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Yorkshire Birding trip 20 July 2020 (1 Viewer)

Himalaya

Well-known member
Not often a day off collides with someone wanting to go to see the Black Browed Albatross with the added bonus of the Turkestan Shrike. I needed something different as over the last 2 years I hadn't done much travelling of over 1 hour. The day before the Shrike was not reported. I said that we would only go that far if both birds were present. The Albatross was reported but the Shrike was only reported in the morning of the day before we were going. The contingency plan was going to Blacktoft Sands and maybe another near by place. There were plenty to chose from. I looked to see if the Shrike was reported but blank on that front but two words which caught my attention - Stone Curlew and in West Yorkshire. A friend let me know it was spotted at the New Flash, Fairburn Ings and we were on our way. On arrival we pulled over behind where other birds were parked up. Within seconds we were on the bird and for my friend Mr P a lifer on the plate. I had seen Stone Curlews at Weeting Heath, Suffolk and a vagrant at Lodmoor, Dorset in July 2011 when I was visiting there. I had also seen a few in France. I have never seen one so far North so it was a welcome sighting. We noted Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey heron, Mallard, Teal, Shelduck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Lapwing, Curlew, Marsh Harrier. The Shrike was showing so off we went. I heard Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer as we drove and saw Buzzard, Rook, Carrion Crow, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull.
We arrived at Bempton and it was a beautiful site seeing the sea and smelling it. It was one of the things I have missed over the last few years. I inhaled and felt the stress of waking early and driving disappear into the wind. I could understand how the band Morcheeba felt when they wrote and sang the lyrics:-

I left my soul there
Down by the sea
I lost control here
Living free

The RSPB had organised very well - 2 very rare birds on site. It wasn't the giant of the Southern hemisphere which was actually the rarer bird with over 30 accepted British records. There were only 7 accepted records of Turkestan Shrike aka Red Tailed Shrike. The male of this species is the most beautiful of the Shrikes in breeding plumage in my humble opinion.
It was quite a feeling letting the sea breeze enter my nostrils and inhale at the same time as the sound of the Kittiwakes filling my ears. It was quite a site watching the Gannets sail up the cliffs and appear at eye level gracefully mastering the breeze. The temperature was probably half of what it was the day before. The day before record temperatures were recorded nationally in the UK. The sea breeze was beautiful, in the middle of warm and cool. We saw Jackdaws, Tree Sparrows, Gannets, Fulmars, Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins, Kittiwakes tending to their families. The numbers of Auks looked less - some had already fledged but some may have succumbed to bird flu. We walked over to the viewpoint where the Albatross was showing and we waited 15, 20 minutes and I couldn't help but listen to some rather important people talk about rewilding in Britain as if was all in their hands! As we waited patiently a long black "thing" flew out from the cliffs and climbed a little in the air. "That's it!" I said not very loudly but the neighbour heard. He dismissed it "it's not that". I said "it has a black back and long black wings". They all agreed it was and the bird disappeared into the cliff only to reappear and do this circuit It performed this routine for a few minutes, slicing through the air and trying to get a foothold but mostly failing until eventually it got it right. It was a bit underwhelming as we only saw the bird from above but having it at eye level or even flying above would give a very good perspective. We chatted to some of the other visitors and one even managed to photograph it with a Great Skua from an organised boat trip- what a combination! Herring Gulls, Great Black Backed Gulls were unwelcome visitors often annoying the other sea birds and the latter was feeding on a dead Gannet on the sea. Feral Pigeons/Rock Doves were on the cliffs, whilst in the fields and hedges Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Whitethroat, Corn Bunting, Linnet and Reed Bunting were present. We walked south and then east to where the Shrike was and it was out there perched waiting for a snack. Some of the photographers were sat in the field as the Shrike worked it's way up the hedge. I took my shoes off and sat down - what a feeling! It was lovely to sit there on the cut field and take in the calm. It would have been nice if the Shrike perched on top of the hedge but it had no reason to. I could not believe today. I had never had a birding day like this ever in the UK or anywhere!
We walked back to the Albatross viewpoint and it did a few more of it's circuits. We had a look at some of the other view points but the wind was biting and this drop in temperature made us move on sooner. The climate crisis was no longer about the heat this sudden drop in temperature in my eyes. We discussed our next stop Alkborough to see the Stilt Sandpiper OR Blacktoft to see the Cranes which weren't always reported.
 
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Himalaya

Well-known member
It was Blacktoft we were going to and we stopped at the historical St Andrew's Church in Bainton and in the churchyard we saw Coal Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Robin, Chaffinch, Collared Doves, Blackbird, House Martins, Swifts, Starlings. I heard Corn Buntings on the way but they were distant. Eventually one on a wire with me braking suddenly was a lifer for Mr P. Thankfully, the truck behind was not that close and as it edged closer we could quickly move on.
We kept an eye out for Yellow Wagtails on the way to the nature reserve but none were seen.
We arrived at the nature reserve and other than an RSPCA vehicle only one car was in the car park. That was an ominous sign. A staff member/volunteer was leaving the site and she pointed out that the Cranes were at the Singleton hide. We almost ran the way there and then bumped into a man who was visiting from Leeds to see the Cranes coming out of the hide just before Singleton. We mentioned the Cranes showing at the next hide and we made our way there. We spaced ourselves out at the hide and they were not in front. Mr P noticed them in the right hand corner just behind some reeds. An adult and a juvenile showed and later 4 showed. A lifer for him and he found them for us. I had seen them in Suffolk before so this was my second British sighting. They stood dozing, occasionally preening themselves but mostly doing nothing. The Spoonbills were a lifer for Mr P too and saw were the Bearded Tits which pinged away. They were quite active and restless but did not reveal themselves for long. Time to inspect the waders and he achieved more ticks in the form of Spotted Redshanks and a Ruff. The Spotted Redshanks, Greenshanks and the Black Tailed Godwits were quite noisy and active. No Oystercatchers or even Avocets were present. Grey Heron, Little Egrets and Spoonbill fed near the Cranes and were dwarfed Marsh Harriers were active over the reeds and one passing over the reserve seemed somewhat different. It was flying quite low but in a direct line and as I watched it cut over the reserve I saw the forked tail and the wing patterns of a Red Kite and shouted it out. Mr P not long after saw a Hobby cutting across the reserve and right in front of the hide which we locked onto. Somewhat later a falcon came in front of the left and scattered the birds - I said Peregrine but the man from Leeds wasn't sure. It flew past again and a male Peregrine was confirmed. Then Mr P managed to see a distant Kestrel which I picked up. 5 raptors in a short period of time which included a Hobby and Peregrine.
The Cranes were being bone idle and other birds we saw from the same hide and others at the reserve included, Little Ringed Plover, Curlew, Lapwing, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Snipe and Redshank. Water Rails squealed and revealed, Pied Wagtails, Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Coot, Moorhen, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pochard, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch, Linnet, Dunnock, Long Tailed Tit, Reed Warbler sang, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Swift, Swallow, Sand Martin, Black Headed Gulls and Lesser, Herring and Great Black Backed Gulls, Peasant, Meadow Pipit, Starling, Stock Dove were also seen at the reserve.

A fantastic day with many species seen but missing Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Bullfinch, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Sparrowhawk, Great White Egret, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Grey Wagtail, Oystercatchers.
 

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