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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

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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.

New York-Day 4-June 19

31 Jul

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The plaque in the garden commemorating the Commonwealth victims on 9/11. Although the main 9/11 memorial is pristine local workers us this garden for a fag [cigarette] break as witnessed by the discarded tab ends.

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Plaque remembering the American fallen of the Vietnam war. One of the good things Harold Wilson PM did was keep the UK out of this one.

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The main Vietnam memorial. Some very moving inscriptions including passages from letters written home by GIs.

Took the Staten Island Ferry mainly for the Statue of Liberty

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Manhattan from Staten Island Ferry.

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Ferry berthed at Staten Island

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Another Staten Island Ferry going the other way

Had a look round the National Museum of the American Indian in the 1907 Custom House. A very good exhibition and free. I am English and we don’t take pictures in museums but took a few of the building.

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 Christopher Columbus in 1907 Custom House-rather poignant considering it now houses the American Indian Museum.

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Interior of 1907 Custom House

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Street performers near Brooklyn Bridge. Very entertaining but didn’t have the time to watch the full act.

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Started walking across Brooklyn Bridge but very busy and hoardings, due to maintenance  work, blocked the view of the actual river crossing so turned back.

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Brooklyn bridge

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Beekman Building. Interesting architecture as from some angles looks like it been “bent” by a collision . A bit weird when so close to the 9/11 site.

Did a rather pointless “Lonely Planet” tour of film locations this afternoon, including Holly Golightly’s apartment then had another quick walk through Central Park where I added Eastern Kingbird to the trip list.

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Common Grackle-Central Park.

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Chocolate statue for a same sex wedding.

New York-Day 3-June 18

29 Jul


On Tuesday took the subway to Coney Island to visit Nathan’s and sample the famous frankfurters. Instead I had chips [french-fries] with a disgusting liquid “cheese”.

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The other thing Coney Island is famous for is the fun fair.

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At least I had the chance to photograph some gulls on the beach.

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Ring-billed Gull

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Laughing Gull

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American Herring Gull

Ventured onto the beach to get shots of birds on the rocks. Always feel like a voyeur going onto beaches with scantily clad women!

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Double-crested Cormorants, American Herring Gulls and Ring-billed Gull.

From Coney Island headed to Grand Central Station.

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Grand Station Station main atrium.

Next was the UN building.

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Biblical inscription opposite UN building. Great ideal but no sign yet of it being heeded.

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The UN building.

Then headed to the Empire State Building, timing our visit to coincide with sunset

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Empire State building from the “sidewalk”.

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Where’s King Kong?

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The Flat Iron building

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Macy’s

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It’s a long way down!

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Manhattan all lit up including Chrysler Building

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Sunset over Manhattan

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Finally headed to Times Square.

IMG_0305US Force recruitment in Times Square

IMG_0306 My hero Bender

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I found Times Square a bit too much. The lights are so bright! Also very busy but it had been a long day.

New York-Day 2-June 17

6 Jul

On our first full day we headed to central Manhattan

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1st sight of Chrysler Building

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Started the day with dried tomato and cream cheese on onion bagel at Ess-a-Bagel. Considered the best bagels in New York and certainly the best I had on this trip.

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Great Blue Skimmer seen from Dylan’s Candy Bar. A temple to tooth decay.

Had my first look at Central late afternoon. Very busy and not with other birders but managed a few birds. Had brief view of a pair of Baltimore Orioles, a new one for me.

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Mourning Dove

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NYPD patrol car.

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House Sparrow. The commonest bird in New York next being Starling and Rock Dove.

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American Robin. The most abundant American bird. Seems to fills the same niche as Blackbird in the UK, even sings similar. An American tick.

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Northern Cardinal

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View from Central Park.

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Plaque in Strawberry Fields,Central Park. 

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The tribute to John Lennon in Central Park. Among the objects are a model Yellow Submarine, Walrus and John Lennon style sun-glasses.

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The building where John Lennon had his apartment.