Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Black Stork and other East Yorkshire delights

I finally got the chance to go and see the long-staying Black Stork on Saturday 5th September, after a frustrating few weeks while I had other commitments.

Black Stork, Sunk Island, East Yorkshire - 5th September 2015

The bird, a juvenile (note the brown rather than black plumage), was first seen at Beacon Ponds, just north of Spurn Point, on 3rd August. As you can see from the photo above, it has a white Darvic (plastic) ring on its left leg, with the code F05R on it. This confirms it was ringed as a nestling in a forest near Bossus-lès-Rumigny, Ardennes, northern France on 3rd June 2015. Great proof of its wild origin, and that ringing can help it tracking bird movements.

Interestingly, the bird's sibling, carrying ring F05P, was found at Loch of Strathbeg in Aberdeenshire just a few days later on 6th August. F05R was last seen in the Spurn area on 10th August, but was relocated in the Sunk Island area on 17th.

When I arrived on the morning of 5th September the bird was preening in ploughed field by the Spragger drain, just north of Old Hall Road in Sunk Island (not really an island, not any more anyway). Before long it took flight and slowly circled over the the nearby houses (and birders) before settling down to feed in the drain south of the road.

The primaries on the right wing of the bird appear to be damaged. I'm not sure if this was noted when the bird was first seen.

Black Stork, Sunk Island, East Yorkshire - 5th September 2015

The Black Stork eventually wandered out of view, much to the disappointment of newly arrived birders; but it did fly back over and land in a field further to the north before I left. It was still being reported in the area as of 13th September.

I moved on to Kilnsea, which was awash with birders for the Spurn Migration Festival. It was great to see the place buzzing, with birders grilling every last square foot of hedgerow. I've never attended the Migfest officially, though I might next year. Regular readers will remember the time I got stuck in the Spurn lighthouse during the inaugural festival in 2013 ;-)

The winds were northerly - not generally conducive to good east coast birds in early September - but anything can turn up here during autumn. I had Arctic Skua, Manx Shearwaters and a couple of Sooty Shearwaters during a brief Seawatching from the Blue Bell.

There were a few good birds around the bushes. I dipped a Barred Warbler at Westmere Farm, but Pied Flycatcher and Spotted Flycatcher in the garden at Cliffe Farm, a Red-backed Shrike in Corner Field by Sunny Cliff Caravan Park, and hedges full of Lesser Whitethroats more than made up for it.

Pied Flycatcher, Kilnsea, East Yorkshire - 5th September 2015

Spotted Flycatcher, Kilnsea, East Yorkshire - 5th September 2015

Red-backed Shrike, Kilnsea, East Yorkshire - 5th September 2015

Lesser Whitethroat, Kilnsea, East Yorkshire - 5th September 2015

I also managed to fit in some filming around the Humber and Spurn for a video for my band Falconetti. Some epic landscapes and seascapes around here. On the way home I popped into a toy shop in Hull to buy my son's 7th birthday presents, and rounded off the day leading a bat walk for the Airedale Otters in Bingley West Yorkshire. A productive day in many ways.

The following week I was back at Kilnsea again. Easterlies from Thursday leading to the weekend suggested Saturday 12th September might be worth a punt.

The day started with heavy rain - practically unbirdable - but fortunately it cleared by mid-morning. I headed up Beacon Lane from the Blue Bell, working the hedges and fields. The migrant numbers were low, though a Willow Warbler and at least five Common Redstarts were a decent start. The scrub fields near the listening post had several Northern Wheatears and Meadow Pipits amongst the Starlings, plus the odd Whinchat. The highlight here though was the Short-eared Owl sitting on a fence, with a second hunting over towards Beacon Ponds.

Short-eared Owl, Kilnsea, East Yorkshire - 12th September 2015

Back in Kilnsea I tried the hedges, gardens, farms and the churchyard, but the butterflies were outperforming the birds, with a few Peacocks and over 50 Speckled Woods, and a Brimstone in Church Field. News came through of an elusive Yellow-browed Warbler in the trees between the churchyard and Kew Villa, but it wouldn't show for the 20 or so birders waiting. Eventually it did show, and well, in Church Field. The Spurn Warden seemed a little peeved so many birders were present, given only members of Friends of Spurn Bird Observatory are allowed access. Glad I renewed my membership recently ;-)

Sammy's Point, Easington, East Yorkshire - 12th September 2015

My time was nearly up so I aborted a trip around Sammy's Point (after finding very little to show for my efforts anyway), and headed to the end of Seaside Road, by Easington Beach Caravan Park. I wanted do do some more filming for this Falconetti music video, and the view of the off-shore wind farm in the sunshine is good from here. A enjoyed watching a confiding Sanderling as the camera rolled on the turbines out at sea.

Sanderling, Easington, East Yorkshire - 12th September 2015

Seaside Road, Easington, East Yorkshire - 12th September 2015

I had just enough time to pop into Easington Cemetery. I first visited here with artist Ray Scally, on 5th September 2010. On that occasion, I pointed out a bird (a Chiffchaff, if memory serves) in the trees above the gate, and Ray told me it was the first bird he'd ever seen in the cemetery after years of visits! I can't say I've much luck here myself, but this time I did see a female Great Spotted Woodpecker in one of the 30 sycamores that line the cemetery. So that's now two birds on the list!

Rainbow over Easington from the cemetery - 12th September 2015

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