It has been an incredible first month on the patch with some great birds and a few surprises. I managed 6 visits which is slightly modest but I was also taking part in the Foot It challenge and so focused on that a little more initially. Despite this I dredged up 63 species, not too bad on a slightly barren bit of coastline in the lee of Flamborough.
By far the headline bird and the one which has been attracting
twitchers from across the county has been the first winter Kumlien's
Gull which I relocated on my first visit (it had been seen a fortnight
previously at the same location and in Bridlington). It is a subtle
example with little barring but the dark markings spreading to both webs
of the primaries appears to have some heavy backing by respected
gullers on both sides of the pond. It is apparently the first twitchable
example of this variable taxon for Yorkshire after a 1 day bird seen by
a handful of observers plenty of years ago.
The supporting act has been none too shabby with heavy snowfalls
helping eminently. A Water Rail on the beach on my second visit of the
month proceeded to spend the next week living at the entrance to a farm
drain. Snipe numbers grew in the reedbed as the snow deepened and
eventually I was rewarded for my tramping with a Jack Snipe. At the
northern most extremity of the patch a family group of 8 Pale-bellied
Brents are a local scarcity and had apparently been in the area for a
few days. More expected was the Dark-bellied Brent on the flashes but
its companion, a juvenile European White-fronted Goose couldn't have
been more of a surprise.
A wintering flock of Snow Buntings vary in number and location in
the northern half of the patch but they were often very approachable
with a max count for me of 7 birds despite 30 being recorded before
Christmas. After the snow a quick check of the woodland revealed weather
driven Woodcock with half a dozen birds fleeing as I attempted to avoid
the dog turds.
The sea has been generally disappointing thus far with a handful of
Red-throated Divers and a single adult Little Gull the sum total seen
although a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers wizzing past inland were a
bonus. The waders have all been pretty standard and I am still missing
Purple Sandpiper despite occasional birds being present on the rocks
during the month.
Looking forward to February I hope that some wildfowl movement
brings a few ticks and the first few seabirds that are seeping back to
Bempton give me a chance to connect with them. Who knows - maybe another
rare gull awaits?