Sunday, October 28, 2007

Filey, Flamborough & Spurn - 24th-26th Oct 2007.

24th Oct: I decided to book into Spurn obs for a couple of nights, but felt compelled to travel first to Flamborough and the Red-flanked Bluetail that had already been present for four days.
Up to eight Lapland Buntings had been present at nearby Filey Country Park for a few days and the Filey website suggested that the favoured stubble field could be ploughed imminently, so I decided to try for these first and wait for news of the Bluetail.
My arrival at the stubble field coincided with the arrival of the farmer to commence ploughing. The subsequent Tractor noise ensured that the numerous Skylarks etc were regularly airbourne and I quickly located two Lapland Buntings in flight, which was followed by several further views, but I could not make any increase on two birds. A single Goldcrest was feeding on the cliff edge.
The next three hours was spent walking down Long Lane, checking Arndale Ravine and involved an hours scan off the end of the brigg.
With the exception of small numbers of mixed Thrushes, mainly Blackbirds with a few Redwing and Fieldfare, the only other land migrants were a few Goldcrest, a Brambling and a Lesser Whitethroat. A Long-eared Owl had been seen earlier by one of the Filey regulars.

This female Long-tailed Duck was easily located off the south side of the Brigg, but I could not locate either the Grey Phalarope or Slavonian Grebe, both of which had been reported earlier. Other birds seen offshore included; 24 Common Scoter, 1 Eider, 5 Dark bellied Brent Geese, several Razorbill, 1 Shag, 7 Red-throated Diver, 1 juv Gannet and 1 G.C. Grebe. 40 Knot were on the Brigg end.

There had been no sign of the Bluetail and now mid afternoon I saw no rush to get to Flamborough and so made my way slowly calling at a few sites enroute.

First port of call was Bempton which produced nothing of any note. c500 Golden Plover were thoroughly 'grilled' in fields nr Speeton before they were flushed by a fem/imm Merlin.

North Landing at Flamborough was quiet migrant wise with the exception of c40 Blackbird and a few Redwing.

With the light now beginning to fail I parked at the lighthouse car park and walked the outer head, flushing a nice Woodcock from the outermost hedge in the process. A few Guillemot, Razorbill, Eider and Red-throated Diver offshore brought the day to a close and I headed off in the darkness bound for Spurn. Another Woodcock flew in front of the car at Danes Dyke and a Barn Owl was on roadside fenceposts just outside Ottringham.

Once at Spurn Obs, conversation with other birders revealed a day total of 29 Woodcock and two Yellow-browed Warblers at the point. The concensus being that the weather had looked promising, but had disappointed thus far.

25th Oct: The day started with a wander around the Warren area where several Goldcrest were present in the Sycamores. 3 Brambling > S and 3 Lesser Redpoll were grounded. Blackbirds, Fieldfare & Redwing were present in small numbers, some coming in-off. A Sparrowhawk flew along the 'Big Hedge'.

I decided to drive to Easington, starting at the Cemetary. Decent numbers of mixed Thrushes, mainly Redwing and Blackbird with some Fieldfare, were present in and around the village and 3 Goldcrest, 1 Brambling and a Woodcock were noted at the Cemetary.

News then came through of both Dusky & Pallas's Warblers at the Point, so off I drove spending the next five hours mainly in and around the Point Dunes. Several nice binocular views were had of the Pallas's, but frustratingly I didn't see or hear the Dusky Warbler at all. 3 Woodcock, 3 Brambling & a Reed Bunting were grounded in this area.

Thrushes were visibly leaving the Point, with c250 Redwing, c200 Blackbird and small numbers of Fieldfare involved. A Swallow 'blogged' around the area and a cracking adult male Black Redstart appeared very 'new-in' as it perched on Elders in the middle of the Point Dunes before discovering the area around the point buildings and adj Humber shoreline, an area long favoured by this species at Spurn. A truly beautiful bird.

Above: Adult male Black Redstart - Spurn Point - 25th Oct 2007.
A return further north yielded few rewards, save for a Woodcock which flew past the car at the 'Narrows'. Several Goldcrest were in the Crown & Anchor car park and a walk around Sammies Point was very quiet for Passerines in the bushes, with only a single Goldcrest noted as well as small numbers of Thrushes. A Sparrowhawk flew through.
The remainder of the day was spent checking through several hundred Golden Plover which were by now coming off the Humber on the rising tide and settling in fields between Easington and Kilnsea.
The American Golden Plover had been reported the day before, but there was definately no sign of it this evening despite searching by several observers.
A single Pink-footed Goose was present in fields north of Kilnsea. 1+ Water Rail was calling from Canal Scrape at dusk and several Goldcrest showed to a couple of feet along the path to the hide.
With darkness having fallen I retreated back to Warren cottage for the evening log. Whilst waiting for the proceedings to start, Spurn warden Paul Collins entered holding a Little Auk which had been reported by a member of the public on the road at Chalk Bank. The bird seemed ok after a check and deemed healthy enough to be ringed before being released into the darkness on the Humber shoreline. This bird was an unexpected bonus given only single figures reported in the north sea over the past couple of days previously.
Above: Little Auk being processed by Paul Collins in the Warren ringing lab, prior to release - 25th Oct 2007.
26th Oct: The shipping forecast the previous day had indicated that the easterlies would continue well into Friday, but by dawn it was apparent that the wind had already switched to the SW. The remainder of the day was overcast, with visibility decreasing as the afternoon progressed.
At the Warren, a fem/imm Yellowhammer > S was noteworthy, with presumably the same bird flying back north over 'Clubleys' 45 mins later. A fem/imm Merlin chased Meadow Pipits high over 'New road' and 10 Fieldfare and a Rock Pipit > S.
A thorough scan of c500 Golden Plover on the Humber off the Entrance Gate did not reveal the AGP.
Once on the 'Canal Zone', I decided to walk along the actual Humber shoreline rather than the path and was rewarded with a fine adult male Snow Bunting which flushed, calling, before heading south and was eventually noted over the point c45 mins later. 2 fem/imm Red-breasted Merganser came 'in-off' across the 'triangle' and down the Humber, several Reed Bunting were present in the spartina and c60 Blackbird were present in fields around 'Cliff Farm' where a buck Roe Deer sat obliviously in the front garden!

I continued my walk along the Humber shoreline as far as the Riverside Hotel, noting more small numbers of Blackbird & Redwing, 2 Goldcrest and another superb Woodcock which flew towards the Crown & Anchor area. c150 Dark-bellied Brent Geese came off Beacon Ponds and across to the Humber.
At this point fellow east lancashire birders, Councillor John F. Wright and Margaret Breaks, arrived at the Crown & Anchor car park where they were fortunate to see a Woodcock in the hand prior to release and were told by the warden that both the Dusky & Pallas's Warbler were still present at the point with a Little Bunting also reported there, so I met them and we made our way down, but not before Councillor Wright and MB had noted two flocks of Siskin, totalling 50 birds, flying south.
The adult male Black Redstart was still present by the snackvan and a nice male Brambling fed nr the point ringing lab as we made our way towards the point dunes.
Above: Male Brambling - Spurn Point- 26ht Oct 2007.
Several views of the elusive Pallas's Warbler were had by all three of us and it was heard to call on a couple of occasions as it loosely associated with several Goldcrest. I went one better with the Dusky Warbler and actually heard it call on three occasions, but it was nigh on impossible to see in the Buckthorn although a few birders did manage a glimpse. 2 Chiffchaff were also in the point dunes as well as small numbers of mixed Thrushes. A fem/imm Snow Bunting > S as did 207 Siskin in seven flocks between 12:40-13:20.
I returned to the Warren for a brew noting a Little Egret on the Humber which was the same bird as I saw on my last stay at Spurn three weeks previously, with distinctive rusty staining on the wings, whilst Councillor Wright and MB noted a fem/imm Black Redstart at the point, in the same area as the adult male, whilst en-route back to their car.
Whilst indulging in the aforementioned cup of tea, more Siskin, totalling 27, moved south.
Now mid-afternoon, the three of us decided to walk north from the warren, through Clubleys and along kilnsea Cliff to the north end of Beacon Lane and back down to the Warren, with the highlight being a nice fem/imm Black Redstart around the Gun Emplacement on Kilnsea Cliff. A fem/imm Merlin perched on a fencepost off Beacon Lane and a Chiffchaff and 3 goldcrest were by the Bluebell.
Above: Black Redstart - Kilnsea cliff, Spurn - 26th Oct 2007.

Above: Fem/imm Merlin - Beacon Lane, Spurn - 26th Oct 2007.

By now it was late afternoon, so it was time again to check the Golden Plover flocks between Easington & Kilnsea. Alas, there was again no sign of the AGP amongst several hundered of its commoner relatives. A juv Ruff and 3 Black-tailed Godwit were noted amongst a Curlew flock, drawing to an end an enjoyable three days on the east coast.

The Observatory day total for Siskin was 654. Not bad considering there was no dedicated narrows watch from mid-morning.