Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Surprising Hobby

Review for August visit. The highlight was obviously the fabulous first SPOONBILL the area.

Not much more than a decade ago my list of 'herons' in the area was firmly stuck on 1 - Grey Heron. Fast forward and it has expanded to include Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Bittern, Glossy Ibis and Spoonbill. Not bad for an expanse of farmland with a few ditches!

The other highlights over the weekend were a family of Hobbies (2 adults, 2 juveniles together), a Red Kite drifting north, and a Spotted Flycatcher. The wind made observations difficult and I've no doubt I missed quite a bit.

Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th August

Mute Swan - 2
Greylags - 90+
Canadas - 3
Gadwall - 2
Mallard - 100+
Tufted Duck - 11 incl. 6 ducklings
Little Grebe - 9
Cormorant - 2
Grey Heron - 22 at Wansford
Spoonbill - 1 adult
Sparrowhawk - 1
Red Kite - 1 north late morning Sunday
Buzzard - 14
Kestrel - 11
Hobby - pair with 2 young Kelk
... +2 other sightings of adults, Harpham + Foston
Lapwing - 1
Green Sandpiper - 2
Common Gull - 50+ incl first juv. of year
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 20
Herring Gull - 300
Swift - 50
Sand Martin - 50+
Yellow Wagtail - 1
Mistle Thrush - 1
'warblers' - planty of young
Spotted Flycatcher - 1 at Lowthorpe
Coal Tit - 2
Golfinch - flock of 60+
Bullfinch - 1

The wind wasn't particularly favourable for butterflies but I did manage to note a Holly Blue, a Wall, 15 Painted Lady, 3 Red Admiral, 7 Speckled Wood, and a couple of dozen 'whites'. At least on Common Darter was seen along with 4 Migrant Hawker dragonflies.

Green Sandpiper making the most of a local muck heap. I saw it catch a couple of maggots.

One of the adult Hobbies. They can be very unobtrusive. This pair was unknown to me before the weekend. In fact I'd only seen one bird all year, in June. Previous years have often unfolded like this, nothing much happening all summer and a flurry of sightings before they leave in September.

Holly Blue. One of the species that always has its wings closed when perched.

Kestrel. Seem to be doing well in the last couple of seasons. This is not a bad shot for me.

In 30 years of birding around the area I have never seen a gull perched on any of the church towers. No one gave the script to this Lesser Black-backed Gull. Most odd.

Two additions to the year list bring it to a nice round ton.

099 Spoonbill
100 Spotted Flycatcher

Monday, 12 August 2019

Spoon fed


This super-fine adult was present on Saturday 10th.

In Yorkshire the vast majority of sightings are either passing along the coast, feeding along the Humber (especially at Blacktoft Sands RSPB) or in the Aire Valley (especially Fairbun Ings).

In recent decades the numbers visiting the county have increased. During the 90s a handful of sightings would be typical but in the last decade or so 10-40 sightings per year has been the norm (birds wander a lot so the actual number of birds will be less). Two or three birds arriving together is not entirely unusual now.

The game changer in Yorkshire is that breeding has taken place at Fairbun Ings since 2017 and the number of birds on the Humber has gone crazy this summer with a total count of 24 at Blacktoft Sands just a week ago!

In the last month there have been sightings at Filey and Spurn. Closer still, two juveniles spent some time at Tophill Low earlier this summer.

Unsurprisingly this is the first Spoonbill I've recorded in the area. There were two firsts last year, Raven (photos) and Glossy Ibis (photos).

More details and weekend eview to follow...

Friday, 2 August 2019

July noted

... and now to the birds.

Two main highlights. 1) Marsh Harrier finally added to the year list, and 2) Jays have probably bred for the first time since the early 1990s. Having said that, one probably summered at the same site in 2016 and 1-2 have been regular between September and March in most recent winters.

Saturday 27th - Tuesday 30th July

Mute Swan - 2
Greylag Goose - 31
Canada Goose - 4
Tufted Duck - 5
Red-legged Partridge - 3
Grey Partridge - 5
Little Grebe - 12
Cormorant - 1
Grey Heron - 17
Marsh Harrier - 1 'creamcrown'
Sparrowhawk - 1
Buzzard - 23 incl some juvs
Kestrel - 11
Lapwing - 2
Green Sandpiper - 1
Black-headed Gull - 80+ incl some juvs
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 7
Herring Gull - 37
Swift - 150+ over beck on 30th
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
House Martin - 150+ at Lowthorpe on 27th
Meadow Pipit - 1
Yellow Wagtail - pair with 3 young, Kelk
Goldcrest - young seen at 2 sites
Coal Tit - 7 at Lowthorpe incl 3+ juvs
Jay - 3 together, probably have bred locally
House Sparrow - 120+ in Little Kelk
Goldfinch - 45 flock Kelk Beck
Bullfinch - 1

One of several juvenile Buzzards noted. It's the 15th summer since the first pair settled in the area (2005). There's a minimum of 10 pairs this year, which I guess means 30-40 birds present at any one time.

House Sparrow pair at Harpham. The colonies at Harpham and Kelk are still healthy. They are very hard to count most of the time but during harvest they will gather together to feed on spilled corn. A whopping 120+ were doing just that in Kelk.

With only one addition to the year list, we're behind normal schedule and still to reach 100.

098 - Marsh Harrier

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Flutter By

A most typical July visit just gone, even allowing for the cranky weather... but we're all used to it, right? While I gather notes together here's some summer butterfly action.

Comma. The only one I've seen so far this year, though they're never easy to find.

Painted Lady. Lots of these beauties still to be seen across the area.

Peacock. I hadn't seen any up to this month but there were 20+ widespread.

Small Copper. Another first for the year. Another species that is not at all common in the area. This one was at Harpham.

Small Skipper. They look more like moths than butterflies. Underrated!

Birds to follow...

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Quest for Quail Failed

With the recent report of a Quail in Kelk there seemed no better idea than to trawl round the lanes at dusk listening out for them. Alas, over 3 hours doing exactly that on Friday & Saturday evenings drew a complete blank. Oh well. You've gotta be in the game to win etc. etc.

Highlights otherwise were a Little Ringed Plover and Hobby.

Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd June

Mute Swan - 1
Canada Goose - pair with 5 young
Tufted Duck - 1
Grey Partridge - 3
Cormorant - 3 flying E
Little Egret - 1 still at Wansford
Grey Heron - 18
Sparrowhawk - 1
Buzzard - 20
Kestrel - 10
Hobby - 1
Oystercatcher - 2 (failed breeders have usually left by now - so?)
Little Ringed Plover - 1
Lapwing - 10
Curlew - 2 flying N
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 5
Herring Gull - 30+
Barn Owl - 1
Tawny Owl - 2
Swift - 60+
Kingfisher - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2
Swallow/Martins - seemingly few about
Meadow Pipit - 2
Yellow Wagtail - 5
Mistle Thrush - 3
Sedge Warbler - 12
Reed Warbler -1

Garden Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 3
Willow Warbler - 3
Tree Sparrow - 13
Bullfinch - 2
Reed Bunting - 7


Bat sp - several at 4 'sites' on evening Quail searches
Roe Deer - 1

Painted Lady - 19
Red Admiral - 6
Small Tortoiseshell - 12
Speckled Wood - 10
'White' - 1

Common Blue Damselfy - 5

Little Ringed Plover adult scurrying around a much heap at Kelk. A pretty random/small location, strongly suggesting a return (autumn!) passage migrant.

A very fine view of a very fine Mistle Thrush. Understated yet sublty extravagant at the same time, if such a state is possible.

It seems to be a Painted Lady year - the commonest butterfly over the weekend. I've seen only a few in recent years.

Speckled Wood. Another common butterfly locally.

Trout in Kelk Beck. Heavily processed photo to get enough contrast!

Two additions to the year list, then. No sign of Marsh Harrier yet!

096 Hobby
097 Little Ringed Plover

Wednesday, 19 June 2019


A couple of recent sightings to report. My monthly visit is planned for this weekend.

5th June - Quail calling in corn field at Kelk

19th June - Red Kite drifted over Kelk. First record in June / summer.

Both new for the year...

094 - Quail
095 - Red Kite

Thursday, 23 May 2019

May Corn

Report for last weekend. Apart from the bumper return of warblers - see separate post 'Warblings' - it was not a particularly eventful weekend. The highlight was a singing Corn Bunting, they are now almost extinct as a breeding bird in the area, and the national picture is pretty grim too (BTO / RSPB).

Saturday 18th / Sunday 19th May

Mute Swan - 2
Greylags - 25
Canadas - 6 adults and 21 (16+5) young
Gadwall - 13
Mallard - 2 young noted
Tufted Duck - 10
Red-legged Partridge - 5
Grey Partridge - 2
Little Grebe - 2
Cormorant - 5
Little Egret - 1
Heron - 5
Sparrowhawk - 2
Buzzard - 12
Kestrel - 5
Coot - 4
Oystercatcher - 3
Lapwing - 24
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1
Herring Gull - 32
Swift - 30+ mostly at Harpham
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 2
Sand Martin - 70+
Swallow - 50+
House Martin - 30+
Yellow Wagtail - 6
Grey Wagtail - 2 at Wansford
Sedge Warbler - 2
Reed Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 'plenty'
Lesser Whitethroat - 2 'new'
Whitethroat - 46
Chiffchaff - 'plenty'
Willow Warbler - 11
Bullfinch - 2
Reed Bunting - 6 males Kelk Beck
Corn Bunring - 1 male nr Kelk

Still only a handful off butterflies about, the most notable was a Wall.

1. Canada Goose pair with 16 goslings. I gather a normal brood would be 4-7 eggs so this seems likely to be a 'creche' from 3-4 different pairs. Given the historically low breeding density in the area it's no surprise this is the first time I've encountered this behaviour here. It seems reasonable to assume this is a legacy of the unprecedented flock last autumn that peaked at 166 in October.

Corn Bunting singing.

Hare. Quite a few out in the open at the weekeend.

Reed Bunting male. Delightful birds although not the most inspiring song, to be fair.

Wall butterfly. The last couple of years haven't been great for butterflies, hopefully this summer will be a bit more favourable.

Just two addition for the year - the bunting and Swift.

092 - Swift
093 - Corn Bunting