Monday, 7 September 2015

The 3rd Spurn Migration Festival

  Another month, another Birding Festival.This time on the Yorkshire coast down at Spurn Point.Run by The Spurn Bird Observatory and The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust though they are split at the moment over the proposed building of a new visitor centre in a delicate area of Spurn when there are better places for it which would cause less disturbance for the birds.

  Anyway on to the festival.We arrived on Friday night for the opening welcome and Yorkshire Coast Nature lecture.As soon as we arrived at Westmere Farm we were greeted by friendly faces such as Rob Adams and Martin Garner who then introduced the evenings talks.Both amazing birders with lots of information and advice to share.
Martin Garner

 Rob Adams

  The main lecture gave us an insight into various locations along the East Yorkshire coastline and the variety of birds seen at each point.

  After the lecture we headed back to our accommodation for the 2 nights at a local pub in Hollym.

  The next morning we were up early(though Majella wasn't too keen on the idea) lol and back at Spurn for 6.30am.It started off dull but the sunrise started to break through the clouds.

  The first port of call was Corner Field to see if we could find the Red Backed Shrike.Expecting to be the first ones there we were surprised to find Springwatch artist Darren Woodhead already sat in the field painting Shrikes.
  Red Backed Shrike(top)(with Willow Warbler)

     After our success with the RB Shrike we joined a guided walk around the Triangle with Scott.The Humber shoreline was full of waders.Scores of Redshanks were joined by Knots, Ringed Plovers, Curlews, Little Egrets, Golden Plover and a Whimbrel.
Ringed Plover
 Little Egret

   A search in the garden of Cliff Farm produced another Willow Warbler and our first of 3 Spotted Flycatchers and on our walk back past the cattle field a Yellow Wagtail flew in and disappeared into the grass.
Willow Warbler
 Spotted Flycatchers

   A stop for lunch, kindly provided by the wonderful people at Westmere Farm was followed by a walk to Kilnsea Wetlands.More Little Egrets, Knots, Mute Swans, Redshanks, Mallards and Oystercatchers enjoyed the sanctuary provided by the Wetlands.

  Linnets were to be found in most of the hedgerows.

  The talks for the Saturday evening were preceded by a Hog Roast(I had a cheese sandwich) and wine.Then came the announcement for the "Young Birder Of The Year" and fantastically it was someone I already knew, the amazing Findlay Wilde.A star of Hen Harrier Day and brilliant all round conservationist(though he did annoy me by showing me birds from his recent Portugal trip that I couldn't even ID) lol.I forgive you Findlay ;)

  The main Saturday evening talk was by Yoav Perlman, one of the top ornithologists in Israel.Down to number 3 due to currently living in East Anglia while doing a PhD for Great Bustard conservation.He spoke about Israel and showed us some stunning birds that made you want to go straight online and book a trip there.(Apologies for the photo Yoav)
You can check out the birding site for Israel here -

  The audience for the lectures were joined by the temporary barn residents, Swallows for the weekend.

While Findlay headed all the way back to Cheshire, we just had the 20 minute journey back to the pub and had a fantastic sighting of an Adult Fox on the way:)

  Next morning and we wanted to be back at Spurn early enough to have a early Seawatching session.The North Sea in the early morning light.Plenty of Gulls, knots and a Gannet but I missed the Corys & Sooty Shearwaters and Long-Tailed Skuas:(

  Me Seawatching(photo by Majella Fox)

  We left the Seawatching hut and headed down to the Observatory where they were ringing a few birds.First up was this Pied Flycatcher....
....followed by our first Redpoll of the year.This was followed by more Redpolls at the Church Field ringing station later in the day.

  The highlight of Sunday had to be watching the fastest predator on Earth hunt.We just happened to be in the right spot at the right time near Kew Villa to witness a Female Peregrine chasing a flock of alarm calling Knots.The Knots darted through the sky, abruptly changing direction as the Raptor dived in closer.They disappeared over Cliff Farm as the Knots headed out to open water.
  We had already seen a pair of Peregrines at Westmere Farm mobbing an annoyed Common Buzzard  a few hours beforehand but this sighting was more dramatic and a lot closer:)

  Even the coastguards were enjoying the afternoon sun by having a training session out in the Humber.

  Another miss with a Barred Warbler and we walked back to Westmere Farm to listen to a talk about the local Little Tern colony by Mike before seeing who was around to say our goodbyes too for another year.

  It was another fantastic Migration Festival, one that we hope to return to every year.In the end 57 species were seen by us over the weekend, not sure how far off the top total for the Bird Race that was though, quite a lot I should think.

  A big thank you to all the people who organised the weekend, Martin, Rob , Andy and the rest, and also to the volunteers and people at the farm that watered and fed us for 2 days(best scones ever).

  See you all again next year!! :)