Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Friday, 26 May 2023

Puffins & Razorbills - Bempton Cliffs

The East coast of Yorkshire is a lovely place, and at this time of year its cliffs are jam packed with breeding sea birds. Puffins, Gannets, Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Fulmars fill the air, sea and land. The sight, sounds and smells are a joy to behold. I recommend a visit to anyone who can get across there at this time of year. I've been many times and it never fails to produce.

There were not too many Puffins around this year. Maybe avian flu has had an impact or the long term problem of food shortage is taking it's toll. Not being very big birds, it was a case of scanning for those orange feet and the famous bill. They just put a big smile on my face when I see them.


Good numbers of Razorbills were lovely to see. Quite often when I see these birds they are floating a long way out at sea, or whizzing past at speed, so it was nice to see them at close quarters on the rocks.


This one made sure the Pigeon knew he wasn't happy with him flying past.

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Temminck's Stint - Thornwick Pool

A lovely weekend away on the East Yorkshire coast provided quite a few birding highlights, with most of these had at Bempton Cliffs. But news of a small wading bird just a short walk away at Thornwick Pool was very unexpected. A Temminck's Stint!!

I had been to the pool the previous day in search of a Wood Sandpiper and an earlier reported Red-backed Shrike. Neither were seen, so I wasn't too expectant when I was walking to the hide on this occasion, but just a few feet away there was the very small Stint in all it's glory in superb sunlight. My second of the year, but the first that didn't require a scope and wasn't obscured by long grass. I was so pleased to get some decent images. It's unlikely I'll get anything as good or clear again. To add icing to my cake, a hard to spot Lesser Whitethroat was singing outside the hide.

Temminck's Stint

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Barn Owl

This Barn Owl has been around for some time close to home. It likes to do a circuit or two of it's favourite field and then disappear for a while. For a large bird it is quite surprising how well they can conceal themselves in grass. It's a real joy to watch in any sort of weather, but when the sun comes out in the late evening it just lights up the sky with it's flight.

Barn Owl

Thursday, 4 May 2023

A Bumper Day on the Patch

Birding on a particular patch can be quite disheartening at times, especially when you see lots of good birds appearing all round the country. You're just hoping that one drops in when you are there and that will make you happy. Birding where I do at Woodford, straddling the Cheshire and Greater Manchester border, seeing a Linnet can be a good day, whilst on others it seems completely devoid of all life. I've had some very good birds here, and most have appeared at this time of year. Trusting my notes from previous years, I made a special effort last week to visit during my lunch breaks and after work. I was rewarded beyond belief.

In just one day I had found a male Redstart at lunchtime, followed by a female after work. Added to that followed a Yellow Wagtail and two male Whinchats. Also thrown into the mix were Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plovers, Ringed Plovers, Stonechat and Barn Owl. I'd have been happy with this list if it was spread over 5 years, but to get them all in one day was really quite special. What's more the sun was out, and I was able to get some good record shots of them too.

I do hope this isn't all my luck used up, and that I can have more days like this on the patch in the weeks and years ahead.

Female Redstart (centre picture)

Male Redstart hugging the hedge

Male Whinchat with his back to us

Now facing us

This Yellow Wagtail was on the golf course, while I had myself behind some trees for cover

 Record shot of a Ringed Plover (left) and Common Sandpiper (right)

Sunday, 30 April 2023


Goosander numbers had been building on the inland lakes and reservoirs near my home. So lovely to look at and watch, but they tend not to venture too close and remain quite distant. This doesn't give for good photos unless there is good light, and that was the case last week when I was able to get some nice bright images. Most have now dispersed and will be having young. They will be back again late summer.

Two female Goosander

A female with two sleepy Tufted Ducks

Two females in flight.

Monday, 24 April 2023

Salthouse - Norfolk

There is a pool of water at the bottom of Beach Road, Salthouse, that I always stop at to have a look. It can appear to many at first glance as quite insignificant, but I've had some good birds here over the years, so I am always happy to spend a good half an hour or more watching and waiting. This visit was also productive as it added two more to the year list, in the form of Ringed Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit. A pair of Avocet were working the water, and a Little Egret dropped in too.

In the fields around the pool were Lapwings, Oystercatcher, Linnets and the Yellow Wagtail that I found on my way back to the car. It may not look like much to most people, but it's always worth a stop and look to see what's around and on the pool. As always, the early morning is the best time. The Early Birder catches the bird 😉

Bar-tailed Godwit

Little Egret

One of two Ringed Plover at the pool.

Thursday, 20 April 2023

Hickling Broad

The weather forecast was good, but it turned out to be a bit gloomy on my visit to Hickling Broad over the Easter weekend. It seemed as though there wasn't a great deal around either as we followed the 3 mile path around the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve. The reedbeds were very quiet, and not much was on the water or flying overhead. Quite possibly things will hot up a bit in the coming weeks.

That said though, and on reflection, we did see and hear some very good birds. One of my warbler highlights of any year, is the return of the Sedge Warbler. A fantastic little bird that will sing and climb the sedge or reeds that it is in. This was my first seen of the year, so it was a nice to see it performing.

Sedge Warbler

Another unexpected find was this Egyptian Goose, that was stood alone in a field.

Initially when I saw this swan in flight I thought it could be a Whooper Swan, but having taken a few pictures and zoomed into it's bill, I am more convinced that it is in fact a Bewick's Swan. At the time it was very distant and difficult to tell. 

Bewick's Swan

There were lots of Chiffchaffs around and to hear. Not as nice as hearing a Bittern booming though. We heard one of these booming several times as we sat in the aptly named Bittern Hide. Unfortunately we didn't see it, but it was nice to sit and listen to it.


Friday, 14 April 2023

Wheatears and Wagtails in Norfolk

An Easter trip to Norfolk meant a very determined look for Spring migrants. There were lots I'd been looking forward to finding, and one on my list was the Wheatear. I'd looked a week or so earlier around my local area, but had not found any. We stopped in at Cley beach, as I'd often seen them in the fields here in previous years. Initially it wasn't looking promising, with only some Ruff, Meadow Pipits and a couple of Golden Plover of note. A bit more time spent scouring the ground and I noticed a female Wheatear hoping around. It was swiftly followed by a male. I was delighted to catch up with them again for the first time this year, and hope to see many more as we go through the breeding season.

Female Wheatear standing nice and proud.

The more colourful male.

Now, some birds you hope to find on your trip and others you just get very fortunate and stumble across. The Yellow Wagtail is a bird that I always hope that I come across during the year, but not one I ever go out expecting to find, unless there is some go info available on a particular bird. 

On this particular morning I was happy adding year ticks of Ringed Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit at a very quiet Salthouse, near Cley. Meadow Pipits and Linnets were keeping me company, and the odd Little Egret flew by, whilst the Oystercatchers made sure there was some sound in the air. I got back in my car very content, when I caught a glimpse of bird that I assumed was a Grey Wagtail. All I caught was some yellow as it hopped from the road to the fence line. As I focused properly I could see that it was in fact a Yellow Wagtail!! I stayed in the car and grabbed the camera. It was only a few feet away and I just let it do it's own thing while I snapped away. 
What a fabulous bird, and how lucky I was to be there at that time. The Early Birder does often catch the worm.

Yellow Wagtail