Birdlington 09…

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.

Barnacle Goose

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…

Common Darter

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).

(c) Marcus Conway
(c) Marcus Conway

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.

Redshank and Knot

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.


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My name is Pete

4 thoughts on “Birdlington 09…”

  1. Glad you had a good weekend – good to here from you again. Love the photo of redshank and knot. Hope you can find a mo to look at my latest UFOs spotted on my first real fungus foray of the season yesterday.

  2. Hi Chris – you’re right with wheatear and meadow pipit. The bird of prey is a kestrel – a youngster hence the streaky back. If it hovers like that, then it’s a kestrel… confusable species such as merlin, sparrowhawk and hobby don’t hover.

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