Welcome to my birding blog - first launched 12th March 2012...


19th March to 3rd April 2024

April 06, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

North Cave to Lockwood Beck

March 19th: North Cave, Scarborough and Bempton

Let us begin at North Cave Wetlands. Coltsfoot and a cattle egret - increasingly common at reserves these days.

Black-headed gulls.

Peregrine on the cliffs on Marine Drive, Scarborough.

Razorbill, fulmar on the cliffs at Bempton.

Kestrel near the Visitor Centre.

March 25th: Visits to Blacktoft and St. Aidan's. Marsh harrier, black-tailed godwits and garganey at Blacktoft.

Sand martins at St. Aidan's. 

When I arrived one of the little owls was visible but was partly masked by wires and metalwork of Oddjob. When I returned it was more in the open.

Blackthorn blossom.

April 2nd: Tophill Low. In Search of a kingfisher... View of reception hide, chiffchaff nearby, goldeneyes.

I met a man who told me the kingfishers were nesting up at Hempholme again so I didn't turn off for North Marsh but carried on through the woodland. Petasites hybridus or Butterbur.

Fritillary growing in a damp part of the woods.

Imagine my surprise when suddenly I spotted a large brown pig! The fencing for the enclosure for the two pigs is very low and one could easily imagine the pigs are simply on the loose. However it had no interest in me and grunted along quite happily.

When a bulrush finally explodes to shed its seeds the result is reminiscent of an eruption of toffee flavoured ice cream [a bit over the top perhaps!]

I reached the hide and waited about half an hour. 

Male with an all black bill.

Rather pleased with the next two shots even if the tip of the bill is missing. 

Changeover time. Female with orange on the bill.

April 3rd: Kildale and Lockwood Beck

Parked at my normal spot at Kildale. Wheatear seen briefly but no sight or sound of ouzel or red grouse. Lots of meadow pipits. This one seemed quite pale.

Back in the car and two grouse flew past me then, later, on the Three Howes Rigg road approaching Lockwood Beck from the South a red grouse was walking in the road as I approached. It flew off safely.

Lockwood feeders. Bramblings, siskins and greenfinch.

I had a two hour wait for the mealy redpoll. Only seen in the cage of this one feeder. When it flew it didn't perch within view so my photos are not as I would have liked. But it was good to see a mealy redpoll.

 In the kitchen window   

141 UK 2024

26.02.2024 to 9.03 2024

March 10, 2024  •  Leave a Comment


26th February - 9th March

Spring has come!

The grass is riz!

I wonder where the daisies iz!

At least that's the version I remember from my childhood. There are many others, some probably better but I like mine because it takes me back to my younger days.

February 26th: A quiet day at home until Sheila announced there was a cock pheasant in the garden. I got the camera ready and crept down the garden. The bird was very nervous but I managed to position myself to take some shots.

Better views

February28th: Black-necked grebe at St. Aidan's RSPB. I managed to not see it after walking three-quarters of the way round Bowers Lake. I asked a birder if he'd seen the bird. It was hiding at the water's edge on the quarter I hadn't visited. Inevitably I went back.

March 6th: A trip to Bempton. Razorbills were absent from the cliffs and RSPB observers said they couldn't positively identify any on the water in the current misty conditions. They were probably out there somewhere!

A pair of puffins were present along with a single kittiwake on the section I visited. Plus a very vocal fulmar.

March 8th: Overnight in the garden...

In the happy, bucolic world of the hedgehog one imagines two hogs coming together to rub noses and discuss the weather or the availability of slugs and worms. It isn't always like that.

March 9th: I spotted a message on the pager that a red-necked grebe had been spotted at Burton Riggs YWT, Scarborough. I got myself ready and set off. Only a couple of birders present. The bird was soon located - hiding in some willows. It was perhaps scared off by a group of canada geese close by.

First views. After taking a good number of photos in the heavily shaded section of the north pool it eventually gave splendid views in the sunshine. Well worth the long wait. It's been a while since I had a really special encounter like this one. The descriptor 'Wow. What a bird!' was fully deserved.

127 UK 2024

3rd February - 23rd February 2024

February 24, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

The Pain in the Neck

After the recent storms there was a lot of debris in the garden from a large eucalyptus tree that dramatically shed a large branch from high up in the tree. It hung there for some days - beyond the reach of ladders and we watched it every day to see if it had fallen to earth. Eventually it did. I spent a day and a half lopping and pruning to reduce it to bags for the tip but in the end Malcolm came to saw up the largest timber plus some mimosa branches and everything went in a small skip which we ordered.

I think the constant repeated actions of lopping and pruning had an effect on me and one night in bed I must have moved awkwardly and something went in my neck - tendon, muscle, I've no idea but it hurt a lot, I couldn't easily move my head to the right and I had trouble sleeping as I was so restless. This curtailed my birding somewhat and I am now some way behind last year's total at this time. But I am much better and will avoid using the loppers and pruners for some time as I have had relapses after deciding I could resume my garden jobs. It's called 'getting old' I suppose.

Still, here goes - the latest [not terribly exciting] news:

February 3rd: A cattle egret was hiding in the reeds at Phil Stead hide at Saltholme. I watched it for some time through the camera viewfinder as I wanted to catch the bird as it flew out of the reeds. It took longer than I expected but eventually it did fly across the pool towards the fire station area. 

In the meantime I did manage to photograph a pair of shelducks and a shoveler.



Spoonbill on pool across from electricity substation

February 4th: from our bedroom window we watched a small group of roe deer.

February 5th: St Aidan's and...


February 7th: Back to St. Aidan's to see bearded tits - several attempts but none successful. Moorhen and female pochard instead!!

February 12th: Spurn for waders from the gate at the end of the public road. Grey plover, knot, dunlin and all sorts seen in the scope but few photos that day. Whooper swans in a field on Easington Straight didn't work out too well. Taken from the car but the engine was running and none of my photos was pin sharp due to vibration I presume.

I like shovelers so here's another one! [Canal Scrape]

February 16th: annual early visit to Bempton. 

A very prickly thistle rosette attracted me.

More traditional stuff

Guillemot in very harsh light at Scarborough harbour.

February 20th: saw an american wigeon south of Bubwith bridge on a distant [definitely ephemeral] spit on the large flood right of the river. Later at Saltholme saw my first avocets of the year. Photos from Cowpen Bewley feeders.

February 23rd: Gosh, it was cold at Greatham Creek and on my walk down to the tidal pools with camera bins and scope to test out my neck muscles. Pleased to confirm that neck is ok this morning 24/2/24] A birder said the greenshank was present half an hour earlier but no sign when I reached the pools. Three workmen near the pools and a white van probably didn't help. The spotted redshank was still there and a bar-tailed godwit near the road bridge on Greatham Creek was a nice surprise. My highlight of the day was a single shag in breeding plumage with a nice crest showing on the rocks at Hartlepool Headland. 

After a visit to Cowpen Bewley feeders I went to Saltholme. The feeders had several visits from siskins which I had only seen once before a few days earlier.

So, siskin at Cowpen Bewley, pussy willow, teal and marsh harrier at Phil Stead, Saltholme followed by avocets [14 present but one was way off to the right: a sort of Billy No Mates avocet!] and golden plover [including interloper] down at Saltholme Pools hide. And an egret.

This marsh harrier photo almost looks like a drawing!

 121 UK 2024


04.01.24 ff

January 22, 2024  •  31 Comments

From St. Aidan's to Seaton Carew

January 7th: St. Aidan's

Hoping to see the glossy ibis again for a 2024 photograph. Luckily it was quite a bit closer than last time and a huddle of visitors spotted in the distance announced its presence well before the cattle gates. It seems unconcerned or unaware of the people watching it.

January 8th: Hartlepool

Cowpen Bewley woodland park feeder station. Pair of bullfinch, yellowhammer and a great spotted woodpecker

Ward Jackson Park: parakeet [looking into the sun unfortunately] and a muscovy duck

January 10th: Thorganby viewpoint

A distant drake smew

January 10th: Tophill Low

Red crested pochard from a long way off and a much closer gang of drake tufties.

January 19th: Bempton

Jackdaw and a kestrel hunkered down out of the wind. Also seen linnets and snow buntings

January 29th: Seaton Common, Saltholme, Newburn Bridge and Redcar

Newburn Bridge

Cowpen Bewley 

Redcar beach

103 UK 2024


January 05, 2024  •  5 Comments

2024: Another leap into the unexpected!

January 1st: A day around Hartlepool. Highlights for me were goosander and red-breasted mergansers; purple sandpipers, slavonian grebe and black-throated diver and a showy single waxwing at Saltholme. A few pictures follow showing goosander and merganser...

...goosander is smart; merganser looks like it's having another bad hair day!

Mute swan

It was hard work trying to get the siskins in a clear shot at Saltholme until one was found high up enjoying the sunshine.

Saltholme's solitary waxwing enjoying all the attention!

Off the Headland

Pied wagtail and common scoter in the bay.

January 3rd: North Duffield; North Cave and Blacktoft North Duffield was like an ocean as far as I could see. Lots of wlidfowl but no sign of any swans. A few fieldfare were about the roadside hedgerows. North Cave was quiet: little grebe, collared dove but lots of bramblings busy round the feeders.

Blacktoft had snipe, marsh harriers and a barn owl that woke me up with a start: wrong ISO, so wrong shutter speed but I tried!

...and a pheasant!

64 2024 UK

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