Monthly Archives: June 2014

Spurn Migration Festival, High Tides and Getting to the Point

Meet the Unimog

Getting closer to Britain’s second Migration Festival.


The Spurn Migration Festival is on 5th-7th September 2014. Spurn island 2

Lots of folk are coming from different key organisations. In next few weeks we will be letting you know who will be there and some of the stuff going on. Meanwhile following the wild weather last autumn and the wash over on the peninsula, it’s no longer possible to drive down the road – or is it?

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have a Unimog for the job

A what? Here is it:


It can carry about 20 people.

We are imagining ( he says grinning appropriately ) soft light refreshments and ‘tour guide’ feel as we head down to the point.

Last year many folk commented on  how grateful  they were for the ‘bus service’ provided that ferried folk all around over the weekend. That’s same service will be present again this year as well.

Date: 5th-7th September 2014.

Have you booked your Migfest tickets yet?

Tickets are now on sale! Spurn Migration FestivalPlease call 01904 659570 or email Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

The Spurn Migration Festival runs from the 5th – 7th September 2014 and the prices are as follows: £14 for a day ticket, £21 for the weekend ticket and £8 for the evening lecture with delicious hog roast.

The event is hosted by Spurn Bird Observatory and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with Birding Frontiers and Westmere Farm.



One Species not to get your goat!

Dan Brown

Arguably one of the WPs most impressive mammals in an equally impressive landscape: Musk Ox in Norway is a MUST for anyone into mammals



It may be just a goat, but it’s a damn big goat, in fact the biggest in the world! At up to 2.5m in length and nearly half a ton in weight Musk Ox is an awe-inspiring beast. A massive shaggy bovid inhabiting some of the most brutal, but also beautiful landscapes in the world, yet this Arctic and sub-arctic dwelling monster is only a short flight away from the UK and actually remarkably easy to see (though we may have been lucky). Musk Ox became extinct in the Western Palearctic some 3000 to 4000 years ago but was successfully reintroduced from East-Greenland in 1932 into the massif. Their population appears to be stable.

Dovrefjell in Norway is a massif of intimidating mountains surrounded by tundra. Herds of Reindeer graze the lichen, Ptarmigan hunker down into the stunted heather, Rough-legged Buzzards hunt for Mountain Hares, Bluethroats sing from every flush, and most of the landscape appears out of bounds for the lay person; a perfect environment for Musk Ox.



A flight to Oslo from Stansted is only an hour and a half, and a drive north a few hours, or you can continue to Trondheim and a drive south for a couple of hours, either way you’ll yourself in the Dovrefjell massif and with a good chance of encountering Muck Ox. The E6 road runs through the massif and the main spot is the region around Kolla mountain (you can find it on googlemaps); an impressive conical hill erupting out of the tundra landscape. With a sharp eye these beasts can be seen from the main road and especially the large pull-in due south of the mountain (2km NE of the turning up to the main massif view point). If searching for them on foot, just remember that males can get angry and will definitely be able to run faster than you. As long as you’re not the slowest member of your group you’ll be fine!

And if the Ox isn’t enough then a wander over the accessible land may produce Arctic Fox, Norway Lemming, Grey-sided or Root Vole, not to mention some cracking birds.


White-throated Robin. Really 3 years ago?

Blast from the Past

Can’t believe this was just over 3 years ago. Really?  Just having a nostalgic moment and wondering what surprising rarity might appear next.

Fond memories 🙂

On Monday morning, 6th June (2011) heading for a flight to N. Ireland I heard about one of those ‘super rarities’ that occurs every now and again. I had important commitments. I would not be home until Thursday evening. I didn’t expect to see it. 7:30 am this morning I learnt the bird was still present. Time to go!

Arriving around 10:15am I found a bowling green and c 30 less than optimistic birders. After a quick recce I headed for some thick hedgerow away from the group and nearer the sea. I reminded myself how I had seen a Red-flanked Bluetail just sit at the base of a wall and under a thick patch of hedge, remaining undetected until I had gone for a pee (see . Surely this chat was similarly chillin’ out. The only other birder I bumped into with the same idea was former Shetland resident, Jason Atkinson. He too had been working all likely looking habitat, hard. As we stood comparing notes a bird hopped from thick hedge. Before bins reached eyes I knew what it would be- phew no dipping today! A sign of the times: I opted to phone and twitter the news rather than run to get other birders in the area. I figured they would hear quicker! However it soon flew back into the ‘inner bowling green’ for all to see.

I inadvertently bumped into Chris Brown, the bird’s finder and Toby Collett (the grooviest facial hair in British birding?) took one of us for my ‘cheesy picture collection’. Toby also got (the best yet?) HD video of the bird this morning:

Jason got some cracking shots during our “private viewing”: 

Old Records Update?

I am sure many can now recite the ‘old records:’

1983: Isle of Man, Calf of Man. Male 22nd June

1990: Pembrokeshire, Skokholm. Female 27th -30th May

The Calf of Man individual was seen only briefly and at best the brownish wings likened to those of female Wheatear point towards it being a first summer males. Photos of the Skokholm bird however clearly show pale tips to primary coverts verifying that, like the Hartlepool bird, it was a first summer female.

Mr White-throated Robin, Chris Brown who first found (and trapped) the White-throated Robin. Here, outside his house- what a local patch! With ‘tick’ bucket I think he said some £1,500 had already been raised for the local ringing group- excellent result!

Photo below taken seconds after my first view:


Olivaceous Warbler, but is it…

Eastern or Western?

Martin Garner

Juan Sagardia sent these photos from a couple of weeks ago. They were taken on Fuerteventura on the Canary Islands. This bird was a little over shadowed by a certain Abyssinian Roller  and also an apparent Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler.

I have seen not seen Western Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna opaca). The question is whether this individual is a Western Olly, or a ‘Western…. Eastern’. That is to say, the reiseri form of Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida reiseri), which occurs in NW Africa (close to /overlapping? with Western Olivaceous).

No information on dipping tail movement (present in Eastern Olivaceous, absent in Western Olivaceous). Opinion from those who know the subject welcome. Not easy!




and in case you missed it!


A couple more of Juan’s shot of the stunning Abyssinian Roller and that increasing familiar celebratory X men stand! :). All photos Juan Sagardia. See his Facebook Page.

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Badgers in the Garden!

at my lovely in-laws

by Martin Garner

I have had the privilege of watching Badger sets at dusk and the rare encounter during normal birding activity. More often, unfortunately, I see Badgers as road-side casualties. However since Sharon’s parent (my in-laws) George and Val moved house a couple of years ago, Badgers have become easier to see. Indeed every evening between one and three badgers wanders through their back garden, under a side gate, across the front of the house and straight over a road.

We guess this is a long-held, night-time route passed on to succeeding generation over many years.

The Badgers have literally walked under a chair I was sat on.

Here’s one from last night from the room we are staying in:


and across the front garden and over the road (scary moment!)




Gannet Bempton RSPB

Gannet Bempton RSPB

Gannet Bempton RSPB

Gannet Bempton RSPB

Gannets are one of my favourite subjects to digiscope, so a trip was taken to bempton cliffs a GREAT place to get up close and personal with these majestic birds

something a little different

something a little different

All image’s taken with a Panasonic GH3 on a SWAROVSKI 80 with 30x wide.                                Good Digiscoping.



  Justin Carr

Taken with a Panasonic GH3 with 20mm lens through a pair of SWAROVSKI EL 8.5x42

Taken with a Panasonic GH3 with 20mm lens through a pair of SWAROVSKI EL

Taken with a Panasonic GH3 with 20mm lens on a SWAROVSKI 80 with 30X wide

Taken with a Panasonic GH3 with 20mm lens on a SWAROVSKI 80 with 30X wide

As is often the case at this time of the year birding can be hard work but being a digiscoper there is always a subject to shoot. recentley a friend and i payed a visit to Old moor RSPB, other than the usual breeding birds was a cracking drake Garganey, after scoping it i set the camera up on the scope to practice on flight shots of the breeding Black headed gulls. after getting a few shots i thought it would be a good idea to try the camera though my friends SWAROVSKI  ELs, the eyecups fits well into the panasonic f1.7mm lens. quite happy for a first attempt, so i would say GIVE IT A GO!!                                                                                              HAPPY DIGISCOPING.