Friday, 23 February 2018

NDC - truncated trip!

I DID go...but not for long. It was cold and damp in the hides and as I'm still trying to shake off the 'flu even I decided it wouldn't be prudent to hang around! A touch of common sense creeping last.

Instead I did a "recky" for a special non-bird related event which is coming shortly. More later.

I made it back through Hull before the madness and made my way down Easington straight to see if I could catch up with a local Whooper sighting. Hazy afternoon sunlight...but I DID...

Whooper Swan (P.53, S.29)

An adult ROSS'S GULL is teasing admirers along the Dorset coast at the moment. A special bird indeed. My pal Phil made the trip from Cornwall but was unable to find it this afternoon. He's staying overnight and will hopefully connect in the morning.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Big freeze!

It's on the way... allegedly?

Nice timing as I recover from 'flu. At least it took my mind off 'the knee". Plenty of ice ahead, so over to NDC again tomorrow before it sets in. Predicted to last a while. After March 7th it can do whatever it likes, as we'll be in Cyprus for three weeks. Now that's how to Spring forward!

Just the ticket...

Saturday, 17 February 2018


Arrived at 9.30 to sunny yet raw conditions. Parts of the reserve still frozen but predictably only the sheltered southern edge.

I decided to start at the far hide, giving us both a stretch. Plenty of birds tucked in to the SW corner including a surprising number of Black-headed Gulls. Even more surprising was a record personal count of 105 Pochard. I later found a single drake Goldeneye.

I stayed down in Garganey Hide all morning and added Marsh Harrier to my year list.

After the chip butty I returned to the Geoff Smith hide for the afternoon vigil. Andy Walker had found 2 juv Iceland Gulls yesterday afternoon so I was hoping to add this long overdue species to my Duff life list! 3 Buzzards provided continuous entertainment as the Gulls started to drift in.

Chris Gomersall entered the hide on the same mission. No joy by 5, so we headed for the car park.

I added.. 

Marsh Harrier
Barn Owl
Pied Wagtail
Song Thrush


News of a possible/probable SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT in that well-known South Yorkshire hotspot Barnby Dun!?

I won't be going.

Who cares? Nobody... except me!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Brighter times

The weather locally has been grim of late, hence Birding opportunities have been limited. However things look brighter for the forthcoming days. Time for another trip over to NDC me thinks...

Monday, 12 February 2018

Repeat visits

This time of year can be difficult for lots of reasons BUT interesting sightings can still be had...with luck!

A sunny morning meant a run for Buddy on his favourite habitat...the beach! Too cold for a swim but it didn't stop him having extended paddles.

I was returning from Easington for lunch when I detoured, on the spur of the moment, past Dimlington Bungalows to see if I could get lucky with the long-staying, first winter Rose-coloured Starling. I'd observed other birders on occasions, focussing on the low hedge at the west end. I parked in the lay-by and waited. I could see groups of Starlings perched on aerials to my rear. I was just about to turn the car round when I noticed a pale Starling sat motionless in the self same low hedge. Bingo...

The last couple of hours were spent cruising around Sunk Island and Stone Creek with no real plan in mind. I parked up at a regular pull in and waited...for something to happen! A group of 20 Fieldfares feeding in the adjacent long grass was a nice surprise. It was now gone 4. Then a sudden movement caught my eye out of the side window.

Amazingly it was a male Hen Harrier flying low past the car not 5 yards away!!!

It was moving quickly...away. By the time I'd sorted my camera out it was way off...

For the record...

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Red-Breasted Goose

Tantalizing news of a bird (of unknown origin) skirting the West Yorkshire border (wherever that is?). Would be nice to see anyway I guess, although it sounds like a "wild goose chase"...boom boom!

Friday, 9 February 2018

Local numbers

My wintering Tree Sparrow flock has now reached the impressive total of 20 birds. Not bad for a few backyard feeders! 8 Blackbirds is also a decent figure for such a small grassless area.

Another drive up and down Snakey at dusk failed to produce the hoped for Barn Owl. However, I was rewarded with an unexpected view of 3 Buzzards circling low over a field at the Patrington end. Very surprising in the half-light at 2C?

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Hen Harrier

I had to go for a medical today in Beverley. All went well and on my way back home I detoured via Stone Creek. It's been a quiet winter there but there's always hope...right?

I pulled up around 12.30 and gave Bud a stretch. A few scans revealed a few groups of Curlew over but nothing else. Another scan. I thought I saw..."something"...grey!!!

I did...

The bird quartered the far side of the field never venturing closer to the road...unfortunately. It was only present for 2 minutes. I waited until 2.30pm but it didn't re-appear. The pics are obviously record shots and purely a bonus to the sighting. Great to see a male...

Hen Harrier (P.50)

Whooper Swans of the LDV

Wednesday 7th

The forecast lived up to it's billing...thankfully!

I arrived at NDC around 9.30 to still, cold yet gloriously sunny conditions. The initial scan of the panorama from the Geoff Smith hide revealed only a couple of yellow-billed Swans...of the Whooper variety!

There were plenty of birds present on this wonderful landscape. The water level was perfect, although small parts were frozen which concentrated the birds somewhat. I was determined to enjoy what promised to be a superb winter's day.

A Black-tailed Godwit (44) was a nice surprise flying over the river with Lapwings. Sign of Spring, coupled with an Oystercatcher (45) A nice flock of mobile Ruff (15) wheeling around the reserve are always a nice, if expected bonus. A Water Rail (46) squealed from the reeds.

Down to Garganey hide. Nothing added until the return walk when a small bird was glimpsed hopping around on a large tree trunk...Treecreeper (47)! Definitely an unexpected addition.

Lunch in usual.

As I returned to the hides I noticed a group of Swans on Bubwith Ings. They had to be Whoopers. Now then...I usually stay 100% loyal to NDC but the chance of close views of these wonderful birds was just too much of a pull. After parking at Bubwith bridge I started to walk the short distance (thankfully) North...without Bud!

I'd only gone 100yds when I looked back to see a chap following me with three dogs...not ideal.


Next news one of the dogs is stood next to me! Ah well. It didn't stop me enjoying great views of three family parties...

A good decision. Everything had fitted into place. It's not easy to get close to these magnificent birds. They ooze wildness. The way they move and sound over the Ings is simply magical. I've been watching them here for over 30 years and I have to say it's my favourite place to be. Sure I like migration, the odd twitch and foreign holiday BUT the simple pleasure I get from the North Duffield Carrs/ Bubwith area is very special indeed. The Whooper Swan is the signature species. To think they've been returning here to winter for many, many years and continue to do so in this modern era of habitat destruction is a marvellous thing to behold. No easy pickings at the Wetlands Centres (new name apparently) for these birds. Natural feeding in natural surroundings. Superb!!!

The last couple of hours were spent back in the GS Hide. The hoped for Barn Owl never materialised but I did add Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 superb male Goldeneyes (irregular here).

Around 4pm a group of mature birders entered the hide and asked about the Whoopers. They said they'd seen some Swans flying over the river onto the Carrs as they walked up from Garganey Hide. I confirmed that they were indeed Whooper Swans. I told them that more would almost certainly arrive to roost. They didn't linger.

They should have...

Always a spectacular sight and a fitting end to a great day...

34 species seen

NDC Year 55

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Ring Ouzel

I'd tried a few times for the bird at Sammy's, once with Phil but it just didn't want to play. The inclement weather did play it's usual!

Anyway, today the weather was cold but still and sunny so I thought I'd give it another go. I multi-tasked as I often do. Bud's ball in one hand and bins in the other. He tore up and down the flood bank while I scanned the first paddock. On my visit with Phil we didn't see a bird, so a couple of Fieldfares and a Redwing were encouraging. Then a few Blackbirds (5). Another "Blackbird" perched in a distant bush...

Ring Ouzel (P.49)
The bird was around 70yds away and I could now hear it calling. I spent a good hour with the bird and it was in view the whole time, although keeping it's distance...

Definitely a bonus winter addition.

Weather set fair for tomorrow so it's over to NDC...

Friday, 2 February 2018

Glaucous Gull

When I first started Birding in the mid-eighties I started exploring the sites of North Lincolnshire, as I lived in Scunny then.

One such site was the concrete bowl that is Covenham Reservoir. I vividly remember walking around the wall on my first visit with John Walton (who still lives in Stallingborough) and coming across a "biscuit bird" (juv GG) stood on the wall not 10 yards away! I've seen a few of various ages in various locations (plenty in Alaska) over the years BUT it's been a while since I saw one WELL.

Therefore when one seemed to be lingering at Hollingworth Lake I decided to make the trip. It's a site I'm familiar with from my youth, a local beauty spot nestled in to the west side of the Pennines. Having crawled through Hull (as usual) I made good time the rest of the way and arrived around 10.30am. It was freezing cold but clear and still. VERY dodgy underfoot (like glass) so I waited in the car for a while. Then a glimpse...

First impressions through the car window...

A few other admirers had gathered by now with there bazooka lenses. They weren't really needed though as over the next hour or so the young giant performed admirably...I nearly caught it fully as it flew across to the ramp...

Anyway, a few images of this Arctic wanderer...

Crippling views as they say!!!

Really pleased I made the journey. A wonderful bird!

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Bright Start


Woke early (for me) at 6.30am so I decided to have a "crack of dawn" run down to Welwick. The weather was set fair and a fine sunrise was appreciated...

Would I finally connect with some Raptors/Owls? Well, a Barn Owl (P.46) over the car was a great start! As I made my way up onto the flood bank a cc Marsh Harrier was spotted in the half-light hunting in the distance.

I scanned the Humber and there perched on a favourite snag was a Merlin (P.47)...

Things were going very well.

Around 15 minutes later c 8.15 a male Marsh Harrier flew quickly through. Nothing else of note was seen bar 6 Little Egrets.

An hour down at Stone Creek mid-afternoon failed to produce the hoped for Hen Harrier but Kingfisher (P.48) was added in a regular spot.

Another Barn Owl was observed hunting a ditch on the return journey.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

GLOSSY IBIS - Late result

Phil was in town today and he'd kindly offered to take me around the Patch. He set the itinerary as he was hoping for a few year ticks.

He'd started off at Bempton at first light but he was to report t was cold and windy so he didn't linger too long. He managed a few additions including Fulmar.

He arrived at Holmpton at 10.15am. I was just returning from filling Richard's feeders. I grabbed my gear and off we went. The weather was set fair with a moderate but thankfully mild wind. First stop was Easington were we soon connected with the long-staying Rose-coloured Starling. On to Sammy's to try for the elusive Ring Ouzel. No sign in a half-hour search.

After a brief stop at Skeffling were he added Reed Bunting and Red-legged Partridge we headed down to the Stone Creek/Sunk Island area hoping for Raptors and Owls. No luck. We worked our way back to Patrington and headed for Holmpton down Snakey lane. Not being on top form at the moment I hadn't realised my pager was on silent, luckily Phil had his phone info' and news came through of a late double at Kilnsea Wetlands.

Glossy Ibis and Green-winged Teal

The sun was dropping fast but we made it to the car park for 4.15pm. I shoe-horned myself out of the car while Phil gathered his stuff. I glanced over the wetlands and there in the distance was a slim, elongated dark shape...with a de-curved bill. Yep...GLOSSY IBIS heading towards the Humber over the Riverside Hotel. A large chunk of luck, I suggest. A quick shout to Phil allowed him to connect before it disappeared low over the Riverside Hotel. A great moment...and nice to share it. Phil "needed" the GWT but I was struggling now so I stayed n the car while he made his way around to the hide. On his return he informed me that he'd seen the bird and the chaps in the hide hadn't seen the GI depart.

A great end to the day...

Friday, 26 January 2018


Spent a VERY pleasant day at the old stomping ground...

View from Garganey hide
Never get tired of this view. Slightly disappointing was the realisation that the roof hasn't been repaired, hence wet seats etc. I managed to organise a dry spot and my assistant and I set about recording the birds...

The water was well and truly "on" now and the birds were settling in well. Bodes well for the rest of the winter. Great to see the signature species present for the first time. Three family groups of Whooper Swans were present numbering 17 birds.

An impressive number of birds was present in the stubble between the hides. Easily into three figures.
Linnets, Yellowhammers, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Bullfinches, Tree Sparrows, Reed Buntings, Robins, Dunnocks, Wrens, Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares.

As I was about to leave for the traditional chip butty in Selby at Mr C's (thoroughly recommended), a car pulled into the car park. It was Vince! I was hoping I might bump into him. We chatted for a while and my unfortunate Autumn incident came up.

After lunch I returned and we stayed until dusk. Just the tonic I needed. A male Stonechat was a nice surprise.

43 species seen...list on Bubo above.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Snowy Owls

This species is quite topical with a bird on Scilly and one freshly arrived in West Texas.

Phil is tempted by the Scilly bird (now on Tresco) as he's living in Cornwall at the moment but the logistics and weather are stalling his attempt.

My first encounter with this magnificent bird was way back in 1990. I was at my Mother-in laws on Boxing day when I sneaked a quick phone call to Birdline...
"Snowy Owl, Wainfleet, Lincs"

WOW! Needless to say I was keen to see this bird!!! However, visiting relations for Christmas with two young lads was quite an obstacle to my plans. Fortunately the bird stayed until March 18th 1991 giving me plenty of time to visit and admire the bird along with thousands of others.

I started going to Texas in 2000. In 2002 there was one just west of Abiline at Tye until April 1st (5 records). Incredibly a GYRFALCON was also present in the State at Lubbock from Jan 21st - April 7th the same year (the only State record) roosted every night on the same water tower...

I remember Birders mentioning this bird at the time. Compiling this post has revealed the full magnitude of these records. I know I was in the State on April 18th... I don't wish to look further...if you get my drift. Also, it was pre-internet. Phew... I DID eventually look (too tempting). I was still in Texas on April 25th therefore making a connection impossible. That's a relief...a ghost put to bed!

Fast forward to 2007.

I'd just shacked up with Louise and had already booked my summer trip to Alaska. Fortunately I was able to get her on my flights with the BIG bonus of her ticket costing the princely sum of £1 due to a raffle at eBookers. It should have cost £990!!!!! A couple of days after arriving in Anchorage we took an internal flight to Barrow, the northern most point of the Continent. An amazing flight stopping of at Deadhorse (great name). We had a nervous hour on the runway before we got confirmation the fog had cleared at Barrow. During one afternoon on a short 2 mile drive over the permafrost I counted TWENTY Snowy Owls! Unforgettable. The SPECTACLED  and STELLER'S Eiders were rather nice as well. I also saw a Gre/ay phase GYR at Nome on the trip.

A year later I was watching one on my beloved Scilly. We were on Penninis Head, St Mary's when news came over the pager that one was flying in from St Agnes. Unfortunately we missed the flight view but did eventually enjoy prolonged views of it perched on a tin shed! A few more scans out to the west may have given me a very special moment indeed.

So coming full circle we have current records of least to me!?

Monday, 22 January 2018

Step by step

Took the plunge this morning after confirmation from my Surgeon (a great bloke) on Friday that everything was as it should be. I managed a round trip of a couple of miles with Louise and Bud along the Skeffling flood bank. The recent wet spell has left the adjacent fields...damp! Excellent conditions for feeding waders and thrushes. There were plenty about. I didn't see Gavin's male Hen Harrier as I scanned Welwick but I did manage a distant Marsh (P.42).

Plenty of white-winged Gulls around at the moment. Love to find one on the Patch...the Village would be even better!

Sunday, 21 January 2018


We have some at last!

Slow going with the old knee box but I'll have to be a patient patient. My target is a decent recovery by March 8th. Hope your knees are OK?!

The Plover flock is staying loyal near Patrington. I've also seen small numbers of Lapwing on the Holmpton/With' road. No sign of any Red-throated Divers this morning on the cliff walk despite Richard seeing plenty a few days ago. Gavin had a male Hen Harrier at Welwick this morning. Phil's having fun with White-winged Gulls in Cornwall. I need to see some ...BIRDS!

Nearly there with my Texas synchronising...why do lists never tally?

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

I'd rather be...

We all need something to dream about in these dark, cold January days. My (latest) dream is to "do" a FULL Texas Spring in 2019. The list above is just one of many reasons why!

First Village Kestrel (H.33) on Seaside lane today. High-powered stuff eh?!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018


Gotta love eBird...

"eBird’s annual update to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) added more than 85 million records, bringing the total number of records available across GBIF to the cusp of one billion records. eBird is the largest dataset in GBIF, and the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project. Most importantly, this GBIF update gives attribution to the country of origin of the data—providing due credit to our collaborators across the world that make eBird grow and thrive.  Providing eBird data access through GBIF ensures that more people have free access to eBird records: there have been 50,000 direct downloads of eBird data through GBIF to date. As always, you can also download eBird data directly from Read more and see more growth stats here."

First Song Thrush of the year this morning by the cliff (fresh in?) on the constitutional...

Monday, 15 January 2018

Texas memories (2)

22nd April 2006

It was the last morning of my trip. My flight home was 3pm. Where to go?

I was based in Galveston at the Motel 6 (pre-Louise). A SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (31 records to date) had been reported at Sabine Woods. This plus the chance of another bucket full of summer plumage Warblers etc made the decision an easy one. A pre-dawn Ferry and a rip up the Bolivar Peninsular had me there at dawn.

I connected with the rarity within the first half-hour enjoying excellent views with the increasing number of other admirers. It was another beautiful Texas Spring morning and there were plenty of birds to admire. Around 10am I bumped into Martin Reid (an ex-pat from Watford) and his partner Sheridan Coffey. I'd birded with Martin before and it was great to see them both. We then noticed some birders striding with intent..."Cape May Warbler"

It's a late and scarce migrant through Texas, the majority of the birds travelling further east. This would have been an ABA/Texas double for me at the time. However. time was against me. I obviously wanted to see this bird and I set off to follow the crowd deep into the woods. I looked hard but by noon I hadn't connected. Alas, it was time to head for the airport. I said my goodbyes to Martin and Sheridan. Needless to say the bird showed well throughout the afternoon...and guess who still needs it for Texas!