On 18th April, I visited Long Nab with pretty low expectations, but stumbled into a Short-toed Lark! A find I was delighted with. More details can be found at my Long Nabber blog, but here is a photograph of the bird.
In addition to undertaking some regular survey work I have enjoyed the company of two birding groups in May. Both groups enjoyed some fine birding. A short report on the experiences of the first group can be found below, whilst the second group was for Birdwatching Breaks, and a short report on that trip can be found here.
If you are interested in day trips or short break guided birding in the Scarborough and North York Moors area, then do get in touch.
After the work with the tour groups, I have continued with some surveying jobs in various parts of Yorkshire, with a site in Ayrshire and some work in other parts of Scotland in the pipeline. So, life remains busy!
Private Birding Tour in Yorkshire & Teesside - Tour Report.
A mouth-watering array of rare and scarce species were on offer during the course of the trip and we were fortunate to see many of the interesting birds present in the region. A superb group of migrant Dotterel were most obliging at Danby Beacon and a smart male Bluethroat posed in the open on short grass at Hartlepool. Two Whiskered Terns, a drake Garganey and five Spoonbills were seen at Saltholme, whilst the long-staying Surf Scoter was seen (eventually!) at Filey. A female Red-backed Shrike at Ravenscar and an Osprey cruising just below the cliffs at Bempton completed the rare and scarce bonanza. All of this was in addition to more expected fayre in the form of two Goshawks, male Ring Ouzel, Whinchat, Turtle Dove, a scattering of commoner passage waders, breeding waders of the North York Moors such as Golden Plover, Lapwing and Curlew and, of course the stunning spectacle that is the seabird colony at Bempton Cliffs with its Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks including the ever-popular Puffins.
This was an exceptional spell of birding which, despite some strong winds from the NE (responsible in part for the birds we enjoyed), was enjoyed by all group member and guide alike. I would also like to thank Nick Addey, Steve Wignill and Tony Clarke for sending texts and calling me to make sure that I hadn’t missed any snippets of breaking bird news during the course of this trip.
May 12th: Potter Brompton Carr, Filey, Flamborough.
Weather: Bright and sunny, but with an increasingly strong NE wind.
The pickup point for the group was Seamer train station. Arrival was delayed by an hour, but after arrival we were soon on our way into the field. I had found a few passage waders at Potter Brompton Carr prior to the group’s arrival, so we headed directly there. A walk produced some nice views of Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, two Ringed Plover, Curlew and Lapwing. A Sedge Warbler posed nicely in the brambles beside a ditch. Unfortunately there was no sign of the Wood Sandpiper I had seen just two hours earlier.
We then headed for Filey for our first look for the long-staying Surf Scoter. We couldn’t find it, but saw good numbers of Kittiwakes, and a couple of Gannets. News that there was a Bluethroat at Flamborough caused a quick rethink of plans, so we checked into the B&B in the village of Hunmanby and quickly headed off. While we were doing this, news of a Dotterel also at Flamborough filtered through. Excellent! Less than half an hour later we were arriving at Flamborough only to be greeted with the disappointing news that the Dotterel had flown off just five minutes earlier. We therefore hot-footed it to the hedge where the Bluethroat had been seen. It was being similarly difficult and not showing in the extremely windy conditions. After an hour or so of seeing little other than Linnets, we headed off for dinner at a pub-restaurant in Flamborough, somewhat chilled and a little disappointed with the start to proceedings.
May 13th: Danby Beacon, Hartlepool Headland, Saltholme RSPB, Filey.
Weather: Generally overcast with a moderate NE wind and some light drizzle at Danby.
The day began grey and rather windy again and I was again reconsidering what the best plan would be. A small flock of Dotterel had arrived at Danby Beacon the previous day, and news that they were still present gave me all the information I required. So we drove deep into the North York Moors National Park. On arrival at Danby we saw a most obliging Golden Plover and some Red Grouse before enjoying wonderful views of the Dotterel as they fed amongst heather close to the road. Eventually we decided we’d enjoyed enough and with news of a male Bluethroat at Hartlepool, we decided we couldn’t turn down the opportunity, and with the itinerary now ditched entirely for the day we headed directly there. On arrival there was no sign of the bird, but after some waiting around and the odd false alarm (not to mention a visit to the local chippy for one participant) the bird reappeared and we enjoyed excellent views of this gorgeous species. The disappointment of the previous afternoon was now ebbing away somewhat!
The next stop on our revised agenda was a visit to Saltholme RSPB reserve. Here we saw Tree Sparrows in the car park and then from the visitor centre we enjoyed excellent views of two Whiskered Terns hawking over the lake. Yet another rare species under the belt. Common Terns were also in good numbers on the islands just outside the window, whilst on the feeders, Stock Dove, Greenfinch and Goldfinch were noted. Leaving the visitor centre we had a breezy walk that added five Spoonbills, two Little Egrets, a smart drake Garganey, Pochard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Shoveler, some commoner waders, Pink-footed Goose and Barnacle Goose. A more than satisfactory haul!
With time getting on we headed back to base in Hunmanby, with a short and largely unsuccessful visit to Filey en-route.
May 14th: Troutsdale, Ebberston, Wykeham South Lake, Potter Brompton Carr, Filey, Ravenscar.
Weather: Sunny and bright with variable cloud, but chilly with a strong NNE wind.
After the excitement of the previous day we got back to something approaching the planned itinerary. In addition despite the continuing cold NNE wind we had another productive day. A visit to the Forge Valley feeders was quiet, but our walk amongst the delightful surroundings of Troutsdale was rather better. Spotted Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, a brief sighting of a pair of Mandarin were most welcome as was the Dipper that posed for some time by a bridge. A bird of prey flying quickly along the ridge proved to be a Hobby; a scarce species in this area. A Blackcap showed nicely in a bush by the roadside. Further along the valley we paused for a male Redstart that flew high into the sky over its territory. A warming cup of coffee/tea was enjoyed whilst watching for raptors that included both Sparrowhawk and Goshawk.
Moving on we had an unsuccessful search for Turtle Dove near Ebberston and then visited a windswept Wykeham South Lake, locating a Yellow Wagtail on the way. However the visit did not yield a great deal else. A return visit to Potter Brompton Carr allowed us to enjoy more views of Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit, plus a Grey Plover was new for the list. Filey was next up and we headed out onto Carr Naze where at last we connected with the Surf Scoter which was loosely associating with a flock of four Common Scoter. We had distant views of the scoter, but we could see all the pertinent features (eventually!) and a Greenland Wheatear posed briefly on the walk back to the car. News of a female Red-backed Shrike up the coast at Ravenscar soon had us heading in that direction and it was not long before we were enjoying nice views of this smart species. Returning to Scarborough we had a good dinner in a local Italian restaurant.
May 15th: Rosedale, Egton Road, Wykeham Raptor Viewpoint.
Weather: Cool, but light winds and partly cloudy skies.
At long last the winds abated and we were able to enjoy a less windswept day. After leaving the B&B we made a couple of largely unsuccessful stops before arriving in Rosedale, where we began our search for Ring Ouzel. This proved to be less straightforward than hoped, but after much patient scanning we were able to enjoy nice, if distant views of a smart male. A short drive took us up onto the nearby moors along the road to Egton. A smart Golden Plover was on a grouse butt. A stop by a stream yielded Stonechat and the hoped-for singing male Whinchat. After spending some time optimistically scanning for Merlins, we opted for a change of scene and visited the Wykeham Raptor Viewpoint. Here we saw several Buzzards and a distant Goshawk, but little else of note. Nearby Wykeham Forest Nursery hosted a Wheatear, but we called it a day and headed back to base. After dinner we tried for Nightjars. The early date made me wonder if we’d see or hear any, but in the event a single bird was flying about calling, although it did elude most of the group.
May 16th: Bempton Cliffs RSPB, Wykeham South Lake, Ebberston.
Weather: Sunny with pleasant temperatures and light winds.
The day began at Bempton Cliffs RSPB, where we enjoyed some warming sunshine, light winds and the fantastic spectacle that is the seabird breeding colony here. Teeming with life we had wonderful views of Gannets, Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots and of course small numbers of Puffins. Other species included numerous Tree Sparrows, Linnets and Whitethroats plus a singing Corn Bunting and an unexpected brief fly through by an Osprey! With the trip drawing to a close we decided to try for better views of Yellow Wagtail at Wykeham South Lake. This was duly achieved along with a surprise Marsh Harrier on the way and a flock of five Eider on the lake. The latter were of particular interest for my Patchwork Challenge yearlist! Our final stop was at Ebberston where we connected with a beautiful Turtle Dove sat on an open branch, a Willow Warbler and we heard a singing Garden Warbler. After doing the final bird list we headed to the railway station where the tour concluded