Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Monday, 23 April 2018

Doing "Touristy" Things (with a bit of birding) in Whitby! - 22nd April 2018

The cardio vascular 199 steps workout!

Heather was working at a craft and gift fair at Whitby Pavilion over the weekend and I joined her on Sunday. This gave myself and Symphony the opportunity to wonder around Whitby and basically do "touristy" things! However, I felt there may be some year tick birds nearby, so it would have been rude not to climb the 199 cardio vascular steps to the abbey and a brief walk along the Cleveland Way! On my way I came across a group of Sandwich Terns and Arctic Terns passing the harbour entrance. On the Cleveland Way I soon came across male and female Wheatears (c8), Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. All was going well until a loose dog entered the fields setting up breeding Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and scattering the Wheatears. Symphony was on her lead but the owners of the loose dog had no concerns for the birds. Indeed, I had to say something, only to be told that they only had to put the dog on a lead if farm livestock was encountered and that bird watchers and environmentalists were too sensitive about wildlife!!!


Meadow Pipit

And, parts of Whitby

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Thornwick Pool, Flamborough - 21st April 2018

Reflective Shelduck

A quiet couple of hours spent around Thornwick Pool, quiet as in very few people and quiet as in lack of birds! Initially, more excitement would have been had watching paint dry! My mind wandered with visions of a Glossy Ibis on the bank, a Bittern in the reeds and a Phalarope on the water, then I wake up with the sound of splashing as three Shelducks fly in! At least the weather was good!

While negotiating the still muddy hide approach, this Wren caught my attention

The hedges and bushes held Willow Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat (singles), and the Barn Owl was seen at the back of the old farmhouse.

Willow Warbler

The pool held several Moorhens, a pair of Mallard, a Common Snipe, two Greylag Geese, one Canada Goose, a Water Rail (chased into reeds by a Moorhen), Pied Wagtails, several Reed Buntings, three Shelducks and a rather large feral cat coming down to drink! Over the water were several Swallows and Sand Martins, with a flyover by a female Sparrowhawk.

Pied Wagtail


"I don't think you laid that egg!"


Common Snipe

Friday, 20 April 2018

Loafing around in the Scarborough Area! - 19th April 2018

Black Throated Diver - Wykeham South Lake

On Thursdays, Heather has a card stall within the indoor Scarborough market and this gives me the opportunity of exploring some of Scarborough's birding spots! Today was an exceptional spring day with blue sky and wall to wall sunshine. Indeed, by the afternoon it was becoming too warm for me! So, with Symphony ginger beast in tow, it was time to start loafing around in the hope of finding something special, and I was not to be disappointed! The day started at Wykeham south lake, where after a while, the Black Throated Diver swam into view. This was rather special as it was a first for me in Yorkshire and my first since 2015! Unfortunately, the bird remained too distant for my 400mm lens.

The antics of a group of four male Gadwall entertained as I'm sure they attempted "one-upmanship" on each other, in the absence of obvious females!

They say that one Swallow doesn't make a summer but I live in hope that this glorious weather lasts a little longer!

Moving on to Seamer tip pool with Willow Warbler (year tick) and Chiffchaff in full song and then on to Burton Riggs. Here, slightly more migrants in the form of Blackcap (m&f), Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler. As I walked the path, I inadvertently flushed a Common Sandpiper (year tick) which I couldn't relocate and on the water, another year tick of Dabchick. Then it was into Scarborough and Marine Drive for the Peregrines which didn't seem to like showing well at all but  luckily managed to get onto the male! Next stop was Scalby Mills with low tide.

Lesser Black Backed Gull


Great Black Backed Gull

Moving on, it was pastures new - Scalby Lodge Pools. Very quiet but I did get another year tick of two Sand Martins. When I arrived at the hide/viewing point, I was unsure as to its purpose! Very little could be seen warranting the screens with the only wet areas no bigger than puddles! A larger pond near the buildings did hold two Sleduck.

A look at Johnsons Marsh continued the quiet theme in this area with Grey Heron, Mallard and a few Teal.

With temperatures soaring, it was back to Marine Drive, Scarborough, parking up near the skate park. Earlier this morning, Arctic Terns had been reported. After a while, I managed to locate four which made a Yorkshire tick and my first since 2015!

Overall, a good if quiet day.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Puffin Extravaganza at Bempton Cliffs - 15th April 2018

Puffin Gape!

Todays weather on the cliffs consisted of light south-easterly winds increasing in strength during the morning, but after an increasingly bright morning, a sea fret developed early afternoon with temperatures dropping rapidly. By mid afternoon, I was wishing I had my gloves and woolly hat!

The morning certainly felt like spring had arrived and once again "the cliffs were alive with the sight and sound of seabirds!". All of the breeding seabirds could be easily seen from the cliffs and some excellent spring migrants were located in the vegetation of the nature trail, feeding station and dell.

So what could be seen today?

Much to the pleasure and delight of the visitors, Puffins were showing in good numbers on all of the six viewpoints, in flight and on the sea.

Puffin taking a bow!

Puffin Yoga!

Puffin Gape!

The Nest near Grandstand

Gathering nest material

Gathering nest material

Puffins in the mist!

Puffins in the mist!

Of course it wasn't all Puffins! A walk along the nature trail produced a fantastic male Redstart - my first male for several years! Also, my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year.

Lesser Whitethroat

Back to the cliffs, it is noticeable that many Gannet nests are not yet occupied or sole birds are in residence. The bad weather in March has probably set the breeding season back by 3 - 4 weeks, so hopefully increased numbers will arrive soon.

Some of the Guillemots are still showing winter plumage / juvenile traits. This one with Puffin.




Guillemot, attempting to continue the family traits!