Saturday, 22 August 2015

2016 Yorkshire Wildlife Calendar Ready at Last!

A unique feature of the calendar is that it includes 300+  lines of info of what wildlife to see, & when & where to see it 
Red-necked Phalarope (c) 2014 Marcus Conway

My new 2016 Yorkshire Wildlife Calendar is hot off the press.  Featuring stunning photos of Red-necked Phalarope, Black-necked Grebe, Rough-legged Buzzard, Long-tailed Duck, Bearded Tits, Little Owls, Green Woodpeckers, Wigeon, and a Starling murmuration.

Almost all photos taken within the old Yorkshire boundary by top-notch local photographers incl: Maggie Bruce, Vince Cowell, Chris Cox, Geoff Dobbs, Andy Hood, Dave Simmonite, Mark Waller, Richard Whateley and yours truly.  Cost £9.17 for 1 (incl P & P) to UK addresses only.  Cost £8 if collecting in person [2 calendars are£18.48, 3 calendars are £26 by post]   
Green Woodpeckers (c) 2015 Richard Whateley
These are lower resolution pictures.  The higher resolution images can only be seen on the actual calendars

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Confusing Corsican Warblers

Novice birdwatchers often complain about how confusing it is to identify UK warblers.  For instance, many find the songs of the Reed Warbler and the Sedge Warbler indistinguishable, while others cannot tell the song of a Blackcap from that of a Garden Warbler.  Hopefully, this is something I can help you with during the spring term.  Meanwhile, if an olive-coloured warbler isn't singing or calling they want to know how to differentiate a Chiffchaff from a Willow Warbler.  If they see a small brown warbler in the spring they are often at a loss how to identify it.  These are all points I tackle during my classes, and if we do come across a warbler I will be able to identify it for you, if it is singing or I obtain a good enough sighting.  However, I have never been birdwatching out of the UK, so you only have to travel as far as Corsica before the whole situation becomes a great deal more difficult and confusing.

Maurice Gordon recently had a holiday in Corsica (late July/early August), and peeking out the bedroom window he was able to observe several brownish warbler species feeding on figs in the garden.  These photos have been shown to a group of experienced UK birders, and they have come up with likely identifications for them, but even so none of the likely birds is 100% definite.  If you happen to be a lot more familiar with Mediterranean species, please let me know the correct identification of the following warbler species.
All photos (c) 2015 Maurice Gordon
Let's start with the most colourful species in the garden.
These aren't warblers at all, but are Citril Finches
 Possible female Sardinian Warbler?
 Possible Female Spectacled Warbler?
 Not sure!
 Possible Garden Warbler?
 Possible Juvenile Sardinian Warbler?
 Possible Juvenile Sardinian Warbler?
 Possible Juvenile Sardinian Warbler?
 And now for some of the spectacular insects in Corsica.
Corsican Grayling
 Grasshopper Species
 Corsican Heath
 Two-tailed Pasha
 Purple Hairstreak
 Red-veined Darter
As you can see I won't be taking any birdwatching groups to the Mediterranean any time soon!  I would have to start from scratch there myself!  If you do go birdwatching in Corsica, especially at this time of year, good luck!  Thank goodness warblers are A LOT EASIER in the UK!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Proposed Door Panel

Thank you to everyone who responded to yesterday's blogpost.  The consensus was definitely in favour of the right-hand image.  Even so I took comments on board, and even the right-hand image was tweaked.  I decided to make the Swallows and text black, and put "birding" at the top of the Barn Owl image.  Here's how the proposed car door panel would look.  This would be set against the chocolate brown colour of the car.  Any suggestions before Monday morning much appreciated

Here's the first design from earlier this week.  I think you'll agree that the above image is far stronger than that below! 
The classes resume on 23rd of September.  The Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are full, but there are plenty of vacancies on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, and Friday mornings.  There may be single vacancies on some of the other sessions.  Don't miss out, please book now, so you don't miss the session which would suit you most.  More course info top right-hand corner of this blog.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


After 11 years of business, I've suddenly been told I MUST have a logo, so which of these 2 designs do you prefer? Please vote for left or right.  Only votes before 7.30 BST Friday am will count.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Black Stork

On Wednesday I asked my nephew if he'd like to go to Spurn. When we arrived it was an extremely high tide, so high there wasn't any room for any waders. They must have all been on Beacon Ponds, Kilnsea Wetlands and Chalk Bank. We had a look for the reported Black Stork, but without any luck. We went to Canal Scrape, but we were told by a couple that we wouldn't be able to see it from there, but suggested we try and look where the Masked Shrike was first seen last year. At all events we were warned to keep away from the "snobby", "rude" and "arrogant" twitchers on the canal bank. We tried to locate it, without any luck, But we did have some fine views of a very early-returned Short-eared Owl.  Then it was time to try and find some lunch. We returned from Easington and were driving on the main road past Well Field when we noticed an unusual looking bird circling above us. It was the Black Stork. We watched for a couple of minutes, as I took photos out of the open car window. It came to land along a hedge line among some posts and thick high grass. It could no longer be seen from this vantage point, but we had enjoyed the sighting all to ourselves. 
Black Stork
This is an immature Black Stork, and its ring shows that it originates from Northern France.
After a visit to Canal Scrape we walked along the now deserted canal bank, and spotted it again walking along the fence in the long grass before it launched itself into the air again, and it disappeared over the fence again and was lost to sight. Looking back we saw that all the twitchers had relocated to the spot where we had first seen the bird, but now they all rushed from there and headed towards the canal bank again. We decided to call it a day.  At Sunk Island on the way back we found an immature Barn Owl in the grass just outside a Barn. 
Immature Heron
 Short-eared Owl
 Juvenile Barn Owl
 Roe Deer (c) 2015 Ben Coneyworth
 Spurn Lighthouse (under Scaffolding)

Sunday, 2 August 2015


John Dowson an attendee on the Wednesday morning sessions has been going a little further afield now the classes are enjoying a sabbatical.  He came across a small raptor on a drystone wall not too far from Pateley Bridge.  As you can see it is a male Merlin.  If you look closely at the feathers on the wing you can see white fringes on the wing-tips.  I forgot to ask John if he took this through his mobile phone attached to a telescope, or his new bridge camera.  The latter seems more likely for the quality involved.

We may see Merlins if we are lucky during the Autumn course starting towards the end of September.  It is a possibility at Blacktoft, Patrington Haven or even at some estuary sites.  We are more likely to see a flying individual, and we are unlikely to get so close!
(c) 2015 John Dowson