Monday, 20 October 2014

Moody sunrise

I only had limited time on Friday, so I was at Crook Ness before dawn and was able to enjoy a wonderfully atmospheric and rather moody sunrise. 

Redwings were on the move with several unseen flocks uttering their wheezing calls as they moved overhead and my watch yielding 87 heading SW. A trickle of finches was unremarkable both in terms of species composition and numbers. Offshore was also quiet, although two Eider were the first I have seen here for a while. A Lesser Whitethroat looked 'interesting' and potentially a blythi. Doubtless the same bird from earlier in the week it again eluded clinching views or confirming calls. 

At 0820 hrs I picked up a ringtail Hen Harrier heading south. It was given a great deal of grief by the local crows that harassed it constantly as it slowly headed south along the ridge. With rather orange toned underparts this was clearly a juvenile and a very welcome patchwork challenge year tick. A quick check of the ringing site was fairly quiet, but a Yellow-browed Warbler was still present along with a few Goldcrests and a few Redwings.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Great Grey Shrike

A spell working away on surveys in Scotland and then a weekend leading a tour group at other locations on the Yorkshire coast has resulted in my visits to The Nab being quite limited recently. However, with some highly promising weather conditions I've been able to enjoy four consecutive days on the patch this week. 

Sunday morning was the final day with my tour group and a Jack Snipe plus 396 Pink-footed Geese heading south were the principle species of interest. However clear sunny skies and light SW winds made for a fairly quiet morning.

Mist rolling off the Vale of Pickering across the coast bewteen Scarborough and Filey.

Pink-footed Geese heading south
By Monday the winds had switched and productive seawatching yielded Balearic Shearwater, several Sooty Shearwaters, a few Pomarine Skuas, Great Northern Diver and a couple of Little Auks the highlights among a typical mid October spread of commoner species. Tuesday morning produced more of the same with a good October count of 69 Manx Shearwaters and 15 Sooty Shearwaters, plus in excess of 100 Little Gulls. On the land things began to hot up with Goldcrests arriving along with a few Redwinsgs, Brambling, Wheatear, a few Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. A nice find by Dave Bowes was a Long-eared Owl; the first I have seen here and thus very welcome.

Long-eared Owl in Crook Ness
This morning I had a wander around the patch in the company of Frank Moffatt. At Crook Ness a Lesser Whitethroat was the first bird of interest. It looked 'interesting', perhaps a blythi type but it disappeared from view fairly rapidly and I couldn't relocate it. Goldcrest numbers were probably slightly down on the previous day and generally speaking there seemed to be a little less going on. However the ringing site yielded a Yellow-browed Warbler, whilst close to the cover crop  we found a superb Great Grey Shrike feeding on what appeared to be a Chaffinch before showing very nicely along the hedges. Another first for me here of a bird which has traditionally been surprisingly rare at Long Nab. A second Yellow-browed Warbler at Cliff Top House rounded off a very pleasant morning birding, but as usual there was that nagging feeling of 'What did we miss?'!.

A cracking Great Grey Shrike