Champions of the Flyway!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Surfin' bird

Happily shaking us from our summer slumber, this cracking male Surf Scoter arrived in the bay yesterday, within a small flock of Commons. Found by Dan (nice work comrade) on our bay monitoring duties, we had progressively better views as the flock gradually came closer inshore, despite disturbance from yachts and cobles.

After the Marsh Warbler a couple of weeks ago, this is our second county rare during this season's monitoring - particularly pleasing, with last year's equivalent two-month contract being fairly unproductive for oddities (summer plumage Long-tailed Duck and Great Northern Divers being the pick). It's also a well-deserved bonus for Dan, into his fourth year on the job and long overdue a star bird to reward the eye-strain....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Solstice in the sand

There can be few better ways of spending the beautiful, golden-lit evening of the longest day than out on the Brigg via the beach (both deserted and perfectly peaceful), and this family of Sand Martins served to raise our spirits further. Occupying a solitary nest hole in the strata almost at the tip of Carr Naze (very unusual for this highly gregarious and colonial species), they kept us entertained for a long while, allowing us to sit just a few metres away while they went about their business. Wonderful.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Meet the neighbours

It's that time of year again here at Filey when a walk on the Brigg invariably means coming face to face with a motley crew of Grey Seal pups; too curious for their own good perhaps, but wonderful entertainment, and perfect neighbours....

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Peregrine vs. Dunlin

Cruising overhead, scouting for lunch

We're lucky to have a pair of Peregrines breeding locally, which can often be seen over the town or along the coast in pursuit of prey; a couple of days ago whilst surveying from the clifftop, I had the camera to hand while the drama unfolded.... (as ever, click on photos to enlarge)

Having found a target, the vertical stoop begins....

Bulleting into the bay, with Speeton Cliffs as a backdrop

A change of speed and direction as it reached the beach below, and into a horizontal final approach...

Narrowly avoiding various holidaymakers, and almost within reach of the target, a summer plumage Dunlin...

Within centimetres and seemingly game over....

But the Dunlin (the smudge, above) makes a miraculous escape at the last.....

.....and the Peregrine is forced to consider alternative options

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Egreta Garbo

"I want to be alone"

What's white, stupid, and spreading like a plague in the English countryside? No, not UKIP, but a bird that has somehow conspired to avoid Filey's terra firma and airspace - or the attentions of those within it, at least - for an inexplicably long time. Until yesterday that is, when this smart Great White Egret appeared at the Dams, as if it were no big deal at all.

Perched atop the cliff overlooking the bay, I got the call (thanks Jack) and shaved a good few seconds off the five-minute cycle ride there, arriving in time to see a slightly scruffy-looking drake Garganey swim past it (two new additions to the personal Dams list, fact fans); looking settled, it apparently shunned our welcoming arms an hour or so later, and spirited away.... the benefits of living, birding and working in the same place continue to hit home.

Posing conveniently with an otherwise-ignored Grey Heron and a couple of Sand Martins

Monday, June 10, 2013

Filey, 1st - 10th June 2013


Well, that was better. After a somewhat tortuous May, the first third of June was relatively productive, pleasantly varied, and even provided a long-overdue self-found scarcity (and a particularly appropriate one at that).

Red-backed Shrike (and rock-poolers)

The 1st was sunny and warm, and Carr Naze hosted not only multitudes of weekenders but also a very accommodating female Red-Backed Shrike, still present after a day or two in the area; a good hour was well spent enjoying its forays along the southern flank of the cliffs. The 2nd was equally bright, and a wander with the Mrs onto the Brigg for some seal pup convening unexpectedly produced close-up Bonxie and Manxie (both personal local year-firsts) as well as a handful of wader species, including (presumed Tundrae) Ringed Plovers.

The 3rd and 4th were unremarkable, although the regular circuits in suddenly sunny and mild conditions were a quiet pleasure. The 5th, meanwhile, was the first day of a repeat two-month contract surveying the bay, its birds and their movements - meaning extended observational sessions, from shortly after dawn onwards, several days a week throughout June and July. To be fair there's a bit more to it than that, but at the same time there are far worse ways of spending the summer, and of course there's the constant chance of picking up something interesting ....

Bonxie and victim, 2nd

.... and the first day instantly provided. Two pale-bellied Brent Geese in the bay corner were unusual, and would otherwise have been a satisfying early highlight, but were trumped by a pair of Little Terns heading north across the bay at lunchtime - a barely annual species here and nigh-on impossible to predict. More hints of movement included Arctic Terns, a high-flying northbound Greenshank, and a very late Wheatear fresh-in on Carr Naze.

A late Northern Wheatear on Carr Naze, 5th June 

Pale-bellied Brent Geese in the bay corner

The 6th dawned cloudy and mild, and after a pleasantly uneventful few hours, the one-minute walk from my clifftop vantage point to Jack's Cafe finally and unexpectedly gave me the long-awaited quality migrant I'd been chipping away for over recent weeks. I'd all but given up hope of finding a county rare this spring, but with takeaway tea in hand, I was stopped in my tracks by a uniquely captivating virtuoso singing from the herbage by the path - Marsh Warbler. A Redemption Song indeed.

Willow Warbler, Top Scrub

Roe Deer

The 7th was quiet (although with the pleasant high pressure-dominated conditions continuing), but for four Barnacle Geese heading north over the Brigg early on. The 8th was spent enjoying a lie-in, and then Nightjars and Redstarts in the forest; the 9th and 10th were also generally quiet, except for a Great Northern Diver, which had kindly taken up residence right in front of my VP and became increasingly unfazed during today's survey period. 

Barnacle Geese 

Great Northern Diver, bay corner, 10th