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2017 in 12 pictures

2 Jan

Intro

The beginning of the year was interesting, reflexed in the number of posts, but in contrast to 2016 there was a very poor return wader passage followed by a predominance of westerly winds leading to little interest on the Yorkshire coast then winter has, so far, been very poor for rarer wildfowl. Thus the blog has been quiet the second half of the year. I have not posted in Cottingham Moths this year. I started but due to technical problems lost the first post and never bothered starting again. It was a poor year anyway but a few highlights will feature below. I hope to start again next year, maybe with a different approach.

January

Although not a great picture this shot of the male Hooded Merganser at Barr Loch, Renfrewshire on the 21st was a desperate tick for me. Only seen two previous but the first in Nottinghamshire [can’t remember the date!] was an obvious escape on first site, the second at Scaling Dam, Cleveland felt more reliable initially but was quickly deemed an escape also. Always a tricky one to judge but this one had been around a few weeks and hadn’t given any reason to be damned. Also having arrived in late 2016 I only had to wait 9 months for the BBRC to deem it kosher.

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Drake Hooded Merganser-Barr Loch,Renfrewshire-21/1/17

February

In a fairly quiet month February I go for a mammal in a Short-tailed Field Vole at Raywell. See here for the full account.

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Short-tailed Field Vole-Wauldby Scrogs, Raywell

March

Two close contenders for this month but as one appears in the”top ten viewed posts” for the year I will go for the male Pine Bunting at Dunnington near York. One of my bogey birds having had untickable views of one in South Yorkshire and missed another at Filey after it was flushed by a dog then for the fields to be shut, like much of the country, because of Foot and Mouth. Originally saw the bird in January, a few days after it had been found, on the way back from the Hooded Merganser. Wasn’t too happy with the views, in fact wondered whether I should have counted my first unticked bird, but a return visit 7th March provide much better views when it showed regularly in a hedge with finches and buntings in good weather and to a smaller less excited crowd with no-one flushing the bird in an attempt to get the best shot.

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Male Pine Bunting-Dunnington, N.Yorks.

April

April was poor for birds so Shoulder Stripe moth caught on the 9th, a first for me, is this month’s picture

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Shoulder Stripe moth

May

Early 2017 was very good for white-winged gulls so with little else of note this month I go for the Iceland Gull that give great views at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point for a few weeks in May and June.

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Juvenile Iceland Gull-Hornsea Mere

June

Best bird this month was Black-browed Albatross at Bempton Cliffs RSPB. Missed one in October 2016, setting off too late for the Eastern Crowned Warbler, which was followed by several fly throughs but none lingering in 2016 before one on 28th June decided to hang on long enough for RL and I to make a less than hectic trip and despite it departing as we reached the cliff top gave us tickable but not photographical views. Also earlier in the months on the 11th saw Elegant Tern at Pagham Harbour which was beyond useful photographic range. Had seen one in Ireland at Lady’s Island Lake,Co.Wexford in July 1999 so a UK tick but as this one was previously ringed France also a known Elegant Tern. Had two new moths durning the month so the more photogenic, Scorched Wing is this month’s picture.

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Scorched Wing moth

July

Probably the best month of 2017. My choice is the Pacific Golden Plover at North Cave Wetlands on 21st. A site tick and my first since the Brough Haven bird almost 17 years to the day. Full account here.

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Pacific Golden Plover-North Cave Wetlands

August

This month’s picture is another moth [making up for not posting in Cottingham Moths this year!] This Magpie Moth was found in hedgerow north of Millbeck Wildlife area in Cottingham on 11th. A first for me and the Marsh Harrier that flew over at the same time was my first for the village.

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Magpie Moth-Cottingham

September

This month it’s the Ryhope Scops Owl. The Lewis American Redstart was the other candidate but the fact the owl was totally self twitched pushes it to the front. Full account here.

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Scops Owl-Ryhope, Co.Durham

October

Although a let down compared with last year October still offered a few choices. If I’d got a picture of the Richardson’s Cackling Goose at Budle Bay, Northumberland, that would have been the obvious choice, but without the Great White Egret at High Eske NR is the the next best, being surprisingly my first for the site and only the second certain record despite the number of records just north at Tophill Low NR. First seen on the 3rd, the photograph was taken on the 7th. Found another at North Cave Wetlands on the 4th where the possibility of it being the same bird continuing south did cross my mind but but subsequent multiple sighting the area proved this unlikely. Only added the species to the latter site list on 24th September.

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Great White Egret-R.Hull N.of High Eske NR.

November

This month it’s a Little Egret, not a rare bird but still an unusual bird to see in your local park. Taken on the 7th it was often seen along a drain by Millhouse Woods Lane Water Works in Cottingham until the freeze in early December [including some non birder fellow dog walkers]. Possibly a different bird was seen on the other side of the village in fields south of Haltemprice Farm in December.

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Little Egret-Millbeck Wildlife area, Cottingham

December

Little choice with the last one as the pair of Stonechat present in Willerby at Haltemprice Farm {Abbey} ruin since October were the only nature photographs I took this month. The species winter here most years. More here.

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Stonechat-Haltemprice Farm, Willerby

Top 10 posts of 2017 [viewing figures]

1. Birding from the new Tophill Low NR Visitors Centre

2. Scops Owl in Co.Durham

3. Eastern Lesser Whitethroat in Cottingham

4. Stejnegers Stonechat at Spurn Point From 2016 likely boosted by the Stonechat’s upgrade to full species from 2018

5. Scarborough A day of winter birding with plenty to see.

6. Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR Another from 2016 reflecting the interest in the site. No Pec Sand in 2017!

7. Eastern Black Redstart in Skinningrove From the end of December 2017 so most of the interest was in early 2017.

8. Geese at Hornsea Mere

9. Great White Egret and other stuff at Tophill Low NR

10. Twitching Waxwing with Wilbur A dog-walk/twitch to Hull.

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2016 in 12 picture

31 Dec

Intro

Most of this year, due to having more free time, I’ve managed to blog when I’ve had the inspiration and a few photographs. I’ve rarely left Yorkshire though so most of the highlights will inevitably be local. I’ve kept going with Cottingham Moths but still wonder whether it’s worth the effort. However viewing figures have doubled since last year. See how I feel when I start trapping again in 2017.

January

My first picture for 2016 is the returning Barmston Kumlien’s Gull, seen on the 31st. It proved tricky this year [more here].

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Kumlien’s Gull on Barmston Beach

February

An Early Moth found in Cottingham on Travis Road on the 6th was a new one for me [see here].

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Early Moth

March

March was poor for photographs so I’ll settle for my first picture of a Small Tortoiseshell of the year taken at Far Grange.

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Small Tortoiseshell at Far Grange, Skipsea

April

My best photograph of the month was a very showy Cetti’s Warbler at Tophill Low NR that performed close to North Marsh Hide for several days.

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Cetti’s Warbler at North Marsh-Tophill Low NR

May

This month’s photograph is the two Glossy Ibises at North Cave Wetlands NR, taken on the 29th. A site tick for most regulars.

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Glossy Ibises on Dryham Ings-North Cave Wetlands NR

June

This month it’s a Dingy Skipper taken at Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit near Market Weighton on the 5th. A difficult species to see locally and even more to photograph [Full account here].

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Dingy Skipper at Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit

July

Perversely my picture for July is an escaped/released Corn Snake found at High Eske NR on the 25th but it survived to provide material for a light hearted posting in August [see here].

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Corn Snake-High Eske NR

August

August was a good month for waders at Tophill Low NR, had a site tick in the form of Spotted Crake at North Cave Wetlands and some good insects. All these are covered in the blog but the choice goes to the Western Swamp-hen at Minsmere RSPB on the 1st [see here].

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Western Swamp-hen-Minsmere RSPB

September

This month I go for a moth. My first Brick on the 17th.

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Brick-Cottingham

October

October was a mad month, said to be the best rarity wise ever. Oddly I never left Yorkshire but the best bird, for me at least, was the Siberian Accentor at Easington seen the same afternoon as my first Yorkshire Paddyfield Warbler [full account here].

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Siberian Accentor-Vicar’s Lane, Easington

November

November was a waterbird month and represented by this Black-necked Grebe I found at Tophill Low NR on the 22nd [See here].

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Black-necked Grebe on D res at Tophill Low NR

December

The last photograph should have been Dusky Thrush at Beeley but didn’t see it long enough to get a picture on my 1st attempt and not at all on the 2nd [see here]. Therefore the space is filled by Eastern Black Redstart at Skinningrove, with in the historic borders of Yorkshire [see here].

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Eastern Black Redstart-Skinningrove

Top 10 posts of 2016 [viewing figures]

1 The Flamborough/Easington twitch-Paddyfield Warbler and Siberian Accentor

2 Migrants-Kilnsea/Easington including Olive-backed Pipit

Putative Stejneger’s Stonechat at Spurn PointSince confirmed

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

Waxwings at last-Hessle Sainsbury’s

Alkborough Flatspre-Western Swamp-hen

The Grey Phalarope at Tophill Low NR

Spotted Crake at North Cave Wetlands

North Cave Wetlands YWTBirds and insects

10 2015 in 12 pictures

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.

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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.

2013 in 12 pictures

31 Dec

January The bird of early 2013 had to be the then putative 1st winter Kumlien’s Gull at Barmston. Found late 2012 and identified as an Iceland Gull by RL and ML, the darker than normal appearance led Martin Garner to suggest it was actually a Kumlien’s. This was confirmed on it’s return in December.

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1st winter Kumlien’s Gull-RL

February The 2012/13 winter was one of the best recent Waxwings years. Among the many I saw were these I found while at work on the 5th.

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Waxwings-Finkle Street Cottingham

March Had a trip to the Spanish Pyrenees in late February/early March. The main target was Wallcreeper.

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Wallcreeper-Riglos-Spain 

April The highlight this month was the Rock Thrush at Kilnsea. A female so not the most attractive bird but a much sort after addition to any Yorkshire [and British] list. But what made this bird extra special was a Caspian Tern that flew north and was another much wanted county tick.

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Female Rock Thrush-Kilnsea

May Although 1st seen in January at High Eske NR this 1st winter Ring-necked Duck was much admired into May.

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Ring-necked Duck-Tophill Low NR

June Had a largely non-birding trip to New York this month but did get some birding done mainly in Central Park where this was taken.

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Blue Jay-Central Park, New York

July A trip to Fen Bog on 26th produced Keeled Skimmer-a tick for me.

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Male Keeled Skimmer-Fen Bog, N.Yorks

August On the 10th I trapped a Star-wort moth in my Cottingham garden. In Yorkshire virtually unknown away from Spurn Point.

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Star-wort moth

September This Bittern seen on the 26th was a new bird for me at North Cave Wetlands.

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Greater Bittern-N.Cave Wetlands

October An almost unbelievable find this Uresiphita gilvata caught in my garden on the 22th constituted this first record for Yorkshire.

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Uresiphita gilvata

November These Snow Buntings at Paull on the 24th qualify purely because they are one of my favourite birds and were so approachable.

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Snow Buntings-Paull

December This juvenile Ivory Gull found by Geoff Dobbs at Patrington Haven on the 15th was not just a Yorkshire tick for me but a lifer. My only British tick in 2013!

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Juvenile Ivory Gull-Patrington Haven

New York-Last Day-Lower Manhattan.

11 Sep

Lacking time to go up town and also 23 June was very hot and we were feeling tired so just had walk into Lower Manhattan on our last day.

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City Hall-unfortunately post 9/11 access and therefore viewing is restricted.

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Grey Squirrel in City Hall park. Unfortunately like many New York parks it is used by vagrants making you feel uncomfortable about staying around too long.

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Can’t remember the exact site just like this picture.

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African Burial Grounds-Wanted to visit this site but was too tired to map read and just stumbled across it. In the early days of the city, African people, both slaves and free, had to be buried outside the city walls. With the expansion of the city the burials were disturbed and the remains were re-interred along with a memorial.

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The above are symbols on the memorial which had meaning to the various tribal groups shipped from Africa to America as slaves.

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A floral tribute on one of the re-burial mounds. Had my last American Robin in flight here. To me the bird of New York.

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New York Supreme Court-My last photo in New York.

Tried to visit the large Buddhist temple on our way back to our hotel but weren’t made welcome.

Never thought I’d visit this great city and when I did make plans to go it was to accompany a relative and I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it. However although I’m not a city person I had a great time. If I did it again I’d make more time and plan what I’d want see in the the museums and galleries. Also I try to do some more serious birding in Central Park and spend a full day at Jamaica Bay Refuge.

Bird list for the trip

Double-crested Cormorant

Black-crowned Night-heron

Snowy Egret

Great White Egret

Glossy Ibis

Mute Swan

Canada Goose

Mallard

American Oystercatcher

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

American Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Common Tern

Least Tern

American Black Skimmer

Osprey

Rock Dove

Mourning Dove

Chimney Swift

Eastern Kingbird

Tree Swallow

Barn Swallow

Blue Jay

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Cedar Waxwing

European Starling

Yellow Warbler

Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Common Grackle

Baltimore Oriole

House Sparrow

New York-Day 6+7-June 21+22-American Museum of Natural History and Jamaica Bay Refuge.

6 Sep


On Friday 21 June visited the American Museum of Natural History. Very easy to get there as you can access directly from the subway station. However then followed a lot of queuing, the cause discovered as we reached the paying desk. Instead of just paying your money and going in you have to specify which extra paid for exhibitions  you want to see and this takes time. Getting in we had to quickly navigate to our 1st “extra”. This was the planetarium where we had a very good show voiced by Whoopi Goldberg. Next was a film on how the migration of the Monarch butterfly was worked out. Although very interesting it was just like watching a nature documentary on the big screen. Then had time to look round the early human history then geology section. Our final “extra” was the frogs. Very enjoyable picking out a perfusion of multi-coloured amphibians often well hidden. Got into a conversation with a member of staff. Very interesting but ate into the diminishing time left to see the rest of the exhibits. Rushed round the fossil exhibits. Here my English reserve broke down and I took some photos, mainly to show to my niece who had moved on to San Francisco.

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Finally had a rushed look at the bird dioramas before the museum closed. Went into Central Park but felt we’d finally had enough of crowds.

On Saturday 22 June, our last full day, took the subway to West Bay and Jamaica Bay Refuge. Good to get away from the crowds and do some proper birding. Between the station and the reserve had a small flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Simular to my experience in Florida found the volunteers in the centre of little help regarding what was about.

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Cedar Waxwing were present in good numbers despite being listed as uncommon in summer in the refuge bird list.

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A surprise new bird was Tree Swallow [below] which breeds in good numbers in boxes around the reserve [above].

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The breeding pair of Osprey [below] were a star attraction on the refuge. Interesting to see the nest with New York behind [above].

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Great White Heron

Other birds seen were:-

Laughing Gull

Glossy Ibis

Great Black-backed Gull

Black-crowned Night-heron

Starling

Barn Swallow

Red-winged Blackbird

Snowy Egret

American Herring Gull

Mute Swan

Common Grackle

Canada Goose

American Oystercatcher

Least Tern American

Black Skimmer

Double-crested Cormorant

Yellow Warbler

Common Tern

American Robin

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Cactus flowers

Also several butterflies but only managed to photo one [below]. Currently not named.

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Walking back to the station had a Gray Catbird, another new bird. Continued to the end of the line. As an original Ramones fan had to pay homage to Rockaway Beach.

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Rockaway Beach.

Timed our train back unfortunately to coincide was the mass exodus from the beach and ended up in a packed train but at least our fellow traveller were for several stops exclusively young enough to be my kids!

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For our last night had a great meal in Little Italy.

New York-Day 5- June 20th

17 Aug

Went to McSorley’s Old Ale House on Thursday. The Oldest bar in New Yorks and a real “spit and sawdust” pub.

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Famous for putting down 2 glasses beer for every one you order. Literally had sawdust on the floor.

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Liked this beaver plaque in a subway station.

Did the Metropolitan Art Museum  in the afternoon. Really didn’t have time to do it justice. If I returned I would take a full day and plan the route I took. As it was we just raced around. Hadn’t seen much work by the old masters before and managed to see pictures by most of the famous names but unfortunately little of their best works. Unfortunately failed to see anything by Salvador Dali.Image

View from the museum roof top cafe. Saw my only Chimney Swift from here.

Had another look round Central Park early evening.

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Grey Squirrels including dark morph [below]

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Walter Scott statue

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William Shakespeare statue

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American Robin. Always worth a picture.

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After glimpsing one yesterday got a shot of an Eastern Kingbird today.
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Blue Jay with Peanut

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“Enemies united” statue.

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Apple Store entrance. Had to queue to get in via the elevator so didn’t go in.