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.


Three Foot (It) and One…. trips that is

I’ve only just found time to write up the first few days of the year. I’ve done 3 Foot It walks and had 1 trip out by car.

The biggest Foot It walk was on Jan 1st when like a fool I walked from home to Adel Dams, taking in Eccup Reservoir and Eccup Whin along the way. I was originally only going to the reservoir but got carried away. Total mileage for the day in the order of 9 miles, with no snacks or drinks, pillock that I am.

The reservoir  did the trick getting the list off to a flying start, 3 gull species, 3 ducks and goosander along with meadow pipit and redwing in stubble on the way down to the water’s edge. Couldn’t find willow tit here though, which was annoying, I had this area down as my best bet for them.

Eccup Whin delivered both buzzard and red kite, along with pheasant and fieldfare whilst the corvids were also much in evidence.

Adel Dams was reached just as a shower of rain came over, thankfully the hide wasn’t too full. Birds here included kingfisher (both sexes), nuthatch, sparrowhawk and great spotted woodpecker. The latter two giving me my best photo op yet.


The woodpecker kept itself flattened against the bough the whole time the sparrowhawk was around, the minute the hawk flew so did the woodpecker, but in the opposite direction.

The 2nd of Jan. saw Ken and I driving down to Calder Wetlands to grab the scaup and the long-tailed duck for our respective year lists, along the way adding more waterfowl. We didn’t visit Pugney’s, which was a mistake as a glaucous gull was reported not long after we left the wetlands.


We then moved on the Fairburn Ings and a stroll around the boardwalk by the visitor centre allowed us to add tree sparrow, willow tit and siskin to the haul. We also managed a covey of red-legged partridge from  the Ledsham Road, Newton Lane being flooded close by the fishing pool.

9th of Jan and my second Foot It wander, this time a bit closer to home, the Gorge and Upper Lake at Roundhay Park. Managed to find more nuthatches, at least 4 birds along with some of the finches that I didn’t see on the 1st, namely green, gold and chaff. Upper Lake had the usual mallard and tufted duck, along with a family party of mute swans. A movement in a conifer got me on to the second jay of the year, the first seen from the car driving back from Birmingham on the 6th. I skirted the northern edge of Waterloo Lake and was  amazed to find a great crested grebe back on the lake, much the earliest record I have for the park.

13th of Jan and my second trip to Roundhay Park, this time in the company of Sheila, my wife. The usual suspects were seen in the normal places, this time though I managed to add Canada goose and pied wagtail to the Foot It list, there were also 3 great crested grebes on the lake. The Gorge area was largely bird free, just a few robins and blue tits. Still lacking collared dove and long-tailed tit for the Foot It challenge.

Later in the day I found a lesser black-backed gull by sitting watching the gulls flying over our house on the way to roost at Eccup Reservoir , and a late afternoon amble across the Allerton Fields allowed me to catch up with another flock of fieldfares and also find some rooks, much closer to home than I expected.

The Foot It challenge species list now stands at 49 species. Leaving me to find 11 more to hit my target