Sunday, September 28, 2008

Whitby roundup

The Red-breasted Flycatcher was relocated at Hawsker. Yellow-browed Warbler in Rain Dale. Mediterranean Gull (location unknown) and loads of Pink-footed Geese.

This day shall forthwith be known as P-fG Day

Lazing in bed at 7 a.m., not expecting a birding day a familiar sound came through the open Velux. "Pinkfeet!" I yelled and rushed specless and contactlensless to the next Velux where a blurry V confirmed my hearing, probably about 250 or so. Then I heard but did not see a skein. Louise on her run at 8 a.m. managed to hear but not see a skein but whilst in the bath called me off the computer as she could hear "wink-wink from her bath via the bathroom Velux; two skeins 136 and 41 (omitted from BirdGuides total), these at 10ish. I then engaged with the job of the day using the strimmer, this probably meant I missed a pile of geese as when I stopped for lunch there was a 270 and a 250 that joined up and then in fairly short succession a 250, 110, 50, 150, 7, 250, 42. At 1.20 p.m. there was a 225 followed by a 102. At 2:55 p.m. there was a 120 and at 3:30 p.m. a skein was heard but not seen. So eighteen skeins for a total of 2,253 seen plus an unknown number in the unseen skeins. Brilliant.

Cleared out

Early morning there were a few bits and bats in the Saltwick area, one Redstart, one Pied Plycatcher, one Pink-footed Goose went over low. JB had worked the ground the previous day and found little.

Best bird of Friday was a Yellow-browed Warbler near Robin Hood's Bay heard by JB.

However, this morning, Halifax Crew arrive, walk in to Hawsker Bottoms and in a few minutes have found a Red-breasted Flycatcher. Well done, Nick. JB slightly miffed as he'd spent a long time working the very spot the previous day.

I had to pack up early in the morning but late afternoon we worked west of Hawsker and managed to dig out a Garden Warbler. There was a smart Red-throated Diver in summer plumage on the sea. At dusk two skeins of Pink-footed Goose, a 90 and an 18.

Apparently one too many

Bumped in to one of the farmers today and immediately he was "There's too many hawks." "They blame farmers for all the song birds going but it's not us it's the hawks."

Songbird Survival et al are spreading their misinformation far and wide, it's time they were countered more effectively. They provide the agricultural community an excuse for their more damaging practices allowing them to say they don't impact on farmland bird populations and it encourages the shooting fraternity to pop at anything with hooked bill and claw.

If there are "too many hawks" and they are damaging song bird populations how is it that Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Siskin are doing so well? These are prime prey items. Of course Sparrowhawks have changed their diet, they no longer enjoy the coarse flavours of Greenfinch and will only accept Skylark grilled lightly garnished with rocket and basil.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ungripped - again

Bit slow on the draw with the camera today so Whinchat was all I could manage

A meeting ending late afternoon across town provided the opportunity. It had been thick fog on the coast this morning and had drizzled a little. Arrived in the Saltwick area to an immediate score, Pied Flycatcher, Chiffchaff, Red-breasted Flycatcher number 1 and then Red-breasted Flycatcher number 2. This all in a few minutes. The second bird was slightly sullied by a leg iron and a bit of enquiry uncovered that "young" WN had been active earlier in the day netting this bird and a Yellow-browed Warbler. One of four or five Chiffies was also carrying metal. A Lesser Whitethroat was neat, a Willow Warbler, then what's this? Round tail, long bill, whoooo it's a Locustella. Fortunately the bird gave excellent views and proved to be a Grasshopper Warbler. A walk down the hill uncovered another Lesser Whitethroat. I then elected, perhaps unwisely to hike round to the lone Sallow. It's a bit of a walk but this was the spot where there were birds at the weekend. The Sun did not help so the crest that showed was unidentifiable. A Whinchat and a Stonechat showed, as did three Roe Deer and about 5 Speckled Wood. The walk back produced Wheatear and another Stonechat. The gully held Goldcrests and Robins, both of which had increased since the weekend. Then back to the R-bF place with more views. Yellow-browed Warbler called twice.I wandered off to look at gardens and looking back saw a Phyllosc that appeared to have wing bar and a heavy supercilium - various expletives. Galloped back to the spot and proceeded to get poor and inconclusive views. Heard the Y-b W again. In the end I think the wing bar may have just been a Chiffy but not sure. A last garden proved empty but the Sun was falling and birds were skulking.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All quiet on the eastern front

Tried the golf course on the way to work. The wind was blowing in from the north and the only migrant was a Sandwich Tern, wished I was at the Old Nab and had the day.

After work with news of Red-breasted Flycatchers around I tried Saltwick. I focused on a small area and especially in the spot where the last Iccy was. There were certainly birds but they were elusive. A Phyllosc was glimpsed, a couple of things flitted, a likely culprit came out of a bush and towered up in to the sky and went off west and finally repeated very brief views of a flycatcher like job were too brief, distant and inconclusive.

I did see 2 Ringed Plovers but that was about it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gripped off - again

I like Red-breasted Flycatchers but I've seen rather few of them and never found one for myself. So gripped by PN who found one today near Rain Dale. Nice one Paul.

I did go birding today, but I'd hardly got started in a rather barren and unpromising Pannett Park when the mobile went and I had to go into work as we had staff shortages that needed sorting.

I might get up early tomorrow and go for a quick look at the Saltwick area before work.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stress escape - go birding

Offspring driving me especially nuts today ... a late afternoon visit (on my own) to the Saltwick area solved that problem.

Not much about, probably less than the Halifax crew turned up yesterday. One Whinchat, one Redstart but also one Ruff, one Red-throated Diver in smart summer plumage an in/off Grey Heron, one Common Tern, quite a few Sandwich Terns and various hundreds of gulls (none of which were of any special interest despite a good bit of scrutiny). There are still some Guillemot offspring contact calling (or is it squalling?). Harbour Porpoise, about 5; Roe Deer, 3 a leaping; Speckled Wood one. 145 Lapwing, but there was nothing lurking amongst them.

Insects and birds

Field Grasshopper

Field Grasshopper

Field Grasshoppers are currently enjoying basking on the boarding around our vegetable plot. Ellen has particularly enjoyed picking them up and watching them jump. This is the species that makes a single very short buzz repeated four or five times.

Small Coppers are here in record numbers, we counted 12 yesterday around this plant - anyone know the name of this horticultural species?

Grelyags flew over the garden heading south yesterday, it would be nice to think they were "real" ones especially as Pink-feet were moving south on the coast. There were another four tagging along with these. In the past we have got only low flying birds off the moor entering our air space.

Nuthatch nearly made it on to the "in the garden" list today missing by about 20m. I didn't see it fly in to the plantation so although it headed off west and probably came in from the east can't count it on the "in the garden (+airspace)" list; just the "seen from the garden" list where there was one previous record. Also today Blackcap again, continuing to be elusive in the brambles and elders.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Remote birding

Halifax crew over here today. Vehicle problems and lack of children's shoes meant I had little time. Hawsker and Saltwick had a few Redstarts,Pied Flys and Whinchats I am told. I saw Green Sand at Scaling. Over 100 Golden Plover over the garden this morning plus 28 Greylags and a Redpoll sp.

Bird crime

Informed today about the destruction of 2 Goshawks and one Tawny Owl within the NYM National Park. If it is a gamekeeper who destroyed these birds it is worth pointing out to them that these two species almost certainly help them more than hinder. Goshawk prefers to prey on Woodpigeon and corvids. Carrion Crow will be a significant predator of grouse chicks, Goshawk may very occasionally take an adult I would guess. Keepers are in net gain to leave Goshawk alone, the predation of Carrion Crow being a big bonus. Tawny Owl will kill ground predators, like rats which do serious damage to grouse nests when they find them. These crimes are about prejudice and ignorance of the biology of the species concerned.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Yesterday's other events

3 Small Copper and our first Speckled Wood in the garden, found by Mollie. The male Sparrowhawk is continuing his regular efforts, Marsh Tit was heard. On Friday there was a dead fox up the dale, hit by a vehicle methinks, a very uncommon creature here - or at least very shy compared to West Yorkshire where I saw them at least weekly.

Pre-work birding

Awoke early enough so nipped down to the golf course on the way to work (managed 39 under par). Plenty of alba wagtails and a Yellow Wagtail amongst them. A warbler sp flew straight at me, over my head and disappeared in a hedge. Spotted Flycatcher showed well, plus a maybe Lesser Whitethroat but it disappeared. Down by the sea there was a flurry of Kittiwakes off Denmark, an Eider just offshore, two Common Scoter went east, a steady trickle of Gannets both ways, a trickle of Sandwich Terns going east and a Great Northern Diver went west.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When the winds are good, birthdays should be cancelled

Louise's birthday, no birding. I was gracious. And I saw another Honey Buzzard. Ambled back to the car at the singing event we were attending at Goathland Village Hall. Carrion Crows call, a raptor approaches. Fortunately there were bins in the car. I'd honestly expected it to be Common Buzzard but no it was another Honey Buzzard. Views in to the sun but it was quite close and flapped and glided slowly past showing the classic profile.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

... and the SE wind doth blow

Headed for Saltwick Nab area this morning, keen to see what was on the new wader place, 3 Ruff, 4 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Common Snipe, 1 Curlew were joined by non-waderish 45 or so Teal and 4 Wigeon. Also around 70 Lapwings and a single Golden Plover.

It was a morning that always seemed to have a pile of promise. A Swift was encouraging, and there were at least 4 more later. A peer into the bushes where last week's Iccy showed off produced 5 Blackcaps, 3 Garden Warblers, 2 Whitethroats, a Pied Fly, a Willow Warbler and at least one Chiffchaff. A Spotted Flycatcher and the same or another Pied Flycatcher were by the houses along with a Redstart and later a Wheatear. A brief flight view of what might have been a Barred Warbler is best forgotten and a very brief view of another warbler should also be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Up on the top fields were 5 more Wheatears and a huge pile of Meadow Pipits with a few Skylarks. Time spent scrutinising these produced no very stripy, high pitched calling pipit unfortunately. A massive gull flock hid but one intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Common Gull.

At this point the star of the morning arrived. Flying low towards me a large raptor with a pale head, aha methinks 'tis an Osprey, I went for the camera and not the bins and just clicked away as it flew closer and closer. It began to dawn on me that this did not look much like an Osprey even through the fuzz of the viewfinder. I went to bins and struggled, Buzzard? No it's flying all wrong. It had to be a Honey Buzzard on shape but I can't recall ever seeing such a pale one. I clicked away a bit more for evidence and noted a few features as it spiralled up and headed inland. Nice one.

What's that?

That's not an Osprey, doh

Nice view

.... and away inland

I checked the warbler places and the wader scrape again to no avail and decided to call it a morning, the greenhouse beckoned.

On the way a Common Buzzard gave excellent views, whilst another called nearby, a nice contrast to the earlier Honey.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

RIAA killed the Muxtape show

Looks like Muxtape is RIP. A short sighted move as it was a great way to find new music to buy .... However, there is an alternative out there methinks .....

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ungripped (well mostly)

Pied Flycatcher

Got to Hawsker a bit early this morning, it was still dark. However, I intended to go seawatching first and it's a good 30 minutes stroll to Rain Dale and the seawatch spot. On the way, in the gloom, I still managed to find Pied Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler and just at the bottom of Rain Dale a Garden Warbler.

The sea was not impressive, so uncharacteristically I gave up after half an hour having logged not very many Common Scoter, Teal, Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Cormorant, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern.

Rain Dale deserved some serious attention and eventually three Pied Flys sat in the same bush round and about were many Willow Warblers, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and Blackcap. Walking back along the railway line there was at least one migrant in every bush (pretty much).

Once back in mobile range I picked up a message from JB that he'd just found a Wryneck in the Saltwick Nab area so I made my way slowly back to the car and headed the mile or so up the coast.

The Wryneck was uncooperative but there were a few migrants about (a large reduction compared to the previous late afternoon though). In the end I settled for watching a patch of bushes that contained quite a few Sylvia warblers. I'd been watching for about 10 minutes or so when I got on to a Garden Warbler and a bird appeared next to it, Icterine Warbler. Reckon I deserved that. The Iccy showed really well for ten minutes and then disappeared. However, JB alerted returned to the spot and it showed well again in the sunshine for another ten or fifteen minutes.
Spotted Flycatcher

Family turned up for lunch and the afternoon was spent wandering around Hawsker. There were now few birds in the cliff top bushes and bar the occasional bird or two and 7 Whinchats in the top wheat field things were much quieter. I was a bit puffed out anyway, so headed home.

Hawsker totals today: Swallow - 12 (150 yesterday); House Martin - 2 (excluding breeders, 40 or so yesterday); Tree pipit - 2; Yellow Wagtail - 1; Redstart - 12; Whinchat - 8; Wheatear - 9, Sedge Warbler - 1; Blackcap - 3; Garden Warbler - 4; Whitethroat - 5; Willow Warbler - 37; Spotted Flycatcher - 1; Pied Flycatcher - 11.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Gripped off!!

Ok, I don't know who you are but you've gripped me off.

1. I decide to go for passerines and not go seawatching.
2. I've abandoned Kettleness for pastures new (well, old actually but never mind).

So off I go to Hawsker and off you go to my new seawatching place at Old Nab. Now don't get me wrong, I had an excellent morning. It's brilliant when you suss the weather and get it right and there I was in the middle of a pretty decent fall. It took me an hour to walk 400m along the railway line path - Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Willow Warbler sprang out hither and thither. I even met a Whitby birder, rarer than Barred Warbler at Whitestone Point (PN thanks for the info, the Hobby stuff is especially good). I tried hard, perhaps a bit too hard, no that's not caligata but a pale, greyish Willow Warbler. The most promising bird of the morning just flew off, way before I got near it and it never stopped. Other treats for me were Garden Warbler, a pile of Wheatears and Swift. Plus there was Greenshank and Ringed Plover over. Swallows were in abundance and House Martins were on the move. My brief glances at the sea found me two adult and a juvenile Arctic Tern.

Now I had to go home, the water situation was significant and ditch digging was required or a flood was in the offing.

I check BirdGuides, I wasn't bothered about the Leach's or the Poms really but 1,000s of Manx that's exceptional in the North Sea, I would have loved to have seen that. (Just how many thousands would be of interest, so if you read this please email me - if you didn't do some sample counts I'll be a bit disappointed.)

Then to rub some salt in the wound you nip along to Kettleness and find an Iccy.

Back at Hawsker JB was now in action as I'd alerted him to the fall. Numbers of common migrants quickly rose as more expert eyes searched the bushes. Then at Saltwick there were even more but the rare evaded us, maybe tomorrow.

Home today produced Chiffchaff, Marsh Tit, 100 or so Swallows and House Martins on the move. Altogether a good day.

Dave Davenport

I learnt today, via BB, of the death of Dave Davenport at the very young age (these days) of 61. Dave was a mighty influence during my birding days at Dungeness and encouraged my interest in seawatching. I was fascinated by his expeditions to Slyne Head and the Outer Hebrides to see unimaginable (for me, in those old days) passings of Pom and Long-tailed Skua. Dave was always patient and encouraging of us whippersnappers. A lasting memory is of him lying on the shingle, head propped up by bins case seawatching on a sunny Dungeness May day. Dave was generally not an early riser, his advice, never forgotten, was that "Poms like the Sun on their back." Fly by Dave, fly by.

Monday, September 01, 2008

More dipping

A Great White Egret probably flew over my head today, or at least within view but I wasn't birding .... aaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh