Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Rustic Charm up North (Spurn x2)


Twas a dark and stormy night when our petrol waggon finally rolled in to Kilnsea, a small windswept village nestled between the dark waters of the Humber and the unforgiving North Sea.

We sought out the only pub in the village whose lady of the land variety came with a fearsome reputation. I must admit it was with some trepidation that we perused the menu and any potential escape routes...

Below are genuine reviews left on Tripadvisor...


Apart from the very limited veggie options, the food was actually alright and even the fearsome owner Jean couldn't resist the twinkle in Clacker's eye and was indeed even convivial for the four evenings we ate, drank and made merry there.

And cue the Coldplay soundtrack...
Unfortunately the weather for the most part of our stay was very far from convivial with strong westerly winds sometimes gusting up to 40mph which for an east coast site really isn't good for the old bird spotting game.

Me scoping out the gate hopeful that a Bluetail would eventually land on it...
Jack Snipe who by Wednesday I was on first name terms with...I miss Stripey.
Photo courtesy of  The Mauve Hawk.
However, we were here and by the gods...(birding ones... who we pray to every time we go out birding in Oxfordshire to deliver us something really REALLY good...preferably something with wingbars...maybe a whopping great supercilium...)
we were blooming well going to make the very most of it.


Please view at 720p HD

With the recurrence of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper (or so we thought) we made an excursion to Hatfield Moor, a strange landscape of mires and at one time mass peat extraction.
The Mauve Hawk likened it to the Dead Marshes in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Frodo & Bilbo 
Hatfield Moor
Alas, despite our epic adventures around the marshes we were unable to find the Buff-breast and after talking to a couple of friendly locals it would seem that the report was a little dubious.

Ahoy there Mr Urquhart, any sign of Buffy..?
Yep, all Buffy & breasty, there she is (as well as a random 90's reference). 

We also made a trip up the coast to the superb RSPB reserve at Bempton, famous for its breeding seabirds in the summer, however there were still quite a few Gannets around and at least two Puffins.

Despite conditions not being right for the birds it was absolutely perfect for the company...

Spurn Point courtesy of Andy Last.

SPURN RELOADED Saturday 8th October.

In contrast to my first autumnal trip to the birding mecca of Spurn, my second involved a horrendously early start from Oxfordshire and a very late return... and it was truly EPIC.

So, other than the camaraderie, laughs and shared fuel costs, another reason for myself and Elementerry to hang out with the numpty on the right is his seemingly insatiable desire to see new and rare birds in the UK, which in turn means that I get to see some species that I haven't seen for a long time and in some circumstances, a very long time.

First up was a very fine Rustic Bunting- a rare migrant from north eastern Europe which gave us the runaround at first, before being re-found in the Churchfields where it seemed to favour.
I've only ever seen one before on the Scillies in the noughties.

Rustic Bunting courtesy of Elementerry
Rustic Bunting courtesy of The Mauve Hawk
The whole area was dripping with birds, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and arriving Redwings with hundreds of Robins and Goldcrests seemingly to be found in each and every bush, it was absolutely brilliant to watch migration as it happens.

One of many Goldcrest courtesy of The Mauve one.
Chiffchaff courtesy of the Mauve one
Wheatear (one of many) courtesy of Mauvey
Ring Ouzel courtesy of Elementerry

We spent some time at Easington Cemetery listening to Yellow-browed Warblers and watching a wonderfully kinetic Red-breasted Flycatcher feeding voraciously amongst the treetops, this bird was one of five in the area on Saturday.

R.B Flicker (c) Mark Killeen.
With the afternoon now behind us and daylight soon to be usurped by the shortening autumnal days, we made the decision to act upon the news that a Bluethroat and an Arctic Warbler (an offering which has both a wingbar and indeed a whopping supercilium...just sayin) were still present about an hour and a half away at Bempton...
The odds were stacked...
The car was thrashed...
He who dares Rodders (ohhh now an 80's reference too) 

1st winter Bluethroat courtesy of M.H
1st winter Bluethroat courtesy of Elementerry
 And with dusk now upon us it was an anxious wait for the finale to what had been a brilliant day...   

Arctic Warbler (c) Andrew Huyton. 

I last saw one of these corkers in the late 80's, 
                where has the time gone?

Rustic Bunting, Bluethroat and Ring Ouzel please view at 1080p HD