Let’s face it, we’ve all been there – a strange town, a night out with your mates in the middle of the holiday season, one beer leads to another to kebabs and then a nightclub or two.

All you want to do is find a nice sheltered corner of the harbour and get your weary head down in the wee small hours.

Before you know it, you’re waking up the next morning, butt-naked on a slipway, with the whole town and more peering down at you from the prom above.

The stuff of hungover nightmares.

Probably not what Thor the Walrus was expecting when he hauled out at Scarborough Harbour last night, but he seemed happy enough dozing under the watchful eyes of British Divers Marine Life Rescue team and police who kept the crowd a sensible distance away from this marvellous beast.

Excellent work from BDMLR as usual.

After racing up across the Humber (I’m on the east coast for New Year) to catch up with the mighty one, I shot a bit of video which you can watch on YouTube here as Thor delighted children and adults alike.

Believed to be a six-year-old male, his tusks and overall bulk were a sight to behold – an incredible animal.

A wonderful experience, although I do think Rob Pocklington (who had hot-footed it over from Cumbria to score) missed a trick when a charming couple asked him if he could take an in-situ selfie, the husband enquiring: “Are you sure you’ve got the Walrus in?”

It was all I could do not to exclaim “Sir, that is NO way to refer to your wife” before melting back into the crowd.

Ending a two hour audience, I left Thor displaying his superpowers to the adoring hordes – farting, rippling his curves and causing gridlock in a North Yorkshire resort with just the flick of a flipper.

Sometimes sleeping off a hangover is the only cure, even if it might make the boat owners of Scarborough Harbour a tad nervous.

Thanks for the thrill of the chase one last time in 2022 big boy – wishing you a safe onward journey.

Hold the sprouts…

At first glance, the brisk south westerly seemed to have cleared Plex Moss clean as a dinner plate at Christmas, but after the rain and low light of the last few days it was something of a relief.

Closer inspection revealed many of the winter residents were still about, albeit keeping low, but a feeding flock of 50 + Fieldfare and at least 170 Linnets was good value as the wary thrushes stood up stately off Station Road, shining in the sun, while the Linnets crept through the flooded stubble around them.

Just a few skeins of Pinks about, but good numbers of Lapwing, Starling and Stock Dove.

Later I came across this Common Buzzard tucking into a late Christmas present off Plex Moss Lane – it must only have got to the carcass shortly before I did as there was just a single Carrion Crow standing off.

The Buzzard experienced a degree of difficulty balancing on the carcass (Pink Foot?) in the high winds but did well enough for a full five minutes until the Carrion Crow audience swelled to three birds that quickly drove the raptor off the remains.

I’ll spare you the video – “Twixtmas” red in tooth and claw.

Best wishes for 2023 all.

Plastic beach

A dowdy, but plumptious Corn Bunt on the overhead wires on the Hightown Bends spurred me on to Southport beach’s Snow Bunting this afternoon, having completed a chilly survey at Burbo Bank earlier in the day.

The Snow Bunting was feeding on the “shell beach” about 100 metres north of the beach entrance slipway (closed for the winter).

Typically approachable, the bird was clearly hungry, tossing bits of plastic and wrappers around on the tideline in search of seeds like a Blackbird tossing leaves – I’ve not noticed one feeding in such an ostentatious way before, usually they just trundle along the tideline, constantly pecking at the ground.

Shaky video on YouTube here (it had been a bone-chilling survey with occasionally showers and my hands were still all wobbly!) of the bunting as it foraged.

Two Carrion Crows strutted down the beach from the pier end and spooked the Snow Bunting up onto the top of the seawall, where it showed just fine before dropping down onto the shore to feed again.

Lovely thing, presumably it is the same bird that Chris Fyles first discovered a short distance to the south on the Green Beach (as the Snow Bunt flies), during a recent WEBS count on December 11th.

Lights out by lunchtime

By the time the sleet had died back and the rain strengthened to “deeply unpleasant” this morning, it was clearly a day for staying put.


Nowt wrong with that as I don’t get to see what’s happening around the feeders at Dempsey Towers much at this time of year, heading out to work before it is light and returning in the dark.

So two male Blackcaps were pleasing to see stuffing their faces with seeds and fat, and slipping into the pecking order somewhere between Chaffinch and Starling.

Seeing off Goldfinch, titmice and even Robin didn’t seem to be a problem for the warblers; Greenfinches were more of a 50:50 ball though.

Eight Fieldfare were a bonus – presumably birds that came in during this week’s freeze up – but typically wary, staying down in the long grass and almost out of range through the rain-streaked windows and gloom, hoovering up the Cotoneaster berries that litter the lawn.

Coming up for air

Gin fresh after another heavy frost, Marshside was still on good form today despite the inevitable clear-out that a freeze brings.

The adult male Hen Harrier is something of a gimme at the moment, and today was no exception as it sailed south past the Sandplant, scattering panicked Skylarks like there was no tomorrow – there probably wasn’t for one or two of them judging by the harrier’s intent.

Merlin, Peregrine, Common Buzzard and at least three Marsh Harriers out there too as the tide sneaked in, with Common Scoters offshore and in amongst the Pink Feet, a European White Front, with a nice big forehead blaze but surprisingly few bars on the belly.

Song Thrush x3 in the Sea Buckthorn off the north west corner, Rock Pipit calling overhead and a few Stonechat here and there.

A check of Crossens revealed a lone Barnacle Goose with a small group of Pink Feet, looking fairly dodgy, and multiple Snipe forced out into the open to search for feeding areas not frozen solid.

Can’t be much fun jamming your bill into frozen ground, with a chilled worm the best you can hope for…

Across the road one of the Water Pipits was toughing it out to feed amongst the ice and tussocks tight up against the reserve fenceline – in spite of the conditions the bird lingered and I watched it for about 45 minutes, attempting a few atrocious long range and hideously backlit photographs.

It made a change from the usual fleeting views on the other side of the road. Long-tailed lovely.