Friday, November 11, 2011

Foggy Spurn!

Spurn (Seen on a clear day!!)
Spurn Point is somewhere that I’ve heard lots about but strangely enough have never visited. Spurn is a very unique place in the British Isles, only three and a half miles long and down to only fifty meters wide in places with the sea either side.

Extending out into the Humber Estuary from the Yorkshire coast it has always had a big affect to the navigation of all vessels over the years. Help to some and a danger or hindrance to others. This alone makes Spurn a unique place. Bird observations have taken place here since 1938. This included a roll-call of species, the beginnings of a recording system, which later became standard in bird observatories and continues today at Spurn.

The day did not start well! Having been informed by the local weather forecast (and someone who will remain nameless) that today was probably the best day to visit, as soon as we left the outskirts of Hull, having earlier crossed the Humber Bridge in lovely morning sunshine, the fog blew in!

Having relieved us of our £3 a very nice guy from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust proceeded to make me feel even better by informing us that only an hour before our arrival the sky had been a lovely blue and that the fog had only just rolled in off the sea!

Notwithstanding, we continued on and decided to check out Chalk Bank hides, which overlook the estuary. Here we scanned the fog, Dee picking out a single Little Egret in the scope and one or two movements in the gloom but alas it was to no avail. Things did however improve immediately after decamping from the hide when Dee spotted a Short-eared Owl in flight, dropping down into the grass not far from us to the delight of our friends John & Pat.

Wood Lark (Library Image)
Did things improve even more? Happily yes they did, when after an hour or two of checking out every movement in the gloom we came across our second decent bird of the day with good views of a lone Woodlark near the RNLI centre. A walk out to the point across the dunes produced a Long-eared Owl, which had been accidentally flushed by an earlier birder, and we enjoyed a number of good flight views as the bird flew several times trying to find another decent roosting spot.

By the time we reached Spurn Point the fog had lifted sufficiently to allow views out to sea and we spent a good while here with a flyover of Great Northern Diver, around 70 Pink-footed Geese and various small numbers of Wigeon, Common Scoter, Brent, Shelduck, Red Breasted Merganser and Scaup. The best as far as our friends were concerned were the two Porpoise (probably harbour) which breached the water, showing their dark back and fin.

The walk back across the dunes produced Goldcrest, Mealy Redpoll, one of which I’m convinced was Arctic, although to be honest I’ve only ever come across this species once before, Black Redstart (2) and numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing, sadly once again bombing on the earlier reported Waxwing!

A chat with Paul Doherty at the car park, who I eventually recognised by his voice, which I’ve heard many times on his excellent DVD’s, revealed that I’d also bombed on Siberian Chiffchaff and a late Willow Warbler and he did raise an eyebrow when I mentioned Arctic Redpoll, but did say that one had been reported a few days ago!

On the drive out a Roe Deer on the road and pausing several times to check out the many Waders on the incoming tide, I recorded of note: Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Knot, Ruff, Redshank, Turnstone, Sanderling and BT Godwit before certain others in the car got a little cranky :)