Monday 4 June 2012


After yesterday's complete wash out we decided to lounge around the garden today and take advantage of the fine weather . There was plenty of weeding to be done and we were keen to see what wildlife was lurking around the cottage. It has been pretty good from the garden over the past few weeks with our first sightings of Short-eared Owl and Red Kite as well as a displaying pair of Hobby and a pair of Yellow Wagtails collecting nesting material.  There have also been both Grey Partridge and Red-legged Partridge in addition to our resident Little Owls and Tawny Owls.

Our priorities suddenly changed however when news of a RED-FOOTED FALCON filtered through this morning.  I have seen quite a few in England over the years however the species was high on Nadia's 'wanted list'. As it was located just twenty-five minutes up the road at Willington Pits we decided to make a move for it as soon as it was pinned down.

Upon arrival the bird could be seen with a bit of patience every now and then as it fed on flying insects along a small section of the River Trent. It would also show perched up on a series of fence posts occasionally where it showed well despite the distance and the bouts of heat haze.  All I need now is for it to fly south into Shakespeare's County and I will be well chuffed.

RED-FOOTED FALCON (first summer male)
Willington Pits, Derbyshire
Photo by Paul of

This excellent Derbyshire Wildlife Trust reserve also provided us with a couple of Hobby sightings in addition to Kestrel and Common Buzzard. There were also a few pairs of Common Tern in the area as well as a good selection of singing warblers.  We also enjoyed good numbers of the stunning Banded Demoiselle damselfly around the reserve entrance. 

Saturday 2 June 2012

EUROPEAN ROLLER in East Yorkshire

After all the excitement on Tuesday regarding the WESTERN ORPHEAN WARBLER in Cleveland, there was another bird that I was dying to see. Unfortunately the EUROPEAN ROLLER that was located on the very same day at Spurn had disappeared before we had chance to nail it. My fingers were crossed for the remainder of the week in hope that it would be relocated further along the east coast..... and on Thursday it was.

And so this morning whilst I lay in my slumber at 5.30am I received a text from Dan 'Public Enemy' Pointon to say the that the vibrant visitor from Southern Europe was still present. By 6.30am my partner in birding crime Snapper Richards was knocking on the door and after a quick breakfast he, myself and Nadia were heading north.  Just before 9.00am we were stood on a sunny, country lane on the Yorkshire coast admiring one of the most stunning species of bird out of nearly 600 to have ever grace the British Isles.

EUROPEAN ROLLER - Aldbrough, East Yorkshire
Photo by Adam Archer

My only other experience of ROLLER was way back in the year 2000 when John Scullard and I travelled up to Tyne and Wear to see one feeding distantly around a farm in East Bolden.  Ever since that occasion I had longed for better views and this particular individual duly obliged.  The bird performed exceptionally well around a couple of ploughed fields as it fed on various ground dwelling insects. After a feeding session it would then return to its favourite vantage point in order to scan the surroundings and cough up pellets of any indigestible beetle bits.

EUROPEAN ROLLER - Aldbrough, East Yorkshire
Photo by Adam Archer

With a bird of this stature around it was not too surprising that few other species were picked up during our visit to Aldbrough.  I can just about remember a brief, fly-by Lapwing, a few Common Whitethroat and a singing male Corn Bunting.

Aldbrough, East Yorkshire
Photo by Sam Viles

Me & Snapper Richards!

Brown-tail Caterpillars on Spurn Point

After all the excitement at Aldbrough we needed to make a decision. Should we journey north to Flamborough and see if the singing Icterine Warbler was still about or should we head south to Spurn and try to find something tasty of our own? Thinking that Flamborough might be heaving with birders we decided upon the latter.

At Spurn Point itself there was nothing feathery to report other than plenty of Common Whitethroats and the odd singing Lesser Whitethroat. There were also one or two Cuckoo amongst the dense clumps of sea-buckthorn no doubt feasting on the thousands of caterpillars that were stripping the vegetation clean. Everywhere you looked there were dozens of caterpillars of the Brown-tail moth, a larvae that are more than capable of causing a whole lot of pain to those that are susceptible to the reaction caused by their irritating hairs. Some unlucky individuals have even needed to seek hospital treatment to ease the pain. In addition there were also good numbers of the larger Garden Tiger moth caterpillar crawling about the place.  Butterfly sightings included a few Small Heath and Common Blue along with the odd Small White and Small Tortoiseshell

Caterpillar of the Brown-tail moth
Spurn Point, East Yorkshire
Photo by Adam Archer

With nothing much happening on the passerine front we then concentrated our efforts on the Humber and the incoming tide. The highlight was a lonely Dark-bellied Brent Goose along with selection of waders in differing seasonal plumage states. These included small numbers of Grey Plover, plenty of Ringed Plover, around 80 Bar-tailed Godwit and numerous Dunlin, Sanderling and Turnstone.

We then headed up to Beacon Ponds where Adam Hutt had found a pair of Pectoral Sandpipers. Both birds were eventually picked up feeding along the seaward end consorting with a single Curlew Sandpiper. Adam advised me that these birds may have been the same pair that departed Westkapelle in the Netherlands at around 10.00am this morning and arriving at Kilnsea at 2.10pm. This means that they would have travelled around 200 miles during this time supported by a moderate south-easterly tail wind.  Other highlights in this area included a Little Egret, a pair of Grey Partridge, around 16 Little Tern and a few Grey Plover including a snazzy summer-plumaged bird.  The newly created wetland area close to the Easington Road looks promising for a rare wader or two in the future but on our visit today the whole complex produced just a single Ringed Plover..... oh and a Red Fox.