Monthly Archives: September 2015

No Book Sales until after 14th October

Office Closing for short period

The Birding Frontiers office will be closed for sales of the Challenge series: AUTUMN and the Challenge Series: WINTER from midnight on Friday 25th September to midnight on Wednesday 14th October.

After the 14th Oct.¬†service will resume as normal ūüôā

Please place any book orders for processing¬†either today (Thursday 24th Sept.) or tomorrow (Friday 25th Sept). You can still place orders in the meantime but they won’t be processed until after 14th October.

Thanks very much!

The books get live action use…


Eastern Subalpine Warbler

It seems as if our special sylvia guest may still be in residence at Flamborough. All three Subalpine Warblers were covered in book one. The current Flamborough bird bears more than passing resemblance to an adult male which caused some controversy on Yell, Setland, two years ago and whose photo opens the Subalpine Warbler chapter.

Eastern Subalpine Yell (1 of 1) Subalpines in book (1 of 1)



I love the redpoll chapter in the WINTER book. It’s one of my favourites. It was also one of the hardest to do! Six taxa and a complex subject to communicate in relatively simple terms. See the recent post on Lesser Redpoll. we’ve had some juicy topics to go at locally. Lesser Redpolls are appearing in numbers on the east coast. It is arguably that these are Scandinavian birds from lower latitudes, which, for the optimistic might suggest ¬†a ‘redpoll year’ ahead. As the autumn progress we may see birds arriving form the higher latitudes; Mealy and Coues’s Arctic Redpolls.

Lesser Redpoll Flamborough Head, September 2015. Part of notable passage along Britain's east coast this autumn.

Lesser Redpoll Flamborough Head, September 2015. Part of notable passage along Britain’s east coast this autumn. What redpolls are set to challenge us this autumn and winter?

and of course…

So much more!

Lesser Redpoll identification – WINTER is Coming!

From one of my favourite Chapters

Seriously. It was also one of the hardest to write. Six taxa, one of them scarcely known. A subject where strong opinions are aired, though usually generating more heat than light. It was never going to be easy. We created the ‘Redpoll¬†Code’ to help the ID process. Now the test comes :).

The Spurn Migration Festival¬†¬†seemed to herald¬†the start of Lesser Redpolls moving down Britain’s East Coast. Their occurrence suggests a Scandinavian arrival. Perhaps as the autumn progresses we can expect more from even further north…

Meanwhile Flamborough has them passing through and occasionally stopping to feed almost every day at the moment. So here’s one of our Lessers to showcase some features,. Plus I managed a lovely sound recording last night from 2 of 6 birds which roosted¬†with a large Linnet flock at Thornwick Reed Bed. And guess what?!!

(You’ll have to scroll down to see…)

Happy days for those who like to discover!

See if this works. From the ‘Redpoll Code’ in the Challenge Series: WINTER

Lesser Redpoll bit page 2 (1 of 1)

then see the bird below, which I photographed here last weekend.

  • Very buffy yellow background to streaking. I think that fits!
  • Nice buff/yellow wash on a section of the undertail- just a bit, but enough – classic for Lesser.

Lesser Redpoll j (1 of 1) Lesser Redpoll k (1 of 1) Lesser Redpoll g (1 of 1) Lesser Redpoll e (1 of 1) Lesser Redpoll d (1 of 1) Lesser Redpoll c (1 of 1)



BOOM! The Sonagram looks very similar/ identical to a Lesser Redpoll¬† I recorded at Spurn ages ago. It’s the one in the WINTER book. On these two Lesser Redpolls recorded several years apart the sonagram is not the same for the other Redpoll taxa. Similar to some but key differences in this contact ‘chatter’ call. Cool! You can see the sonagram of Lesser Redpoll from Spurn as well as the other taxa¬†in the WINTER book.



Lesser Redpoll T Reed Bed 23 sept 2015



Pechora Pipit

Key features on an impossible bird!

Found by intrepid explorers Riddington and Tallack and whose team I hope to join as a very minor sub, this Pechora Pipit is the first in the U.K. this autumn. The bird was at Melby, yesterday (22nd Sept.) which is on Shetland Mainland, on the west side  just opposite Papa Stour.

Unfortunately it would simply would not sit up and give close views. So they resorted to mega recording tactics. Flights shots with key ID features AND a sound recording. Now the latter may not ‘sound’ so amazing, except that Pechora Pipits hardly ever seem to call on Shetland.

and you CAN see the primary projection in one of the photos. Nay bad goin’ lads!

Flight photos by Shetland’s top photographer Roger Riddington

J75A0426 J75A0430a Pechora

Ya’ll need to listen a couple of times- ¬†but remember, the recording of a calling Pechora on Shetland is a mega in itself:

Recording and sonagram by Shetland’s top sound recordist (and ace photographer)¬†Rory Tallack: (in fact between me and you, Shetland‚Äôs top sound recordist has access to the fancy technology such as mine, but he was working with his phone y‚Äôday – brilliant!)

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 21.01.07



Scary Little Stint

Grey and very eye-catching!

For me at least. Don’t think I have quite seen one like this before.¬†40 years looking at Little Stints- national hotspot was¬†at Frodsham Marsh where I grew up…Photographed by Ben Moyes with other fresh juvenile Little Stints at Hollesley, Suffolk, UK on 20th September (3 days ago)… ¬†he put the pics on his Twitter feed and I couldn’t help but get drawn in. Wow! What a curious looking bird. The very grey appearance, including and¬†especially¬†some coverts with some disconcerting little scapulars with orangey¬†fringes made me think of some juvenile Red-necked Stints. It’s didn’t like quite right either but to make sure- belt and braces – I asked Ben to send the original pics for closer study. I also sent them to Nils van Duivendijk for a conflab. I/we do think it’s a Little Stint if one with a¬†WOW factor ūüôā


Why was¬†it attention grabbing? Very grey plumage – unusual in mid-Sept, grey-centred tertials, no mantle white V’s, head pattern wrong for¬†Little in mid Sept., orangey upper scapular fringes contrasting with greyness below. BUT. It’s long-legged, bill bit long and curvy, plumage not really strikingly Red-necked-like. No white broad¬†French¬†manicure scapular fringes, breast side pattern like a Little Stint etc. etc.

It has already begun moult to grey winter plumage which is a factor in its appearance- all those mantle feathers have been renewed together with some upper scapulars. Scary!

Anyhow- here it is.

See what you think: all photos by Ben Moyes- thanks Ben- good job!

Grey Little Stint Ben Moyes 2 (1 of 1) Grey Little Stint Ben Moyes 8 (1 of 1) Grey Little Stint Ben Moyes 10 (1 of 1) Grey Little Stint Ben Moyes 11 (1 of 1) Grey Little Stint Ben Moyes 9 (1 of 1) Grey Little Stint Ben Moyes 1 (1 of 1)



Overnight Mysteries

Sound Recording at Flamborough

What species are these?

Delighted to be recording bird sound overnight again. My house is very near the lighthouse at Flamborough. It offers fascinating possibilities. I compared two nights, one overnight 2 nights ago which was clear skies not a cloud in sight. Then last night with overcast but high cloud. The clear cloudless night struck gold especially in the first period after dark. Lots of recordings. Not all easy to identify. Indeed I am struggling with some. So am crowd surfacing your knowledge and have-a-go spirit.

Eleven recordings. No Prizes. WHAT ARE THEY ?? 




Mystery ONE

Mystery one


Mystery TWO


mystery two

Mystery THREE

mystery 3



Mystery FOUR

mystery 4

Mystery FIVE

mystery 5

Mystery SIX

mystery 6

Mystery SEVEN

mystery 7

Mystery EIGHT

mystery 8

Mystery NINE

mystery 9

Mystery TEN

Mystery 10


Pallid Harrier on Shetland

needs me and Mrs G to be on Shetland too ūüôā

Thanks to my bloomin marvellous friends on Shetland, Sharon, me and Yoav the Perlman will be heading north early next week. I just wanted to flag up my hopes. Maybe this chap will still be around. Photographed by Brydon Thomason in one of my favourite places on the planet. As this particular spot¬†is one of favourite birding places in the world,¬†and is best best birded solo- if I tell you where it is I will then have to kill you ūüôā . Brydon has been a friend for nearly 10 years since we met on a very windy day on Foula. Since then we have worked together and played together. I love his passion for Shetland and its nature- which is so wonderfully informed by his knowledge of his native Shetland and its nature. I have guided for him over several years being¬†more than happy to serve the vision of Shetland Nature¬†.¬†Brydon’s business which has grown to be a shining example of its kind.

and he takes bloomin juicy photos (check out the little montage below). This Pallid Harrier, probably still around is no doubt awaiting our arrival. It was found just over a week ago.

We are ready and will soon be on our way!

Shetland here we come!

DSC_4102_Pallid_Ndale 2015_web

DSC_4158_montage_webDSC_4108_pallid_Ndale 2015_webDSC_4100_Pallid_Ndale 2015_web


Not the first time you have seen this kind of banner- don’t think it will be the last ūüôā

Shetland Nature (1 of 1)


Thank you Filey Bird Observatory

Them there lovely folks!

In the slightly odd world I live in and sometimes interface between different realities… ¬†I was having a blood transfusion t’other day ready for a next treatment. Takes about 3 hours. As I had been difficult to pin down, representation was sent from Filey Bird Obs and associated friends to deliver a gift. Quite why is till a little beyond me. However the gift was very gratefully received amidst a teary-¬†eyed blubber of thankfulness.

Really you guys messed up my mascara and everything. It is such a blessing. Only one problem…Audubon 10 (1 of 1)

The gift is huge. It’s a book and is far and away the biggest book I have ever owned. It’s really a display book, so it’s is currently on display. Each day I can flick through the pages and let them settle on a favourite.

So Filey and friends- THANK YOU!! I love it. It is stunning. Thought I would share a bit with you:

Here it is next to my parabolic reflector on a rather large dining room table.

Audubon 11 (1 of 1)


Featuring beautiful images of the Birding Frontiers logo: The Marsh Hawk

Marsh Hawk  (1 of 1)


Full page colour like these Pied-billed Grebes

Audubon 6 (1 of 1)


Love this female Green-winged Teal with Garganeyish face pattern- spot on ūüôā

Audubon 7 (1 of 1)


Is this a southern Black Guillemots or Mandt’s? (see Challenge series: WINTER!)

Audubon 9 (1 of 1)


Lots of pretty little black and white vignettes with the text like next to these Bobolink

Audubon 5 (1 of 1)


Ivory-billed Woodpecker for people like Martin Collinson

Ivory billed Woodpecker 2 (1 of 1)


and finally I think my friends in Arctic Norway will like this one:

Audubon 8 (1 of 1)


Did I say it clearly enough? You are a blessing Filey… dudes. Thank you very much.