Friday, 18 July 2014

Spurn Day 8

The nightshift wore on and no fox appeared. There was quite some disturbance at 3.00 but nothing could be found. The day broke to another glorious sunrise revealing those birds that had remained overnight; the usual cast of Grey Plover, Little Tern, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Oystercatcher.
Walking back in the early hours, nearly at the warren, I spotted a Yellow Wagtail alight on the wires alongside the road. Sadly no camera so no pictures. But what was better than one Yellow Wagtail would be more than 1, and in the field below the original bird there were an additional 3 more birds. My lives total of Yellow Wagtails more than doubled in the space of a few seconds. The birds in the field were keeping a very low profile, though, and could only be seen when in flight. 
I made it to bed and awoke at 13.00 for an afternoons birding. Although previous days had been quite relaxed, today was different. I had received a tip off about a couple of reeling grasshopper warblers up at ‘Sammies Point’, which is just north of the triangle. That was todays plan of action.
On the way up to Sammies I encountered very little outside of the regulars, the highlight being Whimbrel on the mudflats. Sammies was very similar to Canalside but the fields are more crop than livestock based. There were also a few more trees, providing ample cover for frustrating grasshopper warblers.
It was the namesake of these warblers that were making the majority of the din on my arrival. There were loads of Grasshoppers singing from the grass. It took a while but I eventually tracked down a vocal Grasshopper Warbler, singing from a field below the bank. I snuck in trying to locate the bird while keeping a low profile. I did see a small brown bird fly between the bushes and the call followed it, so I am assuming that this was a Gropper but I deem the view untickable based on the evidence I had. Of course, it was also at this point that the bird shut up, and skulked away from the tree where it had been. Alas, he got away.
I decided to head to the corner of the field and await the bird singing again. No sooner did I arrive than did my fortunes change for the better. I immediately spotted a falcon flying above the trees, the antics of which instantly indicated hobby. I tried to get a good view through the bins but struggled due to the fact that all I saw was the silhouette. I then tried the camera, but I could not view the photos because of the light reflecting off the screen.  It was pretty clear though that despite the lack of evidence it was definitely a Hobby. I got to watch the bird swoop and dive for a good 5 mins before it headed off north away from the trees, a lovely sighting and a wonderful bird.
The Warbler was still not playing ball so I decided to continue walking up to see if I could find anything else. I could not with the exception of a few Little Gulls. Also, walking back to the gropper field I spotted the Hobby coming back towards me from a southern direction heading north. How and when it went back past me going south I do not know!
The gropper did not sing again until I decided to leave, as it usually the case. Despite attempts to track one down I failed to do so, though I did flush 2 brown birds which appeared to have fan tails, though a lack of evidence again prevents me from ticking it. I decided to call it a day when the bird called briefly from the far end of the field, obviously skulking away from me.
On the way back to the warren I decided to call in at Churchfields to see if there were any dragonflies about. I was in luck. There were not massive numbers like there had been before but there was more diversity, with Black-Tailed Skimmers, Emperors, Four Spot Chasers and Ruddy Darter all showing well.
There was also a fifth species that presented itself as a bit more of an enigma. It was clearly a hawker dragonfly of some description, but it was obviously a young individual. Because of its small size my first thoughts were that it might be a hairy dragonfly, but having looked it up I have refined my identification into a Common Hawker

--Two days later and I casually announced this find to Paul and a few others to shocks and gasps. Apparently common hawker has never been seen at Spurn before and as such the photo was brought up and the discussions began to run. After about 10 mins of deliberating it was decided that it is actually a Migrant Hawker, but a very early one. This does fit in with the small size of the dragonfly, and it being freshly emerged fits in with the lack of a number of features. Its only my second time seeing this species so in other circumstances it would be a reason to rejoice, but having made another mistake, and the fact that its not a first for spurn, it does not quite feel like that right now--
-Common Hawker Migrant Hawker
I mentioned the Ruddy Darters and there was a very showy male by the pond that allowed me to get excellent shots of this species which I do not see very frequently. The pale background of the photos really makes the red colour stand out.
-Ruddy Darter
I wandered back by the coast but there was nothing to see that way. I also made a short stop at Clubleys to see if there was anything there but there was not, so I made it back to the Warren in good time.
And so the nightshift came on again. But fortunately I was treated again, as on the way out of the warren I found a flock of maybe 10 Golden Plover along the edge of the Humber. About half of these were in Summer Plumage too, a feature I see a disappointing amount of given that they breed on the moors. There was also a Common Sandpiper in among them, another species that’s a little out of the ordinary here, but a familiarity of home.
Back on Beacon ponds and the wader roost was topped up nicely, with ample Grey Plover, Dunlin, Knot and Redshank in. There were 2 summer plumaged Grey Plovers, as well as plenty of Red Knot among the crowd. And it is with that view that the night drew in and the day finished…

The Daily Oystercatcher
I failed to find the chicks this evening but the light was very poor when I arrived. However, they were up at the crack of dawn this morning as my first glance through the morning crowd revealed both chicks feeding along the near shoreline. They have become far more independent, staying away from their parents and hunting for themselves which is obviously a positive sign. They are doing just fine!

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Grey Plover, Cormorant, Common Tern, Dunlin, Redshank,
Sammies Point: Mute Swan, Swallow, Swift, Redshank, Black-Headed Gull, Carrion Crow, Whimbrel, Sand Martin, Little Egret, Feral Pigeon, Cormorant, Collard Dove, Oystercatcher, Linnet, Skylark, Sandwich Tern, Woodpigeon, Hobby, Shelduck, Magpie, Little Gull, Whitethroat, Yellow Wagtail, Emperor Dragonfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Meadow Brown, Large White, Small Skipper, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Small Copper, Common Blue, Red Admiral,
Churchfields: Ruddy Darter, Black-Tailed Skimmer, Four-Spot Chaser, Emperor Dragonfly, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Gatekeeper,
Beacon Ponds: Golden Plover, Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Redshank, Woodpigeon, Linnet, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Sandwich Tern, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Little Tern, Turnstone, Mallard, Mute Swan, Southern Hawker, Roe Deer,

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