Having started the night shift again the amount of time I actually get to spend birding is vastly reduced. When I awoke mid afternoon I immedately headed round to Kilnsea Wetlands in the hunt for a possible caspian gull, but was just a herring gull in my opinion. Once I was back at the Obs I decided to walk around the Canal Bushes. After the birds failed to produce anything I began to check through the butterflies, specifically the Skippers to check for Essex Skipper. After some initial confusion where I ended following different individuals, I did eventually add this species to my Spurn list.
-Essex SkipperI headed round to Holderness field with Arash where we had 2 Green Sandpipers, a few Yellow Wagtails and a rather smart juvenile Stonechat as the best of it. As Swifts were steadily trickling down whilst we were there we decided to head to numpties to make sure we did not miss anything. Sadly though, no sooner had we arrived than did the movement completely dry up. The only real highlight was a Stoat that came bounding right at us through Clubleys field. As a result I was soon back at my caravan for a nap before the night shift.
Beacon Lane & Holderness Field: Green Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Swift, Whimbrel, Avocet, Carrion Crow, Herring Gull, Common Teal, Mallard, Shelduck, Stonechat,
Numpties: Swift, Common Scoter, Great Tit, Swallow, Sand Martin, Carrion Crow,
Tuesday 26th July
Sadly the fox did make an appearance tonight, and it took my best efforts to chase it away. Man I hate that thing. Anyway, all the young survived the night I believe so its nice to know my suffering is being appreciated. In the morning I got a couple of Canada Geese on wetlands which are fairly unusual here but aside from that...
When I eventually dragged myself out of bed around mid-afternoon I headed down to the Canal but there was not much going on there, the highlight probably being the ever present Little Grebe on the canal scrape. Next I walked up to sammies point but the tide was out and there were no waders around really. In short, I did not see a great deal today.
Canal Zone: Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Curlew, Mallard, Redshank, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Little Grebe, Carrion Crow, Magpie,
Sammies Point: Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Golden Plover, Redshank, Dunlin, Magpie, Starling,
Wednesday 27th July
Tonight's shift was significantly quieter, with no real disturbances to report. I checked a couple of times but saw nothing so got to enjoy a peaceful night. Come morning I was disappointing to see that it was raining, although it would make the sleep in somewhat easier.
So I foolishly thought, when I was awoken at around 9.30 to the radio crackling into life about a White-rumped Sandpiper at the ponds. It was only an initial report as the finder did not have a radio, but it was quickly confirmed. Part of me wished it was not one, so I could just stay in bed. However, I was soon out of bed and making my way, somewhat groggily, up to the ponds.
Once there it was apparent the bird had merged into the increasing flock of roosting Dunlin, gathering up to 2000 when I arrived. After a while looking though the bird in question came out, although not long before it decided to fly and headed off to the other end of the ponds, revealing the distinctive white rump.
This was the story of the birds tidal roost, with the bird also being incredibly distant before it flew onto the beach when flushed by a Peregrine. Sadly I managed to get no photos of it, and the views I got were somewhat restricted by the distance. That being said, I could clearly see the rump on multiple occasions when in flight, and the deck views were good in not brief, and its better than not seeing it at all. Sadly I failed to get any photos but the shot from Mr Jonnie Fisk is a pretty accurate portrayal of what we saw.
There were impressive numbers of Terns and Waders on the ponds, but nothing else overly out of the ordinary. I headed back to bed once it became apparent that the Sandpiper was not coming back and in the afternoon I ended up painting the observatory decking and then going shopping, so no additional birds there either.
Beacon Ponds: Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Little Grebe, Mallard, Grey Heron, Peregrine, Knot, Cormorant, Common Tern, Little Tern, Arctic Tern, Sandwich Tern, Yellow Wagtail, Black-tailed Godwit, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Little Egret, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Turnstone, White-rumped Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper,
Thursday 28th July
The night-shift was far quieter than previous nights, with no need at all to go out and check. However, my morning sleep was cut short by a lawnmower and with a cold now setting in today felt pretty rough.
I headed up to Kilnsea Wetlands for a look once I had gathered my senses and was rewarded with a few birds, mainly Sandwich Terns and Black-headed Gulls but also a few nice Yellow Wagtails. The weather did take a turn for the worse though and I was soon back in obs catching up on my lost sleep...
Kilnsea Wetlands: Wigeon, Mallard, Sandwich Tern, Yellow Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Swallow, Starling, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Arctic Tern, Little Tern,
Friday 29th July
Another quiet night shift was livened up when I found Spurns first Migrant Hawker of the year behind the tern hut in the very early hours of the morning. It got even livelier on my way back when I flushed a small brown bird at the back of the wetlands. My initial impression was Grasshopper Warbler due to the shape and colour of the tail and the general jizz of the bird. Subsequent flushing put beyond any doubt the identification of my first Grasshopper Warbler of the year and my best views ever of this species, although still only flight views. I was flushed it four times, each time the bird flying low past me and back into the phragmities. A nice treat for the morning. Mick got the directions off me when he took over about half and hour later, and he got even better views, with the bird sitting out briefly on a gatepost.
Once I had been to bed and woken up again I found myself at a loss as to what to do, and with the weather taking a turn for the worse I found myself idle at the observatory. News broke of a caspian gull at wetlands so I pilled into Ian's car and headed up. The gull in question certainly showed a number of pro caspian features, but the identification could not be clinched due to its age and the views obtained. I personally did not get a caspian gull impression, its head being overall too short and the birds posture being more horizontal than I would have imagined. Still it gave me something to do, and there was a Merlin and a couple of Yellow Legged Gulls to keep us happy.
Kilnsea Wetlands: Merlin, Kestrel, Yellow Wagtail, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Sandwich Tern, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Dunlin, Redshank, Graylag Goose, Mallard, Teal, Carrion Crow,
Saturday 30th July
After yesterday mornings excitement I could not imagine that it would be eclipsed the next day, but so wrong was I. Walking back along long bank at around half 5 I was thrilled to see the long bank Otter again, over a month since its last appearance. Views were substantially better than before, this time I was able to see the animals full profile as it swam towards me. However, the ditch bends and it quickly went out of sight. I made my way along the bank to a spot where I would be able to see up the ditch for when the animal continued swimming past in the hope I might be able to get a photo of it.
I waited for a good ten minuets, but then I spotted some of the reeds rustling, allowing me to presume that the animal was moving its way up, only very slowly. Soon I would get my photos. This assumption changed when the rustling reeds took a turn and started moving up the bank. I decided that this was not usual otter behaviour and that it was more than likely a pheasant or a large sedge warbler, and as such went back to watching the ditch.
What happened next was unbelievable. I spotted movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see the otter emerge onto the top of long bank, on the gabions about five meters away from me. My head movement got its attention and there we were, both staring at each other. My camera was over my shoulder so I gingerly tried to reach it and almost succeeded before the Otter decided to bolt, crash back through the reeds and into the ditch where I did not see it again. Talk about an amazing wildlife encounter. What a moment.
The rest of the day nowhere near lived up to the morning. An afternoon at wetlands was plagued by insects and with no real birds. The highlight was a nice female Peregrine which had obviously chased all the high tide waders off ponds before I had got there.
Kilnsea Wetlands: Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Kestrel, Yellow Wagtail, Dunlin, Mute Swan, Little Egret, Teal, Redshank, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Sandwich Tern, Greenshank,
Sunday 31st July
Another long night-shift down, but this time the fox made two appearances, keeping me on my toes for the whole night. In the morning I was something of a wreck as a result, and I did not manage anything particularly amazing as I had done the last two days.
The afternoon was hard work, the shifts have begun to catch up with me now leaving me exhausted most of the time. I made my way down the canal to good views of Sedge and Reed Warbler. On clubleys there were no dragonflies really. I finished off the walk by going round the triangle, and connected with the juvenile Redstart that had been around Rose Cottage. It showed nicely on the pavement before diving back into the bushes where it became far more elusive.
Triangle: Redshank, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Mallard, Redstart, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Starling, Swallow, House Martin, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Teal,