Sunday, 7 June 2015

Spurn Weekend Day 3

It all started very quickly today. Ed and I were walking back from the pub down canal bank when we heard 5 seconds of song coming from the reeds. Obviously it was dark but we both immediately turned to each other knowing that this was not something either of us had heard before. We waited but it did not sing again so I went to the Collins app on my phone and played a couple of songs of birds that I thought it could have been. We did not find one that was an exact match but we could eliminate a lot of possibilities just from that.
We went back to charge the phone and discuss it, where we reached the conclusion that, based on song, location and time of day, that it was either a nightingale (Eds thoughts) or a marsh warbler (my thoughts). We waited for Pete to get back before we went up again, but it did not sing again.
At first light the next morning I went up canal bank hoping it would be singing, but it was not. There were other birds singing now, including Whitethroat and Reed Warbler. Sadly this will be the one that got away, though I am almost certain that its a marsh warbler.
Having got up so early I then headed to numpties where there was a steady stream of Swifts trickling down, presumably the remnants of yesterdays movement. A few other hirundines were also moving but nothing major. A flock of Bar-Tailed Godwits came over, which was a yeartick for me and I was very pleased with that.
After a while the movement dried up and so I decided to head to the ponds to finally have a look at my little terns again after so long away. Beacon lane was quiet, and there was no sign of the phalarope on holderness field. The only bird of note really was a Common Buzzard circling quite low being mobbed by crows.
I did however get my first dragonflies of the year in the hedge near the wetlands. I saw a medium sized dragonfly take off from the grass and land on the hegde, where I got bins on it to see that it was a Broad-bodied chaser, a superb adult male. I grabbed a few photos (a lot) and then saw that there were a few females around as well, at least 3, so I took a few snaps of them too. Its a dragonfly tick for me at Spurn this one, so I was pretty chuffed with that.
-Broad-Bodied Chaser
It was at this point that I checked the bird news app to see what was about. I was distraught to see that a possible pacific swift had been reported up the coast and was coming south, about an hour ago. Panicked I went to the ponds for a quick look, saw my terns and then rushed back down to numpties praying that whatever it was, it had not gone over yet.
When I got back to numtpies there was already a crowd assembled there, but they had obviously been there a while as some of the guys were calling it quits already. It was not difficult to see why, as the steady trickle of swifts from the morning had now dried up completely, so that if any unusual swift were to come down it would be the only bird in the sky. But I did manage a yeartick here, and it was another finch with a Lesser Redpoll blogging about. In fact it was so quiet I helped pass the time by photographing the Meadow Pipit parachuting on the wires in front of us, serenading us while we waited.
-Meadow Pipit
By mid afternoon there were only a handful of birders left so I decided to head down to the new numpties behind the warren to see if there was anything about. Of course there was not but if anything had of come past I would have been able to see if, unlike yesterday. Another birder had come with me but he could pick up nothing either.
We headed back to numpties, where now only Pete and Rob were. Pete said that there was a good chance we would be leaving pretty imminently due to the fact that it was so dead. At this point the other birder came over to say goodbye when he pointed to a bird behind me and said, in the rushed tone when you know what it is but can't take it in, 'whats that'. At which point we all spun around. The image I saw them I will never forget, as a big brown swift with a distinctive white belly was flying down about 5 meters away from me.
Pete was onto in like a shot and began crying 'Alpine Swift, Alpine Swift' before radioing it out. It all happened so fast and I tried to get the camera out of the bag it was well on its way by the time I had managed it, leaving me with only a stab at a record shot.
But like I said, the image of that bird when i first saw it was remarkable and I will never forget it. Once it had gone it all began to settle down, Rob was thrilled, he had been waiting there for years to get one and he finally had it, and it more than compensated for yesterdays bee-eater for me, what a bird, superb.
-Alpine Swift
That gave us the boost to stick around a little longer but it returned to a state of nothing happening. Ian and Steve both arrived to chat about the swift but then they both left, though Rich and Graham set up at numpties. Were it not for the swift we would have left early but as luck would have it we stayed.
But late afternoon things had still not picked up until the guys at numpties shouted that they thought they had a bee-eater near the bluebell. Rich ran off to drive to where it was to confirm, and the rest of us sat scoping the bird from a long way off. As soon as we had received confirmation that it was one I jumped in Robs car and we raced up to find a small gathering already assembled from the news, and a superb bee eater chilling on the wires.
I only got a couple of shots with the light and the bird moved further away along the wires as we watched. It was fantastic to see, at long last after a weekend of dipping the species here I finally saw one and it was sat down so I could properly appreciate it, and a stunning bird it was too, there are not many better looking birds on the British list that this.
-European Bee-Eater
It had been quite close but gradually moved along the wires until it was only really visible through the scope. As a result we drove round to the other side of Kilnsea where we could watch it, not as close as it had been but clear enough views, and we got to see it in flight and catching bees, what more can you ask for than that?
After maybe half and hour to an hour of watching it dropped over the hedge and that was that. I was thrilled to bits about it, superb bird. We drove back down to the warren and I went to bed for a bit as I was knackered. Given the form of the day I did not miss anything, with hardly any birds having been present, but those that were were nothing short of exceptional, what a day. Its one of the best days birding I have had for a long time. Fantastic.

Species List:
Numpties Watchpoint: Swift, Swallow, Siskin, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Woodpigeon, Starling, Goldfinch, Herring Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Dunnock, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Collard Dove, Common Gull, Carrion Crow, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, House Martin, Mallard, Curlew, Little Tern, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Feral Pigeon, Oystercatcher, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Jackdaw, Shelduck, Magpie, Little Egret, Sparrowhawk, Grey Plover, Tufted Duck, Ringed Plover, Spotted Flycatcher, Knot, Whimbrel, Great Tit, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Dunlin, Cormorant, Lesser Redpoll, Tree Sparrow, Alpine Swift, Sand Martin, Gadwall, European Bee-Eater, Gannet, Lesser Whitethroat, Puffin,
Holderness Field and Beacon Ponds: Avocet, Shelduck, Mallard, Woodpigeon, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Starling, Swallow, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Little Tern, Dunlin, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Grey Heron, Broad Bodied Chaser,

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