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After the Beast from the East

12 Mar

5/3/18 Filling the feeders on Monday morning it felt more springlike, helped by my resident Blackcap starting to sing. No sign of the dog so headed to Welton Waters. My first visit of 2018 and with reports of Smew, Scaup and Slavonian Grebe on the opposite side of the Humber at Barton Pits I hoped for something interesting. As usual parked on Myrtle Way and took the path to the across the airfield. A few Curlew there and Skylark singing. Reaching the flood bank set up to scan the airfield and adjacent marsh. A few Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Coot on the marsh and on the recently created ‘scrape’ a few Redshank and Dunlin, the latter a year tick. Walking east had a few Goldeneye on Brough Angling Complex. Next was watersports Pit but this apart from a small number of Mute Swan and Mallrd was empty not helped by a few sailing boats. There were a few Black-headed Gull at the far end and looking closer picked out an adult Little Gull, another species that had been seen in small numbers last week. With little to be gained from continuing east I walked Common Lane. Had a good number of small birds including Bullfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Since taking over, the now, Brough Angling Complex, Hull and District anglers have shown if anything hostility to birders so was pleasantly surprised to see a feeding station set up near the entrance gate, attracting a good number of birds including Reed Bunting and Greenfinch. Had a Cetti’s Warbler singing by the small pond. Walked east along the road to view the area of watersports pit not visible from Common Lane. No new birds but was fortunate that the now two Little Gulls were feeding close in.


Adult Little Gull-watersports pit, Welton Waters

Walking back to my bike had two Stonechat on the fence enclosing the building site of the new school. Unfortunately while I had my camera out they didn’t return to the fence so had to make do with shooting them through the mesh, perched on vegetation. I had seen one nearby late last year.



6/3/18 Tuesday morning headed to High Eske NR hopefully for a more complete coverage that my last visit. Still several Russian White-fronted Geese, although exactly how many I wasn’t sure as despite eight birds flying off, including a bird that may have been a Bean Goose, I again counted the regular seventeen birds on the water.


Russian White-fronted Geese with Greylag Geese-High Eske NR

An Otter was feeding at the north end but I decided to walk to the south end then around the back. A Cetti’s Warbler was singing in the bushes but didn’t flush the Woodcock that had been seen for a few weeks on Pulfin NR. This time made it to Leven Canal. The two Whooper Swan were still to the west on Arram Carr and found a Stonechat on Leven Carr. Back at High Eske NR the Otter was showing well and also had a drake Pintail with the Wigeon.


Otter-High Eske NR

A quick look at Swine Moor added Redshank and Golden Plover to the site year list.

7/3/18 On Wednesday the dog went back to his usual routine so had a morning walk. Nothing different from our normal birds but had a very relaxed Brown Rat in Oppy Wood that somehow was missed by the dog, probably too obsessed by Rabbits.


Brown Rat-Oppy Wood, Cottingham

Was genuinely warm. Headed to North Cave Wetlands in the afternoon. My previous visit had been little more than a twitch of the Green-winged Teal so today I headed up Dryham Lane so to avoid wasting time on it. Found an adult Mediterranean Gull on Main Lake then spent a while waiting with out luck for Siskin by Far Lake.


Near summer adult Mediterranean Gull-Main Lake, North Cave Wetlands

While checking reedbed was called by SG, from Turret Hide, he had the Green-winged Teal as well an adult Mediterranean Gull [later proved to be a second bird on comparing photos]. I had a good number of Teal which were pushed into the open by a low flying Marsh Harrier so now knew I didn’t need to look at them too well. Joined SG in Turret Hide and were lucky to see the recently regular Barn Owl.


Drake Green-winged Teal-Island Lake, North Cave Wetlands

On the way out we checked the fields near the entrance and added Red-legged Partridge then a distant Stonechat on Dryham Ings. Had noticed a good number of birds on Church Pond on the way in so stopped to have a look on the way home. Plenty of Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Wigeon and a few Little Grebe. Had a couple of Kingfisher on the far bank, one of which flew closer and was last seen sat high in a large tree, higher than remember seeing one before. Just before SG arrived I found the drake Mandarin that had been resident at the Wetlands all of last year among the tree roots.

9/3/18 After a wet Thursday, Friday morning was again warm and although again like Wednesday turned cooler in the afternoon I headed to Tophill Low NR. Started in the visitor centre and had the Glaucous Gull on the same section of D reservoir straight wall as on my first encounter. Got a record shot and would have tried to get closer walking up the road but it decided to join the other gulls on the reservoir so after a quick look at the feeder without seeing Brambling or Lesser Redpoll by the centre pond I headed south.


Juvenile Glaucous Gull-D reservoir, Tophill Low NR

Work on South Marsh East had finished and had a few birds, unlike on previous visits this year, including returning Oystercatcher. On Watton NR had three Pintail [two drake and a female] as well as a fly over Marsh Harrier which I saw again on my second visit to South Marsh East. Did the D reservoir gull roost and added Lesser Black-backed Gull but failed with Mediterranean Gull but as the gulls were at the north end of the reservoir so weren’t easy from the centre hide. Also no sign of the Glaucous Gull but it doesn’t always appear in the roost. Had a distant Peregrine over D woods.



Green-winged Teal [eventually] at North Cave Wetlands

30 Jan

28/1/18 I had just started out with the dog on Sunday morning when the Green-winged Teal was reported at North Cave Wetlands. I have seen a few there and they have become almost annual at North Cave, although missed the last one in January 2017. Unfortunately I was on a tight schedule as I was going out for lunch so didn’t even have time for our usual walk. I could have turned back and headed straight there but as Green-winged Teal can be tricky to see I decided to continue with the walk.

29/1/18 Monday morning was wet and didn’t stop raining until lunchtime. With no news from North Cave and the dog needing to go out anyway we headed for the park. Walking the bushes at the edge of Millbeck Wildlife area heard a familiar finch call. Initially could only see Greenfinch in the tree tops but then located the expected Siskin. At least seven birds including a few nice males. Unfortunately they were tricky to see and only got one shot of a drab female.


♀ Siskin in Millbeck Wildlife area, Cottingham

Had seen a flock near Cottingham GC entrance ten days back, near enough to be the same flock, but the area isn’t in my Patchwork Challenge Cottingham area so today’s sighting was an patch year tick. Continued our regular walk as far as Lawns Farm. Nothing we hadn’t seen recently but getting back to Millbeck Wildlife area, near dusk, had a Green Woodpecker then the resident Barn Owl showing, my first sight of it there this year.

30/1/18 Again nothing from North Cave early Tuesday and although I tried to sneak out but ended up going out with the dog. This time across the fields south to Haltemprice Farm, the centre of my Willerby Carrs patch. The pair of Stonechat were still around the farm ruin.


♂ Stonechat at Haltemprice Farm, Willerby

A Shelduck was the only unusual bird on the flood scheme, but had seen two there recently. Next walked the drain by Abbey Lane. Had seen a Grey Wagtail regularly late last year but hadn’t so far this year, although it had been photographed by a friend recently.


Grey Wagtail along Abbey Lane, Willerby-9/12/17

No sign of the wagtail but a few Reed Bunting were in the area.


Reed Bunting along Abbey Lane, Willerby


Walking back the Green-winged Teal was reported back at North Cave. Didn’t exactly rush but didn’t dawdle the rest of the way back. Not exactly warm in the winter sun this morning but it was now clouding up and getting colder. Still judged it wouldn’t be too cold on the bike but wouldn’t do the full reserve so I could get away before sunset. On arrival met AA leaving and learned the Teal was still showing on Island Lake. Getting there saw JH leaving. Joked him about not picking me up. Went back in the hide with me and I was soon viewing the Teal, although pretty distant in the south west corner. Got a few shots anyway.


♂ Green-winged Teal on Island Lake, North Cave Wetlands.


With nothing else of interest on the lake moved to the other side of the hide to look for the Ruff on Village Lake. No sign so rejoined JH in East Hide. Eventually located the Ruff among some Redshank I’d not seen earlier. Also had a female Marsh Harrier low over the lake, but it wasn’t a year tick although, reflecting my lack of ‘real’ birding so far this year, the Little Grebe it flushed was.

2017 in 12 pictures

2 Jan


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.


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.


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


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.


Short-tailed Field Vole-Wauldby Scrogs, Raywell


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.


Male Pine Bunting-Dunnington, N.Yorks.


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


Shoulder Stripe moth


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.


Juvenile Iceland Gull-Hornsea Mere


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.


Scorched Wing moth


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.


Pacific Golden Plover-North Cave Wetlands


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.


Magpie Moth-Cottingham


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.


Scops Owl-Ryhope, Co.Durham


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.


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


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.


Little Egret-Millbeck Wildlife area, Cottingham


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.


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.

Stonechat at Haltemprice Farm, Willerby

19 Dec

19/12/17 Tuesday morning, from the unfrozen pond and lack of frost on the roof of the ‘summerhouse’ I could tell it was warmer than recent days. A coat was still required though.fullsizeoutput_1df9 With out any prompting the dog is currently alternating between our two main walks, although can be wilful if I try to go somewhere he doesn’t fancy. As yesterday was north to the KGV Rec, today it was south towards Haltemprice Farm, Willerby. How far we actually get is unpredictable but today dog was happy to walk as far as the farm ruins. One advantage of cold weather is, away from possibly icy pavements, the going across the fields can a lot easier. Today’s route can get to resemble the Somme at times but although getting muddy wasn’t too bad today. A few Stonechat have been regular in the scrub just to the north of the old farm building. I hadn’t seen them since late November but today had a female in the area directly east of the ruins, joined by a smarter male. Can get closer to them here so managed some better shots than usual.


Stonechat-Haltemprice Farm, Willerby

Checked the Willerby and Derringham Flood Alleviation Scheme just to the south. Only gulls, corvids and a few Mallard but a Wood Sandpiper seen in October proves this area is worth keeping an eye on.


Wood Sandpiper-Willerby and Derringham Flood Alleviation Scheme-10/10/2017

The dog had decide he’d gone far enough so headed back north. No sign of the Kingfisher I’d seen in the area on the last two trips.

As it’s nearly Christmas a picture of an approachable Robin at Jone’s Farm seems right.


Robin-Jone’s Farm, Cottingham

Is no surprise these days to see a Buzzard flying south being mobbed by Crows and gulls as I neared The Garth.

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat in Cottingham

18 Mar

A Lesser Whitethroat was found in a garden near me last week.


The garden in Cottingham

As this is a well watched garden it’s interesting to think where it spent the rest of the winter. Following circulation of photographs it was confirmed as a likely Eastern or Siberian race. Following a confrontation with a Robin it lost a feather. A feather, hopefully the same one, was later retrieved and forward to Martin Collinson for gene analysis ,so with luck the exact race will be known. I was lucky to be able to see the bird twice this week.


Eastern [Siberian] Lesser Whitethroat


Eastern [Siberian] Lesser Whitethroat

Unfortunately as the bird can only be seen from with in the house and there is no nearby public area where it might be seen I am unable to give anymore information. Even parking for few cars would be very difficult. Fortunately we’re only talking about a race! If I’m ever lucky to find a similar bird in my garden I have the advantage ample parking nearby.

Still present on Tuesday 28th March.

Birding around Hull

2 Jan

2/1/17 Slow start to 2017 for me, only managing a couple of hours around Cottingham on New Years day and had nothing unusual. Tuesday morning went out with RL with the intention of counting the Goosander in Hull. Started at East Park where we could only find five.


Goosander on East Park Lake in Hull


Great Crested Grebe on East Park Lake in Hull

Next to Costello Playing Fields [Peter Pan Park] where we had eleven then to nearby Pickering Park where we had another three.


Goosander on Costello Playing Fields Lake in Hull

As it was nearby we then checked, with out luck, Hessle Sainsbury’s and Aldi car park for Waxwing. Thirty had been on Spring Street early but had flown off but headed that way incase they had returned. Hadn’t got far when twelve were reported off Hessle Road at Strickland Street/Goulton Street junction. Arriving, there was SM who had again found them. Got a quick record shot then joined him under the trees.


Waxwings Strickland Street/Goulton Street in Hull

There were no nearby berries but Steve had been getting them coming down to a puddle in the road. Managed to get a few clear shots of one through branches before they all flew off east and didn’t return.



While hoping for their return we had a Peregrine over several times before disappearing off east in close pursuit of a feral pigeon. However it returned ’empty handed’ and sat on a distant lighting gantry.


Peregrine from Goulton Street in Hull

Five Waxwings were seen a little later at Hessle Sainsbury’s.

Getting in manage an hour with dog in Cottingham KGV Rec and fields behind and added a few to the year list including Reed Bunting and Fieldfare.

Year List: 45

2016 in 12 picture

31 Dec


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.


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


Kumlien’s Gull on Barmston Beach


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


Early Moth


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


Small Tortoiseshell at Far Grange, Skipsea


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.


Cetti’s Warbler at North Marsh-Tophill Low NR


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


Glossy Ibises on Dryham Ings-North Cave Wetlands NR


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].


Dingy Skipper at Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit


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].


Corn Snake-High Eske NR


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].


Western Swamp-hen-Minsmere RSPB


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




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].


Siberian Accentor-Vicar’s Lane, Easington


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


Black-necked Grebe on D res at Tophill Low NR


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].


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