Champions of the Flyway!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Staithes Pelagic, 24th July 2020

My my, it's good to be back out on the waves.... for a long while there, it looked like our Yorkshire Coast Nature Seabird & Whale Trips weren't gonna happen this year at all, and so we're especially enthused about the beginning of a season which, fingers crossed, will be a memorable one for all the right reasons.

Today was my first of the season as guide aboard All My Sons out of Staithes, up beyond Whitby here on the North Yorkshire coast, and it was a great six hours with eight guests and a lots of quality wildlife to lap up. I'll keep it brief (it's late and I'm back out there tomorrow, early start!), but highlights included the season's first Minke Whale (top pic, c5 miles out), wonderfully close-up Manx Shearwaters (above and below).....

Puffins, of all ages and stages....

Guillemot dads and little 'uns....

... and Bonxies checking us out at wonderfully close quarters (below). We also had Arctic Skua, Arctic, Common and Sandwich Terns, wader movements including Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlins, and 26 Whimbrel high and towards the coast many miles offshore, Harbour Porpoises, various jellyfish (including some beautiful Lion's Mane), Scoters, seals and much more. Back on board!

They were all smiles under the masks, honest....!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Black-tailed Godwits - Filey Dams, 18th July 2020

Shorebird migration is kicking in wonderfully here in Filey over the last few days, and when the forecast is for showers, it often pays to sit tight at a local wetland and see what drops in. I spent a while at the Dams (YWT reserve) yesterday afternoon and had the privilege of watching no fewer than 63 (!) stunning Black-tailed Godwits pit-stop for a while on their way south, from Iceland, joining a single already-present (and very happy) bird for a snack, wash and brush-up. A site record and a real thrill.... keep the sound up for their excited yipping!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Bottlenose Dolphins - Filey Bay, 17th July 2020

A beautiful morning here in Filey, and so up early and down onto the Brigg for a little before 6 a.m, with the sun already warm and golden and, for a while, not another soul around. After checking the rocks and shoreline for waders (a few, including Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Whimbrel and a gorgeous fly-through summer-plumage Knot, pictured at the foot of the post), I scanned the bay, and out there, leaping like lords, were at least seven Bottlenose Dolphins....

No longer the drop-everything-and-leg-it-to-the-clifftop rarity they once were (they've gone from one or two sightings a year to maybe 30 or more), watching dolphins - at sea level, from dry land, 15 minutes from your house - is still a serious thrill, and they were good enough to stick around for a while this morning, variously frolicking, co-operatively hunting, loafing and eventually heading north towards Scarborough.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Nocmig update - June 2020

Black-tailed Godwit - a new addition to the nocmig list mid-month
After a fascinating and productive first two months (see here and here), June inevitably saw expectations significantly lowered for nocturnal migration recording here in midtown Filey, for a few reasons. Firstly, the drop-off in migrant activity, as the spring seasons ebbs; secondly, the ramping up of noise from the gull colony; and thirdly, the ever-shortening length of nights. There were, however, some highlights and surprises along the way, justifying the efforts involved....

Curlew - one of the more regular waders so far

Briefly back to those negating factors. Re: the slowdown in migration, this was always going to happen in June, and the diversity of species recorded, as well as their frequency, was in fact better than realistically expected. Regarding the gulls, well, living in the midst of a Herring Gull colony is one thing; purposely recording their ever-increasing, nightmarish soundwall, and then analysing it visually and aurally, has to be one of the less sane aspects of my birding passion, especially with the added squeals, screams and whines of the chicks...

(Euro) Golden Plover - a new addition on 10th
... but as long as there were odd diamonds in the mine, it was worth to carry on digging all month. When factoring in the aformentioned soundwall (as well as the receding nocturnal recording period) - realistically, a couple of hours each night of anything like analysable material - the variety and abundance of records was actually pleasantly surprising.

Of the 'stock' species, Oystercatcher registrations dropped, but interestingly, Water Rails (five, up from singles on April and May), Moorhens (30, up from 12 in April and 24 in May), and Grey Herons (11 - twice as many as previous months) all rose significantly, while Little Grebes (two - as previous months) and Curlews (eight) held their own.

Shorebird variety and abundance was down as anticipated, but Dunlin, Redshank, Knot (3rd), Whimbrel and the aforementioned Curlews all made the tape, while two new species put in (sonic) appearances - European Golden Plover on 10th, and a Black-tailed Godwit on 18th.

After the passerine discoveries of April and May (particularly the vocal, night-migrating warblers - a real thrill), I expected little or nothing in June, not just because of the drastic reduction in activity, but also the difficulty in picking them out in the checkerboard gull-soaked sonogram... but fantastically, I managed to pull out my second Spotted Flycatcher of the season, on 9th - which is exactly two more Spotted Flycatchers than I've seen in Filey this spring! So, another good month; July may be a more challenging still, but stay tuned to see what transpires....

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Filey Albatross Revisited

If you're not a fan of 'contextual' and 'record' shots, look away now.... I've only just had chance to have a better look at my attempts to capture the Black-browed Albatross as it cruised serenely past the Brigg a couple of days ago (yes, i am still buzzing...), and it turns out there's a few more that at least chart its progress from the bay, past the Buoy and the Brigg, and beyond.

If you'd prefer better pictures of this beautiful beast, either take a look here, or just scroll through social media from the 2nd and 3rd (if you're a birder, you'll know what I mean....!). If however, you just want to revel in a dream occurrence and self-find on your home patch, then look no further.

Just me then? Never mind....