Archive for the ‘Twitching’ Category

Myself, Bob K and Nigel S from York, decided on a trip to the east coast. Me and Bob got to York at 8am and as we picked up Nige news of an Iberian Chiff-chaff at Kilnsea came through. We headed of through the sun drenched city of Hull on our first trip of the year to the Spurn area. In the Crown & Anchor car park a few birders had assembled, news of the bird was good as it had been caught and rung and was still in the area. We watched two Firecrest and a Fieldfare as we waited for about an hour for the bird to show. Nige managed to see the bird pretty well as we had drifted off to search around the ringing area. The bird began calling and showing in a tall tree on the caravan site but visible from the Crown & Anchor car park, the song was very nice to hear, felt like we were in Spain as the sun shone on us all! After seeing some butterflies. Brimstone, Peacock, Green Veined White and Small Tortoiseshell we headed out to Holderness Fields to see the cracking male Garganey that has been around for a few days. It was a little distant but well worth the effort, our first Swallow of the year flew past us, it must be springtime. We called in at Sammy`s Point in the hope of seeing a Wheatear, without any joy. After a search of the bushes and paddocks, that seemed very quiet we managed to see a nearly summer plumaged Golden Plover, this bird was very photogenic.

We called in at North Cave wetlands and watched a couple of Little Ringed Plover along with lots of other water birds, Ruff, Redshank, Gadwall and Great Crested Grebe. The report of a singing Sedge Warbler took us around the reserve, but the bird was not seen, sure there will be more. We did not manage to see any Red Kites in the area, but after we had dropped Nige off in York a single bird was seen from the road in Tadcaster. Good day out with brilliant weather.

Dave O.


A Pine Bunting was found in Dunnington near York last week. It associated itself with a large flock of finches (Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Brambling and Tree Sparrow) A few of our friends from the York area had really struggled to see the bird but, as the flock was being fed in a couple of area`s and with one of our team needing to see it, a trip was planned for Saturday. A 10am start with Bob K driving had us soon near to the bird’s favoured spot, or so we thought! We enjoyed all the birds in and around the fields and after Bob K had walked along a hedge lots more birds took to the air. After two and a half hours searching/waiting, Chris B found the bird in the hedge but before anyone else could get on it, the bird had flown into the field. Luckily, the original finder of the Pine Bunting was stood next to us and he quickly got all (about10 birders) onto the bird as it sat and preened in the hedge. The views were not great but most of the features were seen. Nige from York also got much better sightings of the bird just after we left (this was his 4th visit though). We also called to see a Great Grey Shrike near a disused RAF base near York, but we could not find it.
On our way towards home around 4 Red Kites were seen in the Leeds area before we reached our next stop at Fairburn Ings. We asked a couple of local birders about the whereabouts of the 2 Smew that had been reported there. Their directions were spot on and we soon saw the female and the quickly disappearing male in Village Bay, what a stunning bird to end a good, if difficult, days birding.
Dave O

With two of the “A” team needing to see the Pacific Diver that has been present at East Chevington, Northumberland for a while and with the promise of fine weather, we arranged to go. We met in Newhey at 6am, a time that our driver Steve K seemed unfamiliar with having had to miss his regular large breakfast. Myself, Bob K & Chris B made up the numbers. We made good progress using the satnav in Steve`s car, even allowing for some of its eccentricities, we reached the car park at Druridge Bay at 8-50am. We had a good look at Ladyburn pool first and could not find the diver, so we headed for its regular haunt, North pool. The weather was really nice and sunny, but not that warm. We soon found the Pacific Diver and all enjoyed its diving and preening in the sunshine, handshakes all around then. We called into one of the hides and had good views of a few Scaup and eventually saw the Slavonian Grebe, a bird that I have not seen for a few years.
After a slog over the sand dunes we found a flock of around a 100 Twite, Bob K went and got a few good pictures of them. We did a bit of sea watching and saw: – Guillemot, Razorbill, Red Breasted Merganser, Shag, Common Scoter & around ten Red Throated Divers, a few Sanderling, Ringed Plover also. After 40 minutes or so a single Skylark began singing and seven Shorelark flew onto the beach near the Twite, we really enjoyed watching them for the short time they were there. Some really nice birds at this reserve and lots of people out enjoying the weather.
We decided to go and have a look at the long staying Eastern Black Redstart at Skinningrove, Cleveland. We reached the area after a bit of my dodgy navigation (as I had been before) we got to the bird’s favoured area and apart from: – Rock Pipit, Stonechat, Robin & Wren, the bird was nowhere to be found. A few early returning Fulmar entertained us high up on the cliffs, but after 30 minutes most of us returned to the car for refreshments, apart from Bob K. After a long search of the area he had found the Eastern Black Redstart and it was now back in its normal place on the rocks, well done Bob. The bird performed very well for us all and lots of pictures were taken. On our way back to the car Chris B casually mentioned that he had not added Pine Bunting to his British list. Next stop it is then.
After a very long slog over the hills south of Whitby, which are very picturesque, also with lots of Sunday drivers, traffic problems etc our chances of seeing the Pine Bunting had gone. We did go to its daytime area at Dunnington, near York, but it was too late as all the birds had gone to roost. We headed for home after a really good days birding at around 7pm.
Dave O.

If you keep trying to do something without any joy, don’t give up, stick at it and eventually you will succeed. Now that is one of my many profound statements which can really be applied to the “A Teams” effort`s to see the Red Breasted Goose near Pilling, Lancashire. We had originally planned to go to see the Pacific Diver at East Chevington, Northumberland, but, after looking at the weather, decided against it.
Steve B, Bob K and myself set off at a leisurely time intending to call at the Pilling area for any news of the goose and then onto Heysham, Pine Lake and Leighton Moss. We reached the all too familiar area and began to sift through the many flocks of Pink Feet without any joy. After a while we decided to head up to Thurnham to watch the Whooper and Bewick Swans. We also managed to find a Pale Bellied Brent Goose in amongst more Pink Feet. Around this time our friends from York, Nige & Mark, had arrived in the area and after waiting around in the area that the Red Breasted Goose had been seen in on Saturday, actually saw it fly in! A hurried call from Nige had us dashing back to the right place, giving my car its first taste of “twitch speed”. Would it fly off after all our efforts over the last few weeks? We reached the area and after some parking difficulties, dashed along the road to meet the boys who put us straight on the bird, thanks for that lads! The bird was feeding very happily with it travel companions White Fronted Geese as we enjoyed the bird. You are all probably a bit bored with this “saga” but it has been a real hard bird for us to locate.
Next stop was Conder Green, surely the Spotted Redshank would be there after all it was high tide, no we missed it, but we did see a Common Sandpiper. Onto to Heysham north harbour wall in the hope of seeing Mediterranean Gull and a nice flock of Twite. The road through Lancaster has always been a torturous one and it again proved difficult, I thought the new road to Heysham would have made it easier. Upon arrival we found the path to the harbour had been blocked off, so we quickly left the area, stopping only to watch a Red Breasted Merganser fishing. At Pine Lake near Carnforth we watched a smart couple of Long Tailed Ducks swimming around.
Our final stop was Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, at Morecambe & Allen Pools we were rather disappointed to not find many birds at all, although one of the pools is almost empty due to a sluice problem. In the main reserve we had really good views of a Marsh Tit and along the public causeway we managed to watch Nuthatch & Treecreeper busily feeding. A Marsh Harrier was making all the wildfowl take to the air as it hunted the marsh. We climbed up the new tower and had a panoramic view of the reserve, good way to end a rather unusual days birding!
Dave O.


The long staying Red Breasted Goose that has been in the Pilling area in Lancashire has been admired by visitors from far & wide, but not by any of the A Team. One of our members has already been twice without any luck. So it seemed right that as the bird has been in the same field for the last three days that we make an effort to see it. News from Steve K on Saturday said the bird was visible from his car, no problem then. Dave O in different “twitch mobile” along with Steve B and Chris B left Rochdale at 7am, surely what can go wrong?

We reached the Pilling area and saw a flock of Twite feeding in a favoured weedy field and perching on the wire fences, nice start to the day. We took up our position on Backsands Lane and watched the great spectacle of all the geese(mainly Pink Footed) leaving the overnight roost, some passed right over us and a few landed in the same field that the Red Breasted Goose has recently favoured. After 1.5 hours of this the target bird was not seen, we decided to check out other fields also without much luck. We had a look up towards the Eagland Hill area for Chris B to see the Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer & Corn Bunting. Next stop over to Cockerham to watch the Whooper and Bewick Swans, then Conder Green to again miss out on the Spotted Redshank, well the tide was out.

A decision to go back to the Eagland Hill area looked like being a good one as, on arrival, we were told that the Red Breasted Goose had been seen around 9-30am, it was now 10-30am and no news of the birds appearance had been given to any of the news services. Thanks for that Mr Finder! We were invited into a man’s garden to watch the large flock of geese that were feeding on beet. He told us that he had been watching it there earlier in the morning, there was no sign of the bird so, we headed off to Knott End. The Black Redstart near the slipway apartments was much more obliging, we enjoyed watching that. Back to Eagland Hill to watch the huge flocks of geese coming and going and with a passing Peregrine and a perched up female Merlin to entertain us, we must not grumble. Kevin Hughes and his entourage also made the day an enjoyable one. We called in at Fishmoor Reservoir, Blackburn and had pretty good views of the juvenile Glaucous Gull as the sun began to go down. (The Red Breasted Goose was not seen again up to today 7/2/2017)

Dave O.

A juvenile White billed Diver had been found on the River Whitham near Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. A strange inland record for the county, but even stranger was that the last one in the county was also found on the same river! Myself and Bob K decided on a last minute trip to see the bird and an early start was planned. 6am dawned and we departed from a gloomy Newhey heading along the most famous “carpark” outside London, the M62. My trusty Satnav took us towards the A1 and then into Lincoln. At this point I must really sympathise with all the commuters who have to pass through Lincoln on a daily basis, it’s a real mess. We pressed on and reached Kirkstead Bridge, near Woodhall Spa, we immediately saw the White billed Diver in the river at the side of the road, what luck! There now followed a game of “cat & mouse” as we walked up and down the river to try and get a couple of pictures of this rather splendid bird. After an hour or so the bird had won and we retreated to the car to get warm.
News of a male Ring necked Duck on some gravel pits in Kirkby on Bain soon followed, so after some expert directions from one of our York birding colleagues, we arrived safely. We found the Ring necked Duck, after a bit of searching (isn’t that what birding’s all about?) and really enjoyed distant views of a cracking American duck. Lots of different pits / pools in this area holding lots of duck and gulls from the nearby active tip. Worth keeping an eye on this place.

Our next port of call was to be Rufford Abbey C.P in Nottinghamshire that usually has a small flock of Hawfinch. The dry weather we had enjoyed, turned to being a little damp as we found our way into the country park area. As we got out of the car a flock of 5 Hawfinch flew above us and landed in a tall tree for us to admire, more nice birds to enjoy. We watched a small flock of Redwing feeding on the ground along with Mistle and Song Thrushes, really nice to watch. It was time to get home and we reached very wet Newhey around 3-30pm. Nice day out watching some cracking birds.
Dave O.


The possibility of going out birding this Sunday looked very slim with rain forecast for most of the day and with illness etc, we decided to give it a miss. Whilst I sat in my night attire, watching it rain and contemplating having to watch the millionaires of Manchester & Liverpool ballet teams trying to cheat the good referees of premier, foreign football, the phone rang. It was Bob K asking if I would like to go for the Black throated Thrush at Adwick upon Dearn, Yorkshire. Certainly I would, we met at 11-45am and Chris B joined us. We followed Bob`s trusty sat nav and arrived around 1pm, nobody told us of the long muddy walk to the area the bird was frequenting. We found around 20 birders but, you guessed it no bird. It had been chased off by the local Sparrowhawk about 10 minutes prior to our arrival. Nige S from York had arrived and he told us that Adam Hutt had found the thrush (famous for finding the Rock Thrush at Spurn / Kilnsea a few years ago) this morning. After about an hour of searching and wandering around the birders all moved with a purpose, the bird had been found in a field near the village.

The same muddy trail back to the car park was followed, then lots more mud to splash through. After the 20 minute hike to the village a crowd of birders seemed to be looking at something, scopes all pointed down into a field with a green crop in it, was the thrush there? Yes it was, if a little distant, a few borrowed scope views of the bird soon confirmed the identification. After 10 minutes the flock of thrushes flew up into the tallest tree and began to preen, again distant scope views were made, time to move on we thought. Bob K had a bright idea to follow another very muddy trail to get to where the thrush had been sat, okay we did follow him and saw a couple of Siskin for our troubles, but alas no thrush. We all arrived back at Bob`s car looking like we had been playing football, steaming & muddy. The Black throated Thrush had been a new bird for Chris B, so the effort we made was well worth it. We arrived back in Rochdale by 6pm.

Dave O.


blue-rock-thrush-9blue-rock-thrush-18blue-rock-thrush-6old-oakWhen people tell you about an “unusual” bird that they have seen near where they live, what do you do? Get a description from them and then show them some pictures or better still go and have a look at it. It usually ends up as being a fairly common bird but, on this occasion, the bird turned out to be a Blue Rock Thrush!  It took around two weeks for the news of the birds presence to leak out Now, I will not get into the why`s and wherefores’ about where the bird came from but certainly it is worth going to see.

With most people having gone back to work it was left to Bob K, Steve K and myself to try for this normally southern European cracker. We left Newhey at 5-45am in Steve K`s Vauxhall Insignia (recently acquired) and all sat very comfortably. The weather men had promised us freezing fog etc for the journey down, but we only saw fog for around the last 15 miles. We reached the beautiful town of Stow in the Wold around 9am and parked up to the news from our grapevine friends that the bird was still present.

The morning frost made walking a little precarious and when you are in a rush things can go wrong. A small group told us the bird was sat on top of a roof around the corner, off we went again and found a large group of birders admiring the thrush. We managed to join the crush and had good views of the bird. We stayed in the area for around two hours and had some good and some distant sightings of the Blue Rock Thrush. I even managed to fall to the ground whilst trying to negotiating a fence, now I know how racehorses feel. I even managed to take a few pictures of the bird but it was mainly “backlit” as it sat on roofs, chimney pots, aerials etc. We met lots of birders as we joined different little groups watching the bird and had a good chat with them, especially Kevin Hughes and little Marie from Macclesfield. We returned to the car, had some food and decided to head for home having achieved our target. The notorious M6 did not let us down as we crawled for quite a few miles in the roadworks. We reached home by 3-45pm after a good days twitching.

Dave O.

The Dusky Thrush, that seems to have taken up residence in the small village of Beeley in Derbyshire, was still giving decent views in the orchard at Dukes Barn Recreation Centre, so, a trip with 2 of the “A Team” was organised. The two Steve`s B and K both needed to add this species to their lists, so a 7am start from Norden was sorted with Steve K at the wheel. We followed a much better route than I had followed last Tuesday and traffic was very light. We arrived at the Chatsworth House car park and waited to be transported by bus to the village. Myself and Steve B decided to walk even though the service was free, Steve K enjoyed the bus ride!

Upon arrival in Beeley village news that the bird was still present greeted us but it was not on show at the moment. We had a walk around until we found the right place to watch the orchard and after negotiating the adventure playground we saw around 100 birders squashed together. This was a bit of a shock to us all seeing so many birders. Steve B decided upon having a little more adventure and fell from the boardwalk and into a muddy pit. Some people will do anything to get to the front of a crowd! During our wait for the bird to arrive the ladies of the activity centre were selling bacon & sausage sandwiches to the gathering flock. Nigel and Paz from York joined us just as the Dusky Thrush flew in and gave excellent views as it fed on fallen apples and various other food. What a cracking bird to see fairly close, it was very flighty though and was soon off into the shelter of the trees. The bird repeated this performance before disappearing around midday.

We adjourned to the centre and enjoyed the catering that the ladies had worked to provide us all with, then with not much else to go and see we decided to head home. The two Steve`s both had a lifer and we had been able to sample what real hospitality is from the people of Beeley, excellent.    Dave O.

The news late on Sunday of a Dusky Thrush in the small village of Beeley, Derbyshire was kept a little hush hush until access etc could be arranged. A minor invasion of the village on Monday afternoon followed and the bird was seen by all who went to see this Siberian gem. Could I resist going to see it even though I had already seen one down in Margate a few years ago? The weather forecast in the area was for fog with not much wind to blow it away. I said to myself, “if it’s there on Tuesday I will go for it”
I woke up to the news that the bird was still present (it’s supposedly been in the area for 2 weeks) I grabbed my gear and set of on the 54 mile journey. Clogged up motorways, roadworks, bad visibility on the Snake Pass and finally, a huge steel structure stuck in the middle of a tiny village made the journey quite forgettable, but around 11-00am I reached the pleasant village of Beeley which is situated right next to Chatsworth House.
The bird was still present and had been showing really well 5 minutes before I arrived (bloody traffic). I joined about 12 people on a small school playing field and looked towards the trees in an orchard that the Dusky Thrush was usually seen in. The crowd gradually grew to around a 100 or so birders as we all waited for the bird to show. Redwing, Song Thrush, Robin, Dunnock and various tits kept us on our toes as they all flew in and fed on the berries etc. At 2-10pm a bird flew into the trees, it was the Dusky Thrush! The bird was on show in the trees for about 5 minutes, it was in cracking plumage and it was probably an adult female. Due to the poor weather conditions I could not get any pictures of the bird. Set of for home and went back a different way to miss all the confusion. Might go again to see this beauty.

Dave O.