Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Ice Cold!

Today I had the joy of standing on the spot for 5 hours on the very cold east coast, in a very cold east wind! It was hard going, very hard going!

A Peregrine kept my spirits up for an hour or so in the morning as it hunted for anything that moved. Site highlight was a family of 6 Whooper Swans that showed really well to close range but after that it was onto Geese, Lapwings and Golden Plover with the odd Egret, Heron and Cormorant to keep the interest going. The flask of tea just about kept me alive!

The real highlight of the day however came on our journey back home. A flock of gulls was seen on a roof of a building. We stopped, got the bins out and in no time at all we were looking at a 1st winter Iceland Gull! Great stuff!! Got the scopes out and got a few record shots on my phone - below. Motto - If you see gulls stop and check them this year!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Panama, Trinidad and Tobago

A couple more new additions to the Tico Tours itineraries.

Panama is an amazing country with a whole host of species - set in some breathtaking scenery with some incredible rainforest and great accommodations - such as Canopy Tower where you are right in amongst all the action. The country is crawling with Hummingbirds, Tanagers, Ovenbirds and Antbirds, Trogons, Parrots and Flycatchers and is a must see.

Trinidad and Tobago is the perfect introduction to the Neotropics with a large number of species possible in a 10-14 day trip - yet not in the numbers that you may find in central/southern America, so not too overwhelming for the first time visitor. Who can resist Oilbird, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, White-bearded Manakin, Bearded Bellbird, Scarlet Ibis.... amongst examples of the hummingbird, tanager, ovenbird, antbird, trogon, toucan, woodcreeper, flycather and other families.. Luckily Trinidad and Tobago also have some great birding lodges which make birding over here nice and comfortable too.

The Tico Tours Website is currently being updated with 2012 and 2013 schedule complete with tour summaries etc etc. Go check it out! We also have a Facebook page with lots of galleries from the various locations - this continues to be updated on a regular basis so keep checking back for regular updates.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Down the Local Patch (North Duffield)

Had a couple of longish dog walks around the farmland to the south of North Duffield today, one in the cold frosty sunny morning and one in the cold yet nice and sunny late afternoon.

The highlight from the morning walk was a flock of 13 Bullfinch, mainly female/1st winter birds but there was a couple of cracking males in with them too. There was also a few Fieldfare and Redwing flying about and a flock of 20+ Tree Sparrow and a dozen Chaffinch sat out in the open along the edge of some scrub with a couple of Linnet overflying. Several Robin were noted in full song - as too were Blackbird. A Sparrowhawk flew over the garden as I got home flushing a decent flock of Greenfinch and Goldfinch.

Bullfinch Photo Richard Hampshire

The late afternoon walk was very enjoyable, I caught up with the same flock of Bullfinch again, as well as finding another 3/4 others too. I walked a path I'd not done for a few months and was pleased to find a flock of 40+ Yellowhammer, 10+ Reed Bunting and several Tree Sparrow feeding in a weedy headland. A flock of Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits moved along a hedge, a covey of 6 Grey Partridge burst up as a Buzzard glided through heading off to roost. A couple of Song and Mistle Thrush were also found. Highlight however was the Barn Owl that gave great views whilst it hunted right infront of me. It didn't take long for it to catch its tea - a vole of some sort.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Winter Sun Anyone...?

Have been working on this for Tico Tours...

A shed load of quality birds available on this tour!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Good Short-eared Owl Haul

Today I visited a new site for the first time, most of the day was taken up by a site meeting, however that was fine given the rubbish weather.

I was told the site was generally flat farmland with large open fields and would likely be full of Lapwing and Golden Plovers. It wasn't, didn't see a single one! There was some huge fields but there was also two large areas of fallow land that were incredible - it reminded me a bit of Worlaby Carrs. I had just stepped out the car and there was a Short-eared Owl flying about (it was 2pm), then a short while later a Barn Owl flew out in the same area, both showed very well, down to 30ft! (they didn't seem concerned at all with us looking like plonkers in our hard hats and hi-viz jackets stood in the middle of a field). A quick look at some scrub flushed a Woodcock, several Bullfinch, Reed Bunting and a good mix of tits. Hunting Kestrel and Sparrowhawk flew about as too did a female Marsh Harrier. A scan of another area of fallow land resulted in another Barn Owl and 4 additional Short-eared Owl too! Majorly good result!

It must be a huge Shorty year as they are everywhere!

Not a bad 30 minutes out on site in the drizzle! I wonder what else is out there....

Monday, 23 January 2012

Around the world trip...

Check out these posters from Tico Tours and visit the Facebook Page, Wesbite or follow on Twitter (@ToursTico)

Friday, 20 January 2012

A bit of Harrier Action

I spent today surveying in Lincolnshire, it was quite quiet generally however a 5 minute spell involving a Peregrine, Merlin and ring-tail Hen Harrier certainly livened things up a little. The Peregrine was hunting Golden Plovers, the Merlin was hunting Linnet and the Hen Harrier was hunting pretty much anything on the marsh but was getting a fair bit of stick from the Crows.

Was thinking of going for a Sparrow Junco double at the weekend but think I may just spend it doing some local area birding, there seems to be some bits and pieces - gulls at least so will see whats around...

Monday, 16 January 2012

Better looks at the Caspian Gull, and an ice-skating Pheasant!

Had a quick look in at Wheldrake Ings this morning on my way to my dusk owl survey and pretty much the only gull sat out there was the 1st winter Caspian Gull found by Tim on Saturday! Result! Much better looks than I got on Saturday. I even got to see the legs with the Darvic - again too far to get the code on this occasion. Its a real cracker and stands out like a sore thumb (especially when there's no other birds there!)

I even managed to get a couple of phone-scoped shots on my new blackberry (below)

Whilst watching the gull I was momentarily distracted by the following ice-skating Pheasant... (again phone-scoped)

The survey was pretty dull, and very cold. However the highlight of Red Kite, Common Crossbill, Siskin, Tawny Owl, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk made the evening slightly more enjoyable.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Gull Fest in York: Caspo, Iceland and Med Gulls!

Some good birds in York today, I got a message from Tim telling me he'd found an adult Med Gull at Heslington, another good record for the site, there has now been several records of this species from the site over the last year or so.

A bit later in the afternoon and another phone call from Tim, 1st Winter Caspian Gull at Wheldrake. This was too tempting to ignore. I was just heading out the door to go check North Duffield but this made me change my plans. I got to Wheldrake as quickly as possible and made my way to Tower Hide where Tim was stood. Luckily the bird was still present and was stood amongst the rapidly increasing gull flock. Got good views of the bird, very smart! It had a yellow darvic ring. A great local record.

Interestingly a yellow darvic ringed Caspian Gull (apparently from Poland) was seen and photographed well (below) on 23rd October 2011 at Spurn - the 3rd site record, presumably the bird seen today at Wheldrake is the same bird? Hopefully it will get seen again and we can get the code.

Caspian Gull - Photo John Hewitt - more on Spurn Bird Observatory Website

Not to miss out on the national Iceland Gull fest a 2nd winter bird dropped in before getting blocked up to view by all the other gulls. There was a lot of gulls tonight so tomorrow could be interesting for those lucky enough to be there.

At 1650 we heard the distinctive sound of distant Whooper Swans as they flew onto the Ings to find somewhere to roost. An enjoyable end to the day!

Friday, 13 January 2012


One was seen by Bob on 18th and 19th December at the Little Kelk/Gransmoor area in East Yorkshire just to the north of Tophill, presumably the same bird recorded near Spurn late in the Autumn.

It has not been seen/reported subsequently but whilst visiting my mate Richs house (Tophill Low Warden) he got an email of an 'egret to identify - presumed Cattle' from a local landowner.

The bird was present in a paddock on their land and was considered to be roosting at the Tophill Nature Reserve somewhere unknown. Rich opened the email and we took one look at the picture (below) and were both happy that it was indeed a Cattle Egret! A very good find locally. The bad news however was that access was not going to be able to occur at the time at the request of the landowner, despite Rich's attempts to try and swing access, however now, some 2 weeks later, the news has come out, presumably as the bird can now be view from public rights of way/the Tophill reserve. Please follow the specific onsite access requirements - details here.

Cattle Egret Copyright 2011.

Though not the national rarity it once was 10-15 years ago Cattle Egrets are not fantastically common in Yorkshire, previous records include:

November - December 2011 Various East Yorks (e.g. Sunk Island, Easington, Little Kelk - presumably this bird)
July 2011 - Swillington Ings, West Yorks
March 2008 - Wheldrake Ings, North Yorks
January 2008 - Hellifield Flash, Norht Yorks
November 2007 - Spurn, East Yorks
October 2006 - Fairburn, West & North Yorks
July 2004 - Fairburn, West & North Yorks
October - December 1996 - Thorne, South Yorks
May 1992 - Hornsea, East Yorks
May 1992 - Nunnington, North Yorks (5 birds!)
November 1986 - Adel Dam, South Yorks
September 1986 - Hornsea, East Yorks
March - April 1981 - Duncombe Park, North Yorks

Well done to the person who found it and alerted Rich. Well done to Rich for trying to sort out access.

Some more recent photo can be found here soon...

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

BIRDRACE 2012: The Results and some Analysis

I've had the full results through for the Yorkshire-wide Bird Race from last Sunday. Surprisingly our team (York LDV Birders) came third overall (joint with the York Heslington team) - I really didn't expect that! We could so easily have come second too... but first the results table:

Scarborough 102
Barnsley Listers 92
York LDV Birders 90
York Hesslington 90
Barnsley OAPs 86
The Goolies 84
Spurn OAPs 78
Flamborough 2 73
York Originals 73
Fairburn No-hopers 71
Filey Yodellers 69
Filey Originals 61
Yorkshire Dales Flyers 51
Harrogate Drinking Team 50

Well done to everyone, hopefully some decent money raised too. Its all for fun of course, but here's why I think we could have come second. Of course every team will have feelings of, if only... here's ours...

The birds we missed. Redshank, Little Owl and Grey Wagtail are the big three, we have good sites for all of these and it was a real surprise/disappointment we didn't get them. Two of our team heard Grey Wagtail but the other two (of which I am one) missed it! All of our Little Owl sites drew blanks and the Redshank that have been glued to the spot at Wheldrake for the last 2 weeks were nowhere to be seen whilst we were there! Interestingly the other 2 York teams failed to connect with Grey Wagtail too, so fortunately this dip was not as costly as it should have been!

What about the 'nearlys'. Well, while we were making our way to pick John up at Bank Island, (after his blow out on the A1) he enjoyed watching (in addition to a very showy Grey Wagtail) a Marsh Harrier (none of the other York teams recorded this species), however when we got to him there was no sign of the bird. Egyptian Goose. Two members of our team heard one calling briefly, however we couldn't pin-point it and so was not heard by anyone else in our team, interestingly [at least] one of the York Heslington team, who were also at this location at the same time as us (independent) heard this species calling too!

Unfortunately we ran out of time to connect with Twite and there was also a couple of Waxwing reported at Bubwith (news made it out after dark so these were not available). The potential Rough-legged Buzzard has been observed well this week, it is only a Common Buzzard - I'll try and get some pictures up here next week to show you how good it did look!

In addition to our 90 species recorded, the above (Little Owl, Grey Wagtail, Redshank, Twite, Waxwing) - in addition to the species York Heslington/York Originals recorded that we didn't (Red Kite, Merlin, Oystercatcher, Green Woodpecker, Jack Snipe and Common Crossbill) would mean that at least 101 species were available within the York area on Sunday... How many else were lurking out there, surely (based on local knowledge) Brambling, Blackcap, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Long-eared Owl, Green Sandpiper, White-fronted Goose, Iceland Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Glaucous Gull, Mediterranean Gull were all about but just not evident... that takes it to a possible 111!!! In the York area!!!

So all in all, 100 species has to be feasible. Next year...

Since my original report Tim has written up York Heslington's day,and Jono has written up another take on our day - with some pictures (sorry Jono, didn't know you were hungry!!!), interestingly entitled Part One... Whats to come next.....?

Little Owl c/o Chris Gomersall

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Bird Race York Record SMASHED (twice!)

Today was the day of the Michael Clegg Memorial Bird Race with teams competing to raise funds for a local cause - this year to provide funds to provide habitat management to a new wildlife site in York.

I was part of the LDV Birders team, made up of Russell Slack, Jono Leadley, John Beaumont and me, Andy Walker! The previous best total for the York Recording area was 86 species, so that was our target! There were several other teams from the York area, our biggest competition would be from Chris Gomersall, Tim Jones, Ollie Metcalf and Jack Ashton-Booth's team - at least for bragging rights anyway!

The day didn't quite start as planned with John, who was picking Jono up from York getting a blow out on the A1! We had to immediately change plans! This seriously impacted on our start time + location as Russ and I had to drive up from Bank Island - our original starting place, to Bishopthorpe to pick up Jono. All this meant we didn't get started until 0815/0830ish! Russ and I couldn't believe that Ollie got his traffic cop mate to put a stinger out in front of John - total sabotage!!!

As events would transpire Johns' misfortune turned out to our benefit as on picking Jono up we hit Bishopthorpe Ings (a new local site for me), getting several key birds such as Kingfisher, Goosander, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Bullfinch, Coot, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Siskin.

We then moved on to Askham Bog (another new site for me) where we hit up Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Jay, Goldcrest, Lesser Redpoll and Woodcock.

Grey Wagtail c/o Chris Gomersall

Our third site was Dringhouses Pond where we had Great Crested Grebe (and another Goosander!).

We then drove around through Crockey Hill and Naburn to Escrick, highlights here included a mega flock of Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer (over 30 of the former in one tree!), Skylark, Meadow Pipit, House Sparrow and Common Buzzard.

Next up was Escrick, where we connected with Nuthatch and Mistle Thrush (by this point we'd also seen Blackbird, Song Thrush, Fieldfare and Redwing).

Then it was on to Wheldrake over the back road, en route at a cracker of a lookout we connected with Tree Sparrow, Golden Plover, Shelduck, Sparrowhawk, c40. Pink-footed Goose and 3 Bean Goose.

We then got to Bank Island - Wheldrake where we got a few new species such as Cormorant, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Kestrel, Peregrine, Ruff, Lapwing, and Dunlin. It was here that John found a very interesting Buzzard. Front on it looked spot on for Rough-legged Buzzard - pretty much perfect, however when it dropped down the tail didn't look 100% right. We didn't count the bird (apparently in the area since Boxing Day) - but will check on it during the week and may add 1 species to our final tally if it turns out to be one.

Green Sandpiper c/o Chris Gomersall

After Bank Island we drove around several sites in the north of the LDV where we added Common Snipe, Grey Partridge, Little Grebe. It was here we hit the wall. Not our energy, but we ran out of birds/luck. Several of our decent sites for Grey Wagtail, Little Owl, White-fronted Goose, Egyptian Goose and Green Sandpiper all drew blanks....... time was pressing, we needed to get to Wheldrake but we also needed these 5 species.

We bit the bullet, ditching our chances for the above and made our way to Wheldrake. As late afternoon approached we waited in hope for a white-winger to drop into the gull roost - no luck here however as we waited we picked up Whooper Swan, Curlew, Goldeneye, Tawny Owl, Barn Owl, and a real surprise in the shape of 2 Short-eared Owls! The latter was certainly not expected as SEOs are rare in the LDV - these were in fact my first in the valley!

Great news, not only had we equalled the previous best (86), in the last half hour of light we'd smashed the record too, moving on to 90 species! A final hour in darkness trying to connect with something, anything, like a Redshank or Little Owl failed, however we were fairly please with our haul.

Looking back we missed some major species that on a better day we may have connected with - certainly species that we know the whereabouts of on any other day of the week such as Jack Snipe, Crossbill, Green Woodpecker and Green Sandpiper, but most disappointingly Redshank, Little Owl and Grey Wagtail!

Little Owl c/o Chris Gomersall

What about the other teams I hear you ask, well as far as I know the only other team that got close to our total was Ollie, Tim, Jack and Chris, who also beat the previous record.... they too managed 90 species!!! Congratulations to them too!!! An amazing coincidence!! So now, both of our teams hold the record (unless we can get better looks at the unusual buzzard!!)! Our list is below - check out Tims blog for a comparison of totals...

It was a great day and for a good cause, it will be interesting to see how the other teams have done across Yorkshire too, and how much money has been raised.

We are looking forward to next years event, anyone for a May Bird Race....

1. Little Grebe
2. Great Crested Grebe
3. Cormorant
4. Grey Heron
5. Muste Swan
6. Whooper Swan
7. Bean Goose
8. Pink-footed Goose
9. Greylag
10. Canada Goose
11. Shelduck
12. Wigeon
13. Gadwall
14. Teal
15. Mallard
16. Pintail
17. Shoveler
18. Pochard
19. Tufted Duck
20. Goldeneye
21. Goosander
22. Sparrowhawk
23. Kestrel
24. Buzzard
25. Peregrine
26. Red-legged Partridge
27. Grey Partridge
28. Pheasant
29. Water Rail
30. Moorhen
31. Coot
32. Golden Plover
33. Lapwing
34. Ruff
35. Dunlin
36. Common Snipe
37. Woodcock
38. Curlew
39. Black-headed Gull
40. Common Gull
41. Lesser Black-backed Gull
42. Herring Gull
43. Great Black-backed Gull
44. Feral Pigeon 'Rock Dove'
45. Stock Dove
46. Wood Pigeon
47. Collared Dove
48. Barn Owl
49. Tawny Owl
50. Short-eared Owl
51. Kingfisher
52. Great Spotted Woodpecker
53. Skylark
54. Meadow Pipit
55. Pied Wagtail
56. Wren
57. Dunnock
58. Robin
59. Blackbird
60. Fieldfare
61. Song Thrush
62. Redwing
63. Mistle Thrush
64. Goldcrest
65. Long-tailed Tit
66. Willow Tit
67. Marsh Tit
68. Coal Tit
69. Blue Tit
70. Great Tit
71. Nuthatch
72. Treecreeper
73. Jay
74. Magpie
75. Jackdaw
76. Rook
77. Carrion Crow
78. Starling
79. House Sparrow
80. Tree Sparrow
81. Chaffinch
82. Greenfinch
83. Goldfinch
84. Siskin
85. Linnet
86. Lesser Redpoll
87. Bullfinch
88. Yellowhammer
89. Reed Bunting
90. Corn Bunting

Friday, 6 January 2012

Ubatuba: Brazil Birding Tour

Bird Race on Sunday, looking forward to that...in the meantime I've spent the last week working on putting together a birding tour to Brazil for Tico Tours. I'll post details of the full itinerary soon but in the meantime check out some of the images below from the area of main focus, Ubatuba.

Ubatuba sits on the coast in the northeast corner of Sao Paulo, Brazil, of the areas 711 square Kms, 83% is within the Serra do Mar State Park which therefore makes it an important area of contiguous forest where many endemic animals and plants thrive. The coastal stretch is one of the most beautiful in the country, (with over 80 beaches) and the area is also famed for the Atlantic Rainforest, which includes restingas and mangroves, lowland and interior forest and high altitude pastures, each with its own myriad of species. All of the various habitats outlined above result in a bird list in the region of almost 500 species! This tour will focus on the range of habitats available in the region with the focus on connecting with as many as possible, as well as learning about some of these fascinating species.

Brazilian Tanager - It has to be one of the Atlantic Rainforests most spectacular of endemic birds © Elsie Laura

Brazilian Ruby © Elsie Laura

Golden-rumped Euphonia © Elsie Laura

Green-headed Tanager - One of the most beautiful birds around © Elsie Laura

Red-necked Tanager © Elsie Laura

Saw-billed Hermit © Elsie Laura

Black-capped Foliage-Gleaner © Elsie Laura

Maroon-bellied Parakeet © Elsie Laura

White-bearded Manakin © Elsie Laura

Yellow-fronted Woodpecker © Elsie Laura

For many more incredible images check out the Tico Tours facebook page.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Review of 2011: WARNING: This report contains some AWESOME birds!

This will be a brief review of 2011, in what was a pretty cool birding year for me both at work and for pleasure both home and abroad. Some of the photos are mine, and others are not – it will be clear which are which! It was good to meet up with old birding friends, and make some new one too - some of their work is included in this report. If you click on some of the bird names etc it will direct you to the relevant page with more details.

The year got going with Rufous Turtle Dove, Ross’ Goose, Rough-legged Buzzard and Arctic Redpoll all in the first few weeks of the year and local interest in the form of a wintering Great Grey Shrike, several Common Crane and Glaucous Gull along with huge numbers of wildfowl such as Whooper Swans and a range of geese and raptors. Work ‘ticks’ during this period included a single Tundra Bean Goose on one of my sites.

Rufous Turtle Dove © Bob Duckhouse 2011.

Spring and Summer were busy with work, mainly report writing but I managed to get some decent surveying in, resulting in breeding Nightjar, Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Peregrine, plenty of Quail (one site with c.20 singing birds!) and a plethora of Little Ringed Plover too across several of my sites, along with a decent range of scarce breeders too. Rarity highlight during the period included the famous White-throated Robin – seen down to a few metres in the Doctors garden and a local Marsh Sandpiper. A Quail singing and audible from my house was a nice surprise!

White-throated Robin off my phone.

It was at this time, late spring, that Jenny and I took a very successful trip over to Cyprus resulting in a number of new birds (Cyprus Warbler, Cyprus Wheatear, Chukar, Cretzschmar’s Bunting), some incredible avian spectacles (e.g. thousands of migrating swifts, daily totals of three/four figure bee-eaters flocks, dozens of golden orioles, red-backed shrikes, breeding Rollers and Bonelli’s Eagles, singing Masked Shrike and tonnes of Eleonoras Falcons etc), lots of endemic sub-species (future armchair ticks) and even a national rarity, Little Swift! This was a truly brilliant location – trip report starts here and trip list here.

Bee-eater (© Mike Bowman 2011)

Masked Shrike singing (© Mike Bowman 2011)

Eleonora's Falcon (© Mike Bowman 2011)

Autumn started early, and lasted a long while, and was amazing, bordering on insane! Yellow-legged gulls started building up in a local field on my dog-walking circuit, peaking at at least 10 birds. A trip to Lincolnshire resulted in a very confiding American Black Tern and a couple of Red-necked Grebe that had an air of holboellii about them. In September things started to kick off down on the Scillies so I thought it only polite to partake in some of the riches and dragged Dave down there twice (September 23rd – 26th and October 17th – 22nd) kicking and screaming all the way...

American Black Tern (© Robert Hardy 2011)

Highlights from these trips included: Northern Waterthrush, Scarlet Tanager, Upland Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe, Red-eyed Vireo (1 re-found), Olive-backed Pipit (2), Lesser Yellowlegs (1 self-found), Pectoral Sandpiper (3/4), Melodious Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Black Kite, Wryneck (1 self-sound), Ortolan Bunting, Yellow-browed Warbler (loads + self-found), Woodchat Shrike, White-spotted Bluethroat, Richard’s Pipit (1 self-found), Red-throated Pipit (1 or 2, 1 self-found), Water Pipit (1 self-found), Buff-breasted Sandpiper (2 – 1 self-found), Firecrest (dozens + self-found), Siberian Chiffchaff (1 self-found), Balearic Shearwater (6), Leach’s Petrel (2), Sabine’s Gull (1) and several Black Redstart. Good Scillies birds, but hardly awe-inspiring included Treecreeper, Mistle Thrush and Pink-footed Goose! Several Cirl Bunting and Chough were enjoyed en-route.

Solitary Sandpiper © Andrew Vinson 2011

Northern Waterthrush © Andrew Vinson 2011

Upland Sandpiper - off my mobile phone

Wilson's Snipe - off my mobile phone

Olive-backed Pipit - off my mobile phone

I’d have been happy with the above, the autumn on the east coast had been rubbish until early November, when it finally kicked off, allowing me to catch up with Isabelline Wheatear, Greater Yellowlegs and Eastern Black Redstart. Thinking that my luck was in I ventured down for the Western Sandpiper and connected with that too. Another great set of birds, though I did chicken out of the Veery twitch (and would have connected in hindsight)!

Isabelline Wheatear - off my phone

Greater Yellowlegs, Hauxley NR © Frank Golding 2011.

Eastern Black Redstart, Holy Island © Tristan Reid

The one that got away....Veery © Stephen MacDonald 2011

Work was also enjoyable during the Autumn and Winter period with three sites in particular being very good, resulting in up to approximately 10 Hen Harriers being seen as well as dozens of Marsh Harrier, 5/6 Short-eared Owl, regular Merlin and Peregrine, some more Tundra Bean Geese, and a (very) in land "paradoxus" Black Redstart. Two other ‘work ticks’ in the form of a very showy Rough-legged Buzzard and a Rustic Bunting in November and December finished off the year nicely! As did Peregrine and Woodcock over my office in York city centre.

Looking forward to what 2012 will bring, a trip to the Pyrenees is on the cards which will hopefully result in one of my top 10 most wanted birds – Lammergeier, and who knows what else, hopefully a few more UK ticks too... Looking forward to it... Good birding.

Lammergeier © Nature Photography UK

Lammergeier © Nature Photography UK