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Filey Brigg, Scarborough.

Our last time out before our second lockdown, where do you fancy going Phil asked, anywhere warm said Steve. Well Phil assured me, even guaranteed, it would be dry, perhaps a little blustery he said! Now I trust Phil, but his face said one thing and I could hear his brain saying "you're gonna get wet, very wet you lightweight". When we arrived in the car park it was a little windy, I opened the boot of the car and the wind got hold of some of the contents and before you could blink they were fifty metres away.

As we walked down towards the beach the skys opened up and that rare old thing the sun started to show itself and within ten minutes we had the images below.
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The kestrel was hunting all the time that we were there, the walk down to the brigg and the whole walk back took a couple of hours and this little master of the sky was hunting the whole time.
Don't walk on the rocks, there very very slippy my mind said, I'm fine said my brain.
Steve stupid Farley
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I don't know the history of Filey Brigg but I've always remembered it right from my childhood. As a child it was one of those forbidden places, "don't go down there, the tide will cut you off and you'll have to be rescued". You could see the waves crashing on the rocks, a frightening place, a place you didn't really want to go, even though you all know at the age of 9 "I was actually Superman".

As we got closer we could see the Rock Pipits above our heads, skittish and loud. Different Gulls, Black Backed, Black Headed and those you're not quite sure about. Cormorants sunbathe on the rocks as Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones and even Pigeons forage below their feet.

As you look at the sun, the surf and the beauty of the birds, people's voices linger in the air as your legs start doing a Linford Christie animated run in mid air and you hit the rock, your whole body paralysed with pain as onlookers say "stupid man" Ooo the joys of birding.
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Scarborough Waxwings and much more

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Beep Beep that was the rare bird text alert from Birdguides, it's 4:55pm 22/12/2019 more waxwings in Scarborough…Fantastic. Phil would be at mine at 6:30am in the morning and there was a very good chance we would see this beautiful enigmatic visitor to our shores. To be fair they have been long stayers but many many birders were making the trip for nothing. The Waxwings were in a residential area which always bothers me because not all residents are that tolerant of birders parking outside their homes, even if parked perfectly legally and with consideration.

We arrived in Scarborough about 7:45am and as we approached the area we could see a group of birders with cameras and scopes. I pulled up outside a house and immediately the door opened, oh dear. Are you birdwatchers asked the lady, yes I replied, do you mind if I park here for a while? No problem came the answer, a very big smile went in her direction. What is the bird you are looking at? A Waxwing! A what? Came the reply. I decided to show her a picture of the Waxwing on my phone. Wow she said, would you like a cup of tea? Err you're not going to get me in the house and murder me are you? People are not usually this nice to strange men who park outside their homes. She laughed out loud and asked questions about birds, what a fantastic lady.

Other people were telling us that they were seen half an hour ago but no sign now! Marvellous. We soon tracked them down but they were very mobile and quite high up in the main. We walked down a few side streets towards the edge of a park and soon we were back on track. And as if by magic they all landed in a tree in a garden about 100 meters away. Many many people both individuals and families came over to talk to the strange people with cameras and scopes, they were all inquisitive and perfectly nice, what a great start to the day.

Thank you to the friendly people of Crossgates, Scarborough for tolerating the invasion, and I don't mean the Waxwings.
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Majestic in the sunshine, the Waxwings look down at all the strange birders
We eventually left Crossgates in Scarborough and went down to the harbour area after a full English breakfast in a cafe. It's a hard life trudging the country in search of wildlife!

It was cold, very cold and we weren't that hopeful that we would see much but we found a pair of Red Throated divers not too far out. I love these birds, not so red throated in the winter, more black and white in fact, but non the less amazing. The cold temperatures wouldn't bother this Loon much as it breeds in the Arctic.
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Below: Cormorant sunning itself in the freezing conditions. These are almost always overlooked, Oh its just a Cormorant you hear people say, but just look, is it really just a Cormorant? Or should it be Wow a Cormorant?

We also saw the usual couple of Purple Sandpiper among the rocks but last time I climbed up the wall I fell and smashed my camera in front of quite a few people. I've never felt so stupid, although I have looked just as stupid many times.

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The complete scientific name of 'our' cormorant is Phalacrocorax carbo (Linnaeus 1758). It appears black at a distance, but closer inspection reveals that the individual feathers have a green-blue sheen bordered with black, which produces a scale-like effect. The cormorant has broad, webbed feet, a rather long neck and a large, strong bill with a sharp hook at its end. In summer, adults show white patches on the face and a neat circular patch on the flanks. Immature birds are more brownish-black and most have a whitish belly in particular in their first year of life.
Wykeham Forest is among the largest forests managed by Forestry England and it's in Scarborough too. Within moments of leaving your car you are transported into a world of wildlife. We parked at Bakers Warren overlooking the vast valley of Langdale. Leave the car and walk east and you are in Treecreeper, Crossbill and Goldcrest country immediately. There are plenty of other birds and wildlife here too. Raptors can be seen here all year round, Buzzards, Peregrine, even Osprey and Honey Buzzard make an appearance from time to time. We saw this Treecreeper and Goldcrest within a minute of leaving the car.
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The Treecreeper is one of those birds that is hard to spot but once you do you can't keep your eyes off. It will walk up a tree trunk and down a tree trunk upside down. It's one of only a few birds that can walk upside down feeding on the grubs and insects it finds under and on the bark. If you want to know a little more and what it sounds like use the link below.
Tweet of the Day, Treecreeper - BBC Radio 4
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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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