Champions of the Flyway!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Bottlenose Dolphins, Filey - 28th March 2021

Another 'just nipped out to pick up my nocmig recorder and had a look out to sea' bonus - not quite a White-billed Diver, but still a pleasure: 20+ Bottlenose Dolphins heading south off North Cliff a while ago, and while the light was crap for photos, there's a few animals identifiable thanks to their dorsal fins.....
... including Runny Paint, an old female from the eastern Scottish population who we first saw off Flamborough Head in 2013, and have seen multiple times off Filey in recent years.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Goodbye, Seaside Danny Wilde

A quick commercial break on account of the release of our new album this week. Goodbye, Seaside Danny Wilde is our third studio album and is available as a download via our Bandcamp page as of now. It's a more intimate and campfirey affair than our previous records, reflective of and influenced by our exile here on the Yorkshire coast, and you can buy it (or just listen for free) HERE

Going Underground were kind enough to dedicate their latest podcast to the album - Graeme and I chat about the background, the influences and the making of the album and play a few choice excerpts over a cosy ten minutes. Have a listen here.

Americana UK described the album as "Richly woven and warm, these transportive tales will take you away... Something verging on holiness in its reverence...a joy of a place to escape to." You can read the full review here.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Recent Manoeuvres

Avocets - stars of the turning tides 

Despite the last couple of (celebratory, eternally grateful) posts, it's been a good few weeks since I've addressed birding in general on here of late, and in that spirit, here's a quick coughed-up furball of recent manoeuvres. Work-wise, we're surveying the Humber like crazy presently, with three ongoing projects and many days spent meticulously counting / following shorebirds on or over the industrialised mudflats of the mighty Humber; it varies greatly, from humdrum to thrilling and all points inbetween, but it's a privilege to have so many bird-related projects on the go, especially during lockdown.
Swirling murmurations of Pink-feet and confiding Wigeon on the Humber
Back on home turf, I very nearly absent-mindedly typed that local lockdown birding - pretty much confined to the Filey area - has been fairly predictable for the time of year; I then quickly remembered that I recorded Filey's third-ever Stone-curlew on my nocmig (see here), and then bumped into a White-billed Diver a couple of days ago off the North Cliff (see here), so I'll respectfully shut my trap and crack on.
An early contender for Bird Of The Year - White-billed Diver
Slavonian Grebe off the Brigg
Teal (above) and Gadwall (below)
Summer-plumaged Black-headed Gulls
Purps down on the Brigg
Lots of Yellowhammers and plenty of Goshawks up in the forest
Local Tree Sparrows claiming squatting rights for the season

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Nocmig Update - Jan & Feb 2021

Common Snipe - the first species of 2021 recorded at North Cliff 

Here's a quick round-up of nocturnal migration recording up here on the coast for the first two months of the year. It being the quietest time of year and also the least conducive re: conditions, expectations were low, but after a slow start to the year, things got interesting pretty quickly... 

Filey North Cliff 
The pay-off between efforts, weather and (un)likely rewards made for just a couple of attempts up on the North Cliff in January, happily neither blank, but with just two species (Snipe and Mallard) preventing a blank slate. February saw a total of eights night's recording (with most in the second half of the month), with a steadily increasing strike rate for both species and abundance.
A (very) early reward - nocmig gold, glinting in the eye of a flyover Stone-curlew (thanks again, Lluis!)

Oystercatchers, Snipe, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes all figured in small numbers from the off; by the 16th, Pink-footed Geese, Wigeon, Lapwings and a mini-movement of 16 Redwings stirred the pot, with further additions on 21st including the first Coot, Moorhen and Skylarks, and Gadwall, Golden Plover and Teal on the following night. So far, so good, and then on the night of the 25th....

Filey Town 
Back at base, and the recorder-jammed-in-study-window technique, taking far less effort than the above, was naturally utilised a lot more often (fifteen nights in Jan and 16 in Feb) - the first bird recorded in 2021 being a Redwing at 0206hrs on Jan 1st (even beating Herring Gulls - a good omen?!). Otherwise, January returns were fairy modest, with Mallards, Common Gulls, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Wigeon and Teal in small numbers, an early Moorhen (6th), the odd Golden Plover, a few skeins of Pink-footed Geese, and the highlight, a flock of Barnacle Geese on 12th.
February at the house saw a slowly increasing variety, with much the same species range as January but with new additions including Grey Plover (15th), Fieldfare (24th, with a Redwing - see recording below), Lapwing, Coot and other expected early spring migrants, with a nice surprise first for the house on 21st, a Pintail -



Recording commenced from mid-February and was consistently productive, albeit with a predictably limited range of species - Wigeon, Teal, Pink-footed Geese, Moorhens, Coots, Dunlins, Curlews, Lapwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and other early spring movers were logged in small numbers, with highlights including a Whooper Swan on 24th, and various double-figure Redwing counts, including 47 on 18th.


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Bananarama! White-billed Diver, Filey, 9th March 2021

Well, that was a nice surprise. After a zoom meeting with Jonathan (Meyrav, rubbing it in with tales of full-tilt spring migration in Israel presently) I headed up onto the North Cliff here in Filey to retrieve my #nocmig sound recorder. A side effect of running the recorder up there is the compulsion to have a quick look around while I'm up there, and this morning, with a relatively light wind, I though I'd wander up onto the clifftop and scan the sea.....
... which was emphatically the right decision to make. The first bird I locked onto was a large diver - with an apparently large, pale bill?! Or was it a trick of the light, or holding a pale fish, or was it an aberrant pale-billed Great Northern? Initially just on the edge of IDable binocular range as pictured above (and how it could've ended, badly, there), I put it out as a possible, and prayed. On this occasion the gods were open for business and clearly in benevolent mood, as the bird came subtantially closer, and gave me lovely views for a good 15 minutes....
.... which is where I should reiterate, and appreciate, my good fortune. For all the times it goes the other way (I usually pick up the recorder earlier, I often go in a different direction, the bird could've been underwater when I scanned, it could've not come closer inshore, etc etc), this time it all played out perfectly; and it's only the second White-billed Diver I've seen here (after finding a fly-by, later clocked at Flamborough, a good nine years ago).
On that occasion, I couldn't believe my luck, seeing four species of diver in 45 minutes. This morning? Four species in 15. Hallelujah.
(Not many of these in Israel at the moment, eh J? ;-)