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


23rd September 2022

September 24, 2022  •  Leave a Comment


Birding seemed rather quiet and it was the day before the NYMR Autumn Steam Gala. I decided to spend a day watching the trains go by. Thursday was the first day so I wasn't sure just how much I would see...

I drove to Levisham Station. If you've never been there then the drive from the main Whitby road through Lockton is quite a rollercoaster. It looked so simple on the map! However I reached the delightful station at Levisham mid-morning.

The old and new! Ancient oil lamp converted to run modern light bulbs. The first train I saw was a Southern region Schools class loco 'Repton' heading to Pickering.

Almost tempted - a little trespass would only cost me £2!

Next stop was Fen Bog - a place I've often visited for butterflies. I knew it would be a nice spot to photograph trains from either direction. First train past was Lucie, a Belgian tramway engine owned by P. Middleton [known as Piglet from the Channel 5 TV series]

It approached very quietly and caught me by surprise. Lucie was just towing a guard's van.

Then a Standard class 5 loco charged into view.


I headed back to Levisham for the afternoon which turned out to be a good decision. Lucie was shunting goods wagons and 'Piglet' Middleton, who owns Lucie, was on hand on the platform to watch proceedings. 

A train came through - wooden panelled coaches -with a girl leaning from the window taking photos. Everyone had a camera.

I found a spot on the North side of the station and waited. Eventually a distant wisp of tell-tale smoke appeared and everyone readied themselves for the next train.

Why the blue text? No good reason but Sir Nigel Gresley was supposed to appear in blue but they didn't have time for the full paint job so we just got a matt black version. Or so I was told...

Sir Nigel Gresley, A4 class. As schoolboys we called them Streaks.

I'm still birding! UK 207 2022

7th September 2022 ff

September 12, 2022  •  2 Comments

An afternoon at Marshland

Marshland, Blacktoft - just about the only part of the reserve with a decent amount of water - apparently. I spent my whole visit in Marshland hide. Watching curlew sandpipers. 3 present along with spotshanks, ruff, godwits, woodsand, dunlins and supporting wildfowl. Reed warbler seen too. Here are the curlew sands.

Camera settings went wrong at one point and ruined some yellow wagtail shots. I rescued this one...

Grey heron

 Sunday 11th September - a day at Borough Hall

Have you noticed how if anyone is providing information on tv or radio these days they seem to always begin with the word 'so'?

So I drove up to Hartlepool heading straight for the Headland. I sensed some good birds were going to be there. I began with a spotted flycatcher. In the gloom of heavy shade. [Photo brightened as much as I dare]

I could see a group of birders on the Putting Green. I went to see what was there. 

Garden warblers - 2 of them. Not a bird I find easy to spot and, in fact, one I had never photographed. I went back several times to get these photos. 

A sparrowhawk flew overhead and the birds all went into deep cover.

A false alarm sent everyone [me included] rushing off to the Heugh Pier to see a red-breasted flycatcher but it was a case of misidentification. A wheatear graced the rocks.

Later I went back to Borough Hall to one particular line of trees that had pied flycatcher, lesser whitethroat and yellow-browed warbler. I managed a better view of a spotfly.

203 UK 2022

1st September 2022

September 03, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Six of the Best!

Thursday 1st September: up early and off to Spurn

The plan was to get to Spurn and do a seawatch. However a check on the pager in a lay-by near Market Weighton told me there was a wryneck at Sammy's Point. Good job I decided to go there first as I discovered later that I'd left my scope at home! Camera and bins would have to do. The wryneck appeared after a ten-minute wait while it hid in the bottom of a hawthorn bush about 3 yards in front of me. 

Next report was of a  citrine wagtail in a dark and heavily vegetated ditch just inland from Chalky Point. A new place for me - you take a footpath just north of the Riverside Hotel out to the Humber. The marshy area and ditch will then be on your right. The wagtail was extremely tricky to lock onto because of the reeds sticking up between me and the bird. But I had a go!

A red-backed shrike was seen distantly from the road near Canal Scrape. I decided to go to the Canal Scrape hide and wait for a better view.

3 year ticks. A brilliant day was slotting into place. Beacon Ponds was my next destination. A birder told me 'they're quite near the concrete ramp.' That sounded promising and I put my best foot forward. [It's the left one!]

There were 2 of them but not swimming together. Red-necked phalaropes by the way.

4 year ticks

A few fellow travellers - dunlin and ringed plover.

I fancied a sit and the now spacious Kilnsea hide was almost deserted. I scanned the waders. Great white egret some way off. Then a wader flew in with the dunlin. Bigger and better. Curlew sandpiper. [5 ticks]

I headed back to Sammy's Point to see what was on the mud now the tide had gone out. So with bins round my neck and my scope happily taking it easy upstairs at home I had a look around. Plenty of common waders, an egret, shelducks a-plenty. I was looking for a grey plover but couldn't find one. Turning back to the car I spotted a wheatear.

It landed quite close to me.

Not a tick.

I strolled over to the first horse paddock. A robin appeared at the base of a hawthorn just in front of me. The robin left and seconds later a redstart appeared. I went to the car to get the camera [about 10 yards away]. But I never saw redstart or robin again. Nonetheless my sixth tick of the day. I don't think I manage that often in September.

198 UK 2022


26th August 2022

August 26, 2022  •  1 Comment

Greater sand plover

No more needs to be said really except to confirm: Redcar beach between the bandstand and the new Regent cinema.

192 UK 2022

13th August 2022 ff

August 23, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Spot the crake!

August 13th:North Cave Wetlands

Turret Hide. Nice and quiet when I arrived. Just three or four birders present and all watching the spotted crake in their scope. It was rather a long way off. I did try to get a photo. Don't laugh. You can just spot its little head in between the reeds!

If you can't see it it's in the centre of the image facing left. The other bird is a green sandpiper. I've cropped it again - the image is very degraded now but you can see the bird!

I had to get home by late morning. Five minutes in East hide.

August 15th: North Cave again for a little stint that, unfortunately, was no longer present [or was hiding away somewhere]. I made do with a few photos from the West path. Robin, fresh willow warbler and a chiffchaff.

August 17th: Blacktoft

Hoping to see my third pectoral sandpiper of the year - previous ones were at Staveley and Edderthorpe. The Blacktoft bird was never very close. Here are my best efforts!

August 18th: Old Moor - to try to find a rather mobile little stint. Eventually cornered on Cormorant Island.

August 23rd: Swillington Ings, Cattlegate Pond - a much more showy spotted crake. Also added to the mix great crested grebe and reed bunting.

191 UK 2022

Interestingly [for me at least!] 191 was my end of year total for 2021