Champions of the Flyway!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Brigg me sunshine

With tides, light and solitude in your favour, there's nowhere quite like the Brigg in late summer (and indeed throughout the autumn, or at any other time of year for that matter...). With a bit of fieldcraft and patience it's often possible to get absurdly close to feeding waders. There'll be more to come over the next few weeks, but following on from the Little Stint the other day (I had two this morning as it happens, but the light is usually poor in the morning), here's a few standard bearers - Sanderling, Knot and Dunlin.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Little Stint on the Brigg

The now happily annual ritual of stint-whispering on the Brigg end came a little earlier than usual this year; for the third year running, sitting still for a while was all that was needed for the bird to come remarkably, sometimes catchably close.

Friday, August 26, 2016


I still can't seem to get enough of Fulmars, to the point where I'm still constantly distracted by them during sea-watches (and thus they may well be responsible for me missing the Bulwer's as it sweeps by in front of the hide). But there's few more beautiful sights than one approaching at close range out of a storm and into the evening sunshine, and the end of the Brigg is the perfect place to experience them.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Birdfair 2016

Well, that was fun. Amity and I are just back from this year's Birdfair, and what a blast it was, on every level. We were there to represent Yorkshire Coast Nature, our local wildlife tour company out here on (you guessed it) the Yorkshire coast, with company directors, close friends and all-round top geezers Rich and Steve.

It's been a real pleasure to be involved with YCN since its inception a few years ago, and it's hard to imagine more lovely people to work with; long may it continue to prosper, and I'd recommend the tours and workshops to anyone.... (and we won 2nd prize for best tourism stand - quite an accolade with so much quality competition!).

With the boys working it hard on the stand, we had plenty of opportunity to explore, although any good intentions to catch lectures during the day went out of the window - with so many people to talk to, it could take an hour or more to make it out of one tent and into the next. But we made it around most of the stands and around most of the site eventually, and it was better than ever.

Come Friday afternoon and it was time to deliver my lecture - a quickfire, super-distilled, bespoke Birdfair version of my (typically 90-minute-plus) 'Filey International - Arrivals and Departures at North Yorkshire's Bird Observatory' talk. As anyone familar with Birdfair knows, there's an overwhelmingly international bias to the lectures, and the vast majority involve far flung and exotic places - and so to be representing not only a British location but a small Yorkshire bird observatory was a real privilege. Better still, it was a full house, and a great audience - plenty of whom tracked me down afterwards with some lovely feedback.

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Birdfair is indeed the people - re-acquainting with old friends and colleagues, connecting in the real world with virtual brethren, and making new friends from often unexpected places. I'm not always great with crowds - especially not for three solid days - and have a habit of zoning out periodically when immersed in such environs (and so apologies if you were a victim of such a wide-eyed blackout), but for the most of the time I think I managed to pay attention... I did consider an attempt at roll-calling all those who made it such a great weekend, but soon realised they really were too many, and all I'd achieve would be the accidental omission of various lovely people - so I'll just have to pull the old 'you know who you are' chestnut out of the fire. You know who are.

Special mention must however go to our dear friends the Perlmans - Yoav, Adva, Noam, Uri and Libby feel like family these days (and were also the bargaining chip that ultimately persuaded Amity to pull the many strings to be there!), which is all thanks to a much-missed mutual friend of ours, a certain Mr Garner. Yoav (and Keith and Paul) did Martin proud at the RSPB Friday evening lecture dedicated to him, and there was inevitably and hearteningly an awful lot of love and respect in the room. Maybe we can work on a more permanent event or suchlike to honour our friend? We'll see.

So - thanks to everyone who made it such a blast, to Tim for being the perfect host, and to the awesome Tina for going the extra mile. Here's to next year!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Dams Spot Red

It's picking up nicely over at the Dams, with lots of mud pulling in an increasingly interesting cast of waders. Among small handfuls of Ruff, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlins, this very smart juvenile Spotted Redshank dropped in the other day, and unusually has stuck around since. I've had them annually since arriving here, but they're a tough bird to get on a local year list and most are flyovers - so, a nice treat and a bit of extra inspiration for the coming weeks.