Cutting it fine

Always like to get to Spurn at least once a year, but even I admit I was cutting it a bit fine for 2018.
Luckily I noticed a window of opportunity post-Staropramens last night and pre-Indian banquet in Grimsby with the Outlaws tonight.
So I rocked up at the crack of 10am today to check Easington Lagoons, having cruised over the Humber Bridge in the morning murk.
This was a bit like a spaceship ride, so all was good.
No sign of the long-staying Shorelarks despite walking the area at the north end of the lagoons for an hour as the morning sea fishermen arrived, all sweary and weighed down with kit.
Salty sea-dogs. Yaaarrrrr!
A quick look at Spurn proper was quiet too – it’s the first time I’ve seen the big Yorkshire Wildlife Trust visitor centre, new car park and odd “have you seen a Brent Goose?” style engagement signs (really?), so that was all a bit of a culture shock.
I bumped into Colin Bushell, who was down with the hootenanay lurgey – the best excuse, if excuse were needed, for a New Year restorative or five later.
Colin had seen the long-staying Eurasian White-front with the Whoopers off Easington Straight, plus a Black Throated Diver out on the Humber, but not much else.

I decided to try for the Shorelarks again, although as I returned to Easington Lagoons, birders were still walking off site empty-handed at noon.
Never mind, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I headed to the muddy area between the northernmost two lagoons and immediately came across the two Shorelarks, quietly trundling around in their own universe.

End of year gloomy as the day was, it was hard to get a clear photograph of the birds – especially when they launched into sudden sprints along the mud, which they did frequently.
Splendid things though, worth an hour of anyone’s time…

Right, that Hogmanay Jalfrezi ain’t going to eat itself, and I’m sure that somewhere out in the cosmic-o-sphere there’s a few bottles of Kingfisher that need my urgent attention.
Happy New Year all.
Ta ta for now.

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Last refuge of the scoundrel…

Effectively ending any illusion of me attempting back garden birding, this youngish Sprawk swept in to scatter everything from the feeders at Dempsey Towers in the grey vaccuum after Crimbo today.
Nothing cheesier than a back garden Sprawk shot.
I could have pretended I was trying to get photographs of the wintering female Blackcap I suppose, but once the Sprawk went through, the warbler understandably kept a lowish profile in the gathering gloom…

After the Sprawk had cleared off, the Blackcap was still hustled out by Starlings and Jackdaws – mebbe I should put a “caged in” fat feeder up for her….
For those interested in something a little less monochrome, perhaps I could recommend to you Birdblog Goa – I’ve just started the thing, and it should take a week or so to compile an ill-disciplined report of our latest gallivanting, but please take a look and let me know what you think….

Opening my Christmas presents early…

Life certainly feels better with a Pitta in my pants, but it took a few attempts before we connected with this glorious male Indian Pitta, courtesy of Chris Kehoe, during our recent trip to Goa.
Yup, two weeks in Goa, getting back at the weekend, meant most of my Christmas prezzies came early (although I still have high hopes for a set of Banana Splits jim-jams).
Thanks to my travelling companions, Paul and John Thomason and Chris Kehoe, we had a blast – hitting most of our targets and still finding time to gorge on superb Indian cuisine, guzzle litres of Kingfisher beer and haggle endlessly with street sellers over a reasonable price for a Ganesh statuette (the latter are compulsory purchases).

The birding was excellent, even if some had gone a bit overboard on the colour scheme – yes Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, I’m talking to you

The Pallas’s Gulls weren’t bad either…

I’ll write up a separate blog on the whole fortnight, with over 280 species scored, and put a link on here, meanwhile I thought I’d better connect again after a lengthy absence, thank everyone who continued to read and support the blog while I was away, and wish you all a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Hope you have a great festive hooley, and please try to follow the sage advice of our Goan friends – no horn music plastic parking.

Owt about?

Been away for a while (more of that later all things being well), so what have I missed?
What’s about?

Back in the hedge

All too busy and everything, plus all usual the December stuff, but the Blackbirds out at Haskayne Cutting are always good value for a bit of r’n’r.
The detail on some of the younger birds can be quite eye-catching, when you’re not distracted by Fieldfares and Redwings that is….

Anyone seeing anything? Please let me know with the comments thingy….

An impressive turn of speed

A fine drake Goosander was back on the Sands Lake at Ainsdale today and shy as ever – as soon as it saw me approaching up the boardwalk it steamed to the far side of the water and lurked in the shadows and overhanging branches.
Skittish as usual, but occasionally it would “speed paddle” like a feathered battleship low through the more regular winter quackery, but never moved out into the open water and bright winter sun.

This was probably as well given my parlous lack of understanding of ISOs and exposures…
Handsome bird though.

A Chiffchaff was calling at the top end of the lake, with Goldcrest and Wrens up there too.

Two days of night

Grey, dark and drizzly is only to be expected at this time of year of course, but a whole weekend of it can take the crease out of a chap’s strides.
True the blue skies tried to muscle the gloom away this afternoon, but the shortening day was nearly over by then, and not much use to anyone but owl paparazzi.
It goes without saying that all the seasonal gloom without heavy prolonged rain doesn’t bode well for critters like the coast’s Natterjacks either – we’re gonna need some PROPER rainfall if the slacks are to be sufficiently flooded and ready for ’em next Spring.
Fingers crossed, but don’t hold your breath.

In the meantime the dreich, although mild, was clearly conducive to the growing numbers of Lapwings, Curlews and Blackwits at Marshside today, with at least 1,000 of the former, and good numbers of Curlews too, which were spooked by a clumsy young Peregrine and damp and mardy Merlins.
Situation normal.