Thursday, July 31, 2008

Darrell vs Anonymous

A quick response to all this hullabaloo. I will post a position response to the huge issues that have been raised (probably on the Badseawatcher Pages) at a later date, after I've figured it all out.

Darrell you were a bit rude. I know you feel this strongly but all the same .... I also disagree with you about shooting.

Anon, if I may be familiar. You have also been rude and misjudged me. I do not hold the views you suggest I hold, neither do I behave in the manner you suggest and similarly nor do many birders. A couple of brief points. I am positive about moorland management for grouse, with one or two reservations which I am sure you would expect. I am positive about grouse and other shooting, again with a few reservations.

Personally I regret the present polarisation and entrenchment of views on both "sides" I would like some dialogue but it has to be reasoned, polite and respectful of each others' views. There are wrongs in both camps but there is also wide distrust and dislike, as has been demonstrated. We need to be taking steps to build bridges not blow them up.

Both of you: when you're in my blog you may argue robustly but you do it with reason and respect and not casual abuse. I will leave your posts for now but please consider this matter closed until I post my position statement, I would prefer that you both (and anyone else for that matter) refrains from commenting on this post.

Thank you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


A Nightjar excursion it was. I've been considering a particular site for a while, trouble is it's half an hour across the moor, no path for most of the way and the return is an upward slope meaning you can't navigate easily. It's rough ground, there are lots of pools and channels and it's a midge and mossie paradise.

Getting out there is easy and by two thirds of the way across I could hear a Nightjar so it was bingo, good hunch. The Roe Deer out on the open moor were rather surprised to see a human at that time and coughed and barked at me.

When I got in close I had some excellent views of singing birds, one even perched right in front of me briefly. Hunting and calling birds were zooming about, all was brilliant. Midges and their ilk were entirely ignorant of the supposed powers of the so called insect repellent I had plastered over my head and hands however and after half an hour I reckoned it was time to head for the vehicle.

Turn the volume up for Nightjar song.

Now walking out there Jupiter had been slightly to my left so I reckoned that if I kept the planet over my right shoulder on my return I should just about be ok. Why I had not taken a compass with me I do not know. Initially all seemed well and when the International Space Station zoomed overhead I was carrying on jauntily. I came to some small pools and something large fluttered by my ear, a Nightjar treated me to half a minute's hovering and circling whilst it searched for moths low over the ling.

There goes the ISS

A bit further along I was missing the ponds I was expecting. The Moon rose to my right. I finally hit the track I was expecting, I seemed to be on it before I'd realised, bit of relief I tramped on. I should have stopped and thought but I was a bit puffed out and just carried on. Briefly heard a distant Nightjar, that was reassuring as I was expecting that. But the track didn't seem right and I couldn't understand how I could be seeing a tractor working in fields to my left (all the lights on).

Of course I'd gone miles off, Jupiter had moved more than I expected, I'd not put a good enough mental picture in my head before I started, it was a disaster that was almost inevitable. I did eventually figure out where I'd got to, wrong dale. But instead of 45 minutes back to the car it took me two and a half hours and I now have rather weary legs. I did see the ISS once more and heard a few Tawny Owls. Next time I'll take a compass.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Raptor day

Took up an invite by Dave M to go over to the Wykeham raptor spot and have a look for crossbills and, well, yes, raptors.

Rather a good do all around. Good company, plenty of birds, a bit of id challenge and good weather (note to deities, if in existence, a bit more breeze is required next time I go raptoring, please).

Down in the village, before Dave arrived, the postman seemed to know his birding stuff as he watched me scope a rather distant Honey Buzzard and chatted about local birds, suggesting that the raptor viewpoint might be a better spot than the village hall car park.

Up on the ridge first of all were quite a few Crossbills calling, then there was a Common Buzzard followed swiftly by one and then probably a second Honey Buzzard but I was too busy concentrating on the first one. A female Goshawk showed well, soared up and then demonstrated a classic, vertical, death defying stoop into the trees (bye, bye Woodpigeon, methinks). A Kestrel showed, more Common Buzzard, Crossbills and Bullfinches. A distant male Goshawk was a bit of an id challenge and whilst I was looking at that one a close juvenile shot by - click here. A Sparrowhawk, more Crossbills and a distant buzzard sp closed the proceedings. Well, it went something like that anyway.

No opportunity to record Crossbills, they all sounded pretty standard in any case, but for one making a bit of a deeper "chup" but it was a way away and they vary a fair bit. The one close lot were in flight.

High Brow viewpoint - good for crossbills

There is a reason I don't usually travel too much for birding, life and limb are valued. Today's roll of shame included a silver VW Touran driving 2 inches from my rear bumper up a country lane where passing, let alone overtaking was fraught with danger. 40 mph seemed to me a reasonable and safe speed. Once I got to a safe spot I let the ill-mannered, nit bearded, male maniac by, who then went on to hassle the next vehicle and overtake (Oh chironomid brain, one wheel off at that speed = upside down, mis-shaped Touran and mangled occupants.). On the way home it was the usual "I don't care if you are driving towards me I'm going to overtake anyway" type lunatic in a green Ford Focus estate; blonde, female, seeker of death I can inform you with some certainty, continue driving in that manner and The Reaper will be your next confidente.

Back home the male Sparrowhawk went for an eye level raid straight at us as we were eating tea outside, the speed and agility never fail to impress. (Yes, house points were gained by having cooked tea by the time family arrived home from horse related activity.) I'm now considering completing the day with some Nightjar and owl related excursion, but that might be pushing my luck.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Scaling morning

I overslept, otherwise I would have gone seawatching. Not much of note really, a Green Sandpiper was new for me for the year. Little Ringed Plovers are still present.

On the way home this Lapwing was very agitated, late breeding I reckon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Work :-(

Had to work today so very little birding. A quick trip around home this morning found Tree Sparrow, a few Willow Warblers, House Martins feeding young and good numbers of Swallows.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ban illegal timber

The difficulty when buying wood products is knowing whether they are ethical or not. We've bought a garden bench recently that we had made for us, ethical timber but we're not so sure about the garden shed from the same source. We're also looking at buying a wooden greenhouse (Western Red Cedar). If wood from illegally felled timber was not able to be imported that would make life much easier.

Greenpeace have a campaign click here to pressure for an import ban on illegal timber. Please write and support this important issue and help safeguard ancient forests across the world.

Nick, thanks for alerting me to this one.

Garden today

There's been an explosion of Ringlet. Today there must have been 25 in the garden, they're hard to count so I expect there were more. Other butterflies today were Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell and Small Heath. Yesterday the garden was full of Large Yellow Underwing (I think, I'm not good at moths). Also today Chimney Sweeper, one of my favourite day flying moths.

The hoverfly Volucella bombylans var plumata was another nice find, unfortunately the photos of it with its wings spread were not sharp.

On the bird front 5 Crossbills flew over and landed in the Larches as I was fixing Mol's bike. Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Siskin were all in evidence. No sign of Walter or his family, however, I wonder if the heavy rain has done for them. I did hear a snatch of song on Thursday but no evidence since. The Garden Warbler and the Chiffchaff down in the dale bottom seem to have stopped singing and Willow Warblers are "hewiting" not singing.

Ness Point

A quick look from Ness Point this morning produced and Arctic Tern going north and an Arctic Skua heading south.

Two Guillemots had very small chicks on the sea. It's a bit of a puzzle where these have come from as I can't find any nesting on our cliffs, could they have drifted up from Filey or down from the Farne's? Those seem quite large distances for what appear to be very young chicks. We did have Razorbills breeding at one time but i don't recall Guillemots breeding.

Also of note was a virtual absence of Willow Warblers with just one being found despite a good tramp around. Lesser Whitethroat was singing and also of note two lots of Stonechats. The House Martin colony in Robin Hood's Bay appears to be healthy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008



A brief seawatch produced 4 Manx and 6 Common Scoter loafing offshore. The main business of the day was an Atlas visit.

The goose bombing towards me across the fields proved to be a real surprise when it banked to reveal large white patches in the wings, Egyptian Goose. Presumably this was the individual that has been hanging around Staithes out on an excursion.

There appeared to be a bit of a Willow Warbler drop with 29 recorded but there were also local birds feeding young, I've heard few singing birds here this year. Also of note Lesser Whitethroat and plenty of Common Whitethroats, these also feeding young.

Tufted Vetch

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chance would be a fine thing...

I fell asleep among the flowers,
For a couple of hours,
On a beautiful day ....

Sunday, July 06, 2008

LEO again

Bumped in to another one or maybe two hunger calling Long-eared Owls this evening, probably far enough away from other known sites to be new ones.

Meetings etc

Storm brewing

YNU meeting yesterday so very limited birding. Kestrels have moved their offspring near to the house, I'm not sure where these have actually bred because Ketrel has been very infrequently seen in the home tetrad this spring and summer.

Thanks to Dave Mansell for drawing my attention to a couple of interesting photos. In investigating these I had a look at Dave's own photos (all rather good) and was taken by his recent crossbill pix. The male, click here, looks interesting to me. My understanding is that this is unidentifiable from the photo alone and requires sonograms to prove what it is one way or the other. Or is it just at the "large bill" end of Common Crossbill variation? It is possible that the bill shape is exaggerated by a photographic anomaly in any case. I would be interested in any comments.

Dusk - better go owling

Headbanger 2

Mollie heard this Great Tit juvenile hit the window and we went out and rescued it. It didn't look good but after 10 minutes or so flew off in to the front garden Oak.

Rest was disturbed last night by rabbits running around inside the house. The cats have decided they like to play with them inside and the rabbits do their best to escape. Rabbits scream in a rather chilling manner when they are scared.