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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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American Redstart on Barra

21 Sep

12/9/17 Another quiet day at High Eske NR on Tuesday morning, only a Tawny Owl being mobbed in the bushes on the west side adding any interest. As I was walking back to the farm got a call from TD about twitching the American Redstart on Barra. Been around a few days but had no excuses now so agreed. Did Swine Moor, the easy way, from Weel Road, on the way back. Also been hard work here recently but did have six Ruff in flight a few times from hidden pools near the drain. Also a Dunlin on the closer pools.

Set off for Tony’s a bit early in in hope of avoiding the forecast rain but started early as I reached Harland Way. However despite this and my problem riding in the dark [due to badly scratched glasses, now being replaced] I managed to get to Tony’s in one piece. Waited for AW [his 2nd attempt] then went via Wetherby to pick up SL. As seems the pattern when ever I head to Scotland there was road works on the A1 but fortunately they didn’t delay us much.

13/9/17 However not long after joining the M6 from the A66 the traffic came to a stop. From the ‘net’ found there had been a crash up ahead. Initially talk of not opening again until half past four which would have meant missing the ferry although we could get one early afternoon. Fortunately started moving again around three which meant with luck and fast driving we could make the early ferry. All went well and joined the queue just before they started boarding. The early ferry from Oban to Barra on Wednesday. although getting in earlier than the other one, visits several other islands on the way so is a bit of a drag. Spend the time sea watching when not dropping off. Little of note bird wise only adding Manx Shearwater and Black Guillemot. However a message over the tannoy alerted me to two Basking Sharks close in. Only the distinctive fin tips but a new creature for me. Getting into Castlebay late afternoon we joined the small convoy heading to Eoligarry. Reaching the RC church we were told the American Redstart had just shown so some of the pressure was off. Early on got one of those ‘that’s the bird but hope I see it better’ views but needn’t have worried as although mobile did show well on and off.

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‘Waiting for a better shot”

Got a few shots but when I relented and went closer only got some sharp but headless shots.

 

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Female American Redstart-Eoligarry, Isle of Barra

 

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Pied Wagtail-Eoligarry, Isle of Barra

Had a heavy shower and as the sun had sunk behind the hillside decided to head back to Castlebay. Tried for a B&B but there was no rooms on the island so ended up sleeping in tents or the car. Believe this was the experience of most other birders. Nearly did the Yellow Warbler as a foot passenger a few years back and shudder to think where I’d have spent the night. In fact the island seems lacking in facilities with the Coop superstore the only obvious shop and the only bars in town in hotels. Didn’t try them myself but told even the nearby hotel bar wasn’t very friendly.

 

14/9/17 Early ferry back and direct to Oban so not too long and the drive back was uneventful getting home before midnight.

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The ferry back in Castlebay Harbour.