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,

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