Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Spurn Day 21 - LIFER ALERT

Today has been a quiet but exceptional day. I returned from the nightshift utterly grounded by my virus, crashed and went to bed. Upon my awakening I decided to not go out birding but to stay in bed in the hope that some rest would help clear me up for the days ahead. It was a quiet days birding anyway, with nothing much reported in.
At around 4.30 I decided that rather than waste the whole day I would go and do a little sea-watching. I was joined by Tim, and we watched the good old sea for about half an hour. It was pretty quiet. I managed to spot 2 Skuas, probably arctic but difficult to tell for the distance, and Tim found a couple of Arctic Terns. Nothing exceptional, but about 2 mins after Tim had left a juvenile Kittywake dropped in, so that made it a bit more interesting, something different.
I headed down to make some tea and to settle down in preparation for the evening ahead. Another birder, called Adam, was also staying in the Warren and he came in around 7.00 to get some stuff and said that a couple of guys were Seawatching, and that a black tern had been spotted further north and that it should be here within half an hour.
Black tern or no, any birding would be better than lounging round, so after dinner I headed up. All my days, Adam is the best birder I have ever birded with. He had birds all over the shop. In fairness, during our 90 min seawatch I did not do too badly, with a Yellow Wagtail, Fulmar and a couple of flyby Sanderling to my name. I have no idea where these birds came from, but Adam found Black-Tailed Godwit, Manx Shearwater, an immature Mediterranean Gull (My first of this age and at Spurn) and most importantly the Black Tern itself.
It’s almost August and I have finally managed to get one of my target lifers this year, finally. When a large flock of Common Terns flew past I naturally gave them a once over and then went back to my searching. I clearly overlooked the immature Black Tern among them, but such was my shock when Adam announced it that I nearly sent my scope flying in order to get a view. I did manage a view, but not a good one, as the bird had already past me when Adam spotted it. I got around 3 seconds of viewing before the bird was gone, but it was clear to see the dark upperside and generally stockier body compared to the Common Terns it was with. No record photos, sadly, as the whole thing happened very quickly and I opted to watch the bird rather than photograph it. But I can now finally tick this species, my 20 LIFER this year.
Buzzing from that, and the other stuff, I headed back to the warren to prep for the nightshift. The birds on the ponds consisted of the usual crowd, but I re-located the Avocet chicks this evening, their being dragged all over by their parents. They had grown far more than I had expected, though they still had their immature fluff. Other birds on the ponds consisted of the usual crowd of waders; Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank and Oystercatcher.
On the face of it, a good day, even though it was wasted on the whole. Hopefully said virus will begin to clear up and some more birding will be in store over the next few days.

The Daily Oystercatcher
Today is also a monumental occasion in the lifer of our Oyks. It’s likely that this is not the first time, but today I saw the juvenile birds fly. They have probably been flying for a few days, as they seemed pretty competent, but since it’s my first time seeing them it feels like a first time. They flew from one of the spits, round and then down into the area behind the dunes where it is difficult to see. It was wonderfully rewarding to see, feeling safe now that they have made it.
In the evening both chicks were sat with one adult on the isolated crab pot, roosting up ready for the evening’s kip. They looked rather snug and content, a good sign. I am beginning to feel very much like a proud parent.

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Little Egret, Mallard,
Seawatching: Gannet, Arctic Tern, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, Arctic Skua, Sanderling, Oystercatcher, Linnet, Kittywake, Swallow, Sand Martin, Manx Shearwater, Black Tern, Knot, Dunlin, Fulmar, Black-Tailed Godwit, Herring Gull, Yellow Wagtail, Swift, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull,

Beacon Ponds: Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Cormorant, Knot, Herring Gull

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