Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Spurn Week 4

Wednesday 13th September
The storm really hit us today. The rain that was forecast did not really materialise but the wind was extremely strong and meant an end to most forms of birding. The only real bird of note was the Long-billed Dowitcher, still present, which finally put in some time in front of the hide. I was finally able to get some decent shots of it, beyond my crap efforts from before.
-Long-billed Dowitcher

Thursday 14th September
Once more the rain and wind meant no nets open once again. I headed down to Numpties to hopefully get some passage and Seawatching. Sadly it did not really materialise in that way, with not many birds moving and not really spending time looking at the sea. I did see two Long-tailed Skuas fly past, birds that were called up from the hide.
In the afternoon, with birding still looking off in the weather, I chose to have a nap. I had just woken up from my nap and was sat a little dazed in the cabin when I heard the distinctive whistle of a Yellow-browed Warbler. Jonnie was also there, but he had his headphones in and hadn’t heard it. I let him know, and seconds later the bird called again. Whilst I only saw it for a fraction of a second, it remained vocal. This is the first Yellow-browed Warbler at Spurn this autumn, my first contribution to the Spurn autumn.

Friday 15th September
After finally making a contribution to the Spurn autumn the following evening I was keen to get out and consolidate my efforts. Sadly it did not happen. The Yellow-browed from the previous day was now joined by a second bird, but all other arrivals seemed to be kept to a minimum. I tried to work the triangle, but quickly got disillusioned when there were no birds.
For the afternoon I headed up round Beacon Ponds and Kilnsea Wetlands, plus Easington Lagoons. Once again the birdlife was very limited, but a couple of Mediterranean Gulls were nice, and I got to inspect a small flock of Pink-footed Geese which had settled on Easington Straight. So not a complete loss for my efforts. 

Saturday 16th September
With the weather far from ideal I was not able to go ringing with Paul, but instead spent the day working through typing up old log sheets. I nearly managed to clear an entire month of backlog. Despite the weather there was some arrival, and although I saw very little of it during my short between-showers walk round the canal, the undoubted highlight was a smart female Red-breasted Flycatcher that was trapped at the Warren late afternoon. A really smart bird and only the second time I’ve really got a good view of this species.
-Red-breasted Flycatcher

Sunday 17th September
I was expecting today to be something of a fairly slow day. Andy Roadhouses ashes were being scattered at the Numpties at lunchtime, and after that I expected to be in the pub for the afternoon. The morning did not quite transpire that way, as early on an Arctic Warbler was found in Easington. I grabbed a lift up and after a short wait I was finally able to end my long beef with this species, after my non-encounter in Norfolk some 6 years ago. The bird was not overly showy, but at certain points it would sit out in a tree which was bare of leaves, and on those occasions I was able to get nice and clear views. It was also very vocal, which was a cool feature to pick up on. The escape Ring-necked Parakeet from last November was also flying around.
-Arctic Warbler
After that I headed back to the Obs. I headed down to the Warren to see a Yellow-browed Warbler in the hand, the 201st ever rung at Spurn. It’s also the first one I’ve seen properly this autumn. I then worked the triangle but with nothing to show for it. After the scattering of Andy’s ashes I headed off to the Crown and spent the rest of the day in there. The only other bird I saw was a flyby Manx Shearwater on the Humber.
-Yellow-browed Warbler

Monday 18th September
With the wind too strong, instead of ringing I spent the morning birding the triangle. I tried to stick to areas where people would be spending less time, and as a result I saw very few of the lingering goodies. A couple of Pied Flycatchers and a Yellow-browed Warbler were just about all I managed for my effort.
In the afternoon I cycled down to the point for a few hours down there trying to find something new, knowing that nobody had been down. Sadly it turned into a futile exercise, with only 3 Wheatears and a Lesser Whitethroat to show for my trouble. Still it was good to get out and back down the point after a week away during the howling westerlies.

Tuesday 19th September

After yesterdays limited success with the peninsula I decided to try it again today. Fortunately today was much better and I had a great time birding. In the end I had six Yellow-browed Warblers, although I only saw two of them, against a backdrop of migrating Pinkies. It was really pleasant birding, with a light scattering of Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers also present. 

Species List:
Spurn Bird Obs: Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail, Pink-footed Goose, Brent Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Cormorant, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Greenshank. Common Redshank, Ruff, Long-billed Dowitcher, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black Tern, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake, Little Gull, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Woodpigeon, Collard Dove, Feral Pigeon, Short-eared Owl, Ring-necked Parakeet, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Whinchat, Stonechat, Robin, Redstart, Black Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Wren, Dunnock, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Arctic Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Starling, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Rook, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White,  

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Spurn Week 3

Wednesday 06th September
Ringing in the morning was somewhat stalled by very poor weather conditions. As a result I spent the morning catching up on odd jobs. The only time I went out all morning was to go out and try and catch the Pectoral Sandpiper again. We once again failed but on this occasion we also failed to see the bird on the deck. We got one flyby before we lost it. Not the greatest days Spurn birding I have ever had.

Thursday 07th September
As per usual I spent the morning ringing with Paul. We caught a few bits and pieces, all common birds, but the Goldcrests and Willow Warblers were both nice to see in the hand. The continuing westerly wind continued to make birding hard so my walks round the triangle after lunch produced absolutely nothing of any note.

Friday 08th September
I spent the morning ringing with Paul, but it was only a short session before I headed off to help set up the Migfest. Once the set up was complete I was placed on car parking duty for the rest of the day. Whilst it’s nice to see and chat to so many people, it’s not an ideal way to see birds.
-Chiffchaff

Saturday 09th September
The first full day of Migfest! After a week of westerlies, the idea of a bird filled day seemed somewhat unlikely. That being said, the arrival of a wryneck the previous evening sparked some hope, and as the day unfolded it turned out to be one of the best birding Migfests Spurn has ever had. Sadly working at the festival I missed all the goodies, until mid-afternoon when news broke of a Long-billed Dowitcher that had just come to Holderness Field. Of course, no amount of duty was going to stop me from twitching this bird and I raced off with every single other volunteer. I hadn’t brought any optics with me so was relying on borrowing people’s scopes and other equipment, but was still able to get good views of the bird, only the 3rd record for Spurn. It was so awesome to be there for the bird breaking and feeling all the positivity and good vibes that followed.

Sunday 10th September
After the crazy day that was yesterday, today was somewhat tame by comparison. Still there were a few nice birds for people to see. Sadly though I was not one of those people, as I was busy working at the festival. Once it had all been wrapped up I just crashed into bed, it had been a long weekend.

Monday 11th September
After a weekend of Migfest work I was looking forward to finally seeing the weekend’s stars for myself. Sadly the weather had different plans as heavy rain and lashing wind set in, reducing the mornings birding effort to nil. Kieran and Andre were also leaving that morning, so I waited around the Obs until they left before setting out.
My initial plan was to go to the Wryneck first, but changed my mind on news that the Long-billed Dowitcher was apparently in front of the hide. It wasn’t! But, at the same time, it was nice to finally see the bird through my own optics and get my own record shots, no matter how bad they were. Whilst watching the Dowitcher I also had 2 Black Terns come in off the sea and fly over the ponds.
Once I’d had my fill of Dowitcher I headed round the where the Wryneck was. It took us a short while to relocate but myself and Rich Swales eventually located it. The bird then performed incredibly well, without doubt the best views I’ve ever had of this species. The way it was feeding was also something I had not seen before; climbing tall plants and then using its long tongue to pick off insects.
-Wryneck

Once I was done with my shameless twitching I wandered down to the Seawatching hide. Sadly there was not much happening, although a late Swift was possible my latest ever.

Tuesday 12th September
The strong westerly wind that had dominated much of the last week remained the dominant force dictating the birding today. As a result the only realistic option seemed to be Vismig/Seawatching. Both of these options were pretty decent, with over 3000 Meadow Pipits moving during the morning, plus a healthy scattering of Hirundines. Also thrown into the mixer were a few Waders, Swifts and a couple of nice flybys from Short-eared Owls.
The sea was less interesting but still had a few goodies to keep us interested. A small passage of Great Skuas and Arctic Skuas was nice, with a number of smart pale-phase Arctics coming south quite close. The first Pink-footed Geese of the Autumn also flew south at sea, with just short of 200 birds going south during the day.

In light of the very windy conditions, it was a really nice days birding. 

Species List:
Spurn Bird Obs: Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail, Pink-footed Goose, Brent Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Cormorant, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Greenshank. Common Redshank, Ruff, Long-billed Dowitcher, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black Tern, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake, Little Gull, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Woodpigeon, Collard Dove, Feral Pigeon, Short-eared Owl, Wryneck, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Whinchat, Stonechat, Robin, Redstart, Black Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Wren, Dunnock, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Starling, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Rook, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Small Heath, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Small White, Green-veined White, 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Spurn Week 2

Spurn Day 8 - Wednesday 30th August
After the high of yesterday evening I awoke with great anticipation of many migrants. I was, however, over optimistic as the numbers of birds had gone down rather than up. Early morning ringing before the rain set in produced a Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Wren and a Reed Warbler. The latter was without doubt the highlight, the feathers were so incredibly soft to touch. After the rain and a rather intense nap I headed out and round the triangle. Sadly though there was nothing to gain from this, as the numbers of migrants were still well down. A handful of Willow Warblers and a single Wheatear were just about all that I could muster. I ended my walk by finally having a look at the Black Redstart at Sandy Beaches caravan park. It was not a showy bird, and remained extremely elusive.

Spurn Day 8 - Thursday 31st August
Mornings are now spent in Churchfield with Paul, learning to handle birds. Once again though there was not a huge number of birds present. Tree Sparrows were once again the most common birds we caught, plus a few Willow Warblers and other odd bits and pieces. Just as we were wrapping up news broke of a Pectoral Sandpiper on Kilnsea Wetlands. I rushed off to try and see it, by the time I got there though the single bird had become two Pectoral Sandpipers. Sadly both were distant and I was unable to get any decent photos. That being said, I was able to get nice views through the scope. I returned to the Wetlands in the evening, but in between I took on the challenge of the point. As per there were not many birds to be seen down there, just a few Lesser Whitethroats and a couple of Stonechats. By evening only one Pectoral Sandpiper remained, but there were a few nice Ruff to see, Curlew Sandpiper plus a few wildfowl.
-Pectoral Sandpiper

Spurn Day 9 - Friday 1st September
The mornings ringing was slow! We caught a few bits and pieces, the highlight being a Woodpigeon. I was impressed by the strength of the bird, even despite Pauls warning, it managed to wriggle out from grasp. Another Reed Warbler was also nice. We finished up at midday, at which point I collapsed into a very deep nap. Once I had awoken I tried to bird the triangle but there remained a distinct lack of new birds in. The best of it was a juvenile Cuckoo, which will probably be the last I see this year.

Spurn Day 10 - Saturday 2nd September
Ringing was even slower than what it had been the previous days. Still, we caught four Tree Sparrows and three Great Tits. A Sparrowhawk was in the net but it wriggled out before we had got to it. Once again we wrapped up at around midday. We reopened the nets later in the afternoon but still struggled to catch anything. Still, it was a nice sunny day and pleasant to be outside just chilling.

Spurn Day 11 - Sunday 3rd September
The morning was spent photocopying, with no birds at all being caught in the nets. After which, I headed up to the Wetlands following the news that the Pectoral Sandpiper was right in front of the hide. Unfortunately when I arrived the bird had once more flown to the back of the wetlands. The Curlew Sandpiper was still around though and showed quite nicely in front of the hide. My afternoon was spent strimming and working on the garden, before a quick evening jaunt up to the wetlands following the news that a Bittern had dropped into the reedbeds up that way. Bittern would have been a Spurn tick for me, so I was pretty chuffed when the bird did a couple of close flybys around the ponds before it roosted in the reeds.
-Bittern

Spurn Day 12 - Monday 4th September
The wind remained somewhat unfavourable for large numbers of migrants, but there was a light scattering of a few migrants, plus some really nice birds around. The morning started with the first Barred Warbler of the autumn, which was trapped at the warren. It was rather fidgety in the hand and not overly cooperative. Once released it went straight back into the Heligoland trap like an absolute muppet.
We then began our quest to try and capture the Purple Sandpiper at the breach. It was one of the most ridiculously tame birds I have ever seen, coming far too close for my camera, but unfortunately eluded capture on both attempts we made to net it. I was still able to get a few nice photos of it, frame filling with no crop required.
Between attempts to capture the Purple Sandpiper a juv Red-necked Phalarope was found on Kilnsea Wetlands. It was a rather stunning bird, but remained distant for most of the time we were watching it. There was a short period where it flew a lot nearer to the hide in the company of a small Dunlin flock, which it was frequently harassing.
The day finished up after the final attempt to net the Purple Sandpiper, when a Citrine Wagtail was found on Kilnsea Wetlands. It was right in front of the hide in the company of a small group of Pied Wagtails. It showed very nicely and I was able to get a few photos. Another Spurn tick in the bag, a species which is now nearly annual at Spurn! An amazing end to a day which, on the face of it, really did not promise much!
-Barred Warbler
-Barred Warbler
-Citrine Wagtail

Tuesday 5th September

The mornings ringing was still pretty decent today, although there was not a great deal of variety in the catch; mainly Tree Sparrows with a few Phyloscs thrown in for good measure. Most of the day was spent trying to catch the extremely bold Purple Sandpiper at the breach. Sadly we were unable to catch it, but the bird itself more than made up for it, showing incredibly close. It was too close for my lens as it happened, but I was still able to get some nice shots which I am very happy with. 
-Purple Sandpiper

Species List:
Spurn Bird Obs: Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Brent Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Cormorant, Hobby, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Bittern, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Greenshank. Common Redshank, Ruff, Pectoral Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Purple Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black Tern, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake, Little Gull, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Woodpigeon, Collard Dove, Feral Pigeon, Short-eared Owl, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Whinchat, Stonechat, Robin, Redstart, Black Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Wren, Dunnock, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Barred Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Starling, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Rook, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter, Common Emerald Damselfly, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Small Heath, Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Small White, Green-veined White,