Sunday 28 April 2019

Spurn in late April

Water Pipit

Like most birders I love a trip to Spurn. Despite my relative proximity I dont get there as often as I'd like. I have managed two trips in the last nine days. The first, for my 37th birthday no less was on Good Friday. I spent the entire time at Numpties and it was great. Hirundines were streaming south in reasonable numbers with 3 figure totals for both Sand Martin and Swallow plus a ringtail Hen Harrier went south and three Whimbrel north which were my first of the year. Ten Arctic Terns headed east out of the Estuary for another year tick. Four Wheatears scampered around Clubleys Field and a Hooded Crow blogged about. A handful of flava and alba wagtails south harboured at least two White Wagtails. Tardy Redwing and Fieldfare were great to see as was a female Brambling that wheezed its way past. The highlight of the visit was a surprise breeding plumage Water Pipit which pitched into Clubleys as I was thinking about packing up. I failed to get a photo and was on my own without my radio. It slunk out of site and I assumed it would walk back over the shallow brow in the grass but after 30 minutes I'd given up. I was walking back to the car when it picked up out of some reeds onto a bund. I managed to rattle off a few phone scoped pics before I headed off.

Red Kite
After yesterdays Black Kite at Spurn and the Alpine Swift at Flamborough I was optimistic for this morning at Spurn. Initial promise fizzled out but I still managed to catch up with a few decent bits and pieces including a 2CY Spoonbill heading south at half 6 and a 3CY Red Kite which blogged about, both of which were Spurn ticks for me. A little movement over the sea included 3 Manx Shearwaters and 4 Sandwich Terns. A female Ring Ouzel pitched onto a bush by the warren briefly and I was leaving a Marsh Harrier was briefly strung as a Black Kite. Alas it was not to be. A single Whimbrel went north on the sea and there was a steady stream of Yellow wagtails south. Cool winds and rain seemed to stop any movement and only a handful of swallows passed whilst three House Martins were hawking over the Kilnsea. A Tree Pipit alighted briefly on wires by the Warren and I managed a pants shot of it.

A very blurry Spoonbill
Tree Pipit

Early April in Eastern England

Yellow Wagtail - Frampton
I have had a pretty decent April after a quiet start to the year. I found a Great White Egret whilst working in Nottinghamshire and a Crane at RSPB Frampton Marsh whilst there was a volunteers meeting so it turned into a big twitch. I've also been lucky enough to find half a dozen Peregrine nests and a few other rare breeders both whilst working and here in East Yorkshire.

Crane - Frampton. It was dark and distant!
Great White Egret - Catton, Notts. iPhone binned.
Obviously migrants have been the order of the day over the last month and the first Blackcaps and Willow Warblers opened the month up and I have caught up with most of the warblers now with Garden and Grasshopper still to go. I took a brief trip to March Farmers in Cambridgeshire on the Nene washes whilst I was working in the Fens and saw 18 of the 21 reported Cranes in one flock.

Thirteen Cranes at March Farmers. Great birds.

Andrena fulva - one of many females I have seen round and about.
White Wagtail - Frampton

Monday 1 April 2019

Saints and Devils

My wife and kids were at Leeds arena watching Disney on Ice so that gave me the perfect opportunity to visit St Aiden's for the first time. I have been to the Swillington Ings complex a handful of times over the years for rare birds but never St Aidan's. One trip to Skelton Lake with a migraine to see a Spotted Sandpiper with Collared Pratincole and Caspian Tern at Astley Lake. I had heard that the Black-necked Grebes were returning. Jim Welford, a friend who is on the committee at Swilly said that the site is impressive with the scale and the way it is hidden until you get past the visitor centre and I totally agree. Hidden by the dragline machine from the mine and the new visitor centre you get on the first path and the enormity of the site opens up with a starkness as you look over the ridge and furrow which sits in a bowl surrounded by spoil mounds which have grown up into almost downland pasture. A mile in the distance sit the reedbeds and it was here I was heading towards. En route I came across my first Sand Martins of the year when 30+ sallied in the fresh wind.

So if the site is the Saint then these are definitely the devils with their ruby red eyes. At least 10 were about and these two were mere feet from the bank, indifferent to the public. They briefly did a bit of display but soon gave up.

Aside from the grebes a Ringed Plover was smart and there were five Pink-footed Geese up on the hillside. These were nestled between a variety of domestic Greylags and Canadas and somethings inbetween. A little gem was hidden amongst the gank - a fine Tundra Bean Goose. I watched it feeding on the grass for a while amongst the Greylags. Soon though it was time for me to clear off and hear about how one of the lions fell over in the Lion King skit.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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