This morning it was a stupid o’clock start for a trip to Spurn with the SBSG. The recent westerly winds and nice sunny weather meant that I wasn’t expecting it to be a rarity-fest, and I wasn’t wrong! The only scarce bird around was a barred warbler, which despite spending the entire day in the same patch of bushes by the Warren, was skittish and gave poor views compared with the bird seen at Flamborough two weeks ago.
I did pick up one lifer for the day, though, in the form of snow bunting, with a confiding individual putting on a good show on the coastal path. Sadly the Lapland buntings that have been there recently weren’t playing.
There was a good mix of waders on show, including whimbrel, both godwits, sanderling, golden, grey and ringed plovers, turnstone, oystercatcher and huge clouds of knot. Other birds around included whinchats and wheatears, but migrants were thin on the ground, with none of the redstarts or flycatchers I was half expecting.
Lots of knots…
Elsewhere there were red-throated divers (my first of the year), a large number of little egret (12 is a conservative estimate) and many grey seals bobbing around in the sea.
Despite the quiet nature of the day birdwise, it was still a great day out in unseasonal sunshine.
On the way home I finally saw a mammal I’ve often suspected lives on my patch but I’ve never actually seen, as a fox walked up Loxley Road in front of the car. A great animal to see.
This last two weekend’s I’ve actually had a walk on what is probably becoming one of the most neglected local patches in the country…
Last week’s highlights were a dipper at Stacey Bank (ringed light blue over metal/red over yellow), a couple of grey wagtails, 5 x tufted duck on Old Wheel Dam, and the usual suspects such as nuthatch, jay and kestrel.
Today’s highlights were a mute swan on Old Wheel Dam (not a common bird there), a single tufted duck, 5 x swallow over OWD, a hunting kestrel and a great spotted woodpecker near Rowell Lane, and two treecreeper and a singing chiffchaff at Black Lane.
A couple of pics…
Treecreeper, living up to its name…
Off to Spurn tomorrow – with the recent westerly winds I’m not expecting much, but there is some reasonable stuff knocking about like lapland and snow buntings, barred warbler and Med gulls, so you never know… Not expecting a rarity-fest though!
Before I get on with today’s sightings, a quick postscript to the last post. Here is a picture of the elusive Edderthorpe spotted crake, not taken by me but by Dave Simmonite, who not only had the fortune to see it in much better light than my twilight encounter, but turned up at the flash to find it waiting for him (jammy get!). I’m sure Dave would be the first to admit it’s not going to win him Wildlife Photographer Of The Year, but the crake is a bird that few are going to get any more than record shots of, so well done for getting a snap!
Today I returned to the Dearne Valley to have a second crack at the pectoral sandpiper at Wombwell Ings. This time it didn’t take too long to find, thanks to other birders present, as it loitered on the opposite shore hanging out with a small gaggle of greenshanks and snipe. Despite being quite a bog standard Calidris wader in many ways, it stood out as something different, and I was expecting a very dunlin-style bird, but in fact its jizz was very different and I like to think I’d manage to ID one without much hesitation should I be lucky enough to stumble across my own.
Sadly it was too far away for a photo, as were the curlew sandpipers I saw next at Old Moor. Again quite distant views, these are mistakable for dunlin (of which there were 20 or more present), but their almost pure white undersides, taller and neckier posture and longer bills marked them out with a bit of squinting. It was a good morning for waders, with black-tailed godwit, ruff, common sandpiper, green sandpiper, lapwing and golden plover also present, as well as little egret.
Just to show I do still take my own photos every now and then (I need to find more photogenic birds to write about!) here are a couple of not-great shots of some more common birds.
Great Crested Grebe
Well over 50 species seen this morning, which isn’t bad going between 9am and 1pm. Here’s a full list…
This afternoon I finally managed to get up to Wombwell Ings and Edderthorpe Flash to twitch a couple of good birds that have been up there recently.
The target of Wombwell was a pectoral sandpiper that has been up there for a few days, but sadly after much scanning we failed to find it. The best there were about six greenshanks and a few snipe.
Then on to Edderthorpe Flash, where we arrived around 6.10 and decided we’d give it until seven to find the elusive spotted crake that has spent a few weeks up there. As the light faded and the clock ticked we started to fear that we’d dip both birds, but at least an overhead hobby was a good bird if it didn’t show. It got close to our self-imposed deadline, but at 6.59 another birder shouted “It’s here!”. We watched the crake pottering around in good view of the bench, giving a brief but good performance in the fading light! A cracking bird, and well worth the wait.
This weekend I’ve been on my now annual September pilgrimage to Bridlington and Flamborough.
My day started off arriving at Brid at 11am. Highlights immediately presented themselves with a juvenile(?) bar-tailed godwit in the harbour, along with the usual redshanks, turnstones and oystercatchers, and a nice flock of kittiwakes on the harbour wall. There was also a barnacle goose wandering around – although I could try and argue a legit Cat C tick, I think I’ll leave this lifer for the time I get a “proper” one.
After checking in at the B&B, it was time to go to Flamborough. The day was glorious, hot and still – an ideal day for seaside visitors, but unfortunately not for any big fall of migrants! In fact I saw very little of interest all afternoon, with nothing more interesting than a wheatear, sparrowhawk and curlew seen all day(!). Old Fall plantation, often a migrant hotspot at this time of year, yielded just two willow warblers and a blue tit or two. Some nice dragonflies around, though…
Later on I saw on Birdguides that a greenish warbler was at South Landing. I spent a while squinting at the chiffchaffs and willow warblers trying to turn one into its rarer cousin, but with no joy. I seem to be cursed with my solo trips around Flamborough – last year’s was equally quiet. Still a nice walk…
The main event this morning – the RSPB Skua and Shearwater Cruise, meeting up with some of the guys from BirdForum (presume any people I mention from now on in this post are part of that group…). Birds seen by me on the trip included arctic skua, great skua, Manx shearwater (one of them doing a very obliging turn metres away from my side of the boat) and common scoter (all year ticks), plus fulmar, gannet, sandwich tern, cormorant, shag, guillemot, razorbill, puffin etc. Red-throated diver was also seen, but sadly not by me. Grey seals and harbour porpoises could be seen on many occasions, and James called a whale when he sighted a massive spray from a blowhole, and a probable minke. Despite these sightings, it was still a very quiet cruise as the weather was a little too clement, and I’m hoping next year’s is a bit more dramatic (I’m still hoping to get a few sootie shearwaters!).
That morning some of the BFers had already checked out Flamborough, and Marcus and Jim had aready found a barred warbler at Flamborough Head. After filling up on Brid’s best chips, we made our way there, making a slight detour to South Landing (picking up whimbrel and dunlin while there, plus another seal). At the Head the barred warbler wasn’t tricky to find, as a small group of birders had gathered. I must admit I wasn’t expecting good views, figuring it’d be skulking around the brambles, but it showed brilliantly at the top of the undergrowth. Also on show with it were whinchat and stonechat, and swallows, house martins, sand martins and even a late swift flew overhead, and a yellow wagtail flitted by.
(I’d love to take credit for the below photo of the barred warbler, but it’s one of Marcus Conway’s – check out his website for more cracking shots).
After this it was another walk to Old Fall, but it was as dead as the day before, but while we were there a phonecall alerted us to an osprey heading south over the sea. We got on to it just in time before it turned and headed out to sea, disappearing into the distance. Brilliant stuff, and my second lifer of the afternoon!
Other birds around included an eider and some purple sandpipers. Graham used his superhuman eyes to spot two great skuas battling over the sea, and got most of us on to them. While the group disbanded at the end of the day, a few of us stopped to seawatch for a while, navigating the (seemingly to a wuss like me) perilous path to the cliffs, and picking up a party curlews, whimbrels and bar-tailed godwits, while a greenshank flew past closer to shore. An arctic skua was also spotted by James, and a mystery whale was briefly picked up by Keith. The cold clifftop air started to bite, and we said goodbye to another BirdForum Yorkshire meet – it was great to seeeome of the guys again, and to meet others for the first time.
Today I got up before breakfast, and a walk round the harbour turned up a few common gulls, a purple sandpiper, and two knot in the harbour, the latter being a year tick.
I decided to finish my time in Brid with a go on one of the one hour pleasure cruises on the Yorkshire Belle, hoping to spot the divers I missed on Saturday, but sadly it wasn’t to be. The boat stayed too close to the shore to get anything too interesting, but I did pick up a couple of guillemots, several gannets and fulmars, and a small flock of scoters.
And then home! A great weekend by the sea, with some cracking birds seen.
I’m off to Bridlington this weekend, for a yomp around Flamborough and a trip on the RSPB skua/shearwater cruise. Hopefully the winds will be vaguely easterly, and I’ll have plenty of good species to write about when I get back!
On Thursday I had a trip to Potteric Carr, and got a lifer in the form of little stint, just in time too as it seems to have been the bird’s last day there. It was quite a good day for waders on Huxter Well, with a spotted redshank (apparently the first one at Potteric for over a decade), about 16 black-tailed godwits, and few dunlin, snipe and little egret dotted around. Sadly the rest of the reserve was very quiet indeed, and after the wader-fest we made our way home. No photos of any of the waders due to their distance away from us and the fact it was a glum day with a howling wind, but the gloom cleared for a few shots of some of the less interesting species on the Willow Pool birdfeeders.
The car seemed to fixed, and I was getting quietly excited about the osprey-finding jaunt to Rutland Water on Saturday, but sadly it juddered to a halt again on Friday, just as the garage closed for the weekend. So unless I’m lucky with a flyover in the next couple of weeks osprey may well be one for next year now… ah well!
Meanwhile in the garden we have an army of wasps feeding on the windfall plums we’ve been foolishly too lazy to clean up. We had to wait until after dark last night to clean them up from the steps and flower beds, as we daren’t incur their wrath during the day!
The plums are attracting more welcome visitors, however, in the form of red admirals that have been flitting around the garden all day…
Finally, congratulations to RSPB Old Moor, that won the National Lotter Award for best environmental project last night. Very well deserved it is too!