Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Spurn Week 3

Monday 27th June
Back on morning shifts so the early starts begin again. Nothing much happened up at ponds today in reasonably nice weather. An impressive count of 114 Dunlin was probably the best of it, although the Cuckoo still present was nice and 5 teal on the water was unusual. There were also three summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwits which was very nice. I spent most of my time practicing photographing Little Terns, although the light was far from useful and most of my photos are very dark.
-Little Tern

Sightings List:
Beacon Ponds: Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Redshank, Little Tern, Black-headed Gull, Gannet, Mallard, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Swallow, Sand Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Curlew, Teal, Herring Gull, 

Tuesday 28th June
Today there were a few more notable birds on the ponds, starting with the first Common Sandpiper of the summer back. This was quickly followed by a nice juvenile Great-crested Grebe on which spent all day on the ponds. It was joined at one point by a flock of 4 Tufted Ducks. A Barn Owl was also present early morning, and a Snipe went over. Impressive numbers of both Dunlin, 133, and Little Tern, 54, were around the ponds. The terns were joined early afternoon by a pair of Common Terns, but they only stuck around briefly.
-Great-crested Grebe

Sightings List:
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Great-crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Avocet, Yellow Wagtail, Gannet, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Pheasant, Woodpigeon, Barn Owl, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Guillemot, Black-headed Gull, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Curlew, Tufted Duck, Sandwich Tern, Swallow, Grey Plover, Teal, Common Gull, Knot, Redshank, Common Tern,

Wednesday 29th June
Another morning at the ponds which was very quiet. The undoubted highlight was an adult Little Gull that flew through calling. Aside from that it was very much the regular species still present. The Great-crested Grebe was still on the ponds and seemed happy frequently diving and catching fish. The Little Terns seemed to have picked up in their activity as well but we will see on that one.
As the morning wore on there came strong westerlies and a weather front of quite extreme rain. With it came an incredible Swift movement. In over an hour more than 1000 birds had flown through the ponds. They were flying from all directions, often very low and only just above my head. It was the incredible movement we had been waiting for. Sadly it slowed down when the rain intensified, but by then my shift was done and I could haul up in the warm obs. Swift migration is spectacular when you catch it right and today was certainly one of those days.

Sightings List:
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Cormorant, Little Gull, Great-crested Grebe, Skylark, Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Teal, Mallard, Mute Swan, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Sandwich Tern, Carrion Crow, Swift, Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Redshank, Gannet, Curlew,

Thursday 30th June
A rather uneventful morning, followed by an afternoon of recovering sleep. Birds on the ponds were made up of a limited number of the usual suspects. Dunlin eclipsed 100 but aside from that and 1 Greenshank it was all fairly regular.

Sightings List:
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Cormorant, Great-crested Grebe, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Teal, Mallard, Mute Swan, Dunlin, Sandwich Tern, Carrion Crow, Swift, Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Redshank, Gannet, Curlew, Greenshank.

Friday 01st July
Another day of very little occurring. The only real thing of note was a flurry of Swifts late afternoon following a front of rain. Over 200 went through in about 5 minuets, really impressive to see. The Great-crested Grebe remained present, seemingly in no hurry to move off.

Sightings List:
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Common Gull, Sandwich Tern, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Swift, Little Egret, Mallard, Linnet, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Avocet, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Swallow, Sand Martin, Gannet, Herring Gull, Great-crested Grebe, Great Blacked-backed Gull, Common Scoter, Grey Heron, Knot, 

Saturday 02nd July
Missing the high tide during the morning shift means I generally miss most of the birds too. And today was no exception. Ponds was a very familiar spot with not many birds around. 3 Little Gulls that came through offered some respite from the general lack of birdlife. A few Swift also continued to move but passage was pretty much as dead as the ponds themselves.

Sightings List:
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Wigeon, Little Gull, Knot, Redshank, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Linnet, Skylark, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mallard, Mute Swan, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Sedge Warbler, Pied Wagtail, 

Sunday 03rd July
With the tides getting later every day, the high tide finally clashed with the earliest part of my shift, rewarding me with decent wader numbers around the ponds and wetlands. 2 Whimbrel were the first returning birds of the Autumn. Over 200 Dunlin were present and about 50 Redshank. 67 Curlew were roosted out on the wetlands. Sadly they all cleared out not long after I started my shift but its nice to see that wader numbers are picking up daily. All ready for when I start the afternoon shift next week.

Sightings List:
Beacon Ponds: Curlew, Whimbrel, Wigeon, Greenshank, Dunlin, Little Tern, Redshank, Knot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Teal, Mallard, Sandwich Tern, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Gannet, Greylag Goose, Swallow, Sand Martin, Woodpigeon, 

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Spurn Week 2

Monday 20th June
An extremely promising day that just became nothing. Now on afternoons I could go vis-migging. It looked like good conditions for swifts, but in the morning only about 50 moved and all out over the Humber. Other birds were also at a premium. I gave up at 08.00 and headed back to the caravan for a nap.
Ponds was equally as quiet, the highlight being a Grey Wagtail which went north. An Arctic Tern also dropped in briefly, and a Barn Owl over long bank. Overall though it was an extremely underwhelming day...

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Little Tern, Grey Wagtail, Sandwich Tern, Arctic Tern, Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Avocet, Mute Swan, Swift, Kestrel, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Little Egret, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Barn Owl, Dunlin, Linnet, 

Tuesday 21st June
Once more I got up early and headed down to numpties to hopefully get some Swifts. That worked out well, all three Swifts that I saw. And there was hardly a great deal of other birds, but those that there were made a peculiar assortment. At the bottom of the canal I found a young Great-spotted Woodpecker on the telegraph poles. Then whilst watching for Swifts there were 3 Rook which u-turned and a couple of Mistle Thrushes. All not particularly common Spurn birds, especially at this time of year. On my walk down the canal I year-ticked Yellow-legged Gull but it was distant and in the haze, so no photos of the bird, an adult.
-Great-spotted Woodpecker
-Rook and Jackdaw
-Mistle Thrush
Up at the ponds there was a great deal of consistency with a very similar assortment of species on show. A family party of Pheasant was flushed from Long Bank, and there was a flock of Grey Plover that went south. The Arctic Tern that make infrequent appearances flew in and then to wetlands, allowing me to grab a few photos of them as they flew back over my head.
-Arctic Tern

Species List:
Numpties Watchpoint:
Beacon Ponds: Knot, Little Tern, Pheasant, Sandwich Tern, Dunlin, Cuckoo, Arctic Tern, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Avocet, Reed Bunting, Grey Plover, House Martin, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, 

Wednesday 22nd June
Having gotten up early the last two mornings and been extremely disappointed with the birds on offer, today I decided to sleep in. Obviously then, it came as no surprise that today was the day when there was actually a bird getting up for. Fortunately it did not break until I was already out of bed and halfway through breakfast. I was on site, Beacon Ponds, at the same time as all the other birders who had raced up from Numpties.
The bird in question was a lesser golden plover, which was soon deemed to be an American Golden Plover on the basis of the length of its wings and the colour scheme of its back. It was incredibly distant on the ponds, although had I been on duty that morning the views would have been very good from the tern hut. I tried to grab what photos I could but ended up phone-scoping, something I have not done very much, usually because the camera on my phone is somewhat lacking. 
The bird itself was a smart beast, nearly adult full summer but not quite. It has a distinctive thick neck band though, and the vent was showing signs of going dark. The colour of the back was very distinctive, even in the morning light. When it flew, which we only saw it do once (when it left) you could clearly see the dusky axillaries.
-American Golden Plover
Sadly the bird pinged it at 8.00, and when I saw pinged it properly went. Some present thought it had headed over to sammies but it kept going beyond there until it was lost. No coming back from that then. Only birders on site saw it, and it stayed probably around 15mins. 
My walk round the canal mid morning produced very little, just a few dragonflies. On my shift up at ponds I had hoped that the AGP would come back but by the time I left high tide had been and gone with no rewards, so I guess it must have properly gone.

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Knot, Little Tern, Curlew, Sandwich Tern, American Golden Plover, Black-headed Gull, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Avocet, Little Egret, Mallard, Mute Swan, Swallow, Reed Bunting, Carrion Crow, Common Gull, Linnet, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Gannet, Grey Plover,

Thursday 23rd June
Another start which was not massively early but nothing happened to make it worth getting up early. A Hobby was about the best of it at Numpties this morning, although a flock of Lapwing was probably more unusual for the time of year.
Ponds was quiet as well, a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit probably about the best of it. Not much more to say really. Overall  a very quiet day.

Species List:
Numpties: Hobby, Sandwich Tern, Curlew, Swift, Meadow Pipit, Starling, Swallow, Woodpigeon, Lapwing, House Martin, Herring Gull, 
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Woodpigeon, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Swallow, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, Cuckoo, Great Black-backed Gull, Starling, Little Egret, Mallard, Mute Swan, Magpie, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit,

Friday 24th June
The first day of real Swift movement. It started slowly but soon picked up and by the end of the day we had over 2000 birds gone south. Many had gone through flying so low they could have parted out hair. Always a fantastic spectacle, one of the real highlights of the year at Spurn. I diddnt spend time taking photos of the Swifts, only sifting through them looking for something rare.
In between bursts of Swifts there were a couple of other things about, namely a very smart Ruby-tailed Wasp alighting on the fence posts around the watchpoint. They move so fast and are so tricky. The one decent photo I got is still slightly out of focus, but since its the only one I got I'll throw it in for good measure.
-Ruby-tailed Wasp
Up at ponds it was very quiet so I spent most of my time clicking Swifts. I counted a decent number but most went over long bank it seems. Just as I was leaving I got a fright, with a pale, sandy brown plover on the beach. I had no idea what it was, but fortunately it flew revealing black armpits, so Grey Plover. Honestly, it looked like a hybrid golden plover-sand plover. It had me until it flew.

Species List:
Numpties: Little Tern, Sandwich Tern, Grey Plover, Redshank, Arctic Tern, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Common Teal, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Mallard, Shelduck, Little Egret, Cormorant, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Swallow, Swift, Sand Martin, House Martin, Oystercatcher, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull,
Beacon Ponds: Sparrowhawk, Swift, Little Tern, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Little Egret, Swallow, Reed Bunting, Greenshank, Curlew, Grey Heron, Woodpigeon, Common Scoter, Grey Plover, Common Teal, Avocet, 

Saturday 25th June
Usual craic first thing, down to Numpties for some vis-migging. On my way down I was stunned to come across a Turtle Dove sitting pretty on the wires near the warren. Sadly it flew north before I was able to get any photos of it but always a cracking bird to see. Sadly it turns out Steve had got it first and put it out whilst I was still in bed, so I suppose you snooze you loose...
Other cracking bits and pieces from watching: Barn Owl in the Triangle, a Red-throated Diver over our heads and a Red-breasted Merganser close in. 
-Red-breasted Merganser
Up at ponds it was very quiet, so I spent most of my time clicking those Swifts that were going through overhead. An early evening shower put the steady trickle down for a while but once it had passed they came through with vengeance, with good numbers passing through.

Species List:
Numpties: Barn Owl, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Diver, Fulmar, Gannet, Swift, Turtle Dove, Little Gull, Grey Wagtail, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, Golden Plover, Common Teal, Curlew, Dunlin, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, Mallard, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Starling, Great Tit, Pied Wagtail, Kestrel, 
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Grey Heron, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Sandwich Tern, Little Egret, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Avocet, 

Sunday 26th June
Another morning down at Numpties. The Swift movement of the last few days had all but dried up, but still over 800 birds went through. We were treating to a smashing flyover from a couple of Spoonbill, which then landed on the Humber and fed for a short while before continuing south. We did see another bird go north, probably a different bird from one of the earlier ones.
Other species of any note were a Peregrine north, a flock of 12 Tufted Duck (Fairly unusual here) and a couple of shearwaters. I can't comment but more experienced birders were perplexed by the birds, seeming halfway between Manx and Balearic. There were a couple of shouts for Yelkouan but in the end nothing came of it. However, from the subsequent discussions I do now know what to look for in a Yelkouan Shearwater.
It was another quiet evening up at the ponds. We did manage to catch the pair of bikers that had been eluding us all week, which was good. The only bird highlight was the first Turnstone of the year back, which alighted with the Redshank early evening. I spent most of my time trying to get some photographs of the Little Terns, something I have not done much of despite watching them daily. In the end though I only got a couple of reasonable efforts.
-Little Tern

Species List:
Numpties: Spoonbill, Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, Teal, Swift, Peregrine, Kestrel, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Swallow, Sand Martin, Curlew, Dunlin, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull,
Beacon Ponds: Turnstone, Redshank, Dunlin, Cuckoo, Little Tern, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, 

Monday, 13 June 2016

Spurn Week 1

Once again I have landed myself the extremely prestigious job of Little Tern warden at Spurn. This time I am starting a month earlier than before, and so will be able to actually watch the terns settle down on the nests, and then track individuals progress. Its all very exciting and something I am very much looking forward to.
Of course it does mean that I have now permanently left uni, which really is quite sad. I moved to Spurn on the Saturday and after settling down began work on the Sunday. I'm not sure how best to post things up on here, as I feel it will quickly become backlogged if I post for everyday, so I might try weekly posts or whatever, see what happens...

Sunday 12.06.2016
Day 1, foggy and overcast. Not a lot happening really. I went down to numpties first thing and not long after the first major bird of my stay flew down, a Bee-eater. It was only a flyover but obviously there are few birds better than a Bee-eater. Sadly through the mist and fog there was not much chance of a good photo, but I managed to grab a record shot.

-European Bee-eater
Other species were a bit thin on the ground. A Hobby flew around the watchpoint a few times during the morning, showing really well at times but difficult to catch using the camera. A couple of Shoveler went south, which was something different to the usual species which fly south. A Corn Bunting went north and brief views of a Little Stint which went south with a couple of Dunlin were a nice couple of additions to the yearlist.
In the afternoon I was going to head over to sammies but instead ended up doing a shift on the ponds with the Little Terns. There were not many birds about but I did manage 80 Little Terns sat on the beach which was pretty awesome to see. 

Species List:
Numpties: Carrion Crow, Magpie, Starling, Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Shoveler,  Teal, Common Scoter, Gannet, Fulmar, Hobby, European Bee-eater, Little Stint, Corn Bunting, Knot, Little Tern, Green Sandpiper,
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Curlew, Sandwich Tern, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Herring Gull, Mallard, Fulmar, Reed Bunting, Starling, Carrion Crow, Little Egret, Cuckoo, Short-eared Owl, Meadow Pipit, Avocet, Common Scoter, Shelduck, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Gannet, 

Monday 13.06.2016
I start on morning shifts, so I was up at the ponds nice and early. Not long after I arrived on site had I already crashed and fallen asleep. In the periods where I managed to stay awake though I did see a Little Gull and an Arctic Tern. Another highlight of the morning was a Puffin which was sitting on the water fairly close inshore. It seemed to have a damaged wing but was active enough, diving and feeding. Commoner species were obviously still around, but a lack of activity from the Little Terns, with still no birds having settled down to nest yet.
On the way back to Obs after lunch I popped in at the wetlands to have a look at the Common Scoter that had been present for a few days. I was surprised to find the bird sat right in front of the hide as I walked in, not a usual view to get of the birds you usually only see when their flying out at sea. 
-Common Scoter
Absolutely exhausted, I crashed back in the Obs around early afternoon. Try as I might, I failed to muster the desire to go back out, until I read a tweet saying that a Golden Oriole had been found down the canal. I headed straight down there, but failed to spot any observers so had little idea where to actually look for it. I did soon find one observer looking into canal hedge. As I walked down to ask him though, the bird itself flew straight past me giving fantastic flight views. What a bird to see, and the rump was so bright and distinctive.
It staying around the canal while we watched. It was showy but flighty and difficult to approach in any sense. Often it would alight on the sides of bushes that were simply not view-able. I did manage a few record shots though, enough to confirm what it was without doubt. A smashing lifer. The best part of all was that the bird was frequently singing and calling, a sound I am familiar with from those times at lakenheath fen. A superb bird to say the least.
-Golden Oriole
We followed it round but it was very mobile, soon leaving the canal and heading into the village where it flew between various hedgerows, including over the obs garden. Eventually the chase became too much, when the bird was finally lost late afternoon. It was a cracking bird, what a way to start my time here.

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Little Egret, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Mallard, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Arctic Tern, Little Gull, Avocet, Shelduck, Short-eared Owl, Carrion Crow, Sandwich Tern, Common Scoter, Meadow Pipit, Gannet, Dunlin, Magpie, Curlew, Swallow, Woodpigeon, Kittiwake, Puffin, Fulmar, Swift, Sand Martin, Starling, Skylark, Cormorant, 

Tuesday 14.06.2016
Another day on the Job. Once more I crashed as soon as I had arrived at the ponds. Not long after I awoke though did I find my first good birds of my stint, when a pair of Spoonbills flew south over the ponds. Sadly, between my calling them out, and trying to get my camera out they had already turned away from me and I did not intend to just grab photos of the behind of the birds. They made their way south and were picked up at the Warren. A nice start to my finders list for the summer. Also on shift I managed to muster up a Knot, Red-throated Diver and my first Painted Lady of the year. A nice morning spent up at the ponds.
In the afternoon after I had been shopping I headed down the canal to see the Golden Oriole again. It remained very elusive to put it mildly but did show well a couple of times in flight before sitting out in the open distantly in canal hedge. I had hoped to develop my record shots from yesterday but sadly there was nothing much new to add...
-Golden Oriole
-Barn Owl
The Oriole would often go down for long periods of time before emerging from a bush on the complete other side of the canal. Once it dived into canal hedge I decided to call it quits, there was absolutely no point chasing it further. To keep us busy in the mean time there was a nice Barn Owl and my first Emperor Dragonflies of the year. All in other smashing day at work.

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Sandwich Tern, Knot, Ringed Plover, Mute Swan, Mallard, Shelduck, Skylark, Reed Bunting, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Short-eared Owl, Great Black-backed Gull, Oystercatcher, Herring Gull, Cormorant, Starling, Avocet, Gannet, Shoveler, Meadow Pipit, Swallow, Spoonbill, Common Tern, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Red-throated Diver, Common Scoter, 

Wednesday 15.06.2016
Another day out at work. I was on site early in the hope that the Lincs caspian terns might have rocked up but the fog was so thick that I was unable to tell, although from what I could see there were no large white birds on the ponds. The fog did not lift until around 10.00, during which time the only notable species I recorded was a nice Little Gull.
The day soon cleared up though into a very nice afternoon, making the four layers I put on in the morning to keep out the rain somewhat redundant. The shift passed largely without incident, with a few more Little Terns looking like they are going to settle down and the 3 remaining Oystercatcher nests still looking good.
Despite the overall quietness of the day I still managed to log another Spurn mega, albeit one that has been seen a couple of times infrequently during the week. A Red Kite flew south over the ponds before being lost in the rising cloud. Thats another good bird to have under my belt for Spurn.
But perhaps the highlight of the day was this: Watching a female Red and Black Burying Beetle bury an expired mole on Long Bank. It was somewhat unnerving watching the mole corpse twitch and shuffle as the beetle excavated it out from underneath, but still fantastic to watch. So interesting.
-Black and Red Burying Beetle with deceased Mole
Due to ongoing footware issues I spent the afternoon chilling in the hope that my bruises might get the respite they need to recover to allow me to fully enjoy working here. We shall see.

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Little Tern, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Little Gull, Little Egret, Dunlin, Mute Swan, Red Kite, Sandwich Tern, Carrion Crow, Mallard, Woodpigeon, Skylark, Reed Bunting, Gannet, Common Scoter, Fulmar, Shelduck, Herring Gull, Curlew, Swallow, Magpie, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, 

Thursday 16.06.2016
Another morning with thick fret, allowing me chance to catch up on the sleep I was missing from the absurdly early starts. There were two Short-eared Owls on Holderness Field early morning as I walked up, but that was about the best of it. The first Redshank of the autumn was also back on Wetlands, a sign that waders were on the move.
Managed to clock up a decent species list during the morning, the best of the birds probably a few Manx Shearwaters that were moving north. Not in any great numbers but in small groups of about four that would occasionally glide past.
The real highlight of the day was a Sunfish flapping about offshore. I picked up the fin about mid-distance and then pondered as to its identity. It was clearly not a dolphin or shark due to its upright nature, and its erratic behavior made sure it was something a bit different. Given these two pieces of information it was not difficult to rule out all other candidates except Sunfish, despite the fact that it is a little early for them. I did get to watch it for some time but alas the choppy nature of the sea meant I was unable to get any record shots.

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Redshank, Short-eared Owl, Little Tern, Oystercatcher, Swallow, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, Ringed Plover, Sparrowhawk, Mute Swan, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Herring Gull, Cormorant, Linnet, Avocet, Sandwich Tern, Great Black-backed Gull, Mallard, Skylark, Gannet, Common Scoter, Fulmar, Dunlin, Feral Pigeon, Manx Shearwater, Guillemot, Red-throated Diver, Black-headed Gull, Yellow Wagtail, Knot, Kittiwake, Common Gull, Eider

Friday 17.06.2016
The plan of the day was extremely similar to that of the previous days, with fret first thing, followed by a clearer day with healthy species numbers but nothing overly different to add to the ponds list. The best of it was probably a Little Gull early morning which flew off into the fret, or three Arctic Terns which dropped in mid-morning.

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Dunlin, Little Tern, Little Egret, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Carrion Crow, Avocet, Mallard, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Arctic Tern, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Shelduck, Gannet, Sand Martin, Swallow, Sandwich Tern, Common Scoter, Fulmar, Pheasant, Grey Heron, House Martin, Woodpigeon, Eider, Reed Bunting

Saturday 18.06.2016
The situation at ponds was very similar to what it has been the last few days. A flock of 42 Knot on the beach were new but otherwise on the whole the variety of species on the ponds seems to have dropped off a little bit today. Out at sea it was a little better, as I got my first Great Skua of the year. Nice to have a few seabirds around to put my scope to good use at sea.
On my way back a couple told me about a Tufted Duck from the hide, so I went in to have a look. I got the tuftie but also got a drake Shoveler, which was a really nice bonus.
In the afternoon I went for a wander down the canal but I was unable to find anything and the Oriole had long since departed. A Chiffchaff was about the best of it, to give an idea of how quiet it was. Now we enter the dead season when there are really not many birds about at all.

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Redshank, Gadwall, Little Tern, Curlew, Knot, Fulmar, Little Egret, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Swallow, House Martin, Sandwich Tern, Great Skua, Gannet, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Starling, Shoveler
Canal: Blue Tit, Blackbird, Magpie, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Little Egret, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Swallow, House Martin, Oystercatcher,

Sunday 19.06.2016
Last day on exhausting mornings. And with the last day came a sudden surge in the variety of waders about, with my first Sanderling of the autumn small group of Dunlin, 2 Curlew, and a Redshank. 2 Little Gull also graced the ponds early morning. On my way back to the Obs I found myself cut off as the farmer was doing something to his fields and had shut the gate, allowing me plenty of time to check Holderness field, where I got Spurns first Ruff of the Autumn. 
In the afternoon word came over the radio of a Spoonbill at the bottom of that same field so I headed over. I was pretty thrilled to see that not only was the Spoonbill still there, but it was not asleep. It was my first proper chance to photograph one not flying or sleeping since that bird briefly at Blacktoft last year. 

Species List:
Beacon Ponds: Dunlin, Sanderling, Little Gull, Little Tern, Shelduck, Curlew, Swift, Little Egret, Avocet, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Sandwich Tern, Gannet, Herring Gull, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Great Black-backed Gull, Swallow, Black-headed Gull, Cormorant, Fulmar, Carrion Crow, Redshank, Greylag Goose, Kestrel, Grey Heron, Sand Martin, Mallard, Mute Swan, Ruff, Lapwing, Spoonbill, Teal, Knot,

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Old Moor RSPB - The 17th hour of Little Bittern twitching

This was my only free day before I left for Spurn, other days taken up with goodbyes and packing. It was therefore my last chance to attempt once more to try and see the phantom Little Bittern at Old Moor. By now, having spent over 16 hours since its first appearance last year not seeing it, I was at breaking point. Seeing it today was simply a must.
I brought a uni friend, Issac, along, so I had a comforting shoulder should I once more fail to connect with the bird. As soon as we arrived though things started to look up, as a few birders were standing on the bridge outside the Bittern Hide saying that the bird was being very vocal. After a short while we also heard it, far softer and more mellow than I had anticipated from its call, but proof that the thing did actually exist.
The bird was clearly calling from a matter of feet in front of us, all the more frustrating but then one of the birders quickly indicated that he could see it. We were with him immediately but it took me a while (relative to the time we had) to work out where exactly he was looking, until I realised just how close it actually was, and that it was sat at the top of the reeds. I will never forget that image, of the bird sat atop the reeds just there, almost right in front of me. It did not sit there long, opening its wings to reveal the large white patches and diving into the bushes. It continued to call from there for a short while before it flew off into the reed-beds past the hide. Issac had missed it when it had sat up but saw it when it flew past the hide, the occasion when I missed it. It all worked out nicely in the end then. I finally saw the bird in the 17th hour of trying, and Issac got the bird on his first proper twitch.
The relief of seeing the bird at long last, even if I failed to get a photo of it. We tracked to where it had landed in the reeds and waited a solid four hours for it to come back out, but it failed to do so before we left at 13.30, and at the time of writing, 16.00, there has still be no further reports. Sadly no pictures then, but the view was fantastic and all that I needed. What a bird.
Other birds on site were very much the same as yesterday. The Great Bittern did a couple of flybys, throughout the day, but none were particularly close. A Tree Sparrow turned up in front of the hide and started catching damselflies which was something of a novelty. There were also a few insects on the wing, including Four-spot Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer.
-Black-tailed Skimmer
-Tree Sparrow
So after many hours waiting I finally got the bird I had been after, plus it was another fantastic day out with plenty of nice birds and good company. Its nice to be able to settle this old score. Now for a new arch nemesis...
Species List:
Old Moor RSPB: Black-headed Gull, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Blackbird, Tree Sparrow, Coot, Moorhen, Great Tit, Bittern, Mute Swan, Wren, Common Tern, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Swallow, Swift, Sand Martin, Whitethroat, Great-crested Grebe, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Gadwall, Canada Goose, Long-tailed Tit, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greylag Goose, Reed Bunting, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Herring Gull, Little Bittern,

Monday, 6 June 2016

Old Moor RSPB

With going to Spurn in less than a week, I have been very busy packing and saying goodbyes to people at Uni. However, when the news broke that the Old Moor little bittern had returned from last year I decided to make a move and try and finally get it.
In the six hours I waited on site I once again failed to spot the bird. Largely through a mixture of bad luck, but also a lack of communication from birders who had seen it and in some way my own blind incompetence. Anyway, whatever the case, I once again failed to see it, now accumulating to a grand total of 16 hours spent on this bird.
I arrived at the reserve to the astonishing news that the reserve had not opened early, as I had assumed, so my bad. I therefore had two hours before I could commence looking for the little bittern. I wandered along to Bolton Ings where I was able to pass the time by finally, finally yearticking Green Woodpecker and getting fantastic views of a Barn Owl.

-Barn Owl
Once inside the reserve I set up at the wildlife watchpoint, figuring that the bittern hide would be too full and sweaty and that from the watchpoint I would be able to get a more prolonged view of the bird when it flew past. Hahaha. That failed to happen as it somehow snuck past the watchpoint at every opportunity. However, the Bittern did show very well, with numerous close flybys throughout the morning and then early afternoon one landed in the reed-beds next to me, allowing me fantastic views of the bird bitterning before it settled down to feed.
It was a pleasant enough, if ultimately very dissapointing day. The year-ticking of Green Woodpecker is long overdue though, and offers some consolation. 
Species List:
Old Moor RSPB: Black-headed Gull, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackbird, Tree Sparrow, Coot, Moorhen, Great Tit, Bittern, Mute Swan, Green Woodpecker, Wren, Common Tern, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Swallow, Swift, House Martin, Dunnock, Whitethroat, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Great-crested Grebe, Barn Owl, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Redshank, Gadwall, Canada Goose, Long-tailed Tit, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Egret, Greylag Goose, Reed Bunting, Peregrine,