Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Here Hare Here


A close encounter along Old Fall hedge the other day (dedicated to Uncle Monty)....









Monday, May 22, 2017

Flamborough Temminck's


As discussed in the last couple of posts, this year has ushered in a cultural change to my birding patterns, with both new freedoms and new limitations on my time and movements. Being snowed under with various work means birding opportunities are at a premium this spring, with sessions stolen here and there whenever possible (again, no complaints - it's all bird-/wildlife-related, and it's all enjoyable); being in Flamborough three days a week, meanwhile, presents golden opportunities to bird there before and after work, and it's often easier to be close by (rather than a half hour drive away, as Filey is) when the clock is running down.


And it's been pretty productive so far. Self-finds have included Wood Warbler and Spoonbills within a stone's throw of the centre, successful local twitches have scored Siberian Stonechat and Serin, and fortunately for me I chose Thornwick pools for an early pre-work session on Saturday morning - just in time for this very smart Temminck's Stint to drop in right in front of me; and despite the regular attentions of a pair of LRPs, it persisted long enough for plenty of others to enjoy it over its two day stay.


I've been lucky with this species locally, finding the last two Filey records in 2012 & 2015 (the previous being as long ago as 2005 here), and I don't think they're a great deal more regular at Flamborough, either; and Thornwick Pools - a juicy, muddy testament to the hard work of Rich, John and others - is definitely now very much on my radar.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Guiding for Yorkshire Coast Nature

Yellowhammer, Flamborough
 
Part of the group enjoying lunch on the North Yorks moors
 
As alluded to in the last post, to say things are full-on at the moment would be a huge understatement, but it's all good stuff (and all bird/wildlife-related, so no complaints from me) - including guiding for Yorkshire Coast Nature, which is always a blast. Rich and I had the pleasure of showing the Cambridge U3A Bird Group the best our area has to offer over the course of three very enjoyable days last week, and happily the birds played ball.

Male Ring Ouzel on territory
 
Golden Plovers on the moors
 
A 17-strong group (with a 90% female majority) made for a highly entertaining three days, spent in the forests and on the moors (day one), on the coast (day two) and at freshwater wetlands (day three). It's always a thrill to show off how much we have up here in such a small area, and we were able to share everything from Goshawks, Redstarts and Crossbills in the forests, to Ring Ouzels, Golden Plovers, Red Grouse and Wheatears on the moors, to seabird colonies heaving with Gannets and auks, to wetlands adorned with various wildfowl and waders and much more besides.

 
The clowns performed admirably at Bempton RSPB
 
Bar-tailed Godwit, South Landing
 
Not the first or last shoelace tied for our clients last week - where else do you get that kind of treatment? 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Swift resurgence


They're arriving back in numbers up here on the North Yorkshire coast, which, if you need one, is a sure sign life really can't be that shitty.







Tuesday, May 9, 2017

New Sensations


By any standards it's been a uniquely frenetic, breathless few weeks, and there's plenty more where that came from before the sails finally begin to flag. On top of various very welcome contracts presently on the go (surveying, guiding, writing and more), the ever-growing list of voluntary commitments and the fact that I'm into the final throes of my BSc, I'm also now happily employed three days a week at the Living Seas Centre, South Landing, Flamborough. I've the privilege of the running the place every weekend until the end of October and also delivering various events and activities for the public, visiting schools and groups. It's as satisfying as it sounds - while there are many aspects to the role, in the main I'm there to engage and connect people with local wildlife as part of a lovely team who are uber-passionate and knowledgeable, at a fantastic place just a 25-minute drive from my Filey base.


Better still, by default it has become a temporary second / work patch. Circumstances dictated the need to broaden my horizons vocationally, and after four and a half years intensive, obsessive single-patch hammering, it was high time I broke the cycle and changed the backdrop anyway. Which, happily, is exactly what's happened. While Filey will of course remain my main stomping ground, I've purposely loosened the chains and begun enjoying the right to roam, be it South Landing or elsewhere within striking distance. It's both overdue and necessary, and while until fairly recently I'd be sweating over the prospect of missing something special on home turf, now it's both unavoidable and a great deal less troubling. God knows, I've served my time....


We've all got to work, after all, and while I was very lucky to have much of mine based around birds here in Filey over recent years, times change - and as long as my various jobs involve enjoying / studying / connecting people with birds and wildlife, it would be beyond churlish to even think of complaint. So, welcome back to the less tunnel-visioned, once again more diverse blog - I'll try and justify your attentions and find the time to keep it purring healthily.



And as an example of my good fortune, here's how my working weekend panned out: I arrived at work having received messages en route concerning a Siberian Stonechat on the nature trail just five minutes south of the centre, parked up, found Brett and several other locals on it, enjoyed it for a good while and then went back to open up. After a typically satisfying few hours connecting various kids, families and other visitors with local birds and wildlife, I went back for seconds during a brief lunch break - and found a singing Wood Warbler on the walk back. An afternoon brightened by various local and further-flung birders dropping in to chew the cud was rounded off sweetly by a Mealy Redpoll arriving at our feeding station just as I was locking up (see above - an interestingly large, sleek and long-billed bird), which stuck around for a cold and windy Sunday: the same day I followed news on both our Obs Whatsapp groups of a party of three Spoonbills - initially back home at Filey, and then touring the outer headland. Adjusted to the overwhelming likelihood of not connecting with them, I walked out onto our patio at the LSC a while later, glanced west, and watched them battling into the strong northerly over Beacon Hill. A clear lesson in counting blessings if ever there was one.




Monday, May 8, 2017

Israel 2017 - migrating Herons, Storks & Ibises



It's getting late, I know, but still not enough time to work through the memory cards and so it's a case of chipping away when the opportunity arises.... the desert-sunlit spectacle of large broad-winged species migrating in off the gulf and up the valley at K20 was a joy, and flocks of both Purple Herons and Glossy Ibises heading north against the mountains were a beautiful sight, as were both storks lolloping over the saltpans and into the desert.









Friday, May 5, 2017

Israel 2017 - Steppe Eagles & Buzzards




Both contenders for birds of the trip, Steppe Eagles (above) and Steppe Buzzards (below) were happily a feature of every day and in a variety of settings and sites - huge movements through the Eilat mountains, kettles over the desert and processions up the valley were all impressive and memorable, but for context and backdrop, the active migration of both species low over the hotel against clear blue skies in downtown Eilat has to be one of the abiding memories of the week. It happened regularly, but the movement which kicked off just as Dan and I opened the car doors after he'd picked me up from the nearby airport was one to savour - no time to even lift my suitcase before the flood began, and the perfect curtain-opener to a migration show that takes a lot of beating.