Stonechat and Whinchat at Haltemprice Farm, Willerby

8 Sep

or Inland migrants in East Yorkshire Pt2

8/9/20 Text from PS mid morning that he had seen a Stonechat at Haltemprice Farm. The dog hadn’t come down for his walk yet so went upstairs but he just wasn’t interested so got the cycle out.

His loss as saw his friend Artie, a fellow Bedlington/Whippet and walked part of the way talking to his owner.

The faithful steed.

Getting to Haltemprice Farm no immediate sign so starting looking starting with the scrub to the east of the ruin then back along the other side when I saw a chat like bird flying out of the compound so back tracked but no sign so started looking in the area to the north. Saw some interesting birds on the west side of the track but getting closer turned out to be Reed Bunting. However going back to the track saw a definite chat and lifting my bins proved to be the Stonechat. Started stalking it but as usual very mobile.

Stonechat -Haltemprice Farm, Willerby

The Stonechat was regularly joined by Whinchat with at least 3 in the area.

Whinchat-Haltemprice Farm, Willerby
Dunnock-Haltemprice Farm, Willerby. A common bird but approachable.

After being a ruin for many years the new owners of Haltemprice Farm have now started working on it. Hopefully the Barn and Little Owls, as well as Kestrels, that nest in the building have fledged their young but sad that they will now be evicted. Would be great if there was some mitigation in the form of nest boxes. The Barn Owls might be welcomed at nearby Carr Farm stables as they would control the inevitable rodents population. Wish I had done something when the planning permission was under consideration to get some consideration for nature.

Haltemprice Farm, Willerby

Wheatear and 4 Whinchat seen by RL in the evening.

Inland migrants in East Yorkshire

7 Sep

5/9/20 Whinchat is annual at Haltemprice Farm, Willerby late summer/early autumn so have been checking the area recently. Finally on Saturday morning found a few. As usual very difficult to get close to and although had 3 together briefly were constantly on the move and often out of sight. Eventually one hung around long enough to get some distant photos.

Whinchat-Willerby at Haltemprice Farm

Nearby had a Common Darter that was more confiding.

♂.Common Darter at Haltemprice Farm

6/9/20 Sunday morning had a walk in Cottingham around Middledyke fields, Oppy Wood and Northmoor Flood Prevention Scheme. A few migrants hanging on including a few Chiffchaff, one singing, and Swallows and House Martins over the paddocks. No sign today but had seen Little Egret on Friday.

Little Egret-Cottingham at Northmoor Flood Prevention Scheme-16/06/20

News from PS and RL that 4 Whinchat were still near Haltemprice Farm.

This afternoon decide to cut the lawn just before it started to rain but managed to finish before it got to bad. AG tweeted a Spotted Flycatcher in Millbeck Wildlife Area. Used to breed into the 1990’s but now just a rare migrant. Got out late afternoon when the rain eased. From the directions checked the best spot, a dead tree near the entrance to the allotments and only a short distance from where I last seen a Spotted Flycatcher last August 2019. Plenty of birds including Willow Warbler, which I hadn’t record in the area this year, the nearest being at Middledyke Fields. Also had my first Treecreeper there this year. The flycatcher was quickly seen and I got one sharp but ‘rear’ shot before the clouds returned. Took several more photos but although better framed in poorer light.

Spotted Flycatcher-Cottingham in Millbeck Wildlife Area

Although the rain had returned the dog insisted on continuing north to the set-aside fields. Had been good for butterflies recently including a colony of Brown Argus and in the better weather early last week a few migrant Painted Ladies.

Painted Lady-Cottingham in set-aside N.of Millbeck Wildlife Area
Brown Argus-Cottingham in set-aside N.of Millbeck Wildlife Area

Someone shooting Woodpigeon in Millhouse Wood and with rain increasing put the dog on the lead and headed back south via the official footpath, often avoid because of ‘social distancing’ [first Covid 19 mention!]. Fancied a look at the paddock anyway which paid off with 22+ Pied Wagtails. Previous autumns I have had even larger flocks of Pied Wagtails with similar numbers in the paddock off Park Lane. However with the recent heavy rain this may have been a “fall” evidenced by 3 Yellow Wagtails, a species I can only ever remember recording in the village in fields south of The Garth. Although distance and the light poor managed a few pictures before the rain drove me away.

Yellow and Pied Wagtail-Cottingham in paddock N.of Millbeck Wildlife Area.

7/9/20 No sign of the Spotted Flycatcher or any wagtails early Monday afternoon.

For the next instalment click here

Eastern Yellow Wagtail in Northumberland

20 Dec

Eastern Yellow Wagtail is one of those birds that flew under the radar until recently with the first accepted record over a hundreds years old on Fair Isle in 1909 with a further bird there in 1912 now considered “British” following genetic analysis of  both records.  The next record was at Colyton, Devon in December 2010 which was trapped allowing DNA analysis to confirm it as the 2nd record {BB Vol 106 p36-41}. Since then though there have been a small but steady occurrence, likely more to do with greater knowledge, particularly the call with sound recording and sonographs, as well as ‘appearance’ than actual increase in occurrence. What were just late “grey’ Yellow Wagtails [as with the Devon record birds seen after the usual autumn migration and into winter] are now given a good grilling [and listening!] Of course with split of Eastern from Western forms they have now become in demand to twitchers. Living in Yorkshire the temptation to ‘sit and wait’ had kept me expecting one locally but with one not too far off in Northumberland and showing well TD got interested and ofter some reluctance I gave in.

18712/19 Too cold, with the risk of ice, and my usual trip to Bridlington by bike was replaced with the train. So walked to Cottingham station in the dark and despite initial worries the new ticket machine proved non-challenging and after a few minutes on a frozen bench joined RG on the train. TD picked us up from the station and got to Prestwick Carr by early afternoon with incident. Unfortunately the bird, having been settled all morning, had flown to north of the cross road. Getting there it had flown again and after a few minutes searching returned to the fields further south. Found a distant group of Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit and started looking through when called back to the northern field were the Eastern Yellow Wagtail had been relocated. To be honest the usual early twitch panic where a bit of patience was the best thing. The bird then spent the rest of our stay feeding on blood worms only a few metres from the birders.


Eastern Yellow Wagtail-Prestwick Carr



Birders including Joe and Richard at Prestwick Carr

The fields had a few horses and was like the sort of thing you see in RSPSA programs being virtually devoid of grass although did have a plenty of hay in feeders.

Was nice to get back to Bridlington and getting on train with only a short walk home at the end rather than having to ride back the extra cost is an issue. In better weather the ticket price would have paid for almost enough petrol to make the full journey on my own.

With the Cornish Brown Booby already on my life list from Florida the Wagtail looks likely my only lifer in Britain in 2019, my worst total since I started birding. However got a few more in Romania.

A word of caution The parking is a on a soft verge and one birder got so stuck the front of the car was dug in so deep with couldn’t push him out.


Update Still present on Sunday 29th but a better marked male in Norfolk of the Blue-headed [Alaskan] race is attracting more visitors.

Smew and Long-tailed Duck at Hornsea Mere

23 Nov

Saved from a boring day rained in, with even the dog not interested in a walk, by RL with a trip to Hornsea Mere early afternoon. Started in Seaton Road hide where immediately on opening the flaps saw the redhead Smew close in. Went for our cameras, and ignoring a close fly over by a Marsh Harrier, got a few shots before it swam off.


Juvenile Smew at Hornsea Mere from Seaton Road Hide

Nothing else of note and having learned from MJ that the track to Wassand Hide was flooded we headed to Kirkholme Point where a Long-tailed Duck was usually seen around the jetties. No sign there so looked further afield, still with no luck, but on walking back towards the jetties RL picked it up flying in from the west then landing and showing well again at the jetties.


Juvenile Long-tailed Duck with Tufted Duck at Kirkholme Point, Hornsea Mere

No sign of any of the recent Scaup.

Went to look for wild geese in the Skipsea area with out luck then ended the day looking for gulls around Catwick but also no sign no helped by a jet ski on FosseHill.

Birding Romania Pt 4

14 Jun


Sinoe area


Spoonbill in Sinoe village




Syrian Woodpecker in Pensiunea Grindul Lupitor garden


Souslik sp at Vadu

Track to Grindul Lupilor


Red-backed Shrike




Flava Wagtail species




Woods near Somova


Spur-thighed Tortoise


Lizard species

Mănăstirea Celic-Dere


Fire Bug


Near Niculitel


Red-breasted Flycatcher


Silver-washed Fritillary


Looking down over Niculitel towards The Ukraine 


Cariera quarry



Crested Lark


Northern Wheatear

Full Trip Bird List

Mute Swan 

Greylag Goose

Common Shelduck




Red-crested Pochard

Common Pochard

Ferruginous Duck


Common Quail

Common Pheasant

Red-necked Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Black-necked Grebe

White Stork

Black-crowned Night Heron

Glossy Ibis

Eurasian Spoonbill

Little Bittern 

Squacco Heron

Grey Heron

Purple Heron

Great Egret

Little Egret

Great White Pelican

Dalmatian Pelican

Great Cormorant

Pygmy Cormorant

Booted Eagle

Levant Sparrowhawk

White-tailed Eagle

Common Buzzard

Long-legged Buzzard

Water Rail

Common Moorhen

Eurasian Coot

Pied Avocet

Western Marsh Harrier

Northern Lapwing

Common Redshank

Wood Sandpiper

Collared Pratincole

Black-headed Gull

Pallas’s Gull

Yellow-legged Gull

Common Tern

Whiskered Tern

Black Tern

Collared Dove

Feral Pigeon


European Turtle Dove

Common Cuckoo

Tawny Owl

Little Owl

Common Swift

European Roller

Common Kingfisher

European Bee-eater

Eurasian Hoopoe

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Syrian Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Black Woodpecker

Grey-headed Woodpecker

Common Kestrel

Red-footed Falcon

Eurasian Hobby

Red-backed Shrike

Lesser Grey Shrike

Eurasian Golden Oriole


Western Jackdaw


Hooded Crow

Sombre Tit

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Eurasian Penduline Tit

Bearded Reedling

Crested Lark

Greater Short-toed Lark

Calandra Lark

Barn Swallow

Common House Martin

Red-rumped Swallow

Long-tailed Tit

Common Chiffchaff

Great Reed Warbler

Eurasian Reed Warbler

Icterine Warbler 

Savi’s Warbler

Eurasian Blackcap

Lesser Whitethroat

Eurasian Nuthatch

Common Starling

Common Blackbird

Spotted Flycatcher

Common Nightingale

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Collared Flycatcher

Northern Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

House Sparrow

Spanish Sparrow

Tree Sparrow

Western Yellow Wagtail-mainly Black-headed form

White Wagtail

Tawny Pipit

Common Chaffinch

European Greenfinch

European Goldfinch

Corn Bunting


Ortolan Bunting

Common Reed Bunting


The only heron we missed in Romania, although Bittern only heard, was Cattle Egret so it was fitting that on returning to the UK I heard of one at my regular patch, Tophill Low NR.


Cattle Egret on Hempholme Meadows-Tophill Low NR


Birding Romania Pt 3

13 Jun


Danube Delta-Mila 23/Tulcea


Typical Romanian dog at Mila 23


Marsh Frog


Whiskered Tern


Red-eyed Damselfly


Great White Pelican



Field Cricket


Silver-studded Blue Butterfly


Lace Border Moth


Cocoș Romanian Orthodox Monastery


Spanish Sparrow in Storks nest at Sinoe


Own lodgings in Sinoe

Birding Romania Pt2

11 Jun


Danube Delta-Mila 23-Letea


Mila 23


Bearded Tit


Squacco Heron


Purple Heron 


Little Bittern


White Stork at nest


Great White Pelican


A mix of “The Africa Queen” and “Apocalypse Now”


Pallas’s Gull


Whiskered Tern 



Collared Pratincole 


Samphire-very salty but not unpleasant  


♀.Red-footed Falcon




Photographing from the back of a truck at Letea


White Stork 




Traditional fisherman’s shelter

Danube Delta-Letea-Mila 23



Thunderstorm that followed us back to Mila 23


Dalmatian Pelican

Mila 23


Traditional Russian entertainment at Mila 23.




Birding Romania Pt1

10 Jun



The statutory pose at Doncaster Robin Hood airport-no doing the “bolt”!


24 May 2019



A brief stay near Bucharest airport


Cariera quarry


Souslik sp


♀Pied Wheatear



Graphosoma lineatum – Minstrel bug

Danube Delta-Tulcea-Mila 23 DSCN9678


Common Tern


Great Reed Warbler




Cormorant and Pygmy Cormorants


Squacco Heron


Red-necked Grebe


Juvenile White-tailed Eagles



Smew! Second time lucky at Tophill Low NR

28 Dec

22/12/18 With the weather on Saturday forecast to be better than recently I had already decided to go out so when a drake Smew was reported at Tophill Low NR and Wilbur showing no interest in going out my plans were made. However on arriving in the visitor centre I learned there had been no further sightings since LJ had found it mid morning. After a look for myself over D res and seeing the lingering female Scaup also seen earlier  I headed south. No sign on O res so headed for Watton NR. Although again no sign of the Smew there was plenty of birds including Little Egret and a pair each of Goosander and Pintail. However only a single Greylag Goose. Little on the South Marshes with only a Little Egret seen on South Marsh East.

28/12/18 Think I other estimated Saturday’s mildest and should have worn another layer as I spend the next few days fighting off a cold but was feeling better on Friday morning. Wilbur was also more lively than recently so took him out but only made it part way to Creykebeck power station. Getting back to the park early afternoon I got a message that the Smew was back at Tophill Low NR. This time on reaching O res viewing screen the bird was present and not too distant.


Drake Smew at Tophill Low NR on O Res.

After getting a few shots I headed for Watton NR but no sign of the Goosander or Pintail but there was again a Little Egret and a good number of geese, both Greylag and Canada as well as a Domestic Goose. Walking back through South Scrub I thought I could hear  Whooper Swans but although I could still hear them there was initially no sign from L-shaped hide. However six Whoopers, a family party with four juveniles, shortly drifted into view from the cover of O res wall.


Whooper Swans at Tophill Low NR on O res.

Couldn’t see the Smew from either L-shaped hide or the viewing screen although the light is difficult near dusk from the latter. Again little on South Marshes with again only a Little Egret on East section.

Postscript on “Shag at East Park, Hull“.

After dipping the Smew on Saturday RL went to East Park to see the Shag. He found it now had a black plastic bag around its neck. MF didn’t see the bird on Wednesday.


Shag at East Park, Hull-RL

Shag at East Park, Hull

17 Dec

17/12/18 Apart from twitching the Royal Tern on Anglesey last Tuesday the only birding I’ve done recently had been locally with the dog.


Royal Tern-Traeth Lligwy, Anglesey


Raven-Traeth Lligwy, Anglesey

This doesn’t mean I don’t get to see much, as a Little Egret has been seen on the north side of Cottingham a few times recently with another lingering in fields north of Springhead GC. Even better last Wednesday managed to see Peregrine, Merlin, Little Owl and Green Woodpecker.

This morning the dog wasn’t interested in going out so with a Shag in Hull at East Park Lake since at least late last week and the weather better, got out on the bike for the first time in a while. From the feeding area [although ‘feeding’ is no longer encouraged] the bird was visitable and although the guy I spoke to seemed to think it was a Cormorant, on closer inspection it was clearly an immature Shag.


First winter Shag-East Park Lake, Hull


Goosander-East Park Lake, Hull

A few Goosander were also in the area and after getting a few pictures set off round the lake to count them. Thirty had been reported earlier and my count was in the same ball park.


Black-headed Gull-East Park Lake, Hull

Didn’t see them myself but of interest Jay and Mistle Thrush are on site.