Tuesday 2 August 2011

Not so grim up North

OK, so first things first: about those two rings... here are the complete images (two of the best from the weekend, so it might be downhill from here, I’m afraid)


So, that placed me at Bempton Cliffs on Saturday evening, having a lot of fun taking photos. Much earlier in the day, we’d started out looking and listening for the now long-staying Western Bonelli’s Warbler in Derbyshire. Scenery: fantastic. Bird: a complete bugger. In about three hours, we heard it sing precisely once, and I never set eyes on it. Thankfully, I’d seen it a few weeks back when it first got reported, but for the other two guys this was not a good start!

Next stop was Blacktoft Sands, where our mood was brightened by the continued presence of a Marsh Sandpiper. A really elegant bird, recalling Wilson’s Phalarope in some ways, it gave excellent scope views, but always a bit distant for my lens…


After a brief delay caused by an unhappy car (which will hopefully be fixed tomorrow), we continued up to Bridlington, sourced a bargain £25 B&B, and then on to Bempton. I took A LOT of photos, most of which have just gone in the bin – but here’s a few more that I like.

First, another Tree Sparrow – this time a juvenile, still showing the yellow gape, and looking somewhat more House Sparrow-like at this age with some grey on the forecrown and less clearly marked pattern on the face.


And now on to the main event: the seabird colony. Let’s start with a decidedly average photo of one of the reserve’s specialities:


We saw loads of Puffins, though none particularly close. It appeared that most of the other auks (Guillemots and Razorbills) had left the cliffs, since virtually all the birds whizzing in and out below us were Puffins. That left us taking photos of Gannets of various ages…


… and Kittiwakes:


The interactions between territorial birds on the cliffs were great to see – in particular the three individuals above (a pair and their neighbour) appeared to be constantly having a row about something!

The juveniles are really smart birds, too, strikingly patterned black and white as illustrated below. (Though somehow a surprisingly large number always seem to turn into Sabine’s Gulls when they move south…)


The next day, after a sunny but uneventful visit to Flamborough (does anyone know where the ‘regular’ seawatching site is here, by the way? We couldn’t find it…) we trundled south to the Welbeck raptor watchpoint in Notts. Very shortly after arriving, first one, then two Honey Buzzards lifted up above the treeline, and proceeded to give us excellent views on and off for over an hour alongside up to six Common Buzzards – certainly more obliging than the Norfolk bird/s have been this year.The male we saw appeared especially pale, and coupled with the species’ distinctive shape and flat-winged mode of flight, this was really easy to pick up.

Final stop was a slight detour out east to Frampton Marsh, where various waders gave us the runaround amongst vegetation on the scrape. Can you see a Pec Sand in this photo? For a long time, we couldn’t either – this was a GOOD view!


Excellent weekend all round, though – thanks to Nick and Jono for providing great company.

1 comment:

John Hague said...

The Sea-watching takes place below the fog-horn station. You have to jump the fence, morph into a Mountain Goat and get down the cliff to find a vacant spot where you can park your arse and get you scope up... it's functional down there!