All pics for this post (c) 2009 Vince Cowell
A Redpoll, but which?
It was quite misty at 7.45 when Vince called by to pick me up, and we nearly abandoned today's trip to Spurn, but I'm glad we didn't. We decided to go round Stone Creek & Sunk Island first, and I showed him places where later in the spring you may sometimes see Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears and Corn Buntings. The great thing was when we peered through the peasouper all the birds were already in place - 4 wagtails together on the wires, and the others of single birds each.
We made it to Sammy's Point about 11.30 & had a good look round. There were some Yellowhammers & plenty of Willow Warblers & Chiffchaffs, but the best bird was waiting for us near the car when we returned. It was a very confiding male, brightly-plumaged Redpoll. It had pale flanks, a very noticeable white wing-bar, but a dark rump, so I tried to string it as a Lesser Redpoll! The Spurn authorities had a good look at Vince's excellent pictures and were able to confirm it as a definite Mealy Redpoll! The mist was starting to clear so we decided it was worth going on to the YWT reserve after all. Canal Scrape was a bit quiet apart from a Sand Martin & plenty of leaf warblers in the reeds! The Sheep field had at least 3 male Wheatears, and one female; and was absolutely dripping with Meadow Pipits. Unfortunately, we couldn't connect with the Hawfinch which had recently been seen in the area. We went on to the point, and saw a big influx of Willowchiffs and another big dollop of pipits; whilst a lone Swallow passed us at the very tip of the peninsula - ensuring the truth of the old maxim about single swallows and summer. We tried for the Grasshopper Warbler at the back of the Blue Bell without success & went on to the Crown & Anchor. As the Siskins were at my side Vince allowed me to take a few pics, and we were just about to go when a tiny bird flew in front of the car & landed in a bush to our left. I nearly didn't bother looking at it, as I thought it looked like a Goldcrest (& we get those coming to drink in our garden), but we both saw the flaming crest & black eyestripe at the same time & called out Firecrest. It was the best view I've ever had, but it was very fleeting, as it quickly scooted off before Vince could snatch his camera from the back of the car. I reported it on the radio, but without any photographic evidence I wonder if it will be accepted by the Spurn authorities!
While we were at Spurn reports came over the radio of Hawfinch, Crossbills, Jack Snipe, and Ring Ouzel - none of which we were lucky enough to see or even hear! It was very cold, and I'm still wondering if I'll ever defrost, but it just shows that even the most unpromising days may be well worthwhile.