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.
-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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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,
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 PochardIn 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.
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,