Monday, 26 September 2016

Anstruther twitching Brünnich’s Guillemot

When the news of a Brünnich’s Guillemot in Fife broke on the Sunday, I registered the news with a bit of regret that I would not be able to public transport twitch it and therefore not see it. That being said, it was quickly forgotten about, the prospect of continuing to bird Spurn hardly a bad substitute. But when Andy Roadhouse came into Log asking if I wanted to go, that he was going on news in the morning, I did not hesitate for long.
News came through positive, largely unsurprising given the bird was in full wing-moult and was hardly going anywhere in a rush. We headed off at half 7, four of us in Andy’s car. We managed to get lost in Edinburgh, so that added a little extra onto the journey, meaning we arrived at Anstruther at 15.00. By this point we were all exhausted, having been lost and then driven through a fairly serious rainstorm, so we were fairly relieved when we pulled into the harbour and picked out the bird immediately.
For the next hour or so we followed the bird round as it frequently dived and vanished for extended periods. Initially we got great views, but it then swam out of the harbour mouth and was lost for about 10 minutes before it was relocated. It then swam back into the harbour right in front of us and performed fantastically. 
-Brünnich’s Guillemot
We watched the bird preen and dive just off the pier wall, sometimes almost directly below us as we stood above it to. It did not seem to care at any point, just behaving naturally, chilling around the harbour. Sadly the light was somewhat against us, the gloom of impending rainclouds meaning photography was not easy, despite the bird being as close as it was. I was a little disappointed by the number of sharp photos I got, but I can’t be picky after watching the bird perform like that.
There were some doubts raised about the bird initially, but in the field the bill alone seemed to me unquestionable. The silver stripe was extremely clear, and the shape of the bill was also so different to common guillemot, almost halfway between common and razorbill. The general size of the bird seemed striking to me, very large, almost duck sized. That being said, they are not supposed to be bigger so it could just have been the fact that it was on its own.
In the end it was a fantastic day out. Good company, great bird, nice location and a great takeaway of fish and chips with IRN BRU to drink. A classic twitch. It helped power us through the return journey, which was serious suffering as a result of the A1 being closed near Northallerton. We set off back at 17.00 but did not arrive back until 1.30 the following day. We were all really feeling it by the end of the day.

Species List:

Anstruther: Redshank, Eider, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Oystercatcher, Shag, Brünnich’s Guillemot, 

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Spurn Week 14

Spurn 19.09.2016
After possibly the most frustrating week of my life away from Spurn for my mums birthday, today I made the proud return. Yeah, I may have missed a host of rare birds (Including a mega) but now I was back to set things right.
I intended to go down to Seawatching but ended up in Canal Scrape looking for jack snipe. It was not present but whilst there Jonnie heard a Yellow-browed warbler and after a bit of a chase we nailed it in the Sycamores in canal hedge. Two years since my last of this very dainty species, so very nice to catch up with one again.
-Common Snipe
-Yellow Browed Warbler

I spent the rest of the morning walking round the triangle. A Richards pipit was reported but attempts to refind it were unsuccessful. On the canal were a very showy Common Snipe and a fairly showy Water Rail, showing especially well for how skulking they usually are.
It was whilst walking back that I probably had the best of the morning. Along the canal I passed a few birders looking for a barred warbler. It was clearly a tour group of some kind. After I had just passed them the group leader shouted ‘large bunting coming, looks like and Ortolan’. The bird was extremely vocal and then landed right in front of us on the edge of the saltmarsh. It sat out in the open for all of a minuet before flying over us and into a field not to be seen again. Whilst I got pleasing views through bins, between radioing it out and trying to get my camera out of my bag, I had ended up not seeing it for very long at all. A pity really!
The afternoon was largely spent sleeping. When I awoke we headed down to the Seawatching hide, slowly via the canal and Clubleys field. A Redstart on canal scrape was about the best of it. A couple of Snipe of Clubleys field was also a nice treat. Seawatching was dead. Really dead! Only a handful of birds in total!

Species List:
Triangle: Ortolan Bunting, Yellow-browed Warbler, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Brent Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Water Rail, Willow Warbler, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Rock Pipit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Grey Wagtail, Skylark, Starling, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Winchat, Stonechat, Wheatear,
Seawatching: Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Gull, Swallow, Red-throated Diver, Cormorant, Common Scoter

Spurn 20th September
It was another damp morning, much like the previous…
The plan was to head down to Seawatching via the canal. Along the way down the canal we picked up a few bits and pieces, the highlight being a Grasshopper Warbler skulking in the bottom of a Hawthorne bush. It’s the first time I have ever seen this species on the deck and not in flight. Once I got down to the Warren I was pretty pleased to pick up a Yellow-browed Warbler in the sycamores. Not a new bird or anything, as it had been present the previous day, but always a delight to see such smart little birds.
The sea was steady, with a trickle of Divers, Kittiwakes and Skuas all going past. A couple of very close dark phase Arctic Skuas were probably the best of it, especially when they started mobbing the terns that were blogging about. The rest of the triangle had obviously seen something of a clear-out from the previous day. There were still a few Meadow Pipits knocking about, and among them I picked out a Corn Bunting on the fence line.
The main order of the day was moving the tern equipment off the beach and into Kew. On my way up to Beacon Ponds I was treated to my first Jack Snipe of the Autumn which I flushed from sea defences at long bank. Obviously it showed no signs of slowing up once flushed, and fair pinged it towards the listening dish.

Species List:
Triangle: Lesser Whitethroat, Whinchat, Stonechat, Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Redstart, Yellow-browed Warbler, Garden Warbler, Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting, Little Grebe, Blackcap, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Willow Warbler, Swallow, House Martin,
Seawatching: Red-throated Diver, Great Skua, Arctic Skua, Sandwich Tern, Red-breasted Merganser, Teal, Tufted Duck, Common Tern, Gannet, Kittiwake, Common Gull, Razorbill
Long Bank Area: Common Snipe, Jack Snipe, Greenshank, Lapwing, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Woodpigeon, Reed Bunting, Willow Warbler, Swallow, House Martin,

Spurn 21st September
After the easterlies overnight I was obviously hopeful for some new birds having dropped in. Sadly the winds had changed and the walk round the triangle did not produce much different. Obviously though Yellow Browed Warbler is always a treat to see, and once again I picked one up in Cliffe Farm on my walk down to the Canal Zone. And the walk then ended with seeing one in the hand with one trapped and ringed in Churchfield. Such cracking little birds!
-Yellow Browed Warbler
The afternoon was spent doing work on the garage for the preparation for the new roof coming on Friday. During our work in the obs garden we had 2 more Yellow Browed Warblers and a flock of 14 Long-tailed Tits which are something of an irregularity down south of Easington.
We had just finished with the garage and I had just set off my dinner when the radio buzzed into life; Paul had recaught the Blyths Reed Warbler that I had missed on Sunday. Cue absolute pandemonium as all 7 birders sat in the obs kitchen sprung into life. Given my disastrous weekend it was good to settle my score with one of the species I missed.
The light was fading but I still managed a few decent enough shots of the bird in the hand. I’m not gonna lie, I have tried to read up on this species and I still have very little idea what I’m actually looking for beside the ‘banana shape’ which this individual did not even show. Still, something to read up on one quiet evening I suppose.
-Blyths Reed Warbler
The bird was released after being shown to the small crowd that had gathered. Its weight had gone up substantially since its previous trapping on Sunday, which is a sign the bird had obviously made itself at home in the area. It begs the question as to why nobody had seen it over the past few days, as its skulked away through the undergrowth no doubt.  

Species List:
Triangle: Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Linnet, Lesser Whitethroat, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Mallard, Teal, Shelduck, Herring Gull, Whinchat, Stonechat, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Turnstone, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank,

Spurn 22nd September
Wednesday morning brought a change in the weather, and with it the emphasis changed from bush bashing into vis-migging. So I headed down to the warren in the morning, as per, hoping for a good day’s passage, or something moving on the sea.
As it happened I got neither of those. The previous night there had been a photo sent through the Spurn account of a Siberian stonechat seen the previous day. It was somewhere down the point and as a result the effort given to trying to refind the bird was negligible. As a result, I decided to go down and hopefully recover the bird.
Sadly I did not recover the bird, although it would not surprise me if it were still down there. Birds as a whole were at a bit of a premium. I heard a Yellow-browed Warbler but could not get it out of the bushes. A few Wheatears were still around at various points along the road and a smart Lesser Whitethroat was probably the best of it.
In the afternoon I made the most of the bike that we have at the Obs and made my way up to Kilnsea to count the wildfowl, the down to the canal scrape to see if any snipe had dropped in. The wetlands was good, with 209 Wigeon, 92 Teal plus small clusters of Shoveler and Pintail. The canal did not have the variety as Wetlands but did have a Kingfisher on it, which is always a bonus. I was able to grab a few photos but the light was badly against me.
After Canal Scrape I was beginning to cycle back when a radio message came over of a possible Siberian stonechat ‘stejneger’ at the Warren. I know nothing on this topic, but went along to learn. In the end all birders there left none the wiser. The consensus was that the bird would have to be trapped and sampled to be anywhere certain, but it was in the company of 2 other European Stonechat and there was no obvious difference in the field.

Species List:
Triangle: Brent Goose, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wigeon, Merlin, Kestrel, Long-tailed Tit, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Mallard, Dunlin, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Teal, Redstart, Little Egret, Moorhen, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Common Snipe, Kingfisher, Meadow Pipit, Swallow,
Spurn Peninsula: Wheatear, Song Thrush, Turnstone, Knot, Rock Pipit, Willow Warbler, Eider, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Little Gull, Cormorant, Brent Goose, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Kestrel, Golden Plover, Grey Plover,
Kilnsea Wetlands: Mediterranean Gull, Wigeon, Greenshank, Lapwing, Ruff, Teal, Knot, Shoveler, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Jackdaw, Magpie, Common Snipe, Mallard, Herring Gull, Wigeon, Swallow, Meadow Pipit,

Spurn 23rd September
Today was basically given up to the construction of the new garage roof at the observatory. That being said we did get out birding a little bit. Most of the birding we did get done was on canal scrape, largely looking for and then at the Jack Snipe that finally decided to show somewhat. It showed badly obscured and asleep but I have now finally seen it. Hopefully in the coming days it will decide to show a bit better…
-Jack Snipe
Also on the agenda was chasing down yesterday’s Stonechat but to no avail. To consensus seems to be that it’s just a normal Stonechat anyway, which suits me as I could see no difference in the bird the previous evening. However in being down at the warren I was on hand to admire the Long-tailed Tits that the ringers caught. It was the same flock that had been around for some time and all the birds caught had previously been caught by Paul only a couple of days ago.
-Long-tailed Tit

Species List:
Triangle: Stonechat, Whinchat, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Common Snipe, Jack Snipe, Dunlin, Jackdaw, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Yellow-browed Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Mallard, Wigeon, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Hobby, Sandwich Tern,

Spurn 24th September
With the garage roof all but done, we were afforded more time to go out birding. Of course the first port of call was Canal Scrape to see if the Jack Snipe was showing at all. It was, and much better than yesterday. With the morning light still very much sub-par I decided my best option  was to phone scope it which did get some results, although not as fantastic as I would have liked. In the end, the bird bobbed away into the reeds until all you could see was its bobbing profile.
-Jack Snipe
Next call was numpties for the Vis-mig. There was a steady flow of a mixture of species, but it was by no means exceptional. A few finches, Hirundines and Meadow Pipits were the main movers. The undoubted highlight was a Merlin that flew past us a couple of times, fairly close too, and then proceeded to chase starlings over Clubleys field.
After a short food break I headed onto Wetlands for a look at the high tide waders. Sadly none came on. A few Waders already present were showing well, as they often do from the hide. I resorted to counting the ducks, but even their numbers had seemingly dropped off.
The afternoon was largely spent running up and down Easington Straight after a possible pacific golden plover but sadly nothing much came of it, and then the task of moving wood into the new woodshed. However, the day reached its peak when late afternoon I sacked off the wood moving and went to have another look at the Jack Snipe, and the Jack Snipe was obliging greatly by sitting right out in the open, showing well. I think it’s best to let the photos do the talking on this one…

Species List:
Triangle: Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Red-throated Diver, Starling, Merlin, Shelduck, Mallard, Black-headed Gull, Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Cormorant, Gannet, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Wigeon, Moorhen, Little Egret,
Kilnsea Wetlands: Knot, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, Little Egret, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Wigeon, Teal, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Swallow,

Spurn 25.09.2016
After a night in the pub, and with an oncoming cold I was not exactly in a rush to get out of bed in the morning. When I did eventually get up, eventually being 7.30, I headed down to the canal scrape in the hope of seeing the Jack Snipe in good light, but sadly it was not showing. A Water Rail made a brief appearance and a Common Snipe showed very nice.
Most of the day was spent sorting out wood, but had a few breaks to go out birding, namely a return trip to the Jack Snipe which had now come out and was showing well. This was followed by a trip to the Borrow Pits for a reported Red-crested Pochard, which was still there among the mallards, but obviously has to have some questions over its origins. That being said, there are a number of Spurn birders who seem to think that it has indeed got some credentials, so we will see what happens to it…
-Red Crested Pochard
In the evening I checking in on the Jack Snipe again, which continued to show well. The problem was the light was against me trying to improve on the photos which I had already got. I decided not to stay long and then go down to the Seawatching. It was fairly quiet down there, but a nice movement of Mediterranean Gulls, about 25, was something a bit different and made going down worthwhile.
-Jack Snipe

Species List:
Triangle: Water Rail, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Whinchat, Reed Bunting, Red-crested Pochard, Little Grebe, Mallard, Moorhen, Dunlin, Swallow, House Martin, Grey Heron, Woodpigeon, House Sparrow, Kestrel,
Seawatching: Arctic Skua, Common Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Gannet, Razorbill, Red-throated Diver, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Swallow,

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Spurn Week 13

Monday 05th September
After yesterday’s mental day on the sea I was keen to get down to the Seawatching hut in the hope of a corys or something. Sadly the best of it obviously went by yesterday. A few Manx Shearwaters, Fulmars and Arctic Skuas all went past but not in the numbers seen yesterday.
Walking round the triangle produced a few goodies. Snipe and Green Sandpiper were probably the best of it, except for 8 Jackdaw which U-turned. Not a common species here at all. Once the Seawatching died down we spent the afternoon just doing odd jobs, namely cleaning out the caravan. That then turned into demolishing the old decrepit woodshed next to it, but that meant spending time around the Obs, which produced a nice Obs tick in the form of a Corn Bunting.

Sightings List:
Seawatching: Manx Shearwater, Fulmar, Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern,
Triangle: Wigeon, Gadwall, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Reed Warbler, Jackdaw, Willow Warbler, Carrion Crow, Robin, Dunnock, Corn Bunting,

Tuesday 06th September 
Once more I was on Seawatching by 7. This was the first day with any real duck movement, as was apparent as soon as I arrived at the hide. Teal were moving past in large flocks all morning, and among them there were a few mixed flocks of other ducks. A nice gathering of species was accumulated over the morning, including a single Pochard, 9 Pintail (8 in a single flock) a Shoveler and a handful of Wigeon. The Teal total for the day clocked out at just short of 1000. A Pale-bellied Brent Goose also flew south, just to add to the variety.
-Mixed Duck flock (Pintail, Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal)
In the afternoon the sun got especially warm, so I decided to go for a nap. As a result I ended up napping for over 3 hours. We tried ringing Terns in the evening but once again failed. Saw possibly the most spectacular shooting star I’ve seen to date, but that was about it due to a technical fault with the megaphone.

Species List:
Seawatching: Common Teal, Grey Wagtail, Pochard, Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon, Arctic Skua, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Gannet, Great Black-backed Gull, Meadow Pipit, Swallow, House Martin, 

Wednesday 07th September
This morning allowed me the luxury of not going birding but instead waiting for the gas men to arrive to fit some new pipework at the obs. However, fortunately they arrived fairly early, allowing us to be down at Seawatching by 8. Birds on the sea were limited, although I did miss a balearic shearwater whilst waiting for the gas men.
As a result I ended up heading down to the new narrows in order to watch the spectacular movement of Swallows, Martins and Meadow Pipits. AH was doing most of the clicking, whilst JF did House Martins. I was left at a loss and spent my time picking things out that were none of the above species. Highlights included a Black-throated Diver going north and a Black Tern flying along the side of the Humber. A Curlew Sandpiper flew past in a flock of Dunlin and a handful of Manx Shearwaters flew past. JF also got me a Spurn tick in the form of a Common Seal that swam south close in shore. A rare occurrence here!
-Common Seal
Late morning was supposed to be when we were having a haircut. It was at precisely the moment we were meant to be leaving that the anticipated Great White Egret which had flown south from Hornsea during the morning arrived at the ponds. We were fortunate that the bird was viewable from the road and we were able to stop off on our way up. The views were somewhat distant but there was no bother at all telling what it was.
-Great-white Egret
It might seem sad that we had to leave the Egret for a haircut up in Easington, but in the garden of the house where we were at I got myself another Spurn tick. A long expected Spurn tick at that; a Coal Tit! It flitted around for a little bit before it dropped into the conifer and we lost it. Still, a long awaited Spurn tick finally bites the dust.
In the afternoon I headed off round Beacon Lane and then back down to Seawatching. A Great-spotted Woodpecker was a nice addition to the day list, as were 7 Whinchat along the fence line. At Sea a few more Manx Shearwater were moving, as were a handful of Little Gull. A Merlin flew over the Seawatching hide hunting the now reduced flow of Hirundines going south.

Sightings List:
Seawatching/Vis-migging: Black Tern, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Wheatear, Black-throated Diver, Red-throated Diver, Manx Shearwater, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Oystercatcher, Common Scoter, Common Teal, Little Gull, Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Great-white Egret, Linnet,
Triangle: Great-spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, Whinchat, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Wheatear, Redshank, Mallard, Little Egret, Black-headed Gull, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Robin, Tree Sparrow,

Thursday 8th September
Morning was naturally spent down at Numpties, initially watching the sea but then it became more viz-migging. Its worth noting that neither were particularly successful. A Manx Shearwater on the Humber was probably the best of it, giving pretty fine views.
The rest of the day was largely spent sorting out bits and pieces for the Migration festival. I did spend a bit of time hunting for the apparent diamond dove around the caravan site, but again unsuccessfully...

Sightings List:
Numtpies: Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Manx Shearwater, Teal, Gannet, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Swallow, House Martin, Black-headed Gull, Great Tit,

Friday 9th September
The start of the 4th annual Migfest meant only one thing: Parking duty. Much as I love talking to people as they come in, seeing old friends and chatting to new people, I would obviously rather be out birding. In the end though, I did not get much done at all.
The morning had started with promise, a corncrake dropped into churchfield, but our attempts to refind it proved unsuccessful. By the time we had wrapped that up we were called upon to show people the way to park, and so the days birding was done.

Saturday 10th September
The first full day of Migfest is probably the last day of the year that we want to rain. Sadly though, it decided to rain all day. ALL DAY!!! It became apparent early morning that we might struggle for something for the people to do, but that was not the case. People still took up the walks being given out.
Then the big one broke (In Spurn terms anyway). I was checking the book shops with Jonnie when the radio crackled into life. I barely heard the message but I could have sworn it said Kentish Plover. I excalimed this to Jonnie who said that was not what he had heard. I ran round to the next bay where there were more birders. I asked them what they heard, exclaiming what I thought I had heard. Nobody had heard it, and given that nobody was running I presumed I had been wrong. A couple of radio messages filtered through about lifts, so we decided to ask what the species had been. After about 5 minutes of trying we finally got a response that it was indeed a Kentish Plover. We raced to Sammies where it had been but as we arrived the bird apparently flew. Nobody saw it leave but we were not able to see it and it did not reappear.
We searched but it was assumed to be lost, the best hope being that the tide might push it back in. I headed down to the Warren where I was supposed to be leading a wader identification session. Whilst here a young birder told me that the Kentish had apprently relocated to Wetlands. I radioed this and it was very quickly confirmed. Que a mad dash up to Wetlands. I ran up to long bank where there was already a sizeable crowd and got the scope on it. Got it.
Just in time, as the radio buzzed up asking who was doing the wader watch that I supposed to be doing. I ran back to grab a lift and in the end I was only 2 minutes late, although I had to work hard to keep it that minimal, including leaving my scope up at the plover.
Once the session was over I headed back up to Long Bank with a few of the guys that had been on my wader watch. The Plover was still there and reunited with my scope I was finally able to settle on the bird. After a while we headed round to the hide where it showed incredibly well right in front of the hide. Fantastic, the first Spurn record since 2000! Remarkably the bird was too close to digiscope, and with all my optics fogged from the rain I did struggle to get a photo
-Kentish Plover
-Kentish Plover (Matt Hobbs)
In all the excitement it would be easy to forget other species that were about. A juvenile Little Stint on Beacon Ponds was a nice addition to the day list, although there have been birds on Holderness field for some time. A third calendar year gull landed on wetlands which has gone down as a Caspian Gull. It certainly looks like one, although I have concerns about the shape of the forehead, which seems a little steep. Sadly at this age there is nothing diagnostic on them. The consensus is that it is indeed a Caspian Gull though, and I agree despite my concerns.
-Caspian Gull (Matt Hobbs)
In the afternoon I ended up doing a walk in Easington, although I have never birded there before. It was useful to learn some of the locations but we saw precious little. A flock of Long-tailed tits was probably the highlight, an usual species south of Easington for the Spurn area.
By late afternoon people had all but had enough on the rain. I was placed on Parking duty again, probably so an eye was always kept on me to make sure I did not run away from my duties again. 

Species List
Warren: Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Knot, Redshank. Dunlin, Sanderling, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Dunnock, Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Turnstone,
Kilnsea Wetlands: Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Little Stint, Ringed Plover, Knot, Greenshank, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Caspian Gull, Curlew Sandpiper, 
Easington: Whinchat, Meadow Pipit, Willow Warbler, Robin, Wren, Sedge Warbler, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Long-tailed Tit, House Sparrow, 

Sunday 11th September
After yesterdays downpour all day it was a much improved day today, bright and sunny. The change of wind direction had brought a massive meadow pipit passage. Everyone seemed to have gone down there though, so I decided to head up to the Wetlands. Here there was hardly anyone about, leaving the hide largely empty. The plover was not seen again, but there was a nice Wood Sandpiper right in front of the hide which was extremely obliging for photos.
-Wood Sandpiper
The rest of the day was spent doing off bits for the festival including, you guessed it, car parking duty. It was not so bad in clear conditions and I was treated to flyby Peregrine and an impressive flock of Golden Plover.
As we were wrapping up the bits and pieces in the late afternoon I also got a Spurn Tick. We had just left Canal Scrape Car Park when the radio buzzed that a Water Rail was showing. We stopped in to have a quick look but I had no camera as we had been picking up festival bits. Still, its nice to see one showing out in the open like that.

Species List:
Kilnsea Wetlands: Wigeon, Shoveler, Willow Warbler, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Mediterranean Gull, Greylag Goose, Woodpigeon, Dunlin, 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Spurn Week 12

Monday 29th August
Having been up partying til 3 in the morning, I was somewhat surprised to find myself awake and feeling fresh at 8 in the morning. I made my way up to Sammies to see if any migrants had dropped in. There was a surprising lack of new migrants, only a couple of Wheatear and Whinchat. Perhaps most surprising was a juvenile Blackcap, which was the first of the autumn.
In the afternoon Tim and I headed up to Beacon Ponds. Best of it were two Little Stints on Holderness Field. A couple of Snipe and an impressive 373 Ringed Plover were on the ponds, the Ringed Plover especially were impressive. It was whilst we were there that news of perhaps the most bizarre bird I can remember, a Sunbird, in Ian Smiths garden.
We did not exactly rush off but we made our way over steadily. When we arrived the bird was still showing, feeding on the Fuchsias. Having never seen a Sunbird, not even in captivity, I was pretty thrilled to see it. Initially it was thought to be a female Palestinian Sunbird,  but upon review it was changed to a female Variable Sunbird. I couldn’t comment, as I know absolutely nothing about Sunbirds, but it was just nice to sit there and enjoy it. Obviously it was an escape, but it was behaving naturally and that was nice to see. Bizarrely, I would have said that it was one of the best birds I have seen in my time at Spurn.
-Variable Sunbird

Species List:
Sammies Point: Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chaffinch, Wheatear, Whinchat, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbird, Magpie,

Beacon Ponds: Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Oystercatcher, Wood Sandpiper, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Linnet, Ruff, Common Snipe, 

Tuesday 30th August
Taking down the fence! Hardly the world’s most fun job but it’s the last task facing me in regards to the 2016 Little Tern project. Half the fence was taken down today, with the other half tomorrow.
Obviously this does not leave much scope for birding but being at ponds there is always something. Yesterday’s impressive count of Ringed Plover remained despite our ongoing work there. No accurate count today as we were all pretty tired. There was also 9 Lapwing and 12 Greenshank to add to the mix of species. A Wood Sandpiper, probably the one from Wetlands, was on Holderness field on my way back. When the beach gulls all got flushed there were a large number of Mediterranean Gulls flying around overhead, which were stunningly white.
Whilst chilling back at the Observatory we received a cracking surprise when Rich Swales dropped off a juvenile Gannet in a box. It had been handed in obviously not feeling well, although the actual cause was unclear until ringing was attempted, at which point it was realised that the left leg was swollen. The bird was decided not to be ringed and was released off the cliff. A truly fantastic bird to see in the hand. But that was not the end of birds in the hand, as later in the evening Steve, Jonnie and I headed off up to Out-Newton to pick up an injured owl, that turned into a Tawny Owl, a species I have never seen at Spurn. It will be taken to the vets tomorrow.
All in all a rather pleasing day. It’s certainly a relief to have started taking down the fence.
Species list:
Beacon Ponds: Lapwing, Redshank, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Oystercatcher, Wood Sandpiper, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swift, Linnet,

Wednesday 31st August
Continued with the fence today. It was finally all finished at around 14.00, by which point I was absolutely exhausted. By the time I made it back to the Obs I could not face going out again, so spent the rest of the day working on the tern report.
Birds seen whilst taking down the fence were obviously limited but a flyover Snipe was obviously nice and the couple of Wheatears on the beach were pretty fine, as Wheatears tend to be…
Sightings List:
Beacon Ponds: Teal, Mallard, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Kestrel, Swallow, Sand Martin, Common Snipe, Wheatear,

Thursday 01st September
My first day unemployed, how about that. Still, there were plenty of jobs to be getting on with, and I spent most of the day waiting for Jonnie to arrive so as we could begin filling in the base we had dug out with concrete, for the gas tank.
Upon realising Jonnie was going to have to go into work, I had a short walk round Kilnsea village, picking up a couple of Willow Warblers and a few Wheatear. All nice stuff but no evidence of much changing just yet…
Spent the afternoon sorting out the books at the Obs and then clearing out the caravan to finally make it liveable in for the first time in three months…
Sightings List:
Kilnsea: Willow Warbler, Linnet, House Martin, Wheatear, House Sparrow, Swallow, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie,

Friday 02nd September 
No birding at all done today, as it was spent continuing to make the caravan somewhat hospitable. By the end of the day though the task had been completed and we were finally able to say job well done.

Saturday 03rd September 
Now that all the odd jobs seem to have been done it’s about time I actually got on with some birding. After all, it is the reason that I am staying on for the autumn…
I headed down to Seawatching first thing and was rewarded with a couple of distant Sooty Shearwaters and a distant Manx Shearwater. An Arctic Skua also flew by but on the whole there was not a great deal happening. Such as has been the story on the sea for the majority of the summer.
Walking to and from the Seawatching Hide I had a bit more luck, with a cracking adult Yellow-legged Gull on the tank blocks and at least 4 Wheatear on the canal bank. That was something at least, but sadly after lunch all birding was brought to a halt when the heavens opened. Sad really, that all the days spent working were all nice days, and now there are no jobs to do it started raining.
In the evening I headed back down to Seawatching. The number of terns was quite limited, but the birds were moving through close in the murky conditions. There was a single juvenile Roseate Tern moving through with the terns, looking cracking and white in the evening gloom.
Sightings List:
Seawatching: Gannet, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Knot, Ringed Plover, Fulmar, Arctic Skua, Manx Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Roseate Tern, Arctic Tern,
Triangle: Yellow-legged Gull, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Wheatear, Wren, Willow Warbler, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Magpie, Oystercatcher, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Shelduck,

Sunday 04th September
I made my way down to Seawatching in the morning in the hope that something good might fly past on the sea. It was fairly disappointing though, the best of it being a Great-crested Grebe, a Grey Heron and a couple of Manx Shearwaters.
I headed off before 9.00 in the morning to have a look in the bushes. This turned up trumps as I spotted only the second Chiff-chaff of the Autumn. When the dull Phylloscopus Warbler alighted briefly next to me it set my pulse racing, but after a good ten mins of searching I managed to get good enough views to establish it did not have a wing bar…
After a walk round the triangle I headed back to the Obs. After a light snack I decided to head back down to Seawatching, as it sounded like it had picked up. On the way down, I received a couple of messages regarding Skuas going south, to confirm that it had indeed picked up...
Once there I was rewarded for returning, with an hour or so of really good Seawatching. Over 40 Arctic Skuas went south, plus 2 Pomarine Skuas. Also 19 Manx Shearwaters and a smashing 62 Fulmar all going south, an impressive sight to see; flocks of Fulmars and Skuas all going south. However, the highlight was only my second ever Long-tailed Skua. It was distant and did not show any dip-feeding behaviour but it was noticeably more slender. Only my second ever as I said and much better views than the last one I saw.
Birds on the sea were more than just the Skuas and Shearwaters. 139 Common Teal flew south with a few Wigeon also in tow. The first Bar-tailed Godwits of the autumn came in off the sea, with 104 at least seen coming on. Red-throated Divers also flew south intermittently and a couple of Grey Heron flew north. Even large flocks of over 50 Feral Pigeon were seen going north, plus my first September Swifts of the year.
By three in the afternoon it had all but dried up though. I headed back for a nap, then to the pub to watch the England game. All in all a much improved day on the slower bird days of the last week.
Species List:
Seawatching: Manx Shearwater, Grey Heron, Great-crested Grebe, Red-throated Diver, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua, Great Skua, Long-tailed Skua, Common Teal, Wigeon, Fulmar, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Sanderling, Dunlin, Swift, Common Scoter, Gannet, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Feral Pigeon,
Triangle: Chiff-chaff, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Little Egret, Dunlin, Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Swallow, Sand Martin,