Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Quality birds continue to arrive

The generally easterly airflow continues, with low cloud, mist and drizzle persisting along the coast around Scarborough. As a result the daily arrivals of new and interesting birds continue. Up at the Nab there have been two Red-breasted Flycatchers present for the past two days. The bird in the ringing site continues its stay, but it is elusive and very difficult to see. The bird at Crook Ness has been somewhat easier to get to grips with, although the gloomy light conditions made it tricky to get decent photos of this afternoon.

Red-breasted Flycatcher at Crook Ness

Micky and I have attempted ringing sessions on the past two days, but without a great deal of joy. This Siskin being the best of the few birds caught and the first of this species to be seen here since March.

Siskin - one of several seen at the ringing site 
After a number of fruitless net-rounds and motivated by news of a Rustic Bunting seen at Filey, we decided that ringing was not likely to be the most productive activity today. So we packed up the nets and worked the fields and bushes. An hour or so later and we had little to show for our efforts, with a few Song Thrushes and a flyover Snipe the best I could muster, and Micky's walk yielding little more than a couple of Wheatears. After views of the Crook Ness Red-breasted Flycatcher (alongside a Spotted Flycatcher) we were heading back to the car, when an unfamiliar call attracted my attention. Two more calls from the mystery bird and I picked up a wader flying across the field at Crook Ness. Yelling to Micky to get onto it (predictably he was already on the case) we had a poor view as it landed. Wondering if it was a Buff-breasted Sand, we grabbed the scope from the car went in search of it. Suspicious that the call was not right for Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and that it could be a Dotterel it was great that after a little while Micky announced he'd got it and that it was indeed a Dotterel. Fantastic!  I've not heard the calls of migrant Dotterel (or for that matter Buff-breasted Sand) before so this was a most educational; always the most rewarding of bird finding experiences.

No surprise why Dotterel can be so hard to locate on the ground

Gorgeous juvenile Dotterel

Monday, 15 September 2014

New bird for the ringing list

A gloomy day with fog and a little drizzle and a few migrants about. My morning and early afternoon wanderings yielded two Pied Flycatchers, Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat. A few Teal and Wigeon were noted moving offshore along with a couple of Bonxies. At the ringing site I set a net and it was not long before the Red-breasted Flycatcher that arrived yesterday was safely in the net. Always a joy and a welcome addition to the Long Nab ringing list. 

Early afternoon saw the arrival of a Redstart and then a short break before returning to the ringing site where apart from a couple of newly arrived Wheatears and a Grey Plover clearly lost in the fog, it seemed fairly quiet. However as we left four Song Thrushes were indicative of continuing arrivals and Nick's evening wanderings added Tree Pipit, Firecrest another Redstart and a couple of Spotted Flycatchers. Great stuff!

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Continuing quiet

With the fine and sunny weather associated with this persistent high pressure that has been prevailing over the past few days it has been predictably slow.

Meadow Pipit passage is a feature of this period of September and is reaching its peak around now. With SW winds we might expect 4 figure counts of birds flying overhead. However, in this less than ideal weather only small numbers have continued to trickle through with over 200 moving through yesterday and just a few today. There are sizeable flocks now feeding in many of the fields and although there has been nothing of particular note amongst them, it has been great to spend time watching these cracking birds.

Meadow Pipit

A short ringing session this morning resulted in a reasonable catch of Goldcrests, with 9 caught during the morning. A high proportion of juveniles would suggest a good breeding season for this species.

At least six Whitethroats were also in the ringing site, although they managed to avoid the nets, whilst a Willow Warbler and four Wheatears were also noted. Overhead four Ringed Plovers flew south and three Golden Plover headed north. However the undoubted highlight of the morning was a nice female Merlin perched on the fence posts near the ringing site when I arrived.Unfortunately it had done a bunk before I managed to get the camera onto it.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Hard work...

A five and a half hour exploration of the plantations, fields, hedgerows and clifftop gullies was hard work this morning. Generally it was quiet, although there was a bit of interest with some drift migrants about. However, the scarce or rare migrant that I am convinced must be lurking somewhere remains elusive!

There seemed to be a few more phylloscs about with 6 Willow Warblers and 11 Chiffchaffs logged. 

Willow Warbler

Six Goldcrests included two unringed birds at the ringing site, so perhaps they have started to move now. Just three Whitethroats and a couple of Blackcaps were unearthed. Of more interest were three Whinchats in the vicinity of the cover crop and two Pied Flycatchers (one at the ringing site and one at Cliff Top House).

Pied Flycatcher at Cliff Top House

My hopes of finding something interesting on my walk down to Cromer Point were dashed with the best I could come up with there being a flock of seven Reed Buntings and three Sand Martins.

Reed Bunting

Offshore a few flocks of ducks were on the move with my occasional scans offshore yielding Common Scoter, Wigeon and Teal. Great Crested Grebe is surprisingly infrequent at Long Nab, so one flying north was a welcome year tick for the Patchwork Challenge. A surprise was a nice Arctic Skua over the fields at Crook Ness. It didn't linger long but was great to see this species over the land rather than a mile or so offshore.

Teal flock

Arctic Skua

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Another Willow Tit

Despite there being a scattering of drift migrants along the coast it has been fairly quiet at Long Nab, although Micky recorded an impressive early movement of Meadow Pipits on Wednesday that exceeded 1500. A couple of ringing sessions this week have yielded surprisingly few migrants, with a couple of Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler being the only warblers to be caught. Resident species seem to have done well and it is clear that the local Dunnocks and Chaffinches have had a decent breeding season, with good numbers of juveniles ringed. The biggest surprise has been the appearance of Long Nab's second Willow Tit, hot on the heels of the first. Another juvenile, hopefully this is indicative of a good breeding season for this species locally.

After the recent productive spell it is perhaps good to be able to pause and reflect before hopefully the next good s commences.

Willow Warbler

Willow Tit