Putative Stejneger’s Stonechat at Spurn Point

24 Oct

24/10/16 Been a good time for Siberian Stonechats in East Yorkshire recently with one in Grimston for two days early last week followed at the end of the week with one at Easington accompanying a popular Isabelline Wheatear. Therefore a third one just to the south at the tip of Spurn Point didn’t initially interest me. It was considered as possibly a Stejneger’s Stonechat but, like many I suspect, I’m not keeping up all these races. RL texted me worried about this Stonechat as it was considered a possible full species by some authorities [aren’t all?] But with only two reports by RBA on Sunday there didn’t seem too much interest. However on Monday morning I set off for Spurn Point with RL and ML. It hadn’t been reported by the time were arrived and there didn’t seem to be any real interest. This is the first time I’ve gone south of the Warren since the road was finally abandoned. In fact it’s the first time I’ve walked the Point since the 80’s. To be honest it isn’t too arduous for anyone with average fitness but it could be fun when a real twitch was on. There would be of hundreds of birders doing a mini marathon down the Point. A lot easier than Blakeney Point though! You do have to be aware of the tide though as the breach can get covered but we were ok as with only a small tide today. dscn3308

The breach along the road to the Point.

There is a special vehicle purchased by YWT for the purpose but today at least it was being used for tours of the Point including the lighthouse. We missed it on the way out anyway and it was full on the way back.dscn3292

YWT’s Unimog

On the way down had good numbers of Robins and thrushes but nothing rarer. The Stonechat was finally reported when we were near the end of the walk. fullsizeoutput_1a2a

“Dwarfed by the lighthouse so almost there”

While we were there we only met a couple of other birder but although mobile did show pretty well as like other chats it spend on lot of time perches on top of bushes. fullsizeoutput_1a27

Putative Stejneger’s Stonechat at Spurn Point

fullsizeoutput_1a23A lot better than some of the other birds that have been reported ‘near the green beacon’. dscn3262I’m not going to comment too much on it identification but wasn’t as washed out as other Siberian Stonechats I’ve seen and had the orange underparts characteristic of the form.fullsizeoutput_122d

Siberian Stonechat at Flamborough Head-19/10/16

For more on this form check Birding frontiers and Birds Korea .

Had a lot of Goldcrest around the Point and on the walk back but missed a Firecrest in the Potato Field [I’ve bird Spurn c30 years and RL c40 and neither of us know where it is!?]. Also several Dark-bellied Brent Geese and loads of waders along the Humber shore.dscn3300

Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the Humber.


Local legend FXM with ML and RL.

Geese at Hornsea Mere and Tophill Low NR

23 Oct

21/10/16 Started Saturday in the Hornsea Mere Seaton Road Hide [check here for access details] with RL and ML. Plenty of geese flying about but too distant to ID. Also no sign of the Slavonian Grebe seen this morning [or Black-necked Grebe seen yesterday]. RL did find a redhead Goosander though. Moved round to Kirkholme Point. A few birders present but they had nothing to report. However I quickly picked out a Tundra Bean Goose with the Greylags just offshore followed by a Pink-footed Goose. fullsizeoutput_1a1d

Tundra Bean Goose off Kirkholme Point at Hornsea Mere


Pink-footed Goose off Kirkholme Point at Hornsea Mere

Two redhead Goosander were also in the bay. fullsizeoutput_1a1e

 Goosander off Kirkholme Point at Hornsea Mere

Later seven Tundra Bean Geese were reported in flight and two Slavonian Grebes off Swan Island presumably seen from the south shore. Moved to Atwick to check for migrants near the church. Found nothing but I kept walking north and had a Chiffchaff at the SSE gas terminal.

Checked the geese at Skirlington market pond but only feral Greylags.

Spent the afternoon at Tophill Low NR. Started in car park hide and had three Whooper Swans at the far end of D reservoir. dscn3251

Distant Whooper Swans on D res at Tophill Low NR

Moved on the Watton NR where we had two Tundra Bean Geese, seven Russian White-fronts and four Pinkfeet. fullsizeoutput_1a1a

Two Tundra Bean Geese with two Pink-footed Geese on Watton NR at Tophill Low NR


Family party of Russian White-fronted Geese on Watton NR at Tophill Low NR

The Beans and three Pinks flew north late afternoon. Had a Common Darter in South Scrub and several more with a Migrant Hawker later near South Lagoon. Had twenty-two Siskin in the Alders by the lagoons on the way back.

Geese at North Cave Wetlands

19 Oct

19/10/16 There has been a good arrival of Geese in the last flew days with large numbers of White-fronted and Pink-footed Geese and smaller numbers of Bean Geese. Caught up with thirteen White-fronts at High Eske NR on Saturday at High Eske NR at dusk then eighty-two at Hornsea Mere on Tuesday.fullsizeoutput_19f9

Russian White-fronted Geese at Hornsea Mere.

The latter included four with neck collars, including at least one radio-tagged in Russia [with the current cold war atmosphere I’m surprised it wasn’t detained at the borders. This may seen a joke but similar things have happen to radio-tagged raptors in the Middle East]. Anyway North Cave Wetlands has done well with all three wild geese species although on Tuesday there were no Beans. Went myself Tuesday morning. Initially could only see Greylags on Village Lake. There was a lot of movement and heard Pinkies but only located a couple on the ground when I went round to East Hide.


Pink-footed Geese with Greylags on Village Lake-North Cave Wetlands

There was talk of Bar-headed Goose but the nearest thing I could see was a Barnacle Goose hybrid. Looked through the Snipe on there and Island Lake and counted an impressive thirty-eight but couldn’t find any Jacks. Several Jack Snipe seem to be inhabiting the inaccessible area in the middle of the reserve. Apart from the Snipe and Lapwing the only other waders were a few Redshank and seven Curlew flying over. A Green Woodpecker flew up from near reedbed and sat on a post for several minutes. fullsizeoutput_1a03

Green Woodpecker near reedbed-North Cave Wetlands

A couple of Common Darter were still on the wing along the western path.

Had three of six Egyptian Geese on the silt lagoon as well as more dubious Black Swan.fullsizeoutput_1a0e

Egyptian Goose [above] and Black Swan [below] on Silt Lagoon-North Cave Wetlands


The Flamborough/Easington twitch

14 Oct

13/10/16 Like the Eastern Crowned Warbler last week news of the Flamborough Paddyfield Warbler broke too late to get there. Tuesday morning the Paddyfield Warbler still along the permissive footpath by the gorse field but it was raining heavily. Forecast looked better for later in the day so decide not to get soaked for no reason. On schedule late morning the sky brightened and I made a quick get away. Didn’t even bother to wear my over-trousers.  Did start raining fairly heavily in Beverley but this didn’t last long. Strangely although most of the roads were drenched there were a dry section around Beeford. Arriving at Flamborough Head the Paddyfield was reported to still be showing but on arriving on site it was hidden in long grass and hadn’t been seen for a good while. A push was organised shortly but nothing resulted initially but it was seen a little later to fly into the hedgerow. However although been called regularly it wasn’t showing itself. Tried the other side of the hedge where the situation was much the same but on going back round we all had very good views but too briefly for photographs. dscn3817

My only previous Paddyfield Warbler was the above in Cornwall on the Lizard in October 2012.


The Flamborough Paddyfield Warbler-Richard Willison

Give it a bit longer then went to look for the nearby Shore Larks, getting  involve with the flushing of a Olive-backed Pipit on the way. Having seen one well at Easington on Sunday wasn’t too interested in mere flight views. The Shore Lark proved difficult with the lark flock staying in the long stubble. Finally the flock all got up and flew toward the lighthouse and I was able to follow one Shore Lark. Started walking back as my ticket was running out. Try to avoid paying to park but the walk from a suitable place along the road in wasn’t worthwhile. Doesn’t help though that the ticket isn’t the sticky type but fortunately I had a elastic band to hold it on the handlebar. dscn3131The Paddyfield had just shown well but was now hidden in the grass and with the weather going off again I continued  walking back with TD. He had  just come back from dipping the Siberian Accentor, taking the cheaper ferry route rather than a one way flight that had paid off for the those with bigger budgets. There had been much discussion during the wait for the warbler, with me among others expressing the view that with the influx on the Continent a mainland bird was likely if not this year then in the near future. Getting back to the car park TD showed me a text from AW that a Siberian Accentor had been found in Easington. I initially took this as a wipe up but TD remained serious and I must admit he drove off fairly rapidly. Shortly the confirmation came on the pager and phone. Although I didn’t share his faith I could image a great “BOOOM” from Martin Garner in Heaven. The big twitch was one with most birders heading out including TC who hadn’t yet connected with the Paddyfield. Made a quick call to RL then was on the road. This time I did put on my over-trousers. Which way to go? Going via Hornsea was probably shorter but the A165 then Bilton/Preston/Hedon was a more familiar route and with the roads sodden I would feel safer trying to get a move on. Had some heavy rain and by Hedon was feeling quite chilled but fortunately with dryer weather later I warmed up again. The problem with twitching on a bike is with out stopping you get no news so on arriving in Easington I hadn’t the directions and headed the wrong but immediately saw 2 birders heading away and was sent back towards Vicar’s Lane and even got parked almost opposite and as assured the Accentor was showing very well feeding like it’s commoner relations on a moss pack near a skip on a tarmac pad.dscn3167

The skip with a Dunnock feeding on the moss pack.

Got a few shots but the light wasn’t good.dscn3141

Siberian Accentor below the skip.

Most of the crowd from Flamborough were there along with Spurn regulars and a few Hull area birder. RL at least had even managed to tick and run.dscn3179

Some of the crowd watching the Siberian Accentor

Also had a Brambling. A Goldcrest feeding above my head got a quick look incase. Although showing well the viewing was restricted and even with the relative small number present it could be difficult to get a unrestricted view so with no chance of getting better views or picture set off home. That it was a different bird from Shetland was confirm by SW and AW who had seen it.fullsizeoutput_19b4

My best shot of the Siberian Accentor in fading light.

The Siberian Accentor flew out of view, probably to roost not long after. Didn’t recognise anyone but hope no one coming the other way could see the big smile through my visor. Thanks to Lance Degnan for finding this beauty. Pity you missed a first by a few days.

All in all a great day. If I’d set off earlier I’d have been leaving Flamborough before the news broke and would then have got home to read the pager and then had had to cope with the start of the rush hour through Hull. Any later and I’d have been conflicted if I’d not yet seen the Paddyfield Warbler.


No sign of the Paddyfield Warbler since the mass exodus on Thursday.

The Siberian Accentor is still around Monday morning. Check the Spurn website for parking and access details. Expect a big crowd but if it shows as on Thursday everyone will get to see it. The discovery of a second bird at Saltburn-by-the-sea in Cleveland [historic Yorkshire] on Saturday could of suck in a few birders but was an elusive one day bird but another one was found in Sunderland Docks on Sunday and continued to show for a 2nd day.

Even made the Hull Daily Mail [see here] and the nation press including the Express and Telegraph and the Sun. Having clicked on these though they seem pretty lazy jobs as appear to have the same agency pictures and the Sun even uses a library shot rather than of the actual bird. Better account on Birdguides.


11 Oct

9/10/16 Started Sunday morning with RL and ML looking for a Yellow-browed Warbler at Paull church [see here]. No luck but had a few Chiffchaff including one singing. Also a few Redwing.

Next headed for Atwick but report of a possible Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler in the potato field at Spurn Point made us retrace our route then continue to Kilnsea. Parking near Crown and Anchor there was no sign of any real interest so just walked the road east. Good numbers of Robin. Also had a Redstart in the hedgerow  where I’d seen the Masked Shrike as well as my first Fieldfare of the autumn.



Next walked Beacon Lane. Had  small flock of Brambling.


Brambling-Beacon Lane, Kilnsea-RL

Also a acrocephalus warbler but couldn’t make it anything other than Reed.


Reed Warbler-Beacon Lane, Kilnsea-RL


Chiffchaff-Beacon Lane, Kilnsea-RL 

Back at Bluebell Corner several Goldcrest were showing well in weeds.


Goldcrest-Bluebell Corner, Kilnsea

Got back to the car as the Olive-backed Pipit was reported again along Vicars Lane. Showed well eventually, at close range behind the gas terminal fence although it made photography awkward.


Olive-backed Pipit-Vicars Lane, Easington

Went into Easington but there was no further sign of the Pallas’s Warbler behind White Horse Inn. Headed to the cemetery where a Firecrest had been seen. No sign of it but had a nice male Red-breasted Flycatcher.


Male Red-breasted Flycatcher-Easington Cemetery-RL 

10/10/16 Monday out again with RL. Started at Hornsea Mere. Nothing of note although there was a solitary Pink-footed Goose on Kirkholme Point.


Pink-footed Goose-Hornsea Mere on Kirkholme Point.

Checked the trees around Atwick churchyard where a Blackcap and a few Redwing and Goldcrest were the best of it. At Far Grange added a Chiffchaff. Finally after a look on D reservoir had a look for migrants at Tophill Low NR. Found nothing but with the continuing mild weather there were still plenty of dragonflies on the wing.dscn3130

Migrant Hawker-Tophill Low NR


Common Darter-Tophill Low NR

Another Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR

17 Sep

The second Pectoral Sandpiper of the year for Tophill Low NR was again found by visitors on a Monday. Went to check it out with RL on Tuesday. Still present on South Marsh East but too distant for a reasonable picture.14311254_1170391073017539_5739176024044637117_o

Ruff and Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East-RL

17/9/16 Went back to Tophill Low NR with MB on Saturday morning. The Pectoral Sandpiper hadn’t been reported since Wednesday but was in the log for Friday. Started with North Lagoon. Three Greenshank were there on Tuesday but initially no waders today but a Ruff dropped in. On South Marsh East the sandpiper hadn’t been seen but I picked it up far off with Teal. No sign of the two Ruff it had accompanied on Tuesday. Went round to back-2-back hide where it should be closer but wasn’t currently on show so headed to Watton NR. The usual mass of Greylags but also three Little Egrets and a sign of autumn with flocks of Golden Plover circling Watton Carrs. Back at South Marsh East the Pectoral Sandpiper was showing well enough for a picture but often hidden behind vegetation.dscn2922

Pectoral Sandpiper at Tophill Low NR on South Marsh East

A second look at North Lagoon found a Greenshank and Dunlin.


Greenshank at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon


Ruff and Dunlin at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon


Pied Wagtail at Tophill Low NR on North Lagoon 

With weather more seasonal after the heatwave earlier this week it wasn’t surprising a Comma near South Marsh East was our only butterfly of the morning and we also only had a few Migrant Hawkers.dscn2912

Comma at Tophill Low NR

Walking the north end in the afternoon we did better with several Speckled Woods in D wood and a few Small Whites in North Scrub as well as many Common Darter on the path near Hempholme Meadows. Bird-wise it was poor but redeemed by an approachable Wheatear along straight road and a fly over male Marsh Harrier.dscn2967

North Wheatear at Tophill Low NR by D reservoir


The current status of the new visitor centre. Check the Tophill blog for more details.

For Mike’s version check here.

Black Terns are like buses……

2 Sep

30/8/16 A Western Purple Swamphen was founded found at Alkborough Flats early Tuesday afternoon. The thought of getting straight off and beating the crowds passed my mind but having already seen the Minsmere bird at the start of the month and a juvenile Black Tern present since this morning at Hornsea Mere, a bird I’d not seen for nearly three years, proved more tempting. I’d actually done Alkborough Flats on Sunday with JH anyway and as he and ML both need the Swamphen it’s likely on the agenda for Sunday if it doesn’t repeat the Minsmere bird and leave overnight on Friday. Anyway back to Hornsea Mere. Arriving at Kirkholme Point there was no sign of any {real] birders nor the tern. Fortunately met up with ST and assured it did go missing for long times and eventually and picked it up distantly behind tree island and wasn’t too long before it flew back to Kirkholme Point with four Little Gulls [number of the later still well below previous years with a hundred times that number not usual at this time in the past. Don’t know if anyone is counting the evening pre-roost currently.


Juvenile Black Tern at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point 


Little Gull at Hornsea Mere from Kirkholme Point

Next went to North Cliff Boat Club. First checked the set-aside to the north for migrants then did a sea-watch but not really the right winds for either. Strangely did have a Black Tern followed shortly by another two that lingered for a while giving me time to be sure I wasn’t ‘moulding birds’ [RL will understand this term!]. Like buses…. Otherwise a single Fulmar was the best bird, although a few years back they would have been a common sight.

Paid a quick visit to the Seaton Road Hide [see here for access details to keep GB off my back] but couldn’t see the tern or any Little Gulls, in fact couldn’t see much. Some guerrilla conservation may be needed if Wassand Estate don’t do something soon. The only notable ‘wildlife’ was a young couple ‘at it’ in the adjacent field. Decency  and the real possibility they were underage kept my hand from the camera.

1/9/16 Had another look at the Black Tern with RL on Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately it was frequenting the south side and only came close to Kirkholme Point while RL was buying an ice cream. We finished the day doing a sea-watch with JH off Far Grange. Although nothing special the number of Common Terns early evening were impressive. 14125702_1159611220762191_2063226160474370919_o

Sandwich Tern [above]. Gannet [below] off Far Grange-RL 

14188541_1159612530762060_3325874748369306297_oAlso a couple of close in Red-throated Divers.14125105_1159608704095776_6588690234018673760_o

Red-throated Diver off Far Grange-RL