Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Not A Lot Nov

My penultimate visit for 2018 was last weekend. Moderately quiet for birds, but the mild weather certainly made life easy for me.

Highlight was 2 Whooper Swans flying south. Also Treecreeper for the year list, 3 egrets back for the winter, 4 Green Sandpipers, and plenty of winter Thrushes.

Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th November

Mute Swan - 3
Whooper Swan - 2 adult flew south on Sunday
Greylag Goose -70
Canada Goose - 90
Wigeon - 1
Teal - 80
Mallard - 30
Red-legged Partridge - 28
Grey Partridge - 2
Cormorant - 1
Little Egret - 3
Grey Heron - 10
Sparrowhawk - 2
Buzzard - 17
Kestrel - 6
Golden Plover - 8
Lapwing - 130 in 3 flocks
Green Sandpiper - 4
Herring Gull - 28
Great Black-backed Gull - 1 adult
Kingfisher - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 3
Skylark - 80+ in loose flock
Meadow Pipit - 3
Grey Wagtail - 2
Fieldfare - 320
Redwing - 140
Mistle Thrush - 1
Coal Tit - 1
Treecreeper - 1
Jay - 1
Tree Sparrow - 50 in two flocks (30+20)
Linnet - 30
Bullfinch - 3
Yellowhammer - 20
Reed Bunting - 6

Also noted...

Roe Deer - 20 in groups of 2-5
Peacock - 1 at Kelk Beck on Sunday, is very late for any butterfly!

1. Common Buzzard. This was after sunset hence the camera struggling to focus. This one was particularly dark (not just my perception in the disappearing light!) and should be distinctive if it hangs around.

2. Autumn leaves at Lowthorpe church.

3. Redwing. Part of a 100+ flock and a very good weekend for them. Several recent autumns have been pretty poor for winter thrushes, especially Redwing.

4. Roe Deer. A quite incredible total of 20 over the weekend gives some idea how many there are out and about.

5. Sunset. Yikes!

Two additions to the year list, then

112 Treecreeper
113 Whooper Swan

Thursday, 25 October 2018

October Chat

Report from last weekend. Highlight was obviously the Raven but other decent finds included a Stonechat, two Brambling, a Peregrine and a Water Rail (dead, unfortunately).

Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st October

Mute Swan - 8
Canada Goose - 166 (previous record count 53, last month!)
Teal - 100+
Mallard - 40+
Tufted Duck - 3
Red-legged Partridge - 20
Grey Partridge - 9
Pheasant - 80 flushed by beaters from a small piece of cover.
Little Grebe - 3
Cormorant - 7
Egret - none!
Heron - 7
Sparrowhawk - 1
Buzzard - 15
Kestrel - 11
Peregrine - adult west over Gransmoor
Water Rail - 1 dead on roadside btw Brigham-Wansford
Golden Plover - 100+
Lapwing - 360 in 3 flocks (80+80+200)
Green Sandpiper - 1
Great Black-backed Gull - 3
Barn Owl - 2
Kingfisher - 2
Grey Wagtail - 3
Stonechat - 1
Fieldfare - 8
Redwing - 7
Mistle Thrush - 2
Jay - 4
Corvid - 2500 rosting, approx 2k Rook, 500 Jackdaw
Raven - 1
Brambling - 2 at Kelk


Stoat - 1
Squirrel - 1

Red Admiral - 1
Small Tort - 1
'Whites' - 5

Common Darter - 1
Migrant Hawker - 1

Buzzard in flight.

Aftermath of a Sparrowhawk attack.

Gulls following seed drill.

Stonechat. This is the best view I've had of one locally. For some reason they have all been quite distant before. Still quite scarce here, it's only the fifth bird I've recorded over the last decade. All have been in autumn.

Water Rail as roadkill. Not a species I've ever seen dead before. They are very small, roughly Blackbird sized. Given the fresh condition I'd guess it was less than a day dead.

Two additions to the yearlist. Shaping up nicely with two visits left.

110 - Brambling
111 - Stonechat

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Raven's Return

East Yorkshire has a resident RAVEN. The one I saw in September was in Kelk again last weekend.

Bonus: this time with photo evidence!

Also bonus: it was close enough to hear its croaking calls.

In the previous post I noted: "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."

Photos from Tophill & HE/Leven show a damaged right-wing feather which can be seen in the photos below. It *IS* the same bird *AND* it reappeared!

The views last month were distant. Not this time. On Saturday morning I caught sight of it moving east over Little Kelk then it appeared to drop down on to fields out of sight. When I got back to where it came down it had just lifted, did three loops around overhead before heading out of sight north over the wood.

On Sunday, in the afternoon, I encountered it again a mile or so to the south. This time it surprised me by emerging from a tree canopy pretty much as I was directly below. Again it circled about for a bit, made a lot of noise, before heading off purposefully south-east toward Foston.


EDIT: the following is a summary of E.Yorks Raven reports published in Yorkshire Bird Reports 2005-2014. All seem to be fly-over reports with none hanging around, although some of the 2008 birds might have been the same individual wanderer.

2005: none
2006: Spurn (Nov)
2007: Flamborough (Jul & Oct), North Cave (Nov)
2008: Nafferton (Feb), 7 records along the coast during the year
2009: Flamborough (2 together, Oct)
2010: North Cave (Apr & 2 together May)
2011: North Cave (Feb)
2012: none
2013: none
2014: none

KROAK! Look at that monster beak!

Profile shot.

And up...

Head/throat and tail shape are distinctive.

A review of the rest of the weekend to follow soon.

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 http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/project/Projects/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.showFile&rep=file&fil=SMURF_lamprey.pdf 

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

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Highlight for April was undoubtely my 4th sighting of Osprey (3 in spring, 1 autumn). Apart from that it was all about arriving migrants. The weather was warm and many birds would have been fresh-in. However, while there was a good range of species clearly a huge number of birds are still to arrive. No Yellow Wagtails, only 1 Sedge Warbler and 2 Whitethroat.

Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd April

Mute Swan - 38 together at Wansford
Greylag Goose - 20+
Canada Goose - 4
Wigeon - 1 female Kelk Beck, with very ragged wings
Gadwall - 22 across 6 sites
Teal - 1 male Kelk Beck
Tufted Duck - 23
Red-legged Partridge - 7
Grey Partridge - 2
Little Grebe - 2
Cormorant - 1
Little Egret - none
Grey Heron - 5 incl 1 flying NE very high up
Osprey - 1 north over Harpham (my 4th record, 3rd in spring)
Marsh Harrier - 1 male
Sparrowhawk - 3
Buzzard - 17
Kestrel - 10 incl 2 together (see photo)
Peregrine - imm. trying/failing to catch a Feral Pigeon
Oystercatcher - 1
Lapwing - 30+ mostly being territorial
Curlew - 1 over Lowthorpe
Green Sandpiper - 2 at Wansford, prob wintering birds
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 6
Herring Gull - 130+
Cuckoo - 1 calling
Barn Owl - 1
Little Owl - 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 5
Sand Martin - 17
Swallow - 30
House Martin - 9
Meadow Pipit - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 19
Lesser Whitethroat - 8
Common Whitethroat - 2
Chiffchaff - 14
Willow Warbler - 7
Linnet - 2 flocks totalling 150 (90+60)

Quite a few Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell about plus a bonus Brimstone.

Very high water levels at Kelk Beck. Not normal for April.

Greylag. Presumably there was a partner sitting nearby.

Grey Partridge, distant.

This pair of Kestrels were patiently watching a tractor harrowing the field.

I think this is a River Lampreys (Lampetra fluviatilis) but not 100% sure. There was a small shoal (if that's the right word?) of them in a few metre stretch of beck. I've certainly never seen them around here before. It looks the right kind of habitat.

Yearlist climbed significantly...

079 Swallow
080 Lesser Black-backed Gull
081 Curlew
082 Blackcap
083 Whitethroat
084 Lesser Whitethroat
085 Willow Warbler
086 Osprey
087 House Martin
088 Sand Martin
089 Peregrine
090 Sedge Warbler
091 Little Owl
092 Cuckoo

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Beast be gone

With the beastly-east-ness gone it was business as usual last weekend, give or take the odd Glossy Ibis. Time, then, for a March visit summary.

Lots of fields have surface water. With a bit of luck there will be some patches still left in April that attracts the odd migrant wader. Recent springs have been very lean but Greenshank, Ruff, Dunlin would be likely candidates. But I digress...

Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th March

Mute Swan - 35 at Wansford, +3 elsewhere
Greylag Goose - 18
Canada Goose - 8
Shelduck - 2
Gadwall - 10
Teal - 110 incl flocks of 60 and 40
Tufted Duck - 28 ...and surprisingly a year tick!
Little Grebe - 1
Great Crested Grebe - 1 is the first since 2010
Cormorant - 1
Little Egret - 3
Heron - 11
Marsh Harrier - 1
Sparrowhawk - 2
Buzzard - 24
Kestrel - 12
Oystercatcher - 4
Golden Plover - 90
Lapwing - 20
Snipe - 26
Woodcock - 3
Stock Dove - flock of 12
Barn Owl - 7 ... the most in one visit for a long time
Kingfisher - 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 4
Skylark - 30+
Meadow Pipit - 3
Fieldfare - 375 in four flocks, max 170
Redwing - 1
Chiffchaff - 2 singing
Linnet - flock of 50+
Bullfinch - 2
Reed Bunting - 6

And now some images.

1. Flock of Fieldfare moving overhead. Although less than in February the total of 375 is still high.

2. Great Crested Grebe at Wansford. Since the demise of Kelk Lake there hasn't been a single record in the area, the last being 2010. Spring always used to be the most likely time to find one.

3. Marsh Harrier. What a stunner. I didn't notice this until it was almost overhead - eyes to the skies!

4. Shelduck on field flood. Odd pairs turn up in spring but then usually disappear after a month or so. Whether they (attempt to) breed every year is unknown but I have seen young in two different years.

5. Starlings hanging out on their own social media. Glossy, yes. Ibis, not at all.

Yearlist update

072 Chiffchaff
073 Glossy Ibis
074 Gadwall
075 Oystercatcher
076 Tufted Duck
077 Shelduck
078 Great Crested Grebe

Monday, 26 March 2018

Eye Bliss

Well this wasn't in the script. I almost should know better by now than to be surprised by what turns up, but come on, this is getting ridiculous :)

GLOSSY IBIS in the area. The bird's location is sensitive to disturbance so I'll decline to say where it was for now.

The timing of my visit felt encouraging. I left work on Friday with a 'good weekend' feeling about it. Not least because of the weather. A week earlier and I would have been battling a bitter east wind, the so-called 'Mini Beast from the East' following the 'proper' beast's snow in late February. Instead there was calm, sunshine and double digit temperatures. Spring!

Even so, a relatively unremarkable Saturday unfolded with little to show for it other than the first singing Chiffchaff of the year. Seemingly out of nowhere a strange 'small dark heron' lifted itself 'crow-like' and flew around a bit before coming down nearby.

My camera was on as I was trying to take a picture of something else at the time and fortunately I managed a couple of shots before it vanished. It was obviously a Glossy Ibis. What a way to liven up a weekend.

Glossy Ibis are nationally scarce visitors to the UK from southern Europe. Formerly very rare here, something of an explosion in arrivals has occured following the growth of breeding numbers in Spain and France. Regular influxes have occured since 2007, leading to a pair breding in Lincolnshire in 2014.

In Yorkshire they are still a rare bird. Following a record of four together in 1997 there were none at all in the first decade of the century until 2009, and since then one or two have been seen annually. Autumn is the most likely time for one to arrive, though almost any time is possible. Coastal areas and big wetland reserves dominate the locations of sightings.

Summary of the weekend (7 new species for the year) to follow...