Thursday, 4 October 2018

Quoth the Raven "Kelk and more"

Autumn birding can be hit and miss. By the very nature of migration the landscape is both emptying of spring migrants and filling up with autumn ones. The 'miss' days are when everything has left and nothing is arriving. You feel like you've seen it all before. The 'hit' days are unique, you never know what's coming and these really are the best.

Last weekend wasn't quite a classic but there were enough surprises it will stick with me for a while. The total star of the show was my first RAVEN for the area.

I initially picked it up circling over Little Kelk and watched it for over 10 minutes. Distant to begin with I was far from certain it was a Raven and would have been mightily frustrated if it disappeared quickly. Fortunately it swirled a bit closer and even had a Buzzard and Carrion Crow for company at one point - mucho helpful! Eventually it drifted off north toward Burton Agnes. Alas it was never close enough to hear it call. What a beast though.

Ravens are scarce but slowly increasing in Yorkshire, though still very hard to find in the east. Earlier in September one went through Tophill Low and High Eske / Leven, and it's possible (most likely?) the same one roaming around. If it is the same I wouldn't bet against it reappearing.

Supporting case were a female Scaup (first for many years), Merlin, adult Med Gull following cultivation with other small gulls, lots of Golden Plover, a movement of Pink-feet and four Jays. An all-white Woodpigeon had me scratching my head for a moment... not something I've ever encountered before!

29-30th September

Mute Swan - 6
Pink-footed Goose - 218
Canada Goose - 53
Teal - 250
Mallard - 180
Tufted Duck - 4
Scaup - 1 female
Red-legged Partridge - 15
Grey Partridge - 9
Little Grebe - 3
Cormorant - 5
Little Egret - 1
Heron - 12
Sparrowhawk - 2
Buzzard - 19
Kestrel - 9
Merlin - 1
Golden Plover - 420
Lapwing - 200
Mediterranean Gull - 1 adult
Great Black-backed Gull - 11
Woodpigeon - 1 completely white bird!?!
Kingfisher - 2
Swallow - 27
House Martin - c20
Meadow Pipit - 9
Grey Wagtail - 1
Chiffchaff / Blackcap - several
Coal Tit - 2
Jay - 4
RAVEN - 1 north over Kelk. First record.
Starling - flocks of 350 + 250
Linnet - 150

Juvenile Buzzard learning how to feed itself. I don't see them on the ground so often but this fella was relatively approachable.

Canada flock. From where I do not know. Double figures is unusual enough but there were 53 in this flock.

Golden Plover circling. They are very jumpy birds, once they get spooked and lift as one flock it can take many minutes for them to feel safe enough to come back down again. p.s. I don't think it was me that spooked them!

Gulls. Huge clouds of them. Erk!

Skein of Pinkfeet moving south. They don't half make a noise and so perfectly wild.

The yearlist lept over the 2017 total of 106... and still 3 visits to come!

105 Pink-footed Goose
106 Merlin
107 Mediterranean Gull
108 Scaup
109 Raven

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

August Dash

September report in press! A couple of blinders to report.

But first the report from August has finally got over the leaves on the track or whatever caused the delay... *cough*

29th - 31st August.

Gadwall - 4
Teal - 5
Mallard - 130
Tufted Duck - 9
Red-legged Partridge - 9
Little Grebe - 12
Cormorant - 11
Little Egret - 3
Heron - 13
Sparrowhawk - 4
Buzzard - 26
Kestrel - 10
Curlew - 2
Green Sandpiper - 6
Common Sandpiper - 1 at Wansford
Herring Gull - 280+
Kingfisher - 1
House Martin / Swallow - low treble figures
Yellow Wagtail - family of 4 together
Sedge Warbler - 2
Reed Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Coal Tit - 5
Goldfinch - 250 in one flock. A record count.
Linnet - 90
Yellowhammer - 10
Corn Bunting - 1 at Gransmoor

As noted previously, the yearlist ended August at 104.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

August Dart

I managed to squeeze a visit in at the end of August last week. Update to follow but the highlights were the first Common Sandpiper in four years and first Greenshank for three.

A few non-bird sights in photos...

1. Common Blue. By no means easy to find locally but there were several together at the edge of this field at Foston.

2. Common Darter. By far the most widespread of the dragonflies they are quite common along hedgerows.

3. The new view from Lowthorpe Bridge following heavy cut back of the bushes on the right hand side of the beck.

4. Ruddy Darter. At least I think it is. This one was along a track in Kelk.

5. Scary big 'shroom. No idea what. Found at the base of a big Beech tree. There was a few of them in a cluster together.

Yearlist climbed by a modest, but quality 3, to 104

102 Greenshank
103 Common Sandpiper
104 Corn Bunting

Monday, 16 July 2018

Flycatcher, spotted

Hot action!

Exhausting work for little birding reward. Luckily a Spotted Flycatcher was on hand at Harpham to save the weekend. My first locally since spring 2015. There were two other year ticks in the form of Great Black-backed Gull and Hobby.

14th-15th July

Mute Swan - pair with 1 'mid-sized' cygnet
Greylags - 40+
Canada Goose - 18
Gadwall - 2, unusual in summer (poss breeding?)
Tufted Duck - 1
Heron - 5
Sparrowhawk - 1
Buzzard - 10
Kestrel - 3
Hobby - 1
Oystercatcher - 2
Lapwing - flock of 40
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1
Great Black-backed Gull - 1
Stock Dove - flock of 10
Swift - flock of 300+ over Wansford
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2
'hirundines' - increased since May but still low nos
Yellow Wagtail - proven breeding at Kelk. 2 others noted.
Mistle Thrush - 1
Sedge Warbler - 5
Spotted Flycatcher - 1 at Harpham
Bullfinch - 1
Reed Bunting - several

Lots of butterflies around, including an abundance of whites (300+), plenty of Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock (double figures of each), also 1 Red Admiral, 2 Painted Lady, 1 Comma.

A Black-tailed Skimmer at Gembling is possible a new species locally for me (need to check!). A Common Darter was along Kelk Beck and several Hawkers (probably Migrant Hawkers but I'm not entirely sure) were seen. My recording of dragonflies is intermittent at best - must try harder.

1. Meadow Brown. A very common and widespread hedgerow butterfly.

2. Ringlet. Much as above although especially in July when they can be abundant.

3. Small White. In my notes I lazily write 'white sp' against counts of the three white butterfly species. I have never got the hang of quickly identifying them without peering closely and so it would take forever to sort them all out. I think all three are abundant but not sure which is the most so.

4. Yellow Wagtail. This male was food carrying and there was at least two others calling nearby. There's probably 3-5 pairs across the area, though this is the only proven one so far this summer.

5. Buzzard. Not the best month for seeing them but the weather seemed to encourage having a good old soar about, mostly very high up, though this one obliged lower-down enough for a photo.


099 Spotted Flycatcher
100 Great Black-backed Gull
101 Hobby

Friday, 13 July 2018


Here's a belated review of my visit in May. Alas I wasn't able to make a visit in June, it's been busy busy busy with one thing and another.

As reported at the time the highlight was a singing Cetti's Warbler for the second year.

19th and 20th May.

Mute Swan - 6
Greylag Goose - 24
Canada Goose - 10
Shelduck - 1
Gadwall - 4
Teal - 1
Mallard - 30+
Tufted Duck - 8
Red-legged Partrigde - 5
Grey Partridge - 2
Little Grebe - 2
Cormorant - 1
Little Egret - 2
Heron - 9
Sparrowhawk - 5
Buzzard - 13
Kestrel - 8
Oystercatcher - 1
Lapwing - 22
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1
Herring Gull - 40+
Cuckoo - 2 different males calling
Swift - 18+
Kingfisher - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 3
Sand Martin - plenty
Swallow - low numbers (maybe 20+)
House Martin - low numbers (15+)
Meadow Pipit - 1
Yellow Wagtail - 4
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 10
Reed Warbler - 3
Blackcap - widespread
Garden Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Whitethroat - 28 is a healthy total!
Chiffchaff - widespread
Willow Warbler - 5
Bullfinch - 1

Quite a few butterflies on the wing. Most numerous were Orange Tip (20+) followed by several Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, and whites and 3 Speckled Wood.

A male Four-spotted Chaser (dragonfly) was at Kelk Beck.

1. Canada Goose - proven breeding! They don't breed every year (or they hide well) and there's never more than a couple of pairs across the area. I guess they just prefer parks and built up areas.

2. Pair of Gadwall. There is a peak in sighthings every spring as birds disperse from wintering sites to search out breeding sites. They are hard to locate in summer though ducklings have been seen in a few years. My guess is they don't breed every year.

3. Sedge Warbler. The total of 10 males present is rather low.

4. Shelduck. Another species that has bred but doesn't particularly favour the area. The last known success was quite a few years ago now and they've become quite scarce.

5. And finally - Stock Dove. An understated but much underrated bird.

Yearlist additions:

094 - Swift
095 - Yellow Wagtail
096 - Cetti's Warbler
097 - Reed Warbler
098 - Garden Warbler

Monday, 21 May 2018

Cett Again

In May last year I located a singing Cetti's Warbler. He's back again in exactly the same spot. I guess my next goal should be to ACTUALLY SEE IT. To be fair it's pretty inaccessible / distant so I may have to admit defeat until another one pops up somewhere more accommodating. I'm not complaining :)

An otherwise fairly quiet weekend was mostly about checking in on some of the later migrants. It appears there are still arrivals to come, especially Swifts and hirundines. Full report of the weekend to come but instead here's a picture of the moon for no particular reason than it looked nice in Saturday's fading evening light.


Thursday, 10 May 2018

Lamp shade

An update on my previous post where I included a photo and comment about Lamprey's. Reality, it seems, is better than I thought due in no small part to my fishy observation skills. Credit to James & Chris on River Hull Birds Facebook group.

Apparently there are both River and Brook Lamprey present. The former is up to three times the size of the former.

I've set myself some homework reading 

This is the picture from the previous post. Most likely a Brook Lamprey.

This is probably the same one.

However, this one shows a River Lamprey on the right and a Brook in the middle. Size difference immediately obvious. Just above the two appears to be a Minnow, pointing right. I'm not sure why I thought the first photo was the best one and I didn't even notice the Minnow at the time. Always learning!

In other news, a Wheatear was on freshly seed-drilled field in Kelk last week... and therefore:

093 Wheatear