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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 08:34   #101
JWN Andrewes
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May 30th: part II

Wasted a chunk of time next looking for Rose-coloured Starling in Driffield. I’d seen the Llandudno bird at the beginning of the year, but the boys hadn’t, and I’d quite like to show them one in summer apparel, but alas not today. Kilnsea next on the off chance. Much of what had been reported in the Spurn to Easington area the past week or so had cleared out, leaving just a lost looking Fieldfare at Kilnsea Wetlands. It looked a bit ropey at first, sitting on the turf, but soon got up, had a stretch and went of to find some grub. Nothing else of note until a fine Yellow Wagtail dropped down in front of us. At any other time this, along with the Fieldfare, would have provided the oddest seasonal dissonance of the month, but up against Tuesday’s Turtle Dove / Great Grey Shrike combo today’s duo has to take second place. That was about it birdwise today, overnight at my brother’s in Beverley.
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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 09:29   #102
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Hmm. News of the teal's arrival at Skinflats broke too late for us yesterday - and now it has done a runner again.
Daniel saw some decent stuff on his week in the far NW: five year ticks in the shape of hooded crow, cuckoo, merlin, ptarmigan and great skua, plus an upgrade to real rock dove. He also saw some black-throated divers.

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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 09:56   #103
JWN Andrewes
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May 31st

Up to Wykeham this morning, driving through rolling farmland, at one point clocked a couple of chunky looking passerines up on a roadside wire. Quick turnaround and back track and we were soon year ticking Corn Bunting. It was still relatively early so before dropping in at the raptor viewpoint we decided to visit a nearby Turtle Dove spot to see if we could get better views than at Needingworth. Well, we managed to get one perched up, rather distant but we could hear it purring away well enough.

At the raptor viewpoint I started racking up Buzzard sitings, as well as a Red Kite, while the boys played, occasionally finding mini-beasts, pick of the crop being some very smart Red-and-black Frogghoppers. Unseen Garden Warblers were singing away, occasional Crossbills over, and then, bingo, Honey Buzzard. Looked like the pale one we saw last year, and it soon gained height to quite a distant and started displaying. The advantage of it being far off was that it would stay within the scope view for long periods, useful with one scope between the three of us, and we all managed to get good views of its “butterfly” display.

Job done, we then headed to Fairburn RSPB for a bit of a look around. Tree Sparrows at the visitor centre were a year tick, and then we headed up to Cutt Lane where a Night Heron had been seen recently. We really didn’t expect to see it, and so it proved, but there were some very vocal Kingfishers bombing about. With Arch on 199 for the year and needing Kingfisher he was keen to see one, but they kept doing their weird trick of bombing past yelling their heads off without actually showing themselves. After several frustrating, corner-of-the-eye untickable glimpses of movement one finally briefly perched up unobscured before dashing off again. 200 up, a good three months earlier than our previous best. 201 followed soon, with a fluffy Tawny Owl chick showing well from the path back to the visitor centre.

We finished off where we’d started, back at nearby Wintersett, where we significantly upgraded our views of the Great Reed, both sitting and singing in the reeds and in flight being chased off by Reed Warblers, where the size difference was very apparent. And that about wraps up our efforts over the Whit half term.
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 12:13   #104
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We had a number of alternatives in view for Sunday, including a jaunt down to Northumberland for the Baikal teal. Various things put paid to that including the bird not being seen in poor weather on Saturday and Daniel having a stomach upset on Saturday night, which left no one keen on a long drive.
Plan B involved an outing to Perthshire where a ring-billed gull is over-summering in a common gull colony. It was a latish start to ensure that Daniel was in a fit state to travel but the whole family came out for a change. The ring-billed gull proved absurdly easy to locate, with some interesting interaction with the neighbouring common gulls. A lifer for Daniel (Andrew saw one when he was 4!) and a very obliging one. Other birds seen in the area were red kites, a couple of male ring ouzels, common sandpiper and raven. On the way back to the main road a greyhen gave us another year tick. Varying our return route produced a family of red grouse (chicks still downy) and a whinchat.

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Old Sunday 16th June 2019, 09:49   #105
JWN Andrewes
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June 14th

Been waiting for a fine enough non-school-night evening to go on the hunt for Nightjars at Nercwys, and finally got one today. Arrived waaay too early, as usual, and picked up a Tree Pipit while we waited (just me and Arch for this, Sam sits out quite a few of the optional trips these days), and it wasn’t until after ten that we finally scored. A bird was calling quite close, and Arch picked it up in flight as it drifted down towards us, alighting unseen in the branches of a fir tree right smack bang above us, from where it churred its lungs out in fine style. Although we couldn’t make it out in the jumble of silhouetted boughs above us it was without doubt the closest I’ve ever heard and when it finally took flight again we could make out the white blazes in the wings and the barred underparts, which for Nightjar is pretty good.
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Old Sunday 16th June 2019, 22:26   #106
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June 15th

Post work twitch time! Considered it yesterday but didn't want to go for a potential skulker when we’d just have limited time available. Having seen positive news coming through while we were out looking for Nightjar last night, and then again this morning, I bit the bullet and we headed off along the North Wales coast through glorious sunshine and arrived at Cors Ddyga at a little before seven. News from those departing the scene was upbeat, bird showing fairy frequently, but on arriving at the spot all was quiet, and after a tense wait when it finally treated us to a brief burst of song, really close, it remained hidden to all but one lucky soul.

A few more occasional bursts of song, the bird clearly moving away, until someone got onto it sitting the wrong side of a bush. I could just make out a dark shape through bins, and through another birders scope (while confirming for him he was on the right bush) I managed to get brief views of half of the bird’s face with its beak open, reeling away. Whether it was even tickable on those views is debatable (and for the record, I conducted the debate, internally, took about three seconds, and, long story short, bang it on), but it quickly dropped out of sight and the boys never made it to the same post code as views. Damn.

A bunch more waiting, a few more bouts of singing (at one point it was up high in a bush, but the guy who’d got onto it came down with stage fright when it came to actually giving meaningful directions), and I was beginning to dread having to drive home with just me having scored. But no, needn’t have worried, it was back up a while later (seemed like an age, probably wasn’t) and this time the directions did the job, and I was on it. Bingo! Savi’s Warbler; a tick for all three of us!

(An aside; way back in maybe, mid to late nineties I went for a Savi’s at Marton Mere. Heard it singing plenty, and at one point I got views of a bird flying down low along the edge of the reeds, dark, with broad rounded tail. I was 99% sure that was it but thought hey, no need to tick on those views, I’m sure I’ll get another soon enough. Soon enough turned out to be twenty some years later!)

It sat tight for long enough to get it in the scope and lift the boys up for views, with Arch getting the best of it as it started reeling while he had his go. Brilliant evening out, one of my biggest bogies finally put to rest, and a tricky customer out of the way for the boys. More of these please!
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Old Monday 17th June 2019, 08:24   #107
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Good stuff. Saw one in Northants in about 1991, but they are probably as rare as river warbler up here.
Daniel and I had another outing to Aberdeenshire on Saturday. A stop at a site in Angus failed to produce the hoped for little ringed plover, but did provide a foraging garden warbler which was new for his year list.
We then headed up to the Ythan where the snoozing king eider was another year tick - it did wake up eventually (which was nice). Among the 4 species of terns present, little was also new for Daniel's year list. Further up the estuary 6 spoonbills were roosting on Inch Geck island. All in all a fairly successful outing.

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Old Monday 17th June 2019, 13:07   #108
JWN Andrewes
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Sounds good Rob. Drake King Eider remains firmly on the highly desirable list, but might be a while before we get the chance. All sorts of other stuff going on the next few weeks, so any birding will have to be shoe-horned around family outings and other pursuits. Potentially a road-trip on the cards mid August, we'll see.
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Old Monday 17th June 2019, 16:43   #109
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Nice to have targets. I have one steady target for my county, never seem to find it.
On a trip our West, I have two specific targets. I dare not write down either. but they are not very hard in the right habitat. I've only added one state bird this year.
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Old Tuesday 18th June 2019, 15:13   #110
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glad to hear you finally got your Savis. One that still eludes me. heard them a couple of times but never actually managed to see one. Closest I cam was at Minsmere the other year. it was a really misty day, could hear it reeling quite close but visibility from the hide was about 25M so never did see it!
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Old Tuesday 18th June 2019, 18:08   #111
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Yes, tricky devils Savi's, although perhaps turning up more frequently these days? Might be wrong, haven't exactly done any research (also Great Reed seem to be popping up a lot more these days).

Boys were over the moon to find their first Hawk Moth, a Lime, behind the house this evening.
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Old Monday 24th June 2019, 18:49   #112
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A successful outing with Daniel on Sunday. After the excitement of our first ever peach blossom in the moth trap we went over to Glasgow, where the drake blue-winged teal proved unexpectedly obliging. It came much closer than it seemingly has been doing and made three flights showing off its nominate feature. It even displayed to the pair of teal it is hanging out with. Since Daniel had only seen blue-winged teal before when he was three and a half, this was almost a lifer! Not sure he remembers the first one - though he certainly remembers the sandhill crane from later the same year (well who wouldn't!). Heading back east we called in at Vane Farm, where there was no sign of the ruddy shelduck - thereby avoiding any ethical issues about ticking it! A flock of 26 great crested grebes was impressive however. We had more success back in Fife with a spanking adult summer little gull at the Wilderness (among an eclectic mix which included 6 black-tailed godwits, 3 common sandpipers and a whooper swan. Letham pools produced a ridiculously obliging water rail which stood in full view the whole time we were there, preening and stretching. All in all a good outing.

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Old Saturday 6th July 2019, 11:52   #113
JWN Andrewes
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July 6th

Thanks to a successful post work dash to Burton Mere Wetlands four years ago, when the Gull-billed Tern turned up at Thurstaston on Wednesday we could afford to cool it out to the weekend. Even forewent dawn raid, didn’t arrive on site till half nine, and after a medium-tense hour’s wait, during which we picked up a few Barwits and a couple of Med Gulls while we scanned the estuary, the Gull-billed Tern suddenly appeared right before us. It spent the several minutes hawking over the mud in front of us, alighting in the distance briefly, before drifting off north again. Nice to have a decent rare rock up close enough for a morning jaunt, given there’re so many other calls on our time this time of year.
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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 21:22   #114
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July 9th

Cheers John!

I’d just left the house to pick up some stuff for packed lunches tomorrow, leaving the boys on notice that it would be bed time when I got back. I’d barely gone 10 yards when Farnboro John texted “Terek Sandpiper Burton Mere this evening.” So seconds after leaving the house I was tumbling back in, scrambling the boys to get changed back out of their pyjamas, and we were off. Arrived in double quick time to a tidy crowd admiring the Terek Sandpiper across the far side of the scrape. Fading light and distance made for ropy pics, but they’ll do for the scrap book, and once the bird was out on the open the scope views were decent enough from the bunker, where the boys could stand up on a bench to see over the vegetation. When we got back I still had to nip out for lunch stuff, but I made sure I grabbed a celebratory beer too!
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Old Friday 12th July 2019, 16:34   #115
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Congrats for a Terek! They seem to be more numerous at this year in Europe than usually. Or is it just me who feels that?
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Old Monday 15th July 2019, 12:32   #116
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The target has to be two species.
I do not mind which two. The score so far is one (Tengmalm's Owl).
Target for August will be Fea's Petrel again. I know that it's not going to be a tick as it can not be separated.
The Autumn opens up the field some what. Just please do not make it an island.

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Old Wednesday 17th July 2019, 14:27   #117
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Grr regarding the the terek - a couple of tantalising individuals in eastern Scotland this year but no cigar.
Last week we were up in the northwest highlands - a mixed bag weather wise but some nice encounters. On the way north a few stops on Speyside produced ospreys, a fleeting crested tit for Daniel (year tick - I had rather better views), and a Slavonian grebe. The following day we climbed Ben Wyvis in cold and windy conditions. Sue and Daniel saw a pine marten cross the track in front of us in the forest at the bottom, whilst some of us saw two ptarmigan in flight on the summit plateau. Disappointingly no dotterel. The next day was glorious and the others climbed Conival and Ben More Assynt whilst, for a variety of reasons, I spent the day on Handa. The following (wet) day produced real rock doves near Durness, a minke whale, black guillemots (year tick) and a couple of great northern divers at Balnakeil, one of which was in immaculate plumage (year tick). We all spent the next day on Handa where the skuas were fantastic. Back on the mainland we had a superb encounter with a pair of black-throated divers, and saw another family group. Next day the others went sea kayaking while I revisited the north coast. On the way home no dolphins at Chanonry Point but good views of crested tit for all at Loch Garten.

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Old Sunday 21st July 2019, 16:34   #118
JWN Andrewes
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July 21st

Our morning out started off at Burton Point where we managed to find a couple of Little Owls, sitting out on the sandstone before flying up to a small hawthorn. These were the boys’ first since 2015, so a species I have been very keen to catch up with this year. Round the corner on the RSPB reserve things were pretty quiet. We managed to catch up with a couple of Ringlets, which I thought were new for the boys but Arch informs me they have seen them before. Waders still thin on the ground, couple of Dunlin and a patchy moulting Ruff, but did catch up with the hoped for Green Sandpiper for the year. Also nice to see the young Avocets coming along – hard to believe they were fluffy little bundles just a few weeks ago.
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Old Thursday 8th August 2019, 14:32   #119
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July 27th - August 3rd

So, it looks like we’re doing moths now too. The discovery of several Tiger Moths around the public toilets at Whitesands Beach seemed to flick a switch in Arch’s head, and now he’s fascinated by moths. Not that we hadn’t seen some good ones already, Lime Hawk the other day, numerous Cinnabars, a few Six-spot Burnets and so on, but now, all of a sudden, moths seem to have gained some traction. Somewhat naively I thought that once he realised that the majority of moths were wee little drab grey brown things his interest would wane, but no, far from it, each dingy little Pug and Wave had to be photographed and identified. For the most part we relied on whatever had been attracted to the light outside our holiday let, as well as around the toilets at Whitesands (how we weren’t asked what we were doing seemingly taking close up photos of the mortar and window frames and so on of the bogs in the car park instead of heading out to the gloriously sunny beach I don’t know). Will now have to suss out the cheapest option for purchasing or building a moth trap. A selection of some of our favourites from the week appears below.

Other than that, pickings were pretty thin, wildlife wise, not that our Pembrokeshire jaunt is really about wildlife, much, particularly with wall to wall beach weather. The only birding objective was to get Manx Shearwater for the year, which we did at a little after 7 a.m. at New Quay with a distant quartet sweeping by while we unsuccessfully scanned for Dolphins from the harbour. Then in between games of cricket on the beach, surfing, reading, building extensive sandcastle offerings for the tide gods to devour and so on we picked up the usual Pembs staples, Fulmars, Gannets, Shags, a few Sanderlings, a Med Gull or two, plenty of Rock Pipits and Stonechats. Same old, same old, but a nice relaxing break was had by all.

Garden Tiger
Scalloped Oak
Mullein Wave
Buff Ermine
Pebble Prominent
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Old Thursday 8th August 2019, 15:49   #120
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August 8th

On the road early this morning, not wanting to be snarled up in rush hour traffic as we passed Manchester. This delivered us to Mickletown at around half six. Easy parking (making sure not to block anyone’s access), easy to locate site, friendly birders already waiting for action, which commenced at around 06:50 when someone got onto it (I think he was kind of marshalling; someone had certainly set up the tick tin early doors, and rightly so, think it was him). It was almost completely obscured, tucked in behind the fence off the left of the left-hand cow in the attached pic, massively back-lit and pretty poor views, but a tick’s a tick, and we were all treated to that familiar rush of joy and relief. You know the one.

Little Bustard; for the boys this was the first of the birds they ticked in Portugal last year to be converted to a UK tick. For me it marked the end of over thirty years of hurt since New Year’s, 1988. I had already instructed the boys to bring some of their pocket money with them to chuck in the bucket, which they duly did; got to teach twitching etiquette along with everything else!

Initially he was hunkered down at rest, but soon he started to preen a bit, threw in a flap of the wings for good measure, and then started to feed, slowly walking right… and then he settled back down again. What did he think this was? A Sunday? Certainly didn’t seem truly committed to the day yet. A few more minutes’ snoozing and he was off again, teasing us as he edged into view, only to then stop behind a fence post, or a swatch of died grass hanging from the fence. Patience served us in the end though, and eventually we got good scope views, although always through the fence. For anyone thinking of going the light will certainly be much better in the afternoon once the sun moves round, if you can cool it out till then.
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Old Thursday 8th August 2019, 15:57   #121
Jon Turner
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Bearing in mind your original targets for this year, are you now headed South West for what could be a bonanza of seabirds in the next couple of days?
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Old Thursday 8th August 2019, 16:02   #122
JWN Andrewes
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Originally Posted by Jon Turner View Post
Bearing in mind your original targets for this year, are you now headed South West for what could be a bonanza of seabirds in the next couple of days?
Alas no. That four-letterest of four-letter words, work, must intervene.

Also, pelagics aside, West Country seabirds are probably going to be put on hold until we have more than one scope between the three of us!
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Old Thursday 8th August 2019, 16:15   #123
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Ah yes - work - the curse of the drinking classes!

Sharing a scope on a seawatch is never easy.....
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Old Monday 12th August 2019, 17:00   #124
JWN Andrewes
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August 12th

Day off today, but headed into work anyway with the boys to have a look at the moth traps. Not a huge amount, and probably pretty standard fare for the experienced mothers, but we were particularly pleased with Blood Vein, Brimstone & Setaceous Hebrew Character (pictured below). Also started to sort out some of these Yellow Underwings, with Broad-bordered, Lesser Broad-bordered and Lunar all putting in appearances.

Road trip planned for later this week, account in due course….
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Old Monday 12th August 2019, 18:18   #125
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Lovely moths.

It wouldn't have been a Lunar Yellow Underwing.

All the best
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