Sunday, 1 December 2019

Spurn, Day 5 - 9th August 2019

   Since we'd had a few long days, and with heavy rain and strong winds forecast for most of the night and morning, myself and Sam decided to wake up slightly later on our last day in East Yorkshire. We were out of the obs by around 07:15, and managed to survive the weather to reach the seawatching hide quite quickly, where we spent most of the morning.

Panorama in the changing weather

Sam birding at the lighthouse

Seawatching at Spurn

   With the weather being as dismal as it was, we spent most of our morning in the hide looking out to sea, hoping to get a bit of luck and jam into a shearwater or Giant Petrel, or in my case a Kittiwake...
It started fairly quietly, with Sandwich Terns and Little Terns out over the waves, all while we counted the Oystercatchers as they moved in varying groups down the coastline. It was quite unusual to see them flying along the coast in this way, as the idea of 'Oik Migration' never really occurred to me - it was pretty cool watching them as they moved south though, and we had tallied several hundred by the end of the morning.
   After the slow start, things eventually started picking up with waders such as Knot mixed in with Turnstone also moving S in trickles. Gannets were the most common bird to be seen out over the North Sea, with juveniles and adults moving in good numbers in both directions. The second most common bird was Common Scoter, with most birds seen flying North, while several birds came quite close in, making for nice viewing.

ad Gannet far out to sea

Oystercatchers over the waves

Oystercatchers

Common Scoter flock

Common Scoter flock

Common Scoter flock

2 m Common Scoter

2 m Common Scoter

Oiks

Oiks

Oiks

   Every slow period was quickly followed by a succession of birds moving, with a few Fulmar soon followed by an adult Black Tern, which was being blown about all over the place as it also headed southwards. A personal highlight were finally seeing some Arctic Skuas (both pale and dark phase birds,) as they gave chase, often working together, to the Sandwich Terns who creaked frantically. Seeing them rushing at the terns was another exciting thing to see, and by the end of the morning we'd watch 6 different birds pursuing the terns a long way out to sea.
   As the morning got on, with the weather brightening up, the movement of birds slowed down; we got ready to move on, with a smart adult-summer Grey Plover coming in-off the sea being the final new bird to be seen. By around 11am, we decided to head back along Beacon Lane to Kilnsea for a final bit of birding, as we'd so far failed to find anything too rare for ourselves...

Fulmar

Fulmar

Fulmar

2 Knot and a Turnstone

summer Grey Plover - stunning bird...

   The weather had failed to bring much down and the bushes were largely quiet; a Little Ringed Plover in Borrow Pit and a few Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler were the best of a small haul. Holderness Field was similarly quiet for what we had hoped, but by this point we were already shattered and so decided to camp in the hide at Kilnsea for a little while. 
   Since it had been such a good year for the normally tricky Wood Sandpipers, I had been hoping to get some close views/photographs of them, with many people getting the chance to get normally unreal views of them. Despite getting some pretty awesome views on the Wednesday, they had largely avoided my camera, leaving me a tiny bit disappointed. So I was thrilled to end the trip by having 4 different birds zipping around on the mud very close in to the hide, allowing me the chance to watch them in detail, and take a few (quite a lot) of photos. It was an awesome late morning with a bird that I'd wanted to see for a long time, and the best way of ending my birding trip to one of the best places in England.

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea - interesting to see that after every plunge into the water, the eyes were shut.

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

Wood Sandpiper, Kilnsea

   After packing and kindly being offered a lift by a birder to Easington, myself and Sam left in good spirits recalling all the great things we'd experienced over what was an absolutely insane week. The only thing that could possibly dampen our mood was finding that all trains to London were cancelled, and having to spend an extra night in Hull... I was somewhat relieved, though mostly pretty grumpy, to return home early the next morning for a cricket match.

   The week was without a doubt the best week of my year; being able to visit somewhere I'd dreamt of going to for so long, making close friends and learning so much means I'll always love the place. 
A big thanks to all those at the BTO (Nick M, Nick W, Faye V and Shaun R) for leading the Young Leaders course, which was the most useful thing I've done this year (it's not like I completed my GCSEs or anything...) However, I would also like to give a massive thanks to all those at Spurn/those working in the Observatory who were so welcoming, but crucially my good friend Sam L for helping me out throughout the 5 days, making the whole trip/extra birding possible.

Kilnsea Wetlands

Dawn over Spurn (8th Aug)

Kilnsea Wetlands

The best home in Yorkshire - I'll be back...

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