Thursday 31 December 2009

2009 Review

2009 got off to a flier with a mystery grey winged gull found on new years eve at Saltholme Pools, Cleveland getting identified on new years day as the UK's 2nd Glaucous-winged Gull. Fortunately it hung around long enough for me to see it, after spending the Xmas and New Year up in Shetland.

After the good came the bad ? Spent the best part of the day on the 7th looking for the hoax Steller's Eider in North Wales ..... say no more.

The month was dominated by the Waxwing invasion and White-winged Gulls.

More gulls during the first couple of weeks around Arpley Tip and Moore NR. Also in the first week a male Siberian Thrush in Norfolk, which was fresh out and straight back into an aviary. The Black-bellied Dipper was nice though.

The furniture runs up to Shetland were in full swing ready for the big move. Whilst on one of the shuttle runs took in the Ring-billed Gull at Strathclyde Loch. Once back in Cheshire a Cattle Egret was a welcome local bird, just down the M56 at nearby Frodsham.

The last week of March was earmarked for a day out in Devon for the Penduline Tit at Paignton, the Cirl Buntings at Broadsands and the very showy (but probably plastic) Hooded Merganser.

The month ended with another bloody plastic bird? This time a White Stork down the M62 in Yorkshire.


The month started well with a drake Lesser Scaup in Notts, a singing Siberian Chiffchaff near Leek and a Great Spotted Cuckoo in Cornwall. The big move north happened on the 9th, and i was reaping the benifits on the 10th with a Hoopoe gracing the patch for 3 days. Also visiting the garden.

A 1w Kumliens Gull showed well throughout the month at Hamister, a North American Wood Duck (of unknown origin) was also present on Brow Loch. I finally caught up with the Ring-neck Duck on Loch of Tingwall and a mini invasion of Mealy Redpolls occurred on patch.

Its all about spring. Wheatears, Whimbrels, Arctic Terns, Great & Arctic Skuas all returned during the month. On the 5th a Black Kite at Fladdabister was a slight distraction away from a scheduled shopping trip in Lerwick.

A journey back to Cheshire to collect our 2 cats was rewarded with a Pallid Swift at Seaforth, and better news was to follow with a Brown- headed Cowbird on Fair Isle. Thankfully i got back in time to see it.

2 Black Ducks at Scatness and a White-tailed Eagle on return from Fair Isle on the 11th, and a Franklins Gull on the 12th at Sullom was most welcome.

The 16th was a bumper day with lots of migrants around on patch. With the pick of the bunch being 2 Wood Warblers, an Icterine Warbler and a Rustic Bunting.

The migrants kept coming with 4 Dotterel on the 17th up at Skaw. 4 each of Wood Warbler and Tree Pipit and 3 Common Sandpipiers on patch on the 18th. The 19th was a massive day with another Icterine warbler on patch and 2 at Skaw, 4 Bluethroats and a Wryneck the pick of the migrants on isle.

A lull during the 3rd week was chance to get refreshed for the last week. A trip off isle on the 28th meant i could pay the Lesser Scaup a visit on Loch of Freester and the Subalpine Warbler at Scatness. A Golden Oriole did a tour of Whalsay on the 30th. The highlight of the month was left to the last day with breath taking views of a pod of Killer Whales in Lerwick. Simply stunning.

The month started with another Golden Oriole on the 2nd and a Wood Sandpiper near Lerwick on the 3rd. A visit south on the 10th had me heading to Norfolk for a Black-winged Pratincole at Titchwell. A trip over to Fetlar on the 12th produced my only Red-backed Shrike of the year and was a good opportunity to photograph the Red-necked Phalaropes.

A trip to Bressay on the 18th was rewarded with excellent views of the Lesser Grey Shrike and a singing Marsh Warbler at Hoswick.

Another visit south on the 20th had me heading for North Wales straight off the plane for the African Royal Tern, unfortunately this was coupled with 3 points for speeding.

The month was dominated with the Crossbill invasion with probably hundreds throughout Shetland.

Another visit south was rewarded with a Collared Pratincole in Yorkshire on the 21st, but wasn't so lucky trying to catch up with the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater on the 22nd. A patch Little Stint on the 30th ended the month on a high.

The month didn't get started until the 18th with a Common Rosefinch up at Skaw. The 20th produced a Pectoral Sandpiper on patch at Houll Loch which stayed up to the 27th.


Ah, the autumn starts here. Or so i thought ? The first couple of weeks were pretty dire, it got slightly better with 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers on the 16th up at Skaw. The morning of the 18th was a vast improvement with an Arctic Warbler at Marrister.

The 24th was spent twitching the Sandhill Crane on Orkney with an Adult American Golden Plover also present nearby.

The Taiga Flycatcher on Fetlar on the 28th was the first autumn mega on Shetland.

What a month, definitely one to remember.
A trip to Foula on the 2nd was very memorable. Veery, Buff-bellied Pipit, Pechora Pipit & Arctic Redpoll.

Then another Veery at Symbister when i got back.

Brilliant views of the Pechora Pipit on the 3rd up at Skaw.

My first Yellow-browed Warbler on patch on the 5th and 2 on the 6th. A very showy Arctic Redpoll on the 7th at Cunningsburgh as well as another Arctic Warbler at Quarff.

The 11th produced an Olive-backed Pipit at Vats-houll and a Lapland Bunting on the 12th at Isbister.

A Red- flanked Bluetail at Sandgarth on the 13th was a nice local twitch. The 18th produced my first patch Bluethroat and a probable Spotted Crake on the 19th. Camera got wet on the 20th! A Little Bunting at Sandwick on the 22nd and a smart Wood Lark on patch on the 23rd. A very confiding Common Rosefinch at Sandwick on the 27th rounded off a brilliant October.

A good start with another patch Bluethroat on the 1st, a very late Wheatear and a Short-eared Owl on the 2nd. The Bluethroat was seen again and a Dusky Warbler was very welcome at Sandwick on the 5th.

A trip back to Cheshire for a fortnight included a visit to the Lesser Yellowlegs at Aberlady on the 6th and a journey further south on the 7th for the Fan-tailed Warbler at Pegwell Bay, Brown Shrike at Staines Moor and the Azorean Yellow-legged Gull at Didcot.

Another journey south on the 30th took in a visit to Dungeness for the 2 Glossy Ibis, and another look at the Brown Shrike at Staines Moor which gave breathtaking views.

The very welcome Baird's Sandpiper at Barns Ness on the 2nd, as well as the Lesser Yellowlegs again at Aberlady broke up our return journey north.

The rest of December was as you would expect ? Very Quiet.
So heres to 2010. All the best and good birding.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Same old, same old

Still very quiet around Brough in the cold sunshine. Apart from a Song Thrush and a garden Robin all the activity is down at the Houb, or so i thought ? The Houb sightings were as expected, 5 Dunlin, 3 Wigeon, 6 Red-throated Divers (no sign of any GND!) and 2 Long-tailed Ducks. The local Greylag flock is 70 strong, and still just Greylags. More activity it seems is just up the road with Jon having 3 Stonechats and a Grey Wagtail yesterday, jammy git.
More Purple Sandpipers for your visual delight !

Monday 28 December 2009


Still as you would expect outdoors, with not much happening. A Robin and 3 Purple Sandpipers were the best today could offer. Don't expect any better tomorrow, if anything at all.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Purple patch

The Jackdaw was still around briefly this morning, and even though an Otter gave me the slip a Purple Sandpiper was most welcome. A good check through some 250+ Eider but nothing different yet, only a matter of time. Oh well, Merry Christmas.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Is it a Viking ?

A beautifully calm crisp winters day meant a decent chance for a look around patch. A Song Thrush still persists but this Jackdaw was new, quite noticable was the white flash/collar and the contrast between the grey and black tones, but not sure whether it qualifies as monedula ? Never come across that race so informed comments welcome.

Also present were 2 Dunlin mixed in with 70+ Golden Plover. Large numbers of Snipe in the open due to the freeze, but still the Jack Snipe remains elusive.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

It made it ... unlike us ?

This relates to the events of Sunday. Rage Against the Machine took the coveted Christmas no.1 spot, thank god. Whilst we, that being Jack & I, were stuck at Edinburgh Airport trying to make our way south to Manchester. Needless to say we never got there. Managed to get home though, thankfully. Bugger all birds about! Unless you want to here about a Song Thrush or a Robin ? Didn't think so.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

XXX Factor

Just over a week to Christmas and no birds so a change of direction ? Sick of the usual crappy processed Xmas no.1 ? If you haven't heard, the X-Factor winner is probably going to get top spot that is unless we do something about it. A Facebook campaign is well under way to try and get Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name (listen here for free) to no.1. I have fond memories of watching RATM on The Word and spouting expletive after expletive throughout this anthem. Pure quality. This was eluded to ever so slightly on Steve Mintons Blog but thought it deserved a little more coverage.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Its a numbers game

A quick update, not that there is much to update ! A Whooper Swan was added to the garden list on the 9th. The local Eider flock is increasing daily with today's count being 200+, hopefully it will linger and attract a king. 7 Long-tailed Ducks are off the Houb and a female Common Scoter was logged yesterday as was a Chiffchaff. 3 Robins seems to be the maximum count around Brough and a new patch tick was gained today with a juv Moorhen in the 'crake' ditch below the house. On a slightly depressing note (well for me anyhow), i received a text informing me that my 400BOU was premature ? He kindly informed me (bloody sleuth) that i had Ross's Goose stuck on my life list so its -1. Bollocks.

Monday 7 December 2009

It wont make the Oscar's

Well it seems we are truly into the grips of winter, its bloody cold, windy and mainly wet and there are no birds ! The migrant count was a measly Robin and that was today. A check of the 2 Greylag flocks i could find produced nothing unusual. 8 Whooper Swans and a few Goldeneye were between West Loch and North Loch and 7 Red-breasted Mergansers were on the sea below the house. A few Redwings and Fieldfares are still about, but not too many.

Other news, if your interested ? Jack's got his School Christmas show this evening (gulp). Finally got the sun-room finished although it resembles more of a games room and City took another southern scalp on Saturday beating Chelsea 2-1. Happy days.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Got there ... eventually

Back home to rain,wind and generally crap weather. But a fully loaded van and some decent birding made it all worth the while. Before the main event of collecting the rest of our furniture we did a whistle stop tour, it seemed, of the UK. First up was Aberlady Bay and the Lesser Yellowlegs, unfortunately it was playing very hard to get in the driving rain and strong winds with only 2 brief views had so we headed south to our next destination London Heathrow ? Only for a bed for the night. Next morning we set off for Kent with Dungeness the desired location. On the approach road to Dungeness Dougie got his first tick of the trip with Cattle Egret, that was soon followed up with his second and 2 Glossy Ibis. Unfortunately there was no sign of the elusive Penduline Tit nor did we come across the Great White Egret.

Next stop on our journey back north was Staines Moor, and for me my second look at the Brown Shrike. After an anxious 30 minute wait (for Dougie) it eventually showed and fantastically well. Tick number 3.

A slight detour off the M40 for a look at the showy Red Kites around Stokenchurch.

After spending a birdless day loading up the van we decided to get an early dart next morning, for the Baird's Sandpiper at Barns Ness, Lothian. Upon arrival it wasn't long before i picked it out feeding along the shoreline but more importantly it was a milestone bird ? 400 BOU and thankfully it came before the year end.

Next stop Aberlady, again. This time we were in luck as the Lesser Yellowlegs was showing splendidly.

A cracking few days were rounded off perfectly with City thumping Arsenal 3-0 again. Next up in the cup its Man-U.