Thursday, 30 May 2013

Baikal Teal added to your list?

The Baikal Teal at Flamborough – Brett Richards
On the morning of 16th April 2013 I was seawatching as usual from Flamborough Head, when, at 0949 hrs. I noticed three ducks flying North just above the horizon. As I swung my ‘scope round onto them I expected to see the three Wigeons which had just flown south, but it was immediately obvious that these were different. One of them showed extensive pale on the side of the head, but views were not good and I could not make anything out clearly. Thoughts of Baikal Teal flashed through my mind, but I knew that Garganeys can at times look pale-faced, and Baikal Teal seemed pretty outrageous. As the birds swung round over Selwick’s Bay, I saw a broad white trailing edge to the secondaries of the pale-faced bird, and Garganey seemed the default choice. Were they all Garganeys?  A quick look at the other two before they disappeared from view showed that they lacked this broad trailing edge, and as they all seemed similar in size, I thought a Garganey and two Teal, and they all appeared to be female-types. I put out news on the radio that a female Garganey or Baikal Teal had just flown inland with two Teal, and could be heading for North Marsh. 
Garganey seemed the most realistic possibility, but I was worried that the outer wing of the interesting bird had not appeared palish as in Garganey, so I hurriedly left seawatching and hot-footed it to North Marsh, thinking that if it were a Baikal Teal, it would be difficult to prove the ID of a female. I arrived at the hide alone, and in just a few seconds I located the bird, but not a Garganey, and not a female – a superb drake Baikal Teal!  I took some quick digiscoped shots, while putting out the news to astounded locals, and then to the pager services.
The drake Baikal Teal at Flamborough - Brett Richards
I kept taking shots while waiting for others to arrive. Suddenly the bird took to flight, in company with two female Wigeons and a pair of Shovelers, just as three friends stepped into the hide.  We picked the birds up in flight, but it was not easy to pick out the Baikal Teal from the Wigeons, as it was only slightly smaller. Luckily the birds came down on Old Fall flash, on the south side of Lighthouse Road, and the Baikal Teal soon revealing itself to be un-ringed. It remained there for about an hour until flushed by two large dogs. It then returned to North Marsh and was still there at dusk, giving many people a lifer and or a good Yorkshire tick. It had disappeared by the next morning.
Martin Garner asked me if I were sure the two birds it had come in with were Teals, as the Baikal Teal was definitely consorting with the two Wigeons, and not with Teals. I replied ‘yes’, but then on reflection how sure was I?  I had barely looked at the other two birds, and had assumed they were Teals because they were about the same size as the ‘Garganey’. In retrospect they were almost certainly Wigeons.
Brett Richards, Flamborough.
The drake Baikal Teal at Flamborough - Brett Richards
There has been some debate about the origin of this bird, largely because of the displaced secondary on the right wing, but this is far from unusual as looking at wildfowl on your local wetland will soon reveal. The occurrence during mid-April fits nicely with the passage of wild birds as they return from Korea (where most of the world population winters) northwards to their breeding grounds where they usually arrive in late April.

The Baikal Teal in flight at Flamborough - Dave Mansell. 
Given the overall circumstances of this bird we feel there is no reason why this bird should not be counted for the purposes of the Yorkshire Listers League with immediate effect, so if you were lucky enough to see this bird please let us know now so we can add it to your tally. Baikal Teal should be added to your copy of the Yorkshire list after Gadwall.    

Monday, 27 May 2013

Spring Bank Holiday Summary

The forecasted Northerlies battered the east coast Friday, so bad that it once again damaged the peninsula road at Spurn setting back the undergoing work to repair it. However, the winds did benefit the sea-watcher, with sightings of Long-tailed Skuas along the coast including no less than six at Spurn where a large shearwater also flew north, thought by some of its observers almost certainly a Great. Possibly an even bigger surprise in conditions like that was the sighting of an Alpine Swift which flew south past the sea-watching hut there, although not everyone present managed to pick it up, hardly surprising given that it was over the sea in extremely choppy conditions. Inland, a stonking Red-necked Phalarope put in a rather too brief appearance at Old Moor, whilst other waders over the weekend included a Temminck’s Stint at Tophill and a Pec’ Sand’ at Swine Moor. 

Red-necked Phalarope, Old Moor RSPB - Chris Harris

Saturday, was a far calmer day and largely sunny, so it was no real surprise that the bushes took priority, though the action was almost confined to the Spurn area where there were at least seven Red-backed Shrikes as well as two or more Common Rosefinches. 

Male Red-backed Shrike, Spurn- Rich Willison

Common Rosefinch, Spurn - Ian Smith

Sunday saw a decline, though at least four Red-backed Shrikes remained, a couple of ‘Black Reds’ were seen and a singing Firecrest on the peninsular was a nice surprise.

Male Black Redstart, Spurn- Rich Willison

Today’s news is pretty sparse with a male Honey Buzzard at Wykeham Forest and the Dearne Valley Spoonbill at Edderthorpe Flash being as good as it gets so far.

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Today's news + the weekend summary from Mr Lister

First today's news: The drake Lesser Scaup has returned to Anglers CP. A Great White Egret was at Kilnsea and other birds in the Spurn area included 3 Red-backed Shrikes, Bluethroat, Red-breasted Fly', Rosefinch and a fly-over Bee Eater. 2 Red-backed Shrikes were at South Gare, another was at Flamborough whilst inland one was at Thorne Moors. A Roseate Tern visited Southfield Res. this morning.

Great White Egret at Kilnsea today - Ian Smith

Weekend Summary:
Wow, quite a weekend as had been hoped for and even almost expected. Although the birding was quite difficult (typical of spring) the expected drift migrants slowly began to materialise. Bluethroats arrived at all the east coasts main hot spots (sorry Scarborough, at least you got one on Facebook!), 

A cracking male Red-spotted Bluethroat at Filey - John Harwood

whilst other goodies included Wryneck, Ortolan, Common Rosefinch and several each of Red backed Shrike and Red breasted Flycatcher. 
Red-backed Shrike at Sammy's Point - Rich Willison. Scant consolation for the Collared Fly' dippers!

A possible Thrush Nightingale in the bomb hole at South Gare Saturday morning would have been popular had it ever gone beyond being merely a ‘poss spross’ as all recent records in the county have been non-twitchable.

The Red-breasted Flycatcher at Spurn Sunday - Ian Smith.

So all in all most birders enjoyed a decent weekend however, there was no doubt who that the weekend belonged too. Mr Lister takes up the story:

He thought it was tissue but it’snot!
Well respected wader guru John Grist described his early Saturday afternoon find of a Broad-billed Sandpiper at Patrington Haven rather modestly, suggesting it was easy, as upon arrival he was greeted by just a handful of Dunlin and the Broad-billed Sand’. John was able to grab a few quick pics’ before going to great lengths to get the news out for others, and, after making two phone calls to Canada he was finally able to enjoy his find having got the news through to birders at Spurn via a man who was out twitching in Kent. It seems that in these days of modern technology you can get a phone signal almost anywhere in the world barring Spurn! 

A record shot of the Broad-billed Sand' at Pat' Haven - John Grist. Can you pick it out amongst the Dunlin?
Anyway, typically for the tidally governed Pat’ Haven the bird was up and away as the water receded and it was not seen again. So was that was the end of the excitement for the soul observer? No way! Double acts are ‘Linfords’ speciality (remember the two Sharp-tailed Sand’ finds?) and at not too much before 8pm a less easy task faced him, as, whilst checking out the bushes at Sammy’s Point (Easington), he noticed what he thought was probably a bit of tissue paper in the middle of a bush. Fortunately however, he had the good sense to check it out and after a quick squint through the bins’ followed by a more intense look through the ‘scope he realised that the ‘possible Kleenex’ was in fact a stonking male Collared Flycatcher - clearly a find not to be sniffed at!. News quickly out, Spurn birders scrambled, but not all scrambled fast enough with at least three missing out, Steve Exley (in the shower), Roy Taylor (all communication switched off) and Dave Standring (just dished up a curry!), however, John Hewitt was far more lucky, as, when returning from Kent, he was just about to turn into his Easington driveway when the mega alert sounded, the impeccable timing allowing him just enough time to get in on the act. So, in short, having gone in the morning the latest Collared Fly’ was only available for a short period, was dipped by three of the Spurn regulars yet twitched from Kent! Mmmm.

The stunning male Collared Flycatcher - John Grist. A find not to be sniffed at!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Thursday 16th May

A few birds were see on the coast today although it was not really as good as had been expected, with much of the stuff having arrived yesterday. There was no sign of the Bluethroat in the bomb hole at South Care although a possible Thrush Nightingale was seen there first thing. The Wryneck was still there however. Both yesterdays Red-backed Shrikes remained in the Scarborough area (Scalby and Long Nab). A Marsh Warbler was trapped at Spurn this morning. Inland, the Ring-necked Duck was still at Tophill, a Pec' Sand was found at Swillington Ings on St. Aidan's Lake and the Dotterel was still at Cartworth Moor near Holmfirth. Neither of yesterday's Red-backed Shrikes at Hummersea or Brotton were reported today.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Fri 10th May

As many of you may now be aware, the latest issue of Yorkshire Birding (Volume 21, no 4) will be the last to be published. Subscription copies have now been posted out and if you are due to any refund this will be included. There are several reasons why we have taken this decision, including the fact that with spiralling costs (particularly postage) and falling subscriptions we would have been forced into further price increases, pushing the price per issue to what we believe would have been an unrealistic ask, particularly in the current climate. We would like to think that over the past 21 years Yorkshire Birding has filled a niche for Yorkshire birders and are proud of this fact, as, to the best of our knowledge, this has been enjoyed by no other county. We are of course eternally grateful to all those who have supported the magazine in any way either by contributing to the content of the magazine or simply by purchasing a copy. Perhaps the biggest change in birding since Yorkshire Birding was first published has been the arrival of the internet which in turn has meant that much of the material published in the magazine is now available online, and often almost instantly. Perhaps this is the way forward for Yorkshire Birding? Whatever the case, we do feel there is a need for new blood, so if anyone out there fancies a crack at it please do not hesitate to get in touch, as we would be only too pleased to assist in any way possible. In the meantime we will continue to update the Yorkshire Listers League Table on this blog and will also be pleased to publish any photos, drawings, articles, or news snippet’s you might wish to contribute too. Please email any contributions or correspondence to For now, all that remains to be said is a big thank you to you all and of course, good Yorkshire birding!

Today's news so far: Quite a bit happening for a Friday which hopefully bodes well a good weekend. A Red-throated Pipit flew south at Spurn this morning and a Firecrest was trapped there too. A/the Great White Egret has shown up at Flamborough today, last reported at South Landing and a Golden Oriole was seen near the Lighthouse (see article below re recording area). Three Dotterel were present early evening in a pea field between Grimston and Garton. 'Still present birds' include the Kumlien's/Iceland Gull at Barmston, Ring-necked Duck at Tophill and the drake Lesser Scaup at Anglers CP. A couple of illustrative shots of this bird below taken by Ron Marshall. Still lots of Wood Sands' including an impressive 8 at Swine Moor. A Spoonbill is reported at Wombwell Ings late afternoon.

Flamborough Chalk Headland Additional Bird Recording Area
From the 1st January, 2013 all bird sightings are being recorded for an additional bird recording area that will complement the records of the current Flamborough Bird Observatory recording area. This additional recording area boundary runs along the coast from Danes Dike (the current Flamborough Bird Observatory boundary) to the village of Speeton with the inland boundary being the railway line from Sewerby to where it meets the A165 near Speeton then north to Reighton Hills, the boundary of FBOG (Filey). This will then give a continual coastal recording area from Scarborough to Sewerby and the “new” additional recording area will include the RSPB Reserve at Bempton and the Buckton Bird Ringing Station. This additional recording area has had many migrants and vagrants in the past and therefore it is important that records are held and published for this area. Bird records for the Flamborough Bird Observatory have been collected for a number of years and they are published in the Flamborough Ornithological Group Annual Report and this will continue, to be consistent with past reports, but the 2013 report onwards will now have an add-on end paragraph per species where relevant for the “new” additional recording area. We will be working closely with Flamborough Bird Observatory, the RSPB Bempton Reserve and Buckton Bird Ringing Station with all records and particularly visible migration. Using the RSPB Reserve at Bempton as the public centre-point for this additional recording area it is intended to have a log of sightings at the centre, a notice board and other information. The records will be collected by a team of volunteers headed up by Geoff Carr who will be the recorder for this additional recording area and who will work with the Flamborough Ornithological Group Recorder towards the annual publication. If you have any bird or other wildlife sightings and images for the additional bird recording area please send these to Geoff Carr on    

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Wed 8th May

Wood Sandpiper, North Cave Wetlands - Mike Ashforth
The onset of easterly winds has seen a fair number of Wood Sandpipers arrive in the County in the last couple of days. The odd common migrant arrived on the coast today including a Nightjar at Spurn. A 'ringtail' Montague's Harrier was seen at South Gare. Birds still present today include the drake Lesser Scaup at Anglers CP. and the Dotterel near Holmfirth.

The Dotterel at Cartworth Moor near Holmfirth  today - Keith Pickering

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Tuesday 7th May

 The drake Lesser Scaup is still at Anglers CP. today. A selection of photos below taken by Graham Speight.

Not too much else today and a rather quiet Mayday Bank Holiday the highlights being:

A brief Purple Heron at Skipton and a likewise brief Tawny Pipit at Paull Holme Strays. Common Cranes at Spurn and Scarborough. A Montague's Harrier through Grimston and Spurn. An influx of Dotterel including two at Long Bank Marsh, Kilnsea well photographed by Rich Willison below.

Others were at Ingleborough (7), Rud Hill, Sheffield (4), and near Holmfirth, the latter still present today.

This Short-eared Owl was photographed at North Cave Wetlands recently - Mike Ashforth.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Summit else!

A Dotterel was seen on the summit of Ingleborough today. A Montagu's Harrier flew south at Filey and a Firecrest was at Grimston.

A couple of shots of the Wombwell Ings Spoonbill below - John Seeviour

And another nice one of the Spurn Rock Thrush taken by Jeff Wragg.

Friday 3rd May

Drake Lesser Scaup, Anglers CP. - Steve Denny

The drake Lesser Scaup remains at Anglers CP. this morning. A Serin flew south at Spurn. The Spoonbill was still on Wombwell Ings mid-day.

Drake Lesser Scaup, Anglers CP. - Steve Denny

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Thursday 2nd May

A drake Lesser Scaup spent the day at Anglers CP although it was generally distant. The drake Ring-necked Duck was still at Tophill Low on D Res. A Hawfinch was at Spurn this morning and the Long-tailed Duck was still on Beacon Ponds. The Spoonbill continued to commute the Lower Dearne Valley in South Yorks. Still a few migrant Ring Ouzels around.

A few migrant Ring Ouzels are still around including this one at North Cave Wetlands yesterday - Mike Ashforth

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

wed mid-day

No sign of Lesser Scaup, Pugneys early am. Great White Egret, Johnsons Marsh, Scarborough, mid-day at least. Spoonbill Wombwell Ings still mid-day.