Saturday, January 05, 2013

2012.....A review of my year in the Natural World.


The new year began properly on the 7th with another successfull trip to Norfolk,with us managing to connect with the 2 'Megas' on offer,Lesser white-fronted Goose(Buckenham Marshes) and Western Sandpiper(Cley),with a supporting cast of Black Brant at Wells and a cracking 1st winter 'Exillipes' Arctic Redpoll at Titchwell.Other niceities seen during the day included 55 'Taiga' Bean Geese and 68 Eurasian White-fronted Geese at Buckenham Marshes.
 Our first of several visits to North Yorkshire through the year began on the 14th with firstly a visit to Scarborough were the highlights included 2 fem/Imm Black Redstart along Marine Drive,64 Purple Sandpiper at the Harbour and 10 Waxwing in B&Q's car park along Seamer Road.Later on this day we visited Troutsdale were the expected highlights included a male and female Goshawk,21 Crossbill and a pair of very dapper Mandarin Duck.
The 22nd saw a very windy visit to Tophill Low to see my first Cattle Egret in Yorkshire and the bird showed well in the Yorkshire Water compound.Other notables included 3 Little Egret,2 'Redhead' Smew and a single Grey Wag.
 Finally on the 29th,highlights at a 'Private' site in the North of the county saw me enjoying some nice views of the wintering Lesser Yellowlegs and a cracking 3rd calendar year Iceland Gull.


The 5th saw Chris and myself making a snowy visit to Grimsby Docks to enjoy fantastic views of both the 2nd calendar year Kumliens Gull and 3rd calendar year Iceland Gull,what a pair of stunners!.Other interesting gulls observed during the day included an adult Med. Gull and 2nd calendar year Little Gull.
 Commoner fare at South Ferriby on the 12th included 2 'Dark-bellied' Brent Geese,Merlin and 11 Avocet.The Avocets had actually over wintered,a rare occurrence this far north in the UK.
 A visit around several sites in the north of the county on the 25th saw a great days birding and wildlife watching enjoyed and included 'Redhead' Smew at Barton Pits,the wintering flock of 46 'Tundra' Bean Geese,Juv/1st winter Eurasian White-fronted Goose,392 Avocet,the wintering Greenshank and a single Merlin at South Ferriby and the day was finished at Laughton Forest with my first reptiles of the year being seen,with 7 Adder and 2 Common Lizard being recorded.


A visit to the local patch at Bonby on the 3rd,saw some nice sightings being seen and included a 2nd calendar year Hen Harrier,3 Short-eared Owl,Green Sand and Mink watched swimming past me at close range on the river.
 A return visit to North Yorkshire on the 11th with Chris and Dave,saw highlights including 6 Common Porpoise and 38 Purple Sandpiper at Scarborough and at least 6 Goshawk,3 Grey Wagtail and our first Chiffchaff of the year at Troutsdale.Wildlife sightings here included 2 Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Peacock,my first butterfly species of the year and 2 new fish for us on the Derwent,Stone Loach and the amazing River Lamprey,with me finding 2 individuals,what a superb,prehistoric looking species.
 Another day out on the 17th with Chris and Dave saw us making our annual spring visit to Hatfield to see the stunning Red-necked Grebe and we managed cracking views of the bird along with other highlights which included a pair of Woodlark,6 Bewick's and 2 Whooper Swan,Peregrine,4 Crossbill,2 male Adder and 3 Orange-underwing Moth.


The months highlights began with a bang on the 6th,when Tom Lowe found a cracking 2nd calendar year Thayer's Gull at nearby Elsham.It was watched loafing on fields and feeding along with other gull species on a field which slurry was being pumped on and thankfully gave fantastic views.What a bird! and a potential first for Britain.Other highlights during the day included my first records of the year for Swallow,House and Sand Martin and Willow Warblers.
Out of the county again on the 8th to my home county saw Chris and myself visiting Tophill Low were the highlights included a smart pair of Garganey on North Lagoon,Dark-bellied Brent,male and female Little-ringed plover and Red Kite at Watton Nature reserve and 2 Short-eared Owl,Egyptian Goose and a single 2nd calendar year Whooper Swan at Hempholme Lock.
 On the 13th i enjoyed cracking views of a Dog Otter feeding on Grebe Lake at Messingham Sand Quarries,a real joy to see and at Crowle/Thorne Moors on the 14th,more mammal highlights included 30 Red Deer which gave great views also.
 A visit to both Boston Park at Hatfield Moors and Potteric Carr,saw some great birds being seen and they included a pair of stunning Black-necked Grebe,male Wheatear and a pair of LRP at Boston Park and a posing Cetti's Warbler and my first Whitethroat of the year at Potteric.
 My final trip out of the month saw me unfortunately not seeing the previous days Buffelhead at Covenham,but some fine compensation was had in the form of a stunning Red-rumped Swallow at Barton Pits which showed very well around the 'New' pits across from the old visitor centre,a fine end to the month.


A visit out of the 'Home' county again on the 5th to Flamborough to pay homage to the possible Atlas Flycatcher,saw Chris and myself gaining superb views of this stunning bird as it sallied after flying insects in his temporary home at South Landing.It's true identification is still a matter of discussion as DNA tests are still on going,but what ever it turns out to be it was a little beauty!.Other nice birds seen today included Tree Pipit,5 Spotted Flycatcher,Whimbrel,Hen Harrier a surprise in the form of a Bearded Tit and a nice Wood Sandpiper.A non avian highlight here was a lovely yearling Harbour Seal and of course the stunning coastal scenery.
 On the 8th,at last,my first Odonata of the year were observed at Messingham Sand Quarries,19 Common-blue Damselfly and a single female Azure Damselfly.They were all teneral or immature insects and great to see.Other insects seen today included Orange Tip,Brimstone,Green-veined White and Peacock Butterflies.Birds seen today included 3 Hobby and a singing male Cuckoo.
 The 9th saw a timely text from GPC to say there was an adult Iceland Gull on the patch at Bonby and it gave great views as it bathed and preened with other gulls a very welcome addition to the patch list and my only May record of this superb Gull.
 On the 12th a return visit to MSQ saw an increase in Dragon numbers and more first records for the year in the  form of a single Hairy Dragonfly,female Broad-bodied Chaser and 6 Large-red Damselfly.Next day another visit to MSQ saw me adding a new species to my Odonata list for the site,an adult male Variable Damselfly.This is a species which has long being claimed at the site,so was great to properly confirm it.Other nice insects today came in the form of my first 2 Red-eyed Damselfly of the year,3 Slender Groundhopper and a female Hairy Dragonfly.
 On the 26th i added my only 'New' species of Odonata for the year and one of the few i have left to see in the UK now,White-faced Darter.I joined an organised visit to Chartley Moss NNR in Staffordshire with the BDS and English Nature to see this fantastic little Dragonfly and i wasn't disappointed with me observing all stages of the lifecycle from larvae,emerging tenerals,adult insects,mating and ovipositing..fantastic and a great way to end the month with style.


The month got of to a great start on the 2nd when Dave and myself travelled over to Aldborough in East York's to see the beautiful adult Roller.What a stunning bird and it certainly performed well for everyone to see.After seeing this gorgeous bird a short hop over to Spurn for the remainder of the day saw us enjoying some great views of 2 male Red-veined Darter on Canal Scrape,my first for a few years and a nice bonus in the form of 2 Pec Sand and a summer plumaged Curlew Sand on Beacon Ponds.
 On the 4th a morning visit to Cleethorpes for the singing male Marsh Warbler resulted in me getting superb views of the bird with a little patience and what a fantastic mimic,with it heard copying Oystercatcher and Common Tern among other species,a great few hours which also included some nice photos of the profusion of Southern Marsh and Common-spotted Orchids.
 Out of the county again on the 17th saw Chris and myself getting a fantastic guided tour of the Scarborough area with Allan and Jackie and enjoying some superb wildlife and bird sightings which included our first Fly and Northern-marsh Orchids,Goshawk,Peregrines,Golden-ringed Dragonfly,Small pearl-bordered Fritillary's and a cracking Red-necked Footman moth,among others,a great day out.


The began with another superb visit to MSQ on the 7th,with me managing to find a cracking Red-tipped Clearwing and an Osprey paid a brief visit.The Clearwing,although a faded individual,was still a great find and fairly unexpected.
 The 28th saw me heading to Crowle Moor NNR in the hope of getting some decent images of the local Odonata and to survey the species.Numbers were fairly good and included 368 Black Darter,39 Common Darter,18 Common Hawker and 84 Emerald Damselfly.Other nice sightings included a stunning Large Emerald Moth and 3 Bog-bush Cricket.
 The final day of the month saw me heading again for the North riding Forest and valleys at Troutsdale and i spent the whole day here seeing the hoped for target of Honey Buzzard with only 1 bird seen this year,but more superb sightings of Goshawk and Dipper,Grey Wagtails,Crossbills,Marsh Tit,Kingfisher and Mandarin,the latter with a well grown duckling,another successful visit to this fantastic site.


August began on the 1st with a trip down the Linc's coast,firstly visiting Rimac part of the huge Saltfleetby and Theddlethorpe Dunes NNR and later North Cotes/Horseshoe Point.Highlights at Rimac included a whopping count of 95 Ruddy Darter,the most i have seen anywhere in the county,a single male Small red-eyed Damselfly,Small-elephant Hawkmoth larvae and a very confiding female Common Lizard.At North Cotes/Horseshoe some nice birds were seen in the form of 3 Med. Gulls(Adult,2nd sum and juv),Merlin,Hobby,Peregrine,Barn and Little owls.We also enjoyed some nice views of the gathering summer plumaged waders and terns on the high tide.
 A visit to Alkborough on the 26th saw a few nice birds being seen in the form of 2 Spoonbill,12 Little Egret,Peregrine,300 Avocet and 7 Greenshank.


The month began in true style on the 1st with another trip to Yorkshire visiting Filey and then nearby Flamborough.We had mainly taken the trip out today to enjoy some seabirds,something we don't really get to see on a daily basis and we gained some nice views of Manx Shearwater,Arctic Skua and the highlight,3 Purple Sandpiper.A very confiding yearling Grey Seal provided us with some entertainment.After a timely look on the net,we saw that at nearby Flamborough,a Greenish Warbler had been found at 'Old Fall',so we decided to travel the short journey over to see it.En route,we soon discovered that this bird had been re-identified as an Arctic Warbler,a new species for both Chris and myself.We quickly arrived at 'Old Fall' a little out of breath to enjoy fantastic close views of the bird,yes!.
 On the 16th an early morning trip to Barton saw me getting superb views of the previous years returning drake Ferruginous Duck on his favoured pit,what a cracking duck.
 2 visits to the Spurn area on the 22nd and 27th respectively saw a plethora of good birds being seen and these included 5 Yellow-browed Warbler,3 Red-breasted Flycatchers,Red-backed Shrike,Barred Warbler and on the 27th a cracking Greenish Warbler,this coupled with superb views of common migrants made for a couple of great visits.
 On the 23rd after hearing and seeing that a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper was present at Toft-newton Reservoir,i made an early morning visit to see this unbelievably confiding bird.In all my 26 years of birding,i have never seen a rare bird so close,it was watched at a range of 6 inches!...amazing,a cracking bird and a real privilege to see.
 A walk down the Carrs at Bonby  on the 30th saw some nice local birds being seen and included juv. Whinchat,85 Pink-footed Geese,4 Little Egret and 2 Kingfisher.


A cracking day out at Alkborough on the 6th saw me getting distant views of the juv. Long-billed Dowitcher and a late juv. Honey Buzzard which provided me with my latest personal record of the species.
 Again,2 visits to the cracking Spurn area towards the end of the month25th and 27th,saw me seeing an unbelievable 3 Olive-backed Pipits,which included 2 together on the 27th.Other goodies seen over the two visits included 12+ Ring Ouzel,Siberian Chiffie,Great-grey Shrike,3 Black Redstart,Little Auks,Jack Snipe and hundreds of common migrants,the numbers on the 23rd being particularly impressive.


The month started with some nice local birding at Worlaby on the 2nd,were i managed to see at least 800 Pink-footed Geese,female Hen Harrier,2 Peregrine and to lovely Barn Owl.
 On the 11th a visit to my favourite part of the world around Scarborough,saw Chris and myself enjoying some nice birds which included a north bound Slavonian Grebe at Scarborough along with 40 Purple Sandpiper at the harbour.Later in the day at Troutsdale,highlights were provided by a stunning male Goshawk and the usual local specialities.
 A few hours at Barton on the 12th saw a flyby male Snow Bunting at Barton being the highpoint of the day along with the returning drake Smew.
 The final day of the month provided me with some superb opportunities to photograph a flock of Waxwing at Burton-Upon-Stather,with 120 birds birds being seen,a superb sight.


A visit to Covenham Reservoir on the 4th to pay the reported juv. Black-throated Diver a visit,saw me getting some nice views of the bird,a cracker!.Other highlights here included a female Black Redstart,2 female Common Scoter,5 Whooper Swan,male and female Goosander and a 1st winter Med. Gull.
 Another visit to Yorkshire with Chris today,this time to West York's,visiting Wintersett Res. and Anglers Country Park,both new sites for us both.A great day was enjoyed with the hoped for Drake American Wigeon showing really well,along with other highlights which included a female Long-tailed Duck,1st winter male Scaup,51 Goosander and 30 flyby Waxwing.
 A full day out in East Yorkshire with Chris at Tophill Low on the 26th saw us getting some great birds,the highlights being 3 different Med Gulls(Adult,2nd winter and 1st winter),10 Pintail and some great numbers of gulls and wildfowl.
 MSQ on the 27th saw more nice local birds being seen and included the 4 wintering female/immature Scaup,4 Pintail,5 Mealie Redpoll and an adult female Marsh Harrier.
 Next day,a few hours above Bonby village saw me connecting with 2 more quality local gulls in the form of cracking juvenile Iceland and Caspian Gulls,superb stuff.
 On the 30th a visit to see the superbly confiding juvenile Great-northern Diver at Ashbyville Lake at Scunthorpe saw me ending the year on a high,what a fantastic year again spent in the natural world.

Juvenile Great-northern Diver,Ashbyville Lake,December.

Drake American Wigeon,Anglers Country Park,December.

Adult Mediterranean Gull,Scarborough,December.

1st winter Waxwing,Burton-Upon-Stather,November.

Female Common Lizard,Rimac,Saltfleetby And Theddlethorpe Dunes NNR,September.

Juvenile/1st winter Red-breasted Flycatcher,Spurn Point,September.

Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper,Toft-newton-Reservoir,September.

Large Emerald,Crowle NNR,July.

Male Black-tailed Skimmer,Messingham Sand Quarries,July.

Female Black Darter,Crowle NNR,July.

Red-necked Footman,Dalby Forest,July.

Male White-faced Darter,Chartley Moss NNR,May.

Scarlet Elf cup,Messingham Sand Quarries,April.

Juvenile Grass Snake,Chambers Farm Wood,April.


  1. A great read Steve. Happy new year and hope to catch up in 2013.

  2. Cheers Matt and the same to you mate.