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...

20th June 2017

June 22, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Blacktoft Harriers and Dusky Maidens

Late morning arrival at Blacktoft hoping for spotshanks on the tide and some more shots at a perfect marsh harrier if only they'd come that bit closer...

I went to Marshland first to check if anything had dropped in. A sedge warbler showed well just before the hide.

The male harrier showed very distantly over towards Alkborough church but the female patrolled the reedbeds in the Townend/Singleton area. Here are some more attempts at better marsh harrier photos...

Eventually I headed back. Good but fleeting view of a cetti's warbler en route. First comma of the year too.

Spotted redshanks x4 were on Marshland but well over the far side. The avocets pushed them about a lot but later let a magpie take one of their eggs. 

Distant spotted redshanks looking nice and black!

Treat of the day came when a bittern climbed into view on the reeds to the right hand side of Marshland lagoon.

9th June - 18th June 2017

June 19, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Here, There & Everywhere!

June 9th - 18th

[omitting June 15th at Bowesfield Marsh as already featured in last entry.]

June 9th I called at Saltholme for birdseed and popped into Phil Stead's. An egret was among the equisetum [or similar] and another was inspecting the pylons. June 11th took me to Billingham in the afternoon on the off-chance of a rose-coloured starling at number 45 Cayton Drive. It was photographed from number 37 - many thanks to all the hospitable folk at both addresses! A very unusual twitch! Here's the bird.

June 13th at Bempton for a turtle dove that failed to show. So you'll have to make do with this fine fellow...

...and a pair of collared doves! Tame jackdaw - I like jackdaws - must be those blue eyes!

June 14th at Blacktoft. First bittern of the year seen. Main purpose was to try to get good photos of marsh harriers. Didn't quite achieve the level of detail I should like but some of these are ok. Later at Marshland I watched the avocets.

A heron was catching tiddlers. Konik pony.

First meadow brown of the year. 16th June: Scaling Dam. I went for a very distant scope-only spotted sandpiper. Afterwards I went for a stroll down Boghouse Lane. I wonder what this is? A small trainer aircraft zoomed low overhead... ...whilst meadow pipits kept a watchful eye on me.

I called at Fen Bog on the way home. Common spotted. Train spotted. BR Standard Class 4MT 2-6-0 number 76079. 60 years old this year. Now, where's my anorak?

Last lap: June 18th - Open Day at Tophill Low - and no admission charge. However that wasn't why I went...

There were orchids, common spotted and bee...

...and a pair of distant first summer little gulls on South Marsh East... ...and a ragged common blue butterfly. But there was another reason for going.

236 UK 2017


June 17, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

The Persistent Birder Rides Again!

After trying in vain to really properly observe the marsh warbler at Saltholme another turned up at Bowesfield Marsh nature reserve, Stockton-on-Tees. The reserve is not easy to find. I went four times. Heard and saw it [fleetingly] each time but no photos. So, decided to get up early...

...and on June 15th I arrived on site at 5.58, walked to the area I knew so well by now and waited. The bird began to sing, and sing, and sing. First photos at 6.26 am. Finally the bird did really show well - and repeatedly. Here comes the marsh warbler!

As I left I could hear [not for the first time] a grasshopper warbler. Several of us had tried to locate it on previous visits. This morning at 6.38 I spotted it and was able to photograph it from various angles as I moved around it without getting too close...

By 10.30 I had been back home to York, driven to Tesco to do the weekly shop [spotted by Barry at around 9.44] and was sitting at home drinking a cup of coffee.

Game, set and marsh, I think!!



31.05.17 - 06.06.17

June 06, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Hey June - don't let me down!

Always hoping for something really good...

I begin with a left-over from May 31st. A trip to Fen Bog for whinchats drew a blank. Did see small copper and this dingy skipper.

On the way home [well, a bit out of the way] we called at Swillington Ings to see a black tern which duly obliged as I had missed out on the large influx earlier in the month.

June 1st - another catch-up exercise. I got to Whisby by 8 o'clock in the morning and was soon listening to the nightingale by the railway bridge. Lots of brief sightings but usually deep in the bushes so no photos. A fledging of long-tailed tits amused me as I sat on an adjacent bench in the sun. Quite clever: balancing on a wire with one foot while having a good scratch with the other foot up round the back of its neck! I moved on to my prime location for the day: a session with the marsh fritillaries, I hoped, at Chambers Farm Wood and Little Scrubbs Meadow. I knew they were having a good year and I was not disappointed even though their season was coming to an end. I saw one as soon as I arrived by the butterfly garden!

There were also at least 8 broad-bordered bee-hawk moths on the valerian. See the pollen on some of their heads. Here's a few of my better efforts - much more tricky to photograph than the docile fritillaries.

There were more of the moths out on the meadow too. A common spotted orchid - one of many... ...and a female common blue which I just failed to get with wings open.

Marsh fritillaries

Just as the moths preferred the valerian flowers, the marsh frits were often on ragged robin.

I called at Blacktoft on the way home just for an hour. It was pretty quiet. A yellow wagtail was on First.

June 3rd we went to Saltholme to walk the Wilderness Trail to see a marsh warbler. Heard it plentifully and saw some warblers but couldn't be sure it was the bird itself.

Flashback: : here's a marsh warbler from Blacktoft a few years ago. Marsh WarblerMarsh Warbler On the way back a painted lady dropped onto the path. June 4th: I went back, saw the bird as it flew at the end of a singing interlude. No photo even though I keep reading reports of it ''showing well.''

A common tern at Paddy's.

231 UK 2017


24th-28th May 2017

May 30, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

A May Miscellany

1: Hornsea and Tophill Low - May 24th

I started my East Yorkshire roundabout trip at Kirkholme Point, Hornsea Mere to see the lingering iceland gull. Soon spotted chasing the visitors around among the canada geese. Eventually it flew out on to the mere... ....and came back for a rest! There were lots of jackdaws about. I headed on to Tophill Low. My hope was to photograph reed warblers as it is the best place I know to get up close to these birds. Here they are. Next I walked on through the woods heading for the kingfishers. A common sandpiper ran along the reservoir parapet. The dots are flies - one on the right is almost in focus! I got quite close. Amazingly there was no-one in the hide. A lapwing dropped in.

Both kingfishers turned up and were still taking fish into the nest hole. Rather pleased with this set of images.

2: My favourite Yorkshire walk - May 26th

A very early start had me walking south from Barden Bridge by 7am. It was a beautiful morning.

I saw pied and spotted flycatchers but failed to get any decent photos so I settled for goosander, mandarin, dipper, blackcap, curlew and nuthatch - in no particular order!

3: Garden spider: May 27th

Sheila spotted a hatching of a mass of spiders on virginia creeper by the garage at home. I put the macro lens on.

4: Chris and Barry go orchid and butterfly hunting! May 28th

Barry fancied a trip to Leyburn Old Glebe field near Wensley. The famous green-winged orchids were much in evidence but largely over for the year. We found no burnt-tip orchids and settled for a couple of marsh orchids and quite a lot of twayblade.

View from the orchid field.

Second target would be Duke of Burgundy butterflies to the east, north of Helmsley. We were in luck - not only did we find our target butterfly but in the glade we also had painted lady, red admiral, dingy skipper and small copper.

The Dukes are very small!

Barry correctly identified this miniature potentilla - tormentil.

We called briefly at Sutton Bank to see the early purple orchids [too busy for any chance of turtle doves] and headed for a site near Knaresborough for an annual small blue 'fix'!

Barry got down to work! He found a common blue damselfly too. Plenty of small blues on the kidney vetch.

228 UK 2017