Thursday, 22 October 2015

Like Buses

Although not averse to the occasional twitch, my birding has long focussed on finding my own birds. It is my prime motivation for getting into the field for recreational birding – as opposed to the paid bird survey work which, somewhat oddly, more often than not takes me to places where there are frequently very few birds. Although I am certainly not a prolific finder of rare and scarce birds, the result of an excellent home patch here at Long Nab (frequently punching above its weight - apparently) and the chance to spend a great deal of time in the field means I do get to find notable birds on a fairly regular basis. Increasing my find list has been a motivation for a while now and I am now getting pleasingly close to the 300 mark. However it remains difficult adding to the list, despite some seemingly reasonably ‘easy’ prospects for a Find Tick. I do sometimes wonder just how many of the nation’s pager-following twitching fraternity realise just how much effort is put in by many of the nation's rarity finders or how much effort is required to get a substantial list of Self-found birds? However, I digress.

I began this autumn with the target of adding at least one species to my Find List. Richard’s Pipit was the prime candidate as it was perhaps the most regularly occurring scarcity that I hadn't found somewhere. Readers of this blog will be aware that I found one on 4th October, a very welcome find on a quiet day and target achieved. Amazingly however, just two days later in the company of Andy Mckee I found another at Cocklawburn Beach in Northumberland. The best part of 40 years birding without finding one, then two in less than 48 hours! Amazing. And so to this morning. A short visit to Nab initially focused on the Cover Crop and the stubbles. I was pleased with my first Lapland Buntings of the autumn and a Snow Bunting was quite obliging. However, I was utterly amazed to find two Richard’s Pipits flying around the ‘Short-toed Lark’ field north of the Obs calling loudly and making sure I could not miss them. Talk about being like buses!

Record shot of one of the Richard's Pipits at Long Nab

Of course, I’ve been wondering if I have been overlooking them over the years or just been plain unlucky. As I see and hear Richard’s Pipits most winters during the course of leading birding tours in various parts of Asia, it’s a call I am fully familiar with so I very much doubt I can have been overlooking them. After all it is a call that demands attention. So, I have to conclude that I have probably been just a little unlucky with this species in the past. 

Such little clusters of finds are something that I have experienced in the past, with my first two Black Kite finds just three weeks apart and my first two Pectoral Sandpiper finds separated by less than 10 days. Curious stuff and no doubt just some kind of coincidence, but I am left wondering, do Siberian Rubythroats travel on buses?

Snow Bunting at Long Nab
An update to this blog post on Friday to include a couple more ropey photos of the Richard's Pipits, this time on the ground in the field behind the 'Obs'.

Richard's Pipit

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Another Yellow-browed Warbler...

The day has been spent working the Nab with high expectations but not quite the rewards we were hoping for. A few more migrants about with 3 Brambling, a few Song Thrushes and Redwings new in and an increase in Goldcrests. We caught what we think is the Yellow-browed Warbler that has been around for a few days and a second arrived during the morning. However, not a great deal else to report which is disappointing given the goodies appearing to the south of us.

Anyway a couple of pics of today's Yellow-browed Warbler.

Yellow-browed Warbler

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Plenty of Goldcrests,but...

not a great deal else. The past few days have seen substantial numbers of Goldcrests arriving at the Nab, but although the birding has been most enjoyable there hasn't been too much to write home about. Ringing was productive on the 11th and 12th with new additions to the ringing list in the form of Sparrowhawk, Bullfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker - all of which are long overdue, although the last of these is genuinely scarce at Long Nab.


Great Spotted Woodpecker - a male.

Goldcrests peaked with ca 120 at the Nab on the afternoon of the 11th, but there wasn't too much else arriving with them. A couple of Yellow-browed Warblers were welcome as always, but just a few Song Thrushes and Redwings.


A couple of Short-eared Owls were present on 12th with nice views of the bird on Rocks Lane and another near the ringing site.

Newly arrived Short-eared Owl near the ringing site.

The Short-eared Owl on Rocks Lane.
Seawatching has been a little neglected but a couple of short sessions produced a nice surprise in the form of an adult Sabine's Gull on 13th, with a few duck also moving involving a couple of Goldeneye and some Eider. With the winds still blowing from the 'right' direction we remain hopeful of something a little more unexpected and we'll keep plugging away hopefully!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Richard saves the day!

With reports of a mouth-watering selection of rare and scarce species along the coast, and in particular Spurn it seemed a good idea to spend a few hours working the hedgerows, plantations and fields at Long Nab. Other commitments meant a late start, but I was in the field by 1015 and by 1130 I was beginning to wonder why I had bothered! A Blue Tit was the only bird in Crook Ness and the walk along the cliff top to the ringing site was similarly uninspiring. The ringing site has hosted a Yellow-browed Warbler for the past few days, and despite reports of new arrivals at Filey and Flamborough there was no sign of Yellow-browed action here. I amused myself with photographing the remaining Siskins, of which a dwindling flock has been feeding in the alders for the past week or so.

Just a couple of Chiffchaffs and a handful of Goldcrests were in the ringing site and plantations. A pretty dismal return in the first week of October! With sunny skies and pleasantly warm temperatures it felt more like June! I spent some time taking a few photos - a Hare and one of the numerous Speckled Woods.


Speckled Wood

A large flock of Linnets kept my interest for a while before I began wandering back towards Crook Ness. As I crossed the field North of the Obs I was wondering whether I had ever spent in excess of four hours and seen so little? The answer is probably, but I didn't get as fas as concluding that. A loud rasping 'Schreep!' broke into my thoughts and immediately registered as a Richard's Pipit. Wow! I quickly picked up the bird - clearly a large pipit with a longish tail - but it promptly headed South calling again a couple more times and although I continued to watch it as long as I could I lost it to view over Cromer Point with it apparently still going. Now I have seen many Richard's Pipits over the years but this was the first one I have actually found in the UK so a very welcome addition to my Find List. About time too though! It was also a welcome 6 points for Patchwork Challenge - pure #patchgold!

The rest of the afternoon passed in a quiet manner but with some good weather conditions forecast for the next couple of days maybe things will improve. Shame I am heading away on another work trip!