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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.

Twitching Waxwing with Wilbur

20 Mar

20/3/17 Got a text from RL early afternoon about 23+ Waxwings in Hull at the Junction of Hotham Road South and Wold Road. Had been raining heavy all morning and Wilbur was restless for a proper walk so as it was only a small diversion to my Willerby Carrs walk [see here] took this route. Met another regular dog walking birder and thought he was going to follow me but he baulked at going down the very muddy Wood Lane. Got a message that the Waxwings had flown but on arriving found MU photographing some with his mobile phone through his telescope. Only four left and just got in one shot before they flew behind shops and didn’t return by 4pm.


Waxwings on Wold Road, Hull


Carrion Crow off Wold Road eating what appears to be a Woodpigeon squab.

Apart from a flock of Fieldfare that alighted near Haltemprice farm I had little else of note although there were still a few Wigeon and Teal on flashes north of Carr Farm and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen regularly.


Wilbur at the back of Springhead GC

Short-tailed Vole at Raywell

14 Feb

14/2/17 I visited Raywell for likely fifty years and birded there since the mid eighties. Since The Woodland Trust took it over the woods there, in 1991, they are now known as Nut Wood and Wauldby Scrogs. Too be honest birding there is hard work and I mostly visit in winter when time is limited and it’s too cold to bother going any further. This was the case Tuesday afternoon and after the recent cold wet period I needed an excuse to get the bike out.

First checked the path to the north by Trinity Farm hoping for farmland birds but it was very quiet. Walking back towards the woods kept seeing a brown shape moving it the grass nearby. First thoughts were a foraging Robin, Wren or Dunnock but getting closer could see it was a small blunt faced rodent. From the location it had to be a Short-tailed Vole. It was very approachable and was regularly dashing from under a hedge to feed in the grass but was usually just an obscured brown shape but eventually got a clear enough view to get one decent picture.


Short-tailed Vole-Microtus agrestis-Raywell

Had seen a lot of winter thrushes on my last visit in January but today only had one Fieldfare, near the vole. There were a lot of Blackbird though and at least one Song Thrush. Also plenty of Great and Blue Tit but although I heard a Marsh Tit couldn’t locate it. A brief male Bullfinch added some colour. Walking back through the woods had a striking fungus, Scarlet Elf Cap, fortunately one of the few I can identify with confidence.


Scarlet Elf Cap-Raywell



Geese at Hornsea Mere

4 Feb

4/2/17 Went out with RL and ML early Saturday afternoon. Started at Swine Moor where there was still 1400 Wigeon and 260 Teal but again the only waders were a few Redshank. Next checked Fossehill Pond and nearby roofs but couldn’t find any white-winged gulls. Spent the rest of the day at Hornsea Mere. Started with Wassand Hide where on entering RL called out a Bittern, which we all managed to see before it dropped into the reeds. Had at least five Marsh Harrier, often giving close views.


♀.Marsh Harrier from Wassand Hide at Hornsea Mere

I checked the distant ducks in Decoy channel and found two Long-tailed Ducks. While watching them a second Bittern flew in from the east and again lost it close to where the first had gone in. A second year tick was added when ML called out a Jay flying over. Next round to Kirkholme Point. Found nothing new but on leaving I saw some geese just past the gate.


‘Goose stepping” Greylag with a Tundra Bean Goose and several Russian White-fronted Geese at  Hornsea Mere

On a closer inspection  we found, among the Greylags, 34 Russian White-fronts, then a Tundra Bean Goose with two Pink-footed Geese.


Russian White-fronted Geese at Hornsea Mere


Tundra Bean Goose with Russian White-fronted Goose at Hornsea Mere

Went round to Seaton Road Hide where ML found a close Long-tailed Duck followed by a second less well marked bird.


Long-tailed Duck at Hornsea Mere from Seaton Road Hide.

Although the original birds were distant it seemed likely these were different birds. Maybe because of the charm conditions the gull roost was very small.


15 Jan

15/1/17 Sunday morning headed for Scarborough with RL and ML.


Scarborough Harbour

Started at the harbour where we quickly picked up one each of the Black-necked Grebes and Great Northern Divers currently present.


Great Northern Diver in Scarborough Harbour


Black-necked Grebe in Scarborough Harbour

Soon had the second diver, the two occasionally surfacing close together. Walked round to the other side of the harbour where the we located the second grebe.


Cormorants in Scarborough Harbour.

Near the bridge added a approachable Rock Pipit.


Rock Pipit at Scarborough harbour

Looking out the sea had a juvenile Glaucous Gull in flight.


Glaucous Gull off Scarborough Harbour

On the sideway added Shag, with the Cormorants.


Shag and Cormorant in Scarborough Harbour

Moved to Marine Drive, parking near Albert Park Cafe. Initially couldn’t locate any Black Redstarts until we met up with a local birder who had just been watching one with two Stonechat nearby.


Black Redstart on Marine Drive, Scarborough


Stonechat on Marine Drive, Scarborough

Finally went to Scalby Mills car park where a juvenile Glaucous Gull was on the rocks but usually obscured by other gulls.



Glaucous Gull with Herring Gulls at Scalby Mills, Scarborough

Year List:- 101

Hornsea gulls

11 Jan

11/1/17 Went to Hornsea Mere with RL on Wednesday morning. Although windy viewing wasn’t too bad but couldn’t find the Great Northern Diver or Long-tailed Duck [see here]. Best of it was Peregrine lingering around Swan island and occasionally half-heartedly stooping at Black-headed Gulls. Moved round to Kirkholme Point where I found a Norwegian ringed Black-headed Gull.


Norwegian ringed Black-headed Gull-Hornsea Mere

Moved to the sea-front where recently a few white-winged gulls had been seen. Picked out a Glaucous Gull on the sea off the Leisure Centre car park. Flew towards us then headed north. Went in hot pursuit and eventually, after been regularly flushed by dogs, it settled on the beach below the northern car park, remembered by long time local birders as previous site of the sea-watching shelter. Seemed happy and got close enough for some decent pictures.


Juvenile Glaucous Gull-Hornsea sea-front


Sanderling-Hornsea sea-front


Turnstone-Hornsea sea-front

We headed north, checking the sea at a few sites, as far as Barmston but found nothing else. On the way up again failed to find any geese in the Low Skirlington area. Headed back south to Fosse Hill Pond where we added a first winter Mediterranean Gull as well as Kingfisher.

Year List: 93


1w Mediterranean Gull with Black-headed Gull-Fosse Hill Pond

Finished the day back at Hornsea Mere hoping for another white-winged gull.