So day 2 begun, with my first shift. This shift began at 5.00 in the morning, so a 4.00 rising was required. To say it was testing is an understatement, it was really grim. Thankfully the rain had eased, leaving only the wind to contend with. On the way to the hide I passed a singing Sedge Warbler, which was a nice recovery.
I passed by the Tern areas to a chorus of angry adults overhead voicing their discontent at my presence. I met the other warden who was finishing his night shift and settled down for a 5 - 5 shift of watching Little Terns and anything else that may be around. The colony, some 45 pairs strong, is between the sea and a saline pool. On the pool there were the waders that had been brought up to rest by high tide, predominantley Dunlin, Redshank and Grey Plover. One of the latter was in stunning summer plumage, which is a plumage tick for me.
-Grey Plover in Summer Plumage
As the morning wore on the numbers of wading birds began to drop as they moved off into their feeding grounds. It was during this time that I noticed an unusual specimen among the Dunlin. Its bright buff plumage drew me to it, that and the fact that it had no black on its belly. On closer inspection it was also larger than dunlin, and had a longer, curved bill. Could it be that I had found another lifer, curlew sand? I considered it and mentioned it to the warden as one, but I failed to see the white rump so I’m unable to confirm or deny it either way. I checked photos of curlew sand online and have not found a photo of a bird as buff as mine, so I have opted not to call it as one and wait for one with a white rump.
-Mysterious Wader, above the rock
But of course the birds that I was here to watch were the Little Tern. There were at least 7 juveniles and numerous adults. They often flew over the hut on their way between fishing and the colony. I got great views as they moved around the place, sometimes even fishing in the pond in front of me. To say it was only a lifer yesterday they have very quickly become a familiarity in my current line of work.
During the latter part of the morning it got to a stage where my tiredness was beginning to catch up with me. It was a struggle to keep awake, and it was still less than half way through my first shift. However I was awoken from my drowsiness by a small flock of summer plumage Little Gull that flew over the pond, allowing me to get a great view of them coming towards me and grab a few record shots of these lovely birds.
Things frequently slowed down on the pool so I frequently looked out to sea. There were usually some gannets passing by but the highlights of my seawatch were the small groups of Common Scoter that flew past, quickly becoming a regular feature through the day. They were often far out to sea though, so it was difficult to get any decent photos of.
In the dunes themselves there were a few insects around, but due to the wind they were not in excess. The most notable of these was a large orange moth flying around, but it did not land at any point so I was unable to get a clear identification of it. When I came up to it I got a better view of it and when it got trapped in some grass. It was a Garden Tiger Moth, but it did not stay still so I could not get any decent photos, only record shots.
-Garden Tiger Moth
The morning passed and the afternoon drew on. Soon the waders started to come back from their feed and accumulate on the pond. Among them there were a few summer plumage Grey Plover, adding to the one earlier and a few other dubious Dunlin that could have been something else but I was not it a position to comment anyway. I managed another year-tick in the form of a pair of summer plumaged Knot that had mingled in with the waders. It’s the first time I have seen a summer plumage knot, so that was an exciting development in the day.
-Summer Plumage Knot
My shift came and went, and so did I. On my walk back along the beach I had to pass a small group of Dunlin on the beach in front of me. Naturally I wanted to avoid spooking them but it was not going to happen, they had taken up all the space between the terns and the beach. I ended up having to send them up twice as the first time they did not get it that I was going that direction. For all that I managed to get some decent shots of the birds...
When I had almost made it back the Warren, worn and weary, I found another species that required photographing. This time though it was not a bird but a mammal. A Roe Deer was muching grass in the field next to the road. It was very bold and I managed to get some decent shots before it ambled away, seeming pretty careless about my being there.
I headed back to the Warren to grab some dinner. After that I decided to go for a bit of Seawatching, to see if I could find anything. In about an hour I managed a good few Gannets, a couple of Guillemots and a pair of Sandwich Terns, so not overly productive but good practice.
I decided to have a wander around the warren to see what was about and to try and find the pools where the darters were. I headed towards the spit first but soon realised the pools were not that way. There was a Linnet singing from one of the signposts, and I spotted a few Whimbrel along the shoreline, which was my first time in a while seeing them. I continued along the shoreline to try and see if the ponds were behind the hedge, but they were not. I did succeed in flushing a Brown Hare and a Fox though, which definitely counts for something.
I eventually did find the pools in the field behind the Warren. As expected for this time of day there were no dragonflies, but there was a Roe Deer feeding in the long grass, possibly the same one as earlier. Again, it was quite bold too so I was able to get some good shots of it, even though the light was so low.
And as such my first full day at Spurn, and my first working day finished. I was knackered and ended up in bed by 9.30. Looking forward to more of the same tomorrow!
Beacon Ponds: Ringed Plover, Gannet, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern, Dunlin, Little Egret, Meadow Pipit, Shelduck, Little Gull, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Common Scoter, Avocet, Mute Swan, Common Tern, Sedge Warbler, Black-Headed Gull, Swallow, Common Gull, Carrion Crow, Feral Pigeon, Linnet, Swift, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Turnstone, Knot, Garden Tiger, 6 Spot Burnet Moth, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, 22 Spot Ladybird,
Seawatching: Gannet, Swallow, Guillemot, Sandwich Tern, Common Gull, Fulmar, Shelduck, Great Tit, Grey Seal,
Warren Walk: Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Whimbrel, Swallow, Chaffinch, Yellowhammer, Pied Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Roe Deer, Brown Hare, Fox