Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Flamborough Head, 20th - 26th March 2012

 So here we are, in Flamborough, in flux, in situ, in March. We arrived about a week ago, via a brief stay in our old 'hood (Hackney, east London) after a relaxing month holed up in Provence, after the best part of the year on the road (keeping up at the back? good). For now we're staying with family up here while we look for a place to live, which for the moment involves a lot of waiting around, and therefore time to kill in the field.

High pressure and a gentle south / south-easterly airflow have dominated the last week (and looks set to do so for at least a few more days), meaning either clear and sunny days, or thick fog, or both; and when the sun shines, there are few more beautiful places to be in the early spring in Yorkshire.

Not a huge amount of movement, but then it is still March, and the skies are clear; and there's enough to lift the spirits and whet the appetite for the coming weeks. Chiffchaffs are in and singing across the Head, Goldcrests are liberally sprinkled likewise, odd Wheatears are flitting around on the cliff tops, and this Marsh Harrier was a welcome fly-through a couple of mornings ago along the south cliff.


spot the gravity-defying bridled Guillemot

singing Skylarks are, happily, everywhere are Meadow Pipits

Song Thrush

Captions welcome

this male Stonechat is holding territory with a female at Thornwick Bay, and will hopefully stick around....


Treecreeper (above) and Bullfinches (below) at South Landing


Rock Pipit, South Landing beach

a Chiffchaff trying (admirably) to qualify as an abietinus-type

Monday, March 26, 2012

An odd Asian Brown Flycatcher.....

A few shots of what is, presumably, just an aberrant Asian Brown Flycatcher from just behind the guest house on Agonda beach, south Goa - complete with obvious, even streaking on the throat, breast and upper flanks, a generally washed-out pallor, and a very weak eye ring amongst other features......

.....if anybody has more light to shed, I'd be interested - and good luck if it turns up in your local woodland this October after persistent easterlies, you'll probably need it.

(Plenty more to come from Goa anon, but up here on the Yorkshire coast, internet access is a little more of a luxury, so apologies for lack of posts at the minute).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lost In London

The new issue of Lost in London was published today, which includes this piece I wrote about spring migration in London:

Lost In London article, spring 2012

The magazine can be purchased here - highly recommended......

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blyth's Reed Warbler, Agonda

If only all BRW's were this easy..... actually, they usually are, on the Indian subcontinent at least. This bird was particularly good value, holding a wintering territory which included a pile of waste next to our guest house and having little or no fear.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lesser Sand Plovers, Agonda beach

We usually shared the beach with small flocks of shorebirds, most of which were Lesser Sand Plovers, Common Sandpipers and Kentish Plovers; occasional Greater Sand Plovers joined them along the tideline, where many feasted on the bounty of small crabs.


Getting close was a regular pleasure, the birds being apparently well adjusted to human disturbance, but the best way to get really close was to lie in the surf and allow the waves to propel you towards them (see below). No good for photography of course, but a faultless way for get eye-to-eye with all the above species - including a Greater Sand Plover, which unforgettably trotted to within touching distance, head cocked to one side.


Goodbye Kerala, hello Goa

After a wonderful week based at Thattekad Bird Sanctuary in the Western Ghats, it was finally time to move on. Long and colourful bus, train and taxi journeys, an unforgettably vile hotel stop-over in the hellhole of Calicut, two nights in paradise at the world's most beautiful guest house (hidden away on the unspoilt coast beyond Tellicherry), and then the long journey north.

Indian Pond Heron vs. Indian House Crow on busy train platform 

Strangely, it wasn't

An equally memorable day's train travel through Northern Kerala, Karnataka and into southern Goa saw us arrive at a small, near deserted station in the countryside after dark, from where we tuk-tuk'ed the twenty minutes or so to Agonda beach - our base for the final three weeks of our trip.

A bus station somehere in the Ghats

A warm Goan welcome at the guest house

Spot the unconvincing, London Underground-inspired station signs

Our last place of residence in Kerala - an idyllic, unspoilt stretch of coastline near Tellicherry