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.
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.
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,