Champions of the Flyway!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Bay Whoopers - 18th March 2019

Have to admit that, with lots going on otherwise and tedius strong westerlies dominating, I've been keeping the powder dry of late, but with the wind dropping and the sun (temporarily) out, I couldn't resist an extended late lunch break up on Carr Naze / North Cliff here in Filey.

And a very enjoyable (if deceptively cold) ninety minutes it was, too - female Long-tailed Duck off the south side of the Brigg, a nice sharp Scandinavian Rock Pipit on Carr Naze, and 19 Whooper Swans (which had arrived earlier in the day) looking suitably angelic in the bay corner. A real joy to watch as they became increasingly restless, swimming in steadily faster circles, neck-pumping and calling before eventually taking flight, swinging round the Brig and heading north past Scarborough.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Bird of the Week #10 - Sanderling

The Brigg offers memorable opportunities to get close to Arctic shorebirds as they leave and then return from their breeding grounds. These Sanderlings were part of a small flock stopping off briefly in May on their long journey to the tundra, with the left-hand bird (also pictured below) looking particularly sharp. 
A little behind on this photo-sorting, blogpost-encouraging BOTW project (hey, it's a busy time), but back on track with the quintessentially sandy shoreline seaside stunner, the Sanderling. A (very) high Arctic breeder, Sanderlings soon head south for the beaches and mudflats of Europe and Africa for the non-breeding season, which is when we're lucky enough to host them here on the Yorkshire coast.

For me, they symbolise the close season here, when my adopted seaside seaside hometown of Filey becomes a near-ghost town after a summer of tourists and day-trippers; by October, the crowds have depleted to a meagre scattering on the beach at most, and Sanderlings - gleaming in their ghostly winter polumage - finally get to reclaim a little of their natural off-season habitat.

Which is where you'll find them, scurrying like wind-up toys, often in manic little parties, along the receding shore, for which they're specially adapted - look closely and you'll find they lack a hind toe, an evolutionary advantage that makes speeding along on the soft sand even more of a breeze.

A Sanderling in January on Filey beach, in more familiar, ghostly winter plumage. 

Juveniles are equally stunning, with a more contrasting, spangled plumage (pictured here on Filey beach in early winter). 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Happy Meds

It may have been dark, windy and intermittently pissing it down, but who cares when you've got Mediterranean Gulls at your feet? A quick detour with Pearson Snr to Holbeck car park on the seafront at Scarborough had us spoiled for choice, with at least seven in attendance, including five adults in various states of moult into breeding plumage.

Interestingly, none were colour-ringed, and so who knows where they're from - but in previous winters birds bearing colour rings have (I think) mostly been traced back to mainland / East European colonies. I did, however, manage to get enough photos of a Black-headed Gull's metal ring, which is Dutch; details to follow when they come through.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Buckton Whooper Swan

Stole a quick by-passing opportunity to get close to an adult Whooper just down the road at Buckton pond the other day - what a beauty.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Back in Business - The Local Peregrines

It's that time of year - the local Peregrines are back in business, kicking ass and taking names, along the cliffs and over the town; in fact it's about now when I start having the privilege of watching them bulleting over the chimney pots out of the study window in pursuit of feral Pigeons. These photos were taken on a quick break up on Carr Naze the other day, under dark skies and in strong winds, but still portray the inherent beauty in these super-slick raptors - such a joy to have them around.