Monthly Archives: August 2015

Hen Harriers – getting a little soapy for the cause

Bath Bomb, Bath Bomb, your my….

Some folk are doing some serious campaigning, information sharing and opinion changing on behalf to save the shocking decline of the Hen Harrier in the U.K. and exposing the underlying issues. I am not one of those-  but I am a big fan of what they are doing and feel I should do more. Well here’s little effort in the hope that my foolishness might encourage YOU if you havent  signed up yet- you just might.

LUSH have produced a Hen Harrier ‘bath bomb’. Sent me one after an unguarded comment, so happy to play the fool.

I need to point well away from myself to those doing the work. Please visit and sign up and support. For more info and action please click on these:

Raptors Alive collaborative inv. Chris Packham

Mark Avery’s Blog crammed with info and action points

Birders Against Wildlife Crime

Lush Hen Harrier Campaign

anyone else I should point to?

and to ‘inspire’ you/ terrify you to action…  a little insight into bath-bomb time

Lush Hen Harrier soap one (1 of 1)Lush Hen Harrier soap three (1 of 1)Lush Hen Harrier soap two (1 of 1)


ANSWERS. To Eider Prize Quiz

Not so easy 😉

Thanks to everyone who had a go at the female Eider prize quiz. Not easy!

Six people named all 4 birds correctly to their taxon/ subspecies level. Well done- they were:

Kent Olsen, Davy Bosman, Liger Alexandre, Mike Buckland, Tony Davison and Hans Martin Høiby. (if I missed anyone- tell me quick!)

and drawn from the hat (by Abi Garner) the winner is drrrrrrrrrrrrr is :

Mike Buckland

I was heartened that by using new features and what for me is ‘right-now’ learning, these and other female Eider can often be identified to a subspecies/ lowest taxonomic unit level- especially when location and circumstance are taken into account. There’s’ more in the new book of course!

A copy of the Challenge Series: WINTER is on its way to Mike.


female Eider 1 (below) is a female Northern Eider – borealis

female Eider one (1 of 1)

Above. Female Northern Eider, borealis, Sindri Skúlason. Quite a few plumped for faeroeeensis on this one. Many true Faeroes birds are a deep peaty brown colour- e.g. lovely photo by Silas Olofson in new book.


female Eider 2 (below) is a female Dresser’s Eider dresseri

female Eider

Above. Female Dresser’s Eider, dresseri, by Chris Wood.


female Eider 3 (below) is a female Pacific Eider –  v-nigrum

Eider female

Above. female Pacific Eider v-nigrum, Chris Wood

female Eider 4 (below) is a female nominate (Common) Eider- mollissima

female Eider three (1 of 1)

Above. female (Common) Eider  – nominate mollissima by Martin Garner.

Fanad, co Donegal

Where much borealis discovery and learning happened for me. This pair while late on (June) and the male is a little worn and just beginning moult to eclipse- you can see nostril position looks pretty good for borealis on both- togther with other features. More on this in Challenge series: WINTER.


Eiders MG (1 of 1)


Have Your Say! on the Migration Festival.

Tim and Rob share the passion…


Tim JonesTim Jones scops pic fb

“I’ve been coming to Spurn regularly for the last 4 years and am now well and truly addicted to the place! For me, although a bit morbid, this Whimbrel shows exactly the reason why I keep coming back time and time again, for the sheer thrill of witnessing epic migrations that these birds undertake. Born in Western Finland this summer this bird has flown a minimum of 1500km to reach Spurn where it was too exhausted to continue and unfortunately died. So the reason I’ll be at Migfest this year is to witness these awesome waders flying in off the sea, calling excitedly, having just travelled thousands of km to reach us having been born in some stunning bog in Scandinavia, what a privilege! For me there is nothing better than seeing birds flying in off the North Sea, so come and join in seeing this spectacle at the Migfest!”

whimbrel tile



Rob Stoneman, rob cropCEO of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

“I can vividly remember the excitement all those years ago. The early morning start. The beaten up old Bedford van that took us 10-year old aspiring bird-watchers out to the east coast. The grey skies, the mud and sand merging into the sea and then the birds – thousands of them, flying in from the sea and landing all around us. Thrushes, warblers, Goldcrests all tumbling out of the sky to find a bush near me. A look through my army binoculars (handed down from Grandad), a quick check in the bird book and TICK. Satisfaction and passion for wildlife ran through my very being.

I still find it exciting: the rarity, a gloriously good view, the sheer volume of birds on the move; amazement at the distance travelled. The migration is spectacular and awe-inspiring. It grounds me to this little Atlantic island that sits at the heart of one of the greatest spectacles on Earth. The migration beckons.”

More on the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust  and #migfest HERE


140707 Spurn Mig_ eventsposter_A4

Greenish or Green?

Warbler of course!

Keeping the story warm 🙂

You may remember the curious, rather bright looking, rather ‘Green’-looking phylloscopus warbler in Denmark in the spring (27th May). DNA results are awaited sometime in the next 2-3 months perhaps (per H. Knudsen). More info and photos HERE.

Meanwhile as the autumn Greenish have just begun to appear (bloomin Filey!) this subject needs to stay alive. Green Warbler can appear early too!

We were very fortunate where I live. Following our reporting of the Danish warbler- our own Mr. Andy Hood went and got woken up by a singing Greenish Warbler right outside his bedroom window at Flamborough, on 15th June. Though it made an interesting comparison with the Danish bird. Our bird sang- marvellous! It was also one of those Greenish (not too infrequent) in which the wing bar is entirely worn-off in spring.

Greenish Warbler, Flamborough, 15th June 2015

Grenish Warbler A hood 15th June 15 (1 of 1)

Greenish Warbler, Flamborough, East Yorks. 15th June 2015. Andy Hood

in full song


Green or Greenish Warbler, Blåvand, Denmark, 27th May 2015


warbler two (1 of 1)

Green or Greenish Warbler, Blåvand, Denmark, 27th May 2015. Henrik Knudsen


Green Warbler in Finland, May 2012

and for completion and comparison- don’t forget the accepted Green Warbler in Finland all written-up HERE.

Green Warbler

Green Warbler, Phylloscopus nitidus 20 May 2012 Lågskär, Kaukaasianuunilintu. First record for Finland. Mika Bruun.

First-winter White Wagtails

Details of wing and rump and tail

Sometimes a single image just does it!

Justin Carr, our keen pioneering digiscoper  – Mr. ‘in-fight’ shot – has taken a cracker (and it’s not in flight!).  Two first-winter White Wagtails on a recent trip to Turkey.


In the next couple of weeks first-winter White Wagtail pass through Britain- often undetected. They are tricky. We have covered the subject here in some detail in the past. Have another look HERE.

Or just have a look more closely at Justin’s image. Critically the rump tones of grey are well captured, but also all that detail in the outer tail pattern (average differences from Pied), and in the wings.

South Landing beach at Flamborough has a whole bunch of young alba wagtails feeding there right now and the babies from the hybrid Pied X White pairing near my house must be somewhere nearby. Time to go do some learning…

White wagtail justin carr (1 of 1)


Two first-winter White Wagtails showing off all their more subtle ID features. Turkey, August 2015. Justin Carr.

Have your Say: From Heather and the Chairman

On Spurn and the Migration Festival

“You have to experience it for yourself…”


Heather BennettHeather Bennett

My name is Heather Bennett. I’ve been coming to Spurn since becoming Little Tern Warden in 2013, and am now an assistant warden for the RSPB. I regularly come back to Spurn, because I just love the place. I’ve seen some amazing wildlife here and learnt so much from the wonderful people who are so willing to share their knowledge regardless of how ‘birdy’ you are! But that’s not what keeps me coming back, it’s something else, just the feel of it, the atmosphere. But it’s not something I can describe, it’s something you have to experience for yourself…


and… a lovely personal welcome to this years Spurn Migration Festival:

Rob AdamsRob Adams (1 of 1) (chairman of the Migration Festival 2015)

“I have been very much a part of Spurn now for the past 45 years and the magic of this place never ceases to amaze me. It’s the only site I know where you can witness the mystery of migration on such a grand scale. So with that in mind I really don’t think you can afford to miss the 2015 Spurn Migration Festival. It’s so easy to book your tickets by going on-line to I really do look forward to meeting up with you there and it is my personal I promise to you that you will not be disappointed.”


“My personal promise to you… you will not be disappointed!”