Champions of the Flyway!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Icky Thump

It's still only August, and I've already been lucky enough to find two Icterine Warblers here at Filey this autumn. Neither chose to show off for more than a few seconds, and both - in common with the bird in the late spring - materialised in the same small area of the Top Scrub (actually secondary / successional woodland), all within about 15 metres of each other.

The second bird, which showed up a few days ago on the late morning of the 26th (and was seen again on the 28th), is pictured above and, interestingly, below - a Bowie-esque change in appearance that made us thankful this view wasn't the only one we got.

The first bird (which showed briefly over the course of a few minutes on the afternoon of the 14th, and never again) is pictured below, and without the most obvious features on display, was a far from straightforward i.d.; thanks to various correspondents however (particularly Martin Cade at Portland), other possibilities were ruled out. A promising start to the season, which will hopefully be dominated by easterlies, mist, showers and the prizes that such conditions bring.....


Monday, August 27, 2012

Filey, 15th - 23rd August 2012


With more important things to deal with at the second, the week involved less time in the field than usual, but still produced some entertaining sessions and a few surprises. Nothing quite as evocative of the time and place as last week's Icterine Warbler, but plenty of migrants, and indeed a far rarer species locally - two Willow Tits (below) at the Dams from 16th were only the third or fourth record in the last 25 years.

While watching a fresh juvenile Whinchat (the first of the year, above) in the set-aside by the tip on the same day, an Osprey made slow progress south-west and a Med Gull drifted north-west; throw in several Pied Flycatchers and good sprinklings of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps, and Ruff, Greenshanks and various other waders either down or heading over, and it was a far from boring session in the field.

Hare of the dog

The rest of the week was less eventful (despite daily rounds to varying degrees), although passerines included more Willow Warblers and Pied Flycatchers, the first autumn Tree Pipit over, a few more of the common Sylvias, the odd Buzzard over and various waders over and down. All well and good, but the next few days proved much more productive....


Black-tailed Godwit

Mallard & Greenshank 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Filey's summer waders - Sandpipers

Both Common and Green Sandpipers have been a constant at the Dams over the last fortnight, with up to four of the former and seven of the latter present (including five in the same frame, below).


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Filey's summer waders - Greenshanks

Come rain or shine, Greenshanks have performed beautifully in front of the main pool hide at the Dams over the last couple of weeks.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Filey, 1st - 14th August 2012

Highlights: Icterine Warbler (above),14th; Roseate Terns, 7th; all four skuas; waders and wildfowl on the move, and migrant passerines beginning to filter through.

Common Buzzard

A brief bulletin this time on account of more important things going on at the second, hence just the main highlights described here. Plenty of action over the first half of August made for entertaining sessions both land- and sea-watching, and the stuttering trickle of late July steadily turned into a healthy flow of migrants over the fortnight.


Little Egrets

After promising south-easterlies overnight, top billing goes to an Icterine Warbler, unforthcoming but still good enough to give me a few seconds of its time in the Top Scrub on 14th (less than ten metres from where this spring's bird showed up in May); unfortunately that was that, and despite extensive searches, it wasn't seen again. Coinciding with the autumn's first small wave of continental scarcities on the East coast, it at least ensured we were in the mix.

Pied Flycatcher, Long Lane, 13th

Other migrant passerines began to materialise pretty much simultaneously, with a sprinkling of Willow Warblers, a handful of Lesser Whitethroats, an increase in Blackcaps and the first few Pied Flycatchers (including three in the Top Scrub with the Icterine on the 14th).


The sea has provided better numbers and variety of various species, with all four skuas putting in appearances - as well as regular Bonxies and Arctics (pictured above), a juvenile Long-tailed Skua ambled south on the 10th (our first of the year) preceded by two Pomarines on the same day, with another on 13th. Equal billing goes to two Roseate Terns on the Brigg on the 7th (conveniently scope-able from the 'front garden'), and as well as plenty of Manxies, two Sooty Shearwaters drifted south on the 14th.

hybrid Greylag x Canada Geese, Dams

A Garganey leading a small flock of Teal north past the seawatch hide, also on 10th, was the pick of wildfowl during the period; of raptors, pickings were slim, and the best was a Common Buzzard over the golf course on the 8th (although it's hard to avoid multiple Sparrowhawks, Peregrines and Kestrels presently).

Grey Heron 

The first Mediterranean Gull of the season appeared on the country park with Black-headed Gulls for a short while on the morning of the 11th, and up to three Little Egrets (still not the commonest of species up here in the north) were together on East Lea and the Dams from the 9th.

The quality and quantity of waders picked considerably, both on the Brigg and on the (much-improved, mud-fringed) pools at the Dams; the latter site held up to seven Green and four Common Sandpipers, as well as odd Greenshank and Dunlin. The Brigg held a wide range of common species, including three Purple Sandpipers on the 8th.

Moorhen chick 

The fortnight closed with the aforemention Hippolais and positive upsurges generally, still coming to pass as I write; hopefully the next post will follow in a few days time now things are really kicking in.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Knots Landing

More summery sandpiper splendour from the end of the Brigg over the last couple of days. Knot are pretty class at any time, all the better on a wave-washed outcrop a short walk from my front door, with the golden evening sun illuminating their varied states of moult. Lucky lucky.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Wonderfully close encounters with Calidris maritima

Beautiful at any time of year, before this summer I can't recall seeing Purple Sandpipers still resplendent in their subtly stunning breeding plumage. Better still, I've had memorable experiences with these unassuming shorebirds over the last couple of weeks, the best of which occurred on the Brigg the other day.

With the tide well up and the Brigg free from disturbance, I crawled over to the last section of unsubmerged rock to get closer to the small band of waders nearby - Knot, Turnstones, Dunlins and Ringed Plovers - and sat cross-legged, taking few a photos and enjoying the sunshine. A weak chirrup from very close by had me glance down at the ledge within an arm's length, where this bird sat, stone-still, looking at me.

Assuming it'd take flight within a few seconds, I kept still and enjoyed the experience. However, the bird then decided that, far from being a threat, I wasn't worth worrying about, and started to feed avidly right by my side.

Way too close to get pictures, I was more than content to be entertained this way for a good five minutes, before the bird then stretched a couple of times, and decided to take a snooze. Crawling away a few metres to find the minimum focusing distance (and despite the sun's glare), I fired off a few shots, which at least illustrate the superb feather detail on these freshly-arrived northern visitors.