Saturday 21 September 2019

Louth and Lincolnshire 2019

Aug 2019

 I arrived on the hottest day ever recorded in the UK (38.7C or 101.66F) and the same day Boris Johnson became prime minister.
My first night was spent at the White Hart Hotel St Albans built circa 1470, unfortunately the only hotel in town without air-conditioning. Next mornings newspaper headlines included "roads melt like chocolate and tracks buckle"
Experts say that Britain can expect more and more erratic weather systems, as if it wasn't cloudy and wet enough already!

Before I go on any overseas trip I try to contact some of the birding friends most of who I have met through the online group Birding Pals. It might be the best $10 you'll ever spend.
 See link for more info
 Birding Pals
Before I leave I check Facebook and especially Twitter feeds as they provide plenty of good information about local bird sightings. Also most counties have bird clubs who are also a valuable source of information.

 This time I touched bases with Steve and John to see if they had any ideas about what birds might be around. Last year they generously introduced me to a number of their local hotspots. The other thing I decided to do was go with just one bag of clothes, one bridge camera and a toothbrush. I took the Nikon P1000 24mm-3000mm.

My UK life list is a modest 167 so with a possible 500 plus species it stood to reasons there should be plenty of opportunity to pick-up a lifer or two.
Both John and Steve have 500 plus UK life lists and many amazing stories about chasing birds. Last year on the way to Spurn Point National Nature Reserve near Hull I sat in the backseat listening to epic twitches to the Channel and the Orkney Islands.

 I knew I wouldn't have time to bird much and as it turned out I hardly birded at all. Family always takes precedent, Dad is 93 so precious moments spent with him are all important. One day we drove to seaside and parked overlooking the North Sea, drank tea, read the newspaper and watched the birds on the beach. Offshore a few Northern Gannets flew past while on the shore Oystercatchers dodged holiday makers and their pesky dogs.
 On one cloudy morning on the way to pick-up the newspaper the sky was dotted with Swifts. The Goldfinche, my favourite bird flitted along the hedgerows, two great sightings before breakfast.

Nikon P1000


After shaking off the effects of jet lag my younger brother Roger took me out to Red Hill Nature Reserve, a small tract of land left to its own design. I spend a blissful afternoon there listening to the  Yellowhammers calling and a Common Whitethroat collecting food for her brood. It was a perfect English afternoon.

More about the Lincolnshire Wolds

A few miles out of town is Red Hill Nature Reserve a chalky outcrop with a unique display of flowers and butterflies.

The area comprises 1.6 hectares (4 acres) of steep chalk escarpment grassland with some scrub and 1.6 hectares of old plateau grassland, and a disused quarry with a famous exposure of Red Chalk which is rich in fossils, particularly belemnites and brachiopods. Below the Red Chalk there is a considerable thickness of Carstone, here a coarse, pebbly sandstone, and above it a thin capping of the white Lower Chalk.

                                                                            Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust

Large Heath (Coenonympha tullia)

View from Red Hill
 Lincolnshire Wolds
Nikon P1000

Common Knapweed
(Centaurea nigra)

Peacock (Aglais io)

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Dad lives on the edge of town where there are a good number of Wood Pigeons, where Blackbirds sing all night long and Rooks sits atop chimney pots. Any of those birds would set off a stampede were they to turn up in Vancouver.
 Around Louth's church were the unmistakable sounds of Swifts (Apus apus) At first the birds were scattered across the sky, flying low as the church's spire became enveloped in mist. Eventually twenty of more flew in perfect formation before splaying out in all directions. Their calls rang out louder than ever as they skimmed over the row houses. What an amazing spectacle, indelibly etched in my birding memory bank. My guess is most were recently fledged, fattening up for the long migration to Central Africa.

View from Red Hill
Common Whitethroat

It is a summer visitor and passage migrant, with birds breeding widely, although it avoids urban and mountainous areas. It winters in Africa, south of the Sahara.

Previously widespread across Britain, yellowhammers are now on the "red list" of birds who are now a "conservation concern"

Finally I visited Frampton RSVP and spotted a Ringed Plover, a cousin of the Little Ringed Plover, which until I entered it into eBird didn't realize was a lifer. The other life was the Turtle Dove, the second of the trip.
Familiarity is the word here, I marvel at all the birds whenever I visit somewhere new and there really is something magical about that.
So until next time.. good birding.

"Better late than never"
John Gordon
BC Canada


  1. While searching the internet I encouterd your blog John. I was impressed with your blogs and photos so your blog is in my list of blogs I follow. Hope to see more of your observations in the future.
    Regards from Belgium

  2. Your photos are really like works of art! beautiful especially the yellowhammer!