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THE NENE VALLEY & FERRY MEADOWS

In mid September we paid a visit to the Nene Valley in particular Ferry Meadows. This was essentially a non-birding break however who could resist the ring necked parakeet which has bred here for a number of years. The birds had not been seen for a few days and returned to their favourite feeders just as we were passing, so a couple of quick snaps.
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North East, Salthome, Zinc Road and the Gares

I love the North East of England, especially the coastal areas just below and above Seaton. With it's mixture of industry both working and derelict and wide open spaces and amazing beaches. I once took a friend and he was astounded at the contrasting landscape and the beauty therein. I've been there many times and the birding is always great but of course there is also lots of other wildlife.

Butterflies, Seals, Fox and other mammalian wildlife are all there if you look close enough. Recently there have been porpoise, and even Minke and Orca seen just off the coast, a truly magnificent sight.
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Above: Chalk Hill Blue (I think)
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Above: The gentle Kittiwake
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Above: Three shots of the Guillemot, keeping out of the way of the Kittiwake.
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Above. The majestic Sandwich Terns & one below.
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Below: Common Tern with its catch.
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Below: Left, Redshank and on the right Black Tailed Godwit.
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Below: Black Tailed Godwit.
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Above: Golden Plover and the smaller Dunlin.
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Above: Curlew Sandpiper.

Below: Redshank.
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BEMPTON CLIFFS

The one thing you can be sure of when you pay a visit to Bempton Cliffs is that there will be birds, thousands of them. Bempton is of course famed for its Puffins and Gannets. The Gannet colony being one of the largest in the world and one of the noisiest.

However there are many many more, amongst birders it is an area for scarce birds, rare birds and some of the scarcest birds to hit our shores. These birds, driven by the winds can turn up anytime and anywhere along this amazing strip of coastline.

Below: Gannets, Guillemot and Jackdaw.
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At this time of year the breeding season is in its full noisy flow, Life and sometimes death are all around you, a truly breathtaking place.
Left: Kittiwake with young.
Below: Kittiwake, Meadow Pipit, Puffin, Razorbill Young.
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BLYTHS REED WARBLER

I couldn't believe it, a Blyths Reed Warbler, when the news broke and it was in striking distance I was delighted. It was a very obliging bird, I took my good friend Graham Todd and we spent a good couple of hours watching and listening to this magnificent bird.

The first thing you notice when you get near this bird is its call, unmistakable and distinctive.
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ROSY STARLING IN BARNSLEY

The Rosy Starlings had been turning up all over the country when the news came in that one had turned up in a street in Barnsley. A Barnsley birder, Ron Marshal who lived in the area called me and said it was showing well. But I wasn't in a position to go, then call after call over the next few days, first Graham Todd and he had great images then Phil Smithson and agin with great images.

That was it, I was off, when I got there many birders I knew were back for a second look including Ron and his wife Joice. I was a great day with locals asking questions and getting involved.
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SPOONBILL & AVOCETS

Spoonbills have managed to make their way to Alkborough flats for many years. Views of these rather large and rather strange looking birds tend to be from a distance and obtaining any kind of photographs or video is nigh on impossible. Below is some video of one such far-off bird, they were many people there that evening, all looking for the Spoonbill.

This particular bird flew in about 15 minutes after most people had left which was about 7 pm. Usually they stay in the same place but this one kept flying to the Humber and returning to this particular spot every 20 minutes or so.

EY UP IT'S FRYUP DALE

It's 7 am and I'm on the road towards Westerdale in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. With me I have my daughter Hannah, we are sat in the car looking at these very vulnerable Lapwing chicks. These beautiful little pieces of life have little idea of the struggle to survive that is ahead of them.

The parents of this chick are only a few metres away but they are very clearly in the view of some Black Headed Gulls hovering just above. Only a few seconds from being taken by the very clever Gulls and the Lapwing parents are up in the air chasing them away, I'm sure that this must be an hourly occurrence. In the background we can hear Curlew and one of several cuckoos we have heard so far.

I have never heard three completely separate cuckoos in any place in my birdwatching history. Maybe I have just led a very sheltered life. Hannah who is extremely keen and very willing to learn birdwatcher is very excited at all the sights and sounds going on around her, she is in heaven.
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Take a look at the size of the foot on this chick and how disproportionately large the foot is at this stage in its life.

This bird will not fall over with feet like that.
Meadow pipit are one of our most common moorland birds but they never cease to amaze me. No matter where you are on the moor there is always more Meadow pipit watching you, than you watching them, they are one of the most widespread of all the birds in the UK holding in excess of 1.9 million territory's (Source: BTO) However there has been a very steady decline in populations since 1994 up to 2019. (BTO.et al)
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Take a look at the image below and think about what you can see. Can you see anything at all other than the moorland bracken? If I hadn't seen it fly in, I most certainly would not have seen that I think is a daytime flying Moth called a Bordered White. Can you see the antennae waving around in the wind? No! They are very clear to see.
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Perhaps the picture below makes the moth a little easier to see. If I am totally wrong about the species please let me know, I would be very grateful for correction and information as there are several species that look quite similar. All entomologists with an opinion welcome. All the information that I gather on moths and butterflies comes from the excellent butterfly conservation website. if you haven't been on this website take a look.

https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/bordered-white
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At the point where the below photograph was taken we could very clearly hear a corncrake, a Cuckoo and a Whimbrel. Now I get very excited at Corncrake but to hear a Whimbrel at the same time! This is all too much. We were joined at this point by the gamekeeper Michael who was interested in what we were doing, we had a chat about the obvious Corncrake screaming away in the background and about birds in general, he told me about his son Robbie who was a very keen birdwatcher and he is only five years old. Robbie is desperate to see a Bullfinch and any kind of Woodpecker in his garden, I hope you get your wish Robbie, good luck.
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At this point I need to apologise for the poor quality of the photographs in this blog. The heat haze was causing havoc with the focusing on the camera. Above, we have a photograph of a flying whimbrel and in my opinion one of our most beautiful birds. Several thousand birds pass through in April and May and if we are luck we get to see a few, like the one above.

For the past few years Whimbrel have visited the excellent Lower Derwent Valley just south of York and this is my usual haunt to see them but with the lockdown for Covid-19 I have not visited recently.
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Above we have a few shots of one of our most iconic visitors, the wheatear.
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Above: Curlew, I can remember a time when if you visited the uplands of Yorkshire or even the lowlands you would see many many curlew and now you only see a few.
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Above: Spotted Flycatcher.

Below: Stonechat.
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Alkborough again...

Godwits of the Bar Tailed variety, Teal and a couple of Marsh Harriers were all present as was a rather fast Water Rail, just in front of the hide, no time to get the camera focused unfortunately although the Rail was so close I would have hit it on the head with the lens.
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