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...
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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,
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...
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.
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,
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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,
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.
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,