Monday, 5 October 2015

Birthday Bush Bashing Birdless Bonanza

Four days of east coast bush-bashing and stubble stalking was a great load of fun, though revealed very few birds. Despite this a few notable birds seen and some great company to share them with. Events started mid-morning on Thursday 1st October at Filey where a stomp around the top fields revealed a flyover Lapland Bunting with Skylarks, a skein of 30 Pink-feet, a showy Short-eared Owl flushed a number of times from various hedge-bottoms and best of all, a male Firecrest at the tip. This bird took me about half an hour to actually see, having picked it up on call. Bizarrely, the little sprite even sang a couple of times as it worked through a thick blackthorn patch!

On to Flamborough, where I did the Old Fall loop with Craig Thomas. Jammed in on a fine Yellow-browed Warbler in the plantation but little else of note.

Up early on Friday morning, Tony and me headed back to Flamborough. We bumped into Craig again at the head and walked round the Bay Brambles which revealed plenty of finches flying about but not much else. We did the Old Fall loop hoping the Eastern Subalpine Warbler might pop out in front of us, but sadly not! A Little Egret lended a touch of the exotic, and headed straight south out over Bridlington Bay. Round at Old Fall, the Yellow-brow was sheltering from the southwesterly wind in the sallows in the northeast corner along with a handful of Goldcrests and a couple of Chiffchaffs. We grilled the plantation for a good hour or so, but couldn't pull anything else out. A few skeins of Pink-feet came over too. We wandered back up the Old Fall hedge and saw a Barred Warbler very briefly by Old Fall steps, plus two Blackcaps, all gorging on elderberries.

Pink-footed Geese, Chiffchaff and Yellow-browed Warbler, Old Fall.

We headed round to Holmes Gut and Thornwick which was very quiet. As we approached Thornwick Pool Tony announced he had a raptor. I was enjoying the facilities so promptly finished and ran up the hill to where Tony was. Immediately this bird looked interesting, with level wings and downswept hands, a long tail and a small projecting head - Honey Buzzard! Sadly the bird was into the sun the whole time we were watching it though on one circle I managed to glimpse the underparts which seemed plain brown from throat to vent, with uniform brown coverts, barred secondaries and primaries, the latter having a much paler base colour. The bird headed south towards the lighthouse where it circled up trying to gain height. It became a dot above the fog station and then seemed to head off south.

We shot back to the Old Fall area but failed to see much else and the HB did not reappear. 

Saturday saw me heading to Filey which proved to be very disappointing with three Redwings the only birds of note. Spurn rubbed in my failure superbly when news of a Pied Wheatear and Citrine Wagtail double came through. Doh!

Monday's southeasterly rain storm came in on track and a deluge of Redwings came in off the sea. I headed to Filey which again proved to be a disaster. In five hours, I managed to get drenched, wind-blown and saw little more than c50 Redwings, a handful of Song Thrushes, four Chiffchaffs and a rather bedraggled Wheatear. I may have heard a Yellow-brow briefly at the tip and I am sure I heard the Firecrest in the same spot as before, but then, I was getting desperate! Well, my four day birthday birding beano came to an end and will go down as one of the less memorable in my diary. But good fun all the same!

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