Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Lower Derwent Valley ramble at Xmas

Yeah yeah yeah, a very merry Christmas to all ..... I'm looking forward to the social but have to say everything else is just way way OTT for me!

Here's another celebration and one which gladdens my heart no end ... as of today we get more daylight hours, hurragh! 'Bout time too and if more needs to be said then nature itself spoke today with glorious sunlight and 1 extra minute of it!

I was out and about in the Lower Derwent Valley (LDV) to soak it all up along with approximately 4000 Wigeon, lots more ducks, 50 or so Whooper Swans a hoopin and a passing Peregrine a preyin!

LDV flood plains at Ellerton
The 2 villages of Ellerton and Aughton and their respective churches are 2 of the best spots for viewing the flood plains of the LDV

LDV flood plains at Ellerton

Whooper Swans, LDV, 23/12/15

The Whoopers were distant but present and correct and in their usual haunts, no Berwick's Swans ..maybe they'll come in the next cold snap (if we even have one!). Here's an opportunistic long distant shot that more or less came out ok.

At some point some local shooting put up just about every wild duck and goose in the entire place (the Whoopers couldn't be bothered ...shame 'cos you can't beat a good wild swan in flight shot!).

2nd prize ... a great Wigeon 3some!
Wigeon, LDV, 23/12/15
Golden Plover, LDV, 23/12/15
A single Barnacle Goose in amongst the Greylags was noteworthy, as was a count of 75 Shelduck on the river bank at Ellerton. In amongst the many Lapwings (c1500) there were some sizeable groups of Dunlin (I reckoned c70 in total), a possible Ruff and about 100 Golden Plover - good to see but numbers are way down from the flocks of 2000+ I remember a couple of decades ago.

Golden Plover, LDV, 23/12/15
I was half expecting it with all those birds up in the air but wasn't quite ready for a swift and close Peregrine fly by ... it was a big 'un!

Peregrine Falcon, LDV, 23/12/15

Peregrine Falcon, LDV, 23/12/15
Common Kestrel, LDV, 23/12/15
Compared to that big docker above this Kestrel seems dwarfed but for the 30 minutes or so I spent at Aughton church watching the comings and goings, this little thing remained in situ perched .. waiting for a meal to appear from below

Common Kestrel, LDV, 23/12/15
He won't be interested in Turkey or mince pies but lets hope he nabs an extra vole or 2 on Christmas Day because he sure wasn't having much luck today!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Long Monday!

I promised a bit of music on the new blog and since the weather has been close to diabolical over the past day or so this is the result of near on 2 days spent indoors investigating windows movie maker (erm other movie making software is available!) .... my cover of 'Long Monday' by John Prine, in pictures and with good mate Rob on cahon!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Around Scrayingham: A saxon church on the flood plain and a good day for landscapes

One of the few bright mornings of late and a glorious walk around Scrayingham Woods brought me a half decent picture of a Redwing and some nice landscapes ....

Flood plain at Scrayingham, N.Yorks. 02/12/15
Lying in the shadow of the Yorkshire Wolds and right next to the River Derwent, much of the land here is low lying and judging by the water level in the river the flood plain will soon be doing its job

River Derwent at Scrayingham. 02/12/15

Scrayingham Church

The church at Scrayingham (St Peter & St Paul) has recently been dated back to the 7th century and of Saxon origin (more info here). George Hudson, a Victorian pioneer of the railways and son of York is buried here and situated just a few metres from the banks of the river its an impressive landmark.

Plenty of birds about but nothing spectacular ... Nuthatch, Marsh Tit and around 15 or so Bullfinches being the standouts along with of course many flocks of winter thrushes. Here's my Redwing...damn shame about that twig but its typical of the pose!

Still looking for that elusive full frame Redwing pic with no twigs in the way!

These last few are from my last trip out with Mark P around the River Idle (see last post) ... landscapes and a couple of the old codger himself!

Frustratingly this was just about the best light of an otherwise dull and squally day and you sense the moisture in the air under those leaden skies ...

Around the River Idle. 18/11/15

Around the River Idle. 18/11/15

Mark P surveys the scene. River Idle. 18/11/15

River Idle again


Monday, 30 November 2015


After 4 plus years I've decided to call time on this blog. Its been great fun and I'm not about to stop posting about my stuff  - I did think about it but I've got the blogging bug now and its a wonderful way of recording and sharing ones experiences. Here's the link to the new Blog

BAGGINS ON THE LOOSE - my brand new Blog

Grey geese and Starling flocks

A tramp around the fields nr the river Idle (S. Yorks/ N Notts) with top mate Mark P, kicks off the new blog - pretty much the same format but with a slight change of emphasis - I'm looking to get more into video footage and whilst my wildlife experiences in both the UK and abroad will be the major focus, I'll be giving up some room for a bit of music too. All my old posts dating back to 2011 remain available here Old Posts

No wild goose chase this, we knew exactly what we were doing, but there sure was a lorra lorra geese! Mainly of the Pink Footed variety and none of the rarer like Bean or White Fronted but the sheer numbers in some of these fields was good to see (wonder what the farmers think?) - here's 3 of an estimated 1500!

bagginsontheloose, flight, geese
Pink Footed Geese, Idle Valley. 18/11/15
a few more....
Pink Footed Geese, Idle Valley. 18/11/15

and here on the deck with some heavily outnumbered Whooper Swans of which there were a mere 30 or so all told

bagginsontheloose, winter, swans, geese, fields
Pink Footed Geese and Whoopers, Idle Valley. 18/11/15
Just as numerous on the day and indeed right across the UK at the moment is the humble Starling. There's many a 'murmeration' to be had and in this neck of the woods Potteric Carr nr Doncaster is a good bet for a good evening roost experience. This flock of maybe a 1000 or so however were on a local pig farm and getting well stuck in to the porker's feed!
Starling flock, Idle Valley. 18/11/15

Starling flock, Idle Valley. 18/11/15

Fieldfares coming into roost, Idle Valley. 18/11/15

Northern thrushes in evidence too with circa 400 Fieldfares and half as many Redwings. Always skittish but these Fieldfares coming into roost made a pleasant image even though the light was pants!

So, lots and lots of Pink Footed Geese, Starlings, Redwings and Fieldfares, just 4 of the 60 or so bird species that choose to spend their winters in the relatively mild climes of the UK. So where've they all come from dude?

Pink Footed Geese arrive here in their thousands from their breeding grounds in the Arctic circle, mainly Greenland, Iceland and Spitzbergen.

Starlings breed here in the UK of course but our own population is massively swelled in the winter by migrants from Scandinavia

Fieldfares breed widely in western continental Europe but the vast majority of our winter visitors come from Scandinavia and north west Russia. A handful of pairs sometimes breed in Scotland.

Redwing, Fairburn Ings. Dec 2012
Redwings have a similar breeding range to Fieldfares, again with a very small and dwindling Scottish population, but interestingly they have a strong Icelandic population and many of our wintering visitors come from here as well as Scandinavia.

Been quite a while since I've managed a good Redwing pic and had to trawl the old blog for this one there's a challenge for the next few months!

Starling, Fangfoss. 20/11/15
Starlings are somewhat easier of course and close up they really are beautiful birds, especially caught in good light.

This is one of many that are roving around my local patch here in Fangfoss. Maybe not quite as 'glossy' looking in their winter plumage, its undeniably smart and this one reminded me of a similarly posed bird I took a picture of in the Algarve a couple of years ago but that was a Spotless Starling, the species that takes over from our own in southern Europe... spot the difference?!
Spotless Starling, Algarve. 03/13

 Oh to be in the Algarve right now, with the rain pelting down on my caravan and the wind playing havoc with the awning, I'm tempted to book a flight right now!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Hunting Kestrels, Ring Ouzels and first winter thrushes in at Flamborough,

Got some great pics of hunting Kestrels the other day whilst I was scouring the hedges and bushes at Flamborough for migrant warblers. Bright morning sunshine always helps but with a family party of 4 that were continually stooping for prey along the cliffs I couldn't fail!
Common Kestrel, Flamborough, 06/10/15

Common Kestrel, Flamborough, 06/10/15
Common Kestrel, Flamborough, 06/10/15

Common Kestrel, Flamborough, 06/10/15

A little trickier once the birds were against the cliff-side but one or two came out well including this one -

raptor, bird of prey, bird, timbobagginsabroad
Common Kestrel, Flamborough, 06/10/15
Much easier against the sky and the sea, and of course a good hovering Kestrel pic is a must for the collection and these are some of the best I've ever managed. At least 3 distinctly different individuals here including one which appears to have a chunk missing from its wing ... didn't seem to affect its flying ability however.

Common Kestrel, Flamborough, 06/10/15
Common Kestrel, Flamborough, 06/10/15

Common Kestrel, Flamborough, 06/10/15
Common Kestrel, Flamborough, 06/10/15

Common Kestrel, Flamborough, 06/10/15
Ring Ouzel, Buckton, 06/10/15

I failed abysmally to see any of the dozen or so Yellow Browed Warblers that were present on the headland but to my credit I did see a Barred Warbler (hopeless pic unless you like hawthorn bushes!) and there were passage thrushes everywhere, especially further up the coast at Buckton (adjacent to Bempton RSPB -  mainly Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, the odd Redwing, 3 Fieldfare and the undoubted highlights - 5 Ring Ouzels. Damn difficult to get close but a passing Sparrowhawk flushed one and enabled me to get some half decent 'in flight' shots.

Ring Ouzel, Buckton, 06/10/15

Very reminiscent of our common or garden Blackbird, Ring Ouzels are a tad bigger, males sport a distinctive white crescent across their breast and they have silvery grey wings. Fab birds, they breed in mountainous, hilly regions (there's a healthy population in the NY Moors) most of these however are likely to have come in from central Europe. Some excellent info here if you want to know more about these birds - Ring Ouzels


Ring Ouzel, Buckton, 07/10/15

Ring Ouzel, Buckton, 06/10/15

Ring Ouzels, Buckton, 06/10/15

Fieldfare, Buckton, 06/10/15

I got lucky with the Fieldfares I think - they just appeared after a bit of mizzle and then flew off south. To my knowledge, although there have been a few at Spurn, these are possibly the first records this Autumn for Flamborough.

Footnote re the Ring Ouzels - the next day and well tuned into their call, I had another of these birds at Fangfoss, no pic sadly but a mega record and the 80th species for my local patch. Well done me!

and here's that bush with a Barred Warbler in it - I think maybe I should stick to photographing Kestrels!

Barred Warbler, Flamborough, 06/10/15
Barred Warbler, Flamborough, 06/10/15

Saturday, 26 September 2015

September ins and outs down my way, young swallows venture south and the finches move in.

September .. the summer crops are gathered in and wild flowers are blooming their last. Nights are drawing in, temperatures are dropping, cricket's days are done and rugby takes centre stage, and small birds of many species are moving south .....


Almost all of the Swallows around Fangfoss Park have now departed, slightly earlier than last year when I had good numbers well into the last week of September and then the odd late straggler into the first week of October. Their long and often hazardous flight down to sub Saharan Africa must be a daunting one for all this year's young ones and, although many other birds undertake the self same amazing journey, there is something endearingly magical about the annual departure of these vulnerable looking wee birds.

birds, wildlife, timbobagginsabroad
Barn Swallow, Strensall Common, 10/09/15 

These youngsters were 2 of many that were massing together on Strensall Common a couple of weeks ago and obviously getting ready to go. They'll be well on their way now, their journey time south to Africa is a lot more leisurely than the dash back north in the Spring and these 2 can be reasonably confident of catching flies under South African skies within a couple of months but my they look so fragile!

Barn Swallow, Strensall Common, 10/09/15

timbobagginsabroad, yorkshire
Blackcap, Fangfoss, 21/09/15

Departure time from Europe for many other birds too, including many warblers using the UK as a convenient stop off point and feeding station. The many hedgerows around my local patch here in Fangfoss have held many Willow Warblers, ChiffChaffs, Whitethroats and Blackcaps over the past few weeks and even a couple of Lesser Whitethroats ... sadly not able to photograph the latter but as with my Whinchat of a couple of weeks ago a welcome new species for the area.

Willow Warbler, Fangfoss, 22/09/15

Spotted Flycatchers bred here this year and this may be one of the youngsters but could equally be another individual on passage ... it was in amongst a roving group of tits and warblers.

Spotted Flycatcher, Fangfoss, 15/09/15
Lesser Redpoll, Fangfoss, 21/09/15

There's a lot of fruit laden hedgerows around the countryside at the moment and all worthy of a look if you're looking for migrants (and I don't mean Syrians!). Just as the warblers, chats and flycatchers feed up on this seasonal feast before heading south, other birds are arriving on our shores either to stay or in transit - Blackbirds, Robins and assorted finches have all increased in numbers of late and a small flock of Lesser Redpolls in amongst the more numerous Goldfinches is a sure sign of the changing season ...

Lesser Redpoll, Fangfoss, 21/09/15
Goldfinch, Strensall Common,

timbobagginsabroad, birds, yorkshire

No Redwings or Fieldfares have made it this far inland as yet but a steady increase in Blackbird numbers, like this one gorging on Elderberries.

Good to see some healthy flocks of Lapwings back in the fields too ...

Lapwings, Fangfoss, 15/09/15
I'm glad my Aug 24th Honey Buzzard sighting finally made it onto the Flamborough bird observatory site here - It was the highlight of my day too, even though I had to study the pictures before I realised what it was!

Back here in the Yorkshire Wolds our own Common Buzzards seem to go from strength to strength with up to 8 in my immediate vicinity.

Common Buzzard, Fangfoss, 16/09/15

Common Buzzard, Fangfoss, 16/09/15

Lucky shot of this one calling as it swept past me!

Almost certainly I'll be heading out to the coast soon to catch some more visible migration ... maybe an October trip out to Spurn when the winter thrushes start coming in, but in truth I'm more than happy walking the lanes and hedgerows of my own patch!