Sunday, 28 August 2016

Spurn Week 11

Monday 22nd August
Having just got back from the Birdfair, I was hardly in a rush to get out of bed and go racing after birds. I got up at the delayed time of about 8, and then set off with Jonnie to go have a look round wetlands. Also immediately it became apparent that despite the winds having changed from east to west there was a massive fall of Willow Warblers. Every bush had a willow warbler in it and at gaps between vegetation they would build up. It was mental. In a loop around wetlands, beacon lane and Kilnsea we clicked 65, but there were so many more. The day total for the log was 350 but that was certainly an underestimate.
In between all the excitement of the Willow Warblers was the stunning array of juvenile waders on the wetlands. The east coast had seen a massive fall of Curlew Sandpipers over the weekend which I had missed due to Birdfair, but finally connected with four extremely smart juveniles today. Also on display were a handful of Black-tailed Godwits, a Wood Sandpiper and a really stunning Ruff. Probably the best Ruff I have ever seen, superb looking beast.
-Wood Sandpiper
-Curlew Sandpiper
-Black-tailed Godwit
In the afternoon we ended up sorting out the books from the Birdfair, so I did not get out birding. This was a shame as the peninsula looked really promising today, but alas it did not get done. Although it was a massive shame, it did mean that I was still north of the breach when the news of a Wryneck broke in the afternoon at Sandy Beaches Caravan Park. I steadily made my way over, but the bird was elusive and tricky, not easy to connect with at all. Still, it’s always a treat to see one, and it did not disappoint during the hour or so I spent watching it.

Sightings List:
Kilnsea & Beacon Lane: Pied Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Mediterranean Gull, Ruff, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Wood Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Spotted Flycatcher, Wheatear, Turnstone, Sanderling, Swift, Whinchat, Robin, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Starling, Swallow, Magpie, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Turnstone, 

Tuesday 23rd August
Having been unable to do the point yesterday due to jobs that needed to be done, today I set that to rights and made my way down as soon as possible. Fortunately there had not been a big clearout of birds overnight. I was able to count 123 Willow Warblers down the point, an astonishing number and quite an experience. Between the lighthouse and the lifeboat cottages there were at least three birds in every bush. Fantastic! Other migrants were also lingering, including double figure counts of Whinchat, Wheatear and Spotted Flycatcher, plus Pied Flycatcher and Redstart. Painted Lady butterflies were also in abundance and I flushed a Grasshopper Warbler out of the grass at the north end of the peninsula.
The point was fantastic but left me feeling pretty tired out. As a result I didn’t exactly exert myself birding in the afternoon. I headed off to look at the Wryneck in Sandy Beaches. It showed nicely, but always obscured. We were able to get close to it, and I was able to coordinate the twitchers so as to not disturb the bird. I certainly improved on the photos I managed to get the day before, that’s for certain. In doing so I may have sat on an ants nest, which was a massive bummer.
On the way out we also called in to have a look at the Red-backed Shrike in Cornerfield, but it only showed for a minute or so whilst we were there. We were also looking directly into the sun, so it’s not like my experience with the bird will be long treasured as they often are with this species.  
In the evening book duty called again, but on the way up we were treated to a real spurn rarity in the form of a Budgie. It’s my first species for my Spurn escapes list, a fine species to get the list started. We have christened him Smuggler, an apt name we felt.

Sightings List:
Spurn Peninsula: Kestrel, Yellow Wagtail, Grasshopper Warbler, Whitethroat, Wheatear, Eider, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Sedge Warbler, Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Common Sandpiper, Swallow, House Martin, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit,

Wednesday 24th August
With the easterlies now petering out Jonnie and I decided to continue with the trench for the Gas Combi Boiler at the observatory. However, when an Icterine Warbler turned up in the Obs garden we were also put on duty checking people for their being friends of Spurn when viewing. The warbler itself was initially elusive and hard work but as the day drew on it became a bit more showy. The wind did not help, as the willow trees which it was favouring were extremely mobile. Still, having visited the bird three times during the day, I did manage to get some photos that were reasonable.
In the evening after a day of trench digging I decided to head down to Seawatching. During the trench digging we were accompanied by Smuggler the Budgie for basically the whole time, offering some entertainment throughout.
-Icterine Warbler
Terns were once again very poor, but I had a smashing evening. I was scanning the horizon for something, anything really, when I picked up a small gull with extreme contrast in the ‘W’ markings in its wings. I immediately panicked knowing full well it was probably a Sabine’s. I called up the other birders in the hide to get on it, but in doing so I immediately lost it. I had to then explain what I’d seen to them, but it was a good three or four minutes before the bird was picked up again. The light was pretty funky but there was no doubt as to the birds’ identity. The same could not be said for its age. The bird was flying from us the whole time and so we could not get much on its head, but I could see no hood, suggesting it was a Juv. A cracking bird to add to the seawatch!

Species List:
Seawatching: Fulmar, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Teal, Gannet, Knot, Sandwich Tern, Arctic Skua, Sabine’s Gull, Little Gull, Kittiwake, Common Tern,

Thursday 25th August
After yesterday’s successful seawatch I was keen to get down to the Warren fairly early. The numbers of birds were again quite low, but there was a healthy Teal movement (204 N) and a couple of Skuas. However, the undoubted highlights were three juvenile Black Terns that flew out north with the morning terns moving out into the North Sea. Having never seen a juvenile Black Tern before this was quite exciting.
I made my way up the Triangle towards the Obs and Wetlands. A smart female Merlin sat on a tree at the bottom of the canal was pretty fine. Up at the wetlands there remained one Wood Sandpiper, and it had been joined by a Spotted Redshank preening itself behind the main Redshank flock, meaning photos were all but out of the question. I also had a look at the Barred Warbler that had been found at the back of the pea field behind the hide. It showed nicely but only for a short while. I really wanted to see the Corn Bunting that had been frequenting the field but I was not able to pick it out.
That being until after lunch when doing some odd jobs for Rob at the Obs when a radio message came through about a photographed YB bunting in that same pea field. We headed on up, and spent about half an hour scanning the field. It soon became apparent though that the bird photographed was just a funny looking juv Corn Bunting. Disappointing obviously but Corn Bunting is my 228th species this year, meaning I have now broken last year’s total.
In the evening after continuing with the Odd jobs I headed off down to the Seawatching again. It was very much the same as the morning, although the black tern had been replaced by Little Gull. There was finally something of an evening tern passage with about 1500 going south. A juvenile Pomarine Skua also went south, adding to the excitement.

Species List:
Seawatching: Teal, Gannet, Shelduck, Common Scoter, Cormorant, Black Tern, Oystercatcher, Fulmar, Great Skua, Sandwich Tern, Arctic Skua, Sanderling, Common Tern,  Black-headed Gull
Kilnsea Wetlands: Willow Warbler, Redstart, Cuckoo, Wood Sandpiper, Dunlin, Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Knot, Ruff, Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Barred Warbler, Whinchat, Sparrowhawk, Reed Bunting, Woodpigeon, Yellow Wagtail, Corn Bunting,
Seawatching: Teal, Arctic Skua, Common Scoter, Oystercatcher, Fulmar, Gannet, Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Little Gull, Pomarine Skua, Red-throated Diver,

Friday 26th August
Started at Seawatching but again it was quiet leaving us with nothing really. I headed back up to the observatory with Jonnie, before we headed up to Kilnsea wetlands and Easington Straight. The Gulls on the straight were of the usual assortment, with mainly common species. A few Mediterranean Gulls were thrown in the mix including a cracking Juv.
Wetlands was also fairly quiet, it not being high tide. The superb juv Ruff was still there, a real beauty, and three juvenile Little Ringed Plovers, plus the regular Wood Sandpiper. No new waders but still a fantastic selection to say the least.

Species List:
Kilnsea Wetlands: Teal, Little Ringed Plover, Ruff, Mute Swan, Mallard, Wigeon, Sandwich Tern, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Redshank, Yellow Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Mediterranean Gull,

Saturday 27th August
Another day which promised much but delivered little. Seawatching was once again quiet but there were a couple of juvenile Pomarine Skuas that went north, so that was something at least. Once we had finished there, Jonnie and I headed up to Easington Straight to look at gulls, but sadly they were largely hiding behind a mound of earth. We did count Mediterranean Gulls though and we got a good count of 50.
In the afternoon we mainly spent around the Obs, doing odd jobs and just chilling. However, that all quickly changed when news came through of a first winter Caspian Gull on the wetlands. We drove up and got to see the most perfect form of Caspian Gull you can possibly get. My only other two sightings of this species pail into insignificance compared to this bird. It was prefect, the best you could have hoped for.
-Caspian Gull

Species List:
Seawatching: Pomarine Skua, Gannet, Teal, Fulmar, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Oystercatcher, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern,
Kilnsea Wetlands: Caspian Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Redshank, Dunlin, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull,

Sunday 28th August
With a surprise BBQ planned for one of the Spurn regulars this evening I did not get to spend much time out birding. This was not a massive problem though as once again the weather that promised so much migrant fall disappointed. The best of it was a LT Skua on the sea but I was not watching when it went past, so missed it.
Birds I did see included Manx Shearwater and Sooty Shearwater as well as Arctic and Great Skuas. A Stint sp. flew north. A Little Stint seen on Holderness field was presumed to be the same bird. It was a nice enough way to spend the morning birding before I actually had to start doing stuff.

Species List:
Seawatching: Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Sandwich Tern, Manx Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Gannet, Fulmar, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Oystercatcher, Little Stint,

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