Trip Report: Great Britain, June 5-23, 1998

Marietta Deming, Charleston IL, USA;

This is a short report of my trip to Great Britain, June 5-23, 1998. A major purpose of the trip was to see as many "common" birds as possible, so I made no effort to chase rarities. In planning the trip I received invaluable assistance from several chatters. Allan Reese, Joan Thompson, Duncan Ritchie, Paul Doyle, David Kelley, and Urs Geiser and his web page of trip reports. I will use the British names for all birds.

Upon arriving at Gatwick I picked up my rental car and plowed forth on the "wrong" side of the road headed for Dungeness. On the way the first birds for GB were either Carrion Crows or Rooks, I did not know, and still cannot tell the difference on the wing. I got to Dungeness to find it cold and very windy. Never-the-less, I saw Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Starling, House Sparrow, Linnet (actually seen at Rye Harbor), Kestrel, Dunnock, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Swift, Oystercatcher, Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Blackbird, Greylag Goose, Cormorant, Common Tern, Mute Swan, Mallard, Herring Gull, Canada Goose, Little Gull, Hen Harrier, Magpie, Great-crested Grebe, Woodpigeon, Stonechat, Whitethroat, feral Rock Doves, and Collard Dove. At my B&B that evening I added Jackdaws. The next morning before breakfast I was out birding the yard of the B&B (it was way out in the Kent countryside) when I spotted a female Golden Oriole! I could hardly believe it, but the B&B lady was very casual about them; saying "Oh yes, they nest here."

My next port of call was Elmley RSPB. There I added Grey Heron, Shelduck, Black-winged stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing (what a beautiful bird), Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank. Also added were Skylark, Yellow Wagtail (both the flavissima race of Britain and the grey-blue headed iberiae race of Spain) and Reed Bunting.

On Sunday June 7, I went with the St Albans RSPB group to Strumshaw Fen where new birds were piled on each other. I added: Little Grebe, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pochard, Marsh Harrier (two pair) Sparrowhawk, Hobby (four of them!) Stock Dove, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Cetti's Warbler (saw two) Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit (a very unsatisfactory look at the latter) and Chaffinch.

Monday June 8 added very few birds to the list as I drove to Scotland, and I cannot drive in the rain and look for birds. But before breakfast I finally saw my first Robin.

The next two days were focused on some family genealogy research so I saw few new birds. But I saw my only Buzzard, first House Martin and two Grey Partridges walking down the road as if they owned it, and a Pied Wagtail in the yard of a house that had family connections 100 years ago. I also saw some Red-breasted Mergansers in the firth.

The next significant birding day was Friday, June 12. I took the bus to Cramond, near Edinburgh. Got there at low tide and added the Curlew to my list and saw many of the water-related birds that I had already seen elsewhere.

On Saturday, June 13 I drove over the Moors in Durham County down through the Dales of North Yorkshire. Birds added were: Red Grouse, Meadow Pipit, Jay, Greenfinch, and Mistle Thrush.

Sunday June 14, I again drove through a village were part of my family used to live (again 100 years ago). There I got my first Yellowhammer (good photos too!) and Tree Sparrow. I stopped in at Filey to look at the cliffs where I added: Razorbill, Puffin, Little Auk (only one), Kittiwake, Fulmar and Guillemot. That evening Allan Reese took me out "Owling" near his home north of Hull, where I added: Song Thrush (in Allan's front garden), Woodcock, and an immature Tawny Owl. The next morning, June 15, we headed for Bempton Cliffs where I saw lots and lots of Gannets, also Goldfinch, and Willow Warbler. Finally at Bridlington we added: Common Eider (a bunch of motley looking birds in strange plumage), a Pink-footed Goose and Shag. Also saw a Goldeneye that day.

On June 16 I visited Titchwell RSPB and Cley Reserve. It was COLD with intermittent rain at both places, but still I added the Green Sandpiper, Little Tern, and Teal at Titchwell, and a Bittern at Cley. Then added a Siskin that evening at my B&B near Minsmere.

June 17 was to be devoted to Minsmere but the rain came in the afternoon. Never-the-less I added: Spotted Redshank, Bearded Tit, Mediterranean Gull and Sand Martins.

This left some significant "holes" in my bird sightings, but that was taken care of on Monday June 22 by Joan Thompson. She looked at my list of birds and added significantly to it. I added: Green Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Ruddy Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Kingfisher (he was glorious), Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit (one of my most wanted birds), Bullfinch and Corn Bunting.

The total number of species seen was 114 with 75 of these new life birds. There were no birds that I saw every day, although Starlings and House Sparrows came close. Before the trip I had intended to go up to Speyside, but quickly realized (with advice) that going to the Scottish highlands was unrealistic for the time frame, so I cut that from the trip. I had some to much rain on all but two days, but it did not significantly interfere with my birding activities. If you would like more detail about any portion of this trip, please write.

Return to trip reports.

This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; July 10, 1998