Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Birding Highlights of 2014!

In this post I will be talking about my birding highlights throughout the months of 2014. This is probably the best year I have had for birding with some great birds like Masked Shrike, Blyths Pipit and loads of other great birds.

We had a good start to the year with a Great Northern Diver in Scarborough Harbour on the 2nd which showed very well. On the 5th we had a Eurasian White Fronted Goose at Tophill low. At Saltholme on the 11th we had 2 Long Tailed Ducks and a few Barnacle Geese. Our highlight of January was 2 cracking Glossy Ibis which we saw in Boldon, Durham which came very close.

Glossy Ibis
February started of with a bang with a Myrtle Warbler in Shincliffe, Durham along with 3 Waxwings. This was on the 9th also this was my first mega of the year! On the 16th we revisited the Myrtle Warbler in Durham also on the way back we stopped at Saltholme where we got a single Long Tailed Duck and 2 Lesser Redpolls. On the 21st,22nd,23rd we went to Norfolk for a short holiday where we saw Brambling and Egyptian Geese at Scunthorpe moor, Velvet Scoter at Titchwell and on the final day we saw several Parrot Crossbills in Edgefield.

Myrtle Warbler
On the 1st we went to North Cave Wetlands where we had a Smew and our first Chiffchaff of the year. On the 9th we had a flock of 30+ Snow Buntings at Filey. On the 22nd we had a Mediterranean Gull at Scarborough. The highlight of this month was the Lapland Buntings at Bempton Cliffs which were almost in summer plumage, we saw these on the 30th.
Lapland Bunting
This was probably one of our best months with a flock of Twite on the 6th at Blacktoft and then on the 12th we had a fantastic Tawny Pipit at Flamborough which showed very well. On the 16th, 17th and 18th we went to Norfolk again for the Thetford Conference but while we were there we had time for some birding. On the 16th we had a couple of Stone Curlews on Weeting heath. On the 17th we saw the Baikal Teal on Ouse Washes also we saw a Cattle Egret on the same reserve and we saw Two Barred Crossbills in Lynford Arboretum. On the 18th we went to see the Two Barred Crossbills again in Lynford.
Tawny Pipit

On the 4th we went to Spurn where we saw a Pale Bellied Brent Goose, Little Terns and a Short Eared Owl. On the 6th we saw a Spoonbill, 2 Curlew Sandpipers and a Black Necked Grebe in Nosterfield. On the 10th we had one of our best highlights of the year which was a Hoopoe in Beverley which was only a couple of feet away. On the 19th we saw a Red Necked Phalarope at North Cave. On the 25th we went to Bolton Abbey where we saw a Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts, Spotted Flycatcher and Mandarins. On the 27th we had a trip to Scotland, we stayed until the 31st. Some of the highlights were, Ptarmigan and Dotterel in the Cairngorms, Ospreys, Crested Tits, White Tailed Eagle, Black Grouse, Black Throated Diver, Whinchats, Ring Ouzel and Spotted Flycatchers.

Red Necked Phalarope


Black Throated Diver
On 4th and the 5th we had 5 Long Eared Owls at a site next to where I live. On the 7th we had a Garganey at Saltholme. We saw 2 Turtle Doves at Sutton Bank on the 10th. On the 21st we saw a Goshawk in Wykeham Forest also we had a great day a Bempton watching seabirds. On the 29th of June we saw a Roseate Tern and a Med Gull at Saltholme.
Roseate Tern
On the 5th we went to Saltholme again to see the Roseate tern. On the 24th we saw 3 Woodlarks and a Spotted Flycatcher at Allerthorpe Common. On the 27th and 28th we went to Northumberland as we wanted to go to the Farne Islands. On the islands we saw Arctic, Common, Roseate and Sandwich Terns, Purple Sandpipers, Puffins, Guillemots, Shags and Eiders. In Seahouses harbour we had incredibly close views of Eider and Rock Pipits. On the way back we saw a White Winged Black Tern at Saltholme on the 28th.
Purple Sandpiper

Arctic Tern



White Winged Black Tern
On the 4th we saw a Wood Sandpiper at Nosterfield. Pretty much from then on we were on holiday in Menorca where we saw some great birds like Woodchat Shrike, Bee Eaters, Booted Eagles, Egyptian Vultures, Ferruginous Duck and more.
Another very good month with on the 5th to the 7th we were at the Spurn Migration Festival where we saw 2 Wrynecks, a Barred Warbler, Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Whinchats, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Med Gulls, Pintail, Redstarts, Lesser Whitethroats and a Hen Harrier. On the 21st I saw one of my favourite birds of the year, the Masked Shrike at Spurn! It was a great bird to see plus it was only the 3rd time this species had ever been recorded in Britain! Also that day we saw a Red Breasted Flycatcher, 2 Jack Snipe, a Pied Flycatcher and a Redstart.


Masked Shrike
On the 12th we went to Flamborough where we saw a Raddes Warbler which is also one of my best highlights this year. we also saw a cracking Yellow Browed Warbler and 2 Barn Owls on the same day. On the 25th of October we went to Spurn again! We saw a Black Brant, 2 Snow Buntings and a group of Whooper Swans.
Snow Bunting

Yellow Browed Warbler

Raddes Warbler
On the 2nd we saw a Rough legged Buzzard in Commondale along with a few Red Grouse. On the 29th we went to Spurn once again...... We saw a Pomarine Skua, a Little Auk and I found Spurns latest ever recording of Whinchat which was a very surprising find!
On the 5th we went to North Cave to see 3 Tundra Bean Geese also that weekend we went to Swanwick as I was doing a talk for the BTO in front of around 300+ people, I was a little nervous but in the end I quite enjoyed it. On the 13th we went to Seahouses in Northumberland where we had brilliant views of some Eiders. On the 14th I got another mega bird! a Blyths Pipit in Wakefield!!! We only had flight views but it came very close at times plus it was great to hear it call. On the 26th we revisited the Blyth's Pipit in hope of getting some better views, it was brilliant as we got it sitting in a tree! On the 29th we visited relatives in Newcastle and while we were there we had time to visit the Iceland Gull inside North Shields Fish Quay, it showed very well down to a few feet at times.  

Tundra Bean Geese


Blyth's Pipit

Iceland Gull
I have picked a top 10 birds of the year, it was very hard to pick as this year has probably been my best ever year for birding.
Another highlight was finding the latest ever Whinchat for Spurn, It was a great feeling to find it.
Anyone who reads my blog will know that me and my dad are pretty hopeless when it comes to directions and generally finding places but for me it is part of the adventure. It is great getting out and about and seeing new areas of the country as well as getting exercise and plenty of fresh air. The British Isles are really beautiful and we should do all we can to make sure the fantastic wildlife that lives here, can do so for as long as it wants without being persecuted. I have met a number of inspirational people this year and I hope to do more and more to help the wildlife in the British Isles. The weather this year has helped many species thrive. There have been lots of protests and ordinary people have highlighted the threat to many of our species. Let us hope that the government takes notice and helps the birds and animals that are in trouble, protects those that soon could be and values the wildlife of this beautiful part of the world.  
My year list this year ended at 204 which I don't think is to bad and my life list is at 251. My target for my life list this year was 250 so I am really pleased to get that.
A few targets for next year would be to see a Capercallie and a Corncrake also I would really love to visit Shetland!
Thanks for reading and I wish you all a fantastic 2015!



Monday, 29 December 2014

Iceland comes to Tynemouth!

At the weekend we were up visiting relatives in Newcastle and on the Sunday morning me and my Dad decided to try and see the Iceland Gull which had taken up residence in the North Shields Fish Quay.

As soon as we arrived it only took about 5 minutes for the Iceland Gull to show which was very good news but sadly it was a little distant. We watched it distantly for about 10 minutes but thankfully! A birder came with some bread and threw it in the water and the Iceland Gull was straight down for it. We got superb views feeding right in front of us. A cracking bird! I think it has been aged as a second winter bird. It was a very nice bird to see plus to see it so close was even better. Also in the area there was a few Turnstone and a small group of Eiders.

Iceland Gull
Afterwards we had a little walk through a wood where we spotted a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Goldcrest also we had a little walk along the coast, on some rocks below some cliffs we spotted Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Redshank.

Friday, 26 December 2014

A Christmas Cracker!

Today me and my Dad decided to revisit the Blyth's Pipit which had taken up residence in Wakefield in a flooded field just near Pugneys Country Park.

More or less as soon as we arrived we had brief views of the Blyth's Pipit in some trees at the back of the field. A little while later it dropped down and wasn't seen for a while but thankfully after about half an hour this superb little bird took off and landed in one of the nearby trees!!! It allowed us to get brilliant views and not just flight views like we did last time. I was so pleased to see it up close. A great bird and one of my favourite birding highlights this year.

Blyth's Pipit
After a good couple of hours looking at this fantastic bird we went to Pugneys country park in search of the drake Smew which had been sighted recently but despite having a good scan around the whole area we didn't have any luck seeing it but we did see plenty of Goldeneyes which showed very well. While walking around we saw Jays, Great Crested Grebes, Little Grebes and Redwings.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Blyth's Pipit!

This weekend I was really determined to go and see Blyths Pipit next to Pugneys Country Park at Wakefield. It was only about 30 minutes away so it was definitely worth a try plus it would be my 250th bird in the UK which I was really trying hard to get before 2015.

Before we could go for it we went up to Northumberland on Saturday to Celebrate my Grandma's wedding anniversary. Most of the time I was out looking for anything unusual in and around the harbour. I found a big group of Eiders just beside the harbour and suddenly they all started coming towards me and within a couple of minutes they were all on the beach right next to me! It was really great to be so close to such fantastic birds.

There was also around about 10 Turnstones running around the beach and there was a single Rock Pipit flying around the harbour.


Rock Pipit
On Sunday after my brothers football, we headed of to Wakefield in search of the Blyths Pipit! When we arrived at the right spot we joined the huge amount of birders looking into the field of where it had been spotted. We asked a man if he had seen it and he said not for the last hour! So a little less confident we stood and waited but thankfully someone went into the field to try and flush the bird and within a little while the bird was up and flying around!!! In the next hour or so the Pipit was up about 4 more times and flying around very close at times. It was considerably bigger than the Meadow Pipits which were also in the area also the call was very different. I am so pleased I saw this cracking bird as it was my 250th bird in the UK plus it is one I will always remember. Here are a couple of record shots I took of this great bird.

Blyths Pipit