Summer birding is hard work for me, I'm not one for the heat really. Nonetheless the month provided a few gems in the form of a long-overdue Honey Buzzard at Welbeck Watchpoint in Notts. A good morning of raptoring which also included Osprey and Red Kite.
On 29th June a smashing Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Frodsham Marsh was the star bird of this wader-filled day in Cheshire.
Some new regional ticks in August. On the 5th, the long staying Great White Egret at Grimley Gravel Pits in Worcs and also Pectoral Sandpiper at Marsh Lane. Also on the 12th 2 Sandwich Terns at Blithfield Reservoir, a very scarce sight inland.
|Great White Egret at Grimely - seen on 9th & 19th - Image by Martyn Yapp|
|Sarnie at Blithers! Image courtesy Martyn Yapp|
An influx of Black Terns occured on the weekend 18th/19th August, which included 20+ at Blithfield on the 18th.
On 15th September I boarded the Yorkshire Belle with Martyn. Highlights were Bonxie x 4, Arctic Skua x 5, Sooty Shearwater x 1, Manx Shearwater x 4, Red-throated Diver x 2, Puffin x 8, plus all the other stuff you would expect to see in the way of Auks, Shag, 1000’s Gannets, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Common Scoter etc.
|Bonxxieee!!! Image by Martyn Yapp|
On the 16th, a twitch with Richard and Martyn down to Dorset for Short-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor. A Brucie Bonus on the return journey was a White-rumped Sandpiper at Steart Point, Somerset, accompanied by a Curlew Sandpiper.
|Short-billed Dowitcher - Image by Richard Powell|
|White-rumped Sandpiper by Richard Powell|
The 23rd September was the best seawatch of the year, from Spurn Point with Martyn. We had not set off with this intention, but a clearout of migrants and a turn in the weather meant the sea was far more fruitful than bush-bashing (although the day included 3 Yellow-browed Warblers). Sightings included adult Sabine's Gull x 1, Little Auk x 1, Sooty Shearwater x 5, Manx x 1, Arctic Skua x 7, Bonxie x 4, Velvet Scoter x 1, Red-throated Diver x 30.
October was of course the month of my first ever Scilly Autumn! I won't go into that again as I've already written 'War & Peace' on it here, here and here.
6th Oct a Yorkshire day out with Martyn - Another enjoyable seabird cruise at Bempton, hotly followed by my 300th British Bird later that day- a stonking female Pallid Harrier at Firsby in South Yorkshire! The bird frustratingly sat distantly in a field for well over an hour, but when she eventually began to quarter the fields, stupendous views were had by all. Some images of this bird on this blog, A.W.Birder.... One of the most memorable twitches of the year, for good and bad reasons (dissed as female birder for spotting the harrier before others) but the good outweighed the bad by far, with a milestone bird enjoyed with a good friend.
The 29th October was a particularly memorable local Staffs day. Firstly, the discovery that the Great Grey Shrike had returned to Upper Longdon for the winter.
|Great Grey Shrike at Upper Longdon - Image by Martyn Yapp|
Secondly, immense; being one of three people (the others Martyn Yapp and Julian Allen) to see a first for Blithfield Reservoir. Incredible find Jules! Also a female Common Scoter present.
|Velvet Scoters - Blithers first! image by Martyn Yapp|
A Slavonian Grebe was seen at Shustoke on 3rd, this was present for about 5 days, always a very nice bird to see locally.
|Slavonian Grebe - Image courtsey Dave Hutton|
On 11th October, a visit to Conway with a fine drake Surf Scoter and 1000's of Common Scoter at Llandulas and 5 Velvets.
Also the first Waxwings of a bumper winter for them. Around 200 for starters at MFI in Llandudno.
|Waxwing at Llandudno|
On the 17th Oct a significant regional tick - White-rumped Sandpiper at Middleton. Something of a second coming after the dip at Grimley in the Summer.
|WRS - digiscoped by Richard Powell|
It seems a more than reasonable year for Great Northern Diver in the region. The first one for me at Chasewater on 24th November.
|Great Northern Diver - Image by Martyn Yapp|
On 25th a pretty classic Caspian Gull was in the Tad Bay roost at Blithfield.
A much quieter month, mainly because of the thing called Christmas that took place and its associated festivities.
There was a lot of rain, there were floods. There were a lot of Waxwings....with a couple of self finds, which is always nice.
On 22nd December, a final twitch of the year. American Buff-bellied Pipit at Queen Mother Reservoir in Berkshire.
On 23rd December the Iceland Gull was in at Stubber's Green, now a full adult.
|Adult Iceland Gull - Image courtesy Hughie King|
And so the year came to a close.
My new year's resolutions: to keep this blog up to date and to post more often. That starts tomorrow, better late than never....