Thursday, February 21, 2019

Signs of Spring

A single Pink-foot with the ferals at the Dams - they're on the move at the moment, and the best chance of getting really close to one (above and below) is when they pit-stop here before the big push north. 

Male Common Pochard, also at the Dams - another early spring migrant here

Skylark singing on Carr Naze - lots more around suddenly over the last few days, including birds arriving in off the sea

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Low Tide Rockpooling - South Landing, 20th Feb 2019

Montagu's Sea Snail (no you're right, it is a fish, just with a stupid name)
Happy to hook up with our friends the Taylor clan over from West Yorkshire for half-term, and a quick check of the tide tables meant only one thing for this morning - rockpooling at South Landing: a low, low tide, barely anyone else around and so many beasts to uncover and enjoy.

The best - a huge Shanny that performed perfectly for us
(Note Brittlestar accessory)
An indication of size - as it tried to hide under my boot, which it was two thirds the length of... 
Common Grey Sea Slug
Sea Hare

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Goshawks, Dalby - 19th Feb 2019

A couple of hours free this morning and so a welcome run into the forests with Pearson Snr for a little raptor action. The light and conditions weren't great for photography but no matter, we had six species including a minimum six Goshawks and a Red Kite - not a bad haul at all.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Bird of the Week #8 - Prairie Warbler

American warblers in spring.... just those words are usually enough to induce misty-eyed dream sequences, and there'll likely be more featured in this ongoing series in 2019. For starters, here's the inquisitive, noisy, exquistely plumaged Prairie Warbler, a summer migrant of scrubby fields and forest edge habitats to the eastern half of the US. These photos are of a bird on territory at one of my favourite birding spots near to my in-law's homestead, way out in the sticks of Western Massachusetts - a wide, scrubby, messy 'channel' through the woods, cleared for telegraph pylons and providing great habitat and opportunities for birding.

Prairie Warblers are pretty much at the northern limit of their breeding range in Western Mass, have a beautifully simple song - for European birders, imagine a Yellowhammer on fast-forward - and are one of the more tame and nosy of the warblers breeding there.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Bird of the Week #7 - Long-tailed Duck

There are few families that rival the seaducks, and among seaducks, there's few that can rival the aesthetic splendour of a Long-tailed Duck (particularly a male in winter plumage, as shown above). They're scarce but regular here at Filey, paricularly during late autumn seawatches, and especially during and after a decent northerly blow; but they're also prone to sticking around and enjoying the shelter and feeding opportunities the northern part of the bay has to offer (like the female pictured below).

Far more numerous off more northerly UK coasts (and a common treat of our recent Scottish trip), every one deserves to be savoured locally, and while late autumn and winter are indeed by far the best times to find your own, they can appear at any time of year. Interestingly, they were formerly pretty much unheard of in summer here until I spent four consecutive seasons monitoring the bay as part of a survey contract - and if memory serves, we recorded them in each of those summers (see below).

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Bird of the Week #6 - Taiwan Nutcracker

Another from our year-long back-packing and birding honeymoon some seven plus years ago... almost 3,000 metres up in the misty highlands of Taiwan, specifically Dasyueshan National Forest, and an intimate encounter with several beautiful and entertaining Taiwan Nutcrackers (Nucifraga caryocatactes owstoni, the endemic subspecies of Eurasian / Spotted Nutcracker).

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Bird of the Week #5 - Rough-legged Buzzard

A coveted, less-than-annual autumn immigrant here, I've been lucky enough to catch up with several Rough-legged Buzzards as they've skirted the Filey coastline over the last few years, but the first time was still the best....

Back in mid-October 2014, I remember the day vividly: I'd barely been out birding all season due to family illness, and even though the conditions were hardly inspiring - moderate south-westerlies, low pressure, mild - I was just happy to be out on the patch for an hour or two. What turned out to be a killer session began with two Bewick's Swans (rarer still) arriving in off the sea, Twite and Snow Bunting on Carr Naze, a seawatch that included a pair of sparring juvenile skuas that turned out to be a Long-tailed and an Arctic, and then an interesting shape heading straight towards me, at head height, from over the waves...

The closer it came, the better it looked, and not satisfied with nonchalantly cruising past me (after a long sea crossing with a head wind), it proceeded to circle around me several times before purposefully gaining height and heading inland. Just a beautiful experience, and a perfect end to a memorable and much needed time-out with the birds.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Above Average White Egret - Filey Dams, 5th Feb 2019

I know, I know, but they're still a rare bird in the Filey area and it won't be probably won't be long before they're coming over 'ere, stealin' our fish on a semi-permenant basis, so I'm trumpeting this, er, amazing find while I still can.