Weather imposes a bit of a hiatus in my birding quests so I'll do the very latest update. The last few days have been quite good with a couple of very nice surprises. So, here goes...
Troutsdale. I'm thinking of having Troutsdale signs removed and all references to the dale removed from all maps. I'd like it to be kept a secret, a sort of Shangri-La...
I stopped where I thought the goshawks might fly. Apparently they did but before I came. I settled for a couple of buzzards. I met a local birder down at Dipper Bridge who said he'd seen nothing but a few goshawks and a treecreeper. Lucky lad! I asked if there were dipper about. 'Water's still too deep,' he replied. I said that nonetheless I'd promised myself a walk along the river so I set off and he climbed into his 4x4 and left. I walked about half a mile there and back. On my way back I had a nice surprise. Dipper checking the water's depth. It was Nigel Stewart who told me about the dippers here. I often think of him. Life can be very cruel. Make the most of it, I always think. Carpe diem und so weiter!
I headed for Bempton. Unfortunately I seem to time my visits with days when the auks have gone back out to sea as they tend to do off and on at this time of year.
Obligatory gannet shot and then I enjoyed trying to get some fulmar shots. I find photographing them quite a rewarding challenge... I walked south hoping to track down some corn buntings. There's a fenced off field about 800m south of Staple Newk with a permissive footpath running westwards on the south side of the field. It is signed. I walked to the south-west corner of this field and waited. There were plenty of little birds about. Tree sparrows, skylark singing overhead [in spite of the freezing temperature] and yellowhammer on the fence. In German yellowhammer is called goldammer. Generally, in German, the buntings are called something ending in -ammer. So, Yellowammer means yellow bunting. And I deliberately got rid of the letter h! No hammers involved!
You'll be relieved after all that to know that the Grauammer turned up.
Big treat coming up! Passing through Burton Fleming late afternoon on the way home something came up briefly from behind a hedge and then went down again. Immediately I thought 'owl'. I pulled onto the grass verge by the cemetery, grabbed the camera and peered over the cemetery gate. My second chance barn owl encounter this year. Worthy of any calendar I think!
In spite of the weather forecast and the odd snowflake drifting down Sheila said I should go to Wombwell and try for the Richard's pipit
Even more exciting if a little beyond belief was the report of a yellow-browed warbler at the same location. It seems every site has its glory days. The pipit looked splendid in the scope when it appeared from behind the tufts of grass and dips in the ground. Everyone saw it eventually. The yellow-browed was spectacularly easy to see. Leaf warbler in February when there's no leaves certainly helps but the bird is so quick and the hawthorns so dense that clear views are rare and then you've to get a focus lock and by then the bird has hopped left or right or just vanished! Still I did my best... Did you know they can levitate too?