Tuesday, 17 October 2017

How green is your Warbler?

Another slow morning at PG. No justice!

We then headed to Sennen to try for the Short-toed Lark. We soon connected...it was nice to see something.

As we were about to leave an "interesting" message appeared...

Dorset probable Two-barred Greenish Warbler St Aldhelm's Head in quarry

I did get a bit excited and subsequently confused... with good reason I feel. I had to leave Trevor as he saw the Filey bird in 2006. I thanked him for his excellent company and sped off down the road towards Penzance.
Then I pulled over.

Was it a species?

I rang RBA and Chris Batty had a quick look and confirmed it was on the IOC list which kicks in next year. Trevor also rang to back this up.

Followers will know I'm keen BUT I had a few nagging doubts...

Distance, traffic, confirmation etc etc.

It was 1.20 now and good old Google maps informed me my ETA would be...5.30? South Dorset on a weekday is NOT an easy place to access. I continued. I still wasn't happy though. This whole complex is less than thrilling to me.

At the risk of sounding hypocritical (keying in the Cackling Goose) I guess it's a personal decision as to whether you consider a legitimate tick...worthy. I've had this debate on more than one occasion...you've heard it all before!!

Don't tell anyone but I'm not 100% sure I didn't see the Filey bird. I'll have to check my log book when I get back home. I don't know...one minute a bird's a race, then it's a species...and vice versa!

Please let's have a bone fide American Warbler before the month is out...


Monday, 16 October 2017

Wind of change?

Change from nothing to something..BIG!

Another slooooow day checking out Porthgwarra and Cot Valley. Still we're having a go. Plenty of Saharan dust about, hopefully followed by some avian delights. A Short-toed Lark and a juv Purple Heron appeared this afternoon.

There were more Birders around today and I'm guessing there'll be quite a few tomorrow...working on the "after the storm" theory.

Let's hope we're rewarded for our efforts....

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Look what the wind's blown in?

Ophelia hits tomorrow!

However, it will no longer be a Hurricane or even a tropical storm for that matter. Just an area of low pressure...allegedly!? Moving North has to give a cooling effect which must lessen it's power. The origins of the system could have been better...  but you never know.

Still, any strong winds at this time of year give optimism in twitching circles. I've decided to stay till Wednesday...at the moment at least. Things can and often do change of course!

Today was spent with Trevor again at Porthgwarra and Nanquidno. Very quiet indeed but we did get good views of Firecrest, which makes any day brighter.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Exploring the Cornish Valleys

We started in Porthcurno Valley at St Levan's Church...

the scene of one of my major dips...


The bird decided to visit Scilly without telling me... after I'd changed my flight time!!!

We had a nice stroll around...but IT wasn't here.

I then drove down to Porthgwarra. More bad memories.


I should have got this bird but waited for news at Exeter as I had to drive to Scotland for MOURNING DOVE...(which I got). Fatal!!!


Marooned on Scilly...were it should've been!

All mentioned before BUT good to exorcise the demons.

Then I remembered I had to check in with the boss... always a good move. I knew Trevor Charlton was down here but didn't want to cramp his style due to my mobility issues. Anyway, as I was parked at the side of the road he pulled up in front of me!

He'd also been at PG.

We had a chat and then headed to Nanquidno Valley. What a superb spot! This valley was home to the VARIED THRUSH of November 1982.

Day 2 will begin back at PG with Trevor...


Couldn't wait for Easterlies any longer.

A mini-break in Cornwall. A gamble, as always. A change is as good as a rest!

Maybe the peninsula will be lucky for me this year...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Far and Near

I finally decided to "put to bed" an overdue British tick yesterday...or at least try to. News of a CACKLING GOOSE loitering around Budle Bay, Northumberland tempted me to try. It's complicated...at least to me! More here.

So, accepted onto the British list last year and a bird available with excellent credentials just up the road....well OK, maybe a tad further. Far better than trying to see one on an off-shore Scottish island though.

My departure from Holderness was delayed an hour due to yours truly getting his Doctors appointment time wrong! Louise picked me up and we headed north. After a nice Pub lunch in her neck of the woods (Teeside) we continued through the Tyne tunnel. The forecast was for a bright afternoon with the rain clearing east...it didn't!

As we arrived at the south end of the bay and parked in the lay-by it was still raining. There were a few hardy souls present. After around 20 minutes it stopped, so I got out and set up my 'scope. It was then that I realised the enormity of the task ahead. There on the north bank, way off, were countless Barnacle Geese...c5000! A splendid sight BUT trying to pick out a "runt" Canada Goose amongst them wasn't gong to be easy. A challenge though!

I got talking to one of the locals from Morpeth. A nice chap who filled me in on the local bird movements. He told me the numbers of Barnacles present were exceptional and they would soon head for the Solway. Hopefully not in the next few hours. As I scanned the flock groups were continually flying low west and landing behind a dyke...out of sight. It was now 4pm.

Heavy showers continued but I was kitted up and continued to scan with a couple of other stalwarts. Checking the birds on the deck while trying to go through the birds flying low...not easy!

Then lo and behold I found it! Distant BUT conclusive. It then flew west with around a dozen Barnies and landed behind the dyke. Bingo! A less than inspiring species but an excellent tick in the circumstances. I was starting to wonder if a second visit would be needed. I didn't share that thought with Louise.

I selected to try and add this species at this time for reasons already stated. As good as any for me. A prime location and time and associating with wild Barnacle Geese. My committee of one will add this to my list!


Closer to home "my" Bullfinches were present again this morning. It looks like our hopes of Christmas berries have been dashed. Not to worry as the pleasure they are giving far outweighs the loss...

Without doubt the best birds I've seen in my yard since we moved here...granted that's not saying much lol!...

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Garden tick!

A bleary eyed look out of the back door at dawn revealed a movement or two in the Pyracanthas! Not the Blackbirds decimating my berries already?


The two of them gorged themselves for a good ten minutes before shooting of low through the undergrowth. A wonderful sight to start the day...no travelling to boot...

Grandad duty today, so no birdy news...

Monday, 9 October 2017

Local Raptors

Another "one dayer" then. Cruel for those that travelled...and expensive...but that's how it goes. The Charter boys got away with it. More expensive BUT far quicker and much less wasted time if the bird has departed. Choices eh! It's a long drive to Aberdeen/North Coast!!

I became aware of the SBR from a brief Whatsapp message from Trev...F***! It conveyed the situation perfectly. He had a work commitment and I...well, you know the score. A truly superb bird BUT as said last night...not a good track record for lingering and an extreme skulker to boot.

Many online extolling the virtues of this dapper bird in it's naval uniform. Reminds me of another dream bird I'd love to see in Britain which just tops it for me...

Image result for black throated blue warbler images

Had a record local count today. When I first started Birding in 1986 I had to travel to the far west of the County to see this bird. Nowadays they're no doubt breeding locally. As I got out of the car mid-afternoon I heard a familiar call. I looked up and saw 4 Buzzards circling above the lane. I managed to catch 3 of them...

A fine sight indeed.

Earlier I'd bumped into Richard Willison and Karl Dutton at Sammy's. Great to see them both. I was going to try for the Great Grey Shrike (a favourite) but Birders returning said it hadn't been seen for hours, so I declined.

At dusk I took Bud out down Snakey. Well blow me down I thought, as there were FIVE Buzzards feeding in the fine plough!!! A definite record count.

A couple of gloomy pics...

Sunday, 8 October 2017


MEGA Orkney SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN male North Ronaldsay trapped and ringed

A VERY special bird. The track record of "sticking" for this species is poor...but you never know.

There'll be another...maybe? When I'm fit again. All the very best to those who go...Steve Webb and Andrew Kinghorn et al.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

CLIFF SWALLOW - faster than the pager!!!

As I was hobbling down Withernsea high street this morning with the tripe, for Bud I hasten to add, I got a call. It was a very excited (with good reason) Trevor Charlton. "Al, I've just seen a CLIFF SWALLOW at Porthgwarra!!!" He'd actually phoned me before the MEGA alert had sounded! Now that IS impressive. I didn't even know he'd gone down to Cornwall? He had asked me if I fancied it earlier in the week. I had to decline unfortunately...for a number of reasons.

He's just sent me some BOC record shots...

courtesy of Trevor Charlton

courtesy of Trevor Charlton

It was clear from his messages that he did brilliantly to get any sort of image in the conditions. What a moment!!! Must be odds on the Scilly bird for me. Where next?

Friday, 6 October 2017

Slav Grebe

Had a stretch down to Beacon Ponds this morning to pay homage to the dapper Slavonian Grebe (P.136, S.84). Brings back memories of the one I found on Kilnsea Wetlands a couple of years ago.

The bird fed constantly but with patience (my strong point?) I managed a decent record shot. Sneaked a GSW (S.85) onto the Spurn year list, with a fly over, while looking for a Spot Fly (which  didn't see) at the Gas Terminal.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Decent Day

Had a retry for the Turtle Dove at Easington this morning. Plenty of Collared but alas no sign of the TD. It was reported first thing. I left the RBS alone...

one from yesterday
News came through of a Snow Bunting on the beach. Now then... wonder if one/some have arrived back at "the sewage"? None found BUT I did manage a couple of year ticks in the form of Whinchat (P.136, H.90)...


My mate then (inadvertently of course) flushed a Snipe (H.91). Also present was a dapper Wheatear..
...and a male Stonechat that quickly disappeared. A couple of late Swallows drifted by. A decent tally.
Head down in the afternoon for some serious housework! Only fair with the boss earning the pennies at the moment.  took some stuff that was surplus to requirements to the dump. On the way back, checking the comings and goings I noticed an unfamiliar sight coming towards me from INLAND. The bird was large and flying direct. A long neck confirmed a (juv) Gannet! A nice surprise.
Continuing Westerlies for the foreseeable future. More to come from the US of A?

Wednesday, 4 October 2017


Having finally joined the modern world with a "smartphone" I've noticed certain issues regarding the colour display on my blog. There is an option to view the web version at the bottom..or not at all! lol!!


As I sit here in my car, sheltering from the strong Westerly wind,  hoping for passing Geese/Swans. I'm getting a strong urge to head SW.

Wish I was on SCILLY!!!

Alas, not to be at the moment. Circumstances preclude this course of action. I guess many on Shetland are getting restless. I've been there, many times. Not Shetland I add...just...

Wrong place...right time!!!

It's the "game" we play. It could all change in an instant, of course. Sometimes you win... sometimes you loose. I've personally lost a lot more than I've won placing myself strategically. It's NOT a great feeling.

When/if we reach retirement I know where we'll be heading when the wind blows out of the West.

I'll be the Fortunate Isles... every time.

CEDAR WAXWING and CLIFF SWALLOW (plus Isabelline Wheatear) still present.

Enjoy chaps...

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Wind of change

Well things are definitely hotting up! A good day on Scilly today...


...following on from the...

RED-EYED VIREO (always a MEGA in my book!)

With recent records of...


plus a...

SCARLET TANAGER in Ireland this afternoon I guess the weather chart lived up to its promise!

Unfortunately the outlook for later in the week doesn't look as promising with colder air from the North arriving...

Again though...anything can and usually does happen...in...


Rosy Pastor

Better views this morning...

Monday, 2 October 2017

A good day

A tad breezy today which obviously affected the Birding. A lot of scanning from the car was undertaken. A combination of inclement weather and continued recuperation. I wasn't hopeful with strong westerlies.

...and then...

I know, I know, BOC but a better view than I can manage by conventional means. Any, I'm not a photographer and I quite like it!

I'm so used to seeing "just" Kestrels floating over the cliff. The wind projected the bird at lightening speed and it was only in view for around a minute. I was pleased to get sort of image, so chuffed with this...even though I say so myself! Far more importantly is the record itself. Only my second for the Village following on from a May 23rd sighting earlier this year.

After lunch with the boss I took a (mercifully) fast recovering dog down to Easington for some exercise...and maybe a peep at the juv Rose-coloured Starling. Unbelievably as I got out of the car another/the same? Hobby!! More buses. I thought it landed in the tree opposite but I couldn't re-locate it. I DID re-locate the RCS though (P.133, S.81). It popped up in the top of a bush by the bungalows briefly on a couple of occasions and that was that. It was nice to see a few familiar faces, namely Steve Webb, Dave Tucker and Ian Smith.

Having seen the Red-backed Shrike yesterday...no idea what happened to the pic? Anyway...here it is...

...I decided to try for the 2 Flycatchers in the Crown and Anchor car park. Not much cover down there as the wind howled off the Humber. I positioned myself behind a bush and waited. A couple n a van were just leaving having seen them both recently which gave hope. Turns out they're renting the cottage next to mine for the week! I was joined by a nice young lad Andrew from Herts who was staying at the Obs. He told me he'd walked to the point!! Brave lad. It took around 30 mins but we eventually had great views of the Pied (P.134, S.82)...

...and a brief but clear view of the Red-breasted (P.135, S.83).

I did make a feeble attempt for the Shrike on my way home but it wasn't playing...

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Promising wind?

Who knows, I don't but then again NOBODY does!

Cheeky visit

Made a couple of trips down the road today. On the way I was treated to a decent view of one of the newly established local Buzzards in the early morning light...

Plenty of Birders around Easington, hardly surprising for an October Sunday. A kind chap pointed out a local rarity resting with a large flock of Collared Doves. I can confidently say I wouldn't have found it...

Turtle Dove (P.132, S.80))
The weather was poor with heavy cloud and constant drizzle but it was a memorable sighting of this heavily persecuted species. Could have been a better view!

A young Red-backed Shrike was also in the area but with the football sized crowds (non-league) and
continued grim conditions I returned home.

Mid-afternoon encouraged by the improving weather I returned to the "shrike site". It was brighter now but hardly "nice". There were only two people present as I got out of the car.

The bird performed well but was very active. This was the best I could manage through the gloom...

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Like Buses

LARGE numbers of Wood Pigeons early am towards Out Newton...c5000. Definitely notable! A couple of Buzzards loitered all morning.

I'm still dog sitting and there's been a slight improvement...thankfully. American birds are appearing...another VIREO (red-eyed) on Scilly and a superb UPLAND SANDPIPER on Fetlar, Shetland. To go with the RBG of course.

As I returned to the Cottage mid-afternoon I noticed a large flock of finches makng their way along the lane...I wonder? A quick scan with the bins and there on the wire for a brief moment was my second Yellow-browed Warbler.

OCTOBER tomorrow!!!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Ticking over

SYKES WARBLER reported late last night, present near John-o'groats! Fair drive that (did it once for the first twitchable PALLID HARRIER in 1995 on Orkney) and a less than scintillating species!! Still a tick though for yours truly. I WASN'T tempted.

Signed off for another 2 weeks due to continuing rib and neck issues. Frustrating! Bud still struggling BUT fighting hard.

Reflecting on my eventual Holmpton YBW, it makes it even more special to me, the more that get reported!?

Cracking ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK on my beloved Scilly (re-located 2.25). Brings back vivid memories of the 2007 bird on the same island. We were relaxing in Carreg Dhu gardens St Mary's mid-afternoon on October 23rd when the MEGA alert sounded. It's a good walk to the quay but I was faster then. We boarded the hastily arranged vessel and headed for St Agnes with a anticipating boatful. On arrival I was one of the first up the ramp, accompanied by an equally keen young lad. He turned to me and enquired "do you work out"? I replied "about 20 years ago!" It was Dan Pointon. It was also the twitch of my unfortunate incident with Richard Bonser.

Ah well...water under the bridge...

Scilly ain't what it used to be???

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Scops Owl

Louise had cancellations so I asked her if she fancied a ride out...to County Durham! She drove of course. Her neck of the woods to be fair.

A special bird. I always think back to the Dummer, Hampshire bird (86?) when I first started this wonderful pastime. Reading Richard Millington's inspirational diaries in Birdwatch magazine. I did see the Thrupp bird during the air raid of 2007 but the chance to possibly see one roosting was just to tempting. We arrived around 12, had a coffee, Louise read her novel while I made my way the short distance to the site.

Luckily the bird was in view in a thankfully relatively "safe" position...if you get my drift!

Can you see it?

My pics...

and shut
Must check the Holmpton bushes more thoroughly. Quite a find!!!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Having a go

As promised I put some time in today in the Village. I'm still restricted due to (hopefully) obvious reasons but with a bit of planning and a comfy V70 seat I managed to check out a fair few spots.

Started out on the cliff, full of enthusiasm...as usual! Nothing seen...as usual!! I tell a lie, there was a noticeable tit flock consisting of at least 20 Blue, c5 Great and c12 LT. Eight Wigeon over Taylor Lane plus a couple of GSW over the cliff was also noteworthy.

My lad isn't so good at the moment...that's the dog! He's nibbled his side and swallowed whatever it was that was bothering him...as dogs do. Now he's got the Eartha Kitts. He's suffering the poor lad, quite worried to be honest.

I then spent some time on the bench on Seaside lane, I love sitting here, even if I don't see much/anything. News was filtering through from down the road (as it always does). I was seriously tempted by the adult Red-breasted Flycatcher but I remained faithful. On reflection I should have gone.

11.50 MEGA E.Yorks TAIGA FLYCATCHER 1w Flamborough Head trapped and ringed at Holmes Gut and will be released at 11.55am (not Red-breasted Fly).

Just before the slow drip started I spotted a small bird flitting through the trees. AT LAST...my first Yellow-browed Warbler (H.155). A great...if long overdue...moment! They DO occur here! lol. Whilst trying to relocate it...the above happened. Back to the house...pronto! I missed the Flamborough bird in 2003 due to a family holiday. After popping a few painkillers I started for Flamborough. I'd not left the Village when...

11.56 E.Yorks reported Taiga Flycatcher trapped and ringed at Holmes Gut is a Pied Flycatcher

Oh Dear!!! Rather disappointing to say the least. Obviously no idea what occurred but...

After lunch tried a few likely looking Shrike spots (a few Red-backs reported today). No luck. I then spent some time on School lane plus the road to the Farm...nothing.

There you go. I'll have another go tomorrow. Docs in the afternoon. Still getting "jip" from ribs and neck. Time will tell.

Monday, 25 September 2017


Yes...it's the old "High pressure over Scandinavia" time of year. If I don't find something locally in the next few days...I give up...well maybe?!

Surface pressure chart - Forecast T+36 - Issued at: 01:00 on Mon 25 Sep 2017

Saturday, 23 September 2017

To tick or not to tick...that is the question?

Loads of "fun" going on in Norfolk recently at Holkham Hall Estate. A PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER was seen much more off and on. A difficult bird to see to say the least. BAD personal memories of my Spurn dip. At least I would have had a decent view in the hand...IF I'd have made it.

However, seeing one "in the field" is an entirely different matter. Identifying one "IN FLIGHT" is frankly...astounding!!! A myriad of reports online paints a disappointing but definitely NOT surprising picture. Trespassing, fences cut etc etc. As with any group of people, you have the responsible...and the irresponsible...not forgetting the hypocritical! Future access here could be a real problem.

Some will have ticked "something" in flight? A Birders list is a personal thing, obviously. The need to add a rare species as elusive as this one is extra strong. Individual honesty is needed but cannot be measured. Examples like this make tables/leagues shaky to say the least. Best not to take things TOO seriously.

I have this simple rule...if I can't identify it, I won't tick it. Seems fair to me.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Near and Far

Think I've used that heading before...probably one or two more as well by now!

I've put quite a few hours in over the last couple of days. Mainly plonking myself somewhere and ...waiting. Still a bit sore in a few places.

If you watch sycamores for long enough something usually appears. I managed a couple of Goldcrests (Firecrest one day) and a Willow Warbler at Old Hive. I also noticed a large chunk of cliff had slipped by the farm. Note to self: Don't park too near the edge!!

The highlight this morning was 2 Mediterranean Gulls (H.88, P.130) on the beach. An expected species and no rush but glad to add it today.

Then more beeping from the pocket...
11.05 MEGA Shetland YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING Out Skerries
12.06 MEGA Shetland SIBERIAN THRUSH Unst at Baltasound at Ordaal

I confess to having to check the first although I knew I'd seen one in Yorks many moons ago...Filey 18/9/1994. It was a while ago! No such problem with the latter though!!! Enquiries were made. Due to current circumstances I can't say too much but lets just say things didn't work out. I know...boring but necessary. Another major factor being the diabolical forecast for Unst tomorrow. The 14th record for Britain, only three have stayed more than a day. The 1999 Scilly bird was the year before I started my annual pilgrimage BUT was far too early for my half-term teachers week (5th- 8th). 2 Norfolk records give a slither of hope.

Probably be showing well tomorrow lol! Maybe I can talk Louise into a fortnight in our retirement? I doubt it though. The bleak Northern Isles wouldn't be her cup of tea...alas. I'll work on it...

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Spent 3 hours around the cliff this morning. Best I could manage was a Goldcrest! Oh, and a GSW on a telegraph pole. More Dunnocks and Robins about. A wonderful fresh, crisp, autumnal morning though.

As my late Father-in-law used to say...

"If you don't expect anything, you won't be disappointed".


Monday, 18 September 2017

Taking stock

A calmer day today. Great birds still arriving though.


...plus a strong supporting cast.

Fortunately I don't "need" any of them so I can convalesce relatively stress free? The BBC was a tick for most until the North Uist bird. Funny how a species can be demoted. Still a fabulous bird though.

The PG Tips has bitter memories of my Spurn dip. I'll have to be quicker to the mist net! Maybe a Lancy next time!? The ups and downs of Twitching. We're now approaching the meaty period of the year rarity wise, although it's been excellent already. The next few weeks will no doubt produce some serious adrenaline rushes. Hope I can cope with the excitement...

I'll be out locally from first light and I'll be lowering my sights somewhat...but then again...you never know in this game?

Sunday, 17 September 2017


Seven days is a long time in Birding. I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of this wonderful hobby, although it can be hard going around the Village on occasions...I still enjoy the challenge.

When something "special" turns up in Britain, I'm always interested...just depends what it is. Fortunately I can say...No! On this occasion it was a "must"...if possible.

As can be seen from my 2 previous posts, things (as usual) turned topsy-turvy. After sorting out a charter on Friday night I arrived at Manchester City Airport, Barton around 8.15am Saturday morning. It was raining...no surprise there! Around 9 the three of us joined the pilot and preparations were made.

I have to state at this point that details of what happened next are best kept confidential...for obvious reasons.

Suffice to say that the plane got into difficulties and we ended up in a field adjacent to the M62. I sustained injuries sufficient for me to be airlifted to Salford Hospital. I was treated brilliantly by the para-medics in the helicopter, the Police, Firemen and the Hospital staff. My family joined me and I eventually left around 4pm, somewhat stunned!

Quite a spectacular way to dip I feel!!! It could have been worse...obviously.

Time will tell what caused the plane to crash. Think it's best left there.


I recuperated locally at my Mother's in Bury, leaving for home on Tuesday lunchtime. The bird was a distant memory and wasn't on my mind, partly due to the medication I guess! I had to report to Withernsea hospital to get my head wound checked. The nurse was happy with it.

I'd received a few messages from Steve Lawton and Tony Dixon regarding the AMERICAN REDSTART. There was an early Ferry from Oban on Wednesday morning...tempting! Louise arrived home at 7pm and I gave her that look. The absence of Buddy was another clue! After raised eyebrows she gave me the nod.

Tony kindly drove. Erich Hediger was with us and we picked Steve up at Wetherby. I settled in the passenger seat with my painkillers. Things were going well and we were making excellent progress as we approached Scotland on the M6. Red lights ahead!? Accident. It was around 2am. We didn't move an inch in the ninety minutes or so. The mood was grim as we started to realise we weren't going to get to Oban by 6.35. We found some info online giving a forecast of a road clearance by 4.30. Too late!

One of the many fascinations of twitching!

Fortunately the prediction was wrong and we started to roll around 3.45. We had hope. It was going to be close but it would be preferable to make it as it would allow us a relaxed afternoon with the bird...if it was still there of course? Twists and turns. We did have the option of the later Ferry at 1.15 but that would have left us much less time to connect on the day. We would have known if it was present before disembarking though. Complicated this twitching game!

We arrived in the Ferry queue at 6.45am. A touch of hurried paperwork and we were on board. Phew! The irony now was that we were committed to an 8 hour sail not knowing if we would connect. The morning progressed on a fortunately steady sea. 8 - 9 - 10 - 11...no news. Glum faces at the prospect of another 4 hour sail, turn the car around and come back again!!!

Way out of Pager range but the ship had wi-fi. I have the RBA app but no details as I haven't upgraded.  Around 11.40 I casually looked at the headlines...again.


RFI, Negative or Positive? It soon became clear the bird was still there...Huzzah! The rest of the journey was plain sailing.

Fully aware that we still hadn't actually seen the bird, the mood was now positive. We disembarked and drove the 10 miles to Eoligarry in a convoy of 4 vehicles past a number of bemused locals. Again, fortunately for me we could park right by the church. We sorted our gear out and walked the short distance to the stunted sycamores.

No big crowds here!
After a frustrating 30 minutes of brief glimpses the star turn eventually showed well...on occasions. Plenty of pics of this superb bird about now. For the record...

Add caption

A few more thoughts...

Charter or ground travel? I've done two previous charters for the CAPE MAY WARBLER and the BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. No regrets. Things didn't work out last Saturday but NOBODY could have predicted that! The logistics for me personally on this occasion, would have made the cost worthwhile. This was backed up by the sweaty morning on the Ferry...character building though. I also know a lot of chaps don't have the time to go overland/sea. It's a personal choice.

Someone was looking after me on Saturday September 9th.

What it was all about...

Another top American bird is added to my list...Happy Days!

Monday, 11 September 2017


Just a brief post for now from my mother's house in Bury as I recover from my bad luck event.

My Charter plane crashed shortly after take-off on Saturday morning at Manchester City airport.

I was elated on Friday evening as I'd managed to arrange a late option to enable me to try for the bird. Things didn't work out... unfortunately.

More later...

Thursday, 7 September 2017


Barra to be precise. Love to...but can't make it.

A combination of late news, distance, pets, oh and work...that's enough excuses! I like to try extra hard for one of our American friends. Maybe it'll hang around a while...maybe it won't! I've seen plenty of males in the States but always smart to see a smart young one here. Time will tell?

1985...the last British record!!!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Back on the pitch - up the Shakers!

Had a great day with the family. Brought back many great memories...

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Passage Waders

ANY wader is noteworthy at Holmpton!

An hour down the cliff early doors had only produced a single juv Bullfinch and a chat with Richard Boon. As he drifted off through the undergrowth (I wimped out due to short attire) I heard the distinctive 7 note call of the Whimbrel (P.130, H.88). A quick scan produced three birds heading South off-shore. I thought that would be that...but then more "peeping". Now a flock of 5! They circled a couple of times and then continued South. An excellent local record.

My pal Trevor found not one but TWO GREENISH WARBLERS at Bempton!!! I must try harder...

Off to London tomorrow for a review of my hip. Then on Saturday I'll be treading the hallowed turf at Gigg Lane as I've been invited to be guest of honour at the Scunthorpe game. I'll be a nostalgic trip down memory lane! Looking forward to it and I'll be great for my wonderful Mother.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Calm before...

Still here!

There's more to life than birds you know...like...decorating! It's that time of the year when I've run out of excuses NOT to do those jobs that need doing. So, the cottage has been painted inside and out. This has given me major credit for the upcoming Autumn Birding!

Tragic happenings in the Lone Star State that you may have heard about. TWENTY FOUR inches of rain in 2 days!!! More than Manchester gets in a year! We experienced a taste of this on our last trip when we arrived in Houston to find my first targeted site (Bear Creek Park) was under eight feet of water. Needless to say I didn't connect with my Greater Pewee.

A few migrants have started to filter through Spurn. An Icterine Warbler was trapped this afternoon and a few Pied Fly's have been seen. I guess it's time I joined in (I worked Monday and today).

I'm determined to give the Village the full treatment this Autumn...time will tell?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Yellow Warbler

As I sit here recovering from my last escapade (both mentally and physically), I just wanted to record a few thoughts on twitching/chasing in general.

It was great to see so many familiar faces of all ages scattered around the site of the dearly departed bird. Yes, everyone was disappointed...obviously. A lot of effort had gone into reaching the site for many and the morning vigil from pre-dawn was a laborious one in conditions that were more suited to October.

For us it was an all-night drive from deepest East Yorks...a round trip of 686 miles. No regrets for a star like that.

The atmosphere was convivial with many conversations striking up as the morning progressed as it became more and more apparent the bird had moved on. Personally I was surprised at this. I felt it would stick around and feed up. That's the thing you see...you just never know...all part of the "fun".

As you know, I've been stung in the past by the "wait for news" strategy. The late charge hoping it will still be there is a feeling I can do with out. This is followed by the even more sickening feeling of searching for the bird (almost exclusively in vain) when it's disappeared! Yes we all dipped...but we were THERE!

As I'm now a selective twitcher I have a slightly more relaxed attitude to the outcome....or at least  think I do!?

The jewels from across the pond are a particular favourite for which I'll definitely go the extra mile...again.

Monday, 21 August 2017


 MEGA Dorset YELLOW WARBLER Portland at Culverwell at 3.35pm

I'm in the game...this time! 13 years since my aborted attempt for the Barra bird due to mountainous seas.

A Bobby Dazzler. American Warblers are tops for me.

Be there at dawn.

Update: Arrived at 6.10 with 2 Tony's and stayed till 11. It wasn't to be.

Saw many dedicated twitchers, many familiar, both young and... older than me! We deserved better but didn't get it. There'll be another... maybe sooner than I think?

Friday, 18 August 2017

Worth a Peep

News came through yesterday afternoon of a "stint" at Nosterfield showing apparent palmation!?

Possible American Wader...SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (excellent) or WESTERN SANDPIPER (MEGA...and Yorks tick).

Did I go? No. I should have though.

The bird was present till dusk. Up at 5 and breakfast at McDonald's for 6.30 after a stretch for Bud. No news online so I waited for the Pager to wake at 7 (risky). Sure enough, news came through "it" was still there.


Fair drive in the largest County (91 miles). I'd been here a few weeks ago for the Sabine's Gull, so I drove to the Village. As I approached I remembered the location of the reserve which a different spot. I pulled into the car park and sorted out my gear.

Chris a mate of Barry Bishop was just leaving. We had a brief chat then I headed for the screen. Fortunately there was room to view.

The viewing area was distant...

The bird was on the central island
Scope out and scanning. Picked up the Peep. I watched it for around 30 mins...none the wiser! I would have said... Little Stint. I know, I know...sounds smart, but there you go. I texted a few pals including Trevor and we discussed the "apparent" palmation. Real, shadow, mud etc. The distance (c100yds) made confirmation difficult. There were many snappers hard at it and I was sure someone would get something conclusive eventually (lets face it there's blanket coverage of everything these days...a double edged sword).

They did...it was a Little Stint.

Now here's the thing. Since the confirmation photo appeared...

...there's been a lot of comment on the dreaded "social media". Some supportive but alas plenty much less so. Lots of...I told you so...with more than a smattering of smugness. The bird DID appear to show palmation. There were various comments on structure, bill size etc. Very difficult.

For me...better to give the troops the heads up, as the alternative scenario is far less palatable.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Something always turns up...

Adult Rose-coloured Starling in Scarborough and Western Bonelli's Warbler in Easington. A couple of great records...for August. Very deceptive however. Tough to find these little gems...guess that's why they're scarce/rare!

A combination of work and trip planning has seen me off the pace this last week. I'm in training for the oncoming flood of "great birds" the coming Autumn will produce. I can dream. My trips for the next 12 months have been finalised...I'm not driving a bus for the good of my health!

The Autumn will be spend flogging Holmpton and surrounds. Then early November will see us leave for Texas for three weeks to escape the gloom. Christmas at home with family then hopefully my knee replacement in January. Some rehab, then it's a return to Cyprus in March for 3 weeks. Really enjoyed it last year and met some great people.

Spring Birding in Blighty then it's a change of scene. A report by Brendan Shields got me interested in a trip to the Canaries. I've chosen Fuerteventura...less people and more birds!

I'm at a stage now were I'm hoping to strike a balance between British Birding and foreign travel. The Birding gods will decide how fortunate I am. There'll be the usual ups and downs but I'll  be fun...and that's what it's all about...isn't it?

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Duff quality

Acting on a tip off from Duncan Bye I spent 6.30 till 12 listening, rather than looking for Corncrakes...

Not surprisingly no joy but marvelous to know they have graced the reserve. No secret now and a great success story with excellent cooperation with the local landowners.

Maybe next year...

I added Kingfisher and Bullfinch (2) to the year list (ND.73).

The highlight was having a good natter with Haydn. Great to see him. He arrived around 8 after a trip to Skippy and we left together.

A lone Lapwing (H.87) was a nice bonus as  passed the Holmpton sign...

Thursday, 10 August 2017


There's always someone doing a BIG YEAR in the States.

Three actually!

Stop Press: CASSIA CROSSBILL has been split by the AOS and THAYER'S GULL has been lumped with ICELAND...and Kumlien's!?

That's 2 Crossbills to go for now, as I STILL haven't seen RED CROSSBILL in the States. The only Code 1 bird I still "need".

There's a podcast here if you're having a slow day.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Ill wind

Promising Northerly wind today. Nobody told the birds though!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Alpine Swift

Needed a change of scenery so a text from Trevor at Bempton informing me an AS was floating around sent me Northward.

Unfortunately the bird hadn't realised I was coming and rudely left the scene.

Still, I had a good chat with Trev, discussing various birdy topics before returning home.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


#BBRCdecision #ZEISS :Ref No 6997.0 Accepted-Blue Rock Thrush 14-Dec-16 Stow-on-the-Wold, Glos

There you go! I agree. Just a personal opinion.

Does a bird recognise man-made structures...ala mock stone housing estates? I doubt it.

This opinion coupled with a return south coast sighting makes me comfortable adding this species to my list.

I, like many others, have their own thoughts on certain decisions, both negative and positive...BUT for comparability purposes my Bubo badge is strictly BOU.

Friday, 4 August 2017


Lazy lie in after a couple of 5am starts. I love early mornings!

Of course... snooze and you lose...

E.Yorks Cory's Shearwater N past Spurn at 8.35am

Ah well. Might as well head for the cliff for the constitutional.

E.Yorks Cory's Shearwater N past Spurn at 9.10 am

I'm here...and scanning until 10.

Wonder if the angles are against me? Any excuse...

No matter. I gave it my best shot focussing on the Canada bouy(2m) in less than optimum conditions...much spray and haze.

Just to emphasize my position on seawatching...I added Gannet (P.129, H.86) to my year list! It's a marathon...not a sprint...

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Giant bird in the Giant State

Exciting stuff in Texas as I write. A JABIRU has been found East of Houston. It was discovered on Tuesday afternoon and is the 13th record for the State. The adult Jabiru is 120–140 cm (47–55 in) long, 2.3–2.8 m (7.5–9.2 ft) across the wings, and can weigh 4.3–9 kg (9.5–19.8 lb).

Image result for jabiru


It has been elusive, mainly due to being on private land hidden by trees. However, it has on occasion soared high with the other species it's associating with...Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills and Wood Storks.

Wonder if it'll hang around until November? I doubt it!!!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Honey Buzzard!

Into August and down the cliff early doors...well, at least for me (7).

An early post with some good luck.

Yellow blobs in the bushes. At least 6 young Willow Warblers. Nice and fresh.

Then a distant raptor...dark with a pale head...juv Marsh Harrier. Dark coverts and extremely well marked head.

Then another! I had to remind myself where I was. A Buzzard...long winged and tailed with a slim protruding head. The bird was initially fairly distant to the north. It then slowly drifted out to sea before heading south mixing slow wingbeats with long glides on slightly downcurved wings. I was convinced I was looking at a Honey Buzzard (P.129, H.86).

A new species for the Village (154).

I texted John Hewitt to let him know it was heading his way... hopefully!

A major sighting and a great start to the "Autumn".

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Signs of migration

A Wood Warbler turned up in Mick Turton's garden at Easington today. A very nice find and early. Very few records annually and actually rarer than Barred Warbler!

I need to look...harder...and I will!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Patrington Haven

Had an hour with Bud on a bright and breezy morning. I timed my visit with high tide. It was a busy scene but most birds were very distant. A couple of distinctive species were Little Egret (28) and Shelduck (c1000). Impressive numbers of the common waders also, particularly Knot which were well into 4 figures.

I'll be paying regular visits over the next few months...

I'm going to try and balance Birding in the Village with a few selected sites throughout the Patch. You never know...I might even find something decent?!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Pyrenees Finale

Last one...promise!

In order not to drag things out too long, I'm going to post a series of remaining images from the trip with a few notes to explain things. I hope you enjoy them.

Back to the Golden Eagle first. I found a few more...

The closest I got to a Lammergeier was at the Col de Troumouse

Close enough!

Griffon Vulture...

Egyptian Vulture...

Having a quick look back through my posts from during the trip I see I didn't post a pic of my Rock Sparrow success. So, here's the proof...

That's it then. I've not decided if I'm going again next year yet. If I did have a summer break though this location would be high on my list. Spectacular birds and scenery plus excellent accommodation and food. Maybe you'd like to try it?

Eagle Owl