Sunday 20th May 2018

A warm sunny spell and it appears that an influx of Hobbys have appeared at various local sites. Having spent many happy hours at RSPB Lakenheath watching these masters of the sky, the opportunity to see them locally was to good a chance to miss. Normally all you get is an all to brief view of one and never to be seen again, however this morning we spent a couple of hours at Staveley Nature Reserve and were not to be disappointed.
Firstly a Red Kite drifted over the reserve putting all the breeding Common Terns into a frenzy, then within the hour at least 2 or 3 Hobbys made an appearance and continued to do so all morning.
Also on the reserve were Willow, Sedge, Reed, Cetti’s and Grasshopper Warbler.

Hobby over Staveley Nature Reserve


Saturday 28th April 2018

The annual pilgrimage to the Humber to see the Reed bed specialist went mostly according to plan. The weather today was more akin to January than almost May so most species kept their heads down in the bitterly North/Easterly wind.
Most species were heard as opposed to seen and in order of the days list :- Sedge Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Common Tern, Reed Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Grasshopper Warbler, Bearded Tit and Water Rail. The usually  reliable Bittern failed to show or boom.

Saturday 21st April 2018

A lovely spring morning and off at first light. The day started started out well with a Barn Owl close to home and my aim was to see some summer migrants. The favoured location in the heart of the North Yorks Moors, to see Redstart and Pied Flycatcher. Both species were there and it appeared good numbers of the Flycatchers in the area. Sadly the rest of the day went downhill with yesterdays goodies at RSPB Saltholme failing to show and apart from a single Wheatear and singing Sedge Warbler the journey was totally unproductive.

♀ Pied Flycatcher

Saturday 14th April 2018

The incredibly slow Spring migration made a small step towards Spring today with at last a bit of warmer weather. A visit to Nosterfield and the walk down to Flask and finally singing Blackcap, Chiff-Chaff and Willow Warbler. On Flask a few remaining Goldeneye and a nice ♂ Red-Crested Pochard on Kiln. Only a single Little Egret on the Reed-beds and the long staying Slavonian Grebe (still a long way from the viewing area) remains on Lingham.

Sunday 25th March 2018

The start of British Summer Time and finally a bright sunny morning, of which they have been few and far between this year. A visit to Castle Howard lake and first bird was a Red headed Smew, which was on the very far side of the lake, skulking in the cover and subsequently was never seen again. Good numbers of Goldeneye, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and single Pochard and Goosander.
Decent numbers of Common Geese with a single Pink Footed and 2 Barnacles mixed in. The first summer migrant was a calling Chiffchaff.

Monday 19th March to Wednesday 21st March 2018

A few days visit to Northumberland and one of my favourite places. A chance to undertake some birding in an area that on its day can beat anywhere. However the winter that still won’t give in remains a constant threat, with heavy Snow causing the obligatory road closures and traffic disruption. Thankfully this recent bout only lasted a couple of days and by the time we arrived in Northumberland the snow had all but disappeared.

We started off at Cresswell Ponds and scanning around only common wildfowl and a good number of Pink Footed Geese in the surrounding fields. Onto Druridge Ponds and the place had lots of Wildfowl around with Pintail, Shoveller, Teal, Wigeon and a couple of Scaup which were very distant. Wader wise both Black-Tailed and Bar-Tailed Godwits, Snipe, Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatchers, Ruff and Dunlin were on the reserve, and the highlight was a Water Pipit, which was very elusive initially, but finally displayed itself along the water edges.

The recent cold snap had left us with bitterly cold Easterly winds which considering where we were, could be viewed as a blessing, however even with many layers on it was still difficult to keep warm. Looking out over Alnmouth estuary where approximately 1000 Gulls were feeding very close in, really should have meant some White Wingers in amongst the Commoner species, but apart from a few Kittiwakes it was the usual Black-headed and Herring Gulls which was something of a disappointment. In fact it was a tremendous disappointment as conditions were perfect and other East Coast sites were turning a few of the rarer Gulls up.

The winds dropped over the following days and viewing over the sea anywhere on the Coastal paths meant Eiders galore. In fact every Harbour or estuary only had Eiders in and nothing else.

Lindisfarne proved to be very quiet with the tide well out. The Harbour area only housed the commoner Waders with Ringed Plover, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Grey Plover seen. Apart from Eiders only Red-breasted Mergansers and a few Shags were seen on the sea and a few Brent Geese were seen flying over.

Checking Seahouses, Craster and Beadnell Harbour only meant more Eiders and nothing else. In fact there were no Grebes of any description anywhere on the sea.

Alas the birding was relatively quiet but the stunning scenery makes up for it, and its an area where we will return again and again.

Tuesday 27th February 2018

As we head towards the first day of spring, winter decided it still had a lot more to give. With the latest “Beast from the East”, including heavy snowfall and bitterly cold eastern winds being predicted, I wandered down to the village Church Yard to check on the local Hawfinches. Heavy snowfall in the morning gave way to sunshine in the afternoon and thankfully at least 4 Hawfinch remain within the area. The Constant “Ticking” as the birds called to each other, meant the opportunity for these elusive birds to put on a show, and as the light levels increased they decided to sit out on top of the Yew trees.

Hawfinch in Thornton le Dale Church Yard