22 September 2010

Lord of the Jynx (Torquilla)

This evening I received the following snippet of info. A pretty well known British Birdin' celeb' has been giving it some proper smack induced story telling on a 'Home Counties' Birdin' Yahoo Group (please note, to avoid the threat of (im)possible legal action, I have refrained from giving the authors name -

''This really has been one of the birding events of all-time in Buckinghamshire - such a well-loved, well-enjoyed and cripplingly-showing rarity(?). Once again, I ensured its safety until dark, making sure it roosted safely in its chosen Beech tree for a fourth night (a bird such as this could be a sitting target for a local Sparrowhawk). It flew to roost at 1915 hours and kept on feeding until just seconds before. It must be really heavy by now after consuming so many ants. As darkness fell, it was another calm evening, although quite cloudy, with a light SSW wind - pretty ideal leaping conditions - but not as ideal as the last two moonlit nights.''

To be honest, the above is pretty sad! It's like something bleedin' Tolkien would write! One wonders if he knocked one out and gave it a secure circle of salty water to protect it from demons and goblins! I have visions of this particular character dressed in some middle earth garb, armed with a bow & arrow, furtively keeping watch for marauding Sprawks from the depths of a small Hawthorn bush, eye(s) darting left, right and...left! All said & done tho', credit where it's due....

15 September 2010

The year-list hits 280.

Above - Coton Lakes, Warwickshire - Leach's Oasis!

Since my last load of incoherent drivel on here, I've managed to add another four species to my list of birds seen this year...

  • Arctic Warbler - Holme, Norfolk - (277)

  • Western Bonelli's Warbler - Bempton, East Yorkshire - (278)

  • Wilson's Phalarope - Gibralter Point, Lincolnshire - (279)

  • Leach's Petrel - Coton Lakes, Warwickshire - (280)

Below are a series of images of characters 'papped' during the above excursions:

8 September 2010

Starting to lose the will...

Tuesday 7th September saw a juv Red-necked Phal' (274) arrive at Draycote Water in Warwickshire, so after work, I caned it down there and added it to the year list! A small swarm of 6 Black Terns (275) were also added (146 mile round trip!). Wednesday 8th September had been booked as an holiday off work due to promising weather conditions & in the anticipation that something a bit good would turn up. Early morning saw me at my least favourite local Derbyshire hot-spot, Ogston Reservoir, collecting Little Stint (276) for the year. A glance at the pager revealed the continued presence of an Ortolan Bunting at Spurn - tempting but with it's supporting cast already under my belt, I decided to hang on a little longer and see if anything else was discovered by the guys at Spurn or even Flamborough so I headed up on to Beeley Moor in search of another species that had eluded me this year so far. It was while eagerly scanning the moorland rocks and fence posts for my quarry that news of a Red-throated Pipit & Red Breasted Flycatcher had been located at Spurn. I gave the moors another 40 minutes and then decided to head up to Spurn. Minutes later, another message announced that the Pipit was in fact just a Tree Pipit but the Fly' & Bunting were still showing! I left Derbyshire and headed NE anyway but as I left Hull and started the last c20 mile, the pager declared that there was no further sign of the Flycatcher! Hmmm, two down, one to go, surely the Ortolan would still be present, it had been showing all morning in the same spot apparently! Arriving at Spurn at c3.15pm, I headed straight towards the narrows but at the Obs. I was informed by 'The Gatekeeper' that the Bunting had gone missing and hadn't been seen for a few hours!!!! I decided to take his advice and not hand over my three gold nuggets and instead parked up at the Canal and tried to dig out some migrants for myself - A lone Pied Flycatcher was the only bird I saw! Stood all alone with the wind gently nudging the grasses and bushes, a milky sunlight giving the area a strange sepia colour and no other humans within sight, one would perhaps think that it was a scene of magical bliss but on the contrary, it was confusingly eerie and depressing so I Headed to The Crown & Anchor area to find civilisation! Cliff Farm held two Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Redstarts, 3 Garden Warblers, a Whitethroat & a Blackcap! Thrilling stuff eh?!

With thoughts of home starting to insidiously slip into my mind, I made one last incongruous concerted effort to bag something good and decided to have a look around Sammy's Point in the vain hope of relocating the RBF. This area was a little better for migrants with c15 Redstarts, 10+ Spotted Flycatchers, Wheatears and Garden Warblers but alas no RBF (A further disappointment came in the form of a pager message as I arrived at Sammy's saying that a Barred Warbler was about to be released at Crown & Anchor car-park, the exact spot I had left some 5 minutes before!). Feeling pretty dejected and f*cked off, I headed home. As I hit the M62, I dropped 'Definitely Maybe' into the CD player and with just me in the motor, nothing to rush home for and needing to calm down, I took it steady for once! £40 worth of fuel down the bleedin' drain! The final kick in the balls tho' was to come when I got home, a cursory glance at the pager revealed a message stating that the Ortolan was still present around Post 47 at dusk..........the pager hit the wall...at pace!

Sammy's Point at dusk...so f*ckin' what!

5 September 2010

Saturday 4th September...

Really can't be arsed to write a load of drivel about another utter dogshit day in the f*cked up county of Y**kshire so i'll keep this brief - early morning at Flamborough: dipped Olivaceous Warbler, meagre compensation gleaned in the shape of two year-ticks - Barred Warbler (272) & Rosefinch (273). F*ck all else. Drove to Grimston: dipped Booted Warbler. Arrived home to discover a Great Snipe had been found at Spurn.

The biggest Barred Warbler twitch in history??!

Rick Moranis (of 'Honey I shrunk the kids' fame) looks pretty confused after the shout of Barred goes up only to reveal a House Sparrow!!

Even Tony Christie had had enough!

August Bank Holiday Weekend (part two)

...After Saturdays events, I chose to spend the Sunday at home and give my neglected other half my undivided attention. There was nothing doing in the UK to tempt me away and I swiftly squeezed back into the good books! Weather conditions were however looking good for a sea-watch so Monday morning saw Mikipedia and myself being battered by a very brisk northerly at Cley, Norfolk! Very quickly we decided against this option and headed to Sheringham to join the throng of birders in the shelter. Meeting up with Joe Ray & Matt Meehan, we gave it a good couple of hours but despite other birders in the shelter claiming to have seen all sorts of goodies, we only scored with an handful of Bonxies and Arctic Skuas! With news hitting me like a bleedin' steam train that a CITRINE WAGTAIL was being watched at Ogston Res', Derbys, AN EIGHT MINUTE DRIVE FROM MY HOUSE IN TIBSHELF(!), I was inevitably getting itchy feet and considered heading back to the midlands there & then. But with the bird already into it's 3rd day of residence and Mike's reassuring words that 'it'll be there when we get back, it's a banker!'' we decided to stack the seawatching and head back to Cley in order to bag ourselves a Short-toed Lark. The 300yd walk along Blakeney Point from Cley Coastguards was in reality a 1/2 mile slog! A few birders were milling around looking for the bird but it hadn't been seen for a while. Some came, had a brief 5 minute scan and then left, some hung about and wandered around the area the bird had last been seen in an attempt to put it up, some just had a bit of a kip and others just casually chatted amongst themselves, appearing to be not that bothered if they saw the bird or not. For me tho, I wasn't ready for giving up, I wanted to bag the bird and bomb back to Derbys! After a while, not sure how long, our attention was drawn to a bloke, waving his arms around and gesturing for us that he'd got the bird! We ran, well walked fast, over to him but again, the bird had flown and had been lost to view. Very quickly, the enthusiasm abated again and after a further hour or so, I was about to do one, having had enough of waiting/searching but with a very casual last scan east I picked up a very pale lark flying back onto the shingle ridge about 600yds from us! We once again 'walked fast' over to the spot where the bird had appeared to land but before we could locate it on the ground, it flew again and headed back onto the marsh south of the bank! One intrepid birder ventured over the channel and again put the bird up but this time it flew further south and lost to view. With only flight views gained, I really did want another look but with the Citrine Wag appearing on the pager, I opted to leave and head home...Two & half hours later we were at Ogston! The bird had been last seen c45 minutes prior to our arrival. Feeling pretty confident that it would show again (not!), we gave it almost two hours but alas there was no further sign by 8pm! Mike HAD to get back home to get some work done so the curtains were drawn on a pretty disappointing weekend.
The next morning, I arrived at Ogston at 6am and had another hour or so searching in vain for the Wagtail but as is beginning to become routine, there was no sign of it! To top it all off, Wednesday morning I received a letter from 'The Law' informing me that one of their kind boys in blue had gatzo'd me Saturday morning in Hull doing 51mph in a 40mph zone on a dual carriageway! On reflection of the weekend, that guy was a lot better than me at being in the right place at the right time!

Above - A sea-watching Blakeney Hobbit utilising Joe's knee!