Thursday, 10 July 2014

Spurn Day 1

So having found myself possibly the greatest summer job going, the time came for me to depart to Spurn and become a Little Tern Warden. The public transport was pretty smooth, all went well and I arrived at Hull in good time to meet the reserve warden. Once I arrived in Hull the heavens opened and the rain did not cease all day.
But never mind! The drive to spurn passed through some lovely villages and some intensive agriculture. Due to the rain it was difficult to get a real feel for the environment but it felt reasonably pleasant. We picked up Stock Dove and Yellowhammer on the drive, getting me off to a good start for the trip.
I arrived on site and was given an hour to settle down and grab some lunch. I am staying in the Warren, which is spurn’s on site accommodation. Once I had settled down I was shown around, including the ringing hut, with photos of stunning birds from the past. I was given the chance to try and identify them all, but failed pretty miserably; hopefully I will not find any of those species in the field…
After a short tour I was taken by the warden to one of the marsh sites, from there we would head over to see where the tern hut was. I managed to make a great impression by leaving my bins back at the accommodation. What a way to make an impression!
Once we had recovered that situation we came to the wetland and entered the hide there. There was another local birder in the hide there already who had been there for some time. Even as we walked in he alerted us to the presence of a handful of Little Gulls that had just dropped in with the Black-Headed Gulls. Following that he then preceded to find a Yellow Legged Gull on the bank. So that’s two species of gull I am barely familiar with within the first few minutes of birding.
The rain continued to fall, with increasing intensity but there remained decent numbers of birds on the scrape. A small group of Shoveler flew in, as did a lone Avocet and a few Black-Tailed Godwit. So far I managed to contribute zilch to these findings and was beginning to feel a little lost in it all. Thankful, rescue was at hand when my eyes wandered and I noticed a small wading bird with an obvious white rump land on one of the more obscure pools. It was a Green Sandpiper, one of my moments of triumph to say the least. Sadly I could not get a great view but the white rump and dark colour alone told me enough. Also on the scrape were a few Arctic Terns, and Sandwich Terns, the former of which I had hardly seen until this year and now they I had seen them on 3 separate occasions.
After a little while and a relent in the rain we carried on round, picking up Golden Plover and more Curlew that had been flushed from the field. There was a viewing screen along the way and from there I spotted a Little Egret and Paul pointed out a Greenshank. We then carried on round to overlook the pool where I will be working from tomorrow. It certainly seems nice enough but the weather was very misleading. Fortunately there were decent birds on here including Cormorant, Little Egret and Dunlin. But the real birds on here were of course the Little Terns which we just visible on the far side of the lake. It was difficult to make out any features except for their small size. Fortunately I will be able to get some great encounters with them tomorrow when I monitor them.
We headed back from the lake and back to the Warren. I was given then afternoon off so decided to go to the Seawatching hide behind the Warren to see what was about on there. I spent about 75 mins in the hide in total, picking up very little in all honesty. The first thing I saw was a Grey Seal which stuck its big roman nose out of the water like some kind of shark fin. On the bird front there was a squad of 6 Gannets, followed by a further 2 later. The highlight was a small raft of Common Scoter, but it was difficult to make out any features because they were so far out and the weather was so poor. Alas that it should be so rainy. A few terns also passed by, including 4 Arctic and 2 Sandwich, and a Common Gull drifted past a couple of times. So for the weather conditions it worked out alright really.
-Arctic Tern
-Common Gull
And that was the end of the days outings, a pretty decent first day, with plenty to write home about, if not the weather. However, I now have a 5am start tomorrow for tern watching. Bring it on…

Species List:
Driving: Yellowhammer, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Swallow, Black-Headed Gull
Kilnsea Marsh: Yellow-Legged Gull, Little Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Arctic Tern, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, Little Egret, Kittywake, Green Sandpiper, Black-Tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Dunlin, Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Avocet, Shoveler, Curlew, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher
Seawatching: Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Gannet, Common Scoter, Common Gull, Oystercatcher, Swallow, Arctic Tern, Black-Headed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Linnet, Grey Seal, Rabbit


  1. Brilliant read Daniel. Great stuff and some nice birds. Keep up the good work and enjoy !!!

  2. Cracking job there mate! If you get chance check out a band playing at Westmere Farm on Saturday night, called Shiznitz, good fun. We can't make it but have seen them before. Andy Gibson will have details.

    1. I will have a look but I think I'm doing the night shift on Saturday so dunno if I will be to make it

  3. I'm green with envy, what a job!

  4. Well done with the job ,,,one of the best,, keep an eye out for Essex skipper...and keep us all posted,,,brilliant