Tag Archives: self doubt

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/

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2011: A Review


I was going to write my top 10 birds of the year, however I thought I’d lump it in all together with a post reviewing my birding year.

Well my aim for the year was to try to visit a new site every month (seen as my 2010 records were mainly on one site). Although I didn’t visit a new site every month I did get myself out to a few new sites. This was mainly due to me starting to go out birding with an old friend of my father. As I cannot drive (I’m trying to convince myself this is my attempt at helping the planet when really it’s due to me never been bothered to learn and now not having time or money to learn) I’m stuck to visiting sites on foot or public transport, although not to bad as I can visit great sites such as RSPB Bempton, High Eske/Pulfin Bog, Hornsea Mere, YWT North Cave Wetlands and Filey Dams with no real struggle except financial! Then there’s always seaside towns like Bridlington and Scarborough which throw up excellent birding opportunities.

However you miss out some real gem sites such as Yorkshire Water’s Tophill Low, RSPB Blacktoft Sands and Spurn Point. The last two can be visited on public transport however it seems so painful I don’t think I’ll bother.

My year list resulted in a wimpy limping 117. However I didn’t include the heard Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, unsure sightings of a Bearded Tit, Merlin and Hobby. Plus a feral looking Barnacle Goose in Bridlington Harbour in the middle of summer. So I could easily bump it up to 123 if I so wished.  Also my birding suffered in the summer when my hay fever was probably the worse I’ve ever suffered. Tablets which usually work for me were having no effect at all.  I also suffered with my anxiety in the summer which meant I didn’t leave the house unless I really had to for work or to go somewhere. Hopefully neither of these problems will get in the way of birding in 2012 and it’ll be a good year.

Birds aside I started to pay more attention to other natural things in 2011 such as Mushrooms, butterflies and dragonflies and need to get some good guide books so I can become a better naturalists and not just a bird spotter.

I managed to get my patch record up to 57, still a way off the around 80 birds that have been recorded there but saw a curlew flying overhead which was a good tick for the site. I also managed to get my bogey bird of 2011 – Sparrowhawk on there. Not a year tick as I got that at High Eske, however it really was a good tick for me.

My top birds of 2011

Not the big top ten I had planned but here as follows are my top birds of 2011. Of course there are my favourite birds and great birds to see such as Swifts, Gannets, Swallows, Bullfinches, Black Terns in there but  my top birds for 2011 have to be:

5. – Green Woodpecker
The last bird of the year for me and one that I’d been after all year but never managed to see or hear despite visiting good sites for it. This one was spotted on Figham Common, after a rather dull, boring and cold afternoon spent on there not seeing anything of note except Fieldfare. I was trudging slowly over damp grass, trying to pick up a Reed Bunting in the reedmace when something starts flying across the common in front of me. Obviously I recognised the flight and put my bins up, followed this fine bird as it flew into trees, perched gave a loud yaffle and then disappeared out of sight.

4. – Sparrowhawk
As I mentioned earlier this has been a right bogey bird for me. When I visited Top Hill Low at the start of the year on the way back to the car I decided to pop into a hide to get another look at the Smew (sadly only a redhead female so didn’t make the list) my parents decided to go back to the car and wait for me. Whilst walking back to the car they saw a Sparrowhawk. I didn’t. Another time Robert Jaques  paid a quick visit to my patch and reported seeing a Sprawk on there! (the swine!). I saw a quick-moving raptor at Filey Dams however it shot out of sight before I could ID it (judging by photos of a sparrowhawk taken at Filey I’m now convineced I saw a sparrowhawk). I was at High Eske one day already an excellent birding day, with a Bullfinch year tick. I tweeted at the time (yes I tweet whilst birding) “I don’t think this afternoon can get better” about five minutes later I turn the corner and a sparrowhawk flies out in front of me. Just like heaven!

3. – Woodsandpiper
To any fathers reading this, what did you do on father’s day? I bullied my daughter and her mother into accomponying me to North Cave Wetlands. Well not on the Sunday as there’s no longer a bus there on a Sunday. Anyway we went, I’d read on http://www.eyorks-birding.co.uk that a Woodsandpiper had been seen. Always full of pessimism that I won’t see a bird, I sat down in the turret hide and scanned the islands for it. I looked for a while before spotting the wader right in front of the hide. I luckily managed to ID it successfully before a bullying Oystercatcher sent it to the other side of the lake and out of sight. I could have also had a Mediterranean Gull if I’d been bothered to check out all the black heads. Still better father’s day presents than a mug and some chocolates. If I had gone on the Sunday I think I’d have missed it, but could have had a Ruddy Duck. I love Ruddy Ducks too bad they’ll probably soon be extinct in this country.

2. – Avocet
No story here, just an excellent elegant wader. Beautiful bird, can’t wait to catch up with them again in 2012. Could watch them feeding for hours. I had almost forgot the cutest bird seen this year Goldcrest and seen as I’m meant to be doing a top five will have to slot it in joint 2nd. I’ve wanted to see a goldcrest for years even before I took up birding, mainly because they’re cute and small. I finally saw some at Top Hill Low in October and was excellent to finally see them.

1. – Osprey
No contest this year really. I twitched the Osprey at Arram early in April I watched it for a while before it took flight. Sadly didn’t see it catch a fish.

Here’s to 2012 and hoping it’s full of plenty of great birding opportunities!

Not got you a Christmas Card, will this post do?


Disclaimer: This post contains terrible grammar and is awfully written.

I’ve been bullied into blogging by a birder who will remain anonymous. I might make it my New Year Resolution to blog more. Even if it’s just a weekly recap of the birds I’ve seen on the way to work.  I think my last post was just before June. I could bore you with a tedious bird by bird update, however I’ll flash you the highlights.

In mid June I headed out to Spurn and saw a Little Tern

Also in June was Fathers Day so instead of a present I bullied my daughter on an outing to North Cave Wetlands. I managed to see a Wood Sandpiper and a very sexy fellow birder.

I didn’t bird much in August but I did draw this picture of seals:

Seals of the UK

In September I bought a spotting scope (woo! I might be able to see more birds now!) and managed to tick a ruff (hur hur a bit of ruff you might say hur hur). I also took my new sexy spotting scope out to North Cave and was reward with Black and Arctic Terns. Another family holiday to Filey called, I managed to wangle an hour at Filey Dams which produced more Ruff, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. There was a mystery raptor I wanted to tick off Sparrowhawk but was unsure as only got a quick glimpse. One day we ventured to Scarborough, no Peregrine seen. Also tried very hard to point out Cormorant to my daughter. It took her ages to see it. She’s inherited my poor birding skills then!

October gave me a Jack Snipe and Goldcrest both at Top Hill Low but different days. Trip to Figham on 27th October gave me the first Fieldfare and Redwing of this winter. 28th October I went to High Eske which gave me one of my best birding trips; Kestrel, Barn Owl, Great Crested Grebe (I was disappointed to discover that if you type “David Bowie Great Crested Grebe” into google images that there isn’t a side by side picture comparing the two), King Fisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Sparrowhawk and Little Grebe were the highlights.

I only went out once in Novemeber back to High Eske / Leven Carrs to try to tick a Short Eared Owl. Sadly didn’t manage it but did manage; Buzzard, Kestrel, Barn Owl and two Little Egrets. My latest outing of note was to Figham which gave me a year tick for Green Woodpecker and patch first with Curlew flying over!

I need to update my year list on the site but I’m currently at 117 desperate to make 120 for the year. I’ve managed to avoid at least two twitchable birds Glossy Ibis (no money) and Desert Wheatear (Twitching is a bit dirty). I also got a new phone with a half decent camera so here are some pictures I’ve taken. Enjoy and get ready for my top 10 birds of 2011 post!

Large flock of geese coming into roost at High Eske

Geese and sunset at High Eske

High Eske

Some form of Ink Cap?

Jew's Ear

More Jew's Ear

Scarborough gets a battering

April and May


Hello again, I’ve sort of abandoned this blog haven’t I. I’m sorry. Well anyway here’s what I’ve been up to birding wise since the last time I blogged!

At the start of April there was news of an Osprey lingering around a few fishing ponds at Arram just outside of my town. I decided to get a lift down and see if I could find it. I acted on information I’d heard and went out to see a specific bird, does this mean I’m on my way to becoming a twitcher? I spoke to a fellow birder in the area and he said it was most likely to have flown off after not being seen all morning. However with at least an hour before the next train I decided to hang around the area and see if there was anything else about. I’d already picked up my first swallow of the year when I arrived in Arram. I walked along the barmston drain part of the Minster to Minster trail (Beverley to York) in the field on the other side of the railway tracks I noticed a large brown blob. I was going to dismiss it as a Pheasant but decided to get the binoculars out on it anyway. YES! It is the Osprey! I decided to sit down on the bank and watch it for a while, 40 minutes and a couple of train passes later (I wonder how many commuters  saw the bird and how many thought I were a train spotter) the Osprey decides to take flight. Magnificent! I soon lost it, but seeing it in flight was amazing. Bird of the year so far!

I headed back to the train station and saw that there wasn’t a train back to Beverley for a good few hours but there was one to Bridlington, so I decided I’d head that way then get a train to Bempton and visit RSPB reserve Bempton Cliffs. Bempton was very quiet on the auk front, although for list ticking this wasn’t too bad as I’d managed to get them at Filey a couple of weeks earlier. Managed to see a single Puffin which seems to be the only bird a lot of people who go to at Bempton are interested in seeing despite it being home to the only mainland breeding colony of Gannets in England. Although I’m slightly biased as gannets are probably my favourite sea-bird. There was also four Shags at the base of the cliff, one of those birds that you hate because non birders have to mention it whilst trying to be hilarious.  Fulmar tucked up neatly on a cliff and a siskin at the feeding station brought my year total up to 81. It was also a warm day with strong winds which resulted in myself getting sunburnt. Sunburnt in the first week of April! Can you believe it?!

Visits to my local patch produced my first treecreeper. A very cute bird. Also I managed to see a kestrel every time I went out on there yet last year I never managed to see one all year on there. Local patch was also where I picked up my first whitethroat of the year. I stated in this blog at the start of the year that I was planning to get out and go to more sites after last years entries into my log book were mainly all made up of my local patch. This year however I’m in danger of not going there enough! This is some sort of birding faux pas surely?

17th April I went to High Eske walking through Swinemoor Common (where I managed to get a Snipe) and then to Leven Canal. Very hot day which resulted in sunburn again. You’d have thought I’d have learnt my lesson! Well I did it was only the tops of my ears I burnt this time! This was a good day for picking up spring migrants with Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Wheatear, Sedge Warbler and Chiff Chaff all seen and a cuckoo heard. Manage to hear a few grass snakes slithering away out of sight. Maybe I’m too heavy footed?

1st May I went to Top Hill Low, for those of you that don’t know about Top Hill Low it is a nature reserve built on the site of a Yorkshire Water treatment works and has two large reservoirs that attract a lot of wildfowl and for this reason have SSSI status. Around the reservoirs are marshes and ponds created from the digging of mud to build flood barriers along the River Hull. There’s also woodlands and grasslands. I don’t get to go here often so it’s always a real treat. First swifts of the year were picked up here along with Yellow Wagtail, Green Sandpiper, Common Tern and Canada goose. I originally missed the Canada goose off when totting up my year list as I’d assumed I’d seen one earlier but a double-check proved me wrong.

Further trips out to High Eske I managed a Greenshank among others including a pair of Great Crested Grebes that looked very David Bowie like with their crests and head shaking. Also bird 100 on the my year list – Kingfisher! What a bird to make it 100! Although 101 was just as good – Marsh Harriers at RSPB Blacktoft Sands. As mentioned before in my blog I’m aiming to visit several new sites this year and Blacktoft was the new site for May. I’ve seen people say about Blacktoft being good for the harriers but that didn’t stop me for being surprised and amazed at the great views you can get of them even without optics from the visitor centre. The day also produced lovely close up views of Avocets feeding and Swifts hawking for insects. Both wonderful birds, definitely top 10 stuff! My year list reached 103 with thanks to Blacktailed Godwits and a single stock-dove.

Right now that’s updated, shall I see you all in three months time? Splendid!

Third outing of the year


Today I decided I’d go out to Swinemoor Common. Even though it’s only a ten minute walk from me I rarely ever visit this site. In the winter the fields of the common flood so it makes a great place to see waders, apparently. I only saw Redshank and lots of Lapwing out this afternoon! Although both made the year list, so not too bad. I always forget about Lapwings when I list or think about my favourite birds. I don’t know why as it really is a beautiful little bird. Its purple and green sheen, its black collar, its orange vent, its spiky crest and its distinctive call, magnificent! There was plenty of Rooks, Crows and Gulls out feeding on the common too. I decided to pay another visit to Figham on my way back as it was getting dark to see if the Barn Owl was about or even still alive. On my way down I managed to catch sight of  a wagtail in the distance, as I got close I realised it wasn’t a pied as I had lazily assumed but a grey wagtail.

When I reached Figham the light was already rapidly fading, so I walked a couple of minutes up the river until I had a good vantage point of the owl’s hunting territory. I scanned across several times with no luck, so with little light left I decided to give up and try again another time. I walked back a little then decided to have another scan, I saw something moving along the grass it was white and quickly went down into the grass. Could it be the Barn Owl? The light was really poor at this point so trying to focus was hard, I studied the area for a bit longer and watched as it reappeared again. I’m pretty sure due to the colouring, flight and pouncing it was a Barn Owl, however due to the poor light and the bird seeming to not go much higher than the tops of the rushy grasses  I couldn’t be 100% sure. I know that Short-eared owls have been seen before on Figham, however the wingspan was probably too short and I’ve read a lot about them being more diurnal. So hopefully it looks like the Barn Owl has survived the bad weather, although last time I saw them hunting there was a pair, tonight I could only make out one. Will have to check out again.

Year list now up to 32 without the owl.

I’m wanting to write more pieces like the ones on Starlings and Jeremy Kyle, however not had much inspiration. Hopefully I’ll think of something soon.