Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Monday, 19 March 2018

Bridlington Harbour - 19th March 2018


Bridlington Harbour produced some great birds yesterday - Grey Phalarope, Little Gull and Long Tailed Duck! Unfortunately, I couldn't get down there. I did make the effort early this morning in the hope that these birds would continue to enjoy the safety from the sea enormously powerful waves. There was no sign of the Long Tailed Duck, I missed the Grey Phalarope when it flew south seconds before I arrived, But I did manage to touch base with two Little Gulls.

Consolation was in the form of a Shag in breeding plumage!

Several Kittiwakes were taking shelter with some looking rather worse for wear courtesy of the weather.

The tide had peaked but no mud for waders yet. These Redshanks and Turnstone enjoyed a "group hug"!

The Redshanks became quite flighty but eventually settled

And several Purple Sandpipers mingled

A Rock Pipit flitted between the harbour structures, landing only briefly, but I was ready!

I bet the Grey Phalarope is re-located later!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Atmospheric Power of Nature! Bempton Cliffs - 18th March 2018

From Grandstand

I could only make for a short visit to the cliffs today but what a morning to enjoy the atmospheric power of nature! Some wintery showers greeted my arrival with a very strong easterly blow doing its best to challenge the few brave souls making it onto the cliff path and viewpoints. All of the seabirds had left the cliffs for the safety of the sea but a few could be seen in flight. Best bird of the morning was a very pale Barn Owl quartering the fields between the visitor centre and ruins of RAF Bempton.

Due to the weather, the sightings board is a little Spartan!

Standing on the view points you could feel the power of the sea as the waves battered the base of the cliffs 400ft below! The best part of today was the atmospheric light combined with nature's power, where else would you want to be?!

These cliffs are normally white with Gannets, returning to their nests. Today, the white was a dusting of snow!

This rather icy spectacle, off Grandstand, will be home to nesting Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills. All that is needed is some warm weather!

And finally, I don't think this will apply for a while!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Barn Owl, Bempton Cliffs - 13th March 2018

It's always a pleasure to see a Barn Owl! This is one of two birds currently being observed close to the visitor centre on Bempton Cliffs. One is a very pale bird!

Monday, 12 March 2018

Early Spring on Bempton Cliffs - 11th March 2018


A beautiful early spring day on the cliffs more than made up for the atrocious weather that affected most of the country over the last week courtesy of the "Beast of the East" and "Pest from the West". It was the sort of day that recharged the batteries and hopefully is the start of better weather to come. Arriving at the viewpoints, it was clear that the sight and sounds were coming from the Gannets and Fulmars. No Auks were present but rafts of Razorbills and Guillemots were on the sea. Listening carefully, over the sound of the waves hitting the base of the cliffs was a sound not heard since last years breeding season - "kitt-eee-waake". Yes, hundreds of Kittiwakes were on the sea, gradually moving closer, with a few actually returning to their nests.


The Kittiwake is unfortunately a red listed bird due to its declining population and is a high conservation concern. It is thought that the Kittiwake is the most numerous gull in the world, but the British population has declined by 50% in the last 25years. The British population is c370,000 pairs with c 51,535 pairs ( c3% of the UK breeding population) (2017) at Bempton / Flamborough. These delicate birds will have returned from there wintering grounds around Newfoundland and south west Greenland. The state of the colony reflects the health of the North Sea - Kittiwakes are surface feeders, reliant on sand eels and other small fish which depend on a healthy ocean. Healthy oceans produce phytoplankton which is eaten by zooplankton which the small fish feed on.

So, what else is about? Todays sightings:

Eventually, after scanning the sea and seabird rafts, late afternoon, a single Puffin was located. My first of the year but needing scope to see! It was enjoyed by a handful of visitors who were on the viewpoint at the time.

Gannets are still increasing in numbers within the colony.

Bringing in nesting material

Gannets are amber listed which means a moderate conservation concern. The British population is c220,000 pairs (60% of the European population). The Bempton / Flamborough population is c13,392 (2017) which accounts for c3% of the British population and it is increasing!

The Herring Gull

I often refer to the Herring Gull as the "Marmite Gull" - you either love them or hate them! I love them and their intelligence and feisty mannerisms never fail to impress. People eating fish and chips in the local towns probably would hate them! However, this charismatic gull is red listed with a conservation status similar to the loved Puffins! The British population is currently c130,000 pairs, with a Bempton population of c466 pairs (2017). The British population has recently declined by c50%, a figure mirrored at Bempton.

Overall, the seabird population at Bempton / Flamborough is now nearly 500,000! A true seabird city!

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Hilla Green, Forge Valley and Wykeham Lakes - 9th March 2018

Coal Tit, Forge Valley

Now that the "Beast from the East" is history, it is good to get back to some normality (whatever that might be!). The weather at the moment seems stuck in a "good day, bad day" pattern and today was a good day! After a heavy frost, the temperatures rose to early spring normal so it would have been rude not to have made the most of it. Today we explored the rather pleasant lanes around the Forge Valley (within the Scarborough recording area).

We started at Hilla Green, new territory, in the hope of finding Dipper on the River Derwent. We were very lucky, finding one just below the bridge, staying for about five minutes, before disappearing and being the only Dipper seen today!

This was my first Dipper in three years and my first to be seen in Yorkshire! Whilst watching the river a Kingfisher darted past, upstream, but failed to stop. Nearby, on a more sedentary water, two male and two female Mandarin ducks were spotted, but by the time we had stopped the car and reversed back, they had taken to flight and may have landed upstream on the Derwent. A ggod spot for us, as again a three year tick and our first in Yorkshire!

Heading to the Forge Valley, a stop off was made at Wrench Green, again to check for Dipper, but none were located. We did see a Grey Wagtail and the trees on the bank held c30 Siskins.

Grey Wagtail

Arriving at the Forge Valley feeders, the usual suspects were active with Marsh Tit as a year tick, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Pheasant, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Robin.

Marsh Tit

Great Tit


Long Tailed Tit

Our next stop was at Wykeham Lakes where earlier in the day a Great White Egret had been seen. Needless to say, it was not visible when we arrived! All of the wildfowl had been pushed to the far side of the lake due to a group of model boat enthusiasts pursuing their hobby. However, several Brown Hares were located in the adjoining fields.

Brown Hare

Overall, very pleasant early spring birding! However, the car looks as if it has been competing in rally cross courtesy of the road / track leading to the Wykeham Lakes viewing platform!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Late Winter on Bempton Cliffs - 25th February 2018


Overall, a rather pleasant day greeted us on the cliffs, sunny intervals but a cooling south easterly blow. It was the sort of day that raised hopes of spring being just around the corner. It was hard to believe the media warnings of a "Beast from the East" coming in this week to challenge normality! The cliffs were much quieter today, with only Gannets and Fulmars to enjoy, the Guillemots and Razorbills having departed back to the North Sea. It should be remembered that Auk presence on the cliffs at this time of year is transient, but the breeding season is not too far away. It was also nice to see at least four Porpoises, a Red Fox and a Weasel.

Todays Sightings:

A colourful start to the morning with this Pheasant at the feeding station

Arriving on the viewpoints, I was immediately taken by this view of Scarborough Castle, highlighted in the sunshine, about fifteen miles away!

It was the Gannets that were probably the most numerous birds today, some have already reunited with their partners at their nest sites, some are still waiting, but many more have not yet returned.

Gannet "Yoga"?

At least two Peregrines delighted between Bartlett Nab and Jubilee Corner viewpoints, with this one landing briefly at Bartlett.

And of course, the Fulmar