Saturday, 20 September 2014

Spurn Unmasked

Plans went wonky when the Spurn Woodchat Shrike was reidentified as Britain's third Masked Shrike! Left in a bit of a panic at 10am and had a shocker of a journey across from York, due to heavy Saturday morning traffic. Nevertheless, arrived at Well Field, parked up and was shortly getting my first distant glimpse of this first for Yorkshire perched on a barbed wire fence at the back of Rose Cottage.

Very pleased to see this bird having never made it north to Scotland for the first. Great to bump into lots of friends and colleagues all with big grins on their faces! Thanks to Paz and Mark from York, jammed  a collosal Convolvulous Hawkmoth courtesy of Father Stoyle and my first Small Mottled Willow moth, both at the Warren. There seemed to be plenty of birds about, so I spent an enjoyable few hours wandering around. Failed to refind an Olive-backed Pipit, though thought I had when I flushed a pipit out of the salt marsh near the Warren. It flew up into a bush and revealed itself as a very smart Tree Pipit. Oh well, nearly.

Bumped into Chris Gomersall from York and enjoyed watching Pied and Red-breasted Flycatchers near the pub with him. Mid-afternoon the shrike had moved a little closer and gave us a better opportunity to check it out. The long black and white tail was really striking and together with large white primary flashes, made the bird really stunning in flight. The bird showed a distinct apricot wash on the flanks which I suppose is a bit of adult colouration coming through. No white rump, and big white scaps were noted. A fine and interesting bird seemingly quite at home pouncing on insects in the grass. A Great Grey Shrike showed quite well on the other side of the road, hunting from the telegraph wires most of the day, and an adult Med Gull flew over. Other migrants about included Spotted Flycatcher (4), Redstart (3), Whinchat (6), Wheatear (8+), Lesser Whitethroat (1), Garden Warbler (2), Siskin (c15), and a few Goldcrests and phylloscs.

Masked Shrike, plus ConvHawk and GGS at the bottom.

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