Sunday, 30 October 2016

Great day in Cleveland

In the morning I had been vismigging / seawatching at Hunmanby Gap. It had already been a successful day as I patch ticked (added to Patchwork Challenge) a Corn Bunting south, a Mealy Redpoll south, 9 Whooper Swans south, 5 Scaup south and 4 Goldeneye (1 south, 3 present). Other notable birds were 273 Siskin and a Swallow south, (not bad for high pressure and westerlies). Full counts can be found here on trektellen. I got home between 9 and 10 and I was going with dad and gran as we took her back home to Hartlepool.

I knew that there was an 'Eastern' Black Redstart at Skinningrove and a Pied Wheatear had been confirmed at Redcar. Both of these places were 'on the way' (with a slight detour). Going to these places would mean sacrificing a visit to Saltholme and the Jewish Cemetery (to try and see Twite). We all agreed we go for the rarer birds. On the way up a few decent birds were seen from the car window: Jay, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush (these were the best). We got to Skinningrove and drove down the south side of the village, this was when we realised none of us actually knew where the bird was. Then, in the distance I saw some birders walking north on the other side of the river. We drove over and parked, we walked along the seafront. We found some birders and we got onto where the bird had been favouring. We saw it flit across the gaps in rocks a few times. However after a few minutes it came out onto the rocks and showed itself nicely. My gran was particularly impressed by the brightness of the orange. It was a fantastic little bird. I didn't manage to see one near Scarborough a few years back so I was glad to see this one. The bird was accompanied by Rock pipits, a Robin and a Dunnock.
'Eastern' Black Redstart (as are the below pictures)

After around 20 minutes watching the Black Redstart we drove to Redcar, on the way we saw (from the car) a flock of around 40 Golden Plover and lots of Redwing. We found the old cinema and saw the Pied Wheatear fluttering around. As I was walking down on to the beach for a better view, 5 Whooper Swans flew north. On the beach there were Turnstones and just offshore there was a smattering of Eider, along with Cormorants, Shags and a Red-Throated Diver. Whilst standing on the beach the Pied Wheatear was very active and gave superb views. This was a great lifer to end a great day. After dropping gran off we headed home. Driving over the Tees there were 3 Whooper Swans. we were surprised that we didn't see any Red Grouse on the moors. The only two new birds for the day on the way back were a Rook and a Blackbird (partly due to the light going early now the clocks have changed). This was a great day in Cleveland.
Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear
Whooper Swan
Pied Wheatear

Monday, 24 October 2016

Birding and ringing over the last week (Filey ringing and migration week)

It was the annual Filey ringing and migration week, this year I would be ringing. The first day Saturday the 15th of October was simply fantastic. As dad and I pulled up, Top Scrub was alive! Endless thrushes were dropping out of the sky after making the north sea crossing. This was due to the light precipitation on the coast and slight rain just offshore. These were mainly Redwing but there were also Song, Fieldfare, Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes over the course of the day. Just about every net round was bird filled. I got to ring lots of Redwings, a bird I had never ringed before. There was also an influx of Goldcrests and Robins and two Yellow-Browed Warblers could be heard calling in the scrub. In my opinion the best birds of the day were three Woodcock, of which I got to ring one of. These are a big powerful bird. Other highlights were Brambling and both Lesser and Mealy Redpoll. 230 birds were ringed that day. In just the northern coastal area of Filey a Woodlark, 3,700 Redwing, 630 Song Thrushes, 450 Fieldfares, 18 Mistle Thrushes, 260 Blackbirds, 230 Siskins, 85 Redpoll (incl. at least 4 Mealy), 125 Brambling, 370 Skylarks, 12 Woodcock, 65 Robins, 90 Goldcrests, 6 Yellow-Browed Warblers and a Ring Ouzel were counted (I missed the Woodlark and Ring Ouzel) (counts via the FBOG website).  Just after dad and I left a Great White Egret flew over Top Scrub. This truly was a fantastic day and a true migration spectacle.
Mealy Redpoll (right) with two Lesser Redpoll

The second day of ringing and migration week was quieter, however a Yellow-Browed Warbler was trapped and ringed. Along with Brambling and Siskin. Around 60 birds were ringed that day, compared to yesterday's 230. The Yellow-Browed Warbler had alluded the nets for some time. Up close this tiny phyllosc was absolutely beautiful. I wouldn't be able to do a full days ringing until Friday the 21st so it was great getting the Yellow-Brow.
Yellow-Browed Warbler
Yellow-Browed Warbler
The next time I could get to Filey was Tuesday the 18th. Rain had delayed opening the nets. I managed to get some extracting done but I had only ringed a few birds by the time I had to go to college. However that day a combined total of 1000 Pink-Footed Geese flew south. Later that day after I had gone a second Yellow-Browed Warbler was trapped and ringed.
Pink-Footed Geese
Pink-Footed Geese
Ringing was cancelled on Wednesday because of wind but I couldn't have gone anyway due to college. The highlight on the 19th for me was 32 Barnacle Geese northeast over my house, I therefore also added these to Patchwork Challenge.

The next time I was ringing in Filey was Friday the 21st, I was annoyed as I had missed a Pallas's Warbler which was ringed the day before. That day did see a Mealy Redpoll ringed and a few smart Brambling, along with some commoner birds such as Redwings.  As it was quiet dad and I decided to go and see the Snow Bunting on Carr Naze. In classic Snow Bunting fashion it wasn't put off by people and was fairly tame, whilst watching it a Short-Eared Owl came in off the sea.
Snow Bunting
Mealy Redpoll
Short-Eared Owl
On Saturday the 22nd dad and I went to Buckton to ring with Mark Thomas, it was quiet. Until around 12 we ringed a handful of birds including Redwings, Robins and (best of all) a Siberian Chiffchaff. 3 Lapland Buntings also flew south. The good thing about the 22nd was that I got to use a Heligoland trap (a large wooden and mesh structure with trees planted inside which funnels birds towards a catching box). That same morning Filey had it quiet too, their best was a Norwegian ringed Mealy Redpoll. Both we and Filey packed up at around 12 o'clock. Dad and I briefly went to Hunmanby Gap after this but it was very quiet there as well.
Siberian Chiffchaff
Saturday the 22nd was supposed to be the last day of the ringing and migration week but because the team packed up early on Sunday and cancelled on Wednesday an extra morning was organised. That morning was very quiet but a few Blackcaps, a couple of Redwing and Blackbirds and a couple of Greenfinches were trapped and ringed. Part way through the morning the news got out that there was a Red-Breasted Flycatcher in Arndale. Me and a few others walked to see it and got decent views although it was quite high in the canopy. The team stopped early afternoon due to the lack of birds. I called off at home on my scooter and then noticed on birdguides that the Hume's Leaf Warbler was still showing at Thornwick Pools, I drove there and managed to get decent views. This ended a fantastic week (and a day) of birding, ringing and migration.
Red-Breasted Flycatcher
Hume's Leaf Warbler 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Bempton bonanza

Over the last few days Bempton has had some excellent birds. It all started with the Eastern-Crowned Warbler on Tuesday the 4th October. I rushed down and managed to see it that evening. It was a fantastic little bird but I couldn't manage a picture. The next day I was in college, much to my annoyance, I checked my phone and noticed something I really didn't expect on birdguides, a Black-Browed Albatross at Bempton! The bird had previously been seen at Filey and was later seen off Thornwick and Flamborough, I'm annoyed that I missed that one! After this I didn't get to Bempton until Saturday the 8th meaning that I had missed a Greenish Warbler. However I did have a Bluethroat, 2 Yellow-Browed Warblers, a Red-Breasted Flycatcher and an Arctic Warbler. Later that day I bumped into Elliot, Ellis, Harry and Darragh. We managed to see the Bluethroat and Arctic Warbler (the latter being missed by Harry) but the Flycatcher stayed hidden.
Arctic Warbler

Sunday the 9th was a great day. It started off with fantastic views of the Red-Breasted Flycatcher and a Marsh Harrier flew high south. I then saw the two Yellow-Browed Warblers and great views of the Bluethroat. Over the RAF field a Short-Eared Owl stormed south whilst being mobbed by Crows, Jackdaws, Starling and Herring Gulls, whilst this was happening another Marsh Harrier went south. It then seemed to quieten down, between New Rollup and Staple Newk I found a Wheatear. This was when I heard that there was a Firecrest I didn't see the Firecrest but I did have a Ring Ouzel go north (another later flew north). This was a fantastic day because, as well as the rarer birds, there was a whole host of commoner migrants such as Brambling, Robins, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. Throughout the day Jackdaws were also moving southwest with 237 logged.
Red-Breasted Flycatcher
Short-Eared Owl