Friday 14 October 2016


I met Pete up at St Mary's Island on Tuesday morning before work in the hope that it would be us that turns up the next Siberian Accentor. Alas it wasn't to be but we did ok as a Long-eared Owl appeared briefly. We also flushed a Woodcock whilst grilling the same 3 Goldcrests on loop. Rather surprisingly a flyover Lesser Black-backed Gull was my first and no doubt last of the year down there. A couple of Grey Wagtails flying south hinted at the vismig delights which are doubtless in store soon whilst my first local Redwings of the autumn were expected fare. There was no Yellow-browed Warbler today but a trio of Blackcaps and a solo Chiffchaff kept the insectivore quotient at adequate levels.

Note remains of jess on left leg and colour rings.

A second bout of accentor hunting occurred on Thursday morning as we tried the same tactic. This time we were less successful and whilst there were plenty of crests and thrushes about we were largely despondent. Walking back to Hartley where we had parked Pete happened to notice the bakers dozen of Pink-footed Geese in the field were getting very flappy and he soon shouted 'RAPTOR'. I got on it and it looked like a giant falcon. Because that is what it was. No jesses were on show and we got quite excited although it was hard to work out what we were looking at. Bigger than a buzzard the bird went on to harass Eiders, GBBGs, Mallard and soaring over the cliffs before shooting off after a Guillemot and getting a talon on it before the auk escaped to the water. At this point we had seen a transmitter on its back and we wondered if it could be a tracked intermediate morph Gyrfalcon. The bird disappeared to the south and we examined our photos. The bird looked ok for Gyr but better for a Gyr x Saker of some description and undoubtedly an escape or a hacked bird. It was a highlight and the lack of jesses got the pulse racing for ages. We discussed the birds origins extensively until news broke of something rather special at Spurn...

Is that a transmitter on your back or are you just please to see me?

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