Sunday 18 October 2015

Super Stripy Sibe Sprites!

Another afternoon dash to Flamborough, once my Dad duties had been dealt with (well done Sol for winning football player of the week!). Arrived at a busy Flamborough lighthouse car park to be greeted by John B, who remarked 'There's a man who looks like he's in a rush!' Not 'alf: my phone had been non-stop all morning as a whole smorgasbord of stonking sibes were discovered at the Great White Cape.

South of the Gorse Field, I bumped into Janice from Notts WT and Craig who were searching for the Pallas's Warbler. Sure enough, within moments, the stripy little Sibe appeared with a gang of comparatively-drab Goldcrests, working the brambly edge of the hedge. The little sprite showed superbly for several minutes, hopping down into the grass, through the brambles and occasionally hovering to show off the full complement of seven stripes (two on each wing and three on the head) and a pale lemon blob on it's rump. Completely brilliant!


We headed round to the other end of the wild bird strip where a first-winter male Siberian Stonechat fed from the tops of blowy thistles and hardheads, showing a plain apricot rump, nice pied tertials and overall pallor, though I was unable to check out it's underwing coverts.

Carried on round to Old Fall Hedge. As we walked up, a Great Grey Shrike shot out of the hedge and grabbed an unseen Goldcrest in mid-air with it's feet! Incredible! I had never seen one do this before, and never even knew they could catch birds in flight - wow! It then hovered, looking presumably for a good perch, and then dropped into the hedge literally ten metres in front of us, but sadly out of sight.  Great Grey Shrikes are just awesome. Goldcrests do not stand a chance with these little velociraptors around.

We carried on up the hedge, with Goldcrests everywhere. Suddenly, I picked up a male Firecrest, which whilst fast-moving, gave itself away to the others and even stayed still momentarily allowing a lucky photo. Vying for pole position as stonking sprite, though I think the Pallas's still edged it!

A Kestrel flew past and landed to consume, yes, a Goldcrest. Looks like these little guys are top of the menu. Mind you, they are rather naive in their behaviour, flying out in to the middle of bare fields and hopping about on the plough. Not wise when shrikes and falcons are at large!

I left Craig and Janice to head off to lunch and I walked the clifftop to Booted Gulley and then on to South Landing. Much quieter further west, though still plenty of Goldcrests, a brief Ring Ouzel and several more Chiffchaffs. A drake Velvet Scoter was close in off the gulley as Craig had indicated. A Peregrine cruised menacingly along the cliffs, worrying the waders feeding on the shore below and looking out for a tired Redwing of Fieldfare to pick off.

No sign of the recent Bluetail at South Landing, so I headed back to Old Fall. Craig's Dusky Warbler was calling occasionally from the hedge south of the plantation, but I couldn't see it. Time was getting on, so I had a quick look at the plantation. A squealing from over the fence turned out to be the death screams of an unfortunate Rabbit which had been killed by a Stoat. The Stoat looked up at me with the scowl of an angry teenager who had been interrupted doing something very important. Further on, a Chiffchaff sleepily hopped about in the grass, catching a few beetles in the leaf litter, before cosying up in the grass and having a nap. A tired migrant no doubt.
Back at Old Fall steps, a gent pointed out a fine Yellow-browed Warbler in the willows, a most welcome sight, if not a little eclipsed by the earlier Pallas's. A minute later, I picked up another Pallas's Warbler in the hedge and the same gent then said 'Firecrest' and sure enough, there it was again. The 'Super Sprite Treble' in less than a minute, unbelievable scenes!!

Feeling rather exhilarated, I headed back round to the lighthouse and away, beaming like a buffoon!

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