Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Spurn Day 7

It’s hard to believe but I have now been working at Spurn for an entire week. Time flies when you’re having fun. Fun though, is not a word I regularly associate with night-shifts. Fortunately we I had no bother thought the oystercatchers did kick up a fuss ay 3.00, though I could not find anything. You get very paranoid doing this job, so any sort of fuss and you want to check the birds are alright. Only when your there do you remember what it would be like if there really was a predator, as their attention quickly turns to you.
Dawn broke to the most incredible sunrise which turned the whole horizon red. I have some great photos but my laptop does not want to read my SD card, so they will have to wait for another time.
In the meantime I enjoyed the delights of the mornings birdlife. Once more there was a Greenshank behind the hut, it flew in at around half 4. But besides that it was the regular cast; Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Little Tern, Grey Plover, Cormorant, Mute Swan etc.
This was the first shift I had made it the whole way without nodding off. As a result when I made it to bed I did not leave until around 13.00. It was a nice but breezy day that I awoke to, and although most of it had passed I seemed to lack the energy to make the most of what remained. Since it had been so dead yesterday I decided to conserve my energy and stay around the warren. And that meant Clubleys Scrape again to see if any RV Darters were showing.
Today I was in luck as there was one male flying around the edge of the pond, and whats more he was even landing on the bank. However, landing is one thing, allowing me to approach is another and I have now placed RV Darter at the bottom of my ‘most approachable dragonfly’ list. I managed some record shots but they were not what I was after. It was unfortunate then that the dragonfly chose this moment to scarper.
I spent the next 15mins or so hunting for him before I found him again. In the meantime I was able to enjoy the other sights and sounds. Once more I heard the coot or moorhen calling from the reeds, but once again I failed to see it and so this mysterious birds identity will remain unknown. Other dragonflies consisted of the usual cast; Emperor Dragonfly, Black-Tailed Skimmer and Common Darter. There were also Common Blue Damselfly, Common Blue-Tailed Damselfly and Common Emerald Damselfly, the latter of which I took some more photos of as a means of waiting for the RV to re-appear.
-Common Emerald Damselfly
But as I hinted at before, I did refind the RV Darter. To my joy this time he decided to play ball. Not as well as his relatives have done for me in the past but the photos I got here were a vast improvement on what I have got previously. I am very happy with my results, showing all the characters from reasonably close quarters. Since these are effectively my record shots there are quite a few. Enjoy!
-Red-Veined Darter
After a good while watching and photographing the dragonfly as it moved around the pond I decided to head back. Once more it had been quiet on the bird front and I could see no point in staying out much longer.
However, after a short while inside I decided to do a little sea-watching to see if there was anything. Of course there was not, a group of about 10 Whimbrel going south being the only birds of note. I did find a none bird of note though, as a Painted Lady settled outside the hide, the first time I have seen one since the day I started uni. Sadly the angle was well against me so my photo is nothing short of atrocious, but it does the job.
-Painted Lady
I left the Seawatching hide and found Steve and Paul doing some vis-migging, so decided to join them for a little while to see what was about. Despite the fact that it was a reasonably quiet day we still counted in excess of 500 swifts and 50 Sand Martins, so not a bad total. We also had a Little Egret over the triangle and a Yellow Wagtail over our heads. Obviously the latter is not a species I see very often so I was very pleased when Paul pointed this one out, a nice addition my growing Spurn List.
I left the guys to it at around 18.00 as I headed in to cook ahead of my nights work. I set off to a glorious sunset in front of me, and a great rain cloud with a full rainbow behind me. To say it was a stunning evening would be an understatement.
But it was not just the weather that was glorious. As I headed up Beacon Lane I spotted an owl form over the fields to my left. My first thought was SEO as, but it was too small. Though the view was fleeting, through the bins the silhouette I had seen became the pale form of a Barn Owl. But my view was fleeting as it flew over a hedge a matter of seconds after this identification. But it does mean that my dip at Old Moor will haunt me no more, and though a better view would be appreciated, it does mean I now have 176 species on my list this year.
The rest of the walk was busy but relaxing, with a Pheasant in the tree, a seal at sea and around 2000 Dunlin on the beach I needed to pass being among the characters I encountered on my way to the hut. Once at the hut it was already very poor light but the usual suspects were in, with a vast increase in Knot numbers I note. The Greenshank was already in too, the first time I have seen it in an evening.
So that ends day 7, the darkness drew in and only the constant chatter of the dunlins reminded me of the fact I was surrounded by birds. Once more the fox did not make an appearance on this side of the night, and I have had plenty of productive avian revision sessions.

Daily Oystercatcher
So though my job is a little tern warden there are other birds on the pools, namely 2 pairs of Oystercatchers. One pair has one well grown chick but the other pair has 2, less well grown chicks and tends to stay down this end. As you know they are the same birds every day that you watch them you begin to grow more and more attached to them, so I decided to write a little feature on their progress every day.
In the morning it’s always a bit of a worry that I may have missed something during the night and that one of the chicks may have been taken. At first it’s difficult to judge as the birds are often roosting or difficult to find first thing. So as the sun broke I had a look but could only see one adult Oystercatcher, though it looked relatively big, so I made the assumption that the chicks must be under it.
I was right, and about 15mins later the adult bird stood up and unceremoniously dumped the 2 chicks onto the sand. They looked a little dazed for a few mins before joining their adult, I assume mother, on the morning forage. One of the chicks found a sizeable worm which it ran off with, looking rather comical with the worm dangling from its beak.
In the evening I only saw one chick. That chick was marching through the wader roost sending Knot and Dunlin scurrying out of its way.

Species List:
Beacon Pools: Dunlin, Mute Swan, Little Tern, Ringed Plover, Cormorant, Greenshank, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Common Tern,
Clubleys Scrape: Sedge Warbler, Swift, Sand Martin, Swallow, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, Red-Veined Darter, Common Darter, Emperor Dragonfly ,Four-Spot Chaser, Black-Tailed Skimmer, Common Emerald Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Common Blue-Tailed Damselfly, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White,
Warren Vis-Migging: Yellow Wagtail, Little Egret, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Sandwich Tern, Sand Martin, Swallow, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Swift, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Kestrel, Whitethroat, Black-Tailed Godwit, Skylark, Common Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Roe Deer, Painted Lady,
Beacon Pools: Barn Owl, Whitethroat, Pheasant, Greenshank, Little Tern, Oystercatcher, Knot, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Turnstone, Cormorant, Common Tern, Mute Swan, Ringed Plover, Whimbrel, Roe Deer, Grey Seal, Meadow Brown, Large White

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