Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Double Greenish - Filey, 22nd & 23rd August '21

A quick smile for the camera seconds after dropping in from a North Sea crossing - classy 

More from the last couple of weeks to follow, but first a post dedicated to memorable double lightning strike last week. I've been fortunate to have had a fair amount of time to go birding of late, and I've made the most of it - plenty here on the doorstep in Filey, as well as the usual wanders a little further afield, and it was after (quiet) morning sessions at both Flamborough and Buckton that I returned to Carr Naze for an afternoon seawatch on 22nd.
Wandering along the central path under ashen skies, I bumped into Paul (Scanlan), and we mused on a tantalising whiff of east in the northerly wind; enough to drop something decent in, perhaps? I'd been hoping for an Icterine or a Barred Warbler, maybe a Wryneck or an early Red-backed Shrike, or better still, even a Greenish Warbler... Any would be a class early autumn find here, but the latter are real rarities in Filey, with just two in the last twenty years, both of which I'd been lucky enough to find - the last, six years ago, on an umbellifer right on the edge of the cliff....
I said goodbye to Paul, walked maybe ten paces, and a small, green warbler literally dropped in, right in front of me, onto an umbellifer by the cliff path. Clearly, truly fresh-in, I knew from plenty of (sometimes painful) experience I had perhaps just seconds on it before it bolted over the cliff edge and spirited away, so I went for the camera and rattled off a burst of record shots, but I knew before I'd pulled my finger off the trigger that it was indeed a Greenish Warbler. Bingo!
Predictably, it took a good look around and thought better of a bushless, windswept clifftop, and ducked over the edge; I called Paul back and, after a nervous minute or so, it very generously rematerialised in the Magic Bush, halfway down the slope. Instead of pulling a fast one, however, it was more than happy to feed up after its above-ocean voyage, buzzing between weedy patches and stunted bushes as processions of holidaymakers bundled noisily by.
The following morning and, after a couple of hours of pretty meagre returns, I checked the southern side of Arndale, a wooded ravine on the Country Park. I expected little, especially as it was typically well disturbed by dogwalkers and tourists, but I've had good returns here over the last few years - Dusky Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail and Marsh Warbler all springing to mind - and it paid off again when I heard the distinctive shweut! of a Greenish. I found the bird in a small stand of trees nearby, and before I had time to wonder if it was yesterday's bird, a second began calling emphatically, just a few metres away....
... ridiculous, but there they were, not just calling to each other, but one even responding with regular bursts of song (see below); more concerned with each other than me, I had a very special ten minutes or so with them before they filtered into the densely-wooded ravine.

Beforehand, then, two Greenish Warblers in ten years seemed like a pretty decent return here; 24 hours later and I'd doubled my tally. Autumn really is the greatest time of year.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

(Still) The Greatest Show In Town

What a bird, really. It's provided for and indulged me in every way possible - over multiple years, multiple visits, multiple scenerios (sat on the cliffs, flying past at head height, landing, sat on the sea, taking off, sleeping, preening, landing just beneath me, flying above and below me, etc....), and even at multiple locations (including its unforgettable fly-by at Filey last summer), but it never even vaguely gets old.
Every encounter is a thrill, and today's - with a particularly lovely family of clients on a bespoke guiding day - was up there with the best, and sharing such experiences makes them all the more enjoyable. Yep - still the greatest show in town, by an absolute mile.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Pale and dark morph Arctic Skuas, Filey Brigg

From this afternoon on the Brigg - an obliging pair that sauntered right past us. More on today to follow.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

YCN Pelagics, 12th & 13th Aug '21

Two back-to-back trips this weekend (one twilight, one full length) were a bit more challenging than usual on account of the wind and choppier conditions - but fortune favoured the brave, and all our clients had unforgettable experiences, thanks in no small part to our Bottlenose friends...
On both days we were joined by dolphin pods which included very young calves, and on both trips they came to us, and played, bow-rode and generally showed off beautifully for extended periods. Grey Seals, Harbour Porpoises and a great selection of seabirds, including Great and Arctic Skuas, Arctic, Common and Sandwich Terns, lots of auks and Scoters, huge feeding frenzies of Gannets and much more - but for the migration lovers, the standout highlight was a Marsh Harrier (see foot of post) which we picked up way, way out over sea, which eventually battled in over the boat and then over the highest sea cliff on England's east coast, into a strong westerly wind. Magic.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Filey Barn Owls

Had the pleasure of bumping into a couple of local Barn Owls on a late evening walk the other day here in Filey, where juveniles are clowning around and ignoring parental guidance....

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Nocmig Update - July '21

Not one but two Quails overflew the North Cliff recorder on 4th (library pic from the Negev, spring 2018) 

After the nocmig rarities of both May and June, it's almost a relief to report that July was, overall, pretty muted for nocturnal migration recording across my local recording sites. I reshuffled the pack a little regarding where I rolled the recorders, with the house (study window) one still mothballed on account of the Herring Gull colony (which is still very much at full, nerve-shredding force), and the one in Flamborough village running as and when logistics allowed. 

Recordings up at Filey North Cliff were again nightly, however, thanks to the pre-progammable convenience of an Audiomoth, which continues to perform perfectly with the huge bonus of weekly (as opposed to daily) pick-ups and drop-offs; a second Audiomoth, meanwhile, was deployed at Buckton, where it'll be running throughout the autumn (more below). So three out of four sites were active, which will do fine for now..... 


Filey North Cliff 
An overall pretty quiet month was nonetheless illuminated by (yet another) Bittern on 1st, the second nocmig July record in a row, the second for the site this year (after one in May) and the third overall, in less than a year's efforts up there. For a species which is, diurnally, less-than-annual in the Filey area, nocmig is clearly rewriting this species' status locally.


And after a blank spring thus far across the board for Quail, not one but two overflew the recorder on the night of the 4th, at 0133hrs and 0256hrs respectively; I thought I'd missed out this year, but their famously extended migration period paid out in the end. Again, these are the only local records this year so far of a less-than-annual species locally, and nocmig is shedding new light on their local status.


Otherwise, it was generally a case of small numbers of a fairly limited variety of species, which consisted mainly of returning shorebirds - including regular Dunlins, Oystercatchers, Curlews and Redshanks, plus a scattering of Whimbrel, several single and small flocks of Turnstones, odd Knot, a couple of Common Sandpipers, and a Greenshank (on 17th). Water Rails and Moorhens clocked in on a couple of nights each, as did both Black-headed and Common Gulls, while all three commoner terns were good enough to make appearances (Arctic, Common and Sandwich), all between 21st and 25th.


The Flamborough village recorder was deployed on 22 nights in July, and picked up a very similar species variety and abundance to the above - Oystercatchers, Dunlins, Curlews, Whimbrels, Turnstones and Redshanks occured on multiple nights in small numbers, with single Ringed Plover, Knot and Little Ringed Plover also recorded; Little Grebe and Moorhen figured a couple of times, with Common and Sandwich Terns screeching over on 16th and 29th (both sp) and 19th (just Sandwich). An as-yet-unidentified call on the night of 8th we strongly suspect to be a male Cuckoo, but aren't 100% as yet (see below); comments welcomed.

The Empire expands.... after a couple of test sessions in the spring (which picked up odd migrating waders, and established Water Rail as a breeding species), I'll be running an Audiomoth at Buckton throughout the autumn. I began recording on the 19th, and early results have been promising: migrating wader species picked up so far have included Turnstone, Knot, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Redshank and Whimbrel, while the 'collateral' sounds there routinely include foxes, Barn, Tawny and Little Owls, and (again) Water Rails.

Here's to a busy nocturnal August here on the coast.....