Category Archives: 2012 List

2012 – Top Ten


Here are my top ten birds of 2012….

10 – Goosander
It’s a good duck

9 –  Black Necked-grebe
I’m a big fan of grebes however had only seen little and great crested so when three black-necked grebes turned up at North Cave Wetlands I decided that instead of heading to the library to do important college work that I would travel down to one of my favourite nature reserves. Well worth it.

8 – Cuckoo
Often heard but never seen. After a disappointing trip to a high water levelled Filey Dams we headed off to Bempton Cliffs. A cuckoo had been seen on the concrete posts that fence off the MoD land. It didn’t take long to locate and stayed still most of the time with the only movement flying from one post to another. Great to get such brilliant views of a bird I can rarely locate.

7 – Garganey
My first garganey and my first self-found rare bird too! Cracking little duck.

6 – Hobby
In august I went on an awkward lunch date. Afterwards in a bid to rid myself of the shame I went birding and saw my first ever hobby! You know you’ve seen a good bird when you mutter “f**king hobby!” to yourself when you see it!

5 – Waxwings
Hold the revolving door! Waxwings only at number five? What is this madness?! It’s been a good year for top birds so much so that the avian Jedwards have been knocked back into fifth place. They crop up in your dreams , oh but dreams have a knack of just not coming true. However this year was different and I managed to catch up with them as my last post shows. They also turned up in Hull behind St Stephens shopping centre, but unfortunately I was in a class when the alert came through on RBA android app and I spent an agonising hour and a half waiting for my lunch break to see if I could see them (sadly I didn’t). I didn’t renew my trail RBA subscription to save me from the hell of not been able to shoot off for a bird, for now anyway.

Joint third – Short-eared Owl and Hen Harrier
New Year’s Day 2012 I saw two short-eared owls hunting then a ringtailed Hen Harrier appeared trying to steal food from the hunting owls. It was hard to follow where all three birds were at times and who was stealing from who, but it was a “spectacular” as some would say. After seeing these three birds there was a total down pour and I had to walk an hour home soaking wet. Was still worth it!

2 – Desert Wheatear
My first proper twitch to go see the long staying and most photographed bird. Hung around on the cold cliff tops at Bempton waiting for this little cute thing to pop up. Was well worth the wait. Didn’t get a photograph as there’s already a million of it on the web! That same day I also made friends with a one footed turnstone, saw my first gannets of the year some four months earlier than I usually do and saw some harbour porpoises.

1 – Roller
My second proper twitch to another bird that stayed around for a while. Parked up, waiting in the cold drizzle for an hour (luckily some friendly birders were present for company) eventually it turned up in on some over head wires and I got to  see its vivid blue colouring and lovely cinnamon pink back. Watched it for half an hour and then had to go to work, but I went to work very happy!

Close calls – Iceland Gull (I like gulls but not enough to make them to the top 10), Smew – female only a male would have found its way into there. That’s the type of sexist pig I am. Peregrine – same day as the cuckoo. I had fantastic views of a juvenile female calmly sat on the cliffs at Bempton. Greenish Warbler, cute little bird but too didn’t want to feel too much of a twitcher by counting it ;), Golden Plover – incredibly cute, Wood Sandpiper, Temmincks Stint, Little Stint, Bar-Tailed Godwit – The Swinemoor highlights, Brent Goose – probably my favourite goose!

I finished the year with 144 birds, bit disappointing seen as I had 90 in February however I’ve done very little birding since the summer. Missed out on going to see the Jack Snipe that was present for a long while at North Cave Wetlands, no green woodpecker sadly. Dipped on Barred Warbler, Yellow-Browed Warbler and Red Breasted Flycatcher whilst at Spurn. Also missed out on a Pectoral Sandpiper on Swinemoor and when at South Landing found a Spotted Flycatcher but didn’t see the Pied fly, at least I didn’t see it and get disappointed when it turned out not to be an Atlas though!  Hope 2013 is more successful and full of even more fantastic lifers.

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Waxwings


They’re here and once again in style! With their wonderful quiffs and high trill calls waxwings are the Jedwards of the bird world. Getting their name from the red wax like drips on the end of their wings there aren’t many people who don’t love these winter invaders. It’s a bird I always hope to catch up with and often dream about during the winter months!

News started coming in about a large flock of waxwings in the car park at ASDA Hessle Road on thursday night. Unfortunately I was working Friday and Saturday so the earliest I would get out there would be Sunday morning. I made a few enquiries on twitter and the large flocks were making work of the berries. It didn’t look good, most likely to move on before Sunday. I decided now was the time to download Rare Bird Alert app on my phone and use the free trial. With alerts set up for waxwings my hopes were raised on Saturday when I got an alert saying there was still a flock of 300 late evening.

We woke early on Sunday morning and got the first bus into Hull and then after a cold short wait watching very cute sniffer dogs making sure Ferensway would be safe for the service of remembrance we got the first bus to Hessle Road. Whilst we waited for our bus I got an alert saying that 200 had been seen at 8:26 am, things were looking good! Arriving at ASDA we soon found people in the car park with big lenses so decided to go and wait with them. After standing around for about ten minutes getting excited at every flock of starlings that flew over two birds flew over with pale underneath. These were soon located on a tree at the other end of the car park, bins went up and these were waxwings! Tried pointing out to my daughter, however trying to direct a five-year old to a single bird in a far away tree is hard work! A kind photographer showed her a picture he had taken however. After looking at the two waxwings for a few minutes we decided to go warm up in the now open ADSA and get some breakfast inside us.

After our breakfast we went to see if anymore waxwings had turned up, sadly not. We decided to walk around the local area seeing if we could local the large flock from earlier. Soon the child did as children do and needed the toilet. Whilst her mother took her I stood outside ADSA waiting when a large flock of waxwings came in and landed on a tree next to the bus stop on the opposite side of the road. They then moved to the proximity of the snappers and we caught up with them and took some photographs using our compact camera.

This time even my daughter managed to see them and successfully completed her first twitch! Soon it was time to go wait for our bus and as we waited the flock came back to the tree next to the stop to once again give us some cracking views!

Better close up pictures can be seen on The Wold Ranger’s and Erich’s Hull Valley blogs

October Round-Up


Thought I would round-up the small few outings I had in October:

10th I went with a friend to Spurn Point. A rather quiet visit with no great amount of birds out, unlike my trip to Kilnsea a week earlier. Grey Plover, Sanderling, Brent Goose and Bar-Tailed Godwit the highlights of a bird lacking day. Did manage to see the Larkin Plaque there though which was good. I think I’ve seen 4/25 of them. Need to hunt down the others.

Larkin at Spurn

14th October it was time to go do my WeBS count. I started doing my count in the summer when there was not much variety in birds using my site, however now winter is approaching the number of swans and gulls there is rising. Also new birds like cormorant, Shoveler,  gadwall appearing and numbers increasing.

After doing my WeBS count I was going to go home and work on an assignment for the Monday. However I decided to check the East Yorks birding forum whilst waiting for the bus home and saw that Steve Webb had posted information about a Little Stint being present on Swinemoor. Decided my work could be put off for a few hours and after dropping a few things off at home headed on out there. When I got to Swinemoor I checked the southernly pools and had no luck. Walking a bit further I met a guy who had come from the northern end and had no luck on the far pools. With the size of the Little Stint being what it is and the roughness of Swinemoor we decided to stick it out and hope it was still present. Eventually we found it on the most northernly pool (surprisingly as most scarce stuff seems to turn up in the middle pool) feeding among a lapwing flock.

Spurn Lighthouse

27th October – After two weeks of big assignments and lots of stressful shifts at work I couldn’t wait to get out and bird. Even if it was nearly blowing a gale and hailstones! Decided to head up to High Eske after Erich had seen a red-head smew on the lake a week earlier. I wasn’t going to be hopeful but I could only go locally and to see my favourite duck on a new patch is always a bit incentive. I walked around the lake through the trees and past Pulfin. Checking out the greylags I picked up a Barnacle Goose which was good for the patch. Although I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a hybrid. A quick walk onto Pulfin Bog gave great views of a kestrel and at the HVWG screen I was able to catch up with the returning Goldeneye, plus a curlew flying past. Lots of noise from trees however the strong winds kept most things hidden. Walking towards the gate at the north end of the lake I saw a heron coming into land and assumed it had gone into the fields, wrong! As I got to the gate with a huge clattering and making me jump something terrible the heron flew out of the right next to me. No more than a couple of foot. Never been that close to a heron before and not sure I want to again!

Walked up the scrape at Leven Carrs, which is now a full pond. Lots of Black-headed gulls and teal present but nothing else. Got great views of a large fox casually sat amongst the grass of the carrs. Also three roe deer on the opposite side of the river, remarkably calm and still seen as there was men at work not too far away. Walked back to the lake along the flood defense and tried looking for the smew and any jay (also always hoping for a waxwing) with no luck. Decided to walk about the south of the lake again to see if  I could get a better view of the barnacle goose, however it was nowhere to be seen. Was rewarded with my first little egret of the year tucked up on the island though. Also a small sulky warbler in the trees, if I were to call it I would have to say a chiffchaff. Large flock of fieldfare circling around the southern area of Eske. At least 50 – 100 I’d guess.

Fieldfare, Goldeneye, Wigeon and Little Egret all about looks like winter is nearly here bring on the waxwings, redwings, bramblings and winter geese!

Year list now at 142. Hoping for 150.
Website for The Larkin Trail across Hull and East Yorkshire – http://www.thelarkintrail.co.uk/

Small trip to Kilnsea


I apologise if this blog is any worse than normal with spelling and grammar however writing it on the wordpress app on my phone!

Not done a great amount of birding recently. I ventured out onto Swinemoor last week after a Pectoral Sandpiper had been seen on there however it had gone by the time I could get on site. Did manage to get a Bar-tailed Godwit though so still worth making the journey.

Yesterday was my first proper outing for a while. Decided to go to Kilnsea seen as that was the only place with decent birds not on flood alert! We just went for the afternoon and when we pulled up there was a group of birders looking in a garden. I made enquiries and it they were looking for the greenish Warbler. Waited a while looking but with a few exceptions this isn’t my ideal way of birding. One guy had been there for two hours after missing its last appearance by ten minutes.

Had great views of a kestrel hovering next to the hotel and a pied wag on the roof. Walked down the road and the tide was far out but managed to see redshank, ringed plover and Dunlin. Lots of large gulls out far kept on getting checkout out in a hope for a repeat of the day before’s ospreys.

We walked towards the bluebell not having much look so decided to walk back and get the car and head onto Spurn. When we got to the car a birder told us the Greenish Warbler was now showing well and gave us directions. Saw the man from earlier who was now in a much happier mood for seeing the Warbler. Waited around 10 minutes before the Greenish showed again. Very smart little bird but not sure I could be bothered waiting 3 hours to see it! Also saw 4 pale bellied Brent geese swimming by as we waited. A goose I’ve never seen before but now probably my favourite goose!

We drove down to the canal scrape hide for a quick look. Managed to see a Redstart (3rd lifer of the day) and got talking to a couple who told us were the Yellow Browed Warblers had been seen. With time getting on we decided not to bother with Spurn and went to the pub car park to hopefully get Barbed Warbler, Yellow Browed or Red Breasted Flycatcher. Fair amount of birders watching so gardens so waited with them for a while before walking along the canal I managed to not see any of these but got great views of a very obliging deer that seemed completely  unbothered by human presence.

A little further a long we were alerted to a YB Warbler in a bush. Sadly I missed out on it by seconds. My step father had more luck and saw it disappear into thick vegetation. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to see if it reappeared and headed for the car.

Roller and an Outing


There’s been a bit of excitement recently, excitement in the form of a bright blue bird known as a roller. I’m not quite sure of the full story but a roller turned up at Spurn before travelling along the coast to Aldbrough just outside of Hornsea. I had seen various tweets about the bird however didn’t really pay notice.

Last Monday I received a text from my aunt saying she had been to see it and it was a fantastic bird and would I like to go and see it. Unfortunately I had to decline as I was just about to head out to go see my daughter for the day (putting family before birds I won’t make a good twitcher!). It was a hard decision however I thought that when she becomes an unruly teenager and is shouting about how her parents don’t love her I’d be able to remind her the time I gave up seeing a roller to see her! As I sulkily shopped with the child a got a text from my aunt saying it was still around and looked amazing. I’d also seen a few pictures on twitter and was getting quite jealous. Gripping continued with the return of my parents from a holiday to Spain, who informed me that they’d seen a Hoopoe on their travels!

On Thursday night I made a few enquiries and Michael Flowers told me it was still around and where to see it. A midday start at work on Friday meant that “twitching” it was a possibility. We headed out to Aldbrough and found the site, mainly due to a car ignoring the advice to not park on the grass verge and getting stuck in a drainage ditch! A couple of other birders turned up and we managed to get the car back on the road. After all was sorted a quick look and the roller was nowhere to be seen. We hung around for a while time getting on before I would have to head back for work. As we stood talking to a couple of birders suddenly the roller appeared on the wires above our heads.

Rising my binoculars up to get a better look I was greeted with a brilliant sight of electric blue and “cinnamon pink” after a while on the wire the bird flew down onto the tilled soil. We watched it for around half an hour hunting for insects and getting mobbed by a meadow pipit. An utterly fantastic bird! A cuckoo was also heard whilst we watched the roller. I didn’t take any pictures of the roller however lots of gorgeous pictures on Michael Flowers’ blog.

Yesterday we headed for the RSPB reserve of Blacktoft Sands, we’d done this a few months back but had to call the trip short. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t as nice as our previous visit but was pleasant enough. A quick chat in the visitor centre gave us our first views of the wonderful marsh harriers. We did the left hand side of the reserve first. A sad sight was what looked like an already sorry-looking Great Creasted Grebe chick being attacked by some black-headed gulls. It disappeared into an inlet and wasn’t seen again. I doubt it survived.

Highlights were a few remaining avocets (sadly not a successful breeding season), Ringed Plover and my first blackcap of the year. After lunch we did the right side of the reserve. After arriving in the “First Hide” three marsh harriers appeared from nowhere as usual. I’ve never seen the harrier food pass before and a male and female harrier started behaving as if it were about to take place. At this point my stepdad re-joined me after putting his new RSPB membership pack in the car and I rather excitedly shouted out “Watch them two there!” a few seconds later the food pass took place. A first for me and even though I’ve seen it many times on programmes and clips it was brilliant to see happen a few meters away. The tide was high at this point river traffic was busy, whilst watching the birds we also saw two large ships bringing in wind turbine parts along the River Ouse, first ship brought in the blades and the next one passing brought the shafts. After a while we decided to head off to close by Yorkshire Trust’s North Cave Wetlands site.

North Cave is probably one of my favourite reserves to visit. Whilst it doesn’t always turn up as good stuff as other sites it’s always a pleasant walk around and the information is always up to date. As we were getting the gear out of the car I spotted a stoat running across the road. It then stood up right giving excellent views of this wonderful and beautiful mustelid. It’s not surprising you see stoats at North Cave considering the huge amount of rabbits on site.

A walk round produced lots of black headed gulls, avocets, a Dunlin in summer plumage, either a few kestrels or one very busy kestrel, red-legged partridges and some common terns getting vicious with some of the gulls on the main lake. Sadly the hobby that had been seen the previous evening was nowhere to be seen however that wouldn’t dampen a great days birding.

Whilst visiting North Cave we also ventured into the new hide. A sign on the door stated it was open however the door was very stiff. You could be fooled into thinking the door was locked which is probably what I have been before! Inside the hide is very smart-looking with lots of information and colourful pictures about the local wildlife and habitats. It is well worth a visit.

Visits to Swinemoor


Since last update I’ve not done any big birding trips but a few visits to several places.

The first was to Top Hill Low where actually seeing a Cuckoo was the highlight, along with getting a Pintail as a ‘lifer’. Trips around the Hull/Willerby/Cottingham boundary produced a gorgeous Wheatear and Red-Legged Partridge for year firsts.

I also took part in my first ever BTO WeBS count, my site didn’t have much wildfowl, with the best bird being a pair of Tufted Ducks! However there was swifts a plenty with some coming so close you can hear their wings cutting through the air. Which is absolutely fantastic and one of my favourite things about summer birding, how swifts and swallows seem to act as if you don’t exist!

Swinemoor Common had a number of Wood Sandpipers reported on the site, by the time I managed to get onto there on the Tuesday night they had gone and all I took away with me was Grey Partridge for the year (also some muddy clothes and a scratched stomach from someone how obviously had little control of their dog…).

The following Saturday and Sunday another four Wood Sandpipers had been reported. Despite feeling dreadful due to the beginning of a cold (on the hottest days of the year) I decided to take a trip up after work. I had only taken binoculars and the sun was in the wrong position to bird at the pools where the Sandpipers had been seen. As I struggled to decipher if it were a Sandpiper or Redshank Steve Webb turned up with his scope and managed to find the sandpiper and kindly pointed it out. Once I had identified both birds the low sun silhouetting the birds allowed for a lesson in behaviour difference between the birds. Also on site were 6 Ringed Plovers and 2 Little Ringed Plovers for the year.

I woke the next day to find out that a Temminck’s Stint had been reported on Swinemoor with the Woodsandpiper and the Plovers. Unfortunately I had to run some errands so it wasn’t going to be until late afternoon that I could get onto the site. Before heading off I got a twitter mention on my phone, it was from The Wold Ranger saying he’d tried for the Temminck’s with no luck. I still thought I’d give it a go, learning from yesterdays mistake I took my scope with me this time. I waited around the site for quite a while watching the Wood Sandpiper and trying to spot the Temminck’s. With no luck on the main pools I thought I’d try some further up, however at this point my tripod some how broke whilst panning so now the tilt is knackered and constantly goes forward or backwards making searching for an elusive wader very tricky. I was just about to give up and head home when I saw Steve had arrived on site and was looking at the main pools. Once again he was able to pick out a bird I was struggling to see in no time at all. Although as you can imagine for “Britain’s Top Twitcher” his ID skills and experience are incredibly superior to mine. Also managed to find first Yellow Wagtail of the year and shamefully on my way out I got my first Reed Warbler of the year! I took no photographs this time however some good photos on Wold Ranger’s Blog 

Six new birds for the year, one a lifer made for a good two days. Now to figure out if my tripod head can be fixed or if I can find a suitable and cheap replacement head!

Beach Cleaning and Head Walking


Friday May 11th marked the start of Marine Conservation Society’s (in partnership with Marks and Spencer)  Big Beach Clean-Up. I’ve been a member of MCS for little over six months and just missed out on the last beach clean they did, so when I saw the chance to take part in Big Beach Clean-Up weekend I soon signed up.

With the mixed weather we’ve had of late, I packed my waterproofs in my bag and made my way to the closest beach clean to me at Bridlington. Upon finding the MCS marquee I registered my name and received my £5 off a £25 shop M&S voucher  and hung around waiting for the event to start. Whilst waiting I was kept entertained by swallows hunting over the sand dunes.

The event began shortly before 10am, we were given a health and safety talk by a member of MCS which also included the reasons why we were there. Such as the harmful effects litter like plastic bags, balloon releases and flushed bathroom rubbish. Following that we had a brief talk from a representative from Marks & Spencer who explained a little about their partnership with MCS and their plan A initiative.

I ended up getting paired up with a nice man from Bridlington and we went off looking for litter, which was harder than you’d think as the beach was seemingly quite clean. Trudging slowly over wet sand we managed to find string from balloons, cotton buds, plastic bottle caps and cigarette butts. Then we found what looked like a small bit of plastic only to discover it was actually a very large piece of roofing felt buried in the sand. That quickly filled our rubbish sack and took some work dragging it back to the meeting point. After a bit more cleaning it was soon 11 and the beach clean was over. For a seemingly clean beach in total we managed to collect 25 bags of rubbish equaling 150 kilos of rubbish!

Some of the rubbish collected from Bridlington

After the beach clean was over, I got some snacks from the M&S guys (toffee chocolate pecan popcorn or something was great!) and decided to go out birding somewhere. After sampling some of Bridlington’s chips, I hopped on a bus to Flamborough North Landing.

Someone wanted my chips

Starting off on North Landing I could instantly hear the kittiwakes, kittiwaking and soon managed to pick them out with my binoculars. I then decided to walk along the cliffs. It was hard going in some parts due to the rain making the mud path very slippery.

North Landing

Walking along the cliffs I soon managed to see the usual suspects of the seabird world. Kittiwakes, Razorbills (year tick) and Guillemots (including a ‘bridal’) all over the chalk walls. With a couple of Puffins and a shag thrown in too. There were also a few seals in the water, getting mobbed by gulls every time they tried to eat their catch.

Seabird City!

Whilst walking I kept on seeing groups of Gannets (usually 5 or 6) flying in formation towards Bempton Cliffs, like a squadron flying home after a successful mission. Gannets are one of my favourite birds so it was a great sight to see. A Kestrel flew above the cliffs and I also saw this little toad.

Toad

Approaching the Lighthouse I managed to see a Lesser Whitethroat on a bush. Which was a lifer for me, although possibly because I’ve shamefully never bothered to tell the difference between a lesser and common before. I also saw this birds egg on the ground. Guillemot? Any suggestions?

Any ideas on the egg?

Approaching Flamborough lighthouse

Once at Flamborough lighthouse I clocked a common whitethroat and a Short Eared Owl hunting over the rough grass.  I then decided to walk to South Landing, however birding sightings eased off at this point due to the rain becoming more consistent so I but my binoculars away. However I did get a great view of a Sparrowhawk flying out of some trees and across a field of Oil Seed Rape and a fair few linnets about.

Close up of light house. I’m a bit annoyed that those bits of blue sky ruin the moody atmosphere

View of lighthouse across OSR on way to South Landing

Rainbow going into sea, no pot of gold I checked.

When I got to South Landing I started walking around and could hear some Chiffchaffs. I had forgotten that a rare bird was supposed to be here (Atlas Flycatcher, now I believe it’s been DNA identified as a Pied) so I was getting asked for a few birders if I knew anything about it (I didn’t). I didn’t see it, however I did see my first ever Flycatcher in the form of a spotted. I didn’t see much else except a female Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff and a hare in some private land.

I then made it back to the main road and headed to Bridlington Train Station where I saw the last bird of the day as a Herring Gull flew around the inside of the station much to the annoyance of a station worker.

And there ended a rather long and tiring but excellent day.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Page on Flamborough
Marine Conservation Society