Catch Up Posting

Hello again folks, been a while since I last got around to putting stuff online. I had a busy year in 2014 or at least that’s my excuse. Playing catch up, following on from Majorca 2013 there were a couple of lifers left in the year, Bridled Tern on the Farne Islands in September and Ivory Gull in Yorkshire (Patrington Haven) in December.

Bridled tern

Bridled Tern – John Sadler

Ken and I landed on Inner Farne and the tern was present but hidden by the lie of the land.  I realised now why it is called twitching, I was like a cat on hot bricks during a rather long wait until the birds took to the wing and bingo the Bridled Tern stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb. Happy now I could explore the island and get bombed by the Arctic Terns.

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull – best one I managed to get

The walk from the car at Patrington Haven first made me aware of how much pain I was in with my right knee. Ken and I had a long wait until the bird came in but when it did boy were we treated to some gorgeous views. At one point the bird was floating less than 4 metres over our heads.

2014 and the start of my Patchwork Challenge. I have cobbled together a patch of just under 3 sq kilometres by careful selection encompassing Paul’s Pond & Breary Marsh in the West, through Golden Acre Park and Adel Dam to Eccup Reservoir in the East.

I had to make sure there was easy access from the car as by January my knee was giving me major jip. I took to visiting either the Eccup or Adel and points West but not the area between as there was no way I could walk that far. Over the year I managed to find 67 species during 19 visits to the patch which gave me 69 points according to the scoring system Not brilliant but it set the standard for 2015.

Birding trips further afield in 2014 were;

January – Lower Derwent Valley, Castle Howard and Red House with BF buddies Andy, Richard, Rob and Ken

February – with Ken, Long Nab (North of Scarborough) in March for the Lapland buntings, lifer no 1 of the year and the usual Forge Valley and Wykeham suspects,

March – Broomhead Reservoir for the Two Barred Crossbills with Ken. A turkey cock wandering down the road was a weird way to finish that day.

May – Bolton Abbey for the Dawn Chorus with BF buddies Richard, Ken and Rob all the usual birds seen, as well as a trip to Scotland with Sheila which got us both red squirrel sightings but no new birds.


Wykeham – Nightjar

June – Redcar for the Black Scoter, lifer no 2 but not a satisfying one, much better this month were the Nightjars at Wykeham.

July – Sheila and I return to Lanzarote – no new birds but on the ferry from Fuertaventura we watched flying fishes doing their stuff.

August – Faxfleet got me a nice Yorkshire tick with juvenile Montagu’s harrier, whilst Nosterfield¬† later in the month allowed Ken to pull one back on me with his first Gt white egret.

blue fulmar

‘Blue’ fulmar

September – Two trips to Spurn, the first getting me Wryneck on my Yorkshire list whilst the second got me lifer no 3 Masked shrike.

masked shrike

record shot only – Masked Shrike

The Skua cruise was a good day out with BF buddies when we saw a ‘blue’ fulmar – sadly not a proper tick just a subspecies but later in the day Ken and I visited Flamborough and I went from never having seen Red-breasted flycatcher to having seen 2 different birds within 20 minutes, lifer no 4, also saw my second Tyke wryneck.Finally added Black guillemot to my Yorkshire list in Filey towards the end of the month.

black guille

Black Guillemot – honest – it is there

October got me my first and second dip of the year, the buff-breasted sandpiper at Ringstone Edge and Twite a little way across the valley from Ringstone.

November was largely taken up with work related stuff, including a trip to Budapest which got me rough-legged buzzard for the year which made up slightly for the dip at Hunley Hall when the Eastern Crowned warbler disappeared overnight.

December saw me back at Long Nab with a handful of my BF buddies failing to see the Lapland buntings this time but at long last allowing me to properly add Richard’s pipit to my list, for too long this bird has been a heard only record, so good to finally get a good view of one. Last stop of the day at Grindale and we added rough-legged buzzard to the day list. I managed to dip the Blyth’s Pipit at Pugney’s this month through having too much on my plate work and family-wise. I even managed to dip it January through a combination of pre-planned family stuff on the good days and totally crap weather on the only day I could have gone persuading the bird to depart.

Mention should be made of my knee, now much improved thanks to the work of a good friend who was on the list of physiotherapists approved by my works medical insurance. Good one Rob! Also a mention for Andrew the podiatrist who made me up a pair of insoles that corrected my wonky ankle enabling me to walk pain-free again.

So this brings me up to date more or less. I shall endeavour to post more frequently during 2015.


Majorca 2013 – part 5

Tuesday 25th June

The drive to Cap de Formentor was not my favourite drive on the island. The last couple of hundred yards especially were somewhat nerve-wracking as you are looking down several hundred feet into the Med one side, as you try and avoid cars coming towards you on the other. As my phobia about heights is most definitely kicking in I was immensely grateful to reach the car park. Around the church there were a few spot flycatchers but sadly no Eleanora’ s falcons. A brief sea watch, hampered somewhat by the height did get me several shearwaters but not enough to allow id of the birds. The bird in this photo looks like a diver but is the local subspecies of shag.

Shag from Cap de Formentor

Shag from Cap de Formentor

The afternoon was spent in Puerto Pollenca enjoying a decent meal at the water’s edge. On the walk back to the car we found a piece of sand sculpture, there was skill in the way the sand held together but I defy you to recognise Homer and Bart Simpson in it.
simpsons sand art

The Sand Sculpture

Wednesday 26th June

My first visit in over 15 years to the Bocquer Valley. The area at the bottom of the valley was greatly changed as the Pollenca bypass road now runs between the valley and the town. The steep path up to the finca is still there, as are the gates but gone are the keep out signs that were there in 1998.

The Finca

The Finca

Difficult to work out if anyone is still living in the finca but the land is still being worked and there is still a dog tied up by the side of the dwelling so someone is using the place. The first crag martin’s were seen as I rounded the building, along with numerous spuggies nesting in the roof.
The start of the Bocquer

The start of the Bocquer Valley

The walk up the valley to the sea was uneventful and apart from the martins and the occasional stonechat, largely bird-free. I did manage to find the slimiest bit of mud on the island and almost dumped the scope and camera in it as I found my feet sliding from under me. Thankfully the wildlife improved after this mishap. I found a few small lizards basking in the sun but they were way too quick to get a picture of, blackbirds and Sardinian warblers started to appear and I had a very distant raptor which I couldn’t id as it flew across the sun and I didn’t really want to blind myself. Settling down on a small rise above the beach I had a rest and scanned the waters with the scope, initially with little success, eventually I got focussed on the end of the cliffs in order to catch any birds flying across the end of the valley .
Top end of the Bocquer

The view of the sea at top of the valley

After a few dozen yellow-legged gulls had drifted west, a bird skimming the water showed up. The first shearwater I could id positively, a Balearic, having got my eye in I realised that there were several birds moving west. Most of them were Balearics but there were a few larger, slightly paler birds with them, which I initially put down as paler than usual Cory’s shearwater but was later told that they would have been the subspecies known as Scopoli’s shearwater. One to watch as I believe the split is going to be made so an armchair tick is possible.
After seeing the last of the shearwaters disappear to the west I made my way back down to the car without encountering any new species sadly. A quick bite to eat in Puerto Pollenca and then off to explore the s’albuferetta area. I got hopelessly lost and whilst I did see loads of woodchat shrikes, fan-tailed warblers and little egrets, I didn’t find the areas I had hoped for. This was largely due to the map I had not being up to Ordnance Survey standards when you were away from the main highways. I found out later that there were at least 2 roads I drove along that did not exist on the map, we are talking proper metallized roads not tracks, crazy. I realised I was lost when I reached a t-junction which should have been a crossroads according to the guidebook. Later on worked out that the crossroads was in fact about 5 miles away from the T junction. After mooching around for a while, stopping at likely spots and scanning the fields, I realised the road I was on was going to intersect with the Alcudia-Palma highway, well away from where I thought I was, so having got my bearings I got onto the motorway and headed back to the hotel.

Thursday 27th June

Another drive to the east and Son Mill, no great birding as it was a family day. Did find a couple of lizards scuttling about the rocks above the harbours edge. I managed to get a decent snap of the fish in the harbour today, I’d been foxed on other occasions as the camera would focus on the water surface, today it actually focussed on the fish. A very photogenic Audouin’s gull stayed put whilst I got the picture I wanted.

lizard at son moll

One of the lizards

Audouins gull son moll

Audouin’s gull

fish in harbour son moll

Fish at Son Moll

However the drive back got me a new bird, seen whilst driving but well enough to rule out the confusion species. A nice black kite, my initial id was red kite but as the bird turned to glide away I got a good look at the upper tail area and realised the feathers were a pale greyish hue rather than the lovely red of the red kite. Get in!

Hello world!

Well it’s finally happened, Snowy has got himself a blog. I’m going to document my failures and, hopefully, triumphs in birding from the start of 2013.

I’ve 2 goals I would like to achieve next year, one is to crack 200 species in Yorkshire for the year ( I know if I go to Spurn every weekend I’d do it easily but I can’t afford the fuel or the divorce), the other is to get my 265 species list for Yorkshire a good deal closer to 300 if I can.

So here’s to 2013.