Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Glorious East Yorkshire

The previous weekend in Dorset had showcased a general paucity of migrants, but this weekend was altogether more rewarding. Following a promising forecast mid-week, Dan Pointon and I eventually decided to base ourselves at Spurn from Friday to Sunday as it was looking promising for a potential fall on the Saturday.

As it transpired the fall didn't happen and Friday actually proved the best day for new arrivals. A Barred Warbler proved typically elusive as it crashed about in hawthorns in the first paddock at Sammy's Point while an Ortolan eventually showed quite well in the evening sun at Middle Camp, very late in the day. The latter is only the second I've seen in the UK following a showy bird near Holyhead back in September 2008, so it was a nice bonus.

Heavily cropped record shot of the Ortolan at Middle Camp,

Each day we carefully scoured large parts of the Spurn recording area as well as spots around Easington, just to the north. The most prominent migrant seemed to be Common Redstart, with Friday and Saturday both producing totals in excess of 30 birds. In terms of numbers, Whinchats and Pied Flycatchers weren't far behind while Tree Pipits were noted regularly, both grounded and flying over. Singles of Common Swift were nice on Friday (Kilnsea) and Saturday (Point). A single Fieldfare at Kilnsea on Saturday was my earliest ever.

Pied Flycatcher at Sammy's Point

There have been some great counts of Mediterranean Gull in the Kilnsea area lately and they were seen anywhere that there were other gulls - particularly large concentrations were seen in fields north of Kilnsea and at Sammy's Point.

3cy Mediterranean Gull on the Humber at Kilnsea

Saturday proved miserable at first but it brightened up considerably throughout the afternoon. Ash Howe and James Shergold had joined us and we ambled down to the point in leisurely fashion, finding a good scattering of common migrants along the way. At the point itself the lingering juvenile Red-backed Shrike was bombing around and there were pleasing numbers of Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers, Whinchats and phylloscs.

Sunday morning dawned calmed and a juvenile Marsh Harrier flew south over the Warren early on. Our only Reed Warbler of the weekend was in the hedge opposite the Blue Bell and Ash found a moribund Guillemot on the Humber opposite the Crown and Anchor - unfortunately the latter seemed to have an infection which had blinded it in its right eye. We also enjoyed some nice views of a Yellow-browed Warbler found the previous day in the churchyard before departing Spurn.

Guillemot looking fairly unhappy about being rescued

The reason for our slightly premature leave was the continuing presence of an Icterine Warbler up the coast at Buckton (and another fresh in at Flamborough) - a potential new bird for James and an opportunity for me to see one properly after staring a singing movement in a bush for a number of hours at Spurn one sunny June afternoon, several years back. On the way we called in to see the Black Stork at Sunk Island, which was happily feeding in its favoured fields.

The drive up to Bridlington was tediously slow as always. Arriving at Flamborough we found out that the Icky there hadn't been seen since early doors and so we drove round to Buckton. A timely text from Dave Aitken alerted us that he and Mark Thomas had literally just re-trapped the Icky and so we hot-footed it down there to see see it in the hand. Very nice it was too, although I was equally as impressed with the dell and Heligoland set-up that Mark and others have worked hard to create here over the past decade. Envy doesn't cover it!

 Icterine Warbler in the hand at Buckton, 13 September 2015

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