Thursday, 9 September 2010

Spurn, East Yorkshire: 8th Sept 2010.

Having not been able to check the Gull roost at Fishmoor on the previous evening, I awoke early to have a crack at first light to see whether the Caspian Gull had roosted for a second night. This is very hit and miss as you have such a short opportunity to try and connect with a target species due to the Gull's starting to disperse at the first chink of light and c30 mins later it's all but over. However, when I switched my phone on I received a text from Tony Disley offering me a lift to Spurn. The time was 04:50. Following a short period agonising what to do, I was in Tony's car twenty minutes later heading eastbound towards the hallowed peninsula!

Upon arrival we began at the Crown and Anchor car park where 2 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Blackcap and a Garden Warbler showed in the bushes, whilst two adult Med Gull flew over towards the Humber and 2 Little Egret fed along the shoreline.

News filtered through that there were more migrants at the Point, including a Spotted Crake which had been seen in the Point Dunes. What a lovely out-of-context migrant! So, thats where we headed next.

A few Whinchat and Wheatear were noted at New Road and once at the Point car park, a single Little Egret was noted on the humber as was a single adult Med Gull which flew south along the Humber tideline. This Spotted Flycatcher was perching on the wall by the car park.

Above: Spotted Flycatcher (Tony Disley).

The next few hours were spent at the point, where totals already noted by Spurn regulars included 25 Pied Flycatcher. For us, aside from Common Whitethroat, probably the most numerous of the common migrants was Tree Pipit with perhaps 15+ or so seen south of the point car park - the end of the Point itself, including 8 flushed from the point dunes south of the Green Beacon. I love the call of Tree Pipit, which has always been my favourite call of the common migrants.

Above: Tree Pipit (Tony Disley).

Smaller numbers of Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Redstarts, Willow Warbler, several Whinchat, Wheatear, Garden Warbler and a single Lesser Whitethroat were seen and several Flava Wagtails were noted heading south. A few Swifts were also on the move, and we recorded c20 during the day the largest flock being six flying south down seaward side of the VTS tower and an adult Med Gull flew south past the end of the Point. A few glances offshore revealed some Wildfowl on the move, with three flocks of Teal totalling c70 individuals, 6 Shelduck and 5 Wigeon > south, as did two Common Scoter, but directly over the peninsula.

Scarcities recorded by others at the Point included the Crake, Ortolan, 1+ Barred Warbler and 2 Rosefinch, but try as we might (the Crake aside which was a classic single observer sighting) we failed to connect with any of the more quality migrants.

It's incredible how fast time flies and already it was gone 13:00 and with still no scarcities seen we headed north towards Tank Ditch/Wire Dump where a Wryneck had been showing near Post 63. Typically, the bird had disappeared and it took c1.5 hrs before I was fortunate to have it fly past me as I walked a path on the seaward side of the road. The Wryneck landed on the path briefly out of sight, then showed in a bush before heading off again west of the road. A while later we saw it again in Tank Ditch itself. Other migrants in this area included several Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Willow Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher. Several Wheatear were just north of Wire Dump Trap, but there was no sign of the Rosefinch that had been seen here earlier either.

Above: Pied Flycatcher & Common Redstart (Tony Disley).

A thirty minute seawatch from the Narrows on the incoming tide was fruitless, 3 Swift > south well offshore the highlight, 2 juv Common Tern > SE and a Gannet > north. An eclipse drake Eider was on the sea and a Little Egret on the Humber.

A brew in the Bluebell cafe (£2.50 for a cup of tea and a twix!) and a chat with some other birders who had just come back from Beacon Lane revealed that they were similarly struggling to connect with the quality migrants. We weren't the only one's! 6 Yellow Wagtail (1ad, 5 juv) fed amongst Cattle by the Borrow Pit.

The last couple of hours was spent around Easington where 4 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Spotted Flycathher, 3 Redstart, 2 Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were the best we could come up with.

Finally, a postmortem of the days events with other birders outside the chippy in Patrington revealed that all had failed to connect with anything but the Post 63 Wryneck! An enjoyable day nontheless and as always great to be back at Spurn.

Left - right: Andy Makin, Tony Disley, Phil Rhodes and Myself - Narrow Neck, Spurn - 8th Sept 2010.