Friday, October 20, 2017

Birding Disaster Recovery at Spurn Head.

After an eternity of westerlies, a brief window of South-Easterlies. Spurn Head was clearly going to be the place to be. Time to visit my mother in Leeds with just a small detour to see some birds on the way.

Late morning found me at Spurn Head with just one problem. Thick fog. An Olive Backed Pipit and a couple of Little Buntings had been seen, but by 2pm I reckoned given the number of people there that out 100 man hours had been collectively spent birding, of which thirty minutes had been spent looking at rarities and 99.5 hours at been spent staring at bushes through the gloom.

This was clearly a birding disaster. As the rain began to fall and I contemplate a list that was worse then an average morning in my back garden, I decided emergency action was called for. Time to put Birding Disaster Recovery into operation, which is basically to just go and find some birds, any birds, and look at them.

Kilnsea Wetlands is just north of Kilnsea. the first hide has a few ducks, mainly Wigeon and Teal with some Shovellers, and a couple of eclipse Pintail. I could just make out 3 juv Little Stints through the gloom, and a wader that seemed bigger than the stints but smaller than a Dunlin, like a large Temminck's Stint, but I was peering into thick fog round a corner and getting nowhere so I moved on. I walked round the wetlands toward Beacon Lane Ponds, stopping for some decent views of a small flock of Reed buntings - sadly no Little. On walking up to the top of the bank I realised the fog had lifted and I could see the sea. The ponds and dunes looked just ideal for a Merlin to fly though. A Merlin flew through and stopped on a low branch long enough for the scope; a vision of brown and white monochrome hunting perfection. four Whooper Swans in a field were the first of the autumn for me, and then out onto the beach where the sea had a few Gannets and three small parties of Common Scoter heading south. Then back to the wetlands where waders were gathering for a high tide roost. 3 Ruffs joined over a thousand waders, mainly Redshank and Dunlin but also Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit. The birds went up and the air filled with white as about 30 Little Egret flew round prior to landing

From the end of the wetlands onwards, Thrush numbers had been building. Mainly Redwings, but small parties of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, and a couple of Fieldfares. Stood on the beach there was constant calling as small parties flew over, and scans showed some flying in; one black bird had a silvery sheen and some white on the breast so was almost certainly a Ring Ouzel. a scan on returning to the car showed fields full of thrushes. I must have seen in excess of a thousand, with Blackbirds over a hundred and sing thrushes over fifty. So at the last, a decent list for the day and some classic Spurn October migration.

I could have done with my birding mates. Apart from the company and two extra pairs of better birding eyes, at times like this I tend to start dashing around, trying to see everything but ending up seeing nothing and they would probably have calmed me down. Perhaps we would have spent longer looking at that bird with the stint as today I see a White-rumped Sandpiper was recorded at Kilnsea Wetlands. Oh well. I think trying to make sense of that bird in the murk would have meant missing out on the Swans and the Merlin