Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Spurn - Completion of the Masked Shrike Twitch

  After yesterdays excursions I slept in a little, though still I was up and about by 6.30. I headed up for to the seawatching hut to have a look round and see if there was much moving. There were very impressive numbers of Red-Throated Diver, probably about 100 moving south over the course of the morning. There were also a few Barnacle Geese coming in, as well as a couple of duck species moving, including Pintail, Wigeon and Shellduck. There were also a few Sooty Shearwaters moving, including one that I found,n testament to how much my seawatching has improved over the summer.
  Once the sea had slowed down I moved onto the Numpties Watchpoint with Tim and a couple of other guys. There were good numbers of birds moving, and none birds too; a weasel was running round clubleys chasing the Meadow Pipits. I got a Spurn Tick when a few Red-Breasted Merganser flew past, as well as a Rock Pipit flew overhead, and then a few Brent Geese, including a Pale-Bellied (Iceland) bird. Other nice birds around included Ruff, Greenshank and Goldcrest.
  By late morning it had already slowed down so I headed round for a mooch around the site, namely to go back and check the Shrike, since it could well be that I do not see another in this country in my lifetime. It was still there, though it was still distant and difficult to get a good view off, just like yesterdays initial view. It still showed well though, fly-catching from the fence. I spent quite a bit of time at the Shrike field but also wandered around Kilnsea trying to find a RBF but ultimately did not manage it. I did find a Greater-Spotted Woodpecker in the Bluebell Car Park which was nice. I spoke to Rob and he said that he had seen one come in off the sea in the that area, so it could well be the same bird.
  I spent the rest of the afternoon at Seawatching again with Rob. There continued to be a stream of Red-Throated Divers moving south. There were also a couple of Porpoise and a Great Skua. The real highlight was a Sparrowhawk that came in off the sea. It was interesting to see it as we tracked it coming in from the sea. It then landed on the beach for a bit, sat there obviously out of puff.
  It was there that I arranged to get a lift home and so did not have to worry about public transport that I had done on the way there. It concluded a great couple of days, possibly one of the best birding days I have ever had over the last couple of days.

Species List:
Seawatching: Sooty Shearwater, Red-Throated Diver, Gannet, Little Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Dunlin, Common Scoter, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Common Tern, Common Gull, Common Teal, Barnacle Goose, Swallow, Kestrel, Pintail, Shelduck, Wigeon, Wheatear, Weasel
Vis-Migging: Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Chiff-Chaff, Brent Goose, Red-Breasted Merganser, Ruff, Wheatear, Tree Sparrow, Goldcrest, Reed Bunting, Rock Pipit, Red-Throated Diver, Cormorant, Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk,
Mooching About: Snipe, Stonechat, Masked Shrike, Common Buzzard, Tree Sparrow, Barnacle Goose, Chiff-Chaff, Great-Spotted Woodpecker,
Seawatching: Sparrowhawk, Common Scoter, Great Skua, Common Teal, Wheatear, Red-Throated Diver, Porpoise 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Spurn - Twitching Masked Shrike

I had a rotten weekend. I had just arrived back at uni and was on my way back from town after re-seeing the sights when the local grapevine sent me a text informing me of a Masked Shrike at spurn. I had spent 7 weeks there and now, 2 weeks later, possibly the rarest bird of the year has turned up. Needless to say, my day way ruined.
That was Saturday. It stayed until Sunday, and as such I began to make preparations for a twitch up there. On Monday I began the biggest twitch of my birding career. I decided that no risks could be taken, and as such I went for the first train of the day; 5.30. This meant a 4.30 start, not what I am used to that's for sure.
I arrived in Hull for 7.15, just as the bus was pulling out. Not a disaster but did mean an hour wait for the next one. I spent my time chilling and drawing masked shrikes. I knew that I was to contact Paul when I arrived in Patrington, who had kindly offered to pick me up, and as such I had shaved plenty of time off my potential journey. Once I made it onto the bus it all ran smoothly and I arrived at Spurn itself for around 11.
Paul said that he would drop me off at the Shrike as soon as I arrived, avoiding the risk that I might miss it. I therefore arrived with all my gear but incredibly optimistic as Paul had informed me that the bird was still there. I struggled to pick it up at first it was so far away, so far I could not pick out any of the key features on the bird. I spent about an hour watching the bird, but I failed to pick out any features that allowed me to identify it as a Masked simply because it was so far away. Obviously my camera is broken, but I would have been unable to photograph it anyway.
What I saw was obviously a shrike but only when it was in flight could you really see the lack of colour on the bird that made it not a woodchat. After about an hour though I decided to leave and come back hoping the bird would have come closer. Do not get me wrong, having seen the bird I was over the moon, and I was so relieved given all I gone through to get there. 
I headed to the warren to dump my gear and have a breather (and lunch). After a short break I wandered up to numpties watchpoint to have a look. Rob was there and as such I got to chat to a familiar face, while eavesdropping his radio.
I was not there long before his radio buzzed that there was a Yellow-Browed Warbler at the warren. I could see Nathan down by the roadside, so assumed that's where it was, so rushed down there. When I arrived I was informed that the bird had been lost but that it was still in there. It did not take long for it to make an appearance. Through the scope I got simply incredible views, though its movements were irregular and it was difficult to keep track of. 
I was even more embittered about the whole camera situation now, the second lifer, as this one was more photograph-able than the previous. However, there was a photographer there who I spoke to and kindly let me borrow his, so here are a few photos of the Yellow-Browed Warbler.
I have to say, that I was possibly more pleased about this than the shrike, possibly because it was more unexpected and possibly because it was so much closer so I could identify it for myself. It was a simply stunning bird, and is hopefully the first of many.
-Yellow-Browed Warbler (Not my photos)
The warbler remained hit and miss, so after a spell of extended showing I decided to go back to the Masked Shrike to see what it was doing. This was a good decision, as it had moved significantly closer, possibly due to the change in wind direction. What this meant was that the bird was now on the northern line of the hedge as opposed to the eastern side. It was soon so close that the scope was no longer required and all the features could be made out with bins alone.
It was simply stunning, a really beauty. It was interesting to note that it had a pink flush, but only on one side. All the other features were equally as beautiful, the complexion of its plumage simply sublime. I was so grateful that it had come closer so I could fully appreciate it. Initially I was a little disappointed it was so far away, but now all my work had paid off.
Alas for my lack of camera, so as a result I have gathered the best photos of the bird from the internet. If I have upset anyone by doing this drop me a line and I will amend my mistake, but I would hate for the bird to only be remembered by memories, even if its not actually through my photos.
-Masked Shrike (Not my photos)
It soon stopped coming closer and began to move further away from the watchpoint. It would fly from the fence onto the floor with lovely fluttering and diving before coming back to the fence either closer of further away depending on what it had been doing.
Since it was moving off I too made that call and headed back. I had hoped to pick up red-breasted flycatcher in the churchyard. While I was there one bloke claimed to have one, but I checked out the same bird and it was pied, though I think some of the people there may have taken his word for it. Sadly I did not pick up RBF today.
I next headed to Canal Scrape where there was meant to be a Jack Snipe showing right in front of the hide. I arrived but could not see it. I got scoffs of discontent when I asked, but arrogance is their problem I guess. I was directed to a patch of grass but it still took a while to pick it up, remarkable given how close it was to us. As soon as it started bobbing though I managed to see it. In all the ticks of the day I failed to mention that I had now surpassed my life list at the start of the year in 2014 alone, and that Jack Snipe was my 202nd species of the year, the shrike being the 200th.
The Snipe showed incredibly well, the best views of the species I have ever had, the previous being only flushed birds. Now the lack of camera was a real issue, but since it was so close I decided to try with the compact. Not great but at least you can tell what it is, and that is an improvement on anything else I have had. It was a little stunner and photos are not necessary to remember that.
-Jack Snipe
The evenings seawatch was not what it had been during my time working, but there were a couple of flocks of Barnacle Geese that came in off the sea. They flew right over us and up the Humber giving great views. It was just so nice to be back after being away, seeing old faces, re-seeing the sights and seeing new great birds, what a day and what a trip. It did wear me out, and I was in bed by 9.30.

Species List:
Spurn YWT: Swallow, Redstart, Masked Shrike, Skylark, Reed Bunting, Song Thrush, Whinchat, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbird, Pied Flycatcher, Chiff-Chaff, Yellow-Browed Warbler, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Starling, Carrion Crow, Little Egret, Jack Snipe, Arctic Skua,

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Soil Hill

Meadow Pipit - 27 Summit, ~50 Marsh 
Carrion Crow - 5
Woodpigeon - 1
Wheatear - 1 Summit
Snipe - 2 Flushed Summit
Dunlin - 1 Flushed With Snipe
Skylark - 4 Summit, 13 MarshSn
Goldfinch - 2
Pheasant - 1
Kestrel - 1
Magpie - 1
Pied Wagtail - 1 (North)
Common Gull - 1 (South)
Also of note was a Stoat that sat up not 2 meters from me near the marsh on the north side. 

On the way down from the hill I spotted a Barnacle Goose feeding in a flock of 10 Canada Geese across the road from the house. I assume it would be the same bird that has been at Fly Flatts grazing? Its not a bad garden tick! 
Barnacle Goose (Garden Tick!)

Black Headed Gull - 5
Common Gull - 1
Goldfinch ~50 (At least!)
Carrion Crow - 12
Feral Pigeon - 2 (South)
Meadow Pipit - 4
Swallow - 9 (South)
Skylark - 3
Magpie - 2

Herring Gull - 1 (Juv)
Black-Headed Gull - 1
Carrion Crow - 7
Meadow Pipit - 9
Skylark - 3
Mistle Thrush - 2

Also of note were 2 Small Copper, 2 Common Hawker (Both Male) and a Common Darter (Also Male

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Spurn Day 60

It seems bizarre but today is my final day at Spurn. After getting back to my tent at 1.00 in the morning after spending the night at the pub, I was not looking forward to my 6.00 start, but I managed to power through. 
The ringing started much quicker than it had done the previous morning. We caught Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler and the usual Meadow Pipits. We also caught a few Garden Birds in the Kew garden including a Blue Tit and a Blackbird. There were other birds about in Churchfield too, including a Redstart, a few Pied Flycatcher and a Spotted Flycatcher.
At 8.00 after showing off a few birds we got a radio message that a lesser golden plover had been heard down at the warren. Tim and I rushed off down there getting a lift with Pete. When we arrived a crowd had already assembled. The bird had been heard calling with a flock of Golden Plover, but then 2 birds had broken off and landed on the Humber. It was understood that one of these birds was the bird in question, but once on the Humber it could not be found. One bird was thought to be the bird, but after much discussion it was decided that it was in fact a normal Golden Plover with a more spangly back. As a result the lesser golden was never found and we returned to churchfield to continue ringing.
It felt like late morning, though it was only half 9 when the real highlight of the day turned up. I was loitering round the ringing hut while Tim and Paul checked the nets, when the radio came on with Tim's voice saying a Sparrowhawk had been caught. I had looked through the Spurn Portfolio and seen a Sparrowhawk in the hand and had decided then that this was the one bird I wanted to see in the hand. As a result I was overjoyed that now, on the last day, one had been caught that I would be able to see. 
When the bird was shown off there was a substantial crowd but I was able to get a few photos of it in the hand, including one really good one. It was a young male, and was really quite placid during its moment of fame. It squawked a little, but did not flap or bit, just sat there looking around. It really was outstanding to look at, one of the undoubted highlights of my time at Spurn.
Birds continued to be caught, but not many and by 12.00 we decided to call it quits on the ringing. I then went down to warren to find Pete and ask for a lift to Hull. On the way I spotted a few Whinchat sat on the fences. These will undoubtedly be the last I see this year, so it was a nice farewell.
Once all that was finished I headed up to westmere farm to hear a talk about satellite tagged monties, which was absolutely fascinating. This was followed by a bird skinning demonstration and a talk about NGB. It was a productive and interesting to spend the afternoon. 
For my final Spurn birding I went to the pub car park to see if the siberian lesser whitethroat that had been reported was still around. It was not despite a crowd looking. There was a normal Lesser Whitethroat, Pied Flycatchers and a few other birds around, so it was a nice way to finish off.
And then I left, my last 2 months at Spurn ended and I got a lift to Sheffield and then caught the train home. It felt weird seeing things like Pylons on the way home, something I have not seen for so long, just like woods, and large buildings...

Species List:
Churchfield: Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Sparrowhawk, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Little Egret, Blackbird, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Herring Gull,

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Spurn Day 59

The festival kicks off properly today and as bouncer/general odd jobs man in Churchfield ringing area I had the joy of helping Paul and Tim with their ringing while also fetching drinks and snacks. 
The day started slowly, with no birds being caught. As a result at around 8.00 Paul decided to open up the feeding station nets and as such we caught loads of Greenfinches, but also a Tree Sparrow too. The numbers were beginning to look up and it meant that we had some birds to show the people that were coming. 
In terms of birds not being caught we had plenty of stuff, including Mediterranean Gulls flying over, as well as the odd wader. The real highlight though was my first ever September Swift, a long awaited sight. It flew over the pub and was lost to us though about 10 mins later we saw it or another swift flying south. I have long wanted a September swift so it was great to finally see one.
The longer the morning went on the more we caught, including a lovely Spotted Flycatcher and plenty of Meadow Pipits from the house trap, as well as a couple of other bits and pieces. Numbers of people were steady but certainly not excessive, with no more than 10 people at any one time viewing the field and the birds we had caught.
That all changed at 12.30 when Paul re-caught the Barred Warbler from yesterday. All of a sudden there was a massive crowd of perhaps 50 people all lined up to see the bird. I had the thankless task of checking tickets for the people coming in, but it was difficult to keep up with the numbers, though I did somehow manage it.
Then the bird was revealed and taken around the circle to show everyone. I had hoped to improve on yesterdays less than satisfactory photos, but alas it did not turn out like that as my viewing of the bird was only brief to avoid stressing the bird out, which is fair enough. Other people certainly enjoyed seeing it, and that is what is most important about the festival.
-Barred Warbler
That was without doubt the most exciting bird we caught all day, but seeing so many species in the hand gave me a different perspective on a lot of species, and as such I was able to pick up on key features I can hopefully use in the field in future.
By mid afternoon the birds and visitors had dried up and as such we called it quits for the day. I spent the afternoon browsing the stalls and displays in the main marquee, talking to lots of interesting people about all kinds of things.
In the evening it was Mike Dilgers talk in the main arena with Hog Roast. Thanks to Nick I was the only volunteer allowed hog roast, but since I was on collecting of the hog roast tickets I managed to collect about 150 tickets for it, so I could have easily helped myself if I had wanted to!
The talk itself was very interesting and very entertaining. It was refreshing to hear his enthusiasm for wildlife and to share his experiences that got him to where he is today. He was even more fun in the Pub after. I came and sat with the NGB's, which was great fun, finally getting to meet them. Then Mike came and sat with us and started chatting with us, it was incredible just how normal he was, just an average bloke having banter with young birders. I got ripped to pieces about how short my life list was, and the fact that I had seen trumpeter finch before garden warbler. All in good nature, he went round calling me 220 for the the rest of the evening. Only at Spurn could something like that happen, it was one of the best evenings of my birding career.

Species List:
Churchfield: Swift, Greenfinch, Curlew, Golden Plover, Mediterranean Gull, Dunlin, Feral Pigeon, Meadow Pipit, Magpie, Greenshank, Grey Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Willow Warbler, Snipe, Black-Tailed Godwit, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Swallow, Common Gull, Black-Headed Gull, House Martin, Starling, Little Egret, Yellow Wagtail, Kestrel, Barred Warbler,

Friday, 5 September 2014

Spurn Day 58

I knew that most of today would be spent preparing for the festival in the evening. I woke up early and headed up to seawatching. Sadly though it was pretty quiet with not many birds moving. The highlights were a few Common Teal moving and a couple of Shelduck moving out from the estuary.
Fortunately a couple of guys were down at the warren ringing and they were catching some good stuff to keep us entertained. The first of their great birds was a Whinchat which they showed off. Sadly the light was too poor for photos, but it was nice to see another in the hand, having previously seen one.
The next bird was the one I really wanted. I knew that it would have to be caught in order for me to get my own record shots, so when the news came through my prayers were answered. It was of course a Barred Warbler. There was quite a gathering for the bird but I managed a few shots. Sadly the light remained an issue and I was unable to get that photo that I really wanted but I got some good record shots. They looked even bigger in the hand than in the bush. I thought that the bird looked very similar to miniature cuckoo in the hand with a long striking tail and a substantial bill. It was great to see it in the hand, another lifer that I have been able to get close to.
-Barred Warbler
When the warbler was released I headed back up to numpties for a bit. Movement was limited but it was not long before I was back down at the warren looking at another caught bird. This one was not overly rare but was certainly more spectacular. They had caught a male Redstart in full gear. To see one this close was a privilege, and since there was no crowd I was able to get some decent photos, but the light remained an issue and they were still not ideal.
-Common Redstart
I then went back into the warren to continue cleaning up and getting ready to move out. The afternoon was then spent preparing the halls and gear for the festival. Once we had finished preparing we then had a volunteer meeting and then the first talk of the event. As a result I did get to spend any more time birding, but I had already had the best of the day.

Species List:
Seawatching: Common Teal, Mallard, Shelduck, Black-Headed Gull, Common Gull, Gannet, Swallow, Knot, Barred Warbler, Whinchat, Common Redstart,

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Spurn Day 57

Today was going to be a busy day preparing for the festival and as such I knew that I was not going to be able to do much birding. I therefore awoke early in order to get as much in as possible. The seawatching was as quiet as it has been recently. 
However things quickly picked up when news came through that an unbelievable bird had been caught at Churchfield. They had caught a Wryneck, and were showing it off in a few mins. I got a lift with Andy and we headed up there. We did not have to wait the 10mins, as most people were already there and since it was so early we were not expecting any none regulars.
When the bird was brought out the first thing that struck me was the way its neck moved, hence the name. It reminded me of a snake in some way. After a bit though it stopped moving its neck and just settled down for us to watch it in a more natural position. It did seem much longer and thinner than they have done in the field but that may have been as a result of its current predicament. 
It was the undoubted highlight of all the birds that I had seen being ringed during my time at spurn, but due to the fact that it was so early in the morning I was unable to get any crystal clear photos as the light was too poor and the bird was very mobile. Either way though it was special to see and well worth the early morning. 
I then headed back to the seawatching via the canal until the time came to go shopping. Just as we were setting off Tim reported that he may have a greenish warbler but that he needed help to relocate the bird. We headed over that way to help him look.
When the Wryneck had been released it flew off over towards Kew villa, over westward. When we were walking down the canal towards to Tim, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a medium Brown Bird flying behind me. I turned and got bins on it as it alighted in a small tree. As soon as I picked it up I knew it was Wryneck. I let Andy know and we had a good look at it as it perched there before we headed towards Tim. Just as I turned Andy said 'did it have a ring?', In the excitement of seeing the bird I ha forgotten this key feature, but when I turned around the bird had gone. I tried to re-locate it but I was unable to do so and so gave up. The Question of whether or not the bird was a new one or the same one remained to be answered. This mystery took another turn when 2 Wrynecks were seen in that area later in the day, one with and one without a ring on. Perhaps I had found a new bird, or perhaps not. We will never know, but it was exciting to find my own even if it was not a new bird.
The greenish warbler was never refound and so we headed off shopping. When we came back I was dropped off to wander down to the warren along the canal, without my radio. When I arrived back at the warren I turned my radio on to find no message. Unbeknownst to me a third wryneck had been caught in the warren right next to me and I had no idea. How frustrating!
The afternoon was spent putting up the main Marquee, and as such we were not able to do much birding. However in the evening I came along to help Paul and Tim do some Yellow Wagtail and Swallow ringing. It was lovely to see the Yellow Wagtails in the hand, though the light was poor and I was unable to get any decent photos.
-Yellow Wagtail

Species List:
Canal Side: Yellow Wagtail, Swallow, Willow Warbler, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard,

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Spurn Day 56

It turned east overnight and as such expectations were high for good numbers of migrants turning up. I awoke early and headed up to the Seawatching hut to see what, if anything, was moving. There were odd bits and pieces; a Red-Throated Diver going south, a Kittiwake blogging along the shoreline and a Black-Tailed Godwit came in with a group of Redshank. Not overly poor but the numbers of birds were thin on the ground.

The really fun this morning was getting to watch some of the birds caught being ringed. There were some real beauties such as the Whinchat, and a young female Redstart which were shown off. I was given the great honour of being allowed to release the Whinchat. The Redstart was a young female, it was great to see the red tail up so close and to really appreciate it fully.
-Common Redstart
After the morning watching I decided to head out and bash the bushes along the canal hedge. I did not find much in there, but I did find a Pied Flycatcher, along with a number of Willow Warblers and a few Reed Buntings. The real highlight was when a Song Thrush flew past me into the hedge. It had been reported down by the warren and I knew it would be a spurn tick, so I was pretty pleased when it flew past me.
I headed along Canal Bank, along the top and then down the seaward side, only adding Lesser Whitethroat and Wheatear to my day list. But, halfway down the seaward walk, almost at the point where yesterdays barred warbler had been, the radio went off saying about another Barred Warbler at the top of canal bank. I was pretty knackered by this point but headed over that way, deeming the bird worthy of my suffering.
It was just as well. The bird flew off as I arrived, but it flew into an elderberry tree nearby where it showed very well on and off for about 10 mins before vanishing for good. It was certainly an improvement on the previous days sighting as this bird was sat well out in the open. I got outstanding views through the scope that allowed me to take in all the birds’ features. It’s true that they do amble through the bushes in a clumsy manner as the bird was easy enough to follow once it had been picked up by the foliage rustling.
I headed back to the warren, picked up my laundry and then headed back to Kew to get it done. While I was there I learned that there had been a flock of Long-Tailed Tits around, which are quite rare at spurn. However the attempt to catch them there failed. I spent the rest of the afternoon clearing up the remaining tern equipment until it was all finally away, the last act of my Little Tern Wardens job…
Once I had finished I wandered back to the warren where I found Tim and Adam releasing the Long-Tailed Tits mentioned above. They had made their way down the canal and had been caught at the warren, 5 out of 6. Two of them had already got rings on, but one of those birds happened to be the one that had not been caught. I was not in time to see them in the hand but got to see them scurry around the bushes after their release calling nosily. It’s a great Spurn tick to have, as they are not overly common here.
As evening drew on I headed up to the Seawatching to see if there were any terns moving. The answer was no to all effects. There were 190 I counted before I gave up. It may well be that the terns had apparently finished early this year, but we had certainly had the best with 2 counts over 10,000.

Species List:
Seawatching: Sandwich Tern, Carrion Crow, Common Teal, Common Scoter, Arctic Skua, Black-Headed Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Meadow Pipit, Swallow, Gannet, Willow Warbler, Red-Throated Diver, Kittiwake, Whinchat, Black-Tailed Godwit, Redshank, Redstart, Dunlin, Cormorant, Whimbrel,
Mooching About: Reed Bunting, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Whitethroat, Kestrel, Song Thrush, Pied Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Snipe, Redshank, Starling, Dunnock, Lesser Whitethroat, Barred Warbler, Wheatear, Long-Tailed Tit, Great Tit,
Seawatching: Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Gannet, Black-Headed Gull, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Turnstone, Sanderling, Sparrowhawk, Little Gull, Tufted Duck, 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Spurn Day 55 - LIFER ALERT

Today started like any other. I managed to leave my bed at half six and wandered up to the Seawatching hut, where I was informed that there was no movement. As a result I decided to head over to Kilnsea wetlands to see the waders’ high tide roost there, since there had been some good stuff on there in recent days.
I arrived to find the place very quiet. However the 3 Little Stint were still there and offering great views near the gate. Again it was surprising to see them next to the Dunlin, they are so small and yet don’t really seem it, it seems more like the Dunlin are bigger. I was able to get some more shots of them too…
-Little Stint
I entered the hide and spent a good couple of hours watching the birds coming in. Overall there were fewer than I expected, but the tide quite a low one today. Redshank were in abundance, with at least 600 birds on there. How I were ever to find the Spotted Redshank that had been there was beyond me.
But somehow I managed it. Having seen one before helped no end, I could clearly make out the longer, drooped bill from among the massed ranks of Redshank. I was buzzing at this find, an indication of just how much I have improved over the last year. Also there was one Curlew Sandpiper, an adult still in something of summer plumage, very similar to the bird that was on beacon ponds. So for the lack of numbers, there was huge variety. None waders included the female Pintail and a Sparrowhawk that flew through.
I would love to say that the day remained on this positive note, but alas it did not. In fact it took a very negative turn half way through the wader roost when I carelessly knocked my bag off the bench, with the camera in it. Usually it would have been fine after this, but alas, that was not the case this time and as a result the camera now refuses to take photos. Fantastic! That is going to be an expensive accident I can already tell, and not just in terms of finance.
There were no further birds along the walk, so the camera was not overly missed. I radioed Paul and spent the afternoon sorting out the tern stuff at Kew. As a result I did not expect to see many birds. However, not long after I arrived the radio went off saying that a Barred Warbler had been found at borough pit. There had already been one at the point which I had not gone for, so this was a bonus. Tim took the van and we raced over to have a look. We found the site easily enough, with Kieron, who had found it.
It had taken to a patch of reed, so Tim suggested we organise a flush. Walking through the reeds we eventually put the bird up, though it landed on the far side to me. Tim beckoned me over to have a look, and pointed out the bird sat on the bottom of the reeds not 2 meters away from me. It was a chunky thing, as I had been told, and had obviously just landed as it was not overly fussed about us being there so close. It remained skulky but on occasions it did come out and give a good view.
Another lifer, my 32nd this year believe it or not! A nice big Barred Warbler had now been added to my list. Of course it was at this point that the lack of camera really began to hurt, given how close the lifer had been to me and yet I had been unable to get a photo. Obviously a photo is not the be all and end all and I was incredibly grateful for the views I did get, so close, but it somehow left it feeling a little bitter. Fortunately tim tried to get some shots, which he said I could have, so here are those, not mine but of the same bird (And it meant I got to the watch the bird more instead, which is much better!)
-Barred Warbler (Tim Jones)
I returned to Kew and continued clearing up all afternoon. There were at least 30 Migrant Hawkers hunting during the afternoon around Kew. And the boys caught a Blue Tit in their nets. I have heard rumour of ringing Blue Tits, and the rumours proved to be true. The bird was not happy, it squawked and fidgeted and even bit Tim while he tried to remove it. I then got a fascinating explanation as to the age of the bird, this year’s bird, based on its plumage.
As I was leaving I caught another radio message saying there were 2 Sunfish of the warren. I steadily made my way there, not really rushing but I wandered along the coastal way to see if I could pick them up. I bumped into Ian who had been looking for the barred, but it had not been seen since we lost it and it dived back into the reeds.
I made it to the Seawatching hut where there were a couple of young lads that have been around the last couple of days. I asked about the sunfish and they pointed them out. They were hardly spectacular, a couple of fins emerging ever other second then going back down, but I can now add Sunfish to my list. They seemed to be going in circles around each other, but my knowledge of sunfish behaviour is limited, so who even knows what was going on under the water.
So for the terrible misfortune this morning, the day was really as rather good one. It was sad that it was tinged with such bitterness and disappointment. Hopefully I can continue to borrow photos, and that way it will not be overly missed.

Species List:
Kilnsea Wetlands: Little Egret, Little Stint, Dunlin, Pied Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Shelduck, Mallard, Grey Plover, Black-Headed Gull, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Reed Bunting, Woodpigeon, Pintail, Knot, Oystercatcher, Teal, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Cormorant, Spotted Redshank, Sparrowhawk, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Gull, Mute Swan, Grey Heron,
Mooching About: Willow Warbler, Barred Warbler, Black-Headed Gull, Starling, Yellow Wagtail, Blue Tit, Sunfish, Migrant Hawker,

Monday, 1 September 2014

Spurn Day 54

Having wandered down the point yesterday I was unsure of what to do with myself for today. It was due to rain all morning, so I was tasked with cleaning the Warren which I took to with relish. I have to say the Warren has never looked so clean and tidy!
After I was finished I headed over to canal scrape to have a look since it was not far. There were odd bits and pieces including the Redshank with only half a leg. There were a couple of snipe, but you only really saw them when they flushed. As for none water birds, there were a couple of Willow Warblers and a pair of Whinchat on the fence line at the back. On Redshank, not the limpy one, came and landed very close to the hide, so I decided to grab a few photos.
The weather continued to be quite grey so I decided to return. On the way back I called in on Paul and Tim who were ringing. They had caught a Meadow Pipit (They had caught a few but were dealing with one when I arrived). I got to take a few pictures of this bird that is subtly very beautiful.
-Meadow Pipit
when up close. I was then offered the chance to release it which was a fantastic experience.
The final tern task was to be complete in the afternoon, the removal of the gear from the beach. So that’s where I headed after lunch. It only took an hour, but it was hard going. In the end though we cleared it all and left the hut for another year.
While up there I had a look at the ponds but there was not much going on there, though there was a Little Grebe, which is a nice record, if not rare but not common. I arrived back at the warren absolutely finished and fell asleep until the tern count.
I may as well have stayed in bed as the count was poor and nothing else was moving. As such we called it a night early and rounded off a quiet days birding.

Species List:
Canal Scrape: Whinchat, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Coot, Mallard, Redshank, Snipe, Willow Warbler, Meadow Pipit,

Seawatching: Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Skua, Common Gull, Gannet, Fulmar,