Sunk Island and Spurn

Yesterday I had a trip to Spurn. Going on a few tips that Michael Flowers was kind enough to give me, we first had a detour to the Sunk Island/Stone Creek area to find the targets of yellow wagtail and corn bunting. Both were found in exactly the locations given, and were both UK lifers for me, so big thanks for that! Some rubbish record shots, even by my standard…

 Yellow Wagtail (honest!)Corn Bunting (honest!...)

Elsewhere in the area a year tick was found in the form of a red-legged partridge that dashed across the road in front of us, and at Stone Creek I piecked up a third and unexpected lifer in the form of a ringtail hen harrier that drifted across the estuary! A really beautiful bird indeed.

After the excitement of the harrier, I noticed a barn owl hunting over the fields nearby, which moved closer and closer towards us, until it crossed the path a mere few metres away, landing in the garden of a nearby house. Probably the best views I’m ever likely to get of a wild barn owl.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl
Barn Owl

Also in the area were singing whitethroats, and a few redshank, curlew, dunlin, oystercatcher and shelduck, and grey plover resplendent in their summer plumage.

Then onwards to Spurn, where the heavens opened briefly making me fear a washout, but they stopped and the sun actually dared to poke through the clouds every now and then. We had a walk up to Beacon Lagoons, which was pretty much devoid of birds, but I did get a couple of flyover common terns (another year tick) and some roe deer in the fields, plus good numbers of singing skylarks.

Roe Deer
Roe Deer


A walk round the triangle brought up good wader numbers, including the fourth and final lifer of the day in a flock of whimbrel. There were also more of the same from Stone Creek, plus additions of black-tailed godwit and at least 40 brent geese. Passerines around included sedge warblers and wheatears.


Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler

Brent Geese
Brent Geese

We also got another mammal tick for the day, with good views of a hunting red fox.


We then stopped at the Crown and Anchor, and sat in the window looking over the estuary, which is really the only way to birdwatch! From there I saw the assembled waders and brents take flight in panic, and looked up to see a passing dark-coloured harrier, which I’m tentatively IDing as a marsh harrier. Not a bad thing to see while eating a pub lunch!

From there we had a drive to the Point, where new birds added to the daylist included sanderling, ringed plover and turnstone. The area was full of singing whitethroats, but the most obvious creatures were the hordes of brown-tailed moth caterpillars, which were covering every surface. Glad I wasn’t wearing shorts…

Spurn Point
The Point


The caterpillars of doom...
Caterpillars of doom

Then it was back to see the roosting waders at the Triangle, getting more views of the whimbrel and adding bar-tailed godwit to the list.


On the way home we passed through Hedon, and I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a swift through the car window, but noticed it was many times too big and actually a slender, long-winged falcon – a brief glimpse but I’m certain it was a hobby! (One was also sighted in Sunk Island earlier in the day, which isn’t far at all as the hobby flies…).

So a great day in total with some great birds seen. Here’s the full list…

Feral pigeon, woodpigeon, carrion crow, magpie, kestrel, starling, rook, mallard, black-headed gull, mute swan, lapwing, blackbird, jackdaw, swift, herring gull, lesser black-backed gull, house sparrow, red-legged partridge, swallow, yellowhammer, skylark, wren, greenfinch, yellow wagtail, redshank, meadow pipit, reed bunting, shelduck, oystercatcher, curlew, grey plover, whitethroat, dunlin, barn owl, chaffinch, corn bunting, collared dove, pied wagtail, song thrush, blue tit, cormorant, house martin, grey heron, common tern, linnet, whimbrel, black-tailed godwit, moorhen, great tit, sedge warbler, coot, brent goose, wheatear, tree sparrow, goldfinch, robin, chiffchaff, turnstone, dunnock, ringed plover, sanderling, marsh harrier (probable), bar-tailed godwit, hobby.


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My name is Pete

10 thoughts on “Sunk Island and Spurn”

  1. up the owls.

    I woke up at 4am a couple of weeks ago to the sound of a pair of Owls, took a peek outside from the back upstairs bedroom and there one was sitting on top my outside shed. never seen one in the city before, I saw one many years ago in Hillsborough park early one morning but never amongst the houses. They are always the biggest thrill for me. Probably looking for a nice big nest to squat in?

  2. Great pics – love the owl and fox ones especially!

    We went looking for the whimbrels at Roper Hill last night but no luck.. We did see a lovely lapwing who was perched on a wall by Redmires as we were driving along. I got some good pics out the car window (there’s one of them on the SBSG site – my first with the Lumix!). Have been looking for woodcock roding at dusk out there a couple of times but no luck yet. We will keep an eye out and if they emerge again this year we can take you out there one evening if you like.

    Still no swifts.

    1. Hi Gill,

      Saw your pic on the SBSG site, seems like you’re doing well with the Lumix! If you do pop up for the woodcocks would really appreciate a run up, that would be fantastic :)

  3. Excellent report, glad you had a worthwehile trip. In retrospect I probably should have suggested you come back via Sunk Island, to see Yellow Wags & Corn Bunts in better light. Went 1st thing this am, but drove past to Ottringham, so to come at Sunk Island with sun behind me. I do a Barn Owl safari in the area in December, and one particular afternoon after 2 weeks of wind & rain, and then the first still day, which turned out to be misty, we saw 10 different Barn Owls! Some of them were incredibly close – because their feathers were damp from the mist, they stayed on their post by the side of the road until the last possible minute – pure magic!

    1. The barn owl was fantastic, they’re very rare round me and it’s quite a novelty for me to see them all, let alone at that distance. Cheers again for the tips – an hour at Sunk Island/Stone Creek turned out more productive than the full day at Spurn!

  4. Enjoyed reading about your trip and your sightings. I’m lucky this side of the Humber as I often see Barn Owls hunting along the deep ditches by the roads where they fly at eye level, though I’ve never got round to photographing them yet.

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