Sunday 1 October 2017

23rd September-1st October 2017

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks but considering that this has been largely due to a fabulous and quite insane trip to Spurn in the unique company of David D-L and Magnus A, that can't be a bad thing. David and I formed the advance line, stopping en-route on 23rd to mop up the juvenile Red-necked Grebe at Roding Valley Meadows, the juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher at Saltfleet Haven and point-blank views of quality waders at Covenham Reservoir, a tight and showy flock of juveniles including a Red-necked Phalarope, a Curlew Sandpiper, nine Little Stints and two Ruff; a second-winter Little Gull also put in an appearance. The next day, we picked up Mag from the station in Hull...

juvenile Red-necked Grebe at Roding Valley Meadows
torn emotions among Great Crested Grebes at Roding Valley Meadows
juvenile Red-necked Phalarope, just my second, at Covenham Reservoir
juvenile Little Stint at Covenham Reservoir
juvenile Curlew Sandpiper at Covenham Reservoir
juvenile Ruff at Covenham Reservoir
We stayed at Spurn till 30th, the only 'standout bird' for me being the stonking adult male Red-breasted Flycatcher which turned up at The Warren on 27th but I will fondly remember the week for the panoply of common migrants including Yellow-browed Warblers, Redstarts, Whinchats, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Wheatears, Whinchats, Bramblings, redpolls, Siskins, Lesser Whitethroats (including a potential blythi at Chalk Bank on 25th), Garden Warblers, hirundines, Tree, Rock and Meadow Pipits, etc. Just one Yellow Wagtail for me, on 25th, which might end up being my last of the year, as might a Hobby on 28th. A Bittern was a nice Spurn tick on 26th. Brent Geese had started to arrive, along with a noticeable arrival of Wigeon and Teal; the common waders are always good value, which strong numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits, Knots, Golden and Grey Plovers, etc, along with the odd Greenshank and Ruff. Spotted Redshank, Little Stint, Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper also made it onto the roll-call. Seeing tonnes of Tree Sparrows was also something of a treat. A very enjoyable and wine-enhanced seawatch on 25th produced a Sooty Shearwater, 15 Arctic Skuas, three Great Skuas, two Manx Shearwaters, 52 Little Gulls and a Black Tern, along with nine Red-throated Divers and a trickle of Common Scoters.

adult ♂ Red-breasted Flycatcher at Spurn
Garden Warbler at Spurn
Spotted Flycatcher at Spurn
Whinchat at Spurn
a no-shits-given Roe Deer at Spurn
We did make a little diversion on 27th upon the incredible news that a SCOPS OWL had been seen at Ryhope, Co Durham; as a big owl fan, and this being a species I've forever longed to see in Britain, I was delighted to be able to soak up views of this bark-plumaged beast roosting in an elder before we heading to the Pennines, near Langthwaite, to sort of Black and Red Grouse successfully, both being birthday lifers for Mag.

dream come true... Scops Owl at Ryhope
♀ Black Grouse near Langthwaite
♂ Black Grouse near Langthwaite
♂ Red Grouse near Langthwaite
The return leg featured a pit-stop at Landguard (my first visit to the reserve since the Short-toed Treecreeper there in 2011) for the Red-throated Pipit which was on the fourth day of its unusually long stay. Also there was a Redstart and a couple of Wheatears.

Red-throated Pipit at Landguard, my second
I was back on patch duty on 1st, a visit which featured the Barn Owl, a couple of migrant Mistle Thrushes, a Stonechat and two Red-legged Partridges... it was a pleasure to bump into Steve G. A call from Christian prompted an unplanned but worthwhile trip to the London Wetland Centre, where we had a quick look from the Peacock Tower, counting Snipe, Wigeon and the like.