Monthly Archives: January 2016

Some Great Birding on Yorkshires east coast.

posted by Justin Carr.        The past few Weeks have been pretty good for birding on the coast from Hornsea upto Scarborough. With a few Rarities and and a good supporting cast of scarce birds thrown in. with influxes of wild geese and Owls.

Here’s a  few pics from the last few weeks.

One of the 3 Richards pipits

  One of the 3 Richards pipits

3 Richards pipits have been a popular attraction at North Landing Flambrough  mostly frequenting the same weedy field just east of the car park and at the time of writing still present. Richards pipits  in recent years seem to be overwintering in increasing numbers especially on the coast.

Peregrine

Peregrine

supporting cast came in the shape of this one of my favorite birds a Peregrine. i was really happy to capture this shot as it sailed by.

Kestrel

Kestrel

Also manged to capture this Kestrel hanging in the updraft of the cliffs it was a rather breezy day ( we seem to have had a lot of them lately ).

Short eared owl

Short eared owl

Apparently vole numbers have crashed this winter this would account for the influx of owls into the UK most notably Short eared owls. if you live near any landscaped pit tips you have good chance of picking one of these  stunners up. this bird took up residence on the grassy slopes along North bay Scarbrough and was remarkably confiding, after many dog walkers came and went the owl got up for a fly around then astonishingly came to land about 5 meters away

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

I have made a few trips to Hornsea mere but as is often the case there the good birds where rather distant and imposible to photograph, a shame as there has been regular sightings of Red necked and Slavonian Grebes as well as Long tailed Duck and a brief Kumlins Gull. i have included the Mute Swan well because i rather like it in the fading evening light.

And last but not least a immature Drake Surf scoter has took a liking to filey bay, on both occasions it to was to distant for anything other than a record shot.

Surfer

Surfer

so instead i thought i would post this surfer just to show you you can Digiscope more than just wildlife.

all images Digiscoped on a Swarovski ATX 85.                                                                                        GOOD Digiscoping!!

 

Breaking/ Exciting/ Chuffed-to-bits News!!!

Spurn Migration Festival

 

Takes Great Step Forward into the Future.

We could not be more delighted to announce the birth of a new partnership. Following three consecutive Spurn Migration Festivals we knew we were ready for the next step. Over careful and very enjoyable consultation meetings with the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology), we have created that new partnership.,,,,

 

The Spurn Bird Observatory Trust (SBOT) will work in full collaboration with the BTO to continue to make the #migfest  the UK’s premier bird migration experience. Other partners will also help take the whole event forward.

The dates for 2016 are Friday 9th, Saturday 10th, Sunday 11th September.

With requests for bookings for 2016 already coming in and the rave reports from 2015 we’re anticipating another great year.

P.S.

Don’t forget to dream…

Andy Roadhouse and Martin Garner2 numptie dreamers- Martin G. and Andy R.

Juvenile Thayer’s Gull in Aberdeen. NOW!

BOOM!

Thayer’s Gull, Donmouth, Aberdeenshire. 20th Jan 2016.

It’s an open secret. Chris Gibbins and I are working on a GULLS BOOK.

So the obvious thing- go out and find an uber rare gull of course. DOH!

Chris Gibbins writes:

“Isn’t birding just brilliant.

hywel 1

Exciting. Challenging. Sometimes stressful. Often mind-blowing. And sometimes simply bonkers.

Thayer’s Gull, Donmouth, Aberdeenshire. All photos: Chris Gibbins & Hywel Maggs.

I had made a conscious effort to escape from work more over lunch. Rather than work and have lunch at my computer, I’d promised myself that for 2016 I would go to Donmouth to check the gulls over lunch. A kind-of New Year resolution. I’d been doing this since going back to work after the Christmas break, but in the last few days I was particularly spurred on by Dave Foster. Dave had been finding lots of Caspian Gulls back home in NE England over the last 10 days or so, and Dave’s text messages and gripping Caspian photos reminded me to plug away with Donmouth.

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Tuesday 19 January. I arrived at Donmouth. The tide was just beginning to drop and birds were gathering on the gravel bar. As I wandered along to my usual viewing point, I noticed a gull just below me, very close to the base of the cliffs and just 30 m or so from me. It looked odd. I put my bins up and looked at it – ‘ooooohhh…. here we go’. I put my scope up and started to have a close look.

I look at gulls a lot. One consequence of this is that I see lots of wacky birds (e.g. crazy-looking Herring Gulls), birds that fall rather clearly into the presumed hybrid bracket, and others that don’t quite fit anything. Thus, when confronted with something initially puzzling, my default position is always ‘why isn’t this simply a weird Herring Gull, or a hybrid etc’. But as the features of this Donmouth bird were registering themselves in my mind, this slightly negative default did not kick in – it looked just like a proper gull, and that gull was Thayer’s. That said, I had to be careful not to let first impressions run away with me (‘‘stop, concentrate on the details; be objective’’ I told myself) but boy was this an interesting bird.

The bummer was that, having just nipped out over lunch, I did not have any camera kit. This was critical as a bird like this really needs to be captured in flight. I spent 5 or 10 mins looking at it and running through the options; it was no Herring x Glaucous hybrid, nor did the features add up to a small Glaucous-winged. Over the Christmas period I’d been in Korea looking at gulls, and had seen many puzzling birds that I took to represent various hybrid combinations involving Glaucous, Glaucous-winged, Slaty-backed and Vega. But this bird was not like any of these. For sure it had that Pacific look (largely dark tail and well-marked rump and upper-tail coverts) but it was not like anything I’d seen in Korea. It was either a Thayer’s or a crazy dark Kumlien’s. This is the real nightmare zone, but several things had me leaning towards Thayer’s to me – those amazing fresh, scaley scapulars (like a juv Baird’s Sand), the tertial pattern was good, and the primaries had a narrow fringe confined to the tip (not bleeding along all the feather edge). The primary tone changed a lot in relation to angle and the light conditions (cloudy but sun sometimes breaking through and creating glare) but overall I judged them to be more or less the same as the tertials, but perhaps slightly colder/greyer in tone. Some Thayer’s in my photo collection show primaries the same as tertials, others slightly darker. So this bird seemed okay in this department. Any paler and I would get the jitters. Stills don’t do it justice to its jizz, but walking around and interacting with Herring’s it was obvious it had its own character. It was just fractionally smaller than a Herring with a pinched-in bill base. Slightly snouty. It was rather aggressive and long calling too – how many time have you seen this on an Iceland/Kumliens type? All this was good but I needed flight images. I’d managed some video footage and stills of it on the deck using my phone. Fine, but I really needed to see the details of the open wings and tail/rump frozen in a flight photo, rather than relying on perceptions of them in the field. Dam. No camera. I needed help – some second opinions from friends who were not quite so adrenalin-fuelled or stressed as me, and so could look objectively, and pictures were needed

Thankfully Hywel Maggs lives not far away and he was there with his camera within 15 mins. I left Hywel to try and secure some pics and bombed off to pick up Paul Baxter to get his views on it – he was stuck at work with no car. By the time Paul and myself got back, Hywel had it all under control. Myself, Paul, Hywel and Phil Crockett (who I had also rang for a second opinion and managed a brief look between work duties) discussed the bird; to cut a long story short, were in agreement. It was great for me see and hear their instinctive reactions to seeing it.

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I had to get back to work but this provided me with the chance to put the news out on the email systems etc. Most importantly I emailed a couple of my phone pics to folks whose views I trust more than my own – Peter Adriaens and Martin Garner.

Accepting that they had just my phone-scoped standing shots to go on, both quickly came back with positive, ‘thumbs-up’ type comments. We have lift-off. I waited to receive some copies from Hywel of his flight pics, but at least for the time being there were no big warning lights. The news was out and no doubt the usual Thayer’s-Kumliens’ debate (ID, taxonomy…) would ensue over the internet. These birds are always going to be the subject of discussion and everyone will have their views. All part of birding, and how it should be.

(all pics Mr. Gibbins and Mr Maggs, Donmouth, Aberdeen, NE Scotland – YESTERDAY)

COMMENT from Martin G.

No doubt as already intimated by Chris G. there will be internet/ social media debate. What did I think/ It looks like like a Thayer’s Gull. (This really not necessary- already cracked by Chris!!)

“20 years  after my first Thayer’s. A crazy amout of juvenile only upperparts (lack 2cy feathers). Same fillled in JUVENILE scapulars. Same pinched base bill. Same velvety underparts, same  tertial pattern, morphing colour to primaries (but LOTS look just like this, spot on secondaries and tail). There- it’s what CHRIS SAID!

THAYER’S GULL…    see ya later”

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Below- 2 fresh juvenile Thayer’s Gulls on breeding grounds…

Postscript from Chris Gibbins:
‘‘I’ve just come from Donmouth where the gull is still present. I saw it briefly but light conditions now very neutral so ideal for judging its overall colour tones.

I have to say that I have concerns having seen it in these conditions – it looks rather too milky to my liking. John Nadine’s fantastic image from the other day of it standing on the groyne make it look good, but today I have come away with rather different perception of it. In neutral light the primaries do not look dark enough and the secondaries and outer primaries in flight not quite contrasting enough for me – or at least to put it beyond doubt. I thought I should voice my new concerns about it.

Whatever, it is a great bird. Best thing is to see it and make your own mind up. ‘’

Chris

Dr Chris Gibbins
Senior Lecturer
Northern Rivers Institute
School of Geoscience
University of Aberdeen
Old Aberdeen
AB24 3UF
Telephone: 01224 272338
e-mail: c.gibbins@abdn.ac.uk
Web page: www.abdn.ac.uk/nri

Humble Pie from MG- yes it is right at the pallid end. Yes I probably jumped the gun- though I still some can look like this (see photo below). Some cases will never know for sure.

juv Thayer's 2

Where has the Sun gone, Making the most of it!!

Posted by Justin Carr.

For us living in the UK its been a grim couple of months weather wise rain more rain and yet more rain. Being a photographer i have more reason than most to like a nice sunny day, they have been rather Scarce lately, but not put of by the lack of light Digiscoping opportunities still arouse on my recent days out Birding.

Goldfinches brighten up any dull day

Goldfinches brighten up any dull day

Black headed gull coming into a local roost

 

Shag in the rain

The above Red throated diver and Shag where in Scarborough Harbour on day when i have to say its a good job the Swaro and the Camera are Waterproof.

And then the Sun came out. YIPEEEEEEE.

Everyone loves Purple Sandpipers

Everyone loves Purple Sandpipers

These purple sandpipers where part of a group of around 40 that gather on the Harbour wall off Bridlington Harbour at high tide.

Grey seal pup

Grey seal pup

Donna nook on the north Lincolnshire Coast is a great place to get up close and personal with these Great Mammals. it was funny i have never seen so many Cameras. lots of people snapping away on there phones and even a guy with his ipad. I love that social media has made us all photographers.

Happy new year to you all, and have a Great Digiscoping year.

All images taken on a Swarovski ATX 85.