First launched 12th March 2012...

...and this is how it all began...

Welcome to my birding blog! Well no doubt as the seasons progress we'll wander into other areas such as close-up work on flowers and insects. This is all new to me so I'll have to see how things develop and also experiment a little. Here goes...

6th-18th August

August 18, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

August sleeps!

I am still here and pottering about in Yorkshire! Not much cooking, really. Anyway, here's my latest report.

August 6th: St. Aidan's

Little owls tempt us back to St. Aidan's.

August 9th: Blacktoft

Very quiet, just somewhere to go. One of the few occasions [the second ever, I think] that I didn't see a marsh harrier. Little egrets still impress even though we take them for granted now.

Sitting in Marshland, after about 20 minutes I spotted some...well, can you see them?

Yes, snipe.

August 13th: in the garden and St. Aidan's again!

What is this? Any suggestions welcome. It may be some sort of hawk moth but I can't find a caterpillar photo to match. Spotted by Sheila on the edge of a compost bin! It was actually rather small!

In the afternoon we went to St. Aidan's - my third attempt to see the clouded yellow butterfly that had been reported a few times. Previous visits were either windy or a bit cold. This time we struck lucky: lifer butterfly for me. We walked from Oddball to the Astley Lake causeway to spot it but, thanks to another visitor who encouraged us to keep going, we caught up with it as I suddenly saw it drop down quite near us. [He had a bike!!]

Hand-held 500mm lens - it works for me. I find quite a few insects don't let you near enough to use the macro lens.

The little owls [2 seen] performed well for us - much to Sheila's delight.

August 15th: Saltholme

Deadly quiet there too and the white-rumped sandpiper flew off about 40 minutes before I arrived. So instead here's more snipe and more egret!

August 18th: Nosterfield

A little stint was reported at Nosterfield a couple of days previously. Then, yesterday, great excitement as it was decided it was either a western sandpiper or a semipalmated. I got up early but not as early as Alan Whitehead who trekked it from Holmpton near Spurn to spot it. However by lunchtime it had been decided [from photos] it was a little stint after all. Not even a year tick. Sad face...but that's birding. If we saw what we hoped to see every time it would all be pretty pointless, wouldn't it?

Anyway, here it is. Distant record shot of the former semipalmated sandpiper then western sandpiper and, ultimately little stint! Still a pretty bird.

Stuck on 247 UK 2017

27th July 2017

August 01, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Spotshanks & Spoonbills!

-well-known birders' expression of utter amazement when finding a really rare bird...

This particular trip made little sense geographically as I drove over the Humber Bridge to Alkborough, then back east again to Far Ings, then back west to Blacktoft. The order of events being dictated by the birds not by sensible route planning.

So, I'll start at Alkborough Flats. No sign in the strong breeze of any bearded tits. Plenty of young reed buntings about.

A drake common scoter was distantly in front of the hide. Some spotted redshanks were quite close. Spoonbills too. With a bill like that you sometimes need a mate to help you preen the bits you can't reach!

A juvenile white-winged black tern was showing at Far Ings. On the Pursuit Pit. Persistently a long way away too. Still it was a challenge to get these images. Had enough? Yes - couldn't hold the camera steady any longer. Perhaps I should use a tripod...but don't really want to...

I headed west for Blacktoft Sands. I headed for Marshland hide for the waders. As I entered the hide I immediately spotted a group of roe deer off to the left. Quickly swinging into action I took some nice photos.

They soon galloped off and melted away into the reedbed. There were plenty of spotted redshanks here too. Alkborough and Blacktoft share the same species pretty much.

Spotshanks and spoonbills here too! I've even designed my own spoonbill wallpaper... I sometimes wish the marsh harriers came closer at Blacktoft but, to be fair, they are even more distant at Alkborough. Here's a few Blacktoft views. All the images are the right way up - one bird did some aerobatics as you can see! Twisting and turning. My favourite images from Blacktoft were, unusually, of ruff...  ...and in particular of this bird from Townend.

I'll finish with a few other birds: black-tailed godwit. Heron.

Something rather nice, I thought: little little grebes! Since then I've had a quick morning trip to Saltholme for egyptian geese. Four seen but scope only views.

247 UK 2017

22nd-23rd July 2017

July 26, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

1: Garden Bits 'n Pieces

A few photos from the garden. First off, Sheila looks after the garden hedgehogs and sometimes we get good views. They do well thanks to her care and are now so big they are becoming a problem for Network Rail! I spent part of an afternoon messing with the macro. Here's a few of the results. Hoverflies and other flies and bees.

Small white butterfly

2: A day in East Yorkshire

Barry and I headed for Spurn hoping for a white-rumped sandpiper which didn't turn up until late afternoon - well after we'd left for North Cave. We did see a little stint with a dunlin and a common snipe.

Two wood sandpipers were present.

House sparrow and reed bunting were feeding in the wheat field adjacent to the path to Beacon Ponds.

Three species of tern and a good selection of waders were seen at the ponds. We headed to North Cave after scanning the Humber estuary a while. North Cave was quiet and rain wasn't far away. Something spooked the lapwings [plus a couple of starlings, I think]. I enjoyed photographing these bully birds - lesser black-backed gulls. They are very smart birds.

246 UK 2017

18th-19th July 2017

July 20, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Local gems

18th July - Fairburn Ings, New Flash. I saw the cattle egret on the 17th after a rush from home without camera. It was [relatively speaking] quite close on Spoonbill Flash. Following day I saw it distantly with Sheila on New Flash. Photographed from the road, I gave it, as it were, my best shot!

19th July - Swillington Ings, Alkborough Flats and North Cave. Barry and I headed first for Oulton part of St. Aidan's [or Swillington Ings as I'm used to calling it] to see a caspian tern. Big bird but not quite close enough to photograph. We headed east to Alkborough Flats...

Lots to see from the hide. Waders including curlew, black-tailed godwits, avocets.

Any opinion anyone of the identity of the bird in the centre of this next photo? A little egret flew over, a dunlin wandered the shoreline too.
At first the light was quite poor - dull, overcast sky. For a moment I thought I saw a spotshank and told Barry but in the poor light I changed my mind. This photo has been brightened up in Photoshop. Spotted redshank.

Crowd scenes - and introducing the dozen or more spoonbills we saw.

Nothing like an alarm flight. Spoonbill dossier! More wader shots including avocets, godwits and greenshank.

The little birds in the reedbed were difficult to capture in the steady breeze. Here's a few shots of reed warbler and juvenile bearded tits.

We headed over the Humber Bridge to North Cave. I hoped to photograph some dragonflies. A combine was at work in North Field. Empress dragonflies were ovipositing.

Joke photo amused me...

Black-tailed skimmer Four-spot chaser

Common darter

This man means business. Approach with care!!

245 UK 2017

12th July 2017

July 15, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Take it away skipper!

1: North Cave

Nothing much about bird-wise within reasonable distance, Barry and I decided to go to North Cave. I immediately thought butterflies and dragons! 

Here's some of what we saw.

A gatekeeper was my first photo of the day: those white spots are diagnostic even though it refused to spread its wings for me. Here's another one that was a bit more showy. The dark patches on the forewing are the male sex brand. For reasons unknown I'm always fascinated by skippers. Perhaps it's the fun of trying to differentiate the Small from the Essex, if you know what I mean. Three Smalls below.

This is large skipper as far as I can tell. Meadow brown females are more colourful than the males. Damselflies are another id puzzle sometimes. This is common blue damselfly.

Four spot chaser dragonfly. Finally from North Cave, here's an empress [emperor dragonfly] ovipositing. She's laying eggs too!!

We spent a long time at North Cave so decided to finish the day at Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit YWT - a great place for butterflies.

2: Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit

As we left the car park to walk the 350 yards to the reserve we saw a marbled white straightaway.

Nice little game to play with these photos. Apart from the obvious main character, in most pictures you can find other insects. Can you spot them all? For example there are little black beetles in the knapweed along with the butterfly.

More marbled whites [and friends].

Commas. Punctuation mark showing well!

Rather worn common blue. Meadow brown and six-spot burnet moths.

The hover-fly is episyrphus balteatus but has no common name.

More six-spots.

Pyramidal orchid with another tiny beetle.

Close-up. Time for the skippers. They are all small or large skippers - so no Essex skippers found today. This is a large skipper- note the wing patterning.

Back to small skippers. The diagonal black line on the lower butterfly is its sex brand - showing it to be a male.

Finally a ringlet and a gatekeeper feeding on origanum.