Another day largely built upon westerly winds. The strength of the wind had dropped off markedly, but there did seem to be a large number of thrushes in, with Blackbirds lining the road and fieldfares in most of the bushes. I decided once again to head down the point, but the trip was punctuated by other birds. It started fairly poorly, when I returned at the breach to have a look a couple of Twite that had been caught at the Warren.
Once down the point I struggled to concentrate as not long after I arrived at Chalk Bank, news broke through that a shrike sp. had been seen in Canal Hedge, but it had only been seen briefly. I initially stalled in the area so I could race back if I needed to, but when no more news was received I decided to continue down the point. At the lighthouse I stumble across 5 Snow Buntings, including a bird that appears to be an Icelandic individual based on how brown it is.
Not long after this the radio buzzed again regarding the shrike, suggesting that it ‘looked interesting’ but nothing more would be said. I made a call to head back to make sure I was near if anything was going to become of it. I was just on the far side of the breach when the Paul French announced that he had seen it clearly, and thought it looked like a Brown Shrike. Panic set it and I fair paced it back to the hedge.
The Shrike proved difficult at first, showing clearly but not for long at all. However, with only Spurn Regulars on site it was easy to manoeuvre ourselves into a position where we were able to see it clearly. The bird was clearly much more uniform brown than would be expected for a red backed and was obviously too dark for either Isabelline race. Its mask was also striking. A cracking bird, and Spurns seventh MEGA of the autumn (Five of which I have connected with).
In the afternoon we continued with the ongoing odd jobs associated with the observatory garden. However we did see the four White-fronted Geese that were knocking about in Easington, although from a distance.
Spurn: Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Linnet, Twite, Snow Bunting, Dunlin, Sanderling, Knot, Grey Plover, Mallard, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Brown Shrike, Woodpigeon,. Swallow, Water Rail, Moorhen,
The first day on November brought with it cold northerly winds, leaving the whole of the Spurn area feeling rather wintery. I headed down the point early on to try and find whatever was down there first. Sadly though I failed to find anything good and, despite good numbers of thrushes, there was a general dearth of species variety. The undoubted highlight was relocating the Icelandic Snow Bunting on the beach. This time I was sure to get some rump shots, the dark centres of which confirm the bird to be of the subspecies ‘insulae’. An interesting and extremely educational bird!
In the afternoon, with the bushes continuing to be hard work, we continued to work in the garden, clearing rubbish and storing firewood. In the end a rather steady day but a pleasant affair anyway!
Spurn Peninsula: Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Brambling, Chaffinch, Snow Bunting, Reed Bunting, Curlew, Common Scoter, Turnstone, Starling, Wren, Robin, Cormorant, Herring Gull, Dunlin, Sanderling, Great Black-backed Gull,
November is meant to mark the slowing down of autumn with fewer birds and generally colder weather. My parents were coming today, so I was in no rush to really do much, rather try and keep myself in order. After a lie-in I headed down to the Seawatching hide in the hope of something flying past.
And something did. We were all watching out to sea, when the radio crackled into life with obvious excitement. The only word I heard clearly was Egret flying north over the warren, but a quick pivot round quickly put me on a Cattle Egret flying straight over my head. If only I had picked it up sooner, as my photos were all of the bird flying away from me. It looked initially like it might drop in, but instead it flew off out over the Humber and then north. It was only when it was out over the Humber that I finally got decent views of its bill and a more general impression of its overall structure. I had rattled off record shots as soon as it had come over, a lifer after all, sadly though all but a few were of just the wings and feet. I managed a few of the bird in profile when it flew more westwards towards the Humber over the triangle. I scoped it out over the Humber and followed it as It drifted up river until it was pointless following it anymore. Another lifer this autumn and only the third record for the Spurn area!
Once the excitement had reduced I realised I should probably head back up to the obs in order to meet my parents. I had only just got back when the radio again crackled with the news of the Rough-legged Buzzard in the triangle. It was apparently flying north, but neither myself nor Ian who were there could see it. However the behaviour of the crows suggested it could be flying quite low, and when I checked the Humber we had it flying low down going north. Again, if we had gotten onto it sooner we would have got cracking views and shots, but sadly not to be.
The afternoon with the parents nice. I took them out to see a couple of birds in the hand, which included a Twite and a Woodcock. Both cracking birds and really nice to see in the hand, especially the Woodcock, which was docile enough to be held in a ringers pose without too much bother.
Triangle: Woodcock, Twite, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Rough-legged Buzzard, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Gannet, Guillemot, Common Scoter, Mallard, Wigeon, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Common Snipe, Blackbird, Redwing, Fieldfare, Robin, Dunnock,
Having discussed with Sarah about trying to catch Snow Buntings down the point today we headed off in the hope of finding some by the lighthouse. It quickly seemed like we might not have to go down, having come across three approachable birds at the breach, but they were not having any of it. One bird took a long look at the spring trap before changing its mind, and that was as close as we got. On the other hand I did get a cracking view of the buntings, two of which I reckon were Icelandic Snow Buntings judging by its brown rump with dark centres. Being around the breach meant we were in luck when a Waxwing was caught at the Warren. Its great to see these stunning birds up close like this.
After a while the buntings took flight and headed south down the peninsula. We did not come across them again on our trip down the peninsula. To be honest, we did not find much of anything, the best of it probably a Woodcock flushed. The highlight was a single run of the Heligoland trap at the point, which produced a whopping 17 Blackbirds, plus a single Redwing. That was extremely exciting, as I scribed or Sarah who ringed them.
Spurn Peninsula: Woodcock, Robin, Redwing, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Reed Bunting, Kestrel, Goldcrest, Turnstone, Cormorant, Snow Bunting, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull,
After a night of drinking it was remarkable that we all woke up at a reasonable time and that we continued with our original plan of going down the point. The walk down was good fun, but we saw very little. There was an obvious clearout of birds down the point, with thrush numbers much reduced on what they had been the previous day. Still we ran the Heligoland trap a couple of times and caught a small sample of Blackbirds which was nice.
The obvious highlight was an absurdly tame fox on the main loop path. When we first saw it we all quietened down in order to not scare it, but then it came running up to us. We were able to touch it the thing came so close.
On the way back we spotted the three Snow Buntings that Sarah and I had spent the previous morning trying to trap. We tried again, but sadly we were not successful once again. Whats worse is that this time one of the birds actually stepped into the trap but failed to set it off. After at least an hour of trying the buntings all got up and flew south, and that was the end of that. Two of the birds were Icelandic Snow Buntings, and this time I got a few pictures, although nothing spectacular.
Spurn Peninsula: Woodcock, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Reed Bunting, Snow Bunting, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Redwing, Robin, Dunnock, Dunlin, Sanderling, Curlew, Knot,
The weather started cold, wet and windy. It was not pleasant. When I did eventually get out birding I went round ponds and wetlands but it was a waste of time. Besides the usual wildfowl species there was not much happening. The wind made it a struggle to hold the scope steady. It felt good to get out though, even if it was pretty unproductive.
Kilnsea Wetlands, Beacon Ponds & Holderness Field: Wigeon, Mute Swan, Teal, Mallard, Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Grey Plover, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Redshank, Greenshank,
I could have got up early and gone to Welwick to see if the Pallid Harrier came out of roost, but I didn’t. As a result, when I was proven wrong and the bird was seen in the morning there was a massive sense of disappointment, even though it was my own stupid fault.
We walked up to Sammies to hopefully pick it up flying over the saltmarsh. A few other birders were also there and after a bit of time I did manage to pick the Pallid Harrier up. It was distant but a clear view, with a distinctive white rump and rusty underwings both obvious in flight. It then dropped and despite our efforts we were unable to pick it up again from Sammies. As a result I managed to flag a lift round to Welwick to try and spot it closer and showing better. Sadly though, despite two hours waiting there, the heavy rain and hail meant that the bird did not show again.
The heavy rain, wind and cold temperature put pay to most of the rest of the days birding. On the way back we had a look at the putative Greenland White Fronted Geese in the fields in Easington. I would rather spend the time in the Obs warming up after the morning’s cold session.
In the afternoon we headed out again, back to the Harrier site at Welwick marsh. After a short while it showed much better in the evening gloom, slowly flying across the saltmarsh. This time I was able to fully take it in, including the neck collar among the other features. A cracking bird that’s for sure.
Sammies Point/Welwick Marsh: Pallid Harrier, Turnstone, Little Egret, Sparrowhawk, Greenland Whitefront Goose, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Mute Swan, Marsh Harrier, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Redshank, Common Snipe, Dunlin, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull,