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


11th June ff

July 02, 2021  •  1 Comment

North Cave Wetlands - in search of a Med Gull

June 11th: I know it's there - it's listed every day on the sightings report. I couldn't find it and I reckon I'm reasonably good at recognising these birds so we'll have to make do with some other snaps taken with the 100-400 zoom lens.

This goldfinch was watching me intently.

This reed bunting was no doubt about to feed its young.

This dragon [probably a black-tailed skimmer] was resting on the path in front of me.

Focus practice

A well fed marsh orchid.

Ragged robin

Common whitethroat


Black-headed gull. Looking smart but not quite up to adult med gull standard!

June 14th: Wykeham Raptor Watchpoint where nothing appeared other than a common buzzard. But a willow warbler showed as did some crossbills. Drizzle drove me away.

I headed for nearby Forge Valley where I watched a jay coming to fat balls. I got the camera and wound down the passenger window ready to get the jay on the fence next time it came. It didn't. Suddenly I spotted 2 juvenile great spotted woodpeckers through the car windscreen. Because of the sloping glass and a very poor shutter speed the pictures aren't sharp but I thought I'd include them. We can always imagine they're lesser spots!!

Hilla Green - 'Dipper Bridge'

The dipper was some way away hiding in a tangle of branches trapped on a bend in the stream when the water level had been much higher. I tried to get a little closer.

Pheasant in the meadow at Hilla Green Farm.

June 20th: Walked out to the Cheesecake hide at Bank Island to see two tiny birds [I had no scope with me!] A wood sandpiper and a green sandpiper but there's so little water now and the birds were a long, long way away... I photographed a singing reed bunting en route plus some nice poppies.


June 23rd: South Gare, Marske, Skinningrove, Kildale and Harwood Dale. Quite a busy day with limited success. Rock pipit, common gull and, best of all, a spotted flycatcher at Kildale Churchyard. First spotted from the station platform, I crossed the bridge to the churchyard to get these photos.

At Harwood Dale the turtle doves failed to turn up to my party. I kept myself amused attempting to photograph a great spotted woodpecker!

June 24th: long walk to new island lake about 400m west of Crosslands hide, North Cave. Two pairs of Mediterranean gulls seen.

June 25th: Blacktoft - a brief afternoon visit. Little egrets at Marshland - 8 of them.

A shy and elusive sedge warbler

Whitethroats including a juvenile

June 28th: A jay in our garden

Plus some trail camera footage

June 29th & June 30th: Bempton. Tried for the albatross but I couldn't pick it out even when it was eventually seen as it returned from a spell sitting on the sea towards Filey Brigg. I probably did see it but I didn't if you see what I mean. I consoled myself with some typical Bempton shots.

Next day I returned. The bird spent the whole time superglued to the cliff over by Staple Newk. Not that you could see it from Staple Newk... You had to observe it long range from New Rollup viewpoint. So here it is!!  This is a crop from the picture above. The albatross is roughly centre image. Sadly it tucked its eyebrowed head out of sight for the photo. All rather difficult to judge till I got home. Even big lenses can't work miracles. Many birders got some wonderful photos during the bird's stay in Yorkshire and I enjoyed seeing them all. I did see the eyebrow in the scope myself! Made my day.

July 1st: another brief visit to Blacktoft

Little to report. Yellow wags, greensand at Marshland. Tree sparrows near the entrance gate...

...magpie sunbathing. Unusually tame - too hot to be bothered!

142 UK 2021 


4th June ff 2021

June 10, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Life's just a blur...hmmm

4th June: Saltholme & Greatham Creek

I had problems that day with the camera and I still don't quite know why. Heat haze may have been a factor or I had nudged a setting accidentally and the focussing distances were wrong. I don't know. The following day I did test shots after checking everything over and all seemed fine. Great white egret at Saltholme. Greatham Creek was quiet. A rather stunted marsh orchid and a posing skylark.


Any birds with vulnerable young had better watch out...

7th June: Blyth estuary, then Dorman's pool

An early start to head north to Blyth to the confluence of the Rivers Blyth and Sleek Burn. A group of waders were favouring the mud where the two streams meet. Ringed plovers, dunlins, a little stint and the red-necked stint all seen. Best viewed from the north side but I didn't fancy the 35 minute each way walk so opted to scope the birds from the riverside path on the south side - as did the overwhelming majority of the other birders present. 

Also present were a large number of goosanders [over 40 seen] including these few near where I was watching the stint. Eiders with a creche of young: the males slept!

Purple heron also seen at Dorman's Pool on my way home but I was watching the bird in my bins and wasn't quick enough to get a photo before the bird vanished back into the reedbed. This lesser black-backed gull looked hungry!

9th June: Blacktoft Sands and Alkborough

Nesting avocets at Marshland

Reed bunting

Little grebe


Excerpts from a food pass - although I was never quite sure who was passing it to who...

Shovelers. The mighty bill!

128 UK 2021


24th May ff 2021

June 03, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

35 this year; 6 last year!

Explanation: number of year ticks in May this year compared with last year

May 24th: another jaunt up to Hartlepool. Not very successful but I did see the little terns - a bird I really like to see. Also spent some time watching the commons at Holme Fleet. Tide was very high at Greatham Creek and Newburn Bridge and both areas were pretty bird free. 

May 27th: trip out to Blacktoft Sands to see some little gulls down at Ousefleet. A long way out from the hide with a black-headed gull and a couple of headless avocets! Here are two of them...

...and an avocet near the hide.

May 30th: last outing in May - this time to Bank Island and North Duffield. Lapwings and a chaffinch at Bank Island and a garganey drake at North Duffield from Geoff Smith hide.

June 1st: Greatham Creek and Saltholme. I began walking down the south side to Seal Sands. Other than common terns I saw very little [i.e. nothing!] and I suspect I should have walked down the north side to find spoonbills on one of the pools. These two common terns were on the mud near the seal colony. They were quite entertaining. The female was unimpressed and eventually flew off. Perhaps the male didn't have a big enough present to offer her!

There were lots of meadow pipits about.

Eventually I found a spoonbill on Back Saltholme. Swishing its bill around energetically. 

Finally for this post, here's a nice ammonite fossil my son found at Port Mulgrave recently.

120 UK 2021


13th May ff 2021

May 20, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Two Faces of Coot

[and other tall tales]

Thursday 13th May

An afternoon trip out to North Duffield to hopefully pick up a tick or two and, more important, continue getting back into the swing of things. From Geoff Smith hide a coot was on its nest: a picture of domestic harmony. The other adult chased off a pair of tufted ducks for coming too close to the nest.

A lone whooper swan lingered on the bund down at Garganey hide. Apparently it can fly but maybe not the long distances needed for migration. A black swan was very distant as was a curlew. Sedge warbler and hirundines were seen too. Here's the whooper: spot the wigeon!

Nothing much happened all afternoon until 4 coots decided to have a real good fight. I think its just a coot pastime as afterwards they drifted away as if it had never happened. Here are a few stills. It was fun to watch!

Back to serenity: a smart drake mallard floated past...

Sunday 16th May

Local birding at York University for a Savi's warbler. seen and heard quite easily but I couldn't manage a photo unfortunately. Reed warblers too. Here's one!

Monday 17th May

After a long gap I finally made it back to Saltholme and Hartlepool. Things were pretty quiet and around the lifeboat station I could only find the kittiwakes on the lifeboat station girders, a solitary turnstone and a few distant eiders.

I drove back towards North Gare and the Zinc Works Road. To my delight I found some wheatears - 3 of them. 

Plus what I took to be a juvenile stonechat.

Tuesday 18th May

A new day a new destination: as recommended by birding friends, I headed south to Langford Lowfields RSPB near Newark. Cetti's heard in the car park, sedge warblers and numerous invisible willow warblers and some chiffchaffs too. I liked the sign in the car park.

It's a long walk [0.75 miles to the 360 degree viewpoint] through woodland and along the edge of an old quarry [largely hidden by the scrub] until the scene opens out onto a large and stlll expanding reserve.

Robin in the woods...

...and a wren a bit further on...

A view on the walk and a view from the 'Beach Hut' visitor centre.

I was hoping to see hobbies and indeed I did! 

I knew that a glossy ibis had been seen nearby and a local birder sent me off to Besthorpe Notts WT and to Mons Pool where I eventually located the bird on the second section of the pool. On the first section a cormorant nest site dominated the area.

So, here's the ibis on the far side of the pool from the viewscreen.

Thursday 20th May

A miserable, cold morning visit to St. Aidan's to not see the Franklin's gull. I admit the cold and then rain drove me to abandon the search. It was found, of course, shortly after I left. Still here's the alternative menu!

Crow eating Canada goose gosling.

GCGs displaying still - perhaps they don't think it's quite spring yet!

112 UK 2021

9th May 2021 ff

May 13, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

The Darling Birds of May!

Groans from all readers...

Lets hope May will deliver something brilliant. So far rather staid - but it's a start.

Sunday 9th May

Fairburn and St. Aidan's this morning and then marrow, courgette and pumpkin planting this afternoon. A few pictures.

Common terns

Cuckooflower / Lady's Smock / Cardamine pratensis

Little owl


Monday May 10th

First swifts seen in the evening over the house.

Tuesday May 11th

A big day out began at Flamborough bowling green where the locals were practising [9.30am] rolling their wooden balls about and the hoopoe[ quite naturally] was nowhere to be seen! Still the other object of the day was to get some year ticks so I could at least seem to be doing some proper birding again. On, then, To Thornwick Pools where little ringed plover delighted, a sedge warbler was very showy but best of all outside were linnet, whitethroat and, hiding in the base of a bramble tangle was a lesser whitethroat. Not a bird I'm usually very good at spotting.

Next was busy Bempton. Tree sparrows galore - which was another year first.

Amazing how the pandemic has changed everything - car park with portaloos, reception desk outside and birds I see in early January not seen until May! A barn owl was out hunting in daylight so was presumably feeding young.

The cliff regulars were almost all present [although somehow I didn't look out for the fulmars. Were they there?]

My guillemot photos were not good so I've omitted them. The jackdaws were very cheeky and approachable. I like them in spite of their reputations for pushing out other species from nest sites. Clever birds - they know they're safe at Bempton, I think.

After Bempton I called at Filey Dams and added just bullfinches to my tick list - otherwise quiet with lots of common geese and common gulls [but no common gulls if you see what I mean!]. Later I saw marsh tit and nuthatch along with other tits and finches at Forge Valley. 

100 UK 2021