Spurn 21 October 2018

We had a 7.30 start on a mild bright day. The coach was early and we all climbed aboard and set off on time. The passengers were rather quiet until the first stop at Ferrybridge services.

During conversations it became apparent that as we had not had the necessary Committee Meeting to confirm who was doing the write up for The Newsletter then no one was appointed to do it! After a very short consideration I was asked if I would oblige and I agreed. I quickly started with House Sparrow, Black-Headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, and Carrion Crow at the Service Station.
The coach then carried on the journey with the occupants being more animated after refreshments.


After a journey of more than 3 hours we arrived at Spurn and parked in the usual place on Easington Road. My first impression was that in comparison to previous years Spurn was rather different. The weather was mild and there was no crowds of birders wandering about, only us. Most of us strolled down to the car park of the pub to find that there were hardly any birds, only Great Tit, Blue Tit, and Dunnock. After a few minutes most of the group moved up to the Church Yard and stared up into the trees. Plenty of movement but after I got my eye in found that the birds were almost all Goldcrests. I never thought that I would ever get tired of seeing Goldcrests but something else would have been nice.

Further up Easington Road there was a sign that invited us in to see bird ringing so we took this up. It was explained that every 20 minutes or so one of the ringers did a tour of the mist nets and sure enough he returned with a clutch of little bags each with something wriggling inside. They all turned out to be Tree Sparrows which duly had a ring fixed on a leg and they were released to continue their migration to the


Hampshire/Dorset border we were informed. We were rewarded when a Kestrel flew in and perched on a nearby tree to show off before demonstrating his (or her, I couldn't tell) flying prowess.

Most of the group moved on up the road and found a nice flock of birds on the fields – Starlings, Redwings, and Fieldfare. I then moved on along to the sea to find it mostly devoid of birds. There was only a Herring Gull.

It was such a lovely day I decided to have a snack while basking in the warm sun. To my surprise a Short-Eared Owl flew in from the sea, cruised up and down the beach, and then disappeared over the caravan site. When I turned to alert the rest of the group I found that they had all dispersed around the reserve and I was on my own! So I walked back down to the Churchyard and noted Mute Swan and Mallard in the pond and House Sparrows, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, and Robin hopping about in the hedge and also a distant Buzzard. The Churchyard was now relatively crowded with birders and after noting more Goldcrests it was pointed out that one of the little birds that was hopping about in the canopy was Yellow-Browed Warbler! Maybe it wasn't going to be such a poor birding day after all!


I then decided to make my way to the new Visitors Centre and followed the path that runs parallel to the Humber. I added a few more birds to the day list. On the Humber there was Curlew, Redshank, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, and Cormorant though the tide was out and I wasn't getting very close views. I also ticked Blackbird, Stonechat, Rook, Feral Pigeon, Magpie, Pheasant, Jackdaw, and Collard Dove and a Sparrowhawk flyby in the adjacent fields and bushes.

When I got to the Visitors Centre I found most of the girls in our group sitting at the outside seating having a cup of tea! I might have guessed!

I sat there for a little while then a few of our group came back to the Centre to report a Jack Snipe at the Scrape Hide! We hurried along and sure enough there it was along with a Common Snipe. Then a Ring Ouzel flew in a perched on top of the bushes! There was also a Moorhen on the pond and just before I left a Hen Harrier did a circuit of the pond scattering many small birds from the bushes. This was turning out to be a good day after all!


I also found the majority of the Wilmslow Group in the Hide. The unspoken decision was then to walk back on the path beside the Humber. The state of the tide was much more favourable for birding and I added Brent Geese (and their lovely cackling chatter), Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Grey Heron, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Black-Headed Gull, Common Gull, and Great Black-Backed Gull to the day list.

It was then about 3.30, just time for one more search for the Barred Warbler which was reported as showing. So back up the Easington Road. There was a birder there who said that he had just seen it, so we stared into the bushes. Plenty of twitching tails and flashes of a striped back but nothing that could be identified as the target bird so we trudged back to the coach for the long journey home glad that someone else was driving and that I could doze.

When the day list book was passed around the coach I noted that one of our groups had seen the Barred Warbler. Other notable birds that had been seen, but not by me, were Bearded Tit, Water Rail, Grey Partridge, Red-throated Diver, and Gannet.

Photos by Robert D


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