Thursday, 2 February 2017

Another road trip to Spain planned ... music en Francais & birding en Espana!

Another road trip through France and into Spain beckons and not before time; Had everything gone to plan then I would be there now (lounging about in the south of France somewhere near the Camargue), but my plans started to go pear shaped well before Xmas with an ill advised move to another campsite and then went totally tits up after the new campervan developed seriously bad and expensive engine problems!

France / Spain road trip 2017 - rough outline
Hopefully now though we're all sorted. I'm back at my old site at Fangfoss and the van is behaving quite nicely - It probably needs a long trip to let the new head gasket, water pump and timing belt to settle in and I have just the trip for the old gal!

Nothing is set in stone of course and this is just a rough idea of my likely route based on previous trips but as always I'll follow the weather and the birds, take it easy and enjoy every minute of the journey, especially after a hellish couple of months of stress and trauma in Baggins world.

Unsurprisingly I've not had many opportunities to point my camera lens at very much at all over the New Year, and when I have made the effort the light has never been good enough for decent pics, its been a dank, damp January so far this year. I hung around for 2 hrs in the company of about 50 twitchers hoping to get a glimpse of the York recording area's rarest bird to date - a nice male Pine Bunting at Dunnington (just down the road from me) - no show on that occasion but apparently its still there so I'll try again this week. Best pic to date (courtesy of Josh Jones) of this elusive mega rarity
Pine Bunting, Dunnington, nr York, 22/01/17

Only 50 other UK records of this fine looking bunting but many new records on the continent suggest that it may be on the wander and given their close allegiance to our own Yellowhammer you can be sure I'll be double checking the reasonably decent flocks of the latter I get around Fangfoss (its only 6 miles away as the bunting flies!)

Hen Harrier, undisclosed location, 13/01/17
My only other decent birds in what has been a very fallow month were a flock of 50+ Bramblings roosting on a regular basis at the campsite of hell nr Allerthorpe and a superb male Hen Harrier, again roosting, at an undisclosed location in Yorkshire.

Rarities aside, a few local common birds caught my attention on the odd day that the sun did shine, none less so than these nice Robin shots taken over the Christmas / New Year
European Robin, Fangfoss, 28/12/2016

European Robin, Allerthorpe, 30/12/2016

European Robin, Fangfoss, 28/12/2016

European Robin, Fangfoss, 28/12/2016
European Robin, Fangfoss, 28/12/2016
A team day out with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at Spurn Point was bracing and good fun, short on birds but this shoreline Golden Plover was a good 'un.
Golden Plover, Spurn, 14/12/2016
 Not much to shout about on my work patch at Askham Bog with both Siskin and Redpoll numbers way down on last year but this little Goldcrest was entertaining as I shivered in the cold
Goldcrest, Askham Bog, 31/12/2016
Siskin, Askham Bog, 02/01/2017
Just an isolated bunch within a big flock of Skylarks flying over my local fields around Fangfoss but they made a nice shape!
Common Skylarks, Fangfoss, 29/11/2016
Male Stonechat, Strensall Common, 10/01/2017
 And lastly, a nice male Stonechat on a different part of Strensall Common than is usual - they cling on there and maybe this is a another prospective breeding site.

So its onwards to France later on this month for a long overdue catch up with these guys - my sis, partner Mark and no doubt various other musos and reprobates.
Beyond the Gap promo pic, May 2012
Crikey, nearly 5 years since that pic was taken - how time flies, but age is no barrier when it comes to music, I can still strut my stuff and looking forward to doing a bit of this while I'm over there ...

Beyond the Gap live, Fargasso (french pyrenees), 09/07/2012

  After that I'll head south into Spain for a bit of this...

Short Toed Eagle over the Straits of Gibralter, 02/03/2015

and a bit of this too ...
Miles away from it all in my old Tranny, Belchite steppes, Nov 2013
That van was ace, looked great, went anywhere and felt solid. I don't feel quite the same about my newly acquired T4 but maybe I'll feel differently if it gets me there and back in one piece and without any further serious inroads into my bank balance! Hmm .. we'll see!