Saturday, 8 October 2011

Dodging Autumnwatch

The Friday class met at Spurn, but the hopes weren't high after another week of strong westerly winds. The first surprise came in the car park when a 'strange' duck was spotted at the far end of Borrow Pits. In the light it initially was reminiscent of Eider with a large head & beak, but it soon became apparent it was a female Scaup. As this species had never been encountered by a Fri group the original plans were jettisoned for a closer look.

We walked along the river bank sending up plenty of Meadow Pipits, Tree Sparrows, Linnets and a Reed Bunting. We also saw 2 Wheatear in the next field which flew towards the Seawatching hut - the old story of how they got their name was repeated & I explained what the original Anglo-Saxon name had been - which is much more fitting than the one they have!

We had a quick look in Canal Scrape, but there were very few birds, so we returned to the car park & shared cars to the point. A walk here resulted in very little - the most numerous birds seemed to be piping Dunnocks. The Brown-tail Moth saga was related again - it seems to have resumed its stranglehold on the very point this year.

We then travelled to Chalk Bank & were rewarded with a stunning male Stonechat - the best we've seen all year on any of the sessions. While I was creeping closer for a better photograph the group saw a very yellow bird nearby, but they couldn't narrow it down between a juvenile Chiffchaff or a Siskin.

The afternoon was a re-run of the morning with fewer passerines seen, but as the tide was coming in the visit to Chalk Bank was much more rewarding with good views of Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Knot, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Cormorant and Great Black-backed Gulls. The Stonechat put in another fleeting appearance in front of the hide.

Although the morning was well below the average expected in a typical Autumn, one of the morning crew had never birded at Spurn before, and he was very impressed with the range of birds seen, and the Brent Geese were new for a surprisingly large number of participants.

We first came across one of the Autumnwatch cameramen in the Canal Scrape during the morning & we encountered one of the two men & their liveried Land Rover at various places throughout the day. They were united for a piece near the lighthouse; were filming a Kestrel near the gate, and the Brent Geese on the Saltmarsh. It is to be hoped that they spent some time filming the spectacular display of the waders at Chalk Bank. The latter resulted in plenty of "OOs" & "Ahs" from the appreciative pm crowd, but no stills camera can do justice to that particular spectacle.
Male Stonechat
Knot (mainly)
Selection of Waders


Massey7466 said...

Great blog Michael just added to my favs be coming back more often. @smido

Michael Flowers said...

Cheers! Thanks a lot!