Saturday, October 21, 2006

Spurn and Filey - 16th & 17th Oct 2006.

Lapland Bunting - Spurn, East Yorks - 16th Oct 2006.
I arrived at Spurn at 08:00hrs, starting off at Easington Cemetary. Redwings, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were immediately obvious. A walk along the lanes for 1.5hrs produced more Thrushes, a few Brambling, 2 Chiffchaff and few Goldcrests.

From here I parked at the Crown & Anchor car park, where almost immediately a Yellow-browed Warbler called, giving good views in the hedge. A few Goldcrest and a small party of Siskin fed in an Alder. Several flocks of Thrushes, (Redwing, Blackbird & Song Thrush - very few Fieldfare) were arriving in-off.

A walk around the triangle was quiet in terms of birds of interest. There was quite a breeze which were keeping the Bearded Tits, a species i haven't seen at Spurn, low down in the reedbeds of Canal Scrape / Canal Zone, although they had been heard earlier in the morning.
Continuing along Kilnsea Cliff, then back along Beacon Lane to the Crown car park produced only a single Black Redstart of any note.

Back at the car, I decided to explore north of the area, around the Gas Terminal, as far up as Out Newton. This produced very little, and resisting the news of a Raddes Warbler showing well at Filey, I returned to Spurn determined to continue doing my own birding down the peninsula.

A Lapland Bunting was showing very well on the road by post 30. When flushed by traffic it would always return shortly after.

At the point car park, a tired Brambling was feeding and a walk around the point dunes produced several more Brambling, 4 Chiffchaff, a few Goldcrest and a superb Short-eared Owl which I flushed. The dominent species at the point were again Thrushes, overwhelmingly the three species previously mentioned, with no Fieldfare seen.

At this point, late afternoon, I must admit to feeling regret at deciding not to twitch the Radde's at Filey, particularly as news of an Arctic / Two-barred Greenish Warbler reached the pager, followed shortly afterwards by news of a Pallas's Warbler also at Filey!

Early evening, 2 Black Redstart were on the Humber shoreline by the lighthouse and on the return journey back up the peninsula, the Lapland Bunting was resisting all attempts by Barry Spence to mist-net it by post 30, as was a newly discovered Yellow-browed Warbler in the same area.

That evening, I decided to remain in the Spurn area, kipping in the car by Easington Cemetary, with the intention of getting in some early birding next morning whilst awaiting news from Filey.

Next morning, 17th Oct, I was out of the car at first light noting that the sky had cleared.

A walk around the bushes at Sammy's Point produced Thrushes mainly, inc. 1+ Ring Ouzel and a few Fieldfare. 3 Brambling, 1 Chiffchaff, 1m Blackcap and a Jack Snipe were also seen.

News then came through on the pager that the Warbler at Filey was still present and was now considered a definate Two-barred Greenish. This was followed shortly by news of the continuing presence of the Radde's.

That was enough for me, so off i drove.

Arriving at Filey at 11:00hrs, I immediately joined the mass of birders at Arndale Ravine and it was an hour later that i got my first views of the TBG, watching it on+ off for the next 4 hours as it fed high in the canopy. This was really neck-breaking birding, but many good binocular views were had of the bird, noting all the salient plumage features, although the bird did not call during my visit. A very educational bird. Photographically, it was a nightmare for me, and i eventually abandoned attempts in order to simply take in the bird.

Above: Entirely pale lower mandible, supercillium extending to forehead.

Below: The length and thickness of the obvious greater covert wingbar can just about be made out in this photo.

Two-barred Greenish Warbler - Filey, North Yorks - 17th Oct 2006.

At 12:30hrs, news filtered down to the Arndale Ravine that the Radde's Warbler had been mist-netted. A frantic dash to the Top Scrub followed resulting in in-the-hand views of the superb Radde's, one of, if not my favourite warbler. To me, some warblers look less impressive in the hand than in the field (I recall a Booted Warbler at Spurn having this impression on me), but not so the Radde's - every bit as good as in the field. This bird appearing more olive toned to me than past in-the-field views I can recall.

Radde's Warbler - Filey, North Yorks - 17th Oct 2006.

Roller - Holy Island, Northumberland - 15th Oct 2006.

With the arrival of the weekend, i was determined to make amends for the disappointment of not being able to twitch the Canada Warbler in Ireland during the earlier part of the week, and what better way than seeing some migrants on the east coast. I also booked the Monday and Tuesday off work to make a long weekend.

My only previous Roller was a bird just north of the Kyle of Lochalshe, Highland in July 1995, so the bird present near Holy Island proved more than a tempter.

Upon arrival at Beal, just inland from the Holy Island causeway, the superb 1stw Roller was showing well on Hawthorns, a little distant for photography in the dull light, but allowing perfectly good scope views. I had to settle for videograbs of this bird, which would perch for periods atop the Hawthorns, then make sorties to the ground for prey items, drawing gasps of appreciation from the assembled birders as it burst into colour upon taking flight. Even Pam, my fiancee, was impressed! - The poor videograbs simply don't do the bird justice.

Roller - Beal, Northumberland - 15th Oct 2006.
Surprisingly, in my years of birding, I had never actually set foot on Holy Island, so the prospect of indulging in some birding on the Island added immensely to the appeal of a day trip.
The tide was low enough for us to cross the causeway at 11:00hrs. A superb ad Red-throated Diver was just off the road in the channel, as were several Eider.
First stop was the area known as 'The Snook'.
Well, immediately after leaving the car and entering the dunes I was blown away with this area, which appeared to be an absolute delight for finding migrants with only small scattered areas of vegetation and the garden of Snook House looked amazing, with a small belt of stunted Sycamores.
For anyone with a passion for drift migrants, what price this property for a birder! - Simply mouthwatering.
Several high flying flocks of mixed Thrushes, mainly Redwing and Blackbirds and some Song Thrushes were obviously coming in from the North sea, and whilst watching a Chiffchaff in some isolated vegetation, a Shorelark flew relatively low overhead, calling, as it made its way south and a f/imm Merlin briefly gave chase to a flock of Meadow Pipit.
A Great Grey Shrike was present in the area, eventually showing well on dead branches in the large vegetation-free area nr Snook House.
Great Grey Shrike - The Snook, Holy Island, Nothumberland - 15th Oct 2006.
It was whilst at the Snook, that we learnt of an American Golden Plover showing "by the causeway".
So, back to the car and a short drive to the mainland end of the causeway only revealed birders who had no knowledge of the bird, nor could I see a Golden Plover flock.
This misinformation was to prove very costly, as shortly afterwards a pager message indicated that the bird was actually nearer to Holy Island village, showing amongst an 800 strong flock of 'Goldies'.
Another short drive later and we pulled up at the assembled twitch. Birders were clearly watching the bird.
I quickly opened the car boot and had almost erected the tripod when for no apparent reason the whole flock flew and dissappeared distantly onto the sands....... AARRGGHHH!! - There was no further sign of the bird for the remainder of the day.
A couple of hundred Dark-bellied Brent Geese were on the sandflats.
Moving onto the village area, we were soon at the House named 'Captains Garden', where after a short wait, the Red-breasted Flycatcher duly showed well in the Sycamore canopy, as did a fairly vocal Yellow-browed Warbler and a Brambling.
Next stop was a garden near the School, where a Barred Warbler was showing upon arrival. I just managed a record image before the bird dissappeared further into the vegetation.

Barred Warbler - Holy Island, Northumberland - 15th Oct 2006.

More small flocks of Redwing were noted, a flock of 12 Brambling flew south as well as a number of Skylark.

After this, Pam spent a while looking in the shops, whilst i explored the gardens, noting more of the common migrants previously mentioned, plus a few Blackcaps.

The village itself is absolutely lovely with many fabulous gardens for migrants, and what an impressive sight Lindisfarne Castle is.

With so much more of the island itself to explore, never mind the birding, we left Holy Island at 16:30hrs vowing this would be the first of many more future visits to this wonderful location.

Despite no news either way on the Newbiggin Bonapartes Gull since early morning, I decided to call in on the way home, arriving at 17:30hrs.

An hours search of the Church point area revealed no sign of the Bonapartes, but compensation was had in the form of 5 Mediterranean Gulls (4 x 1stw, 1x 2ndw) and there was an exhausted Northern Wheater attempting to roost in a gap on a small cliff face.

1stw Med Gull - Newbiggin, Nothumberland- 15th Oct 2006.

With Pam working next day, we had to return home. But I arose at 04:30hrs next morning and headed off to Spurn intending to stay overnight..........