Sunday, 31 October 2010

A few Costa Rica images from a friend

A good friend of mine Mark W Larson went over to Costa Rica earlier this year and recently sent me a couple of photos that I thought I'd share with everyone (with his permission!), these images brought back some fond memories for me.

Firstly my favourite of Marks photos, the Sunbittern who's range stretches from south Mexico to NW Peru and Amazonian Brazil. Within Costa Rica the Sunbittern is a resident on the Caribbean and south Pacific slopes, mostly in the foothills and adjacent lowlands up to around 5000ft. In display the Sunbittern spreads it's wings, with it's richly coloured upper surface tilted forward, and fans out its raised tail to fill the gap between them, thereby forming a semicircle of plumage, in the middle of which its head stands. The Sunbittern prefers fast-flowing rocky rivers in addition to slow-flowing creeks, or swamp pools generally in forested country. Usually sedentary or in pairs they jump from rock to rock and wade in the water catching small amphibians, crayfish, crabs and insects. Always a popular bird high up on most peoples 'most-wanted' list.

Equally as impressive and just as popular as the Sunbittern, Boat-billed Heron. This nocturnal foraging Heron frequents wooded riverbanks, swamp and pond margins, estuaries and mangroves and by day roosts in groups of up to 50 birds in trees overhanging water.

A fairly common resident (locally) throughout the dryer Guanacaste lowlands south to around the Rio Tarcoles area of Costa Rica the Double-striped Thick-knee is an interesting bird - like many members of the Burhinidae family. Active principally at night on savanna's, pastures and arable farmland this large bird rests quietly and loafs in small loose flocks during the generally warm days. Double-striped Thick-knees are generally shy and wary, often crouching and freezing when alarmed, preferring to run away rather than fly off. In typical fashion Double-striped Thick-knees, like their global cousins make a nest scrape on bare open ground, within which they lay 1 or 2 eggs.

Other pictures sent through included a White-necked Jacobin and the beautiful Dione moneta poeyii butterfly

Saturday, 30 October 2010

4x Rough-legged Buzzard and another Great Grey Shrike

I've seen several Rough-legged Buzzards in the UK and Europe over the last few years but was a little disappointed to have missed out on the Buckton bird a couple of weekends ago, a bird making up part of an obvious influx of this beautiful Buteo into the U.K with at least 31 and 36 birds reported in the country in the last two weeks. My friend in Norway has recently broken the Lista Bird Observatory day record of Rough-legged Buzzard with 121 birds through in a day (beating previous day record of 110 birds that has stood since the 1970s).

Last week I saw an incredible set of Rough-legged Buzzard photos posted on the Yorkshire pages on Birdforum, taken by Renton Charman taken up at Sleddale/Commondale area of Yorkshire/Cleveland. Apparently there was at least 4 birds in the area so when my wife indicated she'd like to go on a trip to Whitby I didn't hesitate - If I'd have known it was the goth weekend I may have changed my mind! Whitby was rammed! A pheasant flying through the centre of town was a little bit of a surprise! After a very nice fish and chip lunch we headed onto the moors for a pleasant drive.

Renton Charman has very kindly allowed me to use his excellent Rough-legged Buzzard pictures (below). Please note that these images are © Renton Charman 2010 and are not for reproduction without the permission of Renton Charman.

We made out way up through the moorland seeing a couple of Red Grouse and lots of Chaffinch, Redwing and Fieldfare. Rounding the corner west of Commondale we saw a group of cars and pulled up amongst them. Within seconds I was onto a Rough-legged Buzzard as it came over the nearby ridge - excellent I thought, got it, and without having to wait for an age. Whilst on this bird a sudden flash indicated a Peregine was present and for a few seconds the pair of birds hustled with each other, before both dropping over the ridge.

A few moments later a Common Buzzard got up in front of us, with another 2 Common Buzzards behind us, then a Rough-legged Buzzard joined the Common Buzzard in front of us, followed by another, then another, then another, these birds were then joined by two Peregrine Falcons! It was difficult to know where to look!

The Rough-legs were gliding, soaring, hovering and hunting over the moors, occasionally coming fairly close too. In direct comparison to the Common Buzzards the Rough-legs looked larger and longer winged with pale (buffy) heads and white inner tail. They are truly spectacular birds. 3 of the birds were clearly juvenile/1st year birds with the fourth bird being an adult. Talking to a few local birders it is considered likely that there may be as many as 6-8 birds in the various valleys in the area. If these birds stick throughout the winter I'll definitely be going back for further looks. Great birds and great landscape.

In keeping with recent trends I also had more distant views of another Great Grey Shrike, this time sat atop a distant tree! This is my third Great Grey Shrike of the Autumn (I could have had a lot more if I'd gone for all of those around Flamborough at the end of September/beginning of October instead of trying to find something rare!).

Friday, 29 October 2010

Millions of Geese!

I've spent the last two days over in a generally windy and occasionally wet Lancashire, the main feature being the thousands upon thousands of Pink-footed Geese - a truly spectacular sight watching these birds fly to and from their roost sites. One minute the sky was empty, the next the sky was black as about 20,000 came up out of the fields they had spent the day feeding in. I really couldn't get any pictures to do them any justice so I've borrowed one from an old newspaper article - there is no credit for it, however if you took it let me know and I'll add the correct credit, it's a brilliant photo!

The noise generated from this many geese was incredible, even though they were distant.

Other highlights included a single Jack Snipe, at least 80 Common Snipe, thousands of Starling, hundreds of Fieldfare, Redwing and Skylark with a handful of Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting and a variety of finches thrown in for good measure.

Raptors and Owls were generally recorded in lower numbers than previous visits, however an entertaining half-hour was spent today watching a juvenile Peregrine harassing a group of corvids, I wasn't sure if it was actually trying to catch them or if it was just practicing it's flying - good stuff all round!

Great Grey Shrike

I've spent a couple of days in Lancashire - see next post, however on the way over I decided to call in to see some more of the more cock Great Grey Shrike. It wasn't looking too promising at first, a birder present at the site told us it had been seen first thing but that there had been no sign of it for an hour after a Common Buzzard flew over. The area was full of Kestrels, a couple of Buzzard and a high-up Sparrowhawk. Shrike food in the form of Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Goldcrest was noted moving amongst the sparse bushes with several Meadow Pipit also calling. After a short while in the cold wind I needed to visit the bushes, on re-appearing from the undergrowth the bird had materialised on the top of the dry stone wall, over the next 20 minutes the bird showed splendidly!

I didn't have my scope/phone handy so here's another image from last time.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

10x Short-eared Owl et al.

I was working down in south Lincolnshire today watching a few Golden Plover and Lapwing which was enjoyable - especially after yesterdays total washout. Whilst conducting my survey, in a random field in the countryside I had flyover Merlin twice and a flyover Peregrine. It amazes me how many Merlin and Peregrine Falcons I see at my sites which are all pretty much random pieces of countryside, it makes me wonder how under-recorded these species may be during the autumn/winter months.

On the way home I popped into Worlaby Carrs to check out the raptor roost. Unfortunately by the time I got there I'd missed the 3 Hen Harriers coming into roost however I caught up with a flock of 11 Waxwing flying through the south of the carrs, whilst following these I noticed a Short-eared Owl, then another, then another so started to concentrate on these.

I made a maximum count of 8 birds at first, then started watching the 4 Barn Owls as they hunted the rough grassland. Another count of the Short-eared Owls a bit later resulted in 10 birds been observed, they were actively hunting, chasing each other about and being harassed big style by Kestrels and assorted corvids - a spectacular sight. I counted at least 9 Kestrels in the air at once - most of these harassing either the Barn or the Short-eared Owls, and there was probably more perched up/out of sight, likewise with the Buzzards of which I had 3 at once.

Farmland birds included Fieldfare, Redwing, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Skylark and Corn Bunting.

It seems like the whole of the UK is covered with Waxwing, Dave has found 20ish in Harrogate, Ade's been having them all over his in the north of Scotland, actually managing to catch one too. My friend Rich is over in Norway and has been reporting many Waxwing (and Fieldfare and Redpoll) moving through, heading straight for the UK, however he did manage to catch this adult male the other day - Check out his blog - Rich Birder, for an interesting daily account of the comings-and-goings at Lista Bird Observatory.

Image © Rich Cope 2010

Friday, 22 October 2010

Cattle Egret and more in Lincolnshire

I've been working down in Lincolnshire for the last couple of days which enabled me to catch up with the Donna Nook Cattle Egret, a very confiding bird feeding amongst the cattle on the access road. A couple of phone-scoped photos below:

The area was generally quite but I managed a few Brambling, Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush, Linnet, Skylark and Meadow Pipit with lots of Starling moving along the bushes. Out on the marshes were several Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Brent Geese, Shelduck and various waders (Snipe, Redshank, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Dunlin etc).

I was doing various Barn Owl dawn/dusk surveys as well as diurnal and nocturnal surveys for Golden Plover - it has certainly got a lot colder this week, meaning it was time for the thermals! Its always interesting watching the Golden Plovers, they can get disturbed by the slightest of things, e.g. a Hare, and then fly round for 20 minutes before landing back in the same place!

Activity overnight was fairly low - but the full moon (phone-scope picture below) certainly lit the countryside up a fair bit.

Vantage points this morning resulted in an impressive 4,375 Wood Pigeon flying through, with several hundred Fieldfare, almost 400 Golden Plover and a mixed finch flock of almost 200 birds (Goldfinch and Linnet). All of this prey inevitably attracted a Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. A decent number of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were around and Lesser Redpoll, Brambling and Siskin also flew overhead. A Green Sandpiper was a surprise as it flushed off a slurry pit.

Back home this evening 5x Swans (Whooper?) flew fairly high south.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A Brief Seawatch

I got in an early survey in today down in bright but cold Nottinghamshire which was not particularly interesting however it did allow me to get out to the coast for a brief spell this afternoon.

Fieldfare arrived big-style this morning when I recorded a minimum of 850 flying southwest, with at least 250 Redwing and a sprinkling of Skylark and assorted finches in with them. (this was in a 15 minute period).

On arrival at Flamborough this afternoon I was greeted by a sleet shower. I'd just about unpacked my scope as a Short-eared Owl was called out as it made it's final few wing beats over the north sea, before heading onto the head. It is always an incredible sight to witness these beautiful owls making landfall.

The sea was fairly quite, various auks heading north and south - as well as landing on the sea to feed/rest. Several Red-throated Diver - all flying south, lots of Shag, Great black-backed Gulls and Gannets. A couple of Great Skuas flew south close by, with 3 distant Pomarine Skuas - also moving south. Several Sooty Shearwaters had been recorded before I got there.

Several flocks of Common Scoter and Mallard headed south, with the odd Teal in amongst them. A small flock of Common Scoter was noted on the sea right in front of the cliffs, on inspection of these it was evident that they included 2 Velvet Scoters which gave excellent views as they fed at close range.

Passerines were fairly thin on the ground - though not specifically looked for, but did include Blackcap (male and female), Meadow and Rock Pipits and Brambling around the car park area.

Lincolnshire calls tomorrow...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

More Cock Shrike

Today I couldn't resist the urge to twitch a Great Grey Shrike in Lancashire - why you might ask, well it's simples the bird was at a place called Moorcock Inn! My good friend Lewis's favourite place to stay in the whole wide world!

I have a site in Lancashire where I've been for a few days this week, generally watching lots of Pink-footed Geese with the first Barnacle Goose and Whooper Swans of the season arriving. Plenty of typical farmland birds again, however due to the weather my surveys got re-arranged slightly so I didn't get to kick through all of the stubble that looks so inviting! Though I'll be back next week.

On my way home this afternoon I decided to drop in to the Moorcock, after a brief wait, during which time I had a handful of Red Grouse, Lesser Redpoll and Goldfinch, a Chiffchaff, a Stonechat and a couple of Kestrel the Great Grey Shrike appeared over the top of the hill, gradually flew down the valley before heading back up and out of sight over the hill again. A very smart bird. Pictures below (phone-scoped).

Before heading over to Lancashire I had a Brambling fly over the garden which was a nice addition to my garden list.

Rough-legged Buzzard - Buckton

Unfortunately I didn't see this bird, though Dave and a couple of other guys did... the story goes like this...

Dave wanted to try for the Buckton Richard's Pipit on Sunday so we set off early morning for Buckton and Hoddy Cows lane, plenty of thrushes were passing through, mainly Blackbirds with Song Thrush and Redwings and the odd Fieldfare thrown in. Amongst these were several finches, Brambling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Siskin and Redpoll sps. Several Blackcap were feeding amongst the Elders with dozens of Goldcrest and the odd Chiffchaff working along the scrub. Ring Ouzel and Snipe were noted near the end of the lane.

As we got onto the cliffs and the areas of stubble a party of 150 Meadow Pipit got a working through, though nothing rare stood out, likewise a field of Skylark got a good look over. Plenty of Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting were seen, with a couple of Corn Bunting and more Brambling thrown in to the mix. A large numbers of Linnet and Goldfinch . A brief flyover Lapland Bunting was frustrating.

Several fields were walked however the Richard's Pipit either had gone, or was hiding too well and we didn't see it, just a single Lapland Bunting being of note. We did however see several Common Buzzards appear to come 'in-off', knowing what was going on at Spurn we checked them carefully!

On getting back to the car I realised my lens cap had fallen off - you pay a shed load of money for some bins, the least they could do is design some lens caps that don't fall off every couple of hours! Take note Mr Swarovski!!! Needless to say, as I was running along Hoddy Cows Lane looking on the ground for my lens cap Dave, who'd stayed at the car in the village (his old legs couldn't cope with another walk) and a couple of other guys had a smart Rough-legged Buzzard fly over them (it was photographed as it flew nicely overhead). I found my lens cap, but somehow didn't really make up for not seeing the Rough-leg! At least Dave was happy on the way home!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Another few days in Lancashire

Heading west is always worrying, especially after the weather of the last few days, oh well, at least there's a chance of a yank passerine/wader in Lancashire I thought. Unfortunately there wasn't any American birds on my site (no real surprise) but there was a couple on the east coast! A Red-eyed Vireo at Seaton Carew near Hartlepool and then (from late news that came out this evening) a Common Nighthawk at Horden (also near Hartlepool!). In fact these locations are about 12Km apart - as the vagrant flies. Not bad going for the east coast, I must get out more!

My site was rather dull VP wise this time (I was doing the boring side that I usually give to other people to do!). No Peregrines, Marsh Harrier or even many waders. The nocturnal survey was incredibly dull - save 1 Barn Owl and an incredibly impressive night sky. A drive around my site and it's environs produced fewer geese than usual, however highlights included 2 Whinchat and a Jack Snipe. As we were driving round the Snipe burst out of the roadside verge before landing not too far away - a nice surprise! However there was really not much else of note.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Barred Warbler Flamborough

I reported yesterday that I'd had a brief glimpse of a large Sylvia warbler at Holmes Gut North Landing Flamborough and that I thought it was likely to have been a Barred Warbler. The bird flushed with some Robins as we walked back to our cars in order to chase the Filey Radde's Warbler for Dave and since we'd found Barred Warbler a couple of weeks back we didn't bother trying to find it (I let a couple of guys know about it as we were driving off). My view, though brief did leave me feeling happy it was one - they are pretty straightforward after all.

News came out fairly early this morning of a Barred Warber in Holmes Gut, which was quite pleasing, knowing how skulky they can be at times (plus the amount of available thick cover present in the area) I wasn't really surprised/concerned that it wasn't seen immediately after we'd seen it but pleased that it was relocated today.

I didn't do any birding today as such though as I was driving around York I called in to look for Ospreys at some fishing pools, unfortunately the bird had just left and I wasn't able to hang around. A flock of Chaffinch and Brambling flew over whilst we were waiting.

Though I've not seen much of interest today some people have with a list of great birds recorded today within the UK including: Green Heron, Solitary Sandpiper, 2 more Red-flanked Bluetail, Isabelline Wheatear, Pied Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, 2 Hermit Thrush, presumed Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Isabelline Shrike, Red-eyed Vireo and 2 Yellow-rumped Warbler with a supporting cast of: Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, 4 American Golden Plovers, 2 Baird's Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitcher, Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson's Phalarope, 2/3 Siberian Stonechat, 2 Olive-backed Pipits, 2 Black-throated Thrush, Paddyfield Warbler, 4 Radde's Warbler, 3 Dusky Warbler, Siberian Chiffchaff and Booted Warbler.

American Black Tern, American Buff-bellied Pipit, Black-throated Accentor, Pied Bushchat, Swainson's Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo and Chestnut-sided Warbler were recorded around the Western Palearctic too!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

More Flamborough - and a bit of Filey

Dave and I went back to Flamborough pretty much first thing this morning, full of optimism for what the day might bring, however we left pretty disappointed. There was high quantity of birds but the quality anticipated/expected failed to materialise and seemed to be all along the coast to the north of us- though it wasn't for lack of searching!

There was higher quantity of birds today than yesterday, with many birds passing over constantly at a greater height than previously. We concentrated on North Landing again and are gradually getting familiar with it - a really enjoyable 'patch' to work.

Species recorded in no particular order included Brambling (c.150), Chaffinch (c.80), Redwing (c.500+), Ring Ouzel (at least 4 including 1 smart male and at least 3 1st winters/female types), Redstart (1 1st winter type), Stonechat (c.10), Song Thrush (c.100+), Swallow (1), Wheatear (1), Siskin (c.200+), Robin (c.100+), Goldcrest (c.50+), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Chiffchaff (c.35+), Meadow Pipit (c.150), Skylark (c.25), Tree Sparrow (100), House Sparrow (100), Reed Bunting (55), Yellowhammer (15), Goldfinch, (150), Blue Tit (10), Great Tit (2), Blackcap (10), Garden Warbler (2), Wren (20), Dunnock (30), Greenfinch (20+), Linnet (20+), Kestrel (1), Peregrine (1).

A brief view of a large Sylvia warbler mid afternoon looked very much like a Barred Warbler, however it flushed out of the bush (probably across a road) and out of view never to be seen again!

Birds were moving about constantly, some only remaining briefly in our 'watch area'. We bumped in James who'd seen a few bits and pieces, similar fare to what we'd seen and we also bumped Russ who'd found a smart male Black Redstart, however by the time we got round to where it had been it was evident it had probably moved on - likely due to an increase in general public in the area. Birds we didn't see today included 3 Great Grey Shrike, 1 Common Rosefinch, 3 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Long-eared Owl, 1 Hawfinch, 20 Lapland Bunting that were all seen at various other locations around the head - mainly the south.

Mid afternoon news of a Radde's Warbler at Filey encouraged us a little further north up the coast however on arrival there had been no sign of the bird - hardly surprising given the fact that there was 2/3 people inside the patch of bushes that the bird had been favouring. In addition to this there was plenty of disturbance in the form of dog-walkers and other 'people' (chavs). I really don't like Filey!

Hopefully nothing good will arrive tomorrow as I don't think I'm likely to make it 3 days in a row!

Friday, 8 October 2010

More migrants at Flamborough

I spent the day birding at North Landing, Flamborough Head East Yorkshire again today. Dave got to mine for 8 and we set off in the mist. On arrival at North Landing an hour or so later we were greeted with easterly winds and zero visibility.

The sound of Redwing, Song Thrush and Brambling was resonating around us as we got out of the car. We set off on our walk kicking out Song Thrush after Redwing after Song Thrush, dozens of them with large numbers of Blackbirds thrown in too. A large thrush broke out of cover, its pale wings and large white crescent immediately evident - a smart Ring Ouzel - the only problem being that visibility was so poor we really couldn't fully appreciate it! (see my phone photo below taken at about 25m range!). Wandering around the bushes we found several Goldcrest, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff with plenty of Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer about with yet more and more thrushes pouring over. We had a female Sparrowhawk sat up in a hedge (see phone photo) continually tilting its head, watching the migrants fly by. Interestingly two Fieldfare dropped in briefly before carrying on inland, these were the only Fieldfare seen today. A change in direction and a warbler caught our eye in the top of a Hawthorn bush, we got the briefest of views, enough to tell it was an Acrocephalus, it was fairly warm buff-coloured so was probably (hopefully) 'just' a Reed Warbler - we waited for another show but had no joy. Reluctantly we moved on.

Continuing around North Landing we came across a single Redstart and more and more Goldcrest and Chiffchaff and as the afternoon progressed in appeared that more and more were arriving. Yet more thrushes too. Continuing along the cliff top a few Skylark and Meadow Pipit, then I noticed a bird on a 5-bar gate - a Great Grey Shrike, awesome! It sat there for a while looking around before shooting off over our head down into a gully where it was promptly mobbed by almost a hundred House and Tree Sparrow, we followed the Shrike for about half an hour watching it hunt, it caught a bee and went for a Meadow Pipit, but the Pipit got away. The presence of a Shrike is really useful - it does the flushing so you don't have to! I managed to grab a couple of photos on my phone (see below).

There was a couple of Great Grey Shrikes at Flamborough last week, though I'm not sure when they were last reliably seen. There seems to have been a few Great Grey Shrikes arrive along the east coast today, so our bird may have been a 'new' bird. Evidently 3 birds were trapped on the Isle of May (Fife) and one was trapped at Whitburn (Durham).

The final act of the day was a Peregrine that shot through the Feral Pigeons, ignored them all took out a Kestrel instead! Awesome.

So nothing mega, but still an enjoyable day. We'll be heading back tomorrow morning for more!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

American Golden Plover - Great Heck

I've been working down in Lincolnshire for the past two days so yesterday I decided to drop in at Great Heck to look for the American Golden Plover. It was about mid-morning when I pulled up at the section of the flood closest to the village and straight away got onto a Ruff and then the moulting adult American Golden Plover with European Golden Plovers and Lapwing all also present (along with Egyptian Goose).

It was stood on its own with European Golden Plovers a little bit either side of it but seemed to be a bit more 'on-its-own' than the European Goldies that were typically all bunched together. The bird in question still had a fair bit of black down its chest and belly, was darker backed, and looked smaller than the nearby European Goldies, in fact when one European Goldie walked past the American Goldie it dwarfed it.

In typical fashion the Goldies were very nervous and after a while they all hunkered down, tilted their heads upwards and were gone, I didn't see what it was but was most probably a Peregrine. Luckily just before they flew off I managed another terrible 'record shot' on my phone (see below - for what it's worth!).

My two days in Lincolnshire have also been rather Golden Plover orientated, however I've been watching them in flight at distance so picking out anything else was more-or-less impossible, though there was still approximately 2,500 birds which was quite an impressive sight. Other interest was in the form of Barn Owl, several Kingfisher fly-bys, a decent Skylark and Linnet passage this morning, a few Lesser Redpoll, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting.

I'm really looking forward to this weekend, there's been some monster birds spaced around the Western Palearctic the last couple of days including Green Heron, Buff-bellied Pipit, Grey-cheeked Thrush, Lanceolated Warbler, Sykes Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat and Chestnut Bunting. I shall be scouring Flamborough...

Monday, 4 October 2010

Western Palearcitc Megas!

There has been some mega birds within the Western Palearctic today:

  • 'American' Buff-bellied Pipit
  • Sykes's Warbler


  • Double-crested Cormorant

The Netherlands:

  • Pallid Harrier
  • Crag Martin


  • Glaucous-winged Gull


  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat

With a wide range of other interesting species, e.g. Blue-winged Teal, Marbled Duck, Lesser Scaup, Semi-palmated, White-rumped and Spotted Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson's Phalarope, Alpine Swift, Melodious, Radde's and Western Bonelli's Warblers and Lesser Grey Shrike recorded too.

Of most interest locally was an adult Sabine's Gull that was found at Bank Island, Wheldrake Ings and later at Storwood, though is likely to prove elusive due to a lot of gulls in the area and a large amount of suitable foraging habitat. An Osprey flew over York university (unfortunately I couldn't see it from my office) and interestingly, it appears that two Osprey were also recorded (and photographed) not too far away today!

An American Golden Plover is on my radar for tomorrow as I have to go right past the site on my way to work tomorrow where there has been a moulting adult bird for the last couple of days - fingers crossed it'll be there in the morning!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A few more Rustic Bunting photos (and a Redstart)

I had a look through the previous East Yorkshire Rustic Bunting records. Since Rustic Bunting isn't rare enough to appear in Rare Birds, Where and When (R Slack 2009) I trawled through Birdguides information to find the following:
  • 2009 Spurn, trapped 18th September
  • 2008 Spurn, male 8th June
  • 2007 Spurn, male 28th May
  • 2005 Spurn, 15th to 18th October
  • 2005 Bempton Cliffs, 15th to 17th October
  • 2000 Spurn, male, 4th to 5th April
  • 1998 Flamborough Head, 3rd to 5th October
  • 1998 Sammy's Point, Easington, 3rd October
  • 1998 Spurn, two, 25th to 29th September, one to 30th September
  • 1998 Flamborough Head, 30th May
  • 1996 Kilnsea, age/sex uncertain, 22nd to 23rd September
  • 1996 Flamborough Head, age/sex uncertain, 21st September
  • 1996 Tophill Low Reservoir, male, 22nd April
  • 1995 Flamborough Head, female, 22nd April

  • 1993 Beacon Lane Ponds, Kilnsea, male, 11th May
  • 1992 Spurn, 27th to 29th September
  • 1991 Easington, 29th October to 3rd November
  • 1987 Flamborough Head, male, 24th May
  • 1987 Flamborough Head, female, 23rd May
  • 1987 Flamborough Head, female, 20th May
  • 1985 Spurn, female, 12th to 15th May, trapped 13th May
  • 1982 Spurn, 20th to 22nd October
  • 1978 Flamborough Head, adult male, 4th June
  • 1978 Flamborough Head, first-summer male, 21st to 23rd May, trapped 22nd May
  • 1881 Easington, immature female, trapped, 17th September, now at Yorkshire Museum, York

Of the above records the 1998 and 1987 records interest me because they imply multi-bird arrivals.

Below are a few more bunting pictures off my phone, they are not the greatest but they show the bird in a few different poses/angles. I've also included one of the smart male Redstart (although the picture really doesn't do it any justice).

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Rustic Bunting et al Flamborough Head

I spent the day birding around North Landing, Flamborough today. I really enjoyed myself last Tuesday wading through the fall of scarce and common migrants, the highlights being co-finding a Rustic Bunting and Barred Warbler (see a few posts down). What would today bring.....

I started off my walk round North Landing, it was evident immediately that it was a lot quieter than on Tuesday, however there was still plenty to look at, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer. There seemed to be quite a few Blue Tit moving around, with the odd Siskin in the weedy vegetation.

A bit further along a couple of Stonechat caught my eye, then a bit further more Chiffchaff and Blackcap, then a distant Bunting popped up onto the top of a Hawthorn bush - I zoomed my phone camera as far as it would go - and had my scope on x60 but was not 100% certain (light/distance etc.) but did have an inkling it might be Rustic..., it then dropped out of my view and that was that, then a Yellow-browed Warbler caught my attention as it flew into the bush next to me before flying back away from me again. As I followed it back a brief view of a distant Acrocephalus warbler was a little frustrating, what was it... then a Whinchat popped up into view, followed by at least 3 Common Redstart, including a single cracking male that was very showy - and fairly tame.

I knew a couple of guys (Russ and John) also out birding around Flamborough today so gave them a call to come over and help me with the elusive Acro, which was still being very elusive and distant. As they met up with me the Acro warbler started coming closer and closer and eventually turned out to be just a Reed Warbler, however whilst watching this we noticed a female Pied Flycatcher sallying about for insects, then the Yellow-brow put in another appearance - before vanishing just as quickly as it had come into view.

During a brief lull in activity I showed Russ and John the pictures of my distant Bunting, they were happy that it was a Rustic. I hadn't had any sight or sound of the bird for a while and there had been a lot of disturbance in the area (Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Deer, Fox, people cutting grass, hedges etc), however a brief look around the most likely areas of suitable habitat resulted in several Reed Bunting and amazingly some cracking views of the Rustic Bunting. The bird called a few times, similar in some respects to a Song Thrush and showed on and off very well. At the same time as we were watching the Bunting the Yellow-browed Warbler started showing nicely, as too did a Common Whitethroat.

All above photos taken on my phone through my Swarovski scope.

I'd expected this bird to be the same as the one I'd co-found on Tuesday, however on reflection I don't think it was the same bird, I think the bird the other day had a more buffy supercillium and may have had a bit more streaking between the flanks and the breast. I also though the scapulars on Tuesday's bird were a bit brighter. I'd like to thank Russ and John for their help today.