Friday 27 September 2013

Spurn sunshine

The wind went easterly in the week and a deluge of migrants poured over the North Sea and birders along the East Coast were apparently knee-deep in Yellow-browed Warblers. The Northern Isles had scored massively, so it was with much anticipation that I headed east to Spurn.

Half a dozen Redwings over Easington Village whetted the appetite for what was to come and I headed first to Sammy's Point. A good trawl round the bushes here surprisingly revealed very little, with only c20 Song Thrushes and a couple of Whitethoats of note, plus a couple of Greenshanks on the Humber.

On to Easington Churchyard which should have been crawling with stripy phylloscs. Not today, with two Redstarts scant compensation.

News was coming through from Spurn and Kilnsea so a short drive later and I was soon heading round the triangle having picked up a spare radio (thanks Andy!). A Wheatear was present on the fence in the middle of Well Field and from Canal Scrape Hide, a smart juvenile Little Stint sporting snazzy bling was showing very well along with a bouncing Jack Snipe feeding on the cut area. Little else of note around the triangle. On the way back to the car a visit to the Kilnsea Churchyard revealed first a Pied Flycatcher and then a fine Yellow-browed Warbler flicking around in a Sycamore. The bird was mostly silent but did a brief bout of calling.

Crazy bouncing Jack.

Lunch at the Warren and then on to Chalk Bank for fine views of a Red-breasted Flycatcher, before some serious bush grilling. This was hard work in the glorious sunshine though Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, a Whinchat-Wheatear-Whinchat superspecies (don't ask!), a Redpoll x Linnet hybrid (the sun was getting to me by this point) and a Goldcrest were the noted migrants. Presumably the clear skies were allowing all incoming migrants to fly straight over at height. 30 Brents on the Humber were a fine sight and plenty of Gannets seemed to be investigating the outskirts of Hull, but most seemed to return.

RBFly...A lovely and confiding little bird.

Last stop was the point where a Wheatear fed on the lawn and a Redstart 'hoo-eet'ed around the lock-up. The bushes were dead on the whole, though more Song Thrushes were in evidence. Another Redstart on the other side of the Parade Ground could have been a second bird. It was a joy to explore the network of newly cut paths - nice one Adam, Phil and Vicky.

A quick look for a Firecrest at the Warren on the return journey, revealed a briefly calling Yellow-brow next to Warren Cottage and a flitting flight view of said Firecrest. All in all a lovely day, though very few new birds in.

Monday 16 September 2013

Double Snipe

So I tried to do the right thing. Big westerlies and rain and the thought that surely yesterday's Great Snipe wouldn't still be at Spurn made my decision to go looking for wind blown skuas at Hes East the birding destination of choice. Not much doing, though 12 Snipe were seemingly taunting me, reminding me of their large Polish cousin out east. Plenty of ducks, with one Wigeon, 3 Pochard and c25 Tufted Ducks on the lake, though numbers of Teal were down on the west lagoons. Plenty of Linnets around and the semi-resident Greenshank. Then the news started to arrive of the Great Snipe giving crippling views...

An hour and a quarter of frenetic driving later, I pulled up at Kilnsea and jogged round on to Beacon Lane. Steve Exley immediately got me into the viewing position by a wall looking behind a gate on to a bit of rough land by a building. At first I couldn't see anything as I peered into the gloom under some scrub. But then I realised the green stripes I was looking at were the legs of the snipe, literally ten feet away, sitting on the grass right out in the open. Unbelievable!

For the next hour or so, those present had incredible views of this stunningly beautiful wader as it performed superbly, feeding actively on the grass and under the bushes, interspersed with a few naps. At times, it went for a wander, sometimes coming rediculously close. What a bird! I never thought I would see this species this well ever, with plenty of time to scrutinize every feather. The bird was in immaculate plumage and presumably a first calendar year, but I am not sure about the ageing of Snipes.

Great Snipes used to be known as Double Snipes, presumably because they were twice the bulk of a Common Snipe and therefore had more meat on them! Records are much scarcer these days than they used to be, so this bird was a welcome addition to many Yorkshire lists, including mine!

Birders staring under the gate to see the bird