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!