Friday, 8 December 2017

Because November obviously

Oops, nearly forgot about writing up my last visit. Here goes;

Saturday 4th - Monday 6th November

Mute Swan - 6
Pink-footed Goose - 1170 (940N + 95S +135 on ground)
Greylag Goose - 220 (100+120)
Wigeon - 100+
Gadwall - 3
Teal - 60
Cormorant - 5
Great White Egret - 1
Little Egret - min 8 but probably at least 12
Grey Heron - 14
Sparrowhawk - 2
Buzzard - 11
Kestrel - 11
Peregrine - 1
Golden Plover 510 (90+420) may be a record count!
Lapwing - 175+
Snipe - 1
Woodcock - 2
Green Sandpiper - 2
'small gulls' - 2000+ flying to roost in evening
Mediterranean Gull - 1 immature on field in Kelk
Woodpigeon - 1200+
Kingfisher - 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 4
Grey Wagtail - 2
Pied Wagtail - 47 (29+18)
Fieldfare - 32
Redwing - 4
Jay - 4
'corvids' - 3500+ mostly Rook
Starling - 550+ flying south at dusk
Brambling - 2
Siskin - 11
Linnet - 150 (70+50+30)
Bullfinch - 3
Yellowhammer - 10

Part of a relatively huge flock of 420 Goldies near Gransmoor. Conversely there were not many Lapwing about.

Green Sandpipers together. November birds are usually here for the winter rather than passing through.

One of God-knows-how-many Little Egrets. My guess would be about 12, which would be the first double figure count, but it's possible there was as few as 8. I 'counted' 16 but some of these were probably double counted on different days. They move about quite a lot!

Close up Pied Wagtail. I encountered two decent sized gatherings totalling 47 which is close to a record. November is a good time for seeing 'flocks', though.

Always a delight to see Siskin in the area. We don't have a lot of suitable habitat (they favour Alders) so they usually move on quite quickly.

Two additions to the year list. The 'worst' ever year was 107, with only December left to beat that now.

105 Brambling
106 Mediterranean Gull

Friday, 10 November 2017

Geese Aloud

It's clear there are unprecedented numbers of Pink-footed Goose in Yorkshire this autumn. This RSPB article gives a peak count of 27,000 roosting on the Humber last month, compared to around 1-2000 through most of the last four decades.

What is fascinating about this rise is that previously the birds fed almost exclusively to the south and generally avoided the north bank, whereas there have been frequent reports of 'thousands' flying to and from the Wolds. What's less clear is exactly where they are going to feed - stubbles seem to be the preferred habitat.

Anyway, I'm in danger of rambling here :)

Records of Pinkies in the Kelk area over the last decade have mostly involved skeins, typically 50-100, flying south in autumn, with a much lesser northerly movement in spring. Only a handful of birds have been seen on the ground, never more than 6 at once.

Fast forward to last weekend. A whopping 940 flew north over Kelk and into the distant Wolds on Saturday lunchtime. Easily the most I've seen in a day here. Then on Sunday we found a flock of 135 feeding on stubbles near the beck. A further 95 flew south mid-afternoon.

Is this the new normal? Oh I do hope so, they're such wonderful creatures!

There are a few stubble fields so I will be keeping an eye out.

They did a fly-past at one point but soon came down again.

Feel free to count them for yourself.

Summary of other stuff coming soon...

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Great Third

An old friend returns for its 3rd winter!

Here's the news of its arrival from 2015 and 2016.

More later...

Friday, 29 September 2017

September... take 2

Autumn can be very quiet if the birds aren't moving. And so it was to be. Plenty of resident birds about just nothing particularly notable. No additions to the year list.

Even so, a Hobby will be the last of summer while 3 Jays is perhaps a sign of a winter influx. The flock of Goldies mentioned previously was still about. Lots of gulls following local cultivation. A late singing Chiffchaff obviously thought it was summer but the hirundines have that 'we're off' look about them - Godspeed brave travellers!

As with the last couple of years, there's been a bumper sized release of gamebirds on the Agnes estate - there could easily be 1-2000 Pheasants in the area if 330+ were easily visible.

23rd & 24th September 

Mute Swan - 5
Greylag Goose - 20+
Canada Goose - 1
Wigeon - 1
Teal - 40+
Mallard - 60+
Red-legged Partridge - 43 (tame birds from releases)
Grey Partridge - 18 in two parties
Pheasant - 330+ birds from local releases feeding in fields
Little Grebe - 1
Cormorant - 2
Heron - 24
Marsh Harrier - 1
Sparrowhawk - 2
Buzzard - 10
Kestrel - 13
Hobby - 1
Golden Plover - 150+ presumed same flock as early Sep
Lapwing - 3
Snipe - 1
Green Sandpiper - 1
'small gulls' - 3000+ following plough Harpham
Herring Gull - 250+ at Harpham
Great Black-backed Gull - 14 is a good count for early autumn
Kingfisher - 3
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 6
Swallow - 60+
House Martin - 100+
Meadow Pipit - 9
Grey Wagtail - 1
Mistle Thrush - 9
Chiffchaff - 1 singing, plus several others noted
Coal Tit - 1
Jay - 3
Corvids - 1000+ to roost, mostly Rook, some Jackdaws
Goldfinch - 38
Bullfinch - 1 is only the 4th record of the year!
Yellowhammer - flock of 10

Great Black-backed Gulls have been scarce recently. I'll have to check back but this is probably the largest groups I've seen (14, not all in photo) over the last decade.

House Sparrows. Kelk seems to be a good area for them. Between Little & Great Kelk there's probably 100-200 birds this autumn. I'm a big fan.

Local gamebird releases are a feature of September. After many years of not releasing Red-legs the estate has got back in to the idea. At least 43 were noted.

Robin, despite it not being Christmas.

No additions to the year list (104). Getting to the benchmark of 110 could be tricky.

September... take 1

Unable to make a visit in August I tried to compensate with two weekend during September - here's a summary of the first. Lots of birds about, though only Curlew was a year tick!

2nd-3rd September

Mute Swan - 13
Wigeon - 2 at Wansford
Gadwall - 2
Teal - 4
Mallard - 70+
Tufted Duck - 1
Grey Partridge - 31
Little Grebe - 9
Cormorant - 1
Little Egret - 1
Heron - 11
Marsh Harrier - 2
Sparrowhawk - 5
Buzzard - 23
Kestrel - 15
Hobby - 3
Golden Plover - 170+
Lapwing - 1 (just the one!)
Curlew - 1 flew W
Green Sandpiper - 1
'small gulls' - 3000+ together
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 10
Herring Gull - 150+
Great Black-backed Gull - 6
Feral Pigeon - 220+ at Gembling
Barn Owl - 1
Tawny Owl - 1
Swift - 1
Kingfisher - 3
Swallow - 100+
House Martin - 30+
Meadow Pipit - 3
Yellow Wagtail - 2
Grey Wagtail - 1 at Kelk
Mistle Thrush - 33 is the largest flock for years
Goldfinch - 50+

Collared Doves on wires. Less common than they once were but still a very familiar sight wherever there are houses and gardens.

Part of a flock of 3000+ mixed gulls following cultivation. East Yorkshire is very important for gulls in autumn with Common Gulls in particular occurring in vast numbers compared to most other regions.

Kestrel on electricity pole. Seems to have been a good year for them.

Red Admiral. I haven't been keeping a close eye on butterflies recently but it seems to have been a poor year.

Another year another successful swan family on the beck. Five cygnets is a decent result.

So, just the one addition...

104 Curlew

Friday, 4 August 2017


I wasn't able to visit in June due to work, but I just squeezed in a July visit last weekend. July can be a frustrating month for birding. Breeding is mostly over and birds generally go quiet and/or hide in the excessive undergrowth. Birds find little need to fly about much and flocking behaviour hasn't really kicked in.

Still, it was nice to be back and there were a few highlights - a calling Quail in Kelk on Sunday evening, my first Hobby of the year, and a surprise 4 Little Egrets. Three in a field at Gransmoor and one at Wansford. I commented in May it was the first for that month so this presumably being the same bird and present throughout would be the first to spend the summer here. Also this is the first time I've seen more than one in a day outside of winter. Rapid change!

29th-30th July

Mute Swan - 6
Greylag Goose - 120+
Canada Goose - 18 
Shoveler - 2
Grey Partridge - 10 a family party
Quail - 1 calling at dusk
Little Grebe - 3
Cormorant - 12
Little Egret - 4
Grey Heron - 27
Sparrowhawk - 4
Buzzard - 20+
Kestrel - 8
Hobby - 1
Lapwing - 170+
Green Sandpiper - 2
Great Black-backed Gull - 1
Swift - 150+
Kingfisher - 1
Yellow Wagtail - 2

British summer weather. Bright sunshine followed by black clouds.

Two year list additions...

102 Hobby
103 Quail

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Cetti Inevitable

Until a few years ago Cetti's Warbler were rare visitors to Yorkshire. They first bred in the UK as recently as the early-70s and have slowly spread north ever since. If I remember correctly the first Yorkshire breeding record was at Tophill Low in the last decade.

In the last couple of breeding seasons there appears to have been a mini-explosion in E.Yorks with multiple singing birds at Hornsea Mere and around Tophill Low plus sites along the Humber. The other Yorkshire 'zone' is the established wetland reserves in West/South Yorkshire.To the north they are still rare.

Cetti's Warblers are notoriously hard to see but fortunately their call is loud and distinctive. Here's a YouTube video of one at Tophill Low last year.

Their habitat choice appears to be similar to Sedge/Reed Warbler and as such most of the reports come from reserves with abundance of this restricted habitat, and where birders hang about most often. While early colonisers are likely to find the best habitat on such reserves as they spread it's inevitable they will find smaller chunks of habitat to their liking.

With a small number of Sedge Warbler, mostly along Kelk Beck, and a smaller number of Reed Warblers, it has been on my mind to listen out for Cetti's for a while now.


Sure enough a Cetti's Warbler singing on my patch this month! To be honest I thought it would take a few more years but I'm not complaining! Sadly, yet equally inevitable, I failed to actually see the bird, only to hear its song.

And on that note, here's a summary of what was otherwise a relatively unremarkable May weekend.

Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st May

Mute Swan - 6 adults incl. pair with 4 cygnets
Canada Goose - 4 adults incl. pair with 3 goslings
Gadwall - 8
Tufted Duck - 12
Little Grebe - 2
Little Egret - 1 at Wansford
Heron - 7
Buzzard - 12
Kestrel - 2
Oystercatcher - 3
Lapwing - 18
Common Gull - 120+
Lesser Black-backed Gull -5
Cuckoo - 3 calling males
Swift - 30+
'Hirundines' - still more to come
Meadow Pipit - 3
Yellow Wagtail - 5
CETTI'S WARBLER - 1 in song
Sedge Warbler - 9
Reed Warbler - 2
Garden Warbler - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 4
Whitethroat - 21
Bullfinch - 2 males

A couple of photos. This Little Egret was at Wansford. I had my first April record last year, and this one represents my first May record. How times change!

Sedge Warbler being relatively showy, helped by the low level of plant growth. They get a lot harder to see from now on.

Year list additions...

096 Cuckoo
097 Swift
098 Garden Warbler
099 Reed Warbler
100 Tawny Owl
101 Cetti's Warbler