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.


Dawn Chorus – well almost!

The 5th of May dawned quite bright in Leeds with only broken clouds and a little sunshine, the drive down to pick up Ken was enlivened by a dog fox sauntering across the road in front of me. It looked in fine fettle as it hopped over the wall into the churchyard at St Michael’s.  Ken was at the appointed spot and less than 20 minutes after I left home we were off to Barden Bridge above Bolton Abbey for the ritual Dawn Chorus walk along the Strid.

5.30am was the start time and we made good time on the journey, although little in the way of birdlife was logged, we did have a hare by the side of the road as we crossed Blubberhouse’s Moor and then a roe deer ambled across as we passed the Strid Wood car park.

Reaching Barden Bridge, we saw Rob scanning the river from the bridge, whilst Sandra and her hubby Bob, and Andy K were already at the car park waiting for us. We had time for a quick brew before Richard turned up, and he’d managed to get his son Dominic to come along.

Our little party set off down the East bank of the River Wharfe, taking a clockwise circuit to cross the River at the Cavendish Pavilion and return to the cars via the West bank.  The early birds amongst us had already had grey wagtail and dipper but the first bird of note for the combined group was a drumming great spotted woodpecker away up the hill side, the bird flew off behind farm buildings rather quickly – I can’t believe it realised we were watching it from that far away! We’d several more great spots during the walk, including 3 birds in one tree, 2 males arguing over a female.

Even though the clouds had closed in, the sand martins were hawking over the river, and we had a green woodpecker fly across river in front of us, a pair of great spots were found on the other side of the river as well. Little else was seen until we reached the woods, within a few yards of entering the woods we had the first of what was to turn out to be many sightings of pied flycatchers, totalling nearly a dozen birds, males outnumbering females by 5 to 1. Whilst walking along the high path we also had views of a pair of treecreepers, a nuthatch that came down to our level almost and a red-legged  partridge ambling along the top of the wall. I had a momentary view of male redstart but sadly it was just too flighty and was away before the others got anything like a decent view.

Got to the stone hut and we had a sit down, a female roe deer delighted us by emerging from the undergrowth down the hill from us and we had good views as she nibbled away at the greenery. A siskin that came in to the scattered seeds was a newbie for me (I think).  After a suitable amount of time to recharge our batteries we were up and on the way again, Sandra and Bob back to their car as they’d got other business on whilst the rest of pressed on downstream. Rob gave everyone the jitters when he called wood warbler, sadly it turned out to be a very greenish willow warbler.  Down by the river we had numerous dipper and common sandpiper sightings, at least 2 birds of each species. One of the dippers was an incredibly scruffy individual, no brilliant white chest at all, just a mucky pale patch. Image

When we reached the bottom end of the valley of desolation we decided to venture up to the area around Laund House to have another look for redstart, this was successful for all but me, I was the one who didn’t get a look in this time. Still no little owl in the venerable oak tree outside Laund House, it’s an absolutely perfect home for them so why they  don’t turn up there I do not know. As there was a bit of a breeze up there we made our way back down to the river.

Over the river and after another sit down at the pavilion we started back up stream. Richard came into his own here, finding possibly 2 tawny owls, first one not far from the pavilion, the second (or maybe the first that relocated) a bit further up stream. The latter bird being exceptionally photogenic, even a duffer like me managed a photo.


Back by the bridge the area that in previous years held garden warbler and spotted flycatcher had only blackcaps and dunnocks today.  Not a bad morning even though for all we didn’t catch up with one of the target birds. As Rob had a commitment he couldn’t break he left us at the car park whilst we decamped to the Barden Moor layby and made our way up on to the moor, last year we got raptors and whinchat, this year we got cold and wet, the weather turned against us so we didn’t hang about, a few mipits and red grouse along with nesting greylags were the sole ticks from there.

Back at the cars we all agreed it had been a good mornings ramble, even if no wood warblers had been found. Ken and I drove back to Leeds, noting a 10 degree increase in temperature during the journey, by the time I dropped him off the sun was out with hardly a cloud in the sky.