The first day of the NGB weekend of Spurn, but without many NGB's. There were 4 of us at Numpties in the morning; Martin, Jonnie, Tim and me. Together we had a good time, clocking an incredible passerine passage. The species of the day was Tree Sparrow, of which there were 2285 birds going south, the second highest ever Spurn count and only 40 off the record. There were also 312 House Sparrows and 701 Skylarks, which were also both notable counts and the best for some time. There were other finches moving too; 84 Chaffinch, 106 Greenfinch, 876 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, 1047 Linnet, 1347 Meadow Pipit, 91 Rock Pipit, all of which made for an impressive mornings spectacle.
There were other goodies among the birds moving south, including a Jay which came south and then banked and turned round north. The highlight of the moving birds was a Lapland Bunting which Tim picked out. I grabbed a photo in of it as it turned back north and though it is a poor attempt you can clearly make out the fact that it is a Lapland Bunting, a Lifer for me.
We also had a small flock of Whooper Swans fly over the triangle and down the Humber. They were quite distant but that was my tarts tick for the year gone, which is a relief. They were also the first of the autumn for Spurn, There were other wildfowl going too, including Brent Geese and Pinkfeet as well as a couple of duck species, but these were mainly moving over the triangle and not going south.
-Pink Footed Geese
There were also good numbers of Hirundines moving. Considering before today I had only seen 3 'October swallows' it was great to see 574 going south, including 80 House Martin, which are the first time I have ever seen the species so late into the year.
-Hirundines-Swallows and House Martin
But there was an undoubted highlight of the morning. As we were all counting at numpties there came Steve's calls from the seawatching hide. His cry was of 'Whale, Whale Whale'. I have never seen a whale so I, along with all the others present turned our eyes straight to the sea. Steve had picked it up quite south but its breaches were irregular and difficult to follow. I only pick it up the once but the view included Spray and the Fin, all that you could realistically hope for. That was fantastic, made all the better for the fact that it was so unexpected. Steve said he had spent 2500 hours watching the sea since his last whale, so to be there for this was a privilege. There were birders all along the Spurn coast that had heard the message, and they followed its progress as it moved up north. As to its identity, we remain unsure. Based on the spray it may have been a humpback,but Minkie seems to be the most common thoughts about it based on peoples previous experiences with the species, and that is what most people have put it down as.
That was early morning so left me buzzing for the rest of the day. By early afternoon the passage had dried up so I headed over to Canal Scrape to see if there was anything about on there. There was not a lot, in fact the only bird was Long-John Silver the redshank. who is somehow still alive despite having only half of one of its legs. Considering he was there when I left my job back in September it has done remarkably well for itself.
Since it was so quiet I went back for an afternoon kip. Turns out a woodcock was caught at kew but I did not hear about it, which was a big blow. The evening was spent back up at Numpties seeing what was moving. There was much less than the morning counts, the highlight being a few Whooper Swans that came down and landed on the sea, and a few large Skeins of Pink-footed Geese with a single Graylag in tow.
-Pink Footed Geese
In the pub later on I met some more NGBs, which was great, a chance to get together with other birders my own age. It had been a good start to the weekend, with a bird lifer and a Whale, can you ask for much more.
Vis-Migging: Siskin, Merlin, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Brent Goose, Teal, House Martin, Swallow, Jay, Pink-Footed Goose, Rock Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Mallard, Reed Bunting, Rook, Skylark, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Linnet, Feral Pigeon, Goldfinch, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Greenfinch, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Tree Sparrow, Lapland Bunting, House Sparrow, Whooper Swan, Little Egret, Cormorant, Knot, Whimbrel, Minke Whale,
Vis-Migging: Red-Throated Diver, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, House Martin, Whooper Swan, Pink-Footed Goose, Kestrel, Little Egret, Knot, Curlew, Pintail, Brent Goose,