Saturday, July 14, 2018

Tern, a prize


Anyone who's glanced at these pages with any regularity over recent years will know how much I love the Brigg, the rocky intertidal peninsula forming the northern limit of Filey Bay, and venue of countless wonderful, memorable wildlife experiences since we moved here some six years ago. And so it was again the other evening, when as the high tide receded, I abandoned a quiet seawatch in favour of checking the Brigg end for waders.


Not a great deal on offer but for a few smart summer-plumaged Dunlin and Redshank (and 18 snoozing young Grey Seals), but while I was out there, this beautiful Arctic Tern chose to land on a rock, literally alongside me. It was another one of those unique experiences only the Brigg can provide, and for the next twenty minutes, we sat looking at each other, at point blank range, in the evening sunshine as the waves crashed a few metres away.


I see Arctic Terns as they pass by every year here (and if I wanted to get close to them, I'd get a boat to the Farnes and wear suitable headgear), but for a single bird to drop in next to me on a deserted Brigg, en route along its record-breaking migration, completely unflustered, was just magical.



Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Nidderdale Curlews


One of my target species surveying in Nidderdale this season, Eurasian Curlews were thankfully hard to avoid in certain habitats - giving a potentially dangerous anecdotal impression of abundance for a rapidly-declining species.







Thursday, June 28, 2018

Let There Be Rockpools

Bloody Henry and Common Starfish

A few random highlights from recent rockpooling sessions at South Landing, Flamborough ....



Shannies - still the greatest

Butterfish


Squat Lobsters

Long-spined Sea Scorpion

Porpoise vertebrae

Sea Hare

Common Starfish

Common Grey Sea Slug and eggs

Common Prawn

Dahlia Anemone

Long-spined Sea Scorpion

Bloody Henry

Brittlestar


A depressing example of plastics in the marine environment - a Smarties lid embedded in limestone and encased in keelwoms and barnacles


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Flamborough Dotterel, May 2018


I know, what a beauty.... from a few weeks back in the field next to my workplace at the Living Seas Centre, South Landing. Despite finding a few at Filey, it's a species which has given me the runaround on several occasions at Flamborough - not that it mattered after this very satisfying and privileged one-on-one experience. The bird had been there a few days, and I'd had crappy views as it remained generally distant and skittish.


Not so on this evening, however, when - after a particularly manic day helping to run the Yorkshire Puffin Festival over at North Landing - a little downtime with a seriously quality bird was exactly what I was hoping for. After watching its feeding pattern for a few minutes and realising that it didn't care about my presence, I sat down and waited in a position that seemed most likely to gain close views; it worked, and then some....



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Talking to Wheatears


Ah, Wheatears. From this morning, up on the moors above Nidderdale, where I came across two pairs close together – one nesting in a dry stone wall, the other a rabbit hole – and this over-inquisitive juvenile which responded to a little conversational tacking by giving it back and then some, much to the annoyance of its frustrated dad, which then out-tacked both of us. It took me back to surveying in the highlands and islands a good fifteen years ago, when often the only company I'd have on remote rocky peaks would be affirmingly cocky families of Wheatears, counteracting the initially plaintive but eventually annoying whine of Golden Plovers, also clocked on this morning's survey (see last photo).










Friday, June 8, 2018

Israel '18 - Pharoah Eagle Owl


Last but, well, nowhere near least - what a bird. The perfect last day of the trip for the terriers began with the Champions of The Flyway awards ceremony in Eilat, continued with long and ridiculously bird-filled, migrant-plastered sessions at Hadoram's Pumpkins (K19-K20) and Yotvata, followed by a dusk session with our friends the Welsh Red Kites back at K19 for a successful meeting with Lichenstein's Sandgrouse (the preceding evening, over a hundred jostled for poor or non-existent views on race day), and ended with a final fling back at Yotvata for around 2000hrs; our target, the mighty (and to us almost mythical) Pharoah Eagle Owl.


Thanks to the kind guidance of Duncan (from Team Living With Birds), we knew which dust track to off-road along, and which pointy rock doubled as the throne of the Pharoah on its way from the mountains to decimate the local rat population. Instant success, with good views in the headlights at maybe 25 metres - which would've been more good enough for us... but a slow trundle in first along the sandy track for more Egyptian Nightjar action soon resulted in cries of "F#*k, it's there!" "Where?" "Right by the car on the passenger side!" - the owl had landed much closer, and even let us turn the car around so everybody could get perfect, point-blank views in the headlights....


.... after much squealing and back-patting (and after getting all the Spurn boys onto it as they followed in a minibus, later apparently liberated from the sand with the help of the Kites), we headed back to Eilat for a celebratory drinking session with various lovely comrades (including James, Toni and John and Jean-Michel from our friends the mighty World Youth Birders). What a trip...

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Israel '18 - raptors



I know, I know, but it's been an insanely busy few weeks.... a few more raptors from Israel, in no particular order: Short-toed Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Black Kite, LOng-legged Buzzard, Egyptian Vulture. Hopefully more catching up to follow soon, when I come up for air.