Monday, October 07, 2013

Spurn Away-day

Temp - 21C - Sunny with Occasional High Cloud - Wind SW - WSW@ 5 mph

The use of the Trusts minibus on Monday and an away-day with the Brandon team to visit our colleagues at Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts, Spurn National Nature Reserve. Turns out that despite enjoying some glorious weather our visit coincided with one of the quietest birding days at Spurn this autumn.

Wheatear - One of two seen at Spurn
After parking up around 9am we took a quick look around the parking area, locating a couple of Wheatear near the static caravans and several Wigeon out to sea, along with a couple of Grey Seals. From here we took a walk back along Easington Road to the churchyard. The walk down provided a couple of late Swallows on the wires, Blackcap, Ruff feeding in a nearby field and overhead Linnet, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Skylark. The churchyard held Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and our one and only Yellow-browed Warbler of the day. Thanks to Jeff Wesson for the photo, someone who possesses infinitely more patience that I do.

Yellow-browed Warbler ( thanks to Jeff for the image)
From here a walk around the Kilnsea triangle and a chance to check out the thousands of waders, recording the usual selection with: Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Golden Plover, Redshank, Turnstone, Curlew and Grey Plover. A stop at the Canal Scrape Hide, which overlooks a small wetland and reedbed, failed to yield the reported Jack Snipe. Geoff and Derek managed Whinchat just along from the hide and a walk along the sea front had a few young Gannet and a lone Red-throated Diver passing through offshore.

One of many Brent Geese
After lunch a drive down to the Spurn parking area, stopping off near Chalk Bank to investigate a few Firecrest sightings provided little of note, save for a group of Brent Geese feeding close in. In fact the most amazing statistic of the day was the weather, who can imagine birding in shirt sleeves on the east coast of the UK in early October! A walk around the point was extremely quiet, Common Scoter off shore and with little passage only Chiffchaff, Robin, Song Thrush and Goldcrest recorded, the highlight though was Pete's Mediterranean Gull, very nicely picked out! The large flock of Starlings near the VFN Tower kept me personally entertained, trying to pick out the real bird calls from these fantastic mimics. Final bird of note for me was a single Redwing, which showed briefly before heading deep into the sea buckthorn.

Record shot of Merlin
A couple more stops before heading home, firstly at Beacon Lagoons and walk around the area provided one of the highlights of the day, with excellent views of Merlin, record image from Jeff once again. The lagoon held a nice flock of Brent Geese, along with seven Little GrebeBlack-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher and Ruff. Returning to the car park Goldfinch, Reed BuntingLinnet and Meadow Pipit, with Peter B picking out a couple of Roe Deer in the adjacent field.

Finally and with the light fading, a drive along to Sammy's Point for a last troll of the hawthorn and surrounding fields. Amazing views of a Sparrowhawk chasing prey right alongside the minibus, perching for some stunning views close by before heading off. More of the earlier waders to be had, a Tern Sp. for me, which I duly lost in the murk and some large flocks of Shelduck as the tide rushed in. The fields provided views of more Roe Deer, a couple of Brown Hare and a flock of Golden Plover dropped in just prior to heading home.