Friday, August 28, 2015

Flamborough for the first proper 'fall' of the year .. Honey Buzzard the star amongst many migrants

It was just 'one of those days' we birders dream about ... late August, persistent easterly winds and a forecast of fog rolling in off the sea and all this after a weekend of sultry storms in these 'ere parts ... there had to be a 'fall' in the offing!!


Red Backed Shrike, Old Fall, Flamborough, 24/08/15
I toyed with the idea of Spurn Point but decided it was just too far and that Flamborough Head would be just as good for the first proper migrant 'fall' of the Autumn - birds migrating South and getting caught by the wind and forced to make landfall on the nearest coast.

Often spectacular and always the chance of a rarity or two, and there were indeed a couple of rarities knocking about - a Red Backed Shrike that didn't look quite as good in the mist and through a fellow birder's scope as this superb pic by Tony Dixon, who if its the same TD, is an old pal of mine going years back ... get in touch Tony!




The other rarity was Icterine Warbler, 2 of them, neither of which I was lucky enough to see but I did manage a splendid Wood Warbler in the Old Fall wood and then a lucky rarity of my own.




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Honey Buzzard, Flamborough, 24/08/15

Walking over to the headland from Old Fall hedge I spotted a big hawk coming out of the mist and gliding towards me at cliff top height. It never looked quite right for a Common Buzzard ... jizz was all wrong, long wings, long tail and a well sticky out head .. could it be a Honey Buzzard?











Still to be confirmed by whoever needs to confirm such things but it sure looks like one to me - 



Honey Buzzard, Flamborough, 24/08/15


Honey Buzzard, Flamborough, 24/08/15



Honey Buzzard, Spurn, 24/08/15


A similar bird was seen later on in the day at Spurn and highly likely that these are one and the same judging by the obvious damage to some of its flight feathers. Here's the Spurn pic (courtesy of Nigel Glen) - different light and aspect. Judge for yourself but its the same bird for me!













What a cracking start ... I'd already bagged a Wood Warbler, several Pied & Spotted Flycatchers, a couple of Redstarts, Garden Warbler, dozens of Willow Warblers and then a probable Honey Buzzard - all before 9.00am!



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Red Admiral, Flamborough, 24/08/15
Only downside was the poor visibility and with intermittent fog making photography less than easy it was a bit frustrating, especially on the headland, but when the mist cleared it was warm and in addition to the many migrant birds about there were also hundreds of butterflies on the wing - many Wall Browns and Red Admirals plus the occasional Painted Lady.




Wall Brown, Flamborough, 24/08/15



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Painted Lady, Flamborough, 24/08/15

















..... even managed a half decent 'dragonfly in flight' pic, an Emperor no less


Emperor Dragonfly, Flamborough, 24/08/15

Redstart, Flamborough, 24/08/15






Back amongst the birdies I had mixed fortunes with photographing the common migrants on show. Still lots of leaves on both tree and bush makes it difficult enough without errant twigs spoiling the shot!

And then there are the predators that seem to show up at such times .. I had at least 3 Sparrowhawks on the Headland, all looking for an easy lunch making the migrants skulk even further back into the bushes!










Sparrowhawk, Flamborough, 24/08/15


This Spotted Flycatcher escaped after a frantic chase and will hopefully learn not to choose such a prominent perch next time there are Spars about in numbers!


Spotted Flycatcher, Flamborough, 24/08/15


This is where he should have been, out of sight like this juv Pied Flycatcher, out of sight and learning well!
Pied Flycatcher, Flamborough, 24/08/15



 

 

a late Common Swift was one of half a dozen on the headland


Common Swift (with a House Martin), Flamborough, 24/08/15



 
 A stroll up Hoddy Cow's Lane at Buckton in a vain search for 2 reported Wrynecks also saw the return of mist and fog in the late afternoon but it was not a wasted journey - yet more Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts, various common warblers and a Cuckoo that had surely just made landfall made for nice if less than sharp image
 


Cuckoo, Buckton, 24/08/15

There's a Heligoland trap and bird ringing station up there and sure enough Mark Thomas, otherwise known as the Buckton Birder was hard at work ..... 'birds everywhere' he said simply, and he was right. It seemed as if almost every available perching post was in occupation!
 


Pied Flycatcher, Buckton, 24/08/15





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.... and here's my favourite Wheatear pic of the day, it would have been perfect to photograph one on an actual 'wheat ear' but the next best thing - a barley ear was perfect enough!
Wheatear, Buckton, 24/08/15



 
Top day and the first of many more this Autumn I hope. That Honey Buzzard was a new UK bird for me and I'm on the hunt for 2 or 3 more in the next couple of months. If I'd gone to Spurn I would have picked up Red Footed Falcon but lets not be greedy!





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