Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A Day to Remember

Today was quite different from any previous outing, as our main target was a specific iconic architectural structure, rather than lots of varied wildlife species. Several months ago the prospect arose of taking a group to Spurn Lighthouse. A date was booked with Spurn's YWT warden, Andy Gibson and then a message was sent out to all past & present course members. The demand was phenomenal with all 20 places going after a little over 24 hours. None of my birdwatching trips have ever filled up so quickly. So perhaps I should switch to pure tourism? How many would enrol on a trip to all the places in East Yorkshire which inspired J. R. R. Tolkien during WW1, or those visited by Philip Larkin? Perhaps I'll stick with the birds!
The Icon

The bird of the day was actually just outside Easington when a small raptor flew over the bonnet of Sue's car. As Sue continued on her way, I checked no one was behind, and then reversed for a better look. It had landed in a field partially covered with a winter crop. It was one of the best views of a female Merlin I've ever had. I only managed a quick glance before I noticed another car coming up behind. It flashed its lights because I had almost reversed into the the centre of the road. Not realising it was one of today's visitors, I didn't point out the bird, but continued on my journey.
Merlin [at Spurn on a previous occasion]
We met at the Blue Bell at 10 o'clock. The couple from Leeds made it to Spurn before many who lived a lot closer. We shared cars to the point car park, whilst the radio crackled out details of arriving Waxwings, Blackbirds, and a Ring Ouzel. In the meantime Little Auks and a Pomarine Skua were seen from the Seawatching Hut. We had a look from the seaside, but apart from Great Black Backed Gulls there were relatively few birds to see. We did manage to spot several single birds struggling into the northern wind, and these included 2 Fieldfare and a total of 3 blackbirds including males & a female. We walked round to the lighthouse for our appointment at 11am. 
A Less Common Perspective
We tried to find the leeward side round the lighthouse to get out of the strong winds, but the way the wind swirled and tacked around the building, there didn't appear to be a leeward side. Andy gave a 20 minute talk about the lighthouse's history and construction details, and opened himself up to questions and answers.  He was also able to outline some of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's plans for the  future of this stunning landmark. Then 20 out of 21 attendees climbed the many spiral stairs to the building's summit, taking especial care not to crack their bonces on the narrow final straight ascent. 

Although it was fairly cloudy we were treated to panoramic views of the surrounding unique landscape. There was a crack in the glass and the wind whistled through there at a terrific speed, but that only added to the atmosphere. We had learned that the lighthouse was never actually manned with a living human inhabitant, but we did see evidence that a bird had once lived in the tower, if only for a short period.  Later Andy opened the final door on to the gallery, although for health and safety reasons no one was allowed to venture outside, but I was able to stick out my camera to try and take an unobscured photograph of the view to the north.  
A Previous Inhabitant - a Feral Pigeon, so that's OK, then
 The View Looking North including the Beach
 The View Looking North West including the 'Greedy Gut'
The drive back to the Blue Bell was uneventful, but as we were getting out of our cars a flock of Waxwings were spotted heading north up Beacon Lane. We tried for a better view, but could only find flocks of Starlings, and very little else. Although it wasn't a great day for birds, the participants were very enthusiastic after their trip to the Lighthouse, and I can't remember so many handshakes and good wishes. It will be  a day every participant will probably remember for the rest of their lives! I'm hoping we will be able to organise another visit during a more congenial time of the year, possibly to arrange an event, which marries the architecture with an enjoyable wildlife experience. The event also raised over £60 for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, so whilst the visitors had a day to remember our hosts earned some money which will go towards protecting wildlife in our great county!

To find more tourism events in the area, please visit Yorkshire Nature's Triangle

1 comment:

northernloon said...

Sounds like a memorable day. Good luck with arranging a return visit