Monday, 14 September 2020

Franklin's Gull on a big Yorkshire day out

Franklin's Gull
On the Tarn (Damien Young)

Same angle different field

                                              Fashion at it's best

I was at Harvington Cricket Club watching Gussy blast a far from perfect half century on Saturday when an alert came through that a Franklin's Gull had been found in north Yorkshire. This american gull had been on my wish list since I started trying to see rare birds but it's a species I've never got near to as they have always been in areas too far away.

A plan was hatched with the Squire to wait for news the following morning before setting out. We both had started other things on the morning when thankfully the alert came through at 9.05am. The journey took a long three hours until we parked up at Redcar Tarn. Whilst the setting was stunning the pesky Gull has taken flight and went AWOL much to the annoyance of the assembled group of 70-80 birders & photographers waiting around the edge of the tarn. 

It was then a case of holding out for the bird to return. Birds never follow the script do they...... 2 1/2 hours passed then there was call from a birder that the Gull was in a field a mile away. dumped everywhere as we all lined the road looking down onto a field where there were a group of Black-headed Gulls and one other gull that it was not possible to ID due to it's position & distance from us. Then the flock took flight and mixed with another flock and there it was confirmed ! Thankfully the Franklin's Gull landed in great view. The Squire duly found our quarry right in the middle of his scope to give us a cracking views. We watched the bird feed in three different fields and with no iminent return to the tarn we decided to head for home.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Slow steps into September

   Spotted Flycatcher
Lesser Whitethroat
Common Redstart
Grey Herons
Yellow Wagtail
Final table for West Midland All dayer

A much more sedate week after five days around Spurn. I have shown two new birders around the site in recent weeks, Lloyd from Pershore/Worcs & Peter from Stratford. Both mornings were very enjoyable and we managed to shake a few birds out of the bushes which both enjoyed.

Lloyd was lucky to see at Spotted Flycatcher at close quarters at Marsh Farm,  this is the first time I've photographed this species on the site.

On Saturday, a number of us did our normal Saturday shifts which coincided with the West Midlands all dayer event. We managed to record 79 species which was very pleasing. Species missed but recorded the following day were Golden Plover (over), Tree Pipit, Pochard, Water Rail & a Swift. Peter joined myself and Jon on Sunday for a very enjoyable session. 

Access at the moment has become more difficult due to the game keepers from Ragley. We have asked for some clarification but not had any responce. Very disappointed given we speak to dog walkers, runners and report occurances to them.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Spurn August break

                                                     View across to lighthouse
Sea watching hide
Waders galore
Oycs heading south

Red-backed Shrike

Four nights away in Spurn was just what was needed after a long summer with very few trips away. The Captain and I came at the time last year on the hope to see an Icterine Warbler but just missed out by a day. With Icterine Warbler finally added to the life list ten days previously meant we could have a chilled break. The forecast was certainly changeable rather than hopeful. With so much good habitat a great few days was guaranteed.

We stayed at Westmere Farm which was a perfect location with views of the Humber and a hearty breakfast each morning. Westmere was excellent value for money and rooms are sold out until the new year.

Sightings for each day were as follows:-

Monday 24th August

                                                        Grey Plovers on edge of Humber
                                                                  Spotted Flycatcher
                                                                      Pied Flycatcher
                                                                     Marsh Harrier
                                                                   Curlew Sandpiper
                                                             Waders on the marsh
                                                                     Curlew Sandpiper
                                                          Wood Sandpiper roosting
                                                                  Spotted Redshank
                                                                   Sandwich Terns
Plenty of traffic on the wetlands

A big clear out overnight yet we still kick-started the week with a nice Black Tern going north. A single Red-backed Shrike was in the triangle whilst other migrants included Willow Warbler, Spotted & Pied Flycatcher and three Whinchat.

A female Marsh Harrier flew over us heading south when we were in the canal scrape hide.

Kilnsea Wetlands hosted 2 Spoonbill, Little Stint, 4 Avocet, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Ruff, Common, Wood & Green Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank and 15 Mediterranean Gull.

The day also brought a huge influx of Small Tortoiseshell butterflies with an estimate of over 200 being recorded.

Tuesday 25th August

Hornsea sea watching 
Morning stroll on the beach
Wood Sandpiper
Ringed Plover
Collapsed war positions on beach
Signage on the Bluebell
Evening stroll back to farm
Evening liquid refreshment
Starling on the farm
A few of the 17 Green Sandpipers

With some foul weather hitting the peninsula we headed up to Hornsea where we sea watched from a shelter on the sea front. We duly added a number of Little Gulls of various ages, Kittiwakes and Arctic Skuas.

The wetlands was excellent again with 8 Curlew Sandpipers being a good addition to previous day.

Wednesday 26th August

                                                                    Day of the Skuas
                                                                    Afternoon session
                                             A record day for Long-tailed Skuas
                                                 Wood Sandpiper

                                               Spotted Redshank
                                                  Sandwich Tern
                                               Wood Sandpiper
                                                  Ringed Plover

A double session of sea watching for us given very favourable conditions. Never before had I recorded four species of Skua in a single day. Our own counts were 8 Long-tailed Skua, 7 Arctic Skua, 18 Bronxie, 1 Manx Shearwater, 12 Fulmer , 20 Teal, 4 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 2 Kittiwake , 12 Sandwich Tern, 100+ Common tern & a Shag.

A record 23 Long-tailed Skuas were recorded during the day.

Thursday 27th August
                                                            Knot & Ringed Plovers
                                                    Little Tern
                                                     Little Tern
                              Manx Shearwater closely watched by GBBG
                      Great habitat at the marsh just a few miles from Spurn

We started at Wellneck Marsh where we had not been to before. This salt marsh looked perfect for some winter owling. Our sightings included a large number of Knot, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Wheatear, 2 Kestrel and 4 Greenshank.

We then walked down to the breech for high tide where there were thousands of waders to enjoy. The further you walked the more birds we saw. Waders included Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Knot, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Curlew & Whimbrel. It's was great to watch a young family of Little & Sandwich Tern going about their daily routine. Very often flying out to sea above our heads. Speaking to Mick Turton,from Scilly crew, who works on the tern colony he said that forty youngsters fledged and productivity was 1.56.

We picked up a Manx Shearwater in the Humber shearing around which was eventually brought down by a Great Black-backed Gull. The Gull took his time to devour the little Shearwater which was strange to watch.

Friday 28th August
                                                                  Icterine Warbler
                                                 Final sighting of the Swallow family
                                                                   Green Sandpiper

             This flycatcher caused some local excitement but in the end it was thought to be a Pied

The week finished with a bang when an Icterine Warbler was reported early from the canal scrape yet despite making it there very quickly all we could find was a Garden & Willow Warbler. Our final hearty breakfast gave us the motivation to give it another go and after much searching the Icterine Warbler duly popped up and showed well from the bushes on the far side of the scrape. The Wood Sandpiper & Spotted Redshank were present again which a male Marsh Harrier headed over south. With us already seeing a host of sea birds and the rain blowing in we both headed for home satisfied nothing else would be seen which proved to be a correct decision as the driving conditions were already bad. 

Over the 4 1/2 days we talked a total of 53,969 steps equivalent to 25.66 miles. 

                                             Video compilation of week