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


11th - 15th September 2020

September 16, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Hitting a bit of a Brick Wall!

Not complaining but I just don't seem to be in the right place at the right time at the moment.

September 11th I finally tracked down the Egyptian geese at North Cave Wetlands at the third visit. They'll be along in a moment. On my regular circuit of the reserve I spotted a black swan [a rather brown one] hiding amongst the greylag flock...

...and a green sandpiper.

...a mute swan and lapwings.

I liked this coffee-cream coloured highland cow.

Eventually I spotted two sleeping geese.

I realised there was enough detail showing to make me wait till they stirred. Bring on the Egyptian geese!

September 13th: trip to Redcar Tarn near Keighley to see a Franklin's gull. Good company but no bird for me although others saw it distantly in a ploughed field. I preferred to see it on the water. It never happened so I tried my hand at photographing what was available. 

This a juvenile gull. Someone thought it might be a yellow-legged gull. I'm no good at splitting all the herring gull type juveniles so I'll just put it down as a herring gull. Nice plumage anyway.

September 16th: another wasted afternoon. I went to Ripon City Wetlands to try for the hobbies that had been showing well over the three previous days. Along with a couple of other photographers I saw virtually nothing. 

A common darter

The view from the reedbed screen. And, finally, the enormous car park - room for a couple of hundred more cars!

198 UK 2020 - 200 beckons but it may not be straightforward...




22nd August to 4th September

September 05, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

The Silencer of the Lambs?

Not sure if that's quite the right title but we'll come to that a little later on...

First jaunt [22nd August] to Fairburn to see some curlew sandpipers that by the time I arrived had decamped to St. Aidan's. A couple of cattle egrets were - you guessed - with the cattle.

With a little imagination you can just make out the yellow bill of the right hand cattle egret. 

August 24th: Next trip to Blackhall Rocks just north of Hartlepool. A red-backed shrike was hiding somewhere north of the car park. A long but eventually fruitful walk. Stonechats en route.

September 1st: I caved! I gave in to temptation. I went...to see the silencer of the lambs!

Crowden and Black Tor: I parked and, after chatting to two birders who went racing ahead of me, I set off slowly. I feared a hard uphill walk so I was going to take it very steadily. 

A pheasant seemed happy to let me walk past. It knew where I was going, I think.

After some time the two birders caught me up. 'It's a case of the tortoise and the hare,' one of them said. 'We went charging off in the wrong direction!' So I'm the tortoise. Well the tortoise got there!

My first ever view of the lammergeier is the one I'll always remember. Not a great bird photo but a splendid view. A vulture standing proud over his [albeit temporary] domain.

Here's some more shots.

Kestrel in the distance

September 2nd: Kilnsea / Spurn. I began at Canal Scrape car park simply because the pager flashed up 'Wryneck showing well' or words to that effect. It was, eventually. It must have gone into the long grass just before I arrived.

A very shy wood sandpiper at Canal Scrape

After that a quick march down to the Warren for a barred warbler. Normally I've spent a long time waiting for one of these to appear from the depths of the undergrowth. This bird was just there. Instantly.

I blame the flies!

Kilnsea Wetlands next. Ringed plover [little, I think] and dunlins.

White wagtail

Final year tick that day was my first wheatear of the year at Sammy's Point. Just shows what a strange year it is. No photo as I just went to have a quick look with my bins. I went back with the camera but couldn't relocate the bird.

September 4th: a full circuit and a half of North Cave looking for Egyptian geese. No sign. Gary Dayes said there were 2,000 greylags on the reserve plus a pinkfoot. I never found an Egyptian goose but remarkably I did spot the pinkfoot. It trails one wing but can fly from lake to lake. Gary said it was on the Reedbed Lake. I found it later on Cell A. 



195 UK 2020

7th- 20th August 2020

August 21, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

The News Report!

First of all some that got left behind from 11th July! Garden insects...

Two garden plants: francoa sonchifolia [one of a number of plants known as 'Bridal Wreath'] and a lovely geranium 'Ann Folkard'

August 7th: A second trip to Scaling Dam but a disappointing one as the osprey didn't show until after I had left. It was nice and quiet as far as human beings are concerned...and rather similar bird-wise too! 

A bedraggled grey wagtail!

August 10th: Spurn A six-tick day for me. Best day since Lockdown began way back in late March. Little stint; pectoral sandpiper; white-winged black tern; collared flycatcher; pied flycatcher and two red-backed shrikes. Not including a super fly-past bittern down at Sammy's Point.

Little stints


A hare rested by the sand martin wall. The pecsand was very difficult to photograph from the only available angle in challenging light conditions. Still, not complaining: an excellent year tick.

I moved on to Beacon Ponds to try for a white winged black tern. Distant over the lagoons but flying around really nicely.


Collared flycatcher

Pied flycatchers

Juvenile linnet


2 very distant red-backed shrikes

August 12th: Southern hawker dragonfly in the garden

Something a little different...

Foxes at play on our night camera and in one of these video clips something we've not seen in the garden before and we've lived here since 1977! You'll have to wait while they load up to find out what it was!

August 14th: Spurn again





Red-backed shrikes again! Still there!

I decided to head north for a white stork but I couldn't locate it and drifted on to Hornsea Mere where a treat awaited me. Lots of little gulls. Loads of them. Sorry, but here's an avalanche of little gulls!

Well, I caught one this big!

August 18th: Ripon City Wetlands

My first visit. I'd been meaning to come for some time. Closed on race days by the way. I found the car park. it only has room for about 5,000 cars so park at the top right-hand corner. That's where you walk from and it's quite a long walk especially if, like me, you go the very long way round. When given a choice, go right. NOT LEFT! 

I met 2 birders about my age. I asked what they would suggest. 'Go somewhere else,' was their reply. 'It's not a very productive site.'

After walking a very long way through vast swathes of Himalayan balsam I found the lagoon that has been lowered to reveal the mud. I met the 2 birders who were embarrassed to admit they'd 'never seen it like this before.' I wondered if they'd deliberately sent me on a wild goose chase into the balsamatic jungle. I dismissed such thoughts from my nasty, suspicious mind. 

Green sandpiper and wood sandpiper. All very distant mixed up with hundreds of lapwings, geese, dunlins and gulls. Not a very productive site they said...

Not to worry. When I got back exhausted to Tiggy I pulled out my six-shooter from under the floor of the back end of the car and riddled all the tyres of the only other car in the enormous car park with a myriad of tiny holes...

As my late mother would have said: 'That'll learn 'em'

I drove on to Hartlepool. Greatham Creek - terns bathing; a few waders on the mud by the bridge, shelduck and a seal swimming up the creek.

I met Barry there. We walked round Saltholme. Very quiet. Some years ago they put up a wooden thing to frame the view of the Main Lake to help emphasise the important work the RSPB do. Over the years the site has developed. The frame is still there. I thought you'd want to see the view as it looks now the reserve is well established.

And here's a dreadful photo of the old git who took the photo.  [God, he looks decrepit.]

I might have to deal with the chap who took that too. The six-shooter's still in the back end of the car...

August 19th: Kilnsea once more!

I walked from the car park at Kilnsea Wetlands to the first metal gate. Greenfinch showing nicely.

Ruff, little stints! Decent light. Action!

Later I saw a very distant short-eared owl from Sykes field.

August 20th: early visit to South Gare. Very windy: lots of waders on Bran Sands rocks near Paddy's Hole at high tide. Nine species noted: curlew; lapwing; oystercatcher; turnstone; dunlin; knot; greenshank; redshank; ringed plover. And I was hoping for bar-tailed godwit!

I drove down to scan the terns: little, common and sandwich seen but it was increasingly windy. I returned to Bran Sands. The tide had dropped and there were waders everywhere. I soon picked up the bar-tailed godwits. I left for Greatham Creek as a curlew sandpiper had been reported. Great scope views [thanks to Ian Forrest for helping me get onto it]. No sign of cuckoo down the ZWR but I spotted this curlew hiding in the grass.

191 UK 2020



30th July to 2nd August

August 05, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

The Fish Hunters

July 30th

A trip to South Gare and walk out to the rocks about an hour before high tide. Sandwich, little, common and roseate terns all well seen. There is a little tern in this photo but its bill isn't visible. You can recognize it by its size, I think. Sandwich time!

Common terns



Linnet in the Bomb Hole

Whitethroat there too on the bench

Pilot boat returning from duty

I moved on heading for Greatham Creek. Waders and a seal on the sand by the road bridge.

Some of the fragrant orchids I'd seen a couple of weeks earlier were still looking well.


Grayling butterfly

Common centaury

Carline thistle - before and after!

A really strongly growing patch of eyebright


Small heath butterfly

Small skipper [rather a dark one]

Shelduck on pool

Common terns on pool nearest the road [from 'bus stop' shelter]


August 2nd

Amazed to find an empty hide when I arrived at Scaling Dam about lunchtime. Osprey overhead - i strolled back to the car for the camera...


The dive and catch took place at the far side of the reservoir - a long way from the hide. If you know the site  you'll realise the camera did well to pull off these nearly sharp shots of the osprey taking a fish.


Lift off!

180 UK 2020


24th July 2020

July 28, 2020  •  Leave a Comment


July 24th trip up to Hartlepool. I began with a walk down both sides of Greatham Creek looking for whimbrel. Good views in the scope but not close enough to photo. One fairly close whimbrel was constantly chased off by the much larger curlew. The curlew ignored dunlins and redshanks. Lots of fragrant orchids in flower. One poor phone photo below.

I then went to the Lifeboat Station to see how the kittiwakes were doing. Lots of action with just a few juveniles in flight - other pairs still had quite small bundles of fluff to look after. I've always liked juvenile kittiwake plumage patterns... An adult bird first.

I'm very cross!

I waited hoping to get some flight shots. 

Don't turn your back on me! ''Hey, I've learnt to do this on one leg too!''

One landed on the water - must have taken off from the other side of the gantry.

Take-off time! [The backgrounds get quite confusing!]

Elsewhere little seemed to be happening so I decided to call at Nosterfield for an egyptian goose [not available as it turned out] and another look for the little owl.

178 UK 2020

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