First I must apologise for Robert. The last post on the blog reads as though he was suffering whilst he wrote it. I have not yet finished it off as it makes me almost physically sick to read it. Clean up your act, I say.
Also Robert, if you read this, please could you put some pictures on our Lincolnshire butterfly trip post? Lacking them, it is like a flower without the sun.
Anyway, what have I been up to?
Well, last weekend me and Stuart travelled up to the Hartlepool area to try and see the Baird’s Sandpiper, and fail we did. Spend a good hour or so waiting, but no show from the little rascal. Oh well. Best bit, however, was when a flock of Sanderlings dropped in on the wader roost. Everybody else was chattering, so I was the only ones who saw them arrive. I quickly scanned through and spotted a bird darker than the rest, so I let everyone know there was something different with them (Notice that I never claimed it as the Baird’s). Seconds later everyone was looking at it, and mere seconds after that a gentleman with a camera the length of a prosthetic leg (and twice as broad) shouted that it was ‘the bird’. At this point I had half-inched Stuart’s scope and was having a proper look at the bird myself. It didn’t look like a Baird’s. Now, I will put this out over the internet in all honesty, I am not great at waders. In this instance, however, the wader was only about 8 meters away and I was looking through a scope that is better than my own and I had the Collins in front of me and the bird was a Dunlin. A juvenile Dunlin. Whilst I was reaching this conclusion, the gentleman next to me whispered that he hadn’t found the Baird’s yet and all he could see was a Dunlin. I told him that the Dunlin was the bird that everyone else was looking at. “Oh” said the other man. We looked across at the gentleman with the obscenely large camera who was still snapping away madly. “It’s a Dunlin” I called in a thin voice, “just a Dunlin”. Slowly all the other birders put down their cameras. Eventually the man with the massive camera realised his mistake, but it was okay because it was actually quite difficult to see the bird on the camera screen. The best bit was about ten minutes later when about twenty birders turned up because somebody had put the news out that Baird’s was showing, only to see a Dunlin. Priceless.
After that we had a quick look at a Parakeet in Ward Jackson’s Park (most northerly breeding colony in England so I’ve heard) and then head down to Saltholme RSPB. Highlights were, in order, 3 Bar-headed Geese (Geese!), 2 Black-Necked Grebes and a Pectoral Sandpiper (my second ever). A poor photo of the little yankee below:
The best bit when I was looking at the Pectoral Sandpiper was when somebody left the hide and shut the door a bit loudly, (accidentally I assume, unless they were bastards), and a man sat in the hide used this as an example of people had no field-craft these days. He may well be right, but I always imagine the word field-craft to relate to methods of moving quietly through habitat, blending in, enduring discomfort in order not to bother your subject etc., etc., It just amused me that a man sat in a chair, in a hide, with an enormous camera that clicked like a distant gunshot every time he took a picture was bemoaning somebody else closing the door incorrectly in the aforementioned hide. I will, of course, retract this statement if the man in question built the hide that day purely in order to see the birds on that pool and he did it without bothering them. That, my friends, would be enviable field-craft.
Also in Cleveland I saw these snails:
I think they might be Cernuella virgata, the ‘Striped Snail’. They were found amongst sand dunes, which is a good habitat match, but I need to have a thorough check of my snail book before I put them on my species list.
On the way back home I stopped off at Lockwood Beck and had a walk round. Bird highlight was a pair of Treecreepers, but the overall highlight was the smallest Adder I have ever seen on the path. Awww. Too quick for photos though.
Fast forward to this weekend. Me and the gang (that includes Robert, Stephen, Stuart, Rachel, Katie and Lucy) went on a sea boat (or ‘ship’) in order to see birds. And birds did we see we did. The trip kicked off with a Pom Skua which I confidently identified as an Arctic before being wrong. New species for me. No one else in the gang had a decent view, so I won. Porpoises were seen and admired. A Red-Throated Diver flew past, and all three common auks were on the sea. To cut a long, tedious and picture-less story short, we saw Arctic Skua (distantly), Bonxie (very close and awesomely), Manx Shearwater (close and awesome), Sooty Shearwater (close and awesome) and a Long-Tailed Duck (very distant and awfully, year bird though). Pretty good stuff. Highlight was probably the Barnacle Goose in the harbour (goose!).
And finally, today. What have I done today? Well, you could very well ask what I haven’t done today, but that would be tedious to answer. What I did do today was drive to Robin Hood’s Bay for a YNU rockpool thing. The day started well with a lovely view of a cream-crown Marsh Harrier flying across the moors being harried by crows just after the turn off to Robin Hood’s Bay. I found a free place to park, and as I walked down the hill into the bay itself I heard a Chiffchaff singing. I also took a picture of the famous house:
I met up with the rest of YNu group in the bay, and we had a delightful couple of hours of tossing quadrats around and laughing merrily. Some of the best sightings of the day were found by me, which sounds a little big-headed but is in fact true. These included two Edible Sea Urchins, including the smallest one I’ve ever seen:
As well as a Corkwing Wrasse and my second ever Jorunna tomentosa (though I assume I have been overlooking them for years as just small Sea Lemons – thanks Paula for identifying it):
Also found a good few brittlestars, so I got this picture of an Ophiothrix fragilis next to an Amphipholis squamata:
Whilst rockpooling I heard a clamouring overhead, and looked up to see my first skein of the autumn passing overhead; Pink-Footed Geese! (Geese!). A Whimbrel flew overhead as well, first I’ve seen for a few weeks.
Probably my favourite bit of the morning was a wonderful bit of seaweed identification. I am pretty rubbish at identifying seaweeds, but I am slowly improving, and after today I feel I can add a few more to my personal list, such as Pepper Dulse, Black Scour Weed and Grape Pip Weed.
Good fun was had. I think there might be another meet at Scarborough in a few weeks, so that should be a laugh.