Champions of the Flyway!

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Local Peregrine

One of the by-products of surveying the local seabird colony here in Filey is bumping into the local Peregrines, and while 'scoping the kittiwakes today, I had the pleasure of this beauty crash-landing on the cliff directly in front of me.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

North York Moors surveying, mid-June '22

One of five male Whinchats on territory, with this one being particularly shirty with the sound of the camera shutter.... 

It's been a sticky time of late for various reasons, but work continues to oscillate gently between more than bearable and an absolute joy. This week has included various moments that fall into the latter category, and so this post comes with apologies for again celebrating those highly enjoyable vocational adventures...
Not forgetting Stonechats, which are seemingly everywhere in decent habitat


Bear in mind, too, that this platform is primarily for me to record my birding life in an online journal (and not to be consistently smug, even if it may seem so....); also bear in mind that, however idyllic it may seem, the perils of a freelance / self-employed existence include the precarious possibilities of very lean periods as well as fertile ones - and with that in mind, here's to making the most of the latter.


Another surprise Turtle Dove in suitable breeding habitat - I've been lucky to stumble upon several new sites this spring in the forests

It's been far from the most intensive of weeks - four days work, plenty of downtime - and at this point in the season, it can often be a little same-y re: fieldwork. Not so this week, however, especially concerning a memorably productive Breeding Bird Survey in an area best left unnamed but utterly absorbing in its variety, productivity and bird-filled abundance.
Mistle Thrushes - common on the moorland/woodland edge
I spent five hours intensively surveying a relatively limited area (in warm sunshine, light breezes and with zero other humans nearby), and in that time I enjoyed: a pale morph Honey-buzzard (in suitable breeding habitat, and many miles from the recognised nesting site), a minimum of six Goshawks, five active Whinchat breeding territories, plenty of Tree Pipits and Redstarts, Cuckoos, buckets of Stonechats, Willow Warblers and Yellowhammers, and a close encounter with an Adder at the death - not to mention the lepidotera, the views, and the flowers.....
Both pipits, side-by-side where the trees and meadows meet - Tree (above) and Meadow (below)
So yeah, I fully ackowledge I'm very lucky to be one of those privileged people who actively look forward to a 0430hrs alarm call and long, often tiring working days. It's not without many risks, and a lot of cumulative effort to get there at all, trust me; but right now, it's all been more than worth it :-)
Yellowhammer (above) and Whinchat (below)

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Dockside BBSing

As mentioned in a few previous posts, I've been surveying an area of industrial wasteland / brownfield by the dockside on the northern bank of the Humber, most recently for breeding birds. It's been very productive, with highlights including Black Redstart on territory, two Little Ringed Plover nest sites, breeding Cuckoo, and lots of warblers (especially Sedge, Reed and Whitethroat).
For this week's visit, it was largely a case of consolidation - finding birds at active nest sites, feeding young etc. - but as always, there were bonuses. A pair of Shelduck with no fewer than ten very small young - heading perilously along the riverside - were another pleasing breeding record; a small flock of waders consisting of four Dunlins and three Sanderlings dropped in soon after, and as an extra bonus, one of the Dunlins was colour-ringed, seemingly from a project in mid-Wales.
Further bonuses were provided by the many orchids splashing colour across the grassland: plenty of Bee Orchids, and also many Marsh Orchids - interestingly, there are Northern, Southern and (many) hybrids at this site (thanks Bill); three Eider way out on the river were a site tick (thanks Will). An amazing array of birds and wildlife for such a site at such a time of year.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Meet the locals

It's that time of year - the time when I glance at the memory card and remember that I've taken lots of 'collateral' photos of local breeding birds that often don't see the light of day. So in the spirit of good habits, here's a bunch from last week - mostly from Bempton - of Gannets, Razorbills, Puffins, a Sand Martin, and a familiar returning summer visitor who requires no introduction these days.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Whinchat Central

Yesterday was a good day. Up early and an hour's drive up onto the Moors, where I'd a (large) area to cover for a Breeding Bird Survey - thankfully the sun was shining, the breeze was cool, and there wasn't another soul to be seen for my whole time up there (excluding the biplane pilot and the steam train passengers - and no, I wasn't tripping/time-travelling).
Thankfully the habitat was varied, and as a consequence so were the results; singing Cuckoos, plenty of Yellowhammers, Meadow Pipits in plague proprtions, Skylarks, Curlews, plenty of Willow Warblers and Whitethroats, and excellent numbers of Stonechats, many with fledged young. But it was the rarer cousins of the latter which stole the show, with no fewer than four Whinchat territories within my survey area.
Increasingly scarce and always a joy to stumble upon, watching them interact, defend territories, sing from perches and in flight (what a song!) and generally flaunt their undeniable good looks was a real treat. I'm back there in a couple of weeks, so fingers crossed they're all progressing well.
Back home to Filey in time to welcome our dear friends the Perlmans, who are with us for two nights of long overdue catching up and local frolics - which included an eventful but eventually successful Albatross twitch for the boy Yoav at the (very) end of the day. Good times.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Spurn, May '22 (in pictures)

Spoonbills dropping onto Kilnsea Wetlands 

Just home from a fine five days a little further down the coast, at the always enjoyable and productive Spurn Bird Observatory. After several successful autumns leading groups there, this was our (Yorkshire Coast Nature's) first spring week, with the same template - Rich with our five-day residential group, I with a different group of clients each day; happy to say that it worked wonderfully and I'm pretty sure all our lovely attendees went home happy.
European Bee-eater feeding over our heads 

Weather wise, after a fine and calm start to the week we were somewhat hampered by strong winds from midweek onwards, but we still wrung out every last drop of avian entertainment and migration magic, and there was plenty of both (as well as lots of other wildlife to enjoy) - every day was very different, and therefore unique for my group of that particular day.
Common Swift over Beacon Ponds 

We're back again in the autumn, for two weeks (the third week of October and the first week of November), and places are selling fast (but are still available) - see here for more! If our previous trips are anything to by, they'll be and suitably bird-filled and a lot of fun.
Stone-curlew in the Triangle
Reed Bunting along the Canal
Dark-bellied Brent Goose along the Humber
Breeding Avocets
Tree Pipit on the river wall by the Obs
Cuckoo heading North
Sedge Warbler at the Warren
Little Tern at Beacon Ponds
Little Gull at Kilnsea Wetlands