Friday, 24 October 2014

Filey Field Trip

Birding has been very thin on the ground in recent times, I'm not going to lie. Work, Church and a variety of other things have meant that birding has had to take a back seat. However, on Friday, as part of the course, we went on a field trip to Filey to do some rock-pooling. The idea was to collect data on species in rock pools given the size of the rock pool, but really it just turned into a days rock-pooling fun.
We caught some pretty decent stuff, such as a small Butterfish, and a giant Sea Scorpion as well as seeing some Rocklings and a number of blennys. We also had innumerable Hermit Crabs as well as a jellyfish and a couple of other bits and pieces.
-Sea Scorpion
-Sea Scorpion
Sadly there were a few things that did escape our nets and we were unable to relocate them. 
On the bird front there were good numbers of Rock Pipit around, as well as a few waders along the shore. Of the waders the Turnstones were the highlight, but there were also Redshank, Oystercatcher and a solitary Dunlin. There were decent numbers of gulls too, though nothing unusual, and there were 3 Cormorants at the end of the Brigg.
The only downside was that when I returned home I discovered that a rough-legged buzzard had come in off the sea around lunchtime and given its description must have flown straight over me and I had not seen it, which would have been a lifer. That was a bit of a pain, but never mind.

Species List:
Filey Beach: Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Black-Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Long-Tailed Tit, Turnstone, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Cormorant, 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Spurn NGB Weekend Day 3

Final Day with the NGBs at Spurn. I decided I would head up to Kilnsea Wetlands since it was so close to where I was camping. There was still a little fog around but the light was glorious out there. There were a few birds on the marsh already, mainly Curlew, Dunlin, Lapwing and Redshank. There were a few other bits around too including Skylarks and a couple of Black-Headed Gulls.
After a bit 3 Swans came in off the ponds. 2 were presumably the local Mute Swans from the ponds but a Whooper Swan had joined them from somewhere. The 3 Swans remained on the wetlands for at least as long as I did, gradually coming closer to the hide until they were right in front of it and I could get some reasonable shots of the Whooper. In the morning light all 3 birds looked fantastic.
-Whooper Swan
The only other change in the bird fauna was when a Merlin flew over the wetlands sending all the waders up. I then moved round onto the ponds but they were pretty quiet with only a few ducks on, It was nice to see the site again though after not having worked there for a couple of months now.
I made my way down Beacon Lane and then to Numpties to see the others. Along Beacon Lane there was not much really, a couple of Goldcrests. Along the walk down to the warren there was also not much, a couple of Stonechats on the fences near the Borrow Pits being the only real birds of note.
Once I arrived at Numpties it was already about 10.00. Passage was pretty quiet, and had been all morning apparently. There were a few geese moving through though. I spent pretty much the rest of the day up there counting the geese with some impressive Skeins going through, including one of 500 birds. There were also a few other bits and pieces, including Rock Pipits, of which Tim was trying to Spring trap some along the top of the path. He succeeded too, as we caught 2 birds in total.
-Pink-Footed Goose
There were some birds moving, but the highest count was only 105 Goldfinch. As a result it was a slow afternoon. I did spurn tick Brambling though, and got to get a record shot of Harbor Porpoise at last, as 2 spent the majority of the afternoon just chilling offshore.
-Harbor Porpoise
By late afternoon, Daniel Wade and I decided to try Canal Scrape to see if there were any jack snipe. There were not, and not many birds at all really. It was rewarding though as the limpy Redshank flew in while we were there. Having not seen it yesterday I had wondered if it had been eaten, especially since I saw a cat on the scrape but it appears that is not the case as yet.
After about half an hour in the hide we moved on. Since there were no birds about really we decided to go and have a look for the yellow-browed warbler that had been seen in the Crown car park. We did not see it or anything else there really. As a result I decided to head off and take my tent down in preparation for leaving.
However, on my way up it all kicked off. I got a text from Oli Simms telling me about a Grey Phalarope up near Easington. I knew it was a trek but decided I had nothing else to do and so prepared myself for the walk along long bank. Had I done this I would have been one of the first to arrive at a much rarer bird, but I was rescued this and offered a lift up to the Phalarope. Once there it took us some time to work out where it had gone as it had apparently moved up the beach. It was here that I also learned about a Raddes Warbler on long bank...
I had not brought my scope but kindly got to borrow Steve's and got a reasonable view of the Phalarope. It was clear to tell what it was, as it fed in the surf along the edge of the sea. It was another much needed lifer. But since it was so far away we did not stay long but moved on to the Raddes. Steve gave me a lift there and we were soon at the site where it was.
It was very skulky and not showing unless flushed. Tim organised a flush for when everyone had arrived before trying to get the bird out. We did manage to get it out but it flew and then went straight back down, making it difficult to get good views of. The colour was easy to appreciate but that was pretty much the only feature that we could make out. We flushed again but the bird dived back in immediately this time too. After the second flush I decided to call it quits, as did many others. The light was going and I though it would probably be right to let the bird settle down rather than to go chasing it round. Either way, its another nice lifer from the weekend!
The light had pretty much gone by the time I had my tent down and we spent most of the journey home in the dark. It has been a great weekend, met some more NGB's, got another 4 lifers, seen a whale and counted a lot of birds. It does not get much better than that.

Species List:
Kilnsea Wetlands: Lapwing, Curlew, Little Egret, Skylark, Dunlin, Black-Headed Gull, Redshank, Whooper Swan, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Teal, Knot, Mallard, Magpie, Brent Geese, Shelduck, Merlin, Grey Plover, Stonechat,
Vis-Migging: Brambling, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Linnet, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Wigeon, Teal, Pink-Footed Goose, Rook, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon,
Mooching About: Redshank, Swallow, Goldcrest, Grey Phalarope, Whooper Swan, Brent Goose, Mediterranean Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Raddes Warbler 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Spurn NGB Weekend Day 2

As I was the only NGB camping at Westmere farm it meant I would have more of a trek to get down to numpties to start the day with others. On the way down I got the most ridiculous Spurn Tick in the form of Lapwing, as they had not been moving while I was there.
There were already a flock of about 30 Whooper Swans on the Humber for when I arrived at numpties and joined the small gathering of NGB's around the watchpoint. The passage was much reduced from yesterday, though we still had a few Rock Pipits and Grey Wagtails, as well as an Eider that went south.
Tim was up at numpties and his radio was to hand, so we could follow all of what was progressing across the reserve. A lot of the NGB guys were busy ringing for most of the morning, and one of the first things they caught was a lovely male Stonechat which was a smashing bird to see in the hand.
After an other half an hour or so up at Numpties news came through that Martin had found a Yellow-Browed Warbler down at the warren. We arrived but it had already dived into the bushes. It was Re-found by Sarah about 5mins later though, having moved round the warren from the ringing lab. It was difficult to assemble a crowd, but we were near to the site where it was and so I was finally able to get my own YB Warbler record shots. It was difficult to track and it was not long until it was lost again.
-Yellow-Browed Warbler
This time though it had moved along the bank to the bushes where I had seen one on my previous trip. It was difficult to track here too but on the whole we were reasonably successful and some of the guys managed to get a few shots of it.
However, news had come through of a Firecrest up by Driftwood Caravan Site, and Scott offered to take me up since it was a lifer, and a badly needed one. We raced up but the bird had been lost and was not showing. As a result after about 10 mins Scott headed off to check out Sammies. I decided to stay to see if the Firecrest would return. After a while a couple of birders further up the path called that they had it. I arrived in time to see the bird right out in the open on a hawthorn tree across the road. It spent all the time out in the open, the only downside being that the afore mentioned time was not very long, only around 30 seconds, and as such I did not have time to get any pictures, which was disappointing given how incredible the views were. But fortunately the bird was all I had hoped, looking stunning. It moved across the road but we lost it there, and despite sticking around I did not find it again, though it was seen by a couple of other guys later in the day in the same area, suggesting it was doing some kind of circuit.
I wandered back down to the warren to catch up on the ringing and the passage. Not much had happened since I had left which is always comforting. However, soon after I returned things became more exciting again. We were all stood at numpties and a few of us commented that we thought we had heard a Jay alarm calling. However, not much happened in the immediate aftermath and so we though no more of it. About a minuet later Tim came on the radio with news that a Jay had been caught and was about to be ringed.
We headed down to watch the bird be processed and then displayed. I had a lot of fight in it, savaging Tims finger whenever it got the chance,but still more than happy to sit still for a photo providing the other hand was not too close. Its a different perspective to have on a bird that I would consider myself familiar with, the magic of Spurn!
It was not the only bird caught while I was down there. All morning the YBW had been around the nets, and had even fallen out of one I hear. However, by late morning it had finally been caught. It was brought out to a pretty decent sized crowd, mainly consisting on NGB's. It sat very well, though I did not manage to get any really good photos.
-Yellow Browed Warbler
The time with the YBW was cut short when news of a richards pipit coming south was broadcast over the radio. As such we all raced up to numpties in the hope of catching a glimpse of it as it went over. That never happened, the bird had dropped down into the churchfield but we remained at numpties anyway in the hope that something else may come down.
We had Jack Snipe, Merlin and a Skein of 70 Pink Footed Geese come down during the early part of the afternoon. By 2.00 though it had started to rain and as such we took to sitting in the warren waiting for it to pass. While we waited another smart bird was caught, though this time it was more of a rescue from gulls as an apparently injured Guillemot had been found down the point.
The guys that found it brought it up and we were able to have a good look at it. Paul came down to see if the bird was ringable but decided there was not enough fat on it and that it was probably a gonner. Tim took it down to the sea and placed it back, where it probably stood its best chance of getting back to any form of health.
We then did a walk through the saltmarsh to try and see what we could flush. The only thing we managed though was a Roe Deer, which I had called a minuet or so before. At the top of the canal bank I said I would head back since I was already half way to my tent. This was a big mistake as the others then found a grass snake and flushed a woodcock.
That was it for the day really, the weather did not really let up so the birding was limited. I tried again for the firecrest but it was not showing.

Species List:
Vis-Migging: Lapwing, Mallard, Wren, Reed Bunting, Whooper Swan, Eider, Tree Sparrow, Grey Wagtail, Rock Pipit, Skylark, Stonechat, Goldcrest,
Warren: Goldcrest, Great Tit, Wren, Song Thrush, Merlin, Teal, Snipe, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Jack Snipe, Pink-Foot Goose, Guillemot,

Friday, 10 October 2014

Spurn NGB Weekend Day 1

The first day of the NGB weekend of Spurn, but without many NGB's. There were 4 of us at Numpties in the morning; Martin, Jonnie, Tim and me. Together we had a good time, clocking an incredible passerine passage. The species of the day was Tree Sparrow, of which there were 2285 birds going south, the second highest ever Spurn count and only 40 off the record. There were also 312 House Sparrows and 701 Skylarks, which were also both notable counts and the best for some time. There were other finches moving too; 84 Chaffinch, 106 Greenfinch, 876 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, 1047 Linnet, 1347 Meadow Pipit, 91 Rock Pipit, all of which made for an impressive mornings spectacle.
There were other goodies among the birds moving south, including a Jay which came south and then banked and turned round north. The highlight of the moving birds was a Lapland Bunting which Tim picked out. I grabbed a photo in of it as it turned back north and though it is a poor attempt you can clearly make out the fact that it is a Lapland Bunting, a Lifer for me.
-Lapland Bunting
We also had a small flock of Whooper Swans fly over the triangle and down the Humber. They were quite distant but that was my tarts tick for the year gone, which is a relief. They were also the first of the autumn for Spurn, There were other wildfowl going too, including Brent Geese and Pinkfeet as well as a couple of duck species, but these were mainly moving over the triangle and not going south. 
-Whooper Swan
-Pink Footed Geese
There were also good numbers of Hirundines moving. Considering before today I had only seen 3 'October swallows' it was great to see 574 going south, including 80 House Martin, which are the first time I have ever seen the species so late into the year.
-Hirundines-Swallows and House Martin
But there was an undoubted highlight of the morning. As we were all counting at numpties there came Steve's calls from the seawatching hide. His cry was of 'Whale, Whale Whale'. I have never seen a whale so I, along with all the others present turned our eyes straight to the sea. Steve had picked it up quite south but its breaches were irregular and difficult to follow. I only pick it up the once but the view included Spray and the Fin, all that you could realistically hope for. That was fantastic, made all the better for the fact that it was so unexpected. Steve said he had spent 2500 hours watching the sea since his last whale, so to be there for this was a privilege. There were birders all along the Spurn coast that had heard the message, and they followed its progress as it moved up north. As to its identity, we remain unsure. Based on the spray it may have been a humpback,but Minkie seems to be the most common thoughts about it based on peoples previous experiences with the species, and that is what most people have put it down as.
That was early morning so left me buzzing for the rest of the day. By early afternoon the passage had dried up so I headed over to Canal Scrape to see if there was anything about on there. There was not a lot, in fact the only bird was Long-John Silver the redshank. who is somehow still alive despite having only half of one of its legs. Considering he was there when I left my job back in September it has done remarkably well for itself. 
Since it was so quiet I went back for an afternoon kip. Turns out a woodcock was caught at kew but I did not hear about it, which was a big blow. The evening was spent back up at Numpties seeing what was moving. There was much less than the morning counts, the highlight being a few Whooper Swans that came down and landed on the sea, and a few large Skeins of Pink-footed Geese with a single Graylag in tow.
-Whooper Swans
-Pink Footed Geese
In the pub later on I met some more NGBs, which was great, a chance to get together with other birders my own age. It had been a good start to the weekend, with a bird lifer and a Whale, can you ask for much more.

Species List:
Vis-Migging: Siskin, Merlin, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Brent Goose, Teal, House Martin, Swallow, Jay, Pink-Footed Goose, Rock Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Mallard, Reed Bunting, Rook, Skylark, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Linnet, Feral Pigeon, Goldfinch, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Greenfinch, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Tree Sparrow, Lapland Bunting, House Sparrow, Whooper Swan, Little Egret, Cormorant, Knot, Whimbrel, Minke Whale, 
Vis-Migging: Red-Throated Diver, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, House Martin, Whooper Swan, Pink-Footed Goose, Kestrel, Little Egret, Knot, Curlew, Pintail, Brent Goose,

Friday, 3 October 2014

Orgreave Lakes

Went for a trip down to Orgreave today with the intention of putting my new camera to the test. However, that did not happen, and I took no photos over the course of the morning. There large numbers of Pochard and Tufted Duck, which was nice. There were also 2 Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, though I only saw one, the other I heard calling. The real highlight were 3 Swallows that flew south over the site, which are my first inland October swallows.
I met Mark Reader there for the first time, who is something of a local legend, and regularly patches Orgreave. We got chatting about the site, and I learned some of the incredible things that have been seen there before, e.g. Leaches Petrel. As we were wandering back he picked out the Rock Pipit that had been around on the bank of the small pool, allowing me to see my first inland Rock Pipit. I tried to get some photos but it dropped before I was fully able to.

Species List:
Orgreave Lakes: Starling, Woodpigeon, Tufted Duck, Magpie, Mallard, Carrion Crow, Coot, Black-Headed Gull, Gadwall, Feral Pigeon, Pochard, Swallow, Mute Swan, Goldfinch, Cormorant, Meadow Pipit, Great-Crested Grebe, Chiff-Chaff, Lapwing, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Great Tit, Skylark, Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Canada Goose, Pied Wagtail, Graylag Goose, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Dunlin, Linnet, Rook, Rock Pipit,