Monday, 9 September 2013

Spurn Migration Festival

Yesterday evening I returned from a few days at Spurn, including the weekend of the Spurn Migration Festival. I didn't get too involved in the festival itself as I did most of my birding with friends or by myself but enjoyed Martin Garner's talk on how to be the best birder you can be, and the hog roast that went with it.

Despite the time of year and hints of promising pressure systems and winds, there were relatively few birds to see. There were scarcities, but not many, and most common migrants were decidedly uncommon. Still, there was some top stuff on offer. The best of the bunch included the Wryneck seen in the hand on Thursday morning, the Red-backed Shrike seen on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and the Common Rosefinch that was trapped and ringed on Friday. In fact, Friday wasn't too bad with Leach's Petrel being another top-biller, perhaps competing for top bird, actually, as well as Roseate Tern, Black Tern and strong numbers of Arctic Skuas that day.


Red-backed Shrike

Common Rosefinch

Whinchats weren't hard to come by, particularly on Thursday when I probably saw in excess of twenty individuals. Interestingly, they far outnumbered Wheatears, which were somewhat at a premium. Additional seabirds included Little Gulls, Balearic Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Eider and Red-throated Diver. Yellow Wagtails were a common bird, their soft call being heard every few minutes at times, while only common warblers were seen and none were evident in strong numbers. Numbers of common waders on the Humber were impressive but unfortunately Common Sandpiper and Greenshank were not outdone in terms of scarcity. Some duck passage was noticable, with Pintail, Wigeon and Teal moving along the point in small numbers. For me, seeing a Marsh Harrier flying out to sea and low south over the waves was one of the more amazing moments of my time at Spurn. September Cuckoo and Common Swifts served as a reminder of the high summer that has only just departed.

It was great fun birding with Liam and meeting quite a few new people, including fellow under-30s Jack Ashton-Booth, Tim Jones, Zac Hinchecliffe, Matt Bruce, Scott Reid, Samuel Perfect, Tim Jones, Chris Bridge, Alex and Dan. The locals were warm, welcoming and informative, helping make my stay something of an eye-opener in terms of how fantastic the Spurn area is for birds and how bird observatories work. I tried and predictably failed to find something good.......... one day!

IMPORTANT PERSONAL NOTE: If anyone has been trying to contact me by my mobile recently they'll struggle as I smashed it to pieces at Spurn - in the meantime email me at I'll get my mobile sorted before too long.