Friday, 28 October 2011

I have been asked to point out that one of the Rubythroat pics I posted the other day may have been taken by Mr Micky Maher, top naturalist, all round nice guy and proud owner of a ticket to see the Stone Roses.  But then again it may not have been taken by him cos he hasn't yet produced any evidence!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Lens and converter for sale

Hello folks, I've decided to get rid of my camera lens.  Since the demise of the camera body I haven't missed using it and have realised how much it was taking over my birding.

So if you or anyone you know is in the market for a new lens let me know.  It's a Canon 300 f4.0 L IS USM and has a 1.4x extender with it.  It still retains autofocus when using the extender.  They are both boxed and have cases.  They are both approx 29 months old and in very good condition.  I'm looking for around £850 for them.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Sorry about the goose shit!

Right in an effort to say sorry to several regular readers who were very offended by the goose stuff here's something a bit more topical.

A blatant way to show off some stunning birds from China!  Not all the pics are mine, Thanks to Gav, Gristi, Adam and The F.

Just like Foula!

Amazingly none of us got a good shot of a fem

so had to make do with these!

It does have a rufous tail, honest

Typically skulking

Dross female

more dross!

Oh hang on!!!!


And some more

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

If you're totally fed up with reading about mega sibe chats and how spawny some people are to find them/receive early news about them/eat them (if cats count) then you've come to the right place I promise you you'll be back to the Punkbirder website before you've got to the end of the second paragraph of this shite!!!

Many people are getting themselves in a bit of a twist over the Red breasted Goose at Scaling dam, look (Lawts) it's fuckin dodgy innit.  The only reason the birders up there are giving it a second look is they've had fuck all else all autumn. do yourselves a favour and don't waste the petrol money.

What you should probably do though is go to Hornsea and look at a goose with (probably) much better credentials for being wild. First indulge me while I give you a bit of background.

For a long time now 15+ years in fact there has been a flock of Barnacles at Hornsea in the winter usually numbering between 100 and 200 birds.  They were always thought to be feral birds that come from Flamingoland, in recent years some have suggested they come from Whitton Sands.  Wherever they come from they turn up at the right time of year and aren't too tardy about fucking off either.  They always remain separate from the feral Greylags and Canada's on site and are wary and flush very easily, I know this because I've been trying to photograph them.

Anyone still here or has Punkbirder crashed under the weight of hits?  Just in case Lawts is still reading I'll continue.  In recent years a few people have been questioning the supposition that they were feral and a couple of winters ago Roy Lyon saw a bird with a colour ring.  His pics and views were insufficient to read the number on it but it intrigued Mark Robinson enough that he spent time trying to record it, bingo when the number was sent off to the BTO it came back with the news it had been ringed as a nestling in Spitzbergen.

So that means at least some of the birds at Hornsea in the winter are tickable.  The normal migration route for these spitzbergen birds is to come down the east coast to Northumberland and hang a right to the Solway but every year some overshoot and records come from many sites on the Yorks coast.  It appears some of them are staying to winter.

Right that's the history of Barnacles covered.  Now we know some of the Hornsea birds are genuine it's not too far fetched to realise they could carry other stuff with them, like vagrant Canada Geese.  And it appears they may have done just that, in fact they might have been doing that for the last 2 winters as well but it's just not been deemed worthy news by those that have seen it, understandably really it's a goose afterall.

Now I have to confess that until a week ago I knew fuck all about vagrant Canada Geese except that I once found a minima type at the Swan feeding point at Fairburn and it was the same size as a Mallard!!!  One week down the line I still know very little, in fact if you read Chris Batty's article in Birding world from 2001 and Martin Garners book of revelations then you'll know as much as I do.  Actually that's not quite true you'll know as much about Canada Geese though.

The Bird at Hornsea would going on Chris' 2001 article be a parvipes but for the dark line running under the chin and which should make it a taverni but the bill seems too long.  But nealry ten years on is this arrangement still valid?  Martin would suggest otherwise if I'm reading his article correctly.  It seems now that there are many more races than was considered ten years ago and many of the British records which seem not quite right for one race or another more easily fit into some of these new races.  The trouble is it's all a work in progress and I certainly don't have any answers yet.

All I know is the Hornsea bird appears to be a small Canada,Martin would label it an intermediate bird in his simplified 3 types. I have only seen it with the Barnacles but called it a small race bird on structure in flight when it's short neck is very apparent.  On the deck it's a bit more subtle with a long body making it look substantially bigger than the accompanying Barnacles but it's neck still looks short.  Funnily enough the pics perhaps make it seem larger than in the field when it's often overlooked on a first scan of the flock whilst feeding  Last winter during the cold snap a few feral Canada's where in the same field as the Barnacles and a couple of the other lads made a size comparison when they described it as fuckin tiny, elaborating further when pushed they said the normal Canada's dwarfed it.  In the pics it does look a little on the large side so the spectre of it being a hybrid between a normal feral Canada and one of the small races can't be ruled out but I'll bet with more research it fits one of the new races quite nicely.

I'll be trying to get better pics in the next few days when the wind drops, these are all with my mobile.  When I get some I'll be sending them to people who know more than me for comment.   In the meantime it's make your mind up time if you want to travel for it.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Twenty years ago I missed the Mugimaki Fly at Stone Creek, I've looked at the wood many times since and felt gutted, my only saviour was the fact the BOU dumped it into cat D.  Seems my luck just ran out, with one caught in Italy the other day surely now the BOU have to look again at the record and upgrade it the same as they had to do when the Brown Fly turned up at Flamborough.  Despite being one of the few of the top ten in Yorkshire who missed it I really think it should be on the list.

C'mon BOU surely now's the time to do the decent thing!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


I'm getting a bit fed up with this.  In the last month I've refound the SemiP on the Humber at Pat Haven, got shit pics and got nobody else onto it.  Found the Pechora on Foula with Frenchy and only saw it in flight and got no pics (it was seen on the deck by another birder tho).  Found the Arctic Warbler which fucked off after 15 minutes, and only 3 of us saw it (Bill did get some good pics tho)  And now this!!

What's this?  It's a fecking septic Goldie on the Wolds nr Driffield.  I saw the bird ok, the wind was a bit of a pain but it showed well enough but it too fucked off before anyone else could get to see it, I also got more shit pics!!  really shit with my phone cos I'd left the camera in the car by accident.

I've been back today but although I saw 350 Goldies the views were shit and it was even windier, so it could still be there, we'll have to's not in this first pic, it's just to show the views I was getting today with the birds all hunkering down out of the wind.

Views like these aren't helpful!

Told you they were shit!  You can see the size and colour tho.

Size difficult on this but looks dainty and long winged, 
I think!!!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Shetland 2011

Did some work from dawn this morning on the Wolds and was in two minds were to go afterwards, Pallid Swift a Flamborough seemed tempting, always educational, Spurn was always on the cards as it's ages since I've been and it has to get something soon!  And then there was the Solitary Sand in Lancs, a British tick.  In the end I ended up having a kip and sorting my pics from Shetland, birding is better in the week anyway cos most of the nobbers are at work!

So here's how Shetland went:

I only had a week on Foula this year and had cautioned myself into not getting too disappointed if it didn't produce, after all we were quite early this year and the last couple of years we've had long spells with no rare birds, in fact the first year we had long spells of no birds at all!

We all met up on the Ferry in Aberdeen on the Thurs evening and old timers Frenchy and myself regaled Shetland (autumn) virgins Aspin and Grist with tales of rarity finding exploits.  Actually that's not true we showed them some pics and told them to get ready for a week of fuck all and near mental breakdown, well it's best to not get their hopes up!

When we arrived in Shetland I dropped the virgins at Seafield while Frenchy and I went to Tesco for meat and milk etc and took it to the airport at Tingwall.  Frenchy was on the morning flight whilst the rest uof us were going over on the 4pm one.  We were quite nervous as we knew the frenchman would be going all out to find something before we got in.

When I met up with the others we set off south for our first target, Pallid Harrier.  We saw it but it doesn't look much like one!  It had suffered an attack by Fulmar by the look of things and was covered in oil making it incredibly dark, it showed no pale collar between the face and the boa and was generally just black above with rufous covs and underparts.  It also had a strange whitish spot on the crown which made it look like a cross between a Marsh Harrier and a Pallid, strange looking bird.

 Bit of a mess and not too educational!

We had a walk up the burd and irises at Quendale but found nowt but the other way to the coast had a single Yellow browed, nice scored our first scarce of the trip.  Fair Isle was showing welll too in the cracking weather.

Is this the best island in Britain?

I then showed the lads some of my favourite sites including Geosetter from where the Foul Isle was visible.  Looks impressive doesn't it?

Many would argue that this is....

When we arrived on Foula Frenchy had already done the biz and found a Buff breast which Gristi was overjoyed about cos I think it was one of his targets.  But most intriguing was a bird Geoff Atherton had found a couple of days earlier, a yellow legged stint, we couldn't really do much with it on the camera monitor so Geoff said he would come up to Ristie that evening to get them on the computer. 

Our home for the next week

Once we got the images downloaded it took us about 2 seconds to realise it was a cracking Least Sand, and second for Shetland.  The Shetland boys would definitely be chartering in for that so we got the news out.  Next day Frenchy refound it feeding in rock pools at the south ness and we all got good views.  But the boat or planes couldn't come in 'til Monday.

Saturday was otherwise good steady birding, I didn't see anything else rare but plenty of scarce migrants including a Rosefinch from the window of the digs.  Bill tried to claim an new Buff breast but maybe it was just one mobile bird, who knows it should have been a second with the number around but we never saw two together.

Sunday the wind swung round to the north east, a direction I'd never experienced on Foula, and it felt rare!

 Monster wind direction!

Sure enough the wind produced and within a couple of hours Frenchy and I had scored big with a Pechora. GET FUCKIN IN!!! Back of the net, a bird that was very high on my wanted list for finding.  Shame it din't land!  we only saw it in flight calling but having seen them in China and on Shetland previously we were confident.  A bit later on I scored again jamming in on this highly mobile Arctic Warbler that had obviously just arrived.  It was on view for 15 minutes then just vanished never to be seen again!

Thanks to Aspin for these pics

It was generally more of the same for the next couple of days with the numbers reducing day by day.   The twitchers finally got in for the Least on the Monday and all went home happy, it's the first in Shetland since about 1955 so a tick for everyone. 

We had an influx of observers when Ken Shaw arrived to stay in Ristie with us, actually it was us crashing his booking so maybe we arrived early to stay with him!  A couple of days later Kev Shepherd and Paul and Neil Wright arrived for the annual couple of weeks and then Andrew Grieve turned up.  Kevin scored with A buff bellied Pipit his second in 3 years which caused a bit of a stir especially for Ken who needed it for Scotland.  I didn't bother going to look for it as it was giving people the run around and I'd seen the last one.  Bill has some cracking shots of it which he'll no doubt have pics on his blog in due course 

The birding slowed down a little so I took the opportunity to play with the camera getting some nice scenery shots and playing with a couple of filters I've invested in to get different effects.

I'm really pleased with this rainbow the sky was incredible!

And these two with a slow shutter to blur the water came out nice too

Most of the team on the last morning, Gristi had already fecked off

So here's one of the lone wolf!!

Had another bash at the Least on the final afternoon, here's Frenchy doing the same

Paul Wright called us all up on the radio for a Crake he'd found in the Hametoun burn so we set about trying to nail it, actually we just set about it bastard thing couldn't have been in a worse place.  We failed miserably to id it but it was obviously a Spotted/Sora, niggling doubt cos of all the Yanks about made us worried we'd let a big one go but the lads nailed it the next day and it was just a Spotted.  It was touch and go if we'd get off due to low cloud but it cleared just in time.  Mixed feelings all round really Bill wanted to stay, the lone wolf had to be off to get back to work and I wanted a curry!

Taking a break form Crake bashing

The next day we toured south mainland and found 8 Yellow broweds and a Barred Warbler, Gristi went home followed by Bill and I the next day, but not before we'd seen this cracking Lesser Grey.