The Safari has had a wonderful couple of days living it up on the Yorkshire coast. Our best boy LCV came over on Sunday ready for a horrendously early start on Monday morning...or should that be the small hours of Sunday night?
Before he got to Base Camp he bobbed in to the docks to see if he could find the Ring Billed Gull but neither he nor the other birders present were able to locate it. From there he had another detour this time much more successful, to the estuary where he soon found the Snow Bunting. He had suggested we meet him there but despite it being a bird we need for our Year List Challenge with Monika we declined as we'd see loads in Yorkshire the following day. He got some superb views as it searched the strand-line for tiny seeds.
We were on the road before 04.00 and arrived at the wetlands just before the village not long after first light to find the local Barn Owl was still up and about hunting the farthest edge of the field.
Overhead we had a Marsh Harrier which put to flight all the waders on the pool we wanted to look through for the American Golden Plovers that had been seen the day before. A little locla knowledge told us only one remained and that favoured a field back up the road a little way we'd just passed and was with a small flock of 'normal' Golden Plovers and a few Lapwings, so off we went retracing our tyre tracks. No joy here because as soon as we arrived the flock flew off in to the river in the distance. From there LCV wanted to look for the previous day's Pallas's Warbler again back the way we came and out towards the river. This way took us past a farmyard where we spotted some Goldcrests feeding on the weeds growing out of a pile of rubble. Also there was our first Brambling of the year (We'll do the 'scores' at the end of the post) which we managed to to flush from inches away in to the adjacent field yards away.
A crowd gathered to see if the Pallas's Warbler would show, it had been reported as 'heard only' first thing in the morning. The sun rose behind us very nicely back lighting a couple of Roe Deer crossing the field a few hundred yards away.
No-one got anywhere near the warbler, we weren't sure it was still there or had done a bunk. It was while we were searching that a Twitter message came that a Radde's Warbler had been trapped but the news came late, after the bird had already been released...the joys of poor rural mobile coverage! down on the corner by the pub top see what else might be around. From the outset it was evident there were large numbers of Goldcrests freshly in blown across the North Sea by the easterly wind, they were everywhere.
LCV briefly saw a Firecrest in the churchyard trees bey we didn't get on it at all. A wander down the bank gave us a fly-over Richard's Pipit. All around us there were birds, every bush had several Robins and Goldcrests with some Blackbirds and Redwings on the move too. Then news broke of a lifer for us but not LCV, a Red Flanked Bluetail, a small chat with a have a breeding distribution in the north of Scandinavia but mostly from the other side of the Urals which should migrate south east to Thailand and SE Asia rather than Yorkshire! It had been trapped and ringed but would be released in a few minutes time to give people nearby the chance to see this usual species, the fifth ever recorded at this migration hotspot.
Later in the afternoon it reappeared a few hundred yards away in an open hedge but was constantly chased by Robins and pushed from pillar to post along the hedge.
A Brown Hare was in the field too and we had good views of a Ring Ouzel courtesy of the sharp eared ZH who picked up its clacking call at some distance - it was barely audible to our aged ears.
The following morning it was back to where we should have started off 24 hours earlier, at the seawatching hide! The fairly brisk wind brought a good variety of sea birds in range of our scopes in particular hundreds of auks moving south along with many Gannets and a steady passage of skuas including small flocks of Great Skuas and we got a Pomarine Skua nice and close in too. Going north there were Sooty Shearwaters. Breakfast meant we had to leave and while we were stuffing our face with a Full English a Balearic Shearwater sailed by...dohhh. The sunrise was nice though.Mediterranean Gulls, we've taught LCV well, it took him no time at all to find them.
The paddock by the car park had several Goldcrests poking around in the short grass, they were coming off the sea and landing in the saltmarsh all over the place. After flying almost 300 miles (450km) across the sea from Denmark these tiny scraps of flesh n feathers must be very very very hungry.
The afternoon had us looking at the American Golden Plover which had returned to its favourite field.
|Video grab just before take off showing the dusky underwings rather than white of 'our' Golden Plovers|
At the end of the day the Radde's Warbler put in an appearance and with a short wait we got a few brief views as it flitted through thick cover. No chance of a pic in the almost dark though.
To keep the vegetation suitable for wildflowers and the birds and to prevent too much scrub developing some of the fields are grazed by rare breeds cattle and sheep including these Hebridean Sheep. They were fun when they heard the farmer's Land Rover and trailer coming, running from one side of the field to the other stopping to listen to see if they could hear which way he was coming from...in the end he just dropped something off and didn't visit them much to their disdain.
Back at the river, well out on the mudflats we found one of the Mediterranean Gulls for a couple who had never seen one before.
They returned the favour by finding a Stonechat on the paddock fence and a Wheatear in the paddock itself.
Then the radios crackled with news of a Yellow Browed Warbler that had been trapped back at the observatory. We had to go!
It was great to see the Yellow Browed Warbler in the trees too once it had been released. We're still listening for that distinctive call at Base Camp.
Our next stop was the Richard's Pipit field where it was showing in the long grass but only extremely distantly.
As the light faded we went back to the Point to see if the Short Eared Owl would come out to hunt - we didn't have to wait long.
Our last morning saw little happening on the sea even though the wind had turned more northerly so went spent our last few hours looking around the shrubs and down at the Canal Scrape where a Jack Snipe was only a few feet from the hide window.Siskins.
Not sure what had happened to this one, it was found squished in the car park but we couldn't tell if it had died or hit a car, been hit by a car or run over. One we saw was callously murdered as it pecked around exhausted on the road by a motorist who deliberately sped up to kill it; what an evil swine!
Isn't migration fantastic! But not a Snow Bunting in sight....dohhhhh
Year birds - not necessarily in the order they were seen:-
Lifers - Red Flanked Blue Tail (186) & Radde's Warbler (187)
Sooty Shearwater (188)
Pomarine Skua (189)
American Golden Plover (190)
Short Eared Owl (191)
Richard's Pipit (192)
Yellow Browed Warbler (193)
Ring Ouzel (195)
The trip gave us 101 species door to door.
And the ones that got away - the terribly bad dips...Bluethroat, Black Redstart for our year list.
Special thanks to LCV for organising and all the driving and taking almost all of the pic above, we musta been too busy looking to take pics the camera count was only about 100 when we got back to Base Camp!Where to next? Down to earth at the nature reserve probably where migration will be in action but not quite so dramatic probably.
In the meantime let us know if there's loads of gold in your outback.