Champions of the Flyway!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Spring Brigg waders #3

A few last shots the other day on the Brigg end, in the company of these beauties....

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spring Brigg waders #1 - Sanderlings

The first of several posts dedicated to the band of waders on the tip of the Brigg the other day; bound for the Arctic, solely focused on feeding up, and thus jaw-droppingly tame. Magical.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sod's Law

With high pressure, settled conditions and warm sunshine at this time of year, it has a distinct feeling of all or nothing - and it's been very much a case of the latter over recent days, despite plenty of time dedicated to sky-watching, in the hope of something tasty and broad-winged drifting over. Over eight hours in the last couple of days, to be precise - with a grand total of zero migrant raptors to show for it.

However, a buzz around Carr Naze yesterday morning to complete round two of a local Breeding Bird Survey instantly produced a cream-crown Marsh Harrier (of course), circling high and coming in off the sea against a clear blue sky (see below); just the inspiration needed to go and stand at my preferred watchpoint all afternoon (resulting in, of course, a completely blank notebook entry).

Another three-hour session today again produced nothing, and so, it being the Mrs' day off, we decided on a walk over to East Lea for a couple of hours away from the tourist multitudes. Crossing the railway line in the middle of town and with traffic lining the road next to us, a very promising, Osprey-shaped silhouette circling in the sun prompted a scramble for the bins and camera, and hey presto, so it was - the bird of the week drifting steadily north.

The moral? Don't waste your time patiently scanning a 360 degrees panorama for many hours in the pursuit of broad-winged bounty - hang around on railway tracks in the middle of a busy town instead. I'll be there tomorrow, dodging the caravans and automatic barriers and pointing the camera at Black Storks and plenty more.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Filey, 1st - 14th May 2014

Two of three Garganey at East Lea
Going into the first half of May I knew I'd have only limited sessions in the field, and that most of those would be snatched opportunistically around visiting family, work commitments and a long weekend playing the Filey Folk Festival. With conditions remaining uninspiring for passerines or visible migration, most of my attentions over the last fortnight have involved relatively quick hits on local wetlands, being easy to cover and the best use of those limited windows.

Colour-ringed Common Gull, from an island off NW Norway

Thus, the month began with a morning at East Lea and the Dams, which produced a White Wagtail and a Norwegian colour-ringed Common Gull at the former and a singing Cuckoo at the latter. The following day and a quick dawn raid on the same sites happily coincided with the return of the three Garganey, again fantastically accommodating and almost fearless in front of the viewing screen.

Black-necked Grebe off the Promenade

There followed the aforementioned folk festival, involving a full-on cycle of playing shows (three on consecutive nights), house rehearsals, acoustic sessions, very little sleep and a lot of alcohol; and yet, thanks to a tip-off from Keith at the Gap, I still managed to stagger out of bed just as a summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebe idled past the seafront on Sunday morning (4th).

Colour-ringed Barwit from the Netherlands
Another hungover session there the next day produced another White Wagtail, a single Garganey, and a colour-ringed and tagged Bar-tailed Godwit (from the Netherlands), while the following three days were spent co-leading another enjoyable Yorkshire Coast Nature (see previous posts); more brief hits on the Dams and East Lea followed, producing a second Bar-tailed Godwit (unringed), White Wagtail, Cuckoo, and Little Ringed Plover amongst others.

Roe Deer are pretty much everywhere at the moment
A chance encounter with a Little Gull at dusk on 9th along the promenade was the only other real notable within a period dominated by other (enjoyable) concerns, with much of my time spent enjoying nature mostly off-patch and a little further afield. For the second half of the month, however, normal service would naturally resume....

Common Sand, East Lea

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bempton Cliffs, 13th May 2014

Brother Ned and sister Anna have been our very welcome guests for the last week, and a sunny afternoon down the road at Bempton to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the seabird colony was naturally a given; wonderful, as ever.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

.... stays on tour

A third and final day of our latest Yorkshire Coast Nature birding tour with a great group of 12 guests, concentrating on the forests (after days one and two focused on wetlands and coastline respectively). Challenging weather failed to dampen the day, with relaxed ambles at our favoured spots incorporating various target species including Marsh Tits, Dippers, Redstart, Tree Pipits, Grey Wags, Siskins, Redpolls, bucketfuls of warblers, Hobby, plus a wide variety of forest flora - but the highlight had to be the flock of seven or so Crossbills that entertained at close quarters, variously singing, feeding each other and generally giving perfect views.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What happens on tour....

Two days into a three-day Yorkshire Coast Nature birding tour, which I'm co-leading with Rich for a group of lovely guests based at Cober Hill in North Yorks. Plenty of highlights so far, several of which came on an impromptu boat trip out of Bridlington this morning, to visit the breeding seabirds of Flamborough Head up close.

One of the benefits of being a well-connected local wildlife tour company is the opportunities it presents to improvise, and when the group expressed a desire to get amongst the seabirds at sea level, a quick call to our man with a boat and we had it sorted. What a pleasure it was to share in our guest's first impressions of the sights, sounds and smells of the colony - like I could ever tire of it anyway.

An unexpected bonus came as we approached the harbour on the way back, when no fewer than five Little Terns whisked past the boat and gunned south. A local rarity and very hard to hard to catch up with in these parts, clocking five together is exceptional.