Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Late summer seawatching

Although it remains fairly early in the autumn seawatching season, the past couple of days have been pleasantly productive. The highlight on Monday was a cracking adult Long-tailed Skua moving south just beyond the near flags affording nice views. Bonxie and two Arctic Skuas were also noted along with a steady trickle of Manx Shearwaters. A couple of flocks of Whimbrel were also seen moving south, whist as Nick and I headed back to the car park a flock of three Ruff! Such a sighting at many locations probably wouldn't be that notable, but this was the first flock that either of us could remember seeing here.

Tuesday was a little slower, but A close Balearic Shearwater was very welcome, whilst the first Little Gull in the area this year at last appeared with an adult amongst the Kittiwake flocks. Waders were again a feature with a Grey Plover, a few Knot, Sanderling and a decent passage of Oystercatchers. News from Steve Hey that there were two Ruff on Johnson's Marsh meant that we popped in there and for once in the Scarborough area there was an opportunity to enjoy grounded waders! So, a few pics were in order...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Late summer update

Trips away from home for work have meant little time to update the blog in recent months. However, there have been plenty of highlights at 'The Nab' since late April.

A short visit on the 28th April yielded my first patch Rough-legged Buzzard flying south in the morning. An unexpected and very pleasing sighting marred only by my inability to get the camera to focus on its intended subject! 

Early May saw me readying for a long work trip to Scotland. However, news of a singing Sedge Warbler (!) at the ringing site had me dashing to The Nab in search of a valuable Patchwork Challenge 2015 tick before leaving North. On arrival I met up with Micky and soon saw the Sedge Warbler. Plenty of other migrants were arriving and a Tree Pipit was a welcome sight as this is a scarce migrant here these days, despite it being fairly common in the nearby forests. Shortly afterwards a wader flying over calling proved to be a Dotterel heading north. An excellent bonus and a demonstration of the benefits of indulging in Patchwork Challenge. Without the motivation to twitch a 'lowly' Sedge Warbler I certainly wouldn't have seen that! I had to leave shortly after that and thus missed a singing Twite and a Redstart that Micky had unearthed, but excellent rewards for an hour or so in the field!

Late May produced a few nice waders with Wood Sandpiper and a smart Temminck's Stint the highlights on Scalby Lodge Pond, but there was no repeat of the longer list of highlights that graced the area in same period in 2014.

Fast forward to June and most of the longer survey trips were out of the way and so a chance to relax, play a bit of Patchwork Challenge catchup and enjoy a bit of time on the patch. The 23rd June saw the first large Scoter movement of the summer and much to my delight a flock of ca 40 Common Scoter also had a splendid drake Surf Scoter amongst them as the flew past the 'Obs'. Common Scoters totalled 870 that morning (and would have been more had I managed to get to the site an hour or two earlier), but another memorable sea watch was chalked up.

Swift movements have been a feature of late June and July with much to enjoy even if there has been nothing especially unusual amongst them. 

A Swift heads south past the Obs

Waders eventually got moving in the latter part of July with some nice offshore movements of Knot particularly enjoyable, with other attractions including a Grey Plover (rare hereabouts!), Greenshank, Curlew, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Redshank and Oystercatcher. 

Johnson's Marsh has been attracting a few waders. A bit of management work strimming back some of the long grass yielded instant dividends as a couple of Black-tailed Godwits arrived within a couple of hours of the work being completed! Greenshank, up to five Green Sandpiper and a couple of Dunlin have also dropped in recently, so hopes of something a little more exciting gracing this tiny site certainly linger.

Greenshank on Johnson's Marsh

After a couple of sessions beating back the overgrown scrub and long, rank grass at the ringing site, the autumn ringing campaign began with a productive session on the morning of 22nd July. A long overdue addition to the site ringing list came in the form of a Swallow:- Yellow-browed Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Mealy Redpoll and Blyth's Reed Warbler have all been ringed here before Swallow! Locally bred Goldfinches, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were also caught and ringed and so hopes are high of a good autumn with the mist nets.


Tree Sparrow

Finally an evening session on 26th July to try and catch and ring Storm Petrels was successful with three birds caught, one of which was a control for which we await the original ringing details.

Storm Petrel being ringed

With waders on the move and the first two Willow Warblers of the autumn appearing on 24th July, I think we can safely say that the autumn is now properly underway. I have a slightly less hectic work schedule so hopefully there will be plenty of reasons to update the blog here with news of great birds on the patch!