Tag Archives: outdoors

Eastern Yellow Wagtail in Northumberland

20 Dec

Eastern Yellow Wagtail is one of those birds that flew under the radar until recently with the first accepted record over a hundreds years old on Fair Isle in 1909 with a further bird there in 1912 now considered “British” following genetic analysis of  both records.  The next record was at Colyton, Devon in December 2010 which was trapped allowing DNA analysis to confirm it as the 2nd record {BB Vol 106 p36-41}. Since then though there have been a small but steady occurrence, likely more to do with greater knowledge, particularly the call with sound recording and sonographs, as well as ‘appearance’ than actual increase in occurrence. What were just late “grey’ Yellow Wagtails [as with the Devon record birds seen after the usual autumn migration and into winter] are now given a good grilling [and listening!] Of course with split of Eastern from Western forms they have now become in demand to twitchers. Living in Yorkshire the temptation to ‘sit and wait’ had kept me expecting one locally but with one not too far off in Northumberland and showing well TD got interested and ofter some reluctance I gave in.

18712/19 Too cold, with the risk of ice, and my usual trip to Bridlington by bike was replaced with the train. So walked to Cottingham station in the dark and despite initial worries the new ticket machine proved non-challenging and after a few minutes on a frozen bench joined RG on the train. TD picked us up from the station and got to Prestwick Carr by early afternoon with incident. Unfortunately the bird, having been settled all morning, had flown to north of the cross road. Getting there it had flown again and after a few minutes searching returned to the fields further south. Found a distant group of Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit and started looking through when called back to the northern field were the Eastern Yellow Wagtail had been relocated. To be honest the usual early twitch panic where a bit of patience was the best thing. The bird then spent the rest of our stay feeding on blood worms only a few metres from the birders.

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Eastern Yellow Wagtail-Prestwick Carr

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Birders including Joe and Richard at Prestwick Carr

The fields had a few horses and was like the sort of thing you see in RSPSA programs being virtually devoid of grass although did have a plenty of hay in feeders.

Was nice to get back to Bridlington and getting on train with only a short walk home at the end rather than having to ride back the extra cost is an issue. In better weather the ticket price would have paid for almost enough petrol to make the full journey on my own.

With the Cornish Brown Booby already on my life list from Florida the Wagtail looks likely my only lifer in Britain in 2019, my worst total since I started birding. However got a few more in Romania.

A word of caution The parking is a on a soft verge and one birder got so stuck the front of the car was dug in so deep with couldn’t push him out.

 

Update Still present on Sunday 29th but a better marked male in Norfolk of the Blue-headed [Alaskan] race is attracting more visitors.

Shag at East Park, Hull

17 Dec

17/12/18 Apart from twitching the Royal Tern on Anglesey last Tuesday the only birding I’ve done recently had been locally with the dog.

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Royal Tern-Traeth Lligwy, Anglesey

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Raven-Traeth Lligwy, Anglesey

This doesn’t mean I don’t get to see much, as a Little Egret has been seen on the north side of Cottingham a few times recently with another lingering in fields north of Springhead GC. Even better last Wednesday managed to see Peregrine, Merlin, Little Owl and Green Woodpecker.

This morning the dog wasn’t interested in going out so with a Shag in Hull at East Park Lake since at least late last week and the weather better, got out on the bike for the first time in a while. From the feeding area [although ‘feeding’ is no longer encouraged] the bird was visitable and although the guy I spoke to seemed to think it was a Cormorant, on closer inspection it was clearly an immature Shag.

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First winter Shag-East Park Lake, Hull

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Goosander-East Park Lake, Hull

A few Goosander were also in the area and after getting a few pictures set off round the lake to count them. Thirty had been reported earlier and my count was in the same ball park.

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Black-headed Gull-East Park Lake, Hull

Didn’t see them myself but of interest Jay and Mistle Thrush are on site.

More winter wildfowl

30 Oct

30/10/16 Started Sunday morning at High Eske NR, with RL and ML, hoping to see the recent Long-tailed Duck. Met DH along the track from the farm. Had seen the duck on Saturday evening but no sign today but had had a Smew. The lone Whooper Swan was still present.fullsizeoutput_1a4d

Whooper Swan-High Eske NR

Quickly found the redhead Smew among the Tufted Duck and Pochard at the south end. Also picked out three Scaup. The large flock of Greylags dropped still with the Pink-footed Goose. Next to Hornsea Mere starting in the Seaton Road Hide. A Pink-footed Goose was just in front of the hide. Eleven Whooper Swans were near the entrance to Decoy Bay and another eight flew southwest.fullsizeoutput_1a4a

Whooper Swans at Hornsea Mere

I picked up the two Slavonian Grebe between us and Kirkholme Point, presumably displaced by the boat.dscn3372

What we have to contend with at Hornsea Mere

Eventually came fairly close.

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Juvenile and adult Slavonian Grebes with Mute Swan-Hornsea Mere

Went round to Kirkholme Point where the same or another Pink-footed Goose was just offshore.fullsizeoutput_1a42

Pink-footed Goose at Hornsea Mere off Kirkholme Point

A few Tundra Bean and White-fronted Geese and a Common Scoter had been seen earlier. Went to Tophill Low NR this afternoon. I found a redhead Smew on D reservoir from car park hide. Likely the same bird we saw this morning as it was also associating with Pochard. Flew to the north end and RL and I went to the North Hide while ML went to North Marsh where a Bittern had been seen earlier. The Smew showed close in before flying off with Pochards eventually coming down below car park hide where it stayed until late afternoon at least. fullsizeoutput_1a3b

Redhead Smew with Pochard at Tophill Low NR on D reservoir

Also had two Green Sandpipers in flight before dropping onto Decoy Fields.dscn3408

The new visitors centre at Tophill Low NR-‘still under wraps’

Did the gulls. Although we didn’t stay until dark, with the clocks now back, we’re likely to start doing the gull roost again. A Tawny Owl was calling in D wood as we left. Had a few Migrant Hawkers. With the forecast of colder nights there won’t be many more.

Another Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR

17 Sep

The second Pectoral Sandpiper of the year for Tophill Low NR was again found by visitors on a Monday. Went to check it out with RL on Tuesday. Still present on South Marsh East but too distant for a reasonable picture.14311254_1170391073017539_5739176024044637117_o

Ruff and Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East-RL

17/9/16 Went back to Tophill Low NR with MB on Saturday morning. The Pectoral Sandpiper hadn’t been reported since Wednesday but was in the log for Friday. Started with North Lagoon. Three Greenshank were there on Tuesday but initially no waders today but a Ruff dropped in. On South Marsh East the sandpiper hadn’t been seen but I picked it up far off with Teal. No sign of the two Ruff it had accompanied on Tuesday. Went round to back-2-back hide where it should be closer but wasn’t currently on show so headed to Watton NR. The usual mass of Greylags but also three Little Egrets and a sign of autumn with flocks of Golden Plover circling Watton Carrs. Back at South Marsh East the Pectoral Sandpiper was showing well enough for a picture but often hidden behind vegetation.dscn2922

Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

A second look at North Lagoon found a Greenshank and Dunlin.

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Greenshank at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Ruff and Dunlin at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon

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Pied Wagtail at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon 

With weather more seasonal after the heatwave earlier this week it wasn’t surprising a Comma near South Marsh East was our only butterfly of the morning and we also only had a few Migrant Hawkers.dscn2912

Comma at Tophill Low NR

Walking the north end in the afternoon we did better with several Speckled Woods in D wood and a few Small Whites in North Scrub as well as many Common Darter on the path near Hempholme Meadows. Bird-wise it was poor but redeemed by an approachable Wheatear along straight road and a fly over male Marsh Harrier.dscn2967

North Wheatear at Tophill Low NR by D reservoir

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The current status of the new visitor centre. Check the Tophill blog for more details.

For Mike’s version check here.

Fen Bog

23 Jul

DSCN178923/7/16 Did Fen Bog for Keeled Skimmer with RL back in 2013 [see here including direction] . Today was mainly for ML but it was nice to have a change of scene as I haven’t been out of my usual area much this year due to not been able to get for things earlier this year and lack of anything worth the trip recently.

As expected on a warm Saturday at the beginning of the summer holidays the trip out was a bit of a drag and unfortunately it had cooled a bit on arrival but Keeled Skimmers had been seen recently. Walking from the car park I had a Common Lizard but as usual disappeared rapidly. Wandered around and had a couple of probables but nothing settled. Lots of distinctive ‘grass moths’ on the wings. A pig to photograph and usually just ignore them but managed a couple of reasonable shots, hopefully good enough to ID later.

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Catoptria margaritella or Pearl-band Grass Veneer

Still having no luck with dragonflies except for a what we thought was a female Common Darter but on studying my pictures proved to a Keeled Skimmer. We were considering moving to another site but met a couple who’d recently seen Keeled Skimmer in an area we had not checked yet so headed off there where amazingly ML managed to pick them out at a good range on the only decent pool we’d seen today .

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female Keeled Skimmer

We all scrambled down to it and eventually had at least a dozen, mostly male Keeled Skimmers. However were very active and rarely stopped for long in clear sight. We all ultimately managed some good shots, me by the tricky manual mode.

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male Keeled Skimmer

A lot of different micro moths on the wing and managed to ‘pot’ Brown China-mark but failed with another species which I still haven’t a clue about.

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Brown China-mark

Butterfly wise mainly Skippers, Ringlet and Small Heath, the latter very local in my regular area.

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Small Skipper

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Small Heath

Also had a large Fritillary, likely Dark Green but it just flew through but a couple had been seen two well in the car park. Didn’t see any of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary which also were seen in the car park.

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RAF Fylingdales-I preferred the ‘golf balls’.

Later checked Eller Beck on the opposite side of the road. Managed one female Golden-ringed Dragonfly ovipositing a few feet below us.

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ovipositing Golden-ringed Dragonfly on Eller Beck

Bird wise very quiet with the upland breeding birds likely moved on and Wheatear was the only one I wouldn’t have seen just walking the dogs near my home.

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Hole of Horcum

Return journey was quicker helped by taking the A64 at Malton and thus avoiding the town centre bottleneck.

 

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.

Here are some better pictures taken last week by Tony Dixon.Kumlien's Gull 001

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.

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.

Fen Bog and Transmire Bog

28 Jul


Following an aborted trip last year and with a prolonged period of hot weather Roy and I decided to head up to North Yorkshire for Keel Skimmer on Monday 22 July. Initially didn’t look too good with low cloud but this burnt off before reaching Fen Bog. The car park is easily found off A169 almost opposite the Flyingdales RAF base [remember the iconic golf balls  but don’t know what the current structure is known as] and just south of the turn off to Gouthland. For details check here. Immediately found several fritillary butterflies, but checking the picture later were only Small Pearl Bordered, only one I’ve previously seen.

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Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary-Fen Bog

Also our 1st Keeled Skimmer.

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Keeled Skimmer-female-Fen Bog-my only picture due to battery failure. All others are Roy’s.

On entering the reserve proper immediately had a male Keeled Skimmer which was very settled, only flying to defend it’s territory from another male.

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Keeled Skimmer-male-Fen Bog

Also had a “hawker” presumed to be Southern. Only birdlife was Swallow, Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit. The North Yorkshire Railway passes the edge of the reserve so we had regular sightings of steam locomotives.

Moved on to Transmire where we had several close sightings of Golden-ringed Dragonflies on the stream. Good for me as I’d only had flight views previously.

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Golden-ringed Dragonfly-Tranmire Bog

Transmire itself is quite inconspicuous as it’s only a small depression close to the stream. It’s only on closer inspection you discover it’s boggy. Check here for directions. Several more Keeled Skimmers here, including a female found by Roy in grass, as described in the books. Also a good Southern Hawker.

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Keeled Skimmers-Transmire-male above, female below.

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Much better birding with, as well as Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit, a family party of Grey Wagtail and a few Siskin including a very bright male.

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Siskin-male-Transmire

Again a few Small Pearl Border Fritillaries.

[Editorial note-Any regular visitors to this blog will hopefully notice an improvement in picture quality as I’ve found the button that increases the size. Also anyone following my New York trip report can relax as I will post another episode soon.]

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.