You simply cannot beat Spurn Point for visible bird migration and I got my latest dose just this w/e where I was helping out with 1st Annual Migration Festival held there. Judging by the success of the event it will certainly run again next year and well worth making a note to watch their web page for details of next year's event.
Over 250 punters from all over the UK were treated to a hatful of migrants as well as enjoying the many guided nature & history walks, bird ringing & moth trapping sessions, photography classes and much more. The guided tours around the old Victorian lighthouse were especially popular and not without incident (one of our staff somehow managed to get herself locked in for half an hour!) and the evening talks on bird migration were as good on the old brain cells as the hog roast was on the taste buds!
Me, I was recruiting again both days ... so not much chance to get involved in the activities, but it was good fun, I met loads of interesting people, picked up some really good tips for future destinations and of course signed plenty up to the YWT!
Ok birders, this is the complete species list for the w/e
- Mute Swan
- Tufted Duck
- Common Scoter
- Red-throated Diver
- Little Grebe
- Great Crested Grebe
- Red-necked Grebe
- Sooty Shearwater
- Manx Shearwater
- Balearic Shearwater
- Leach’s Petrel
- Little Egret
- Grey Heron
- Marsh Harrier
- Common Buzzard
- Water Rail
- Little Ringed Plover
- Ringed Plover
- Golden Plover
- Grey Plover
- Little Stint
- Curlew Sandpiper
- Purple Sandpiper
- Black-tailed Godwit
- Bar-tailed Godwit
- Spotted Redshank
- Green Sandpiper
- Common Sandpiper
- Pomarine Skua
- Arctic Skua
- Mediterranean Gull
- Little Gull
- Black-headed Gull
- Common Gull
- Lesser B.B.Gull
- Yellow-legged Gull
- Caspian Gull
- Herring Gull
- Great B.B.Gull
- Sandwich Tern
- Roseate Tern
- Common Tern
- Arctic Tern
- Black Tern
- Feral Pigeon
- Stock Dove
- Collared Dove
- Sand Martin
- House Martin
- Tree Pipit
- Meadow Pipit
- Rock Pipit
- Yellow Wagtail
- Grey Wagtail
- Pied Wagtail
- Song Thrush
- Grasshopper Warbler
- Sedge Warbler
- Reed Warbler
- Lesser Whitethroat
- Garden Warbler
- Willow Warbler
- Spotted Flycatcher
- Pied Flycatcher
- Blue Tit
- Great Tit
- Red-backed Shrike
- Carrion Crow
- House Sparrow
- Tree Sparrow
- Common Rosefinch
- Reed Bunting
|Juv Red Backed Shrike, Spurn, Sept 2013|
134 species in 2 days, with some notable highlights to Spurn (in bold) and with weather not particularly conducive to migration (it was warm and still for the most part) represents a cracking haul. Many visitors left with several 'lifers' and although, like many before me, I missed out on some of the good birds, I did get to see this juv Red Backed Shrike quite a lot while I was working Wells Field.
I so wanted to glimpse the Wryneck, such an enigmatic and curious bird and one I see all too rarely these days. Its one of the woodpeckers but you wouldn't necessarily know that if you're lucky enough to see one on migration. The person who took this one at Spurn over the w/e deserves a medal, its a cracking shot (looking so 'lizard like!) lifted from the Spurn Facebook page along with plenty of other great pics from the festival.
|Wryneck, Spurn, Sept 2013|
I stayed on at Spurn after the festival for a few days and although the weather took a real turn for the worst with cloudy skies, rain and gale force winds (sounds lovely doesn't it but this actually better for visible migration), there were plenty of bright spots and I was not unrewarded.
|Willow Warbler, Spurn, Sept 2013|
Up bright & early Monday morning and I was in the company of several Willow Warblers that had probably plopped in during the night plus a very confiding young Wheatear that had maybe done the same ... love the early morning light on these.
Lots of Willow Warblers and the closely related Chiff Chaffs moving through the UK at the moment ... look out for them in your garden, I've just had one in mine this morning.
|Wheatear, Spurn, Sept 2013|
|Wheatear2, Spurn, Sept 2013|
|Young Swallows, Spurn, Sept 2013|
Swallows, House Martins and the occasional Swift and Sand Martin were passing through all the time and some were obviously pleased to make landfall and a bit of Spurn rest n recuperation like these young Swallows huddled together for warmth.
This time of the year is great for seeing 'grounded' hirundines, they're often resting on the long journey South or just plain knackered!
|Resting Swallow, Spurn, Sept 2013|
|Resting Swallow2, Spurn, Sept 2013|
|Whinchat (Imm), Spurn, Sept 2013|
This was one of several Whinchats, a common migratory bird at Spurn but always nice to see on passage.
|Roe Deer, Spurn, Sept 2013|
Away from my feathered friends, lets not forget that Spurn is renowned for more than just birds. Both Fallow and Roe Deer are common on the reserve ... I did see a fine Fallow Deer whilst I was taking a break from recruiting, but sadly no camera to hand, but here's a couple of Roe Deer eyeing me up early one morning.
Spurn Point is good for butterflies & moths too of course, some of which are migrant, and there's a healthy recording set up here capturing close on 800 species of the old 'lepidoptra' over the years .. see here at Spurn Butterflies & Moths for more info.
Of those 800 or so I did see a Dark Green Fritillary (pic from a previous post here) cross over at the Warren on Sunday, a Small Heath, lots of 'Whites' and Tortoiseshells and a blue butterfly that at first looked liked a washed out Common Blue but on closer inspection turned out to be a Small Blue.
|Small Heath, Spurn, Sept 2013|
|Tortoiseshell on Fleabane Blue, Spurn, Sept 2013|
One of the commonest here is also one of the most iconic... I'm talking Knots! They come in droves from their Arctic breeding grounds to rest up in the Wash and a fair proportion of those are very visible at Spurn. Often flocking together at high water tides in restless waves of grey, they move as one when flushed and form huge formations in the sky as they search for exposed mud to feed upon.
Here's one such flock, along with an interloping and very obvious Curlew, at Chalk Bank... the best place to see them at Spurn.
|Knot flock at high tide plus a Curlew! Spurn, Sept 2013|
........ and here's a classic wave of Knot, probably flushed by a passing raptor. This was only a part of the flock so lord knows how many there were, count em if you want but I reckoned close on 2000!
|Knot flock, Spurn, Sept 2013|
|Knot downpour, Spurn, Sept 2013|
A bit later in the afternoon and in some fairly dramatic weather conditions the whole flock of Knot plus many other waders were put up by a passing Merlin. Not sure if these pics do the scene much justice after the event because it all happened at some distance, but with thunder grey skies on one side of the peninsular and sunshine breaking through on the other the light was just awesome, and as the Knot descended in mass ranks from way up high they looked like giant snowflakes as they floated back down onto the sands ..... very poetically put Timbo!
|Knot downpour2, Spurn, Sept 2013|
|Little Egrets, Spurn, Sept 2013|
Pretty pleased with how those Knot pics came out and caught the moment but all a bit distant.
Here's a few 'closer' shots of common waders starting with these wind blown Little Egrets at dusk, relative and very welcome newcomers to our shores as breeding birds, there were 30+ present at Spurn over the w/e
Sanderlings are always fun to photograph and I find they produce a good picture, maybe because of the colourful shingle they inhabit!
|Sanderling, Spurn, Sept 2013|
|Curlews on the tideline, Spurn, Sept 2013|
|Wader selection, Spurn, Sept 2013 - Curlew, Knot & Bar Tailed Godwit|
|Whimbrel with crab at dusk, Spurn, Sept 2013|
Rubbish pic I admit, but it was my only Whimbrel shot. Low light and messed around with maybe a bit too much but hey this close relative of the Curlew was devouring a small crab right in front of me so its included here.
Another evening picture to finish with and considering the rather inclement weather we had to bear midweek this was a rare sunset over the Humber and towards the oil refineries at Immingham .... industrial yes but pleasing enough as a parting shot.
|Sunset over the Humber|
Huge thank you's to all involved in this event .. well done to one of YWT's finest Adam Coyle and all the guys at Spurn Observatory for putting this together, it was megatastic, same again and more next year guys!