Tuesday 4 October 2011

East Coast Weekender #3: Eyes on the Skies for the Prize!

Dawn came round too quickly and I found myself pointing and muttering 'Hawfinch' to anyone listening. An excited Craig Thomas saying 'where, where?' woke me up and we soon enjoyed cracking views of the brute sitting atop the Old Fall hedgerow. A fine start!

Migrants were much in evidence, with four then two Crossbills flying west overhead amid the cacophony of Siskins and Redpolls. Chiffchaffs flitted ahead of us along the hedge and Redstarts scolded our progress. The Yellow-browed Warbler gave itself up more quickly, this time on the northside of the plantation and showing for several minutes. A smart, if dull bird, with little tertial edging, but a couple of fine wingbars and a whopping supercilium. On round the head revealed a Whinchat and a Wheatear perched in the so-called motorway hedge. Then unforgettably, Craig said 'get on this swift'. I lifted my bins to see two swifts coming across the field in front of us sunlit against a dark sky. The first, remarkably was sandy brown, with two tone wings, a dark saddle and huge white throat patch. Blimey! I said 'this has got to be a Pallid!' Reg came running back saying 'that's a Pallid Swift'. So we were all in agreement. The pair came past at close range, fairly leisurely, allowing us to check the features off one by one, with the added bonus of a Common Swift close by for comparison. After a minute or so, they headed off high into the bright sky over Bridlington Bay, leaving us shocked and elated.

After a brief conflab, Craig tried to hail the others on the CB, but this didn't work, so he legged it over to the fog horn station to alert the seawatchers. On his way to the head, he bumped into Ashley Saunders who apparently had independently seen the bird and agreed with the identification. Fortunately, the two swifts reappeared in front of the swelling throng and performed well for the next hour before being lost to view at 11am, during which time I managed a little bit of poor video. Meanwhile, news came through that another Pallid Swift was at Spurn...

Craig had to dash off to chair a meeting - unfortunate timing. Reg and me celebrated with a cup of tea and then decided to do Holme's Gut. Even more birds than yesterday for sure, but still no rare.

It was time to head for Spurn...

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