Sunday, 4 November 2018

4th November


Pick of the sightings was a Mealy Redpoll in my garden! The bird was so tame that I literally almost stood on it. Unfortunately by the time I had gone back in for my camera the bird, along with all the other garden passerines, had gone. Probably not unrelated to the fact a Sparrowhawk had just flashed through the garden!
On Friday a walk along the river had turned up three more Redpoll, my first of the year. I assume these were Lessers but only heard them and saw them in flight. They were associating with a large arrival of winter thrushes with over 100 Fieldfares in the hawthorns and willows along ‘Migrant Alley’.
Other birds along here included Kingfisher, two Little Grebe, Little Egret, a total of eight Goosander…


Green Sandpiper and two Snipe, including this one in ‘threat pose’


Earlier, on a walk down the waterworks lane, I found ten Bullfinches around the Christmas trees, probably the largest group I have ever seen in the parish, and there were up  to four Treecreepers along Warbler Hedge…


And yesterday along Greenhills Lane I had another Treecreeper  near the ruined barns, 60+ Lapwings feeding in the large field here and the first winter gatherings of buntings, mainly composed of Yellowhammers…


Year List to end of October – 98 species.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

7th October


I can’t remember an autumn so devoid of birds as this one but at least the first Fieldfares and Redwings moved west over the village this afternoon.
In the secret garden the first Kingfisher was back and other birds there today included two Buzzard, two Jay, Sparrowhawk, Bullfinch and Chiffchaff. A Migrant Hawker was also still present hunting around the fen area…


This golf-tee shaped mark is one of the ways of distinguishing this species


Talking of insects this is, I think, a Hawthorn Shield Bug, photographed in Morton a few days ago…


Elsewhere I had a small movement of Skylarks over the house last night and this morning, all moving south-west. I also photographed this Chiffchaff through the window…


And that was it! Hopefully still time for things to pick up.

Year List to end of September – 97 species.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

15th September


The big news is that Hobby has nested in the parish, the first breeding record. I had found a bird a couple of weeks ago in an area I hadn’t visited for some months. The bird was very territorial, aggressively driving off other birds, and I had seen it on every subsequent visit. Then this week I saw it with one, or possibly two, juvenile birds. I wanted to keep my distance so I don’t have any decent pics but at least you can see what it is…


Chris Knight texted me this morning to say he had had Whinchat and Wheatear in Morton. I joined him there, on the path between Morton and Thrintoft, and we turned up at least four Wheatears, my first of the year…


(a Wheatear amongst wheat ears!)


No sign of the Whinchat unfortunately but in looking for it we found three very smart Small Coppers…


Nearby the large arable field along school lane held 119 Curlew.
Earlier in the day I had walked along the river, highlights were single Greenshank and Green Sandpiper, three Snipe, twenty Golden Plover, two Little Egret and a skein of 26 Greylags. I also had a skein in the week…


We always get these geese over in the autumn but I don’t know if these are just short range local movements or part of something more significant.
On Langlands I had my first Little Owl of the year, I normally record them in every month. I don’t know what has happened to them but they are missing from virtually all of the traditional sites this year.
Frank found another Small copper…


And we had Roe Deer and an excellent total of seven Hares…

Sunday, 2 September 2018

1st September


Another walk down the Swale today. This time I crossed over from the village, through Langlands and then over to the river and through to Morton bridge. Highlight was a Hobby, my first of the year, hunting over Langlands. The first Meadow Pipits have also returned with birds in the top fields and along the Swale. A flock of around sixty Swallows were feeding over the top fields too.
On the river itself there were at least two Greenshank still present along with Snipe, Redshank, A single Common Sandpiper…


And one (poorly photographed!) Green Sandpiper…


I also had four Buzzards along the river (and later another seven circling above our garden), plus three Little Egrets..


And four Cormorants, including this Angel of the Swale…



Year list to end of August - 93 species (pathetic!)

Monday, 27 August 2018

27th August


Another walk down the river this morning, still two Greenshank present…


But only five Snipe today plus Curlew and a Common Sandpiper.
A group of nine Goosander were the first I’ve seen for a couple of months…


Other birds seen included two Kingfishers, two Buzzard, two Little Egret, three Teal and around 1000 BH gulls and 150 Herring Gulls.
Pick of the sightings though was a cracking dog Otter. I didn’t manage any decent pics…


But I did ring my wife and she was able to get down in time to see it. At long last her first Otter despite looking for them on Shetland, Hebrides etc!

Saturday, 25 August 2018

25th August

Been a little while since I’ve posted, a combination of family holiday in Suffolk and, frankly, little to report but today I walked along the river downstream of Morton Bridge.
Highlights were three Greenshank, a very good count for the parish and my first new ‘tick’ since May…



Other waders included two distant Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, 50+ Lapwings and a good count of 18 Snipe all flushed from the river bank.
Two Little Egret were also on the river…


As well as three Grey Partridge and Kingfisher.
Elsewhere Paul Thompson photographed a Short-eared Owl sitting in a harvested wheat field near Ladyfield Farm last weekend and there were reports of a Red Kite near the river, undoubtedly the same bird that Andy Johnston reported in Scruton last week.
Away from birds I had nice views of Brown Hawker and Common Darter…



As well as my first Wall butterfly of the year…



Sunday, 15 July 2018

15th July


Still unbelievably hot weather here so bird life remained elusive. My bird list is stuck on a pathetic 91 species. I still haven’t seen Little Owl this year which seems particularly strange but does seem to reflect areal decline in their numbers with birds missing from most of their traditional sites.  
Butterflies, on the other hand, seem to be doing well this year. In the Magic Garden and surrounds today I saw around a hundred white butterflies, mostly Small and Green-veined White…


Around half a dozen Ringlets and 30 Meadow Browns..



11 Peacocks (none yesterday), two Red Admirals, four Small Tortoiseshell, one Speckled Wood and best of all, by the How Beck, a Small Skipper. It’s actually a common species nationally but the first I’ve seen in Ainderby for a number of years.
Slightly further afield Chris had relocated a nice colony of White-letter Hairstreak down Myers Lane. Only managed one (poor) shot but as it is a species I rarely see I will include it...


Dragonflies included three Emperors hawking the pond, a couple of Southern Hawkers, which the emperors drove off, and a Brown Hawker which easily held its own against the Emperors.

And I must start to get my head round hoverflies…



My only mammal of note today was a cracking Stoat which was sheltering from the sun under a cattle trough in the Bottom Fields, unfortunately it did a runner before I got chance to photograph it.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

24th June


It’s been a while since I last posted which has reflected a post-holiday feeling of things being a bit tame in comparison and little to report and but I managed a walk along the river
There were really good numbers of Banded Demoiselles with at least 50 individuals, the majority seen were males…


They were aggressively interacting with each other but more surprisingly with an Emperor Dragonfly which was holding territory along the river. A number of demoiselles were ‘mobbing’ it as it patrolled. I don’t know whether this is just a mating/territorial instinct or whether they saw the emperor as some sort of threat.
Birds seen along here included Kingfisher, a single Yellow Wagtail, two corn Buntings, three Reed buntings, six Herons, a pair of Oystercatchers and a single Lapwing…


A small group of Sand Martin had set up a colony of around a dozen nests in a newly exposed face but were absent from one of last year’s main sites and generally seem to be around in smaller numbers. It’s the same with House Martins with no nesting pairs recorded in Ainderby Steeple so far this year although Morton numbers seem broadly similar including this group gathering mud in one of the last damp field ditches in the parish…



Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Kazakhstan

A bit different this week as I have just returned from a brilliant birding trip to Kazakhstan. Nearly 200 species logged in eight days. We covered a wide range of habitats from desert to steppe to high mountains and all in glorious sunshine…


Here's a small selection of the birds seen...



Lammergeier and Long-legged Buzzard, two of the twenty-one species of birds of prey seen (although pick for me was a magnificent Saker falcon).

It's also a great country for shrikes with five species seen. Turkestan Shrikes were particularly numerous...

but my favourite was Long-tailed Shrike...


The mountains were particularly good. The Great Almaty Lake lies at about 2500m...


The really sought after species here is a unique wader, the Ibisbill. They are hard to spot as they mimic the colours of their habitat but we were lucky enough to find one...


The Juniper and Tien Shan spruce forests around the lake held birds like Himalayan Rubythroat...


and Eversmann's Redstart...


and higher (up to 11,000 feet) we found Himalayan Snowcock, Guldenstadt's Redstart (hopping around in the snow!) both Mountain Finches and both Altai and this superb Brown Accentor...

There were also some very familiar birds but of the local subspecies such as this bactriana race Magpie with it's extra long tail...

this very pale and well marked 'hafizi' form of Nightingale 

the 'halimodendri' form of Lesser Whitethroat...

and this cracking Masked Wagtail (the same species as our Pied Wag)


and plenty of birds we are familiar with but showing particularly well like Temminck's Stint...


and Nightjar...


Hard to choose a favourite but one candidate would be White-winged Lark as it was such an unexpected find...

If you ever get a chance to go, grab it!