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A birding blog, with sounds and film

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Crossbill to Goshawk and a Mediterrenean show off.

We started the day at 6.30am and drove directly to Wykeham. I know Wykeham very well having run camping rallies for 20 years on Downy Estates land including Wykeham Lakes. We went to the very top of Moor road, this is where many people sit and watch many woodland birds. There are some large stones and you often find seed or apples put out for the birds, people sit in cars and just watch as the day goes by.

We did some watching and at this time of year the birds we most often see look different. Immature birds can even look like different species and can be difficult to identify. Below are some very common birds that just look a little different because of their age. Some all new with new coats and some old hands bedraggled as the ravages of winter takes its toll.

A few days before we heard on Birdguids that
Crossbills had been seen in large numbers. We looked and listened for these often quite showy birds, but nothing near where we were. We started walking east and started to pick up a few chirps, after a few minutes I had seen and photographed my first year Crossbill, that's a first year for me not the Crossbill. A significant part of this blog has been removed after a growing concern for a particular animal seen on this trip. This decision has not been taken lightly and it was never my intention to suppress information. This decision is entirely my own and is the best way to ensure the welfare of the animal.

It wasn't long before brain was in gear and I was seeing a few more Crossbills, perhaps six in total but others had seen significantly more. We decided to go down to the raptor point and after parking we started talking to a few people coming back from the point, it was still only 9.20am and they were saying they had seen plenty of Crossbill and Goshawk. The weather conditions were perfect and as the reports of Crossbill were plentiful we walked slowly and quietly up the long path to the viewing point. Nothing, zilch, not a scooby. Where had all the Crossbill gone, well I don't know but they were not showing themselves to me.
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Juvenile Chaffinch, looking like an American G.I
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Sorry about the quality of the image but this Goldcrest was quite a distance away and as they do, moving fast to avoid detection.
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I just love the antics of Tits, especially Coal tits, the speed at which they can fly in, take some seed and be 100s of meters away in seconds is breathtaking.
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Often unnoticed Redpoll are a superb bird.
Steve Farley
Not a bird I see very often but when I go to Foxglove Covert there are hundreds of these mysterious birds. Redpoll and one of those birds that just go unnoticed, even if you hear one. Again sorry about the image quality but I love them and as usual there was a small flock in dense foliage.
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Making quite a noise this Crossbill was hard to miss even though distant.
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Above and below more Crossbill at the top of very tall trees.
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Purple Sandpipers on the seafront at Scarborough.
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The rather splendid Herring Gull above and below. Above the adult gull looking quite dapper and below the Juvenile Looking…well not so dapper.
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Mediterranean Gulls

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I don't usually take that much notice of gulls. I think the main reason is the same reason I don't play golf…I just can't do it. Gulls are difficult to ID, they are frustrating and embarrassing too. You take a photograph, take it home and look at it, get your Helm book of gulls out and open the pages. Page 1 to page 678 contains 3000 photographs of the same gull, this gull flies around the world being photographed in different poses, but it's the same gull and his name is Dave. He makes a fortune, this is Dave with his suntanned legs, red lipstick and old mottled black cap. That's how I remember.
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Med Gulls different life stages all together.
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Tim Jones talk.

Ottenby is a town on the island of Öland, Sweden, located in the parish, Morbylanga
, Municipality in Kalmar County. Ottenby is located just north of the southern tip of Öland, over three miles south of the area's main town, Mörbylånga. I didn't know any of this until I was educated by Tim Jones last night. Tim, showed us images and told us of his exploits in Sweden, birding for a living? Well I don't know that really and I didn't ask, I was already jealous enough.

What I can tell you is that listening to someone so knowledgable and informative, spurs you on, makes you dream of far flung birding lands, and your future in this great pastime. You can follow Tim on Twitter
@timsbirding or the York Ornithological Club and if you are interested in the bird observatory at Ottenby just go to

Want to know more?
The film below was produced to promote birding in the Ottenby area.

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Birding with my wife.

Getting the time to go birding at the weekend can be a struggle sometimes. But if you can get your partner interested in what you do that can be a real bonus for your birding interests. Some of my friends cannot get a pass out every weekend as they have child or family duties. I have to resort to go birding alone or cajole Maureen to go with me.

There was a time when the idea of going birding with Maureen was the stuff of a horror movie as there was no interest. But as the years progress she has taken a great interest in all things wildlife. So today when I said do you fancy going birding, she said yes. This is a great help as when I am driving she can spot the things I need to pull over for. It's also great to spend time doing even more things together. Another bonus is she stops me eating rubbish and keeps me of the kind of foods only a weak me could eat.

We started this morning with a drive to Wheldrake first stopping at bank Island. We surveyed Bank Island however there was very little to be seen. So proceeded to the Storwood and Melbourne areas of York. Up high in the sky we saw a couple of Red Kites and within a few moments they were been mobbed by Crows many meters below where we first saw them. As the Red Kites twisted and turned they spooked approximately 500 Geese which scattered in all directions, after a few minutes the geese landed in a nearby field.

I scanned the flock and saw there was two Egyptian geese, Greylag, Canada and at lease six white fronted. I must admit I do struggle with the identification of some geese so it took me at least fifteen minutes to pick out the white fronted. Then just as I had identified them the whole flock spooked again this time by a Sparrow hawk and that was the last I saw of them.

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Egyptian Geese look like they belong in a horror movie.
Steve Farley
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Amongst the Canada geese, Greylag, Teal and Wigeon were these two Egyptian geese. Like something from another world, Egyptian geese are rather unusual to look at and completely different from anything else in the uk.
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Above is a young Canada goose.
The video shows Mistle Thrush at Bank Island and Egyptian geese in Storwood.
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Magnificent Barn Owl near Melbourne.
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