Posts Tagged ‘Lesser Whitethroat’

With the onset of spring and a really nice weather forecast in store, a trip to the marshy areas of Yorkshire was planned. Myself & Steve K met the York lads at North Cave and after the news that the day before`s Curlew Sandpiper had not been found, it was decided to visit Faxfleet. With Nigel S at the wheel, a new area for myself and Steve K, who was freshly returned from a trip up Scotland with tales about Ptarmigan etc. As soon as we stopped a Cettis Warbler was heard, this was to be the norm throughout the day. Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Marsh Harrier were soon seen at this little known site, but the best was yet to come with the sighting of around 8 Bearded Tits (Reedlings, Parrotbills, whatever) Great birds to watch at close quarters chasing around and calling in the reeds!

News of the sighting of a female Montagu`s Harrier at Blacktoft Sands had us making our way there. Again upon arrival Cettis Warbler seemed everywhere. We went up to Singleton Hide and after a 40 minute wait watching the Marsh Harriers, we finally managed to pick out the Montagu’s Harrier. The bird was distant and only remained on view for around 5 minutes before heading away, hope the male returns soon! A good walk around the reserve were some good pictures of the Cettis Warbler were taken (not by me though) After a bit of a “tip off” we explored Goole Fields hoping to find a “blue pipe” in the ground where a Yellow Wagtail had been seen an hour before. We could not find the pipe, but Steve K picked up a solitary Yellow Wagtail that we all managed to see flying.

A good look around North Cave N.R. was made all the more pleasing when Mark K heard a singing Lesser Whitethroat. After a search the bird performed very well in a large hedge but, it did not sing again. It is probably the first time that any of us have ever seen a Lesser Whitethroat before a Whitethroat. We ended the day with an overhead Red Kite, which is always a real pleasure to observe.

Dave O.



As the weather in the west seemed pretty good on Sunday we decided to visit Anglesey, Wales. Three A Teamers met in Rochdale for a 6am start, both Steve`s and myself with Steve K at the wheel. It was quite a nice, if cold ,morning as we headed into North Wales reaching Holyhead harbour around 8-15am, two Black Guillemots were seen, but not much else. At South Stack RSPB reserve  we went to the cliff top view and lots of Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and just four Puffins were seen. Fulmar, Shag, Raven, Rock Pipit, Gannet, Manx Shearwater were all seen from the stack, then 2 Great Skua passed heading north, what a nice surprise they were! A couple of Common Scoter and the ever entertaining party of Choughs completed an always good visit. We called in at a new reserve in Holyhead called something like Breakwater Park? Lots of dog walkers,so we moved on quickly. Next stop was what we used to call the inland sea, now called Penrhos with its own small nature reserve. A few Sandwich Terns and two Red Breasted Merganser were fishing in the sea, but the hoped for Whimbrel were not seen.

After a short while we decided to visit RSPB Valley Lakes in Caergeilog, the sun was shining really well now but it was still a little chilly. We soon heard lots of Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers singing and after a very pleasant walk towards the railway track we heard Cetti`s Warbler blasting out their loud song. Willow Warbler, Blackcap and a fine pair of Little Grebe made up a very pleasant hour at this warbler rich reserve. As we were about to leave we saw Alan Davies, of “The Biggest Twitch” fame, we had a good talk about birding in general. A nice birder on a bike told us about a noisy Lesser Whitethroat about half a mile away, so, off we went and enjoyed hearing and watching the bird perform. We heard about an Osprey that had been seen in the morning perched on a pylon near the Britania Bridge, as we passed over we looked for it, but it had gone!

At the Spinnies, Aber Ogwen a few Red Breasted Merganser, Little Egret and a few birds on the feeders were seen but not much els,e like the hoped for Kingfisher or Water Rail. A few good waders had been reported at Frodsham and as we where passing we called in. As we slowly made our way along the bumpy track to the tanks, Steve K said, “Reeling” we knew what he meant, a Grasshopper Warbler. With a bit of pishing etc the bird nearly flew into the car and landed a few feet away, nice when this happens! Along the track it became apparent that some construction work was going on, more wind farm nonsense and the usual barrage of no entry sign`s etc. It did not stop me having a good walk through the barriers(the guard on site was okay with us) and being rewarded with views of Ruff, Black Tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, a birder on site did help me locate a couple of the birds though!

Final call was to be Pennington Flash, Leigh. The weather by now had turned a bit showery and as we reached the flash the heavens opened, we sheltered in a hide and got a couple of Common Terns. Our plan was to see a Black Necked Grebe, but after searching and avoiding more rain we abandoned that plan, five Common Sandpipers where nice though. We looked in at the feeding station, but there was not much happening, must be the weather? I almost left my scope behind, but a nice lady shouted me back from the hide to pass it to me. Many thanks who ever you are. We got home around 6-15pm, 12 hours of really good birding.

Dave O.


Anglesey. Saturday 23rd May 2015
Just myself and Bob K made the trip into Wales last Saturday due to poor weather forecast for Sunday etc. We left Shaw around 6am in my new (ish) Kia Rio Diesel. Decent conditions had been forecast. First stop was Holyhead Harbour and a couple of Black Guillemots were soon located, the weather was quite nice by now, so, on to South Stack. Always one of Bob and my favourite places to visit, such a variety of habitat and the view is spectacular! A small gathering of Choughs were watched feeding and as we walked towards Ellin`s Tower a few Rock Pipit`s were doing a bit of courting. After locating a few Puffins on the sea below the cliffs, a look north revealed a few passing Manx Shearwater`s with their stylish flight very much in evidence, what cracking birds they are! We passed along a new path, for us, after the RSPB visitor centre, with a sign saying, “Public Right of Way”. Bob was spoken to by a lady, who said, ” I own all this land, but not for much longer as I am sick of all you twitcher`s walking along this path”. We were both quite mystified by her comments and left her to get on with looking after a few goats! Not very many small birds were seen as we walked a few of the many paths above South Stack, time to move on. As we passed Penrhos NR a few terns were seen, in amongst them were 2 Little Tern`s, well spotted Bob! Next stop Cemlyn Bay with a very good showing by lot`s of Sandwich, Common and Arctic Tern`s. Along with a couple of breeding plumaged Mediterranean Gull`s you might have been forgiven for thinking you were on your holidays. Bob took advantage of the warm conditions and took a nap, whilst I tried in vain to take some pictures of the passing tern`s carrying food items. Returning to the car a local cow (Moo Type this time) had gone for a walk onto the shingle and stubbornly sat down on the car park, nothing the farmer could do would move it! We just missed a Yellow Wagtail and after a good search for the bird, returned empty handed, but we did managed to enjoy the view of the Skerries though. It was now quite sunny and so, we decided to stop at RSPB Valley. We have not been here for quite a while, but on this evidence we will call in again. Lots of warblers, Willow, Chiff-Chaff, Reed, Sedge, Cetti`s, Whitethroat and then we heard singing, a couple of Lesser Whitethroat. Lots of water birds made up a good selection at a nice reserve. We decided to set off for home at a leisurely pace and reached Rochdale by 5-30pm. Good day out in typically nice Anglesey conditions.
Dave OuseyIMG_8573

After last weeks 71 species and a hand full of “year ticks” we found ourselves going to Spurn again! The reason, a certain Masked Shrike that had been found on Saturday morning, the third recorded in Britain. We waited for news before “going over the hill” into Yorkshire and around 7am the bird had been found so, the 2 Steve’s and myself were ready to go by 8am. Steve K kindly drove and by 10-15am we were drawing into the temporary car park in the Well Field to park and after passing at least 3 decent crowds of birders all watching something. Then, a dash to look into a field behind the Blue Bell cafe and the juvenile Masked Shrike was seen, a little distantly, so the 2 Steve’s had a lifer in the bag. I had seen the Fife bird a few year’s ago, what a journey into Scotland that was to see this small shrike species. Cracking bird to watch catching various insect prey and with 5 Redstart’s for company it was really special. A Lesser Whitethroat in the same bush as the shrike was also a real smart bird. After a good look at the shrike we had a go for a Barred Warbler, a species that we have not had a lot of joy with lately. After meeting lots of our birding friends from past & present we got to a line of bushes near the “Crown & Anchor”. After a good wait the bird failed to put in an appearance, we thought we would try again later. A Red breasted Flycatcher was showing well in the pub car park and so was the landlady, time to go. The canal area was next where an Olive backed Pipit had been seen, albeit rather fleetingly, as it was a lifer for Steve B. We waited for a while then went and saw a well hidden Jack Snipe, always easy to see when you know were they are! A small crowd was assembling near where the pipit had been last seen, so off we went again. One of the Spurn regulars was going to walk the area and attempt to flush this well known “skulker”. After about 20 yards walking / flushing, a small pipit flew out and landed in a small bush for around 2 seconds, just allowing time to I.D. it (yes, I know what you are going to say) it then had another brief fly and promptly disappeared into the deep grass. We had a small seawatch and managed a Sooty Shearwater, much more success along the eastern coast in other places just made us have a look. Now for another go for the Barred Warbler, within 5 minutes the bird was performing admirably for around 10 minutes, cracking close up views. A juvenile Hen Harrier female was then picked up, as it hunted low over the mud in search of some food, lovely to watch. A few Wheatear, Whinchat, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher along with some common warblers were seen around the canal area. The place was full of migrant birds. Finally a juvenile Peregrine was plucking a small bird only 15 yards from the roadside, not at all bothered about us watching it! There can be few places in England better than Spurn to see lots of migrating birds in autumn. The crowds were well-behaved and a vote of thanks to all the Spurn organisers in making the day again, memorable. We reached Rochdale and home by 5-30pm another great day out! We managed about 57 species, 2 lifers for Steve B and 1 for Steve K and at least 5 year ticks each.

Dave O.

Our annual trip came around again and it did not disappoint. There were new birds for the year, a twitch, sunny weather and finally a loss which has become a found!  Me and Bob K left Rochdale early in dreadful weather on Friday and it looked good for, “bad weather,good birds” etc. By Hull the rain had stopped and as we reached Stonecreek the clouds were breaking up. We met up with John from Leeds, as we always do and he told us of the local bird news. The walk to Sunk Island Battery was a little uneventful, but we always do it and pay homage to the place were the Mugimaki Flycatcher was found (get a life, I hear you say) Why have they not accepted that bird yet? A colony of Tree Sparrows are now well established in the area. We did not call at Patrington Haven as the tide was out, so we pushed on to Easington. There had been a Yellow Browed Warbler and a Ring Ouzel earlier and despite searching and help from some friends from York, we drew a blank. We headed for Spurn and Chalk Bank hide, seeing a Little Tern and a Purple Sandpiper and a flock of Brent Geese along with lots of waders as the tide began to turn. There was a few people around and the news about a strange Locustella warbler was just breaking. We headed for our caravan and after a meal my phone rang, it was Mark from York with the news of a possible Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler near Chalk Bank!  We headed at great speed to the area until we saw the tide crossing the “road”. This was decision time, luckily our minds were made up for us by 4 vehicles coming in the opposite direction. Reversing in wet sand between sticks with vehicles pushing us along with the tide lapping at the doors certainly beats one or two of our exploits! The Spurn warden told us the bird would be trapped Saturday morning and its identity established. Time for the pub, now that all six of us were here, great to see you all. Met the warden and a few of the regulars in the “Crown & Anchor” and had a chat about the new arrivals etc. At 7-15am in the morning, we all headed for Chalk Bank area to see if the possible would turn into a definite. Around 8-30am and after seeing the bird in flight, the bird was captured and the expectancy could be felt, then the words,”Well that a mystery solved, it’s a Grasshopper Warbler”, at that point about 50 birders feelings went downhill rapidly!  Me and Bob wandered off and saw two Firecrests, what nice birds they are. Breakfast time for us all now. A walk to Beacon Lane pools was not to good and the sea did not reveal anything at all. A Red Breasted Flycatcher had been found in the church yard in Kilnsea and showed really well in bright sunshine, also, Firecrest, Pied Flycatcher. In the Canal Scrape a Jack Snipe was seen and a couple of Redstarts completed the days birding. Sunday was nice and sunny and we all walked to the churchyard and found Firecrest, Lesser Whitethroat (thanks Martin) and finally a Yellow Browed Warbler. Time to plan for the journey home and after our goodbye’s the Rochdale boys headed for Old Moor RSPB reserve. Upon reaching there, Bob revealed that his telescope was not in the car, were was it? Lots of people here but no sign of an American Golden Plover. Curlew Sandpiper and a few waders in amongst a lot of Golden Plover who earlier had been spooked by a Peregrine. Our last call was at Edderthorpe Flash, but nothing new was found. By this time, Bob had spoke to lots of people about his missing scope, but it was not found. We all got home by 5-30pm and all enjoyed the trip.

P.S. Bob returned to Spurn on Tuesday and guess what? He found his scope under the caravan curtains in the main room, result or what!

Dave O.

Another year nearly gone by and another Spurn trip,this time for a long weekend,it was to prove eventful to say the least!! Me and Bob K left Rochdale at 6:30am and headed for Stone Creek, Sunk Island area, Humberside, no easterlies blowing, so, nothing really special was expected. We managed a few common raptors but, for me, the 15 Roe Deer moving around the area were really nice. Off to Patrington Haven to see lots of waders next, but there were hardly any birds there at all. Time to check out anything interesting on a rare bird site we thought, the news was, “Pallas`s Grasshopper Warbler at Whitburn, near South Shields”, I know they are real skulkers but we had to go for it, didn’t we?. Bob took the wheel and got us towards York, then a dart up the A19 and into Marsden Quarry, Whitburn. A mere 160 miles from Spurn. Upon arrival no sightings since 2:05pm and it was 4:30pm, would we be lucky? A few birders on site showed us the area the bird had been seen in and one man said the bird is in this clump of grass, but, as hard as he tried it wouldn’t fly out. By 5:50pm as the light began to falter and we left for Spurn, did we feel like we had made a wrong call on this one, what would we have thought if the bird had be sat out like it had been earlier in the day, no, it was a real good trip and we were really due to “dip out” on a bird sometime. We got to Patrington chippy at 8:25pm and enjoyed fish and chips and by 9:00pm were sat in the club at Sandy Beaches Caravan site enjoying a few pints of bitter, with Steve and Chris Brown, Billy Jackson and Martin Quinlan who thought we might have fancied a cup of PG Tips, nice one boys! Saturday dawned and a good breakfast was had, now for some proper birding! A trip along the point was soon abandoned, with news of a Tawny Pipit near Easington Lagoons, but, as we made our way the bird flew off towards Sammy’s Point, so we had a go for it there, but, no joy. Bob K. got a few going with a possible Woodlark (Martin had heard one on Friday evening as he arrived) again to no avail, a few nice birds around here though, Yellow Wagtail, Yellowhammer, Lesser Whitethroat and a steady passage of Redwing. News of a Bearded Tit in the canal area got us all going, a Spurn tick for all, I think! As we arrived the bird was “pinging” away and when it showed, it was a cracking male bird. A Jack Snipe from the Canal Scrape hide and then 2 Short Eared Owl’s patrolling the canal area made it feel like a “mini Scillies”. A trip down the point finally revealed a really smart Yellow Browed Warbler and after a seawatch we headed back to the caravans for our evening meals and a few beers, plus an interesting debate about global warming. Sundays birding began with a trip to the point, only interesting bird was a model doing a photo shoot in rather skimpy clothes with a backdrop of the old lighthouse, very nice! The YB Warbler was still showing and a look at Chalk Bank revealed a few missing waders from our trip list. We had a look at Beacon Lane pools and used the new footpaths in the area and admired the new lagoon area, not much on the old lagoons, apart from Brent Geese and Wigeon. After we packed up ready to set off for home, the Tawny Pipit again showed itself at Easington Lagoons, got to give it another go then. Upon arrival the bird promptly flew away and none of us saw it leave, ah well a good way to end another excellent trip. 93 species seen and 4 year ticks for myself,very good trip( would have been excellent if PG Tips would have been seen on Friday)

Dave Ousey.

The weeks events went like this,  excellent strong winds from the east, 3 Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers on the east coast on the same day (none were twitchable for us and none stayed the day after), lots of eastern specialities dotted around the same coast, so, with this in mind, a trip out east was arranged for Sunday. As usual, the weather was mild and the wind blew from the south west, just the kind of wind direction that you dont want for an east coast trip! You never know what might turn up at Spurn in various weather conditions though ! The 4 of us left Milnrow at 6am and after various diversions on the excuse for a motorway / permanent roadworks, the M62, we arrived at Spurn by 8-15am. First call was to see a Greenish Warbler behind the Riverside Hotel, but, it was that windy that you couldn’t see any movement in the low bushes. Lots of Redshank were flying around though. A call at the Crown & Anchor car park revealed none of yesterday’s rarities, except a very showy Lesser Whitethroat that almost turned into “bird of the day”. A seawatch followed with a single Sooty Shearwater, lots of Red Throated Divers, Little Gulls, Gannets but not much else. I then took the team to visit the Beacon Lane/ Easington Lagoon area using a much easier path (the team might not agree with this) for me this was the highlight of the day as we saw, Short Eared Owl, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Brent Geese, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Whinchat, Reed Bunting. Ste K was watching some gulls flying over the long ponds. He then announced that at least one of them was a Med. Gull. A quick check confirmed this true.  Back to the car, and we drive close bye where the gulls had settled. A scan of the gulls, and we clearly see two Med. Gull. Continuing our drive, to visit Canal Scrape with Mute Swan and 3 Greylag Geese that flew in, not much else though. We checked the mist nets at the observatory and lots of Redpoll had been caught by using a tape lure, but again, not much else. Another call at the Crown & Anchor car park and someone had seen a “Barred Warbler type” bird or was it the Lesser Whitethroat again? As we exhausted most of the parts of Spurn to visit, a check of the phone revealed a Yellow Browed Warbler at the west end of Easington village, off we went to try to see it. Again, with no shelter, the bird just could not be found. At this point we realised that heading for home was our best option. We called in at a flooded Fairbairn Ings reserve and only saw an underwater scene with lots of wildfowl. We reached home and all got “browny points” for being early,we also got at least 2 year ticks each, so, not a bad days birding, we also had a completely dry day until we got to the Wakefield area when the heavens opened!!

Dave Ousey.