Sunday, 9 October 2016

Spurn Week 16

Spurn 03.10.2016
The continuing northerlies raised my hopes of seeing something new on the sea, but it failed to deliver that being that it was completely dead. As a result I headed round the bushes looking for Yellow-browed Warblers and came across a few in the village of Kilnsea. I also got to see 2 different birds in the hand, although the second was far more obliging for photos than the first.
-First Yellow-browed Warbler
-Second Yellow-browed Warbler
Work was continuing on the garden today so most of my time was spent doing odd jobs around the garden. Whilst waiting for some work that needed doing I decided to scan the Humber in the loose hope of a petrel or something. I picked up a small Skua distantly, the size immediately giving the impression of a Long-tailed Skua. The size made me wonder than it might be raptor, but when it decided to land on the Humber I knew I had a juvenile Long-tailed. A cracking bird to have seen, only a pity not to have seen it closer.
As the afternoon wore on the wind turned east and almost immediately it reaped results. A radio message revealed a Little Bunting in Churchfield. We were already there to fetch a can of paint, but somehow did not see it drop in. We waited some time, flushed it after some labour and then lost it completely. It was about half an hour after when John Hewitt flushed it into a hedge for some distant views. Sadly though that was it for some time until in the evening it was reported to be showing better and when I went round I got to see it scurry through the grass low down followed by sitting up in a tree. A cracking lifer and would have easily been the bird of the day but for the bird that came through in the evening.
-Little Bunting
In the evening I was back at the obs when a couple of birders who were staying reported a Grey Phalarope down the canal. I headed down with a number of other birders but the location described did not yield anything at all. All other birders had given up on the report and I was walking back up the canal with SH, LJD and SE when I spotted a small white shape on the edge of the canal, raised bins and there, there it was. All the birders that had already left soon came back, and the bird obliged by coming a lot closer. Despite the poor light I managed to get a few good photos, or photos I am happy with. Ultimately though, it does not matter, the bird was that good. One of the best birds I’ve seen since I came to Spurn.
-Grey Phalarope

Sightings List:
Triangle: Yellow-browed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Moorhen, Common Snipe, Little Bunting, Reed Bunting, Grey Phalarope, Robin, Wren, Starling, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Collard Dove, Gannet, Long-tailed Skua, Redshank, Dunlin, Knot, Curlew, Carrion Crow, Rook, Magpie, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Brambling, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk,

Spurn 04.10.2016
With continuing easterlies I only intended Seawatching for the purpose of allowing things to wake up in the bushes. That being said, the seawatch turned out Ok with over 500 Little Gulls going south and a couple of Pintail going south. Once that had dried up I chose to watch the Humber for a bit, which provided a Tufted Duck but little else. Whilst I was there Sarah H called me over to have a look at an interesting Lesser Whitethroat, possible Siberian pending DNA analysis. Certainly an interesting bird…*
-Desert Lesser Whitethroat
Shortly after it had been released the news broke that a Rose-coloured Starling had been found just outside the recording area, so I got a lift up with Justin C to have a look. It took about an hour to locate the bird but once we had it on the wires it sat up for about 10mins before it flew off again. It was a cracking juv, which I have heard many birders slag off but I thought was rather charming, and not worthy of such slander. A smashing lifer, a fantastic morning out!
-Rose-coloured Starling
We headed back to Spurn once the bird had been lost, knowing there was a good chance that we could have missed something, but fortunately we managed to avoid missing anything major. I walked the triangle to try and contribute something to the days total but the best I managed were a couple of Redstarts and a Garden Warbler. There continued to be ample Thrushes and Blackbirds, especially Song Thrush which were over 400 passing through the area through the day.
The afternoon was mainly spent blogging about the village looking for little things around the obs garden where I added Ring Ouzel to my Spurn List. I only saw the one but there were ample in the area. Late afternoon we headed off to Chalkies point but the only thing we managed was a funny sounding Pipit, probably Tree but could have been OBP. Sadly it kept going so we were unable to connect with it, one that got away.
*Results of the DNA analysis came through during early November. Whilst I had expected the bird to be a blythi, Siberian lesser whitethroat, based on plumage features I could see, the DNA came back proving the bird to be the much rarer race halimodendri, Desert Lesser Whitethroat. This is only the 9th record of this race in the UK, and an exciting turn of events. In hindsight the bird does show a number of features of the race, but remains nowhere near as brown as I would have expected. Given how messy and complicated the taxonomy of Lesser Whitethroats is, it’s so interesting to have experienced a bird like this first hand.

Species List:
Triangle: Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Ring Ouzel, Robin, Wren, Wheatear, Redstart, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Mallard, Wigeon, Common Snipe, Jack Snipe, Dunlin, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Pintail, Gannet, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Meadow Pipit,
Holmpton: Rose-coloured Starling, Starling, Woodpigeon, Wigeon, House Sparrow, Swallow,

Spurn 05.10.2016
Today continued the theme of recent days of easterlies with no showers. As a result there continued to be good numbers of birds, but not incredible numbers that would have no doubt be brought down by a bit of rain. In the morning I had a wander up to Chalkies point to see if there was anything but the best I managed was to flush a Jack Snipe from a ditch. The real highlight of the morning was Paul catching a Woodcock, which he showed in Churchfield. One of my most wanted birds to see in the hand.
Mid-morning news broke of an albatross past Flamborough so we all set up to the Seawatch hide in the hope of it flying past. However, news messages came through seeming to indicate that the albatross had turned around about midday and was now going north. This was followed by a drought of news on the matter, leaving us at something of a loss as to what was going on.
What we knew for certain though was that a Red-flanked Bluetail had been found at the point. Once news had been confirmed of its presence I cycled down but the bird had been lost by the time I arrived, and despite an hours search we failed to refind the bird. I had just cycled back to the obs up top when Steve radioed that he had refound it back down at the point. With the albatross possibility not yet eliminated I was at a loss as to what to do, but decided to go back down the point. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The Bluetail showed down to a couple of feet away, walking past us without a care in the world. A fantastic bird and a fantastic experience! I even got to watch it regurgitate a pellet, which was pretty awesome to see.
-Red-flanked Bluetail
-Red-flanked Bluetail pellet

Sightings List:
Triangle: Woodcock, Jack Snipe, Redwing, Song Thrush, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Redshank, Grey Plover, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Brambling, Meadow Pipit, Common Buzzard,
Seawatching: Gannet, Great Skua, Arctic Skua, Common Scoter, Teal, Red-throated Diver, Wigeon, Eider, Brent Goose,
Spurn Peninsula: Red-flanked Bluetail, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Redwing, House Sparrow, Wheatear, Feral Pigeon, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit,

Spurn 06.10.2016
More easterlies and still more birds…
 With Albatross possibility still ringing in the air we initially made our way to Seawatching, but that proved to be something of a waste of time, as there was not a great deal moving over the sea at all. At about 9.00 I set off to have a look round the bushes, initially starting at Canal Hedge and then moving on back to the Obs.
Once the Obs had been done I decided to have a look at Kilnsea Wetlands before heading onwards to Sammies via the track alongside Loe Farm. A Great Grey Shrike had been reported and I was keen to see if I could confirm the record. On the way I had only more of the same suspects, common migrants in low numbers.
Just as I approached Sammies news broke on the radio of the Shrike having been relocated and so began an hour trying to find the shrike in a settled location. This never happened, with views always distant and not for any extended period of time. Still, it’s a cracking yeartick and only the second individual bird I have ever seen.
-Great Grey Shrike
I returned to the Obs, and given the slow nature of the afternoon decided to do some overdue work on the garden. It was during this time that the radio crackled into life that a Rustic Bunting had been found in Churchfield. Tim and I were the first on the scene but the bird had just left over the back hedge. We waited patiently by the feeding station  for over an hour in the hope it would come back, only for it then to be announced that the bird had been found in a net. It was then shown to a crowd of about 50 people. It was not a great sitter in the hand, but a good deal better than many other birds I have seen. No lie, when it was first brought out I was pretty shocked by how subtle it was, but looking through the photos I have taken its fairly easy to see why the bird is a Rustic Bunting…
-Rustic Bunting
The day was finished off when Tim and Sarah caught a Jack Snipe using drift netting on Canal Scrape, allowing me to see those cracking birds in the hand. A fantastic days birding!
-Jack Snipe

Species List:
Triangle: Rustic Bunting, Reed Bunting, Goldcrest, Redwing, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Robin, Dunnock, Wren,  Chaffinch, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Wigeon, Teal, Common Snipe, Jack Snipe, Dunlin, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Meadow Pipit, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Chiffchaff, Little Egret,
Sammies Point: Goldcrest, Blackbird, Grey Partridge, Grey Heron, Carrion Crow, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Woodpigeon, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Song Thrush, Redwing, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Great-grey Shrike,

Spurn 07.10.2016
For the first time since the easterlies started there was rain overnight, and as a result the numbers of birds increased dramatically. Thrushes and Robins were the most increased, but noticeably also Woodcock, flushing two on my walk round. I spent most of the morning walking round the triangle, trying to find something different whilst counting the common species. It was really impressive, a proper autumn feel to everything.
Whilst walking round the triangle I also got to see one of my most wanted species in the hand, a Firecrest. I was super excited to see it, but sadly it was interrupted by the reappearance of the Rustic Bunting in Churchfield. Tim requested that I stay and keep an eye on the bush the Bunting dived in, to make sure it did not come out, and as a result I largely missed out on photographing the Firecrest, which was a real shame.
-Rustic Bunting

In the afternoon I ended up going down the point to try and twitch a pallas warbler but sadly I dipped it. With so much habitat its hardly a surprise but it was a pleasant afternoons birding, with hardly any people down there and plenty of thrushes still in the bushes.

Species List:
Triangle: Yellow-browed Warbler, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Woodcock, Snipe, Mallard, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Brent Goose, Song Thrush, Fieldfare, Redwing, Blackbird, Robin, Stonechat, Whinchat, Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, White Wagtail,

Spurn 08.10.2016
After yesterday’s pallas dip and the fact that there would be hordes of people on site today, I decided once again to chance my arm with the point. I cycled straight to the end and searched through the vegetation but failed to find anything different, although a Redstart and a few Blackcaps were nice.
It was around lunchtime when I got back up the top with news beginning to filter through of a few things, but most seemingly already gone by the time I had chance to look for them. The only thing I really bothered for was a Woodcock sat out in the open along the canal bank, which I thought would be an incredible chance to photograph the species, but it turns out it was so obscured that they were little more than record shots.
I spent most of the afternoon in bed having an extended nap, but late afternoon the Olive-backed Pipit that had been seen earlier was refound and we subsequently raced up to see it. The bird, a lifer, showed very well although through the fence of the Gas Terminal. It was an incredibly smart bird, and I was impressed by how defined the features were on the face. It came to within a couple of meters, often feeding in the open. It was, in short, the ideal way to tick the species.
-Olive-backed Pipit

Species List:
Spurn Point: Brambling, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Robin, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Redstart, Blackcap, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Herring Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Kestrel,

Spurn 09.10.2016
The wind, although continuing easterly, made a slight move round to the north for the day so I started down at Seawatching for the first time in almost a week. It was fairly slow so it was somewhat reliving when news of a Pallas Warbler came through from Easington. I grabbed a lift up with Ian and started the chase for the bird that lasted the best part of two hours.
In the end I did see the bird, well but briefly. The head markings were striking to say the least, but I only saw them briefly. After the chase that I had to do to I was pleased to just see it, but I failed to register a good photo of it, only a few record shots. After a couple of hours I decided I could spend all day chasing this and still not see it clearly, so I decided to settle with the lifer and hope to get better views of one later in the autumn.
-Pallas's Warbler
The rest of the day was spent down the point trying but ultimately failing to clinch a possible pallas grasshopper warbler. I did get some stuff whilst down there, including a very nice male Redstart and a spurn tick of Black Redstart, probably my most overdue spurn tick. Adam Hutt has also come down the point to do some ringing of Little Buntings that were there, and as we were already there we were able to catch up with him and see these little stunners in the hand.
-Little Bunting

Species List:

Spurn Point: Brambling, Redstart, Little Bunting, Reed Bunting, Wheatear, Black Redstart, Brent Goose, Wigeon, Mallard, Turnstone, Sanderling, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Carrion Crow, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Song Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Kestrel, 

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