Tuesday, 17 September 2013

7th-8th September: Spurn, Kilnsea ...and Nottingham

View from the top of Spurn Lighthouse - Saturday 7th September 2013

Last-minute cancelled boat trips are a good thing. If you've already put the time aside, got the pass out from your better half, you can go and do something else instead, like birding, drinking, and getting locked in lighthouses… 

I was booked on the RSPB Skua and Shearwater Cruise out of Bridlington on Saturday 7th September (along with my Norfolk birding friends Chris and Sue), but it was cancelled the night before due to heavy swell. By the time the weekend arrived, the forecast easterly winds which promised so much had developed into a straight southerlies too. But fortunately there were some good birds at Spurn, so we spent Saturday there.

Swallow vs microlight, Kilnsea - Saturday 7th September 2013

First up was a spot of gentle twitching, with a juvenile Common Rosefinch in Churchfield - a lifer for both my companions. The Spurn Obs warden was on hand (as part of his role with the 1st Spurn Migration Festival, I guess), playing a tape to the Rosefinch song, to entice them in. We were lucky it showed well within a couple of minutes of us arriving - others had been waiting a while, which is probably why there was so much chatter from the waiting birders…

Common Rosefinch, Churchfield, Kilnsea - Saturday 7th September 2013

We ambled down the road and looked in at Southfield Farm for a reported juvenile Red-backed Shrike - and any shrike is always worth watching.

Red-back Shrike, Southfield Farm, Kilnsea - Saturday 7th September 2013

While we were watching the shrike a small finch/bunting-type bird flew in from over my head (southeast) and landed in a shrub in the farm garden. Something about it caught my eye as it was overhead. The colour was very grey/brown which made me wonder if it was a female House Sparrow, yet it wasn't flying like one - undulating, though not bouncing like a Gold or Greenfinch. Through bins the kind-of Spotted-Flycatcher-like colouring was obvious, as was a dark eye on a featureless face. It was a finch alright, dumpy, sat upright, and with with a distinctive head shape...  I started muttering "Common Rosefinch" while getting my scope set up. Through the scope the bird was obviously a juvenile/female Common Rosefinch - self-found, eh?! The streaking on the breast was very clear as it stared right at me, the bill was small, rounded, stumpy and stained purple/pink. Before anyone else could get on it, it flew (towards us) and on towards the Blue Bell. If only some else could have seen it well too, I wouldn't have had to listen to Chris over the next two days talking of the "possible" Common Rosefinch I saw…

Wrynecks seemed to be everywhere, though I hadn't (and still haven't) seen one this year. We drew a blank Canal Scrape and failed at the new scrapes at Kilnsea Pools. A young male Ruff on the small pool nearer Beacon Ponds confused us briefly as we tried to make it into something rarer, and so it was the common birds that entertained us. Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, and Dunlin on the scrape. Yellow Wagtail, Linnet, Meadow Pipit and Whinchat around the edges, and Swallows everywhere - in the air on the wires, and on the deck.

This Dunlin looked very moribund on Kilnsea Pools. A damaged right wing
can be clearly seen in the photo above - Saturday 7th September 2013

Ruff, Kilnsea Pools, Kilnsea - Saturday 7th September 2013
Spotted Redshank, Kilnsea Pools, Kilnsea - Saturday 7th September 2013

Later, we headed for the Point - Sue had never been - and I decided I'd have a look in the lighthouse, which isn't normally open. Also, Ray Scally - who first introduced me to Spurn a few years ago as we spent a day birding here together on my first stay at the Observatory - had an exhibition of his artwork in the lighthouse.

Ray Scally's artwork in Spurn Lighthouse - Saturday 7th September 2013

Another Common Rosefinch! By Ray Scally

The lighthouse was due to close in 15 minutes, so I heard straight up. I bumped in to Ray as he came down the stairs with two dead Dunlin, as you do, and had a quick catch up. Check out his fantastic work here. I explored the building along for ten minutes and as I came down I heard the doors clanging shut. After rushing down, I found them locked tight. Erm… I checked my phone. …no signal! Erm… I rushed upstairs to the top and finally got a signal - enough to ring Chris so he could find someone with keys. I tweeted a distress call too, for good measure. I also rang my wife - not to say goodbye, but so she could have a good laugh at my expense…

I was freed after an hour or so in there., and we ended the day joining in with the Migration Festival sea-watch party at the Warren. A close view of a Manx Shearwater in the Humber was the highlight on an otherwise quiet session. Over gin, Sue suggested we try the Nottingham area on Sunday - the birds were certainly better there. It made sense as Sue and Chris needed to get back to Norfolk that evening and I could catch a train from anywhere.

We headed for Attenborough first thing on Sunday, and were rewarded with great views of the juvenile White-winged Black Tern there. This was made all the better by the presence of a Black Tern to provide ID comparison.

We headed off about ten miles northeast to Netherfield Lagoons, hoping for a Spotted Crake. The smell from the slurry lagoon was a bit off-putting, but it looked an interesting site. As soon as we all raised our bins, we saw …a Great White Egret. That one goes on the self-found list too… I put the news out, but the bird flew high west after five minutes.

We had a pleasant couple of hours here in the sunshine. Highlights were an eclipse Garganey, Pintail, Common Sandpiper, Snipe, Blackwits, Sparrowhawk, Grey Wagtail, and a Fox sat watching the birds from the cover of the reeds. As you'd imaging, there were plenty of insects around, especially dragonflies and butterflies. Painted Lady, Large White, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, etc.

Common Blue Damselfly, Netherfield Lagoons, Nottingham - Sunday 8th September 2013

Comma, Netherfield Lagoons, Nottingham - Sunday 8th September 2013

A very pale Meadow Brown, Netherfield Lagoons, Nottingham - Sunday 8th September 2013

Juvenile Godfinch, Netherfield Lagoons, Nottingham - Sunday 8th September 2013

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