Yesterday I had a trip to Spurn, which turned into a bit of a day of twitching and dipping…
On the way we decided to have a slight detour, and have a look at the American golden plover at Great Heck. There’s a flood in a field there that has attracted a large grouping of birds, including black-headed and common gulls, lapwing and a couple of hundred (European) golden plovers – among them was one of their vagrant cousins.
Typically for this species they seemed scared of their own shadows, and despite us staying back to the opposite side of the road, annoyingly kept taking off at anything that moved, including a few carrion crows that seemed to delight in chasing them into the skies for a while where they circled for an age before settling back down again. After a couple of these sessions, we finally got on to the American goldie – slightly smaller, greyer, and with darkish streaks on its breasts (showing a different moulting stage to any of the other goldies there) and a darker, “splodgier” cheek-pattern. After a quick scrutinise they spooked again and drifted off. There was one report on BirdGuides after we saw it, about half an hour later, but it wasn’t seen after that, so we were lucky to see it when we did.
From then on to Stone Creek, where despite checking every fence post, bush and hedge we could see, failed to find the great grey shrike. We did see the usual fine selection of waders on show, that included an incredible display of thousands upon thousands of knot taking to the air, plus bar-tailed and black-tailed godwit, grey plover, redshank, dunlin, curlew and turnstone. As well as the waders, a cream-crown marsh harrier loomed over the farmland, and a little egret huddled by a ditch.
Spurn next, and a rather uneventful walk round the Triangle for starters, that included nothing better than a couple of blackcaps, a redstart (not seen by me), a heard-only squealing water rail on the canal, and a few lesser redpoll and goldcrests by the churchyard. We saw a flock of brent geese fly in, and we went to the point via Chalk Bank, where we caught up with them, along with some nice views of grey plover and curlew, and a few more waders for the day which included oystercatcher, sanderling and ringed plover.
A spot of bush-bashing at The Point after that, and despite a few annoying fleeting glimpses of unidentified passerines the best we could muster were a few redwing, more blackcaps, and a rather fine male brambling actually inside the Heligoland trap (oh shut up, it’ll count for a day list, despite its captivity…!). A few whimbrel also finished off the day’s respectable wader count.
By this time a yellow-browed warbler came up on BirdGuides at the churchyard, so we scurried back to have a look. No signs, unfortunately, but the gate was locked so viewing was hampered somewhat.
We decided on the way back to stop at Lakeside for the Slavonian grebe, which was a lifer for one of the party, and a bird I’ve only seen as small dots bobbing off the end of Filey Brigg. After a dash round the lake in the fading light, we eventually found it, looking rather dapper as it chilled out with its more mundane little and grest crested cousins.
A Slav at sundown…
A good day all in all! Not bursting in all the rares I was hoping for, and a couple of dips along the way, but I got a not-too-shoddy 74 species throughout the day, which I will now list (in vague chronological order) like the sad man I am.
American Golden Plover
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Crested Grebe