Friday, 29 July 2016

Lake Garda music tour

Music tour to Italy with the North Yorkshire county youth wind bands.

The tour started at Tadcaster at 8am on the morning of the 23rd of July. A grueling 25-35 hour bus journey lay ahead. However because of the delays at Dover the journey took 36-37 hours. However I did see some decent birds. The journey through the UK was rewarded with a few Red Kites and then 4 Manx Shearwaters at around 9pm approaching Calais. Through the night we went through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. Dawn started in Germany and I was greeted by both Red and Black Kites as well as a Spoonbill. We continued on what seemed like an endless journey and entered the Alps in Austria where there were both Rock thrush and Crag martins. We finally got to Italy and got something to eat before going to bed. The next day we went to Torri del Benaco which was by Lake Garda. There I saw lots of Black-headed gulls, a Mediterranean gull, a few Yellow-legged gulls and loads of Italian sparrows. We then had a rehearsal and did a concert that evening, when (as well as Common swift) I saw a Pallid Swift. The next day we went to Verona where there were lots of Crag Martins. We went to the Verona opera arena where I unfortunately sprained my ankle by falling a little way. However this wasn't too bad as I sat in a lovely Cafe for the afternoon. Driving back to the hotel I saw Hooded crows and Carrion crows. A concert to Bardolino that evening only produced Mallards and Mute swans. The next day we went on a Cable Car on Monte Baldo where I saw Black Kite, Rock thrush, lots of Linnets and mixed Crag and House martins. Malcesine that afternoon produced some Red-crested Pochards. The final day was a boat tour to Garda. Here I saw a Caspian gull my second lifer of the trip (Italian Sparrow being the first). That afternoon we had to leave Italy, the last bird was a Golden Eagle. The route back went through Switzerland and France and didn't produce any good birds. Getting to Calais was relatively hassle free apart from some migrants wanting to get into the trailer of the coach but we left, it's sad to see people in this manner. The last bird of the trip was a Gannet on the ferry crossing at the Channel. I loved the trip and am looking forwards to one next year. We got back to Tadcaster at about 5pm, 26 hours later.

Here are a few pictures (taken on phone).
Italian Sparrow
Cricket sp

View from Monte Baldo 

Red-crested Pochard

Verona arena

Red-crested pochard

Friday, 15 July 2016

A great day of patching and volunteering

I got up at 0530 grabbed my scooter and headed to Hunmanby Gap for some vismigging/seawatching with local birders Keith Clarkson and Nick Carter. I (finally) added Mistle thrush to PWC (patch work challenge) and also added two Knot which flew south. There were also lots of birds that I had already had that year. Best were - 21 Common Scoter north, 1 Red-throated diver south, 6 Manx Shearwaters north, 9 Whimbrel north with one south, a Dunlin south, 3 Yellow wagtails south and a Grey Wagtail south. These two additions left me on 126 points with 105 species.

I then went on for a day of volunteering at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. The day went off to a good start with a Whimbrel north, a singing Corn bunting and 20 Common Scoter south and 30 north. Then I went back out onto a viewpoint after lunch. I stationed myself on Grandstand. I got a radio from another viewpoint guide on Staple Newk (the farthest south viewpoint) and she said there was a Great skua heading my way. Then, close in hassling the Kittiwakes, there it was. It flew quickly north and a handful of lucky people saw it. Then some time later it flew south, I sent the message out and surely enough Staple saw it. It was watched drifting (whilst sat on the water off Staple) out to sea where it disappeared. I didn't manage to connect with a Quail on the reserve but definitely a great day nonetheless!

Knot (one of two)
Great Skua
Great Skua 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Quick twitch at Flamborough

I had just finished a fairly average day volunteering at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. I started heading home. On the access road I pulled over to check my phone (there is no signal at the visitor centre), and I'm really glad I checked it. My dad (who is currently running a field trip on the west coast of Scotland) sent me a text that said Pectoral Sand Thornwick pools. I wondered if he was winding me up, I checked birdguides and sure enough, there was a Pectoral sandpiper on Thornwick Pools (Flamborough). I hopped on my scooter and 'raced' for the great white cape. Once at Thornwick I got up to the hide. Some local birders pointed me in the right direction and it was walking around with two Dunlin. However it was really distant and hard to see. They then took flight. I feared this might have been the only view I was going to get. However we watched them circle and they landed on the lower pool near the other hide. We rushed down and I managed to some pictures before it flew back up to the top pool. This was a great little lifer and not what I had expected to see.

All the pictures below are of the Pectoral Sandpiper 

With a Dunlin

Monday, 11 July 2016

New life at Bempton

Although a lot of the young Guillimots and Razorbill chicks have already left there were still a few on the cliffs today. Loads of Kittiwake chicks are starting to develop flight feathers (with a few still just balls of fluff) and the Gannets are still giant marshmallows, not yet having their chocolate brown colouring. The Swallow chicks have fledged and still roost in the nest. However the best chick was one I had never seen before and was incredibly lucky to see, a Puffling (Puffin chick). These are a rare sight and only leave the nest at night, it flapped it's wings and returned inside. I can imagine will leave tonight under the cover of darkness. The huge Tree Sparrow colony also has some newer additions.
Puffling (with adult)
Swallow chicks
Tree Sparrow
Kittiwake chicks (with adult)
Guillimot chick (just visible between the adults)
Kittiwake chick