Monday, 8 November 2010

It's been a long time coming!  After a couple of (well three actually) people asked when I was going to update this I thought I'd better post something.  Actually come to think of it I wonder if those three are the only ones reading this!

Well the reason for the lack of updates is mainly that I was away on Shetland for a month and whilst up there my laptop died, along with notes I was going to use for writing this and most of my pics.  I will be able to get them back but it's taking time.  I'll write something about the Shetland trip later in the winter when there's fuck all else to do/see.

Since I got back I've been out to Spurn a few times and been doing some counts on the Humber but not seen a great deal, a few Waxwings and a conti Coal Tit are about the best of it.

Flamboro has hit gold again with the Brown Shrike, maybe It's just a case of grass being greener but they do seem to be aceing Spurn the last few years.  I've got no figures to back this up but my gut feeling and I think the general concensus is that Spurn gets more birds but as a local there we get the same old species all the time like Radde's and Booted's.  Flamboro keep getting the quality like Olly's and things from a long way east with Brown in the name!  Apart from the Baillon's Crake and a couple of Swifts in the last few years the last truly good bird off the top of my head was the Grosser.  We do seem to be competing a bit more with seabirds tho now they've stopped reading Harrison before each seawatch.......

I suppose like everyone else I'll have to comment on the Twitching programme last week I though Brett came across as slightly mad (but we all know he is anyway) but as a proper birder and really genuine, the others came across as a brown nosing johnny come lately and a mad egotist but overall I thought it was highly entertaining.

As for the idiots on birdforum saying the treatment of the young Craig girl deserved attention from social services I'd like to ask what fuckin planet are you really on, I've never heard such utter bollocks.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Although I love seawatching and have over the years done loads of it but I've not really connected with any good blows in the last few years.  The only good day in the last few years was on North Ron last year when we had over a hundred Sooties and a Great Shear.  The last good day at home I was in a meeting in the morning (when I had a proper job!) by the time I got to Spurn the last 2 of about 50 Leach's went past and then it dried up!  These were the last Leach's I'd seen so with hot gen coming through from Gav at Seaforth saying 'it was happening' I decided to have a ride out to New Brighton and Leasowe this aft.

Bloody hell as I pulled the car up a quick scan with bins revealed about 10 birds in the river off New Brighton, a more thorough scan and I'd have said there must have been 30-40 birds but they're reet hard to count.  After about an hour with only one or two coming reasonably close and one flying over land!  I decided to try Leasowe, good move as soon as I arrived birds were moving west close in along the waters edge so I got huddled down among the concrete breakwaters and had spectacular views I was tryting to photograph them rather than count them but there must have been 50+ went past in an hour and a half, some of them as close as 3 metres from me and too close to follow with the camera.

I got hundreds of shots like these which I'd call good seawatch views

I was finding it really difficult to stay on the birds and the closer they were the harder it was.  This next one was probably a bit closer

But it's these I was really wanting, the sun came out and suddenly some of the closer ones became a little easier.  Still couldn't follow the stupidly close ones though.

I learnt something today......Petrels are bloody hard to photograph even when ridiculously close, ok so I had the wind to contend with and dull light and a camera that I keep having to turn off and then on again to make it work.  But even after all that I still reckon they're tricky, just think how hard it is from a boat, well if it was a White faced Stormy I reckon I'd try my best..... Madeira wind birds here I come, might have to save up for a 1D series body and a 300 f2.8 first though!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The weather looked good and the charts had seemingly whipped everyone in birdforumland into a frothing frenzy of anticipation of birdguides reporting rares all down the coast, so I set off to Spurn.
I actually set off twice because I forgot my radio the first time so was half an hour later than I'd planned.  I spoke to Andy Roadhouse on the way down who told me there were plenty of birds around and a Wryneck at wire dump and a new Barred Warbler at the Warren had already been found in the first half hour, best of all though was an Ortolan at Sandy Beaches, things did look good.
When I arrived I headed straight for Sammies, one of my favourite areas and likely to be a spot nobody had yet checked.  I bumped into Adam Stoyle on his way down the road and we set off through the bushes, it was alive. I'ver been lucky enough to catch some of the biggest Sept falls at Spurn in the last 20 yrs and this one looked promising, Redstarts and Pied Fly's everywhere flava's and Tree Pipits going over and Wheatears and Willow Warblers constantly dragging attention between bush and field.  Then the radio crackled into life, Roadhouse had a Spotted Crake in the point dunes, and hop along Hutt had 2 Rosefinches in the church field, others were at the Warren and Wire Dump making a total of 5.  We pushed on trying to keep a tally of numbers when Adam came back on the radio with a Red rumped Swallow flying round Kilnsea and Roy Taylor came on with the cryptic message about a large pale Bunting at the point suggesting it was a bird Andy had seen briefly earlier, it resolved itself into an Ortolan.  There were birds everywhere, I got back to the car after about an hour and a half and decided to go to the point.
Where have all the birds gone?  The bushes had some stuff but nothing like the tackle hueeting and chacking away from every bush at Sammies, after an hour I head north to try Beacon Lane, again more of the same just a few birds, enough to keep you expecting but not the numbers of earlier.  The rest of the day was spent doing Easington, parts of Kilnsea less often visited and Sammies again.  Best birds were a Firecrest and a fleeting view of a Wood Warblers arse.
Wednesday looked like it too would turn stuff up so off I set again, this time radio firmly in hand and fully charged, I forgot my bins! I had to borrow Pete's spares, a massively heavy pair of Nikon high grades, nice optically but only 8x not the 10x I'm used to so every phylosc looked like a plain leaf!  And I've put my back out carrying them round all day, if I owned these I'd need a Tim!
Bird wise it was more of the same just less of them, I tried half heartedly for the Ortolan and had a look round Sammies for the mass halucinated Red breasted Fly, got questioned for the second day running by the anti terrorist police round the gas terminal, so about 22 hours in the field and very little in the way of scarce and nothing rare to show for it.
I suppose what this tells you is don't look at the bird news services and think Spurn (or anywhere else really) is lifting with birds on days like this.  Do't get me wrong it was good and I believed I could find a monster, of course those from birdforumland will undoubtably see more by running round chasing everything reported on the pagers some of it they'll see some they wont.  I prefer to draw a blank but know that I did my own thing and next time it might be my lucky day

Sunday, 5 September 2010

I said yesterday I didn't wan't to talk about the Olly anymore, well I don't but I do want to have a rant about it!  I've just got back form the Brown Flycatcher where I heard from very good sources that a certain old school Flamboro supressor photographed the Olly 5 days before it was found by Craig Thomas but thought it was an Icky.  If he wasn't such a small minded selfish twat and told other people about what he'd seen maybe someone else would have gone to see the Icky and the penny would have dropped and I'd have seen it.  The fuckin big nosed suppressing bastard!

As for the Brown Fly how early is it?

Yeah I know it looks like a pied fly cos it's so overexposed, it was phonescoped.
During the spring I was lucky Savi's Warbler and Iberian Chiffchaff the only birds I needed for the county hung around long enough for me to get back for them.
Last autumn I went north to Orkney and Shetland for the month knowing that the same period in 2008 would haver cost me Brown Shrike, Pallas's Gropper and Amur Falcon.  I only missed Baillon's Crake which most others did so it's not guaranteed I would have seen it anyway.
So it's feckin frustrating that this week I've missed Collared Fly and Olivaceous Warbler, ok so the fly is probably gonna struggle to get through but the warbler is nails.  I'm a bit gutted and don't want to talk about it anymore!
So I got back home at 2am and was in bed waiting for news from Flamborough when Tim rang to say he'd got a Booted Warbler at Grimston, some year he's having!  As it happens he managed to get access sorted as there was a stubble field suitable for parking and the bird could be seen from this field or the farm track.  It showed well for the first 30-40 people who got there but then went to ground.

Tim did well getting access arranged for this bird as usually when he finds anything good the answer from the landowners is no, hopefully they'll be more inclined to say yes in future as people stayed where they should apart from 2 individuals who wanted a piss and and were too bashful to lob it out in front of the few women present and 1 who simply wanted to know if we were there yet and be the first one to see the sea!

Just before I ventured north I had a look at the Crane at Bewholme, seems to be a regular early autumn occurrence having a Crane somewhere around this stretch of coast!  I'd been sitting in the car for over 2 hours waiting for it to get closer and all four birders that had pulled up for a look stayed in theirs too.  Slowly it was edging towards my end of the field.  But then a well known import to east Yorks from the Doncaster area pulled up and got out at the other end of the field and stated to scope it.  Seeing him out of his car the very next car that pulled up the driver got out grabbed his camera and virtually sprinted to within 100yds of my position, the bird understandably looked more nervous and after a while obviously thought fuck this I'm off and flew to Bewholme Hall pond, these are therefore my best efforts!  It's called fieldcraft boys, some of us have shit loads of it, others don't!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Shit how many people in Britain have found Sharp tailed sand?  Well one of my oldest birding mates just found his second in 3 years tonight!  That's pretty impressive, surely he must be in a club of one.
It was a mad dash from Spurn to Patrington Haven reallignment site dodging various farm machinery that seems to be littering the queens highway at every turn lately, should queen have a capitol Q, you know out of respect?  When we got there John had lost it as a dog walker on the top of the bank flushed the waders up.  After an agonising 20 minutes or so it reappeared.  I say agonising because I kind of hoped it had fucked off, having been lucky enough to see Johns last one I didn't really want this to hang around for all the other top boys to grip back but the bastard did!
The bird showed for about an hour or so before flying off as the tide started to drop but it was never close.

It is in that pic honest I've put a mark in to help all you birdforum regulars find it!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Went to the Birdfair on Friday with Gareth and Towel.  Had a good walk round and saw loads of people I don't catch up with very often, had a good butchers through all the big scopes with a view to buying one later in the year and pissed myself at Towel getting all starstruck over his hero Johnny Kingdom.

he was so exited after meeting Johnny he spent 
mucho $ on a Gitzo pod!

The only thing I bought was the new advanced ID guide by Nils van Duivendijk it's brilliant what a superb concept, it's like having Killian Mullarny's memory in your glove box!  I knew this was coming out as Jim was involved in helping Nils get it published in Britain (the Dutch version has been out for about a thousand years) so was eagerly awaiting it, lets hope iot comes in useful on Foula this year.

Those of you who haven't been to the Birdfair it's class there's about 8 marquees to look round before lunch and a few pints in the bar then another 8 to look round afterwards.  The highlight is usually the hot women on the tourism stands from various countries.  This year however I reckon top spot was taken by either the barmaid in the beer tent or the Cameron Diaz lookalike on the Subbuteo books stand, with an honourable mention to the peach from Andalucia birding.  Roll on next year.
Been a few birds about on the mere in the last week or so, saw the White winged Black again but it didn't come close enough for any pics, this Arctic did though.....just!

A few Waders about too but nothing outstanding.  A flock of 12 Red crested Pochards is pretty disgusting, I'm just thankful I didn't visit the western end where there's a Ruddy Shelduck!  Mind I'm doing a load of counts on the Humber at the moment so it's surely only a matter of time before I stumble across one of them, there's at leat 1500 Shelduck on every count.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Spurn must be one of if not the best site for Booted Warblers in the country, I've seen half a dozen there so surely we must have a chance of Sykes's? It's probably not sound logic to be honest so I went to Druridge on Monday to see the one there.
It's a bird I've read up on many times but have never been able to put it into practice (apart from one bird seen in Oman) so I've struggled to get the features nailed. I was therefore really surprised to see this bird and find it so obvious, obviously there may be a slight element of it already having been named but I approach every rare bird I see by trying to find reasons why it isn't one, I couldn't with this it really was distinctive when seen well.
I watched it for about 3 hours (it wasn't showing for all that time but I did get prolonged scope views as it fed in rose tangles a couple of times) before getting the camera out.

As you can see the results aren't the best so it's a good job I'd drawn it, I'm not putting that up here though!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

What a crackin weekend, got to Spurn on Fri night and managed a couple of hours seawatching. It was a bit steady considering the strong north westerly wind but I suppose it is a bit early yet, saw 3 Sooty's, about 25 Manx and a few Arctic Skuas.
Sat and the wind had gone round to a promising north easter and almost immediately it was obvious it was having an effect with a few Pied Fly's and lots of Willow Warblers, I didn't chase any of the stuff but managed to see the Red backed Shrike, a Wood Warbler and a Black Tern. There were Icky and Wryneck around too.
A quiet night in the pub meant an early rise so I ventured south, 15 minutes after getting to Chalk bank I had to turn round and race back to the Warren where Mike Pilsworth had found Spurns 2nd Citrine Wag. Mike used to find stuff all the time but since becoming on of the Wardens at Blacktoft where he's found hardly owt we've been tellin him he's a spent force, looks like he's back tho after this and last weeks Semi P!
After havin my fill of the Wag I returned south and saw an Icky at the point and a few common migrants.
News came through mid morning of a juv White winged Black at Hornsea so late afternoon I went up to see it, and it's a little corker giving stupid close views. Despite the camera being fooked I managed a couple of shots I'm happy with, which is no mean feat when the feckin thing locks up after every third or fourth shot and I have to turn it off and on again before continuing!

Looks like a trip to Northumberland might be on the cards tomorrow, I've only seen Sykes's Warbler in Oman and they're probably a future split in waiting anyway so it will be educational to see the one up at Druridge bay if it's still there in the morning

Thursday, 12 August 2010

I've added a link to Martin Garners site Birding Frontiers, I'm sure this will develop into a proper site about birds and we'll all learn from it unlike most of the ones in the list! Although if he sees more than me in Shetland this autumn I'm taking it off!!!

Had a butchers at Hornsea tonight, the water level is stupidly low and a few waders are using the edges 2 Greenshank, 2 Redshank, a Ruff a Dunlin and an LRP plus a few Little Gulls, I didn't look for the Ruddy Shelduck or Red crested Pochard cos they're both a bit shit!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

How long is it since I last posted! The reason, I haven't been birding since mid June, well not for pleasure anyway. I've been mega busy with land based and offshore surveys mainly in Scotland but also been to the south coast too.

We were on a boat off Sussex when news came on the pager about 3 Lammergeier that had flown out to sea from France, we looked at the sky a bit more than we had been up to that point but if they came over us it was too cloudy to see, the fact they weren't picked up anywhere else suggests they turned round. Why don't we get any rares on the boats I go in when the spawny twats on the Dogger bank ones are turning tackle up nearly every trip!

Was off the Western Isles a couple of times in the last month and saw a hundred or so Stormies each time so hoping for Wilson's next month. But the real highlight of this trip is the number of Basking Sharks, we've seen over a hundred each time, some are so close the boat almost hits them before they move and if the light is right you can see right into their mouths, fantastic things.

Last week we were on Orkney and had a few goes at the Bearded Seal, still no luck, I reckon I must have been to that pier in Finstown about a dozen times now and dipped, I'm not even that bothered it's John who keeps going on about it! We also dipped on the Alpine Swift twice but scored Great Yellow Bee which is apparently rare as fuck and something else John keeps banging on about.

Had a bit of luck with the Drags too seen Downy Emerald on a couple of occasions and a superb drake White faced Darter all at Loch Garten. One of the Emerlads was stuck in the water with clots of mud on it's wings and couldn't get out so I rescued it with a stick and put it on some veg to dry out so got amazing views of it. Eventually it flew off so I got a nice warm glow from having done a good deed!!!!

The camera looks like it's going nowhere they are still refusing to do anything about it. I'm not happy!

Saw my first good bird locally for ages yesterday when Ade found a Dotterel in a field at West Carlton.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

I've been meaning to buy some sound recording equipment for some years now, typically I've not got round to it. I've also got the sound approach books but have never really sat down and read them and learnt about sonograms and all that stuff. I should have really because for the last few days I've been involved in trying to nail Yorkshires third Iberian Chiffchaff, and capturing it's calls and song on a phone, no matter how smart it is, isn't very easy.

It all started on Sunday night whilst I was watching the Germans play fitba (too much time in Scotland, where they don't seem to play fitba, or Football for that matter) when Tim rang to say he had a prob Ibe Chiff at Grimston. I went through and heard it singing and calling and it all sounded good the bird giving a downslurred reed bunting like seeuu call and a song with 3 component note types 'chiff chiff chiff swee swee swee der der der der, however as it was quite late in the evening and it was raining it wasn't as vocal as we'd have liked so we agreed to try again the next morning.

Monday morning was bright enough and the bird was singing almost constantly, it also called at least 15 times. We saw it well at distance through scopes and managed to record the song so it all looked sorted. Trouble was when I got home the song hadn't come out well at all on the videos I'd taken due mainly to too much wind. So we were left with our notes on the plumage and our written transcription of the song, not really satisfactory.

I went back in the evening and had loads more attempts at recording it but still found most were poor. We needed to get the bird closer to the phone so I played a bit of song and then the calls from the Andreas Shulze recording to it and hey presto it came to within 5 or 6 feet of my head and started shivering it's wings and calling a lot, for the next ten minutes it sang it's head off moving from tree to tree in a display flight with it's tail half cocked and it's wings fluttering. I've never seen a bird respond so convincingly to a bit of playback. Another interesting point is that at times it's withing 15 metres of a pair of Chiffchaffs which are nesting but they have never once sung or engaged in any territorial disputes with it so they obviously don't see it as a threat.

I managed to get one or two recordings where you can tell what it is but I still wish I'd got round to buying that parabolic dish and mic!

These are probably the best bits of song I managed but you'll have to listen carefully, the first burst starts at 33 seconds and then just at the end of the vid.

As most of you will have seen from pager reports most of the areas Tim birds at Grimston are private and he alone has permission to work them. This bird is half a mile from the nearest public footpath or road and surrounded by trees so there is no chance of seeing it unless access is allowed. Tim has asked if the owners will allow access but they have refused. Fortunately there shouldn't be anyone upset by this decision as the well twitched bird is still present at Potteric should anyone be desperate to see one. Better not to push for access this time when the bird is no longer important and save it for a really big one we think.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

As usual I've been up in Scotland a lot and when I have been home there's not been much to see down at Spurn. I did manage to see the Savi's at old moor the other week which was a welcome grip back as I was the only one in the top ten in the county who needed it. And as a bonus has put a bit of breathing space between me and the lads in joint tenth. It showed really well too, these pics were phonescoped!

Just River to go for the set in the county now, surely it must be due a re-occurrence?

My camera has packed up, it keeps locking the shutter and saying error 30. If I turn it off then on again it works but it's not perfect. So I took it back to Jessop's and they sent it off for repair. After a couple of weeks I got an estimate for repair for £447!!! Obviously I wasn't happy as it's still under warranty. So I'm on the phone to Jessop's who tell me the repair agent (Thomas photographic) say it's due to it having a hard life and being knocked heavily or dropped and give me the number of the repairer to contact myself. When I rang them they tell me it's due to corrosion inside, so it appears they can't make up their minds. I was on the phone for about ten minutes and this guy's saying I'm not their customer so they won't deal with me and I have to go back to Jessop's, anyway I must have annoyed him by being persistent as he hung up!!! I'll keep you posted, expect me to get annoyed and swear a lot before this is sorted out!

Friday, 21 May 2010

I'm not into superstitions and all that stuff but I think this weeks events have been a bit odd. First on Monday for no reason other than there was nothing on tv I watched Control, even though at the end it tells you the date Ian Curtis dies it didn't register, then on Wednesday I watched 24 hour party people, on Thurs I saw the cover of NME and realised it was 30 yr anniversary of Ian dying this week. Then today as I'm reading it I found we were both born on July 15th! Strange or what.

Anyway here's a couple of videos. They're not all live footage of the band cos there's not much of it around.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Went back up to Scotland on Sunday 9th for 7 days, the plan was I'd do a couple of days with the lads and then shoot off to meet another crew for a boat survey off the Northern Isles before another couple of days on the mainland. I've wanted to sea Killer Whale for a long long time now and thought I was gonna have to spend a couple of weeks in Shetland in July or go on an organised trip to see them so to see these amazing things just left me speechless. We reckoned the male was about 8-9 metres long, or feckin massive!

There were six of them and they hung around for about an hour, as you can see in the video below they weren't shy! the one in the vid came as close as 3 metres from the boat and actually twisted her head to look at us!!!!! At one point they caught a seal (I think) and ripped it apart, one of them twatted a lump about two foot long with it's tail and sent it flying through the air. It was unbelievable.
Dan has found out since that they are a regular pod in these parts but have also been seen in the Faroes.

Whilst I was enjoying these Yorkshires second Iberian Chiff was being twitched by all the keen Yorks listers, it wasn't long before I was getting texts and phone calls. Ha as if I was bothered about some poxy phylosc with a dodgy voice, they all seemed to see my point of view.

After the euphoria of the killers it was back to normality for a couple of days. I managed to see about 100 Great Northern Divers, a few migrant Dotterel and an Iceland Gull over the course of a few days. Then it was back to the mainland were I had a climb up a mountain on one of the sites, it's the third time I've done this site and at last I connected with Ptarmigan, and a pretty embarrassing lifer finally bit the dust wappo. The only British breeding sp I still needed!

On the way home the car decided to have a bit of a fit and ran out of petrol even though the gauge refused to drop below a quarter and the computer said it had 25 miles left in the tank! Fecking thing, after pushing for a mile and then getting a lift to the next services we finally got going again at 1am. Bastard cars. As you can imagine Adam was over the moon and his usual jovial self!!

Anyway back at home and playing it ultra cool I finally got to Potteric for the Chiff at about midday, it was duly wapped off and I'd had two tick in two days, 3 in a week if you include the Orcas. To be honest I was pretty struck by the Chiff it was far more obvious on shape and plumage than I expected, that said I'm still on a high from the Killers, the only bird I've seen that beats them hands down is Needle tail and I'm struggling to think of any others that compete so I can't get that excited about a phylosc that has hardly any stripes!!!
After Scotland it was a week down a Slimbridge doing some data analysis work, I didn't get any birding done cos the reserve shuts at 6 and I had a bit of work to do to my car, the brakes had just started to grind on the way home from Scotland so I got some Ferodo racing pads to replace the EBC green stuff ones I had in it. Don't get me wrong the EBC ones were good and probably more than your average driver needs, these new ones tho are in a different league I just can't believe how much more stopping power they have. Mind you they'll probably wear out in half the time and eat the discs in the process.
Been mega busy since my last post so seen plenty of Eagles, Kites etc. Went to the Caper watch at Loch Garten one day and had distant views of a male and 2 or 3 females but not seen a lot else.
I cocked up the other day whilst sat reviewing paperwork in the car I left the ignition turned on and killed the battery, I flagged down a bloke in a people carrier who said he had some jump leads but he wasn't gonna get them out of the boot cos he had a fridge and.....wait for it........a parrot in the boot!!! A fuckin PARROT!!! the twat I was gobsmacked, he pissed off and left us sat at the side of the road. We eventually got going after the local garage came out with a starter pack and it fired up instantly.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Just got back from a boat survey off Wales, amazing didn't hear anyone singing all week!!

Managed a couple of hours at South Stack one day and had a smart drake Ring Ouzel, it was getting kicked about by the local Blackbirds which surprised me, I thought they'd be more aggresive. Also there were about a dozen phyloscs, mostly Willow Warblers but a couple of Chiffs and an obvious northerly passage of Swallows I wasn't counting them properly but about 300 or so went north.

Whilst out on the boat we had 40 Bottle-nosed Dolphins that followed us playing in the pressure wave from the boat they were so close you could hear them clicking at each other, absolutely amazing animals one of the best things I've ever seen, these pics don't do them justice. In fact I struggled with the camera as they were a bit too close for the 300mm lens!

The following video taken by my mate Cooky is a bit long but shows the views we were getting really well.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

I haven't had it confirmed yet but I believe Brian Fendley didn't see the Ring billed the other month, which means I may still be joint 9th. I can't see it lasting long though to be honest as it's looking like I'll be out of the county a lot this spring.

I'm also worried about Tim Isherwood catching me so arranged for him to come and do some surveying in Scotland last week. I figured getting him out of the county was a sure way of him missing owt that turned up.
It nearly fuckin worked too but the putative Harlequin possibly sounds like it maybe wasn't probably one............allegedly!

Saw some good stuff whilst away, Eagles and Hen Harriers every day, Crippling views of Black throats in full summer attire, lekking Black Grouse, no Crested Tits tho which Tim wouldn't shut up about! I reckon he might secretly need them.

This beaut was one of a pair that were quite close to where I found a breeding pair last year, lets hope they're back for another go cos they failed last year. I've been told Black throats desert very easily even when the young are well grown, in fact it sounds like Shannon Mathews was better cared for than the average Black throat chick! Fingers crossed for them this year.

I know this is a shite pic but it was snatched as we bumped into these having a right go at the side of the road, now I know where they lek I'll try getting a less obscured position for some more shots next time I'm passing. I'll also be trying for some nice Eagle shots, at one of the sites we surveyed the landowner puts out Deer carcasses for them, seems like you can get quite close.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Jeez I've been busy, I've not actually done any birding for about a month, well I have cos I bird for a living but not any proper birding when I do the what I want when I want sort of stuff. I have however been on a boat for a few days, been to the highlands and Slimbridge and flown a few times. I've seen Golden Eagle and a few Hen Harriers, a Med Gull, lots of plastic duck type things and not much else, my migrant total for the year is 1 Sand Martin, 4 Swallows, 1 Wheatear and 1 Chiff, oh and the Black Red which seems so long ago it feels like it was mid winter!

The obs is now back open after all the renovation work and a lot of painting so I'll be there in the next few days so should get some proper birding done then.

Monday, 8 March 2010

I hate dog shit! The first field at Hornsea was covered in the stuff today. Makes me really glad they're not allowed on Spurn, sod the bloody ground nesting birds what about the soles of my trainer. I reckon the owners who don't clear it up should be made to eat the fuckin stuff.

Anyway, back to the birds. Saw the Brant again and 24 Barnalces at Spurn on sat, the thief is still hanging around and as any one else noticed how obvious Barn Owls are at the moment? I saw them 6 times on Sat.
Sunday Towel and me went looking for Gos' we saw 1 shortly after arrival very distant but then nowt just a load of Buzzards and a Sprawk. Although we did have a Herring Gull called out by one bloke as a Gannet due to it's white underparts and black wingtips! Maybe it was a Snow Goose! Did a bit if dudeing after and saw the usual suspects at Forge Valley and a drake Mandarin in Hackness lake then about 5 Meds at Holbeck.
Not much to speak of at Hornsea except a Slav which seems to have been there since early Feb but I'd somehow managed to avoid hearing anything about it.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Spring is here- it's official.

Well the one migrant I've seen so far seemed to think so anyway. Spurns first Black Red of the year was a whole month earlier than the earlierest one last year.
Other stuff included distant views of the Black Brant, 42 Pale belied Brents, 2 Shorties and a Blue Chicken Thief! One of the Shorties and the Thief were at Welwick saltmarsh with a Merlin.

Sunday was a washout with heavy rain all day so I birded from the car for a change, and saw 2 White fronts at West Carlton and 2 at Tunstall plus a total of 14 Pink feet, I missed the Crane and the poss Green winged Teal and despite spending most of the day under a nice tin roof still got soaked.

Had a couple of days flying mid week and managed this with the phone, I'll have to get a proper lens for this sort of thing.

I've been relegated, perhaps twice, seems fitting as a Leeds fan! There's a new Blog in town and it's swearier and generally more offensive than this one. I'm not sure if I've ever met the author as I was away for most of last year working or on Shetland but he recently started to bird Spurn and made me laugh so I've added Q@Spurn to my blog list. The statistical analysis of likelihood of Gulls getting some food by flying round making loads of noise chasing another Gull raised a smile, be warned though he's a fuckin sweary fucker!

I'm still clinging onto the slim hope that Brian Fendley didn't bother going for the Ring billed Gull cos if he did I'm no longer joint ninth, I'm relegated to tenth, and with Tim Isherwood just as fanatical about his Yorks list as me, and now only one bird behind, another spring walking round Scotland counting Golden Plover could be costly.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

I was doing some survey work on the Humber last week and drove past the RSPB reserve house for Blacktoft in Whitgift. I don't know how many of you are familiar with the house but you will all know the road through the village, so, what I'd like to know is why the fuck have they put up a big red STOP sign at the end of the drive? Can somebody tell me, please.
It's surely the biggest waste of money I've ever seen and just typical of the stupid nanny culture that exists these days.
I reckon if you pull out of a blind drive into a road without stopping to have a bit of a look for other traffic then you deserve what's coming your way. In fact if there was no sign we'd get rid of all the numpties that need to be told to stop and we'd all be a lot fucking safer for it.
It really pisses me off that they've basically wasted someone's yearly membership fee on this and I'm glad mine lapsed a few years ago cos I don't want to support an organisation that puts so little value on it's members that it's prepared to spend their money on this shite.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Well Tuesday was my last day in Holland and Jim had some work to do in the afternoon so we planned the day around me finishing with some Gooses action nr Rotterdam.

First though knowing my addiction to buying outdoor clothing Jim took me to what must be the biggest outdoor shop.....................................................................IN THE WORLD (that last bit should be read in the style of Clarkson).
It's unbelievable, it took us about an hour and a half to walk round it, they stock everything, even stuff for proper expeditions that I didn't even know existed like down lined boots for wearing in the tent when its about -300. I somehow managed to refrain from buying anything at all which I still can't quite believe, Jim bought a pair of down lined mittens which looked good, and apparently keep his hands warm, judging by how cold mine were later that day I should have maybe bought some too! Although judging by the prices trying stuff on then sourcing it back home here would be a better bet, a Mountain Equipment jacket was £80 more than it sells for here!!! Anyway here's the website if anyone fancies a nose.

Just round the corner from this shop was a big lake which had an American Wigeon on it but we couldn't find it despite looking for about 5 minutes. As time was getting on Jim had to set off for his survey site so we said our emotional farewells and I headed to Rotterdam.

Once in Rotterdam I quickly found this

And a couple of these

The Buffleheed has been returning each winter for about the last 4 or 5 and sometimes shows really close to the bank, obviously it didn't this time.

From here it was a short drive to the site for Lesser White Fronts which were in the exact field Jim had told me they would be in, also here were about 20 unphotogenic Buzzards and millions of Barnacles and White fronts. Jim had said there would be Great White Egrets in the ditches next to the tracks at this site, well they aren't great and they weren't there either!

Within 10 minutes of arriving I'd connected with about 60 lessers which got flushed pretty quickly by two women on hosses and then all the other gooses started to drift off so with almost 2 hours of light left there was nothing to see! I made my way back to the ferry terminal and had a kip.

So 4 days winter birding in Holland,I think you'd have to say it's a pretty good list of tackle. I really was surprised by how good the birding was it's such a small country as well that we covered most of it in the 4 days and I've almost forgotten about my experience on Texel, it certainly beats birding in Britain in winter, I was even impressed with the Gooses!

Monday, 22 February 2010

These next two are for Jack!

I've never seen an adult male Rough Leg before so this was a really nice bird to catch up with. Amazing how dark it looked with the head and breast merging into the underwing covs and mottled belly. When seen sat it was striking how big the shoulders and head looked compared to Common Buzzard, a right monster of a bird.

After the rough leg which was nice cos we could watch it from the car Jim made us get out and walk round a big wood where you apparently get some birds. We didn't, and it was freezing, more freezing than I've ever been even with 3 pairs of good gloves on my hands were cold after about 5 seconds. It was also the quietest wood I've ever been in, it took ages to find the first bird, a Marsh Tit I think, I can't be sure cos my eyes had frozen and I couldn't see! We also saw Crested Tit and Short toed Tree but none of them showed very well they were all moving around a lot frantically looking for grub. It was below minus 5 with a wind chill that must have been minus 25.

Right then here's the good stuff.......

Nice 2nd cal Caspian

And a few of a smart Mich.

The tip here is fantastic the rubbish is all dumped on a concrete area surrounded by walls. The Gulls just sit on the walls waiting for the trucks to move off then it's chaos. There is a bank adjacent to this tipping area you can stand on, the views are incredible as the birds are only 20-30 metres away. If it hadn't been so cold my hands would have been a bit steadier and I might have got more sharp pics. Although on the other hand it might have been the 8% grog the night before!! No on second thoughts it was the cold, Jim bottled out and went to sit in the car for the last hour pretending to be tired, think he lived down south for too long.

In the evening Remke cooked us a traditional dutch dish of malaysian curried rice or something! Which was really good and we went to a pub quiz, which was in Dutch! despite the obvious handicaps of Jim, who's been learning Dutch for about 18 months, and me, who doesn't speak a word of it, we came second by one point!!!