Tit, Tree Sparrow or any other raptor though; they were lying doggo.

Nipped in to Scaling Dam whilst the offspring were engaging in the weekly horsey stuff (resisting the lure of the nearby Subalpine Warbler at Brotton, I've seen Subalp this year in any case and time would have been a bit tight). Great Crested Grebe, Shoveler, 2 Goldeneye and a drake Wigeon were of note.

Scaling has had a good spell recently. As well as the Rough-leg and Spoonbill mentioned in earlier posts there was an Osprey yesterday and 2 Little Gulls the day before.

Friday, May 02, 2008

House Martins

House Martins in the village this evening, a Whitethroat on the way to work and a Blackcap singing briefly by the church.

New bins

They arrived yesterday, well I couldn't carry on with all that walking backwards malarkey I'd have ended up doing myself significant harm.

Tempted by the Zeiss 8x32s but the price compared to the Nikons seems extreme. The HG Ls don't seem much lighter than the HGs but the focusing is a lot better. I think mine had gone off a bit as well, these seem even sharper. So far very pleased. Warehouse Express maintained their usual high standard of price and service as well (that's low price, and quick delivery - good communication with me when the carrier apparently took them to the wrong depot).

I'll now see about getting the old ones fixed.


A Spoonbill at the redoubtable Scaling Dam this very morn flew off at 09:40 (BirdGuides). Thanks for the text Nick.