Coach Trip To Spurn – 13th October 2013

The scene was set for a great day's bird watching on our first trip of the season to Spurn. Storm force winds from the North East in the days leading up to our trip were ideal conditions for bringing in good numbers of migrant birds. Winds and rain lashed the coach as it crossed the Pennines; the clouds darkened and all 31 of us were wondering just how ideal conditions were going to be for the birdwatchers! Such worries were quickly forgotten as the rain stopped and sun shone almost as soon as we arrived.

Huge flocks of redwings, up to 5,000 were reported in the area and we saw good numbers along with fieldfares in the fields as we walked up the road towards the Kew villa area. The hedgerows and bushes were alive with small birds; house sparrows, blackcaps, goldcrests and robins were very abundant. In one small tree I counted up to 5 blackcaps.


The churchyard yielded 4 chiffchaffs feeding on the ground and a solitary redpoll. The ringers reported netting a dusky warbler, which was put on view later for those still in the area. The pub car park proved equally as busy, with good views of great spotted woodpecker, siskins, goldfinches and a brambling.

Out on the estuary there was a good variety of waders and water birds: Brent geese, bar tailed godwits, dunlin, golden plover, ringed plover, curlew, turnstone and little egret. Walking along the canal cutting path I spotted a roe deer sheltering from the wind under a hedge and my first glimpse of a great grey shrike. The Spurn website reported a modern day record number of 12 great grey shrikes in the immediate area! A flypast of up to 39 juvenile gannets was a further surprise.


Lunch out of the wind in the canal scrape hide proved a real highlight, and I'm not talking about the contents of my butties! Four jack snipes, bobbing away in front of the hide, were stunning and in the hedgerows behind we were treated to views of redwing, great spotted woodpecker and ring ouzel before the main star of the show flew in. The great grey shrike posed for us on top of the line of bushes before performing a kestrel-like hover manoeuvre over the field to the side. Later in the day other members reported a spectacular robin kill by the shrike from this same hide.

A walk along the shore revealed just how strong the winds were; the road to the point had been breached earlier in the week and was to remain closed to traffic for some time. Looking out over the stormy sea made me marvel at how something as small as a goldcrest could survive the crossing. After a refuelling stop at the café there was still time to walk up Beacon Lane to catch a stunning view of a flock of 70 bramblings on a ploughed field right in front of the path, a great finish to my day.

Back to the coach for a 4:30 departure it was time to find out what I had missed! The hawfinch near the church was particularly painful but there were inevitably plenty more; yellow browed warbler, short- eared owl, great skua and common scoter were all very desirable.

A group total for the day of 72 indicated a very exciting day and a happy group of birdwatchers. Checking on the website later, the daily recorders also listed little buntings, Pallas's warbler, barred warbler, firecrest and even quail! So we must all try harder next time, folks!

Photos by Robert D


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