Monday, December 17, 2012

Barnie Barnacles

So yesterday was to be my last* day spent in York before coming back to Birmingham to spend Christmas here. All was going well, quick trip out birding in the morning up to Castle Howard, however after about 30mins scanning the lake this is what happened

Before that there were good numbers of Duck and Geese but not the hoped for Smew or Great Northern Diver.

I then head home to start packing up. Then at 14:40 I get a text from the AW Birder saying that he'd just had 3 Barnacle Geese from North Duffield! Oh dear. I needed to be leaving York by 4 and I still had plenty of packing to do! I replied trying to dismiss them as plastic, but knowing that my year listing rival mate was just around the corner at Ellerton I tried to put him off going 

It didn't work!

So its now 15:30 and I start panicking! I manage to finally pack up and leave the house at 15:50 and raced down to Bubwith Bridge by 16:10, was I too late?! I jumped out of the car to be told by a smug Chris that they had drifted out of sight! It was getting pretty dark but by standing on a pile of crap that had been washed up by the recent flooding I was able to scan the flock, however after about a minute they all took flight! Disaster! Half went south and out of sight and half went North, I scanned through as they were flying but couldn't pick any small branta types out! Then the flock that flew north landed on the river, I had a half hearted scan thinking that I'd missed them but then the appeared! 3 Barnacle Geese swimming away, I'd just scraped them onto the year list with the last 2 mins of light that I would see in York in 2012!* (for pics of the birds look here) I'd managed 174! Beating the previous record by 4! When I first did this year list I said I'd be happy with 150, then once I'd started my amended target was 170, I'd be chuffed to equal it, so to have beat it by 4 species I'm really happy!

Now the irony is that I have seen upto 75 Barnacle Goose weekly this year in York! But there the semi-resident feral flock at the Uni and half of them sport small plastic red rings and hang around with the 20 or so Snow Geese that are also there. So after a full year of seeing them down to 2 ft I had to drive like a madman down to North Duffield (sticking to the speed limits of course) just to get the worse views of the species I've had all year to add them on my York Area year list! 

Cat C contenders?

So that's it for birding in the York Area, this year*

*unless I feel the need to go racing back for another year tick!

I leave with Chris Gomersall hot on my tail on 173, so he'll need to find 2 year ticks to beat me, gonna be a tense 14 days!

Full summary of me year in York will follow but for now I'd just like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped me out this year with finding birds, tipping me off and giving me further information! Couldn't have done it without the help of everyone! Cheers!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


After spending the best part of yesterday chasing the Bewick's Swans that had been at North Duffield the other day I finally managed to connect with 2 today!

Tomorrow is my last days birding in the area till I go back to Birmingham for Christmas! Will Chris manage to catch me up (for more than 4 hours!) or overtake me? Will I have to come back to York from Birmingham!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


With a bang late on this afternoon, last minute decision to visit Dringhouses Pond paid off!!

Bit of a surprise swimming round with the Tufted Duck and Goosander!

If anyone's interested in going and having a look tomorrow and not sure where the pond is its here

Friday, November 16, 2012


Got down to North Duffield for first light this morning to try and connect with a Bittern that had been seen briefly the evening before, long shot but being equal with the York Area Year List record I had to give it a try!

Arrived in the hide about 07:05 and had seen it by 0715!!! Awesome bird and real nice one to break the record with!

Some video taken in poor light here

showing general area it favoured first thing

Proved quite popular and the Geoff Smith hide was standing room only by the time I'd left!

Some better photos on Mark Coates' Flickr here

Big thanks to Arni, Zing and Andy for getting the news out last night!

Previous record was set in 2006 when Russell Slack and Darren Starkey both competed and both managed 170!

Will do a full summary of my 'big' year in January! 

For now, can I get any more? I'll be going back to Birmingham for Christmas around the 16th December so I've got a month to add a few more hopefully, any bird from now is a bonus!

Targets include

Bewick's Swan
Bean Goose
Hen Harrier
Green Winged Teal
Black Redstart

Here's hoping!

Thursday, November 08, 2012


Managed to see 43+ Waxwing in York today! Which means that I have equalled the York Area Year List record! 170!

Couple of stonking adult males as well!

Male Hen Harrier through North Duffield this afternoon, will it do a repeat performance tomorrow and allow me to break the record?! Only time will tell!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Goldeneye Ageing

A Goldeneye turned up on the patch 2 days ago.

I'd guessed it may be a 1cy male due to the dull bill and bright eye and managed to prove it today by taking this photo

The combination of the greater covert bar being broken with not very prominent tips and a small amount of pale grey on the forewing age it as a 1cy male. 1cy females would should a more prominent covert bar with a grey-brown forewing.

The Scaup have cleared off.

When I got my camera it was intended exactly for that sort of stuff and recording stuff I find/see. I always said that I wouldn't use it for 'photography' ie taking a photo of a House Sparrow cause its posing nicely! However for Common Gulls I make an exception (plus I can learn about their ageing at the same time!)

Quite like the idea of collages so made one for Common Gulls from Hes East today.

Also went to North Duffield and saw 2 Marsh Harriers, 20 Whoopers (no Bewick's) 17+ Ruff and 700+ Fieldfare, pretty cool.

Friday, November 02, 2012


Spent a week at Spurn last week and it was awesome! Saw a huge fall of thrushes, crest and chats loads of Ring Ouzel, Hawfinch, Bluethroat and Olive Backed Pipit.

Part of a c300 strong flock!

Tripping over these and Chiffchaff!

Still impressed by my new Panasonic and one neat feature it does is slow motion, it can do either 100 fps or 200 fps most of the experimenting I have done is with birds in the hand and one of the best so far was the Hawfinch from Spurn. Redstarts and Bramblings on North Ron worked really well and I'll get round to posting them up later, also got a neat bit of Purple Sand footage.

Reckon it could be good on a flyover raptor or gull, will have to do more playing around!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

More North Ron Pics

More pictures from North Ron on the Panasonic FZ-200

only photo of a Yellow-browed I managed in the whole 2 weeks!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

North Ronaldsay

Back from 2 weeks on North Ron, got 23 GB of photos to work my way through but for now a few of the highlights-

one of around 5 different birds seen over the 2 weeks, always nice birds to see especially close views!

Great Spotted Woodpecker, first island record since 2003 showed superbly as it fed on a sheltered part of the dyke! must be D. major major ?

Lanceolated Warbler, again showed really well on a dyke! 

Little Bunting, one of several across the island

Juvenile Peregrine, proper wader hunter!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Finally a local year tick! Stunning juv Grey Plover at Bank Island this evening!

Friday, September 14, 2012


Usually dragonflies are a mid summer, no birds to look at, so I'll look at some dragonflies feature. However with blasting westerlies dominating September so far this is what I ended up finding c.5 female Red-veined Darters!

After flukely catching a female on 29th August on site we read a bit more about the criteria for them and managed to ID some today! 

Birdwise we had 83 Tufted Duck, 3 Chiffchaff and 2 Common Sandpiper. So decided to test out the macro function of the new camera.

And for those of you that don't have a clue but are still reading... 

Well I don't have a clue either really so I hope I haven't made a fool of myself!

If you fancy seeing some for yourself the ones today were along the bus road coming in from Heslington Church on the right before you get to any water bodies there is a small reedy drain/pool with vegetation around it and they were around there.

Also had a single male Black Darter in the same area.

Off to North Ronaldsay this week so hopefully the next post will be about birds!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Anyone fancy guessing species and age on this gull?

Changed the focus settings on my camera so should make flight shots easier now! Took far too many Woodpigeon shots today! But also managed Merlin and Hobby, but up early tomorrow so will post later.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Still impressed

How to nail a gull wing formula

Will hopefully come in handy in the winter!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More on the Panasonic

Cracking days birding, some shots from the new camera. Discovered the slow motion feature, more to follow on that!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Panasonic FZ-200

Got a new bridge/super zoom camera today, the Panasonic FZ-200, well chuffed with it! Took it for a play around the patch and here are some of the results. All in crap light! Most people seem to say bridge cameras aren't great for flight shots?! Looks like its going to be perfect for North Ron trip and getting shots of anything I'm lucky enough to find!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Finally connected with Wood Sand locally taking me onto 166 for the year list and only 5 for the record!

Good days birding in the LDV starting with the female Scaup still on Bank Island, then  Wood Sand, 2 Greenshank, 2 juv Garganey, 4 Dunlin, 4 Ruff, 3 Redshank, plenty of Golden Plover and Lapwing and a single Common Tern as well as a Water Rail sounding like a squeezed out poo....

Promising fields at Thorganby had dried out, but a stunning 2cy male Marsh Harrier perched then flying round up close made up for it!

However then this evening, see photos of this interesting heron in Ireland

However more interesting was this report

WOW! How many in the York area this year?! Will a juv be found wandering round Wheldrake pool? PLEASE! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Last time I posted when I was back in Birmingham for a bit I talked about the potential of some good birds coming up the Ouse and into the area and onto my yearlist at Hemingborough, see here

Since then I've managed to add several birds to my yearlist that I talked about in that post, but not from watching Hemingborough! 

Sanderling- 2 found at Hes East late evening on 27th May

Bar-tailed Godwit- 1 found at North Duffield early morning 2nd May, easily twitchable over the next few days first for nearly 10 years!

Turnstone- 2 flew South at North Duffield on 11th May and another on the main lake at Hes East on same date as Sanderling

Arctic Tern- single bird at Raker on 3rd May, then a near record breaking passage in the LDV a week after

Little Gull- lingering 1w at North Duffield on 30th April

Gannet- 3cy tracked 5 miles to the patch on way back from Castle Howard on 24th June ( 

Arctic Skua- 2 birds (dark and pale morph) east over Sutton-upon-Derwent on 30th April

I also talked about Fulmar which I had an afternoon out looking for just north of the area last week around Sutton Bank. Followed up a report of a bird circling round calling, thinking that they must be breeding on this site again. No luck in finding them, but I still think there is potential for a pair to be on the cliffs there and to see them from the area!

However, a bit more investigative work for birds coming up the Ouse and I managed to track down these reports from Blacktoft.

27/10/02- From Ousefleet hide this morning 07:30-08:30 were 15 Kittiwakes, 6 Little Gulls, Pom Skua, Arctic Skua and 6 Fulmars all going east back out of the Humber and juvenile Black Tern going west (4 year ticks, 1 trip like this would be incredible and surely see me take the record!)

I'd guess the Kittiwakes, Little Gulls, Pom Skua, Arctic Skua and Fulmars had all either tracked across from the west coast (more likely judging on weather conditions) or re-orientated back down the Ouse after going up it. Either way, coming through or getting close to the area!

Black Tern coming up river is one I'm really hoping for to grip back from the other yearlisters!

09/09/04- Fulmar west

Having made it past the humber bridge would it carry on past the next 2 bridges and into the area?

14/09/10- Lapland Bunting west over

Vis-mig potential maybe?

07/08/03- Great Skua flew west
08/07/04- Great Skua over west

Could I realistically get 2 skua sp. on the yearlist?!

08/08/04- 45 Common Scoter west over
11/07/03- 4 Female Eider West along the Ouse

More potential for river watching

13/08/11- Single Grey Plover flew west

Think that listening at night for wader calls might pay off?

03/07/08- Sandwich Tern flew west early morning

Large movements of Terns going south at Spurn in August are a feature every year. It is thought that these birds roost in Lincolnshire but could some of these birds end up coming up the Humber and shoot into the York area? Records from Sunk Island on Trektellen would suggest otherwise (no large movements of Terns) however these are evening movements and most of the count times stop by 1900 at Sunk. Roseate Tern upriver and dusk anyone?!

Also quite a few records of Spoonbill flying west over the reserve, would they pitch down further along the Ouse, re-orientate back out east or carry on west?

Seems like July-August-September-October could be some of the best months for watching a site like Hemingborough. 

Also after getting hold of some old York area annual reports, the sole area report of Puffin was seen to enter the Ouse at Faxfleet and next seen 'whirring' up the Ouse at Fulford Ings! And what's in-between these 2 locations, HEMINGBOROUGH!

Either way, looks like I've gotta put the time in to figure it out, unlike what I did after my last post and only visited once in the Spring!

Oh and year list is now on 165, not many more left now!