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Saturday, September 26, 2015

September ins and outs down my way, young swallows venture south and the finches move in.

September .. the summer crops are gathered in and wild flowers are blooming their last. Nights are drawing in, temperatures are dropping, cricket's days are done and rugby takes centre stage, and small birds of many species are moving south .....


Almost all of the Swallows around Fangfoss Park have now departed, slightly earlier than last year when I had good numbers well into the last week of September and then the odd late straggler into the first week of October. Their long and often hazardous flight down to sub Saharan Africa must be a daunting one for all this year's young ones and, although many other birds undertake the self same amazing journey, there is something endearingly magical about the annual departure of these vulnerable looking wee birds.

birds, wildlife, timbobagginsabroad
Barn Swallow, Strensall Common, 10/09/15 

These youngsters were 2 of many that were massing together on Strensall Common a couple of weeks ago and obviously getting ready to go. They'll be well on their way now, their journey time south to Africa is a lot more leisurely than the dash back north in the Spring and these 2 can be reasonably confident of catching flies under South African skies within a couple of months but my they look so fragile!

Barn Swallow, Strensall Common, 10/09/15

timbobagginsabroad, yorkshire
Blackcap, Fangfoss, 21/09/15

Departure time from Europe for many other birds too, including many warblers using the UK as a convenient stop off point and feeding station. The many hedgerows around my local patch here in Fangfoss have held many Willow Warblers, ChiffChaffs, Whitethroats and Blackcaps over the past few weeks and even a couple of Lesser Whitethroats ... sadly not able to photograph the latter but as with my Whinchat of a couple of weeks ago a welcome new species for the area.

Willow Warbler, Fangfoss, 22/09/15

Spotted Flycatchers bred here this year and this may be one of the youngsters but could equally be another individual on passage ... it was in amongst a roving group of tits and warblers.

Spotted Flycatcher, Fangfoss, 15/09/15
Lesser Redpoll, Fangfoss, 21/09/15

There's a lot of fruit laden hedgerows around the countryside at the moment and all worthy of a look if you're looking for migrants (and I don't mean Syrians!). Just as the warblers, chats and flycatchers feed up on this seasonal feast before heading south, other birds are arriving on our shores either to stay or in transit - Blackbirds, Robins and assorted finches have all increased in numbers of late and a small flock of Lesser Redpolls in amongst the more numerous Goldfinches is a sure sign of the changing season ...

Lesser Redpoll, Fangfoss, 21/09/15
Goldfinch, Strensall Common,

timbobagginsabroad, birds, yorkshire

No Redwings or Fieldfares have made it this far inland as yet but a steady increase in Blackbird numbers, like this one gorging on Elderberries.

Good to see some healthy flocks of Lapwings back in the fields too ...

Lapwings, Fangfoss, 15/09/15
I'm glad my Aug 24th Honey Buzzard sighting finally made it onto the Flamborough bird observatory site here - It was the highlight of my day too, even though I had to study the pictures before I realised what it was!

Back here in the Yorkshire Wolds our own Common Buzzards seem to go from strength to strength with up to 8 in my immediate vicinity.

Common Buzzard, Fangfoss, 16/09/15

Common Buzzard, Fangfoss, 16/09/15

Lucky shot of this one calling as it swept past me!

Almost certainly I'll be heading out to the coast soon to catch some more visible migration ... maybe an October trip out to Spurn when the winter thrushes start coming in, but in truth I'm more than happy walking the lanes and hedgerows of my own patch!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Scrapping Spars!

Searching the Yorkshire coast again for passage migrant birds last week brought us precious few ... a smattering of Redstarts,  'WillowChaffs', Whitethroats and a Lesser Whitethroat but the undoubted highlight was a couple of scrapping Sparrowhawks at Buckton. Quite why they were being so aggressive to one another I'm not sure - maybe they were looking for the same prey as us and similarly frustrated took it out on each other! More than likely though one of these birds is just an intruder on the others patch; whatever the reason it was great drama, went on for a good 5 minutes and I'm reasonably pleased with these captures....

All started out quite tame ... just a couple of Spars out a hunting

timbobagginsabroad, yorkshire, Buckton
Sparrowhawk wars, Buckton, 11/09/15

Sparrowhawk wars, Buckton, 11/09/15

Sparrowhawk wars, Buckton, 11/09/15

..... all going so well and then it got kinda nasty!

Sparrowhawk wars, Buckton, 11/09/15
Sparrowhawk wars, Buckton, 11/09/15

timbobagginsabroad, raptors, birds,
Sparrowhawk wars, Buckton, 11/09/15

Sparrowhawk wars, Buckton, 11/09/15

Sparrowhawk wars, Buckton, 11/09/15

 Not sure if this was the winner or the loser but with normal service resumed after all the commotion it was the sharpest pic!

Sparrowhawk wars, Buckton, 11/09/15

I've never seen Sparrowhawks being so aggressive with one another, in fact not common to see this much interaction between birds that are more often than not seen as lone hunters.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Flamborough for the first proper 'fall' of the year .. Honey Buzzard the star amongst many migrants

It was just 'one of those days' we birders dream about ... late August, persistent easterly winds and a forecast of fog rolling in off the sea and all this after a weekend of sultry storms in these 'ere parts ... there had to be a 'fall' in the offing!!

Red Backed Shrike, Old Fall, Flamborough, 24/08/15
I toyed with the idea of Spurn Point but decided it was just too far and that Flamborough Head would be just as good for the first proper migrant 'fall' of the Autumn - birds migrating South and getting caught by the wind and forced to make landfall on the nearest coast.

Often spectacular and always the chance of a rarity or two, and there were indeed a couple of rarities knocking about - a Red Backed Shrike that didn't look quite as good in the mist and through a fellow birder's scope as this superb pic by Tony Dixon, who if its the same TD, is an old pal of mine going years back ... get in touch Tony!

The other rarity was Icterine Warbler, 2 of them, neither of which I was lucky enough to see but I did manage a splendid Wood Warbler in the Old Fall wood and then a lucky rarity of my own.

timbobagginsabroad, wildlife, birds, photography
Honey Buzzard, Flamborough, 24/08/15

Walking over to the headland from Old Fall hedge I spotted a big hawk coming out of the mist and gliding towards me at cliff top height. It never looked quite right for a Common Buzzard ... jizz was all wrong, long wings, long tail and a well sticky out head .. could it be a Honey Buzzard?

Still to be confirmed by whoever needs to confirm such things but it sure looks like one to me - 

Honey Buzzard, Flamborough, 24/08/15

Honey Buzzard, Flamborough, 24/08/15

Honey Buzzard, Spurn, 24/08/15

A similar bird was seen later on in the day at Spurn and highly likely that these are one and the same judging by the obvious damage to some of its flight feathers. Here's the Spurn pic (courtesy of Nigel Glen) - different light and aspect. Judge for yourself but its the same bird for me!

What a cracking start ... I'd already bagged a Wood Warbler, several Pied & Spotted Flycatchers, a couple of Redstarts, Garden Warbler, dozens of Willow Warblers and then a probable Honey Buzzard - all before 9.00am!

Red Admiral, Flamborough, 24/08/15
Only downside was the poor visibility and with intermittent fog making photography less than easy it was a bit frustrating, especially on the headland, but when the mist cleared it was warm and in addition to the many migrant birds about there were also hundreds of butterflies on the wing - many Wall Browns and Red Admirals plus the occasional Painted Lady.

Wall Brown, Flamborough, 24/08/15

Painted Lady, Flamborough, 24/08/15

..... even managed a half decent 'dragonfly in flight' pic, an Emperor no less

Emperor Dragonfly, Flamborough, 24/08/15

Redstart, Flamborough, 24/08/15

Back amongst the birdies I had mixed fortunes with photographing the common migrants on show. Still lots of leaves on both tree and bush makes it difficult enough without errant twigs spoiling the shot!

And then there are the predators that seem to show up at such times .. I had at least 3 Sparrowhawks on the Headland, all looking for an easy lunch making the migrants skulk even further back into the bushes!

Sparrowhawk, Flamborough, 24/08/15

This Spotted Flycatcher escaped after a frantic chase and will hopefully learn not to choose such a prominent perch next time there are Spars about in numbers!

Spotted Flycatcher, Flamborough, 24/08/15

This is where he should have been, out of sight like this juv Pied Flycatcher, out of sight and learning well!
Pied Flycatcher, Flamborough, 24/08/15



a late Common Swift was one of half a dozen on the headland

Common Swift (with a House Martin), Flamborough, 24/08/15

 A stroll up Hoddy Cow's Lane at Buckton in a vain search for 2 reported Wrynecks also saw the return of mist and fog in the late afternoon but it was not a wasted journey - yet more Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts, various common warblers and a Cuckoo that had surely just made landfall made for nice if less than sharp image

Cuckoo, Buckton, 24/08/15

There's a Heligoland trap and bird ringing station up there and sure enough Mark Thomas, otherwise known as the Buckton Birder was hard at work ..... 'birds everywhere' he said simply, and he was right. It seemed as if almost every available perching post was in occupation!

Pied Flycatcher, Buckton, 24/08/15


.... and here's my favourite Wheatear pic of the day, it would have been perfect to photograph one on an actual 'wheat ear' but the next best thing - a barley ear was perfect enough!
Wheatear, Buckton, 24/08/15

Top day and the first of many more this Autumn I hope. That Honey Buzzard was a new UK bird for me and I'm on the hunt for 2 or 3 more in the next couple of months. If I'd gone to Spurn I would have picked up Red Footed Falcon but lets not be greedy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dashing young Peregrine at North Cave

A trip out to the YWT reserve at North Cave last week and the undoubted highlight was a superb Peregrine Falcon aerial hunting display over the wetlands. A youngster judging by the amount of tawny barring on its undersides and a probable male by size. Dashing, fast and showy he may have been but for the 10 minutes he was in view not very successful ... making several swoops into a standing goose flock and although Peregrines take a wide variety of biggish birds including ducks and the occasional young Heron a Greylag Goose would not have ended well!

Like the majority of birds of prey in the UK, peregrines are doing rather well. Typically nesting on cliff faces and steep sided quarries, they've taken advantage of man made structures such as cathedrals and electricity pylons over the past few decades and indeed a pair attempted to nest on York Minster this year.

Renowned for its speed, reaching over 322 km/h (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop, the Peregrine is the fastest member of the animal kingdom. According to a National Geographic TV programme, the highest measured speed of a peregrine falcon is a whopping 389 km/h (242 mph)!

This youngster was quick too and I got more blurred than sharp pics but he did come right over us at one point resulting in a good batch of images ....

Peregrine Falcon_North Cave Wetlands, 13/08/15

Peregrine Falcon_North Cave Wetlands, 13/08/15

Peregrine Falcon_North Cave Wetlands, 13/08/15

Peregrine Falcon_North Cave Wetlands, 13/08/15

Peregrine Falcon_North Cave Wetlands, 13/08/15

Peregrine Falcon_North Cave Wetlands, 13/08/15

Peregrine Falcon_North Cave Wetlands, 13/08/15

timbobagginsabroad, birding, birdwatching, YWT reserves
Peregrine Falcon_North Cave Wetlands, 13/08/15

Not the best pic but this last is one of my favourites... nicely spread tail as he pulled out of a stoop about 6 feet from the ground!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cairngorms road trip, Ospreys fishing, Spoonbills and a surprise herd of Reindeer!

Just got back from a jaunt up to the Cairngorms with my good mate Rob. The weather was less than perfect but it was a great road trip. I did all the driving, Rob all the cooking ... I like driving and he's chef, so it was a good deal! 102 bird species, some interesting flora and mammal species, stunning scenery and good music recorded every night bar one.... so without further ado and less than normal prose from myself  here's the pics!

Pick of the crop was a toss up between 3 majestic Ospreys hunting in tandem over Lochindorb in the rain and 2 Spoonbills at low tide on Findhorn Bay

Osprey_lochindorb, 29/07/15

Osprey_lochindorb, 29/07/15

Osprey_lochindorb, 29/07/15
As well as these 3 over Lochindorb (where we also had a single Black Throated Diver), we had 10 other Ospreys .. they're doing well up here and it seemed to us as if there was at least 1 on nearly every loch!

Spoonbill_Findhorn Bay, 28/07/15

Spoonbills_Findhorn Bay, 28/07/15

Spoonbills_Findhorn Bay, 28/07/15
Hooded Crow_Findhorn Bay, 28/07/15
Grey Heron_Loch Leven, 26/07/15

Orchid species_ Loch Moraigh, 26/07/15

I reckon we were up there at the peak season for wild flowers and a wide variety were in full bloom, not all identified as yet including these orchids .....

Amphibious Bistort_Loch Leven, 26/07/15

Wild Pansy_Loch Moraigh, 26/07/15

Spotted Flycatcher_Cheviots, 25/07/15

Precious few opportunities to photograph smaller birds and I failed woefully to get any decent pics of Crested Tits when about 25 or so suddenly turned up in a tit flock at Abernethy Forest (all too close, fast moving and then they were gone!). The flock also included about 30 Willow Warblers, 10ish Tree Pipits, 3 Treecreepers and 20 Spotted Flycatchers which were pleasingly plentiful throughout the trip .... this one was actually taken on the way up in the Cheviot Hills but it was the best pic!

A few landscapes from the trip and a few of the 'lads' ....

Abernethy Forest

Loch Leven


Photographing those Spoonbills at Findhorn Bay


Playing the Insch Marshes

 On the RSBP reserve at Insch Marshes we came across the perfect place for a bit of outside music and recording. On the elevated platform there we could play and watch the wildlife at the same time and when the rain came the we just moved downstairs and it was almost like being in a recording studio!

Got a single female Marsh Harrier here too - good for Scotland.

Recording at the Insch Marshes

Rob_up in the Cairngorms!

Rob_Wild flower spotting hunting, Loch Moraigh
Around Abernethy

Surrounded by Crested Tits in Abernethy Forest

No Red Deer sightings but plenty of Roes around and the most unexpected mammals were these semi wild Reindeer, a herd of 20 or so including a couple of young 'uns, near to the top of Cairngorm

Reindeer, young stag_Cairngorm, 30/07/15
Reindeer foal running with the pack_Cairngorm, 30/07/15

Roe Deer, Loch Leven

Like I said, and as you can probably gather from some the above, there were precious few 'golden hours' for photography and we had to invest a fair amount of time logged on to local weather forecasts in order to dodge the rain clouds, but this is all part of the fun and we did it successfully and didn't lose a single day to rain.

Sometimes you can try and do too much on a road trip .....I can remember driving right around Scotland many years ago in little over a week ... a great experience but too much of it spent behind the wheel. This was just right but even then we only covered half of the potential sites in the Cairngorms .... we missed out on some key species including Crossbill, Dipper, Ptarmigan and Golden Eagle but 102 species ain't bad for July and for the record here's the list -

  1. Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica)
  2. Red-legged Partridge [sp] (Alectoris rufa)
  3. Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
  4. Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
  5. Canada Goose [sp] (Branta Canadensis)
  6. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
  7. Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
  8. Gadwall [sp] (Anas strepera)
  9. Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
  10. Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
  11. Common Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
  12. Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
  13. Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
  14. Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
  15. Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
  16. Black-throated Diver [sp] (Gavia arctica)
  17. Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
  18. Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
  19. Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
  20. Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
  21. Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
  22. Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
  23. Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  24. Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
  25. Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
  26. Osprey [sp] (Pandion haliaetus)
  27. Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
  28. Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
  29. Eurasian Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
  30. Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
  31. Common Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
  32. Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
  33. Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
  34. Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
  35. Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
  36. Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
  37. European Curlew (Numenius arquata arquata)
  38. Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
  39. Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
  40. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
  41. Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
  42. Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
  43. Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
  44. Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
  45. Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
  46. Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
  47. Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
  48. Sandwich Tern [sp] (Sterna sandvicensis)
  49. Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
  50. Woodpigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
  51. Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
  52. Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
  53. Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
  54. Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
  55. Common Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
  56. Eurasian Jackdaw [sp] (Corvus monedula)
  57. Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
  58. Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
  59. Hooded Crow [sp] (Corvus cornix)
  60. Common Raven [sp] (Corvus corax)
  61. Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
  62. Blue Tit [sp] (Parus caeruleus)
  63. Coal Tit [sp] (Parus ater)
  64. Crested Tit [sp] (Parus cristatus)
  65. Collared Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
  66. Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
  67. Northern House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
  68. Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
  69. Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
  70. Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
  71. Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
  72. Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
  73. Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)
  74. Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
  75. Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
  76. Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
  77. British Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes indigenus)
  78. Eurasian Treecreeper [sp] (Certhia familiaris)
  79. European Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
  80. Eurasian Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
  81. Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
  82. Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
  83. European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
  84. Common Redstart [sp] (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
  85. Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
  86. Spotted Flycatcher [sp] (Muscicapa striata)
  87. House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
  88. Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
  89. Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
  90. Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
  91. Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
  92. Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
  93. Tree Pipit [sp] (Anthus trivialis)
  94. Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
  95. European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
  96. Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
  97. European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
  98. Common Redpoll [sp] (Carduelis flammea)
  99. Common Linnet [autochthona] (Carduelis cannabina autochthona)
  100. Eurasian Bullfinch [sp] (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
  101. Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)
  102. Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)