Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Monday, 25 October 2010

Post Saltholme and on to Bempton RSPB Reserve

Well say my beautiful, funny, exhilerating daughter Rebecca for the evening. An evening of new culinary delights; namely a 'Parmo' - cheese on chicken and a DVD of Terry Gilliam's film Dr Parnassus.

Now I love Gilliam's other films; Baron Munchausen, Time Bandits etc but my favourite is Brazil. The scenes when Sam flies amongst the clouds with those wonderful silver wings. [OK I like the bit with the ribbon too but my Mum might be reading this!]

Great to see 'Rebs' again and I'm very proud of her. Love you Angel.

Next day, Friday, got to Commondale to try to see a rough-legged buzzard. Just missed it when I arrived and then the whole of Saturday was spent doing the same. Well, not quite the same as most of the day was heavy rain. So by dodging the rain sheltering in the village pub, a little birding gave a sprog but no Rough-legged. Oh well. Should see one sometime this winter.

Moved on a good distance on Sunday. In fact cycled 56 miles through hail, rain but with a northerly pushing me first to Whitby [lovely], then Scarborough [likewise] and eventually to Bempton. Now Bempton is one of my favourite reserves. When I was first with my wife so many years ago, we all, that's Karen, the children and myself, used to stay at a caravan near to here so I got to know the area quite well. Now Bempton has a huge chalk cliff for its main habitat and although the nesting birds might have all left, it's still a very impressive sight. Met Jonathan, the information assistant; Nick, the retail manager and Sue, a local volunteer. Nice people one and all. After I'd apologised for being early - three days early! I went out to have the first look from the cliffs. The cold north wind was still blowing but gannets were passing and a good number fo kittiwakes too. Arriving as I did at around 4.00pm I only had an hour or so.

Monday 25th October

Up with the lark and straight down to the cliffs. Keep it short, saw 41 species of bird including my first sooty shearwater of the year [year list 236] and a lapland bunting. Also met a non-typical local birder. Here's the conversation I had when i approached him and I quote :-

"Good morning" [silence] "Anything about?" "Who said you could come in here?" Sorry I didn't know" "You knew you couldn't!" "I didn't. I'm not from around here. Listen to my accent" "Read the notices, ...Private."

At this he turned his back and walked off. Now I'm a friendly chap and all I'd seen was a birder, and according to people I met later they all say that this 'gentleman' is a brilliant birder, and I'd gone up to ask what he'd seen. There were no signs to say that I was indeed out of the RSPB area. Indeed the gate had a notice saying what common hedgerow birds might be seen here. Nothing else. So ended a meeting with the most ignorant and bad mannered birder of the year - allegedly. So I say this to you Terry Nolan. Lighten up and join the human race. Good manners cost nothing and I feel sorry that you feel the need to be so disgusting towards other people. You sad, lonely, little man.

Right I've got that off my chest. there's no need to be like that. I wonder what makes Terry behave so.

Back to the birding.

Enjoyed the walk around the whole of the reserve. Corn buntings and stonechats; a goldcrest in the Dell. Red-throated divers on the sea and dozens of tree sparrows [good fun gently pishing them] at the feeding station.

Met Ian Kendall, the site manager and Allan Dawson who I'd met earlier by a watchpoint. Smashing people.

Off to Flamborough with 4 target birds for the year list. Met Phil Cunningham and Andrew Malley along the Lighthouse road and immeadiately saw a target bird on a telegraph wire. Waxwing! [237]. Lunch in the cafe, thought I deserved a treat, and then seawatched with Phil by the foghorn. Now there weren't many birds but I did find a little gull [238] and a couple of little auks [239], as well as a passing possible glaucous gull. Looked good to me with my Opticron bins but Phil said he could see a small greyish smudge on an inner primary. A number of red-throated divers were on the sea and a couple of great northerns flew past; as did a sandwich tern. Great 3 of the 4 target birds and a growing year list 3 closer to the record.

Phil left as the sun went in and it grew immeadiately much cooler. He was replaced by three birders who went further down the cliff to the famous seawatch ledge, Richard Baines and two Cambridge birders.  Richard Baines gave a donation to the RSPB on the behalf of the Flamborough Bird Observatory [Many thanks for that]. Not a lot of birds moving now but a snow bunting landed on the grass just behind us. Nice.

Sundown and a shortish ride back to Bempton.

Now you may remember Roz savage; she of rowing the Atlantic and Pacific fame, well she has put some words of advice on her latest email message. Check them out -

Reading her emails is always a pleasure and her fortitude has been an inspiration for me over the year.

Thanks to everyone who has been looking at my blog. Seeing who is following me on Twitter and the like is a real motivation and I am very grateful to you all.

Right, time for bed for tomorrow will be another very early seawatch at Flamborough day.

All the best,



  1. That Terry Nolan sounds a right prick! Good to see you kept your cool Gary. I certainly wouldn't have!

  2. Hi there Gary. Can't think of anywhere at Bempton that is private, I know it pretty well. Never come across or heard of Terry but rude behaviour is just unacceptable because it reflects on us all.

    Waxwings in the garden over the last few days (see Louise's photo of today's bird feeding on apples just by the kitchen window on my blog). Louise sends her regards.

    Looks like you're getting closer to the record. Say hello to the Flamborough folk for me, used to be somewhere I watched a fair bit. Hope the weather is treating you well, at least the midge issue should now be a thing of the past ...

  3. I had the same experience with him a few years back whilst looking for a Western Bonelli's Warbler. The fella is a cock of the highest order, don't let it get to you too much mate.

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone. Met Paul Doherty today and you couldn't meet a nicer person. It was amazing to hear a voice I'd heard so many times on DVDs attached to a face. Right now to do a bit of blog to update things.