Wednesday, May 15, 2019

More From the Moor

Male Adder 
In the thick of it at the minute - bird surveys up on the Moors every day, bat surveys at night, and an upcoming three-day weekend guiding for Yorkshire Coast Nature - but it's all good; and spending these sunny days hiking on the most remote areas of moorland in Yorkshire in the warm sunshine means bonus collateral while searching out breeding waders....

Among recent treats, these Adders stood out (well, just enough not to tread on them anyway) basking on paths on the high tops, Golden Plovers and Curlews are either on eggs or have chicks already, the sphagnum mosses are at full tilt, Green Hairstreaks and Tiger Beetles are everywhere, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks are liberally scattered, and Tree Pipits, Crossbills, Redstarts, Siskins and Redpolls are among the vocal species of the woodland edge.

Meadow Pipit nest and eggs
Dwarf Haircap
Female Adder
Golden Plover

Coming across beautiful natural rock formations in the middle of nowhere is always a treat

Willow Warbler - a ubiquitous songster of the forests
Parachutin' Tree Pipit

Monday, May 13, 2019

Brigg collateral

A few from yesterday on a sunny Brigg - Dunlins, Kittiwake and a pair of fly-by Garganey (plus a fledgling Long-tailed Tit from the hedges up the slope).

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Brigg Purple Sands

A full day birding locally was pretty quiet (at least on dry land), but with distractions like Purple Sandpipers moulting into breeding plumage, it could never be boring.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Flamborough, 10th May 2019

It seems like a long time coming perhaps, but it only takes one day to put the joy back in East coast spring birding, and today was one of those days. Finally some promising conditions for drift migration elbowed out the cold northerlies, and after flipping an imaginary coin first thing, Flamborough got the nod and I started at Old Fall hedge and plantation. Immediately, bumping into Craig, pretty much the first birds to present themselves were a hedge-top Wryneck and a smart male Redstart; clearly it was going to be a fun session...

...and a fun session ensued. An hour or so later, and after checking the wood and the hedge pretty thoroughly, we'd logged another three Redstarts, a Spotted Flycatcher, lots of Sylvias and - arguably the highlight - no fewer than 50 Willow Warblers dashing among the emerging canopy and budding branches.

Moving on to South Landing, I parked up, took about twenty steps down the road to the beach and bumped into a bird hopping around on the double-yellows - Wryneck #2, this one fantastically accommodating, and a blast to hang around with for as long as a lack of disturbance allowed; so accommodating, in fact, that (after being flushed into the ravine) it returned to the exact same place just a few metres away just as Pearson Snr arrived.

A circuit of the hedgerows and woodland at South Landing produced another 25 Willow Warblers, six Redstarts, a Garden Warbler, 20 Blackcaps and seven Pied Flys - five of which were, wonderfully, contact-calling with each other in the very tops of the trees in the main wood.

From there, back up onto the outer head, where Craig had relocated the recently-arrived (but elusive) Woodchat Shrike - a stroll around the southern edge of the Gorse Field and there it was, again very accommodating, along with another two Redstarts and three Wheatears. A sunny, relaxed, bird-filled spring morning in a beautiful place - that'll do nicely.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Woodchat Shrike, Long Nab - 6th May 2019

A crappy, rainy bank holiday with little around locally inspired this, a relatively long haul twitch by my standards (33 minutes away!) - and after a bit of patience (and regular showers), the bird showed beautifully in a hedgerow a few hundred metres from the coast. Cheers to Nick for the info and another class find at the Nab - oh, for these enviable birding circumstances down here at Filey....

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Common Sandpiper, East Lea - May 2019

It's slow going on the doorstep of late, despite an increase in efforts - spring is often hard work up here and the returns can be are scant at best. Which is why it's always a good idea to make the most of common stuff....

If i've time I try to put in more hours at East Lea here in Filey in the latter part of April and early May, it being a prime site for wagtails, one of only a few local options for spring waders and having a decent aspect for flyovers. It's been quiet on all fronts so far, but sitting anywhere for long enough means random decent photo opps with more expected species, and this Common Sand has developed a habit of feeding right in front of the hide. Nice.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Israel 2019, day eighteen - Bet Shean Valley Blues

White-winged Tern 
Great White Pelicans - spot the partially leucistic bird....
Well, as in nowhere near long enough to enjoy the spectacle, but otherwise, our mood was far from blue in the Bet Shean Valley. With the flight home looming, we were on a tight schedule, but (again, thanks to brother Yoav - what a legend) we packed in some seriously quality birding before the clock sadly ran down.

The journey up was punctuated by huge flocks of Great White Pelicans over the motorway, swirling above us like flakes in a snow-globe (as well as Black-winged Kites, the new Kestrel of the roadside here), before we had a brief sniff around The Jordan Valley Birdwatching Centre and its immediate environs. Overhead, a pulse of movement included Eastern Imperial, Booted and Steppe Eagles alongside Black Kites, Steppe Buzzards and White Storks above a Little Owl, European Bee-eaters, Hoopoes and Cranes on the deck among many others...

White Stork and Pelican - bit of a size difference... 
... but the pulse became a torrent for a good half hour as Amity and I watched in awe from the shade of the kibbutz trees - countless White Storks and Pelicans swirling and streaming overhead. With barely 40 minutes left, we gunned over to the nearby Kfar Ruppin fishponds, which was similarly mesmerising - too many birds, too little time - but we made the most of it.

Black-winged Kite (taken from a speeding car on the highway)  
Yoav's eBird checklist (from the combined area) is here, and makes for lip-smacking reading - but some of the highlights included cracking summer plumage White-winged Terns, flocks of Collared Pratincoles and Temminck's Stints, Greater Spotted Eagle, Pygmy Cormorants, close-up Dead Sea Sparrows, tons of warblers and hirundines and much more....

Snoozin' Little Owl
.... quite a way to wrap up a memorable, full-on and highly enjoyable three weeks in Israel. Til next time!

Collared Pratincoles