Yesterday's birding sessions took place with a difference - the majority of the classes took place from the security, comfort and warmth of our cars. We met on the banks of the Humber and shared cars into the depth of deepest, darkest Holderness. There were relatively few birds at first, although there were plenty of Blackbirds and Fieldfare. Eventually we saw more and more Curlews in stubble fields, probably looking for worms. We continued until we reached a very muddy area where we had a look around. There was no sign of the once guaranteed Kingfisher in its normal place, but Common Seals were basking on the mudflats. Also on the estuary were large numbers of Golden Plovers with smaller amounts of Grey Plovers, Shelduck, and Mallard. On the creek itself there were several Redshank, and a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits.
Hen Harrier on a previous visit (a mile from where we saw it yesterday) (c) 2012 Vince Cowell
The hawthorn bushes were adorned with Fieldfare, but there was also a strange nasal twang coming from this area - which turned out to be a decent flock of Twites. They flew off with their bouncing, jinking flight, and our official counter, Miles, was able to confirm that there were exactly 45 of them when they landed on the telegraph wires. Looking across the salt marsh I was surprised and then thrilled to see a pearly-grey slowly flying raptor - a stonking male Hen Harrier. Luckily, it seemed to favour an area with a pale washed-up sofa, so it was relatively easy for everyone to latch on to the bird. In the afternoon there were Little Egrets in the same area, but not really an adequate compensation!
We then carried on our car sharing over a terrible potholed road, and the wildlife encounters immediately improved. First we came across 5 Roe Deer right by the side of the road, and a buck actually climbed the bank and ran in front of us before continuing in the field on the other side. We hadn't gone too far when a Magpie and a raptor were seen flying from the south across the bare fields. It wasn't exactly clear which bird was attacking the other, but they came to a stop in some small trees in front of us. Unfortunately, the birds were out of sight, but the female Merlin emerged from the vegetation and set off along back to where it had come from.The strengthening winds ensured that even though the afternoon group continued in the area after 3pm, the expected Owls failed to appear, but neither did the Merlin or the Hen Harrier. It was a day of 2 halves.