Wednesday, September 16, 2020

YCN Migration Special - Flamborough, 15th Sep 2020

Red-backed Shrike

It's been a crazy week so far (and will only get busier over the next few) so a quick one to summarise another excellent day's guiding: today, another one of my Yorkshire Coast Nature Autumn Migration Specials - the third of four this week, one of many this season, and not the first (nor no doubt last) that saw Flamborough taking centre stage.
Pied Fly

Three lovely clients, a full, sunny, beautiful day on the outer head, and great wildlife from start to finish. We kicked off with a pristine, accomodating and entertaining juvenile Red-backed Shrike not two minutes from the car park, as Siskins, Redpolls and Meadow Pipits streamed overhead (often vocal, and invisible); we continued along the clifftop, where we serendipitously bumped straight into 20 Bottlenose Dolphins frolicking close inshore before gunning north;
We then sauntered down a deserted Old Fall Hedge, where fresh-in Redstart and Pied Flycatcher gave us an impeccable show; we enjoyed lots more visible migration, with e.g. Grey Plover, Yellow Wagtails, more Siskins and redpolls and hirundines on the move in the blue; and finished up with a leisurely, entertaining seawatch from the clifftop at the fog station.

Arctic Skua, chasing an incoming Greenland Wheatear...

After the dolphin show earlier, it was the turn of Harbour Porpoises to entertain, with many fishing offshore. The stand-out highlight, however, was a unique episode that we watched unfold before us, featuring a pale morph adult Arctic Skua out at sea, skillfully chasing (and almost catching) a passerine in a Hobby-esque fashion....
Which survived, and pitched up in front of us

... which turned out to be a spanking Greenland Wheatear - which, after defying a grisly demise over the waves, proceeded to head landward and straight towards us, pitching up literally at our feet and feeding avidly as if nothing happened (and as if it wasn't in the throes of the most epic of songbird migrations between the Neartic, Europe and Africa).


Manxies, lots of summer-plumage Red-throated Divers, Whimbrels, Bar-tailed Godwits and other stuff added to the mix, and it's fair to say, we were all pretty satisfied with the dramas unfolding before us. Magic, as ever!

Bottlenose Dolphins enjoying the sun

Monday, September 14, 2020

Straight Outta Wykeham

A warm, sunny morning at our favourite picnic spot in the forests, and a noisy stream of Crossbills and Siskins exiting along the valley - some stopping off and performing beautifully on their way...

Friday, September 11, 2020

Anglesey & Snowdonia, September 2020

A much-needed getaway with the Mrs to North Wales - specifically Anglesey, and a static caravan air BnB in the middle of a field, in the middle of the island. Perfect; as was the trip, with the best part of five days in this genuinely stunning, beautiful part of the world. We spent much of it exploring the island - secluded beaches and bays, neolithic and medieval sites, abandoned Victorian brick and porcelain Works and other random places of interest - as well as two leisurely, long, oooh-and-aaah soundtracked drives through Snowdonia and a sunny day at Portmeirion.

Birding wasn't a priority for the trip (and, dare I say it, it was all the better for it) but I had the optics at hand for any collateral, which included wonderful views of up to 26 Chough at South Stack, tame and entertaining Ravens there and across the island, and Greenland Wheatears (again there and scattered around the coast).

A tip off from a local birder (cheers Andrew!) about a Rosy Starling hanging out with a Starling flock on the coastal path in the north of the island came good almost instantly, and we enjoyed a close-up show before moving on to more secluded bays and burial chambers....

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Early September Pelagics



 A quick one from last week's three Yorkshire Coast Nature Seabird and Whale Adventures, all of which I was fortunate to lead and all of which scored cetaceans and lots of other marine wildlife treats....
Bottlenose Dolphins (above) and Minke Whales (below) took top billing, including some incredibly close and prolonged views and interactions), and we enjoyed some fine seabird action - including close-up Sooty and Manx Shearwaters, Arctic and Great Skuas, wader and passerine migration, various terns and lots of by-the-boat auks, Gannets, Fulmars and other reliable companions.
Minke Whales
Sooty Shearwater
Arctic Skua

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Willow Warblers - Filey, 23rd August 2020

A quiet day here in Filey enlivened by the cheerful 'hoooet?'s and bright yellow flashes of many dozens of juvenile Willow Warblers; having arrived on north-westerlies, the assumption is these are mostly / all northern British birds heading south via the east coast (rather than the west, as usual at this this time of year).