Monday, November 13, 2017

Round Two - Filey seawatch, 13th Nov 2017

juvenile Glaucous Gull

Another day, another highly enjoyable seawatch on the Brigg, with a moderate NW and early wintry showers calming and clearing later. Again, no great numbers and nothing rare, but a good selection of classic late autumn species and a pleasure to be there for four hours with barely another sign of humanity....

Common Scoters over the Brigg

Trek count - see here for the site

Grey Heron

Red-breasted Merganser

Black-throated Diver

Sparrowhawk - I watched this bird coming in off high from the north-east before circling the Brigg, getting harassed by gulls and then leaving back over the sea, SE towards Flamborough

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Filey seawatch - 12th November 2017

Just back (happily in one piece - it was a particularly eventful climb back up the cliff in these challenging conditions) from a six-hour seawatch, with the promising scenario of gale force northerlies, raging seas, an airflow from the Arctic and the time free to relish it. As it turned out, it was high on aesthetic drama but low on birds (at least regarding abundance), with no big numbers on the move as one would wish for in such circumstances; there were, however, some enjoyable highlights, and it was a day very well spent in the company of the birds and the birds alone.

Little Auks are a classic quarry in such conditions, and happily, 14 made the notebook by the end of the day; slightly less happily (at least for the bird involved), one was the more literal quarry of a now well-fed Great Black-backed Gull (see below). Two classic hoped-for species had the good grace to bullet through at close-range through the white horses - a Leach's Storm-petrel mid-morning and a Grey Phalarope an hour or so later. Other notables included a Great Northern Diver close in the bay and nine duck species including a female Long-tailed.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

IBOC 2017 - family album

Just back from the States, where we were proudly representing Filey and Flamborough Bird Observatories at the International Bird Observatory Conference 2017 (IBOC2017) in Cape May, New Jersey. I'll be writing about it in more detail within several upcoming articles, but with so much to process and build upon after what was an extraordinarily inspiring time (and so much else to do now we're back), it seems smart to kick out a succession of posts here just to keep the plates spinning.

(Thanks Bjorn for the above photo of the team vismigging at Higbees at sunrise!)

We forged great friendships (and strengthened existent ones) with comrades from all over the world, learned so much, found inspiration at every turn and above all felt very much part of a global Obs community - from which there will be many partnerships and positives to follow. So with apologies for lack of detail (for now) and photo indulgence (it's good to have them in one place and accessible beyond social media), here's a few photos that reflect the camaraderie and team spirit of the conference, its fantastic people and of the greater Cape May Bird Obs family:

(and thanks to Bjorn, Am and Maina for other photos above)

More to follow!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Reighton Sands, 9th Oct '17 - more quality vismig action

Woke up (having barely slept, with a heavy cold) thinking I may as well be ill on a clifftop counting migrants than sat in a dark room groaning dramatically, and so drove the ten minutes south to my new, lip-smackin' visible migration spot at Reighton Sands (above) for dawn. Five and half hours and lots of action later, and surprisingly I felt a lot better.... not least because of the cone-faced beast below, which bounded past me and over towards Buckton early on. What a cracker, too - Hawfinch is significantly less than annual here in the Filey recording area and it's a proper chunky vismig prize.

A rich and varied cast over the session included Barnacle Geese (slipping through the jet stream of a flock of Pink-feet), a single Whooper, plenty of finches (from Greenfinches to redpolls) and buntings (a rare three-Emberiza day, with lots of Reed, a few Yellowhammers and a Corn), Tree Sparrows, Skylarks, and - as the skies cleared and the temperature rose - a succession of Common Buzzards incoming from various directions. Hard to know exactly how many non-locals were involved, but it was at least twelve, and a Red Kite was an added bonus.

So, with a raised vantage point / wind-break created by the pill box, a stunning, unhindered panorama, lots of birds and a distinct lack of dog-walkers, golfers or indeed any other human distractions, it's a winner. More to come.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Inbound Buzzards

Among the hoards of southbound geese yesterday, a few raptors were on the move, including several Common Buzzards - two of which came in off the seas and were soon greeted by the corvid police and then strong-armed inland.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Whooper for every thousand Pink-feet

An epic day of pure migration at my new and frankly beautiful vismig spot at Reighton Sands - more specifically, on a WW2 pill-box with a breathtaking 360 degree view at the south-eastern corner of the Observatory recording area. I arrived before dawn and the clear skies and strong westerlies promised little in the way of passerine action, but four Whooper Swans - the first of the year, and a wonderful sight as they battled towards me in the golden first light - bode well for the big stuff. A couple of hundred Pink-feet in small groups in the first few hours was, at the time, the best of the season thus far, but with a day off and nothing too urgent to attend to, I was back out at 1145 after a short break for a late breakfast.

Which was a very good decision. Four hours of almost constant Pink-footed action followed, with skeins appearing from all directions - from miles inland to miles out to sea - often at great height and invisible to the naked eye (and at times barely visible with just binculars); many approached from the north, but as the session wore on, more and more appeared from over the sea, battling into the strengthening westerly.
In those four hours I counted 4,233 in 53 skeins, smashing the day record by a considerable margin - and with a couple of hundred this morning (and several hundred more from the Gap this evening), our final Filey day count will be close to 5,000.

Not-so-domesticus with montana allies