Archive | January, 2016

31/1/16 Kumlien’s Gull at Barmston [for the 4th year?]

31 Jan

Sunday morning went to Barmston with JH. Met JS on the cliff top. Hadn’t seen the Kumlien’s Gull yet but had yet to check beach to the north where it usually was seen. Walked to where I could get a full view of the beach north of the caravan park but the tide was close to high and there were no gulls on the beach. However there was a good passage of Herring Gulls moving south so kept an eye them while also checking for birds on the sea. Only had a few Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes. The gull movement slowed and was thinking about moving on when I noticed some agitation from two birders nearby. Was moving towards them as they called me. Quickly picked up the Kumlien’s flying over the beach from the the north. Went for my camera but aren’t too good at aerial shots so wasn’t expecting much.

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4th winter Kumlien’s Gull over Barmston beach.

Flew past us towards the outfall. Was glad to have seen it but had hoped for some better shots. Fortunately came back north and eventually settled on the beach were I got several better shots.

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4th winter Kumlien’s Gull-Barmston

Having got my fill checked the waders to the south. Nearly fifty Dunlin but only a few Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Sanderling and no sign of any Purple Sandpipers on the rocks.

Year list 108.

The Kumlien’s Gull was first seen in December 2012. Originally reported as a first winter Iceland Gull it’s dark appearance alerted birders, including Martin Garner, [sad to learn Martin is no longer around to share his knowledge] to the possibility of it being a Kumlien’s. This was confirmed on it’s return in December 2013. There was no sign of it the following winter but a 3rd winter Iceland Gull was seen at Barmston around Easter. This proved elusive but I had a bird fitting the description at Hornsea Mere on 12th April. It was distant but I was left with the feeling “Why isn’t this the Kumlien’s?”.

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3w Iceland Gull at Hornsea Mere-12/4/15 

Worth noting that this time of year, as both a 1st and 2nd winter, the Kumlien’s had showed bleached primaries and wasn’t readily split from an Iceland Gull [see here]. Finally this year it was seen at Hornsea Mere on Kirkholme Point on the afternoon of Sunday 19th January. Annoyingly I’d been at other end at Wassand Hide all morning but had decided to head to Tophill Low NR early afternoon. Checked Barmston the following Sunday and then Tuesday morning so today was third time lucky.

Here are some better pictures taken last week by Tony Dixon.Kumlien's Gull 001

Kumlien’s Gull at Barmton-Tony Dixon

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Headed for Hornsea Mere late morning. Checked the fields near Skirlington Market where I’d seen a White-fronted Goose and five Pink-footed Geese with Greylags on Tuesday but no sign today.

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Greylag Geese near Skirlington Market-26/1/16-with White-fronted Goose [above] and Pink-footed Geese [below].

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Had a drake Goosander off Kirkholme Point, my first this year, but couldn’t find anything else, not helped by the heavy drizzle.

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Drake Goosander off Kirkholme Point, Hornsea Mere

Year list 109.

Decided to head for Tophill Low NR instead of Wassand Hide.

Refound the drake Scaup seen yesterday then headed south. A Little Egret was showing well on North Lagoon but no surprise after seeing 19 of them nearby north of High Eske NR on Monday.

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Little Egret on North Lagoon, Tophill Low NR.

Saw nothing else of note but missed a drake Pintail on Watton NR. Had a look for Woodcock behind the old centre but gave up because of heavy drizzle. Lack of any recent interesting gulls didn’t encourage us to hang on till dusk.

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20/1/16 Richard’s Pipits and Surf Scoter

20 Jan

Year list rising slowly still reaching 84 on Monday afternoon with a drake Pintail at Tophill Low NR  when doing the gull roost, but like other recent nights the gulls were poor. We’d hoped for the Kumlien’s Gull seen at Hornsea Mere on Sunday evening. Annoyingly had been at Hornsea Mere that day but decided to head for Tophill Low NR instead of Kirkholme Point early afternoon.

Tuesday though RL decided to head up the coast for some better birds. Started at Flamborough North Landing. The field was easily found, being just beyond the car park but was bigger and the grass longer than I’d been lead to believe. Checked the west side where the mud showed there’d been “heavy traffic” in recent days. Glad I had my new wellies on! New sign of any pipits so moved to the opposite side of the field. Going easier here as there is plastic webbing on the path. Eventually picked up some pipits. There were three and they look bigger than the Meadow Pipits but were dark and just didn’t look right. Just couldn’t turn them into anything but Rock Pipits. A few other birders arrived but no-one declared them Richard’s and nothing better could be found so headed back to the car park. The others gave up shortly and headed our way. Back on the other side we stopped for another look. The rest caught up and not long after one Richard’s Pipit was picked up in the corner where we’d first looked. Whether it had dropped in or just been very elusive I can’t say but it’s two friends were soon located nearby. Took some record shots and were just waiting for the usual “Is everyone happy to move a bit closer” when they flew to the other side. Year list now 91.

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Richard’s Pipit wintering at North Landing,Flamborough

Next to Filey NCCP. A few birders on the end of Carr Naze but no-one had seen the Surf Scoter recently. Had a Great Northern Diver close in.

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Great Northern Diver off Filey Brigg

Had a duck fairly close in but my initial thought was female Eider. However when I got a better view I saw the white back of the head. It was the Surf Scoter, but unfortunately the guy we’d just spoken to had gone thinking he’d dipped.

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First winter ♂ Surf Scoter off Filey Brigg

Climbed down to the Brigg to get closer. Not an easy climb and expressly forbidden! A few waders about to add to my year list including a Purple Sandpiper.

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Cormorants on Filey Brigg

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Black-headed Gull off Filey Brigg

Also a nice summer plumaged Shag off shore but too distant to photograph.

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Cormorant fighting with a good fish off Filey Brigg 

DSCN9880A Common Seal gave us a cursory glance.

Looking for more waders was surprised to flush a Woodcock which landed out of site on Carr Naze. Year list up to 101.

10/1/16 In a higher gear at Hornsea Mere

10 Jan

5/1/16 Back to work on Tuesday and no chance of getting out. Did add Sparrowhawk to the year list on Cedar Drive though. This year I intend birding at work during the winter months at least and submitting interesting things like Starling numbers to Birdtrack.

Year list 66.

9/1/16 Saturday was the only easy day of the week and manged a ride up to Wauldby Sprogs but saw very few birds except a possible Marsh Tit that kept it’s distance.

10/1/16 Went to Hornsea Mere with RL on Sunday morning to meet JH at Kirkholme Point. The Slavonian Grebe was again showing well but still a bit distant for a good picture.

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Slavonian Grebe-Hornsea Mere

Had a look from the tip but no sign of anything interesting and the colder weather wasn’t making it fun so moved to the shelter of the old hide. Haven’t spent much time there recently but in the past has proved a good place to view from. Proved so today with the drake Long-tailed Duck been found, followed by a first winter Little Gull then the Red-necked Grebe. All proved difficult to see and even more to photograph, with the duck and gull always staying distant but the grebe did manage to drift to just off Swan Island. Also had a male Marsh Harrier flying west in front the hide. Later had the same bird from Wassand Hide.

Had some interesting fungi leaving the hide.

{Mention of the “old hide” is not intended as a invitation to use it!!! but see here}

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Velvet Shank-Hornsea Mere

Moved round to Wassand Hall carpark early afternoon. Walking towards the hide noticed a tit flock in a large tree near the first gate. One larger bird was sat in a branch junction tapping at a nut. I immediately called “Nuthatch” to JH who was able to see it before it flew off. RL had unfortunately gone to get air in a soft tyre. Texted him but although seen again he couldn’t get on it. Nuthatch has been seen in recent years usually on private feeders at the hall, but this was my first sighting. As it seems to like this area maybe putting some nuts near the gate might make it more visible.

Nothing new from Wassand Hide but did have an adult Little Gull flying west.

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Male Marsh Harrier from Wassand Hide

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View to the west of Wassand Hide.

Year list 75

For more recent news from Hornsea Mere check the blog.

Slow start to 2016

4 Jan

1/1/16 With RL performing I was on my own for the start of the year. Bit icy so went for a long walk with the dogs in Cottingham. Nice start with a Grey Wagtail along the drain behind Millbeck Court. The dogs didn’t let it settle long enough to photograph though. Walked as far as Creykebeck Substation then back via the park. Nothing elae of real note but a Grey Heron isn’t an everyday sighting in the village and Redwing, Bullfinch and Goldcrest were nice.

After a rest went out again but only “little dog” was up for it. Went to check some fields at the north end of Northmoor Lane where I had seen both Barn and Short-eared Owl early last year. No luck but had a Buzzard and unusally a Curlew.

Year total 36. Not actually year listing but Birdtrack does it for me.

2/1/16 Another long walk. Again only “little dog” was up for it. Headed for the bushes at the south end of Snuff Mill Lane. However on crossing the railway line the dog wouldn’t to go any further. Pity as there were plenty of small stuff including a year first Tree Sparrow. Song Thrush was another year tick. Headed to Priory Road then across the fields to Wood Lane. Hadn’t been sure about this route but someone had constructed a make-shift bridge across the ditch that had block my progress recently. Add Greylag Goose flying over. The burnt out car was still in the fields. No surprise it hasn’t been removed as I still can’t work out how it was driven there. Wanted to continue towards Springhead Golf Course but the dog again had different ideas and we headed home.

Year total 39.

3/1/16 Thought I better see some more birds today so went to North Cave Wetlands late morning. Added a good selection of waterfowl on Village Lake as well as Redshank then did the Maize Field feeders. A screen has been erected since my last visit which makes viewing easier. Managed a few shots of one of the three Bramblings present and was surprised to see a Lesser Redpoll in the pictures despite not seeing it with bins later.

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♂.Brambling with Goldfinch+Lesser Redpoll

Also saw the Marsh Tit, which may be a site tick for me. Started raining but decided to to keep going. Had Little Egret on reedbed with nearly fifty Shelduck. However the weather got worst and I couldn’t locate the two Little Owls by the new excavations. The weather showed no sign of improving so just had a quick look from Crosslands and South Hide then headed home.

As this also my ‘biking” blog I’ll do a quick comment on riding in the rain. Wouldn’t plan a long ride in winter rain but my jacket and post office over-trousers keep me comfortable on shorter jounrneys. Anyone who. like me, rode in the seventies will remember banana skin tyres and brakes that didn’t work when wet [this goes for Japanese bikes anyway. The Brembo brakes on the Moto Guzzi V50 I brought in 1981 worked fine]. Now though neither tyres nor brakes cause concern. You don’t brake, corner or accelerate as hard in the wet but there is no need to ‘tiptoe’. With anti-lock brakes now mandatory and almost universal traction control future wet weather biking will be a breeze?! The only problem was the driver behind me who came too close on corners but then was left well behind on the straight. I remember a TV public information broadcast many years ago that warned against this sort of driving, maybe it needs a re-run?

A late night walk got a Tawny Owl calling at Hallgarth care home.

Year total 60.

4/1/18 Had a walk up Priory Road this morning but again “little dog” wasn’t in the mood so only had a look through the gulls in the paddock before heading back.

Went to Tophill Low NR with RL this afternoon. Nothing much at the south end so walked to the top of D reservoir to waste some time before settling down in car park hide to do the gull roost. A few geese flew from Decoy Fields onto the reservoir. Only Greylags left in the field but with reports on the pager wasn’t surprise to find an adult Eurasian White-fronted Goose with the others on the reservoir.

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Eurasian White-fronted Goose with Greylags

Got a few distant shots before it flew back to the fields where it was reasonably close when we walked back along “straight road”.DSCN9785

Eurasian White-fronted Goose

 Also had a close encounter with a Barn Owl hunting North Scrub.

Doing the roost later I picked up a first winter Mediterranean Gull. Flew but eventually landed on the wall then back onto the reservoir. Picked it [or another] out much closer. RL also found another first and a second winter. Disappointingly had none of the Little Gulls from last night.

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1st winter Mediterranean Gull

2015 in 12 pictures

1 Jan

Intro

This year has been pretty stop/start blog wise. This was partly due to lack of inspiration and then when it’s been interesting lack of time to write. The latter particularly goes for October when three postings were mentally written but never put down. Because of this some of my pictures will not have been used before. Also this year with the demise of Hull Valley Wildlife Group I ended the blog of the same name and posted everything on this blog except for my moth trapping as I revived Cottingham Moths at the same time. Moths and insects in general don’t get the interest that birds do but I feel those who do show an interest will appreciate having them all in the same place.

January

Having missed the Fraisthorpe Little Bustard in 2014, due to work, I was glad it was still present on the 1st. This would have been the bird of the month but lack of a worthwhile photo meant the Wakefield Blyth’s Pipit took it’s place. Originally twitched it on the first day [8/12/14] when RL and I got flight views, including the diagnostic call, and a brief distant sighting perched in a bush. Our second visit on the 4th it gave crippling views. For more see here.

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Blyth’s Pipit-Wakefield

 February

This month’s bird is the Filey drake Surf Scoter. My second in Yorkshire after the Scarborough bird [26/9/97] . Seen on the 15th then again off Scarborough on the 22th.

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Drake Surf Scoter-off Filey Brigg

March

This Small Quaker trapped overnight on the 23th was the first moth trapped this year and new moth for me.

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Small Quaker

April

The bird of the month was only realised in retrospect. Following the report of a Scaup-like hybrid at High Eske NR early in the month I found a similar bird on D reservoir at Tophill Low NR on the 7th. Always distant I thought it was just another hybrid. Later failed to take notice of a wing flap shot by RL. Posted on facebook but raised no interest. Later in the month when Tony Simpson took a series of pictures of it including some just under the middle hide. When these were posted on the Tophill Low Blog, Lee Johnson was quick to realise it was a Lesser Scaup. Difficult to say how twitchable this bird would have been as although a hybrid bird was reported after the initial sighting the description didn’t fit the Lesser Scaup and only Lee admits to have seen and also dismissed this one. There was at least one other hybrid at Hornsea Mere during the month. This was a posting that was in my head but never written but well covered by Richard though.

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Drake Lesser Scaup-Tophill Low NR.

Second for the reserve when the situation was reversed with RL on 9/1/1997 finding and quickly identying a female seen but dismissed by others earlier. This was then only the 2nd female seen in the UK and was very well twitched during it’s prolonged stay till the 20th April.

One post-1997 Tophill Low NR regular wasn’t happy but even if identified inmediately it’s unlikely they would have seen it and even if they had would been lucky to have had the views Tony did.

May

The bird of May was the Holkham Dunes Citril Finch. A world tick but as is the case at major twitches I concentrated on getting good views and photos were secondary. I’m first a birder and although I try to get a record shot I haven’t the equipment or determination [and gall?] to match the photos that will always be managed but others.

With no photos of the Citril Finch the Balearic Woodchat Shrike at Wykeham on the 13th is the bird of the month.

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First summer male Balearic Woodchat Shrike-Wykeham

June

The Gull-billed Tern at Old Moors RSPB on 16th gets the vote.

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Gull-billed Tern with Black-headed Gulls-Old Moor RSPB.

Managed to blog this one so more here. Also later in the month, at the same site, was Little Bittern. Lack of a picture meant there wasn’t a competition though but did managed to blog the twitch.

July

Without a photo of the Little Bittern which I saw on the 5th, this month’s picture is Barred Red. Trapped on the 19th this was a new moth for me.

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Barred Red

August

Grayling at Conesby Quarry near Scunthorpe was a new butterfly for me so is this month’s picture.

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Grayling-Conesby Quarry

For a full account see here.

September

 Dusky Thorn trapped on the 11th was a new moth for me.

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Dusky Thorn

October

No contest for this month’s picture. Although not a great photo the Wilson’s Warbler I saw on the Isle of Lewis on the 17/18th was the twitch of the year.

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Wilson’s Warbler-Port Nis,Lewis

One of three posts mentally composed this month but never written due to lack of time.

November

This Whooper Swan at High Eske NR on the 9th is the best I can do in a quiet month.

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Whooper Swan-High Eske NR

December

The final picture of 2015 is the lingering female Scaup at Hornsea Mere. To be honest the only nature photo I took this month!

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♀.Scaup-Hornsea Mere

Postscript

If things at work go as planned I will likely get out more at least from spring 2016 but I can’t do anything about the quality of bird. Certainly intend to continue blogging next year. Thanks to everyone who has followed my blogs. I always welcome any constructive criticism!