Sunday, 30 October 2016

Spurn Week 19

Spurn 24.10.2016
Without rain the easterlies did not deliver in the way that the previous set had. That being said there was still a host of goodies to be had. We started the day by going down to the Snow Bunting that was present at Sandy Beaches and had continued to show well. We were able to get fairly close to it and get some nice photos.
-Snow Bunting
We walked the triangle and ended up back at the Obs. Whilst snacking at the obs we received news of a Long-tailed Duck at Kilnsea Wetlands. We raced up there but the bird had already gone, shortly after to reappear on the Humber. Having got to wetlands in the first place I could not face continuing to chase the duck around and proceeded to count the wildfowl. However, when we had finished there the duck was still present, so I headed down. At this point the bird, which had been sat in the middle of the Humber, began to move closer and soon was paddling just offshore allowing fantastic views of the species which previously I have only seen out at sea.
-Long-tailed Duck
Buzzed from that I decided to have a walk round the triangle, for which I was joined by Mick Cunningham. We had a good walk, the highlights being the presumed Northern Bullfinch, but we did not hear it call and see the bird at the same time. We also saw a Yellow-browed Warbler in Canal Hedge, which was the first one I have seen for some time.

Species List:
Kilnsea Wetlands: Mallard, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Teal, Lapwing, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Knot, Little Grebe, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Curlew,
Triangle: Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Siskin, Blackcap, Robin, Bullfinch, Song Thrush, Fieldfare, Snipe, Lesser Whitethroat, Yellow-browed Warbler, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Chiffchaff, Brambling, Peregrine, Black-tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Redwing,

Spurn 25.10.2016
Of the most recent easterlies period today looked the most promising. However it started slow and until the afternoon not much really happened. A pine bunting was seen briefly but flew north and was not seen again. The search round the area did not produce much and by lunchtime I had all but given up on it reappearing.
As a result I made the plunge and went down the point again to have another look at the Stenejers Stonechat. Given the wind change tomorrow, I doubt it will be staying overnight. I got down there and soon got to grips with the Stonechat. It was not showing massively close but was showing well and I was able to get better views of the rump.
-Stenejers Stonechat
I made a small detour to have a look for a reported Little Bunting, but I did not look particularly hard. I wandered round the point but became disillusioned with not finding any birds. As a result I called it quits and was about to set off back when the radio buzzed into life that a Red-flanked Bluetail had been found at the point. Despite a few rare things turning up back at the top I decided to stay and have a look at the Bluetail down here. On my way through the shrubbery to the location described I spotted a passerine lift up from the path into the bushes, and when I got onto it through bins I was surprised to see that it was the Little Bunting. It sat in the open for a few seconds before it dived into the shrubbery calling. I had a quick look but decided it was not worth chasing.
I got to the Bluetail location where a handful of people were already. Dave Constantine showed me the back of his camera and was absolutely stunned. The bird was a fully blue adult male. Now seriously excited I continued looking for the bird. The relief and awe when we first picked it up, before we got to enjoy it all and revel in what was a truly stunning bird. We saw it a few more times but the bird was mobile and quite elusive. It sat out when it showed but not for long, before it would drop into the bushes and go missing. Over an hour or so we had a few good views of it, but nothing that would allow me to get the cracking shots that would do the bird justice. After an hour it dropped and did not show again for long enough for me to decided that the time had come to leave and head back up north. Views through the bins were almost exceptional, and the bird was without doubt one of the best birds I have ever seen.
-Red-flanked Bluetail
Back up top I decided to check out the rarest bird of the day in Easington; an Eastern Black Redstart. Not a tick, but a really smart bird. When I got up there the light was fading but the bird was showing well and I was able to get a few acceptable photos of it. Obviously the bird is only a subspecies but it’s still a stunner and I’m glad I went up to see it.
-Eastern Black Redstart

Species List:
Spurn Peninsula: Little Bunting, Siberian Stonechat (Stenejeri), Red-flanked Bluetail, Reed Bunting, Siskin, Greenfinch, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Sparrowhawk, Swallow, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Robin, Wren, Chaffinch, Brambling,
Kilnsea: Long-tailed Tit, Common Snipe, Stock Dove, Black Redstart, Robin, Wren, Chaffinch, Swallow, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow,

Spurn 26.10.2016
The weather changed again, from the short easterly period into a period of prolonged south-westerly. I was hoping for an insane vis-migging session, but sadly movement as very steady and there was not a great deal moving. The undoubted highlight was when a shrill call alerted us to the presence of a Waxwing on the bushes at the Warren and showing nicely. It showed for about 10 mins before it turned around and flew north.
Late morning/afternoon was spent wandering round the wetlands and the triangle to see if there was anything new in. Wetlands was fairly quiet, with a large clear-out of wildfowl but still a few bits and pieces. Paul caught a Woodcock at Kew which I went to have a look at. During the afternoon I walked round the triangle where I had a smashing Merlin north and a flock of six Whooper Swans south.
-Whooper Swan
A much quieter day overall than yesterday…

Species List:
Triangle: Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Wigeon, Robin, Siskin, Blackbird, Goldcrest, Song Thrush, Merlin, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Little Egret, Wigeon, Teal, Turnstone, Redwing, Waxwing, Woodcock, Jack Snipe,
Kilnsea Wetlands: Mallard, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Wigeon, Teal, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Knot, Brent Goose, Black-headed Gull, Woodpigeon, Goldcrest, Magpie, Carrion Crow,

Spurn 27.10.2016
With a RL buzzard on the east coast I was out at Numpties for first thing. Sadly though the bird never appeared and the steady state of passage that we had seen yesterday continued into today. In fairness though there were still plenty of good birds. Up to three Swallows went south, which could well be the last ones I see this year and are almost certainly my latest birds ever.

As yesterday, there was clear highlight when 3 Shorelarks flew south flying past numpties. Common Buzzard, Twite and a reasonable passage of corvids and tree sparrows made for a reasonable supporting cast. However once passage had slowed down the day ground to something of a halt, with previous days remaining birds seemingly moved on leaving us with not much at all.

Species List:
Triangle: Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Shore Lark, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Starling, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Linnet, Twite, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Kestrel, Little Egret, Wigeon, Greylag Geese, Brent Goose, Mallard, Golden Plover,

Spurn 28.10.2016
With a Spurn wedding later in the day, the birding force at Spurn was vastly reduced. I was left in charge of the daily log and sorting the daily recording. I started up at Numpties, which was where I spent most of the morning. The passage was fairly average, with a good variety of species but no massive movement. A couple of Twite, a Merlin and a Short-eared Owl were the best of it, the Merlin especially giving great views as it flew by.
Come early afternoon I decided to get on with some outstanding jobs around the Obs garden. Whilst I was doing this the radio buzzed into life that a Rough-legged Buzzard was flying over Kilnsea. I rushed over the Obs to see everyone in it rushing out! The Buzzard was already on it was down being mobbed by a crow, but once it had entered the triangle to settled down and spent the rest  of the day blogging around. At times it showed incredibly well, sat on a fence post before flying only a few feet over our heads. So far as showing well goes for raptors, it does not get much better than this. The bird is thought to be an adult male, possibly a returning bird from the last couple of years.
-Rough-legged Buzzard

Species List:
Triangle: Chaffinch, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Mistle Thrush, Twite, Woodpigeon, Ringed Plover, Siskin, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Stock Dove, Redpoll, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Common Scoter, Merlin, Pintail, Swallow, Long-tailed Tit, Skylark, Jackdaw, Rook, Grey Wagtail, Knot, Golden Plover, Short-eared Owl, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Rough-legged Buzzard,

Spurn 29.10.2016
The continued lack of Spurn birders (for the morning at least) left open the possibility of glory, in that fewer birders to notice things meant more chance of picking it up myself. However, I was keener to test myself Viz-migging, see how much I had learnt. As a result I headed up to numpties where, for over an hour, I was on my own. It was a challenge but also rewarding, as I picked up a Lapland Bunting going down the cliffs, and a couple of Long-tailed Ducks going south on the sea.
After a while I was joined by a couple of other Spurn birders who were still on site. As the morning drew on we added a Waxwing going north and a pair of Snow Buntings going south. Overall it was a very successful morning. By mid-morning though birders started to return, so I spent most of the day either napping or doing odd-jobs.
Perhaps the most exciting bird of the day was when Barry radioed up that he had caught a Bullfinch and asked if we want to see it. I should state that I was unaware of the issues surrounding Bullfinches and ringing, so I blissfully photographed the bird. Fortunately the bird did not keel over and die in the hand, but in future I will think twice about Bullfinches in the hand.

Species List:
Triangle: Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Rook, Lapland Bunting, Long-tailed Duck, Jackdaw, Siskin, Rock Pipit, Greylag Goose, Skylark, Linnet, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Grey Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Whooper Swan, Common Scoter, Waxwing, Twite, Snow Bunting, Pied Wagtail, Wigeon, Carrion Crow, Tree Sparrow,

Spurn 30.10.2016
The continued westerlies meant a lack of new birds incoming and as a result it made birding a bit more challenging that it had been the last few weeks. I headed down the point to check the beach for wheatears, but I failed to find any. That being said I did have a few nice bits and pieces, including a Snow Bunting, Purple Sandpiper and a personal highlight; Firecrest.
By midday I had returned from the point and spent the afternoon clearing up the garden by doing a host of outstanding odd jobs. In the end it felt like a rather productive day despite the lack of birds. That is all that I can really say for it to be honest…

Species List:

Spurn Peninsula: Snow Bunting, Purple Sandpiper, Firecrest, Blackbird, Robin, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Fieldfare, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Sparrowhawk, Wren, Dunnock, 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Spurn Week 18

Spurn 17.10.2016
With the week starting up again, the pressure on the twitch was reduced, allowing me to wake up at a normal time. The Siberian Accentor was still present, remarkably really, but the number of people who came to see it was vastly reduced from what it had been. We started by having a fairly casual stroll down the triangle, which did not yield massive results but watching two Lapland Buntings mobbing a Kestrel was something pretty special.
We ended up down at Numpties in good Vis-mig conditions. 900+ Tree Sparrows, 700+ Goldfinch, 500+ Linnets plus plenty of other things! It was a great mornings birding, with a wide variety of species. Skylarks were one of the main species moving, coming through it small flocks infrequently.
-Tree Sparrow
It was whilst we were standing there that news came through that a probable Isabelline Wheatear at the Easington Boatyard. I grabbed a lift up as soon as, and when we arrived up there the identification was all but confirmed. The bird was showing fairly well in a field just down from long bank. Even having seen one before it was really informative listening to the birders run through all the features of the identification of this tricky species. All were satisfied in the end and we settled down to watch another mega rarity grace the area in this autumn of all autumns. Wheatears are obviously my favourite birds and to have the privilege of seeing the Uks second rarest for the second time in three years is a massive privilege.
-Isabelline Wheatear
After an hour or so we decided to move on. We chose to walk back via the lagoons in the hope of picking something like a shore lark up. Whilst we were walking down we picked up a pair of Bean Geese flying south low enough to grab a few photos of them. Cracking to see more of these rare geese during this small influx! The radio then crackled into life that a Glossy Ibis had been photographed flying south from Easington within the last hour. It did not take long before it had been picked up circling over Wetlands. We picked it up quickly and watched it descend onto the wetlands itself. We dashed along, cutting out most of the rest of our walk, the only additional bird we saw was a Grasshopper Warbler, in order to arrive and see it before it decided to move on again. We crept up on it from long bank and were able to get fantastic views before it lifted off and continued south.
-Tundra Bean Geese
-Glossy Ibis
By now it was early afternoon and I headed into Withernsea with Paul to finally get some shopping done. Upon my return I decided to try for the apparently showy dusky warbler down the point. Alas it was not showing when I got down there but that could be the result of a sudden downpour that went through before I arrived, and the fact that it was early evening. A Woodcock and a very tame Robin were the best of my trip down the point.

Species List:
Triangle: Common Snipe, Ring Ouzel, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Blackbird, Redwing, Fieldfare, Shore Lark, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Linnet, Brambling, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Goldcrest, Moorhen, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Mediterranean Gull, Goosander, Mallard, Skylark, Rook, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Reed Bunting,
Easington Lagoons & Kilnsea Wetlands: Northern Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Tundra Bean Goose, Mallard, Glossy Ibis, Wigeon, Song Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Grasshopper Warbler, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Reed Bunting,
Spurn Peninsula: Woodcock, Robin, Goldcrest, Kestrel, Chiffchaff, Wren, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush, Brent Goose,

Spurn 18.10.2016
A westerly wind and the prospect of showers throughout the day meant that Jonnie and myself finally got to Hull to do all the odd jobs that we had been putting off during the extended easterly period. We arrived back at the observatory just as heavy rain set in. As a result the only birds I saw today was a flock of Pink-footed Geese that were pushed through by the storm as it approached. Tomorrow I intend to make up for my lack of birding today.

Spurn 19.10.2016
A full day of birding as opposed to yesterday’s none birding day. I was a little sluggish getting going in the morning but decided to pay a visit to the two Megas still gracing Easington with their presence. On the way up Easington Straight my attention was drawn to a flock of swans on Kilnsea Wetlands. I checked them out to find 7 Whooper Swans there, which I scoped to prevent any possible disturbance.
-Whooper Swan
My first port of call was to the Isabelline Wheatear, but it had just rained and the bird was hardly looking at its glamorous best. It came fairly close but was incredibly mobile and difficult to phone-scope. I grabbed a few and managed a few more with the actual camera. It’s an improvement on what I had but regardless it’s still great to see such a rare bird again, plus it’s a wheatear, which is always a win.
-Isabelline Wheatear
After an hour or so with the Wheatear I headed off to look at the Siberian Accentor again. It showed well where it was for about 2 mins before it flew into the Gas Compound where it proved more elusive as it scurried through cover on the far side of the fence. I managed to get a few photos of it but it’s not really an improvement on what I had before. I spent about 2 hours with it, with an hours break in between for lunch. Both times it remained in the Gas Compound, restricting my ability to photograph it, and it remained obscured for most of the time I was present.
-Siberian Accentor

After that it was mid-afternoon, so I headed down to the Wetlands to count the ducks. Nothing really any different was on offer, but there continued to be decent numbers of Wigeon and a few Shoveler were nice.

Species List:
Easington: Isabelline Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Swallow, House Martin, Siberian Accentor, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull,
Kilnsea Wetlands: Whooper Swan, Shoveler, Starling, Mallard, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Linnet, Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Knot, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie,

Spurn 20.10.2016
After nearly a week of gracing us with its presence, today was the day the Siberian Accentor finally chose to leave Easington for pastures new. Alas, it was not seen this morning, or for any of the rest of the day.
I struggled to think where to go first thing so went round Kilnsea Wetlands and Beacon Ponds counting the wildfowl and waders. There were good numbers of both, as would be expected, but there was nothing outstanding among them. Almost 1000 Dunlin, 250+ Wigeon and 200+ Curlew were the highest counts.
After my walk there I made my way round the triangle counting up everything that I saw. The highlight was a cracking Purple Sandpiper feeding with the Turnstones around the Tank Blocks. I should probably have tried harder to get better photos given how close it was but in the end I just got a few phone-scoped shots.
-Purple Sandpiper
The afternoon was mainly spent doing odd jobs and sorting out the bits and pieces I needed to. After all, it is supposed to go east again at the weekend and I do not want jobs to be hanging over my head during that time.

Species List:
Kilnsea Wetlands & Beacon Ponds: Mallard, Shoveler, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Teal, Lapwing, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Knot, Redshank, Common Snipe, Greenshank, Little Grebe, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Redwing, Pied Wagtail, Linnet, Goldfinch, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Curlew,
Triangle: Goldcrest, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Reed Bunting, Robin, Redwing, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Little Egret,

Spurn 21.10.2016
Having had such an exceptional autumn it does make one wonder how it could get any better. The answer became clear early morning when a Siberian Stonechat was found only a few meters away from the Isabelline Wheatear. We headed up to find the stonechat showing extremely well in the beachside scrub. As a result I was able to get some nice frame filling photos of it. The subspecies was the nominate for Siberian Stonechat; maurus. Not only was it a stunning bird, but it was also extremely educational and I learned a lot about this species.
-Siberian Stonechat
The Isabelline Wheatear was still present but sadly the farmer was spraying his field and so my time with the bird was cut short. Even so, it’s still so cool to have so many rare birds all next to each other. Once it had been flushed by the farmer I headed down long bank to see if I could find anything. Sadly I was unable to find the mega that I dreamed, but finding a couple of female Scaup on Beacon Ponds was nice. They were sat nice and close fairly close to the bank. Unfortunately none of my photos really came out. As a result I went back in the afternoon to grab some more photos of them. When we were there, we were also treated to cracking views of Twite sitting up on the trees at the back of Kilnsea Wetlands.

Species List:
Easington Lagoons, Beacon Ponds & Kilnsea Wetlands: Northern Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Siberian Stonechat, Twite, Linnet, House Sparrow, Scaup, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Mute Swan, Brent Goose, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Twite, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Knot, Pied Wagtail, Lapland Bunting, Long-tailed Tit, Grey Wagtail, Little Grebe, Rook, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk,

Spurn 22.10.2016
With the plan being to go into Hull for a night out it was not my intention to go hard for the days birding. A casual walk round the triangle followed by a little cooking and pre-partying was the plan. However, all that very quickly fell apart when news began to slowly filter through from the point of a possible, then probable Stejneger’s Stonechat.
The prospect of a first for Yorkshire, albeit a subspecies (Although a likely split), was enough to drag me away from my relaxed day. Stejneger’s Stonechat is a difficult to identify race of Siberian Stonechat, but substantially rarer. The bird would need to be trapped to gather DNA required or confirmed identification. When I got there the effort was already underway but the bird was proving mobile and difficult to muster. The afternoon was largely spent trying to shepherd the bird into the net, but we ultimately failed. However, the situation was salvaged and DNA was collected.
Whilst stood in the buckthorn whilst a new plan was concocted through the radios to try and trap it, the bird sat up not far from me. Whilst there I observed it have a little poo, and that gave me an inspiration. I radioed asking if it was worth me going in to collect it and this was met with a very positive response. I made my way and unbelievably found the poo on a leaf at the top, as opposed to it having fallen through the scrub. With the bird continuing to prove difficult the trapping idea was all but abandoned, despite the bird returning to the net area springing new hope.
-Stejneger’s Stonechat
DNA now collected, the excitement was only growing. A potential fourth for Britain was hopping around in the scrub, and we would not have to rely of field identification of this extremely tricky subspecies. With the net still up there was still hope of trapping the bird, but when Tim checked his net, it was not the Stonechat he found at the bottom but a Dusky Warbler. Having missed basically all of the birds during the influx I was pretty excited to finally get a proper look at this species. It was shown to a reasonable crowd given we were right at the point but the bird was a nice sitter and I was able to learn a lot about this tricky species.
-Dusky Warbler
After the warbler was released attention returned to the Stonechat but it was still not playing ball and I decided it was probably going to be more worth my while staying. As a result I headed back up to the Obs for a nap.

Species List:
Spurn Peninsula: Siberian Stonechat (Stejneger’s), Dusky Warbler, Redwing, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Chiffchaff, Robin, Blackbird, Goldcrest

Spurn 23.10.2016
After a night out in Hull celebrating Jonnies birthday, I was in something of a state when I awoke at the stupidly early time of half 8. I decided that rather than waste my time feeling rough in bed, I’d rather spend my time feeling rough in the field. I headed off to wetlands to count the wildfowl but whilst there I found statistically the rarest bird I have found at Spurn so far this autumn; a Hooded Crow. I was stunned, but there was no doubt about the identification. It hopped about on the wetlands for a few minutes before it took off and headed south. It was picked up on the saltmarsh not long after and spent the rest of the day blogging in the area.
-Hooded Crow
From mid-morning to early afternoon I stayed at the obs feeling sorry for myself. By mid-afternoon I decided to head out for a walk with Sarah. We saw a few bits and pieces, Snow Bunting was nice, but the highlight was two very showy Twite on the deck at the back of Sandy Beaches caravan park. My intention was to try and get some close photos, but I made the mistake of radioing them out and was soon overwhelmed by an unexpected number of birders and photographers, so we decided to leave them. We headed off round Beacon Ponds but did not find anything much different, although the two Scaup were still present.

Species List:

Kilnsea Wetlands, Holderness Field & Beacon Ponds: Mute Swan, Jackdaw, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Hooded Crow, Grey Plover, Knot, Dunlin, Curlew, Twite, Linnet, Snow Bunting, Goldfinch, Little Egret, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Starling, Scaup, Brent Goose, Sanderling, Skylark, Meadow Pipit,